Virtual Communication: Staying Professional While Working Remotely

Virtual Communication: Staying Professional While Working Remotely

Be Mindful of Your Background

Piles of laundry or personal photos may be fine when you're having a video chat with friends, but for professional interactions, you need to curate a more polished background. I have been on calls where I see clothes hanging in the background or closet doors open. Treat your background as you would your work space in your office. Take some time to consider where you will be making calls from, and do a test run in advance to make sure nothing unexpected is creeping into the frame. Can't find an appropriate space in your home? Many programs, including Zoom, allow you to use a picture as a virtual background.

Keep Your Information Private

If you'll be sharing your screen at any point, take care that your personal computer activity isn't on display for all to see. Have your slidedeck open in the background and ready to be uploaded to share. Whenever possible, share the specific application that you want your audience to see (e.g., a PowerPoint presentation or Word document) rather than sharing your full desktop. If you are sharing an internet browser, be sure to close all unnecessary tabs beforehand. You should also be aware that if you search in the address bar of your browser, auto-complete may reveal previous searches to your audience. To avoid this, clear your history, or navigate to sites before sharing your screen.

Minimize Distractions

Family members or pets can be a major distraction if they wander into your frame while you're speaking. If you can, make your call from a room with a closed door, and put a sign outside beforehand reminding people that you will be on a call at a certain time. If you're unable to isolate yourself, try to make calls with your back to a wall so that no one needs to walk behind you as they cross the room. If you have a furry friend who just can't resist cuddling you while you work, put them in a closed room or distract them with a toy or long-lasting treat before you begin. Of course, working from home has it's challenges and consider the audience on the call. Many won't mind the occasional child or the pet – but many will mind the pet barking.

The virtual platform is here to stay. We will be continuing to conduce business in the new “hybrid era.” Be sure you move forward professionally in this new chapter.

Please be sure to visit http://www.corporatespeechsolutions.com to read more articles on virtual communication. You may also visit our YouTube channel- Simply enter Jayne Latz in the search box to view our weekly one minute video tips. At Corporate Speech Solutions “we help you say it better.”

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Jayne_Latz/38794

Do Prospects Know, Like, and Trust Your Brand?

Do Prospects Know, Like, and Trust Your Brand?

If people know, like, and trust your content, they will want to do business with you.

It doesn't take an ace marketing team to figure that one out. And yet, many brands fail at one of these crucial elements all too often.

You don't have to put all your effort into all of them all the time. But if even you neglected one, it will show in your performance.

It is easy and simple to say all that, but what does it mean practically? Let's take a closer look at these terms.

What Does It Mean to Know?
To know means a little more than just recognizing your brand and being aware of it. It's about understanding what your business is about on a deeper level. To get to that level, you must actively and directly share information with prospects.

This doesn't necessarily mean that you should write an essay on your About page. Nor does it mean that every interaction with prospects needs to underscore all aspects of your business.

Sometimes, what's left unsaid tells an important story. Keeping things simple sends a message that your brand is focused and dedicated to results without the fluff. At the same time, if you're just starting out, it's a good idea to let people know of the brand's details explicitly.

In 1983, Apple Computers published an 18-page brochure called Macintosh Introduction in Newsweek. They saw those 18 pages as necessary to get their concept across ahead of the Macintosh's launch. Contrast that with Apple's approach today. The more prospects know you, the less you'll have to work at this step.

What Does It Mean to Like?
The first thing to make peace with is that not everyone is going to like you or your brand.

Some prospects just won't like your approach to sales, or they just won't like what you're offering. That's OK, as long as you know why that's so.

Every marketing decision you make puts you in a category. For every person that likes how you engage with them, there's bound to be one that doesn't. Your job is to figure out why they like or dislike you.

Sometimes, you'll find that getting some people to like you isn't worth sacrificing your values. It's fine to make that choice, as long as you know why you're making it.

One of the things that most people don't like is being sold to. It's not a pleasant experience, especially if it's glaringly obvious. To get people to really like your brand, infuse value into your content.

There are many ways to get your prospects to like you, but the key thing is that you have to give them something to like. Your brand should have some character, as it's hard to like something that's bland and uninspiring.

What Does It Mean to Trust?
This is the easiest one to get right, and yet many get it wrong.

Humans are trusting by nature. We believe most of the things we hear. Otherwise, it would be impossible to have a conversation.

All you have to do to get prospects to trust you is never fail on the promises you make. With most prospects you reach, you have a priori trust in good-faith engagement. Don't compromise that trust and your job is done.

A great example of this is the Ritz-Carlton Hotel's $2,000 employee empowerment allowance. Every employee is authorized to spend up to $2,000 to repair a patron's negative experience. That creates deep trust. People trust that, no matter what, their experience will ultimately be satisfactory when they stay at the Ritz.

