Monthly Archives: October 2015

Why The World needs More Young Entrepreneurs

By | Entrepreneurship | No Comments

Young entrepreneurs are the backbone of the economy.  From creating jobs to advancing technology and improving our lives, these trailblazers embody the American spirit and are important to our success as a society and a nation.  Here are some of the reasons why the world needs more young entrepreneurs.

Inspiration

The world needs leaders, role models, and success stories to inspire and motivate individuals to exceed their given situation and accomplish things they never thought possible.  What is more inspiring than a young entrepreneur that created a successful business or an amazing new technology product and became wildly successful and wealthy in his or her twenties?

Young entrepreneurs bring a fresh perspective, an intimate knowledge of technology and the positives and negatives it can have since they grew up with tablets and the internet at a very young age, and help create jobs in places and sectors of the market that are growing and in demand.

It is rare to see a young entrepreneur open up a car factory or a textile plant.  Rather, they are focused on technology-oriented endeavors that will sculpt our future and increase the standard of living across the less developed world.

Bootstrapping

Bootstrapping is a startup concept or method of operations that involves growing and starting a business or enterprise without much capital, resources, or investors.  Typical bootstrap businesses are not making a profit yet, turning all their profits and revenue around into growing, advertising, and expanding their ventures.

As the economic cycle shifts and rising interest rates tighten access to capital from both debt and equity sources, bootstrapped businesses are likely to make a resurgence.  Young entrepreneurs lead the way in this field, as older entrepreneurs tend to favor the traditional ways of starting an enterprise that they learned in business school.  Older entrepreneurs are also more risk averse because of their mistakes, experiences, and looming retirements.

Young entrepreneurs are fearless, sometimes careless, but this allows them to challenge the status quo and help advance society in new and unforeseen ways.

Innocence and ignorance as advantages

Sometimes not being properly educated or having experience can be an advantage.  Traditional advice affirms that it is usually a disadvantage, but in today’s marketplace this is not always the case.  Sometimes it takes a visionary to accept that the way the world drinks coffee is not the best, that the taxi cab monopoly is not good for the environment or the consumer, or that there is a better way to store our files then local hard drives prone to failure and tampering.

An entrepreneur with typical business experience and a typical education struggles to come up with a creative and innovative idea, but the young entrepreneur can live outside these restrictions.

Young entrepreneurs also prefer to work with colleagues and employees that are similar in age and temperament to themselves.  The more these individuals are allowed to foster and become successful, the more opportunities will exist for our young people who have mixed education backgrounds.

These entrepreneurs can also take other misguided or confused kids under their wing in a mentor type program.  This in-house growing of future entrepreneurs bodes well for the economy and society as there is a belief that small businesses are the ones that create true job growth in the economy as opposed to mega corporations either from home or abroad.

How to Build a Brand with Public Relations

By | Entrepreneurship, Marketing | No Comments

In a saturated marketplace, the only way to get the word out and establish your brand’s story is through PR efforts.  Very few products or companies are truly original but may have slightly different or innovative approaches.  Here are some ways to use public relations to tell your story and establish the subtle differences that make your company stand out and gain market share as a result.

Establish what your brand is and what you want it to be first

No PR strategy can begin without a plan.  Think through who you want to reach, why, where they are, how you are going to get to them, and how brand building helps your business.

Just because more people know about your brand’s existence doesn’t automatically turn them into customers—they might just know your brand exists but not be more interested in it than they were when it didn’t exist to them.  Any message is not better than the wrong one.

Align charitable giving with your customers’ values

Choosing a charity or a group of charities and organizations to donate to should not be done haphazardly.  While some companies might donate to things they believe in, that their employees support because of their own experience, or any number of other reasons, brand building through PR could be a better option.

Consider who your customers are—are they likely to donate their time or money to this organization?  Why or why not?  If your goal is to reach customers that value animals and the health of the planet, say, because you sell organic dog treats, then donating to the American Cancer Society is great and all, but the PR it may or may not generate is not optimized.

While doing good should not be reduced to a cold calculated maneuver, it is not much effort to simply shift contributions to different organizations to help build your credibility and brand in the marketplace that you desire to occupy.  The previously mentioned company could instead donate to animal shelters, green organizations, or anything else more closely aligned to their customers’ goals and values.

The best PR is genuine, non-solicited, and from a third party

Any company can buy an interview, an advertisement, or paid money to force their way into the spotlight.  But these days consumers are savvy and getting smarter by the minute.  Millennials know when they are being advertised and marketed to, and they despise it.  A third party who you did not pay or solicit sharing or talking about your brand, however, is pure gold and the end goal of every great PR or brand building effort.