Knowing Leads to Liking and Eventually to Trusting
Whenever you make a decision ask yourself how it impacts your prospects' view of your brand.

Do as much as you need to raise awareness, even if it means publishing an 18-page brochure about your product. Figure out what your prospects like and what they don't. Don't assume beforehand. Finally, never, ever fail to deliver on promises.

Pamela Wigglesworth, CSP is an international marketing consultant, speaker and the CEO of Experiential Hands-on Learning based in Asia. She is the author of The 50-60 Something ™ Start-up Entrepreneur and works with organizations across multiple industries to help them increase brand awareness, increase leads and ultimately increase sales.

To learn more about Pamela, visit the Experiential website at http://www.experiential.sg or email her at courses@experiential.sg

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/P_Lorraine_Wigglesworth/969794

Are You Ready to Ride the Waves of Change?

Are You Ready to Ride the Waves of Change?

Emerging Prepared with a Plan in a Post Pandemic Economy

It's April 2020 and as I wake up and start my day, there is always the nagging questions lingering in my head. What the heck will my business look like in three month or even six months from now? Will I still have a business to run or will the way in which I earn a living cease to exist and will I end up doing something entirely different?

It's hard to know what state my business will be in one month from now, let alone three months later. Unfortunately, I don't have a crystal ball that will predict the future for me or anyone else I know for that matter.

One thing I do know for sure is that things will never be the way they were four months ago. If you're one of those people waiting for the ‘old economy' to return or bounce back, then you're in for a rude awakening, because it's not going to happen.

I'm guessing that most people don't want to entertain the idea that they could be out of business in a matter of months. Heck, it's not something that I wanted to think about either. To be put out of business because of an invisible predator that has spanned the globe and disrupted peoples' lives and the global economy, just seems unfathomable.

As my husband and I watched what was going on within our own country and around the world and the impact it had on our businesses, we did a financial assessment of how long we could sustain our current standard of living. For some reason I felt okay knowing that we could get to a certain period within the year. It never occurred to me that I wasn't allowing myself to think about what would happen if we did run out of savings.

My husband on the other hand had thought about it. Hearing him verbalize his ‘before we get to that point' plan of action forced me to finally go to that place in my mind where I needed to have the internal conversation, ‘what would happen if I could no longer maintain my business?'

The AHA Moment

When I did finally ‘go there', I had a major AHA moment. Suddenly I realized something that had never occurred to me before. The voice in my head said, “Pam, you've been here before!”

Oh my God, yes, that's right-I have been here before. I have had to unexpectedly close a business due to circumstances beyond my control-an economic crisis.

It was 18 years ago. I had a women's fashion retail store in a major mall in Singapore. The store was in operation for a good part of 3 years, and just one year at the mall premises. Business was good. That is until we got hit by the Asian Financial crisis of '99.

My clientele tended to be expat women along with residents and tourists. As we moved through the year 2000, we witnessed the decline in the daily number of shoppers. People began to hang onto their moneydue to the uncertainties that lay ahead. Much like what we are experiencing today.

Eventually it reached a point where there wasn't enough business to cover the monthly overheads and the tough decision was made to close the store. Yet it wasn't as simple as just closing the doors. While the landlords could see for themselves that there was no foot traffic for all tenants, they still demanded to receive payment for the remaining months on the lease. Thatresulted in a painfully written $40,000 cheque to the landlord. Making that payment just added insult to what was already a very difficult moment of having to close due to an economic crisis.

When the premises were vacant and the doors shuttered, I allowed myself to have a private pity party. I gave myself permission to feel sorry for myself for two weeks. When the pity party was over, I knew it was time to get up off the ground and get busy contemplating what the next plan of action would be.

Even through my despair, I was confident that there would be another business in my future and I would need to be prepared and ready to pivot.

Remembering that I've been here before and knowing that I had the resilience to bounce back and come out the other side,reassures me that I can do this again ifnecessary.

Every company or business owner will need to figure out what is best for them post pandemic. Maybe you haven't even begun to think this far ahead. Maybe you have, yet still have no idea of what you'll do when we all resurface in this new c-economy (covid-economy).

Instead of waiting for circumstances to dictate what will happen in one to three months from now, I view myself as a surfer who needs to be out there in the blue ocean, judging, calculating, waiting for just the right wave to jump onto and ride through the barrel all the way to the beach.

This time I'll be ready to ride on top of the wave instead of finding myself being tossed around in the surf and not knowing which way is up.

Preparing for the C-economy

No one will be able to say for certain when countries, states and communities will be open their doors for business, yet it's important to be ready with a plan of action.

Here are just a few of thoughts for a business owners and business leaders to consider right now in preparation for the resurrection of their business.

Establish product-service relevancy

There are a few vital questions to address before you begin to create the recovery road map.

Is my product or service still relevant to my target market today and will it be relevant post pandemic? Will the target audience remain the same or will it change all together?

If my target audience remains the same albeit with minor changes, then I will move forward with my recovery roadmap.

Anticipate, ask & answer

Read the latest research findings in your industry, along with reports from economists. As business operators we need to research the market and anticipate the wants and needs of the consumer in order to provide appropriate solutions.

Creating ideal solutions for consumers cannot happen while brainstorming in isolation. Ask your clients what they will need in a post pandemic business environment.

Armed with research and the needs of the target market, answer their requests and deliver your best solution that addresses those immediate needs. This may require the development of a whole new product or service.

Double down on the low cost, no cost marketing activities

The global health and economic crisis has left millions of businesses without incoming revenue for months, so the last thing most would want to do is fork out a large sums of cash for marketing campaigns.

However, that doesn't mean that a business should go underground and not market at all. On the contrary. There are things that any business can do to continue marketing their products and services using low cost or no cost marketing activities.

  • Create content. No one knows your business better than you (and your employees if you work for a large organization). Start by creating content that educates and helps your target audience. Your content can be distributed in so many ways.
  • Write blog posts and upload it to your website, social media pages and syndicated sites.
  • Conduct a survey related to your industry and then distribute your findings that to your target audience if it will help their business.
  • Use free creative sites like Canva to create visual content such as banners, posters, social posts, animated posts, etc.
  • Use the free tools to create infographics that educate.
  • Create short videos that educate, motivate or demonstrate a product. Everyone has a camera on their smartphone so pick it up and hit the record button. There is no excuse not to.

Seek synergistic collaborationOne of the upsides to all the chaos we're all going through is the change we are seeing in humanity. The giving economy is on the rise and rightfully so. You are of greater value to your clients when you offer them more of what they need.

Seek collaboration with business partners who can add value to your client base.What can others bring to the table that is beneficial to your clientele that is not in direct competition with you, yet creates synergy for both of your businesses?

Reaching out to other corporates and business owners will stimulate the economy and creates a three-way win.

Learn and Go Digital

The way business is conducted today has already changed. Operating efficiently in the new c-economy, will require the use of more technology and apps for conducting business remotely with clients and team members.

Businesses that once offered their services in person, must adapt to digital platformsin the new normal. This form of communication once thought to be a ‘nice to try' has moved into the realm of a legitimate way of doing business.

Not only will the need arise to learn new technologies for virtual engagement, the need to know how to protect our privacy will require us to spend some time understanding cyber security as well.

There will be a learning curve, yet failure to dive in and embrace the new wave of technology that has now become part of our everyday lives, will mean that those who are unwilling to learn will be left behind.

Repurpose to Create Additional Revenue Streams

As a veteran small business owner, I'm a big advocate of having multiple streams of revenue. Each time I develop a new brand, I map out the various ways I can sell my services at different price points and through different distribution channels.

Having more than one revenue stream is something that I push small business owners to do initiate when crafting their business model from the get-go.

View your business with fresh eyes. At the onset of your business, the product or service you offer may have been created for a specific target audience. Can what you offer now be re-purposed for another audience or niche market?

Case in point. I have a deck of cards on entrepreneurship that was derived from the chapter action steps frommy book, The 50-60 Something ™ Start-up Entrepreneur. The deck of cards was a spin off from the book and became another form of re-purposing information and additional revenue stream.

Given that the information on how to create a business is the same, I can now re-purpose the deck of cards with a new brand name, new design and sell this to a completely different market.

Is there a portion of your business that can be splintered off to create a new product in another industry? What could potentially be re-purposed or even upgraded within your own business to create a new stream of revenue?With a little brainstorming, you just might surprise yourself with what you come up with.

Riding the Wave

A big wave of change is on the horizon for all of us. It's going to come in the form of a recession or possibly a depression. I'm preparing myself now. I want to be ready when the wave of opportunity surges toward me. I hope others will join me out there in this blue ocean and we can ride this wave together.

Pamela Wigglesworth, CSP in an international entrepreneurship coach, speaker and CEO of Experiential Hands-on Learning. Residing in Asia for over 20 years, she is The 50-60 Something ™ Start-up Entrepreneur and supports encore entrepreneurs in their business development and growth.

To learn more about Pamela, visit the Experiential website at http://www.experiential.sg or email her at courses@experiential.sg

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/P_Lorraine_Wigglesworth/969794

5 Publicity Hacks For Startups To Grow Your Business Now

5 Publicity Hacks For Startups To Grow Your Business Now

One common thread about startups is that most are pressed for time and money.