The reason this has such a big impact is that the end consumer sees the extra layer of filtering and credibility.  This is not the company telling me their product is awesome, this is somebody else putting their reputation on the line to tell me it is awesome or not, and that I can get behind.  But how do you achieve this?

Make something great.  Something worth talking about.  A cucumber infused soda is much more interesting than the next marketing widget or program.  But if that marketing program has a better story or is more well known, it might have a stronger brand presence.  Story is important as well, and we focus on that next.

What do they mean by story?

Storytelling is an essential human need, condition, and want.  It comes in many forms whether it is pictures, video, oral dialogue, a fake story that we build up in our minds and convince ourselves is true, books, media, or almost anything.  This is what PR can do for your brand.  It is not enough to simply tell a magazine that your product exists anymore.  No one will care.

What you need is the story behind and in front of it.  Why did you make it?  What motivated you?  How does it change the users’ story in their own life?  Does it let you spend more time with your family, creating great memories and scrapbook moments?  Does it take grocery shopping into virtual reality, letting you embrace your wildest childhood dreams and fantasies?  Then tell customers that.  That is what customers want to hear.

Don’t neglect your internal brand

Many people focus purely on their external brand and the perception of it.  Whether it be their products, their packaging, what kind of furry animal is in the commercials, or the reputation of their services, that kind of brand building is no doubt important.

But what can be just as important is your internal brand.  This is sometimes referred to as your company culture, but it is more than that.  Google and other tech companies have become infamous for their unique working conditions that go against the mold of rigid schedules, pointless meetings, structure, and cubicles.

Instead, Google aligns their internal brand with their external one to create a cohesive message.  When you hear a news story about Google, whether it is their basketball games at lunch or the latest amazing invention, the story is the same:  this a company at the forefront of innovation and is not afraid to be different.  They are going places.

Aligning your internal brand can help employees at all levels to embody and believe in their external brand building and approach.  This can reduce employee turnover and increase productivity with a healthier workplace to boot.

Following Through on Your Email Marketing Campaign

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Email marketing campaigns are a great way to drive traffic, increase revenue, and market to your customers in a way that has a high conversion rate.  With such a long and drawn out process, however, discouragement along the way or less than stellar results can derail a campaign before it achieves its full potential.  Here are some ways to follow through with the email marketing campaign you began.

 

Don’t quit if the first email results are bad

You put days and weeks of time and effort into building an elaborate email marketing campaign, and when the first email launches it is exciting. Then, you check the statistics and it hits you—it was a flop.  Your projections are in jeopardy, the doubts start creeping in, but don’t quit!

Often the first email or marketing piece of a campaign is not the most effective.  Very few boxers are knocked out on the first punch.  A well organized and thought out campaign will be successful over time if it is allowed to finish, so do not hit the eject button at the first sign of trouble.

The email could have been launched at a bad time or buried in your customers’ inboxes with a host of other ones.  Maybe the customers don’t have familiarity with your brand yet and the campaign will help build that.  The easiest way to follow through with a struggling campaign is to finish it.  It is better to evaluate the entire thing than stop halfway and wonder if it was the right choice.

Focus on the original goal

During an email marketing campaign, it can get discouraging to look at your results, or thrilling if you are landing a bunch of customers or clicks.  These emotions are dangerous because they can lead you away from your original goal.

Hopefully your campaign had an initial goal that you set and this goal should be compared and monitored throughout the campaign at the end.  If the goal was to build your brand but instead you got a lot of affiliate revenue from customer’s clicking links on your site or email, did that help you towards your goal?

One can never truly know how a campaign will go until it launches, regardless of how well you plan or research.  Sometimes you can be surprised by how well it goes.  Maybe your campaign was designed to get referral email addresses from friends of those on your list but it turns out those customers also made a ton of purchases as well.  This information, despite not being your desired outcome, can help you tremendously in future campaigns and marketing efforts outside of the email medium.

Cold feet

If you have planned a campaign but are afraid or scared to launch it, remember that it likely does not cost you much monetarily and the upside potential is tremendous.  A well run and targeted campaign can make you money, increase your brand awareness, turn potential customers into lifelong return ones, and so much more.

The input costs were likely time, effort, planning, and a little bit of money.  But compared to traditional marketing methods like advertising or direct mail, email marketing is relatively affordable.  This is one of the reasons it is so popular in addition to its ability to get your message closer to the customer than virtually anything else.  People treasure their email—so make sure your brand, your product, your baby, is in there!