They know they need to establish their brand, but lack the major funding of most established businesses.

Many try to muddle through in an attempt to pique the interest of journalists and secure media coverage.

They understand the longer it takes to create name recognition the longer it will take them to build sales and profitability, but they aren't sure how to get the process rolling.

Here are five publicity hacks for startups to quickly attract the attention of newspapers, radio and TV stations, and generate the needed publicity for immediate growth.

 

#1. Create a short summary highlighting what makes the business special and why it is different than other companies in the market space.

A startup should avoid the standard press release if possible.

The common mistake is to create the typical release and just send it everywhere hoping something will stick.

Instead, depending on the type and scope of the business, offer an exclusive story to the media with a lot of news “hooks”.

Point out interesting details and pitch the local business journal, daily newspaper, or a TV station announcing your company's launch before it happens.

You can put together an interesting summary with an eye catching headline. Journalists like to break stories and are always watching for new businesses they can write or talk about.

Businesses can always issue and distribute a standard press release later after a major news outlet or two have broken the story.

 

#2. Develop a short, quirky video for social media.

Video, of course, is highly used in today's highly digitized world.

A video can humanize the owners and team, and get people talking about it.

Many people would also rather watch something than read about it.

A video can help cover all the bases. It can depict some emotion and show aspects of the business print cannot deliver.

A company can also link to their video for added PR value when the business does send out its press release.

 

#3. Host a special event.

A special event can create excitement for the leadership, team and recruiting. The right type of event can also have a lot of media value.

Creating a special event is where creativity kicks in. You can do something a little off-the-wall such as creating the world's biggest cheeseburger or selling 50 dresses in 50 hours to build revenue for a nonprofit or repairing a house for a needy homeowner if you are a painting company or construction firm.

You can do something related to computers if you are a tech firm.

Many ways exist to execute an event and accomplish your goals. Remember a business will need something visual if you wish to attract local TV stations.

 

#4. Tie-in a charity.

Community outreach can be a key part of a communications program. A new company can develop something at the outset that benefits a local charity and gains the attention of the media.

Editors and producers like companies that do something creative and give back to the community.

You can do some special things with nonprofits that involve bringing your pets to work or small children. The media loves dogs and kids.

 

#5. Publicize your press coverage on social media and your website

Your newsroom should be kept up-to-date and make sure you link to your stories on all your social channels.

Print, video and digital all play off each other with SEO benefits as well.

Keep in mind the more coverage you get, and the more media relationships you establish, the more credibility you will have for future stories.

Stephen Turner is a Principal and owner with Solomon/Turner PR, a public relations and integrated marketing firm in St. Louis, MO. Solomon Turner PR is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020. The firm has been named One of the Top PR Firms in St. Louis for 12 years in a row by Small Business Monthly. Steve was named a Rockstar Publicist by Authority Magazine and Thrive Global. He has over 30 years of experience in PR and marketing communications. His firm, Solomon/Turner specializes in publicity campaigns, social media, and branding. Mr. Turner has written dozens of blogs and articles on PR and marketing. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Visit https://solomonturner.com

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Stephen_C_Turner/392401

Transitions: The Missing Link in Your Presentation

Transitions: The Missing Link in Your Presentation

When was the last time you heard or witnessed a great presentation? Of the presentations you've seen in the past few months, how many would you rate 8-10, 5-7, maybe less?

Creating a great presentation takes time. You can't expect to quickly throw some slides together and then roll through them without any practice on what you're going to say expecting to convert a client.

You'll instantly know when someone is unprepared based on how and what they say when delivering the message. Or they may have taken some time to practice, but they have left out one key element-the transition sentence between slides.

Individuals who don't use transitions will use phrases like, ‘on this next slide… , here on this slide… , on this next slide I want to talk about… After a while, all the listener hears is next slide and not the intended message.

Transitions are an integral part of a smooth flowing presentation, yet many speakers (presenters) forget to plan their transitions. The primary purpose of a transition is to lead your listener from one idea to another.

The following are 10 examples of transitions that work well:

1. Bridge words or phrases (furthermore, meanwhile, however, in addition, consequently, finally).

2. Trigger Transition (same word or idea used twice: “a similar example is… “).

3. Ask a question (How many of you… ?)

4. Flashback (Do you remember when I said… ?)

5. Point-by-Point (There are three points… The first one is… The second one is,… etc.)

6. Add a Visual Aid as a Transition (Many times it may be appropriate to add a visual between your regular visual add for the sole purpose of a ‘visual' transition. Sometimes a clever cartoon used here can add some humor to your presentations.

7. Pausing (Even a simple pause, when effectively used can act as a transition. This allows the audience to ‘think' about what was just said and give it more time to register.

8. Use Physical Movement (The speaker should move or change the location of their body. This best done when you are changing to a new idea or thought).

9. Use a Personal Story (The use of story, especially a personal one is a very effective technique used by many professional speakers. Used effectively it can help reinforce any points you make during your presentation). Note: You don't have to be a professional speaker to use this technique.

10. Use the PEP formula (Point, Example, Point). This is a very common format used and can also be combined with the use of a personal story. Make sure stories and examples you use help reinforce your message.

With more product and service pitches happening virtually, you need to take your presentations up a notch or two. Add transitions as part of your message to indicate that you've ended that topic and you're moving onto the next. Transitions allow you to create a seamless presentation.

Pamela Wigglesworth, CSP is an international marketing consultant, speaker and the CEO of Experiential Hands-on Learning based in Asia. She is the author of The 50-60 Something ™ Start-up Entrepreneur and works with organizations across multiple industries to help them increase brand awareness, increase leads and ultimately increase sales.

To learn more about Pamela, visit the Experiential website at http://www.experiential.sg or email her at courses@experiential.sg

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/P_Lorraine_Wigglesworth/969794

Crafting a Powerful Persuasive Presentation

Crafting a Powerful Persuasive Presentation

When it comes to meeting people and presenting in person, you are in a good position to ‘read the room', to get a sense of how your information is or isn't being accepted. You can see first-hand the nuances of body language, facial gestures and signs of disengagement of people looking at their mobile phones.

With most of your meetings now happening virtually, it becomes more challenging to put your finger on the pulse of your client or prospects response via the small screen. It can be further complicated when your audience of one or many has their camera turned off forcing you to rely only on verbal clues.

The good news is that you can still deliver an impactful presentation that convert. Before sitting down to craft your next presentation, consider these three things; the objective of the presentation, the decision to be made by the client or prospect and how much time you'll for delivering the presentation.

Once you know those first few things, you can then sit down to reverse engineer the layout and content of the presentation.

The Objective of the Presentation

When you just read the above paragraph, you might have thought to yourself that the objective and decision to be made are one in the same and they are not.

Before we can even begin to write the content of the message, you need to know what the objective of the presentation is. Determine whether the message is intended to educate on a product or service; to inform the audience, such as a company announcement or to get their buy in. Lastly, is it to inspire or motivate the audience as many corporate leaders might be doing for their employees and stakeholders.

The Business Decision to be Made

In preparation of any presentation you might be giving, you need to understand one key thing-that the presentation is being made so that the person or team members listening can make a decision. Your role as the presenter is to give them the information they need to make a decision to say yes, say no, move forward with the next meeting, raise their hand to an idea or at the very least ask questions.

Delivery Time

You are starting on the wrong foot with your presentation if you have not determined how much time you have to delivery your presentation. It is a huge mistake to have a presentation run longer than the audience is expecting and could effectively squash an opportunity as a result.

First and foremost, find out how much time you are given to speak. Then immediately knock off 10-15 minutes. This will ensure that you end early and allow time for any Q&A at the end.

So, if you are given an hour, plan for a about 45-50 minutes and then reverse engineer the presentation. This means you need to craft the presentation with this timing in mind. Perhaps you allow 5 minutes for the introduction and perhaps another 10 minutes for the conclusion and closing. That means I need to divide up the remaining 35 minutes for the body of the presentation.

The brain likes the number 3. That means your listeners will remember more of your presentation if you deliver the content as three topics. Those three topics along with their talking points would be spread across the 35 minutes for about 10 – 12 minutes for each topic being shared.

You can use this format for any amount of time given for your presentation.

So now that you know your objective, what desired decision the audience needs to make and how much time for delivery, we can now move onto building a persuasive presentation.

Building a Persuasion Presentation

When it comes to delivering your presentation, it is important that you have a structure to your talk-it allows you to establish a foundation for your talk.

There are two formats to consider:

A. Past, Present, Future

Start by having a discussion on where your audience (client, stakeholder, peers) was in the past.

Establish what is happening in the present (what are they achieving or not achieving).

Explain how you can improve their future, where you can take them.

B. Why you?, Why your company?, Why now?

Each time you give a presentation, there are three questions that you need to answer for the prospect or client, even if they don't ask you directly.

You ned to answer the question of why they should work with you as an individual.

You need to answer the question of why they should consider your company, product or service, especially if they currently have a current vendor or company that they are satisfied with.

You need to answer the question of why they should work with your company right now. This is where you demonstrate the opportunity cost.

Presentation Format

The classic presentation structure has four main parts: An introduction, the body (the 3 main talking points), a conclusion and a close.

Building a persuasive presentation is never complete until you add a conclusion and end with a clear and confident close.

The conclusion provides a quick reference back to your attention-grabbing opening, pulls the loose ends together and brings your argument to an end. The presentation is only complete when you close, i.e., include a specific call to action.

So, there you have it. A process that will allow you to draft a presentation by first asking key questions, using your time strategically and then building the argument for your presentation.

Pamela Wigglesworth, CSP, is an entrepreneurship and marketing consultant, international speaker and the author of three business books. A resident of Asia for over 20 years, she is the CEO of Experiential Hands-on Learning. She works with organizations across multiple industries to help them increase brand awareness, increase leads and ultimately increase sales.

To learn more about Pamela, visit the Experiential website at http://www.experiential.sg or email her at courses@experiential.sg

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/P_Lorraine_Wigglesworth/969794

Is Link Building For Your Website Worth The Effort?

In the past link building was used by online marketers to build tons of backlinks to their website to increase search engine rankings. And it worked. But, in 2012, the Google Penguin algorithm update stopped websites spamming their search results. In particular, those websites which were buying links or getting them through free link building sites designed to boost their Google rankings.

So does this mean that link building for your website is all but dead today? Far from it!

Don't Disregard Link Building For Your Website

Link building for your website has always been an important factor for it to rank well in the search engines. Links back to your website provide strong signals that your site is relevant and popular.

The focus for any website owner is now to create quality content and then build links to that from other relevant high-quality sites.

How To Do Link Building With Content

Generally, increasing the number of backlinks pointing to your website will improve your website's search ranking. To get more links, contact authoritative websites or blogs to see if you can provide a guest post or article. That post or article will contain a link back to your website.

It's much easier to build links to your site when you have high-quality content. Remember that without good content your online business has no value to your audience. It doesn't have to be a literary masterpiece, but it should be relevant and interesting.

Evergreen Content

Content can be an article, a blog post, a report, an eBook, an online course, a video or an audio. The best kind of content is that which is classed as ‘evergreen'. This means that the information presented doesn't go out of date, so in years to come it's still relevant. That means you'll still have content on your site that's worth linking to.

Social Media

It's true that Google still relies on ‘traditional links', that is, links from other authority sites. We're now seeing a shift towards Google and Bing taking more of an interest on what's happening on social media.

What social media links are great for is to reach your real live customers. This is a way to drive traffic back to your site without having to worry about what Google or Bing does. Once again, content is king. If you continually produce high-quality content, your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ will share these posts, comment on them and vote for them.

With over 150 million active monthly users, Google is paying more attention to Pinterest. It's become a major player in the social media universe. Pinterest can boost your search engine rankings and send you free, targeted traffic. Don't ignore this social media superbrand. Download your free Pinterest Marketing Checklist at: http://jonallo.com/pinterestchecklist

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How do I create a successful social media campaign?

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What appeals to you? What compels you to act? Peer to peer impressions have more influence now than ever before. A friend recommending a restaurant, product, service, etc. can have more impact than a paid advertisement. Think about the types of posts, information, etc. that not only appeals to your customers, but they will also want to share.

The ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” was one of the most successful social media campaigns to date. It incorporated entertaining videos of people challenging people they know to support a worthy cause. The challenge went viral and spread like wildfire. As a result, the ALS Association not only raised a ton of money for their cause, but they spread awareness of the disease and their mission throughout the United States and beyond.

Social media was meant to be “social.” Direct selling of your product and/or service through social media is not as effective as offering something of value to your customers. Consider these ideas when developing a social medial campaign for your business:

  1. Helpful tips people will want to share
    (i.e. a pest control service may want to post tips on reducing mosquitos around your home, etc.)
  2. Entertaining videos – people love to share humor so come up with a video or series of funny, short videos that demonstrate the value of your product.
  3. Contests
    (i.e. send us a 30 second video showing why you love our product; we will post and people will have an opportunity to select their top three favorites; winners will receive a prize, etc.)
  4. Live streams – Facebook Live is an example of a platform where you can transmit live video streams. Consider broadcasting “live” content that is entertaining and informative. This new feature of Facebook – introduced in April 2016 – is gaining in popularity. Learn more here: https://live.fb.com/

You don’t have to be a million-dollar company to create catchy a social media campaign that reaches millions of people. It just takes one good idea to go viral.

Immediate Notification When Someone Mentions Your Business Online

Did you know that Google will notify you every time someone mentions your business or website online?

Would you like to receive notifications each time your competitor is mentioned online?

All you have to do is set up Google Alerts.   With Google Alerts, Google will send you e-mails anytime your web page or company name is mentioned.

Google Alerts is an easy method of finding new pages and articles linking to your site or mentioning your service.

Or, for monitoring your competition.

Just go to:  https://www.google.com/alerts

10 More Small-Business Start-Up Mistakes To Avoid

Business MistakesWhat are some of the common mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting out? Here is a list of ten more of the most common mistakes new entrepreneurs make when starting their business. Although mistakes made can be our greatest teacher, they can be time-consuming and costly. So here I want to share with you my hard-earned experiences and the insight I gained from my own lapses in judgment.

  1. Making Absurd Forecasts
    Is it realistic that you can bring in 60 customers in the first 6 months? Or is 6 more likely? Can you realistically sell 3,000 books of your self-published book in the first year? Or is 300 more likely? Maybe 600 in the second year and 900 in your book's third year is more realistic? How are other books like yours selling on Amazon? You need to do some serious research and try to come up with realistic forecasts about how your services or products will sell. If you forecast unusually high sales and profitability, it indicates that you don't have a realistic understanding of your own business and the market that you are in.
  2. Relying On One Client Or One Product
    That one client or one product might be enough to get your new business off the ground. But having only one certainly won't be enough to keep your business growing. Therefore, you must constantly be trying to add a variety of new clients and new products. It is safer for your business to have many little clients instead of one giant client. Ideally, you should be striving to bring in a variety of clients of different sizes and industries. And, you should also be developing a variety of products that can be sold to a variety of clients in different industries. This variety is what will save your company when market conditions and consumer behavior changes.
  3. Not Having A Unique Selling Point
    Why will your customers buy your service or product? Why you? Why not someone else? What are you offering that makes your services and your products special? What do you bring to the table that the others don't? You better have a good answer to these questions before starting your business. Most businesses start up without ever asking these questions. That's a very big mistake. If you want to build a successful business – one that you can be proud of – then you must answer these questions before you start your new business.
  4. Not Doing Enough Marketing
    You can never do enough marketing. As a small-business you will be marketing yourself as much as you are marketing your services and your products. It is not uncommon for a small-business to devote more time to marketing the owner, and building relationships, than to actual sales. This will help you to make a positive impact on your customers, and potential customers, and help them trust you and remember you.
  5. Lacking Proper Start-Up Capital
    You must expect that your start-up costs will be much more than you initially planned on spending. A one-person small-business might have little or no start-up costs. This type of business can become profitable immediately. But if you are going to need an office, machinery, employees, supplies, etc., your start-up costs can easily soar past what you initially planned on. And if you don't have enough capital to pay these start-up costs, you will be prevented from getting past the break-even point for profitability.
  6. Avoiding And Fearing Risk Too Much
    As entrepreneurs we naturally try to avoid uncalculated risk. We generally only take risks that have been well thought out. But we should not avoid or fear all risk. The real issue is that without taking risk, you cannot exploit opportunities that come to you. You can very simply live a quiet and reasonably happy life, but you are unlikely to create something new, and you are unlikely to make your mark on the world.
  7. Being A Control Freak
    This isn't an issue if you are a one-person business. But as soon as you start working with others, like partners, spouses, employees and sub-contractors, you need to share the decision-making power. As the owner of the business you will certainly have the last word. And as the owner your overall vision is what is the most important. But you need to convey your vision to everyone else that you work with, so that you are all on the same page. Getting others involved in your decision-making process and collaborating on ideas will make your business much stronger.
  8. Not Anticipating Your Customers' Needs
    Anticipating what services or products your current customers will need after your initial sale can greatly increase your company sales. It will also create a greater bond between you and your customers. Let's say for example, that you install HVAC systems in residential homes. You can easily return every Spring and Fall to do a tune-up, change filters, etc., on the system and charge $200 for about 20 minutes of work. The customer will be grateful that you take good care of their system and keep it running perfectly. They get to see you in person and chat with you. You ask them to please give your business card to anyone looking for HVAC work in their home. You get to keep your customer happy, make an emotional connection with them, and go home with an easy $200. If you didn't come back every Spring and Fall, the customer would need to find someone else to take care of their HVAC system.
  9. Believing The Flexible Hours Myth
    Starting a business will take up a huge amount of your time. Even if you start a small, part-time business, you will expend a lot of time and effort to get it going. But the more time and effort you put into it, the more you will get out of it. Therefore, you better choose a business that you love to work on. The more that you like what you are doing will make it much easier – even make it a joy – to be spending so much time, effort, and money, on building your business.
  10. Ignoring Your Customers
    This is a big problem for all businesses. But as a small business one of your biggest selling points should be personalized service. There is always another business desperately trying to take your customers. The minute your customers feel ignored or neglected by you, they will be more open to talking to other businesses. They will feel less affinity for you and your company. Therefore, you must find ways to create an emotional connection between your company and your clients.

10 More Small-Business Start-Up Mistakes To Avoid

By Joseph C Kunz, Jr

 

10 Small-Business Start-Up Mistakes To Avoid

Business Plan
What are some of the common mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting out? Here is a list of ten of the most common mistakes new entrepreneurs make when starting their business. Although mistakes made can be our greatest teacher, they can be time-consuming and costly. So here I want to share with you my hard-earned experiences and the insight I gained from my own lapses in judgment.

1. Starting Without A Business Plan

If you are serious about making your new business a success, you must have a written plan. It can be as simple as one page to get started. Writing it will force yourself to think about how you plan on making your business come to life and also become profitable. Force yourself to honestly answer such questions as “Who will my customers be”; “Why will they buy from me?”; “How much will I charge for my products and services?”; “How will I get the word out about my new business?”. Be realistic about the costs of running your business. Your business plan will act as an ever-changing and ever-improving guide for you to follow.

2. Having No Management Experience

As the founder of a small business, you will be directly responsible for all aspects of management – finance, marketing, sales, employee relations, dealing with sub-contractors, and bathroom cleaning, etc. But if you are starting your business because you are great at your particular skill or service, and want to devote all of your time and energy to doing this, maybe a family member or partner can handle most of the management of the company. This person must share your vision and goals for the business.

3. Hiring Help Too Soon

Do not hire employees until it is absolutely necessary. The expense of hiring help can financially drown your small business very quickly. When you do hire someone, make sure that they are hard-working and honest. Only hire people you need, not people you like. At our home-based small-business, we only hire sub-contractors that we know and trust. And for some of the work, we rely on our family to do some of the smaller jobs.

4. Not Hiring Professional Help

Do not skimp on hiring professional advisers like an accountant and attorney. Interview several and find advisers that you are comfortable talking with. Do they understand what you are trying to accomplish? Are they quick to share their experiences and knowledge with you? These professionals can save you many headaches and lots of money.

5. Not Using the Cash-Method Of Accounting

Under the “cash method”, you record business income when it's received into your bank account. And you record an expense when it is paid out of your bank account. Most of us use this cash method for our personal finances because it is much simpler and less time-consuming. This is also the ideal method for the small and home-based business. Under the “accrual method”, you would record business income when it is earned, without regard to when you may get paid for the product or service you sold. And you record an expense when it is incurred, without regard to when you will get around to writing a check to pay for it. This accrual method is too difficult to keep up with for a small and home-based business.

6. Not Keeping Track Of Your Money

You must track your income and expenses every month so that you know where your money is going. You can do this yourself with inexpensive accounting software, or simply download your monthly statement from your bank and credit card. Cash-flow is the life-blood of a small fledgling business.

7. Not Doing Enough Market Research

This is a very common problem with start-up businesses. Market research can take many months and lots of research to do correctly. You must know who your competition is, and who your customers will be. You must understand all aspects of your industry – inside and out. Read all the books and articles you can find about your particular type of business. Talk to others that are in that industry.

8. Not Doing The Correct Marketing

Every business must have an online presence. It does not matter what business you are in, you must be online. It is now possible to do extensive and sophisticated marketing for no cost – free. Whether is it a simple website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, or an online telephone-book listing, you must be online.

9. Spending Too Much Too Soon

If you are on a tight budget, do not start out by spending thousands on business cards and letterheads. Do not spend thousands on paying a company to build your website when you can very quickly build a great website on your own. Keep using that older computer until you have the cash-flow and the actual need for a new computer. Before very big purchases, like a new truck or machine, get advice from your accountant.

10. Giving-Up Too Soon

A major part of being an entrepreneur is having stamina, drive, and determination. Not giving up your dream because of a few bumps in the road is an essential part of entrepreneurship. Developing the intestinal fortitude to weather the tough times is essential if you ever want to achieve any kind of success. Don't believe anyone that tells you that starting and managing a business is easy or simple. It also takes time, effort, faith, and a vision.

10 Small-Business Start-Up Mistakes To Avoid

By Joseph C Kunz, Jr

Google Plus Introduces Giant Cover Photos

Google Plus introduced giant cover photos this week along with several other features in an effort to make their social network bigger and better.  The new larger photos occupy nearly half the screen.

The cover photos aren't the only changes on Google Plus. The “About” tab is redesigned, and “Reviews” now compiles all of your reviews from Google Local.

These new Google Plus improvements are still rolling out, so not everyone can see them yet.

If you need help getting your cover photo ready, just contact us.