Workplace Etiquette Everyone Should Know

By | Business Management and Leadership, Workplace | No Comments

Workplace etiquette is the foundation of a comfortable and efficient workplace but is rarely ever spelled out other than in boring and dull employee handbooks.  Much of the true etiquette and office expectations can only be learned on the job–by observing, interacting, and adapting to the company’s culture and your fellow employees’ temperaments.

Keep Shared Spaces Clean

Break and lunch rooms are often the most commonly used space between all employees, and are used as a place to relax and eat as well as socialize in a company approved way.  It is essential to a good atmosphere that these spaces are clean and organized.

Nothing can upset a fellow employee more than getting their food stolen from the common fridge, a dirty microwave with splashed food all over, or stinky leftovers.  Treat the common areas as you would your own home and you should have no trouble.

Company phones are NOT for personal calls

Personal calls or communication should be conducted on a personal cell phone or other device, preferably in the hallway or outside of the workspace.  This simple gesture maintains clear boundaries between work and play and can benefit both employee and employer.

This separation shows the employer that you respect their time and equipment and they can return the favor by allowing the employee to disconnect from work when they clock out and avoid the constant checking of email and other distractions.

Don’t push the dress code limits

Dress codes aren’t meant to suppress your individuality or creativity, rather, they are essential to maintaining a culture and atmosphere that is professional.  A professional workplace is one where the focus is on business and the respective job components of that business rather than gossip, self-image, confidence, or other emotions that are not conducive to smooth business operations.

Never be late

It goes without saying that you should never be late to work, meetings, events, or anything else work related.  What is harder to see, however, is the effect your late arrival can have on others.  It can delay the current meeting, which affects future meetings and schedules, and can reflect poorly on your direct manager as if his employees are not in line, and encourage other employees to neglect their duties and professionalism, which can hurt the business.

Your job is likely important to you for more than just money.  A job is also a source of social engagement, purpose, friendship, and other non-monetary advantages.  Treat it well, even if it is not your desired job or the last one you will ever have; the connections and respect you gain can help you throughout the rest of your career.

Use speakerphone judiciously

Nothing can annoy fellow co-workers more than putting a client, vendor, or other customer on speakerphone when they are working near you.  This distraction can prevent them from hearing their call and hurt their overall productivity.

You may think it is fine because everyone is wearing headphones and listening to music like you do, but remember the workplace contains a broad cross section of different people and not everyone is the same as you.

The B2B Digital Marketing Rules You Should Know

By | B2B Marketing Communication Strategiesv | No Comments

More and more businesses are beginning to enter the age of digital marketing for their Business-to-Business efforts.  And it is long overdue.  Soon, even every old school law firm in the country will have a website collecting customers instead of relying solely on referrals.  Here are some digital marketing rules you should know to keep your business ahead of the pack and land more customers for yourself.

 

Your website is your most powerful salesperson

Gone are the days of the top salesperson, the storefront with great foot traffic, or the award winning TV advertisement jingle that kids sing the world over.  Enter your website.  Your website is now your most powerful asset and your best salesperson.

Spend the time, money, and care to make sure it is mobile friendly, has clear call to actions, and is generally top of the line.  A great website can take much of the marketing effort out of human hands, attracting customers through search engines, facilitating their acquisition, and closing the sale with little effort at all.

All you have to do is turn around and deliver what the website is promising and your business will flourish.

Focus on analytics that matter, not all of them

 

The amount of analytics, statistics, and data that can be gathered and poured over is enormous.  Unless you have an entire fleet of people assigned to the task, just compiling and understanding this data can take all of your time.

Instead, a better approach is to identify a few key pieces that you want to focus on before you start collecting data.  The rest can be there if you need it, but these few key pieces allow you to easily and quickly understand how you are doing, what to improve or not, and if your strategy is working.  The specific adjustments can take their genesis from the other data, if it fits, but try to avoid drowning yourself in data at first.

Businesses are on social media

As social media sites become more saturated and their users more sophisticated, a key component to any businesses’ social media strategy is to blend genuine interaction and outreach with marketing themselves, and their product and services.

So why not provide them an easy way to perform this genuine interaction?  Reach out to businesses in your industry or closely related to it.  It doesn’t matter whether they are customers, potential customers, suppliers, or competitors, any interaction and social media presence that is not your own personal marketing can help establish trust on that particular platform.

These efforts also can gather new business customers or at least build your brand so that when the business customer arrives at the beginning of your sales funnel they are slightly more familiar with your brand and the path to closing the sale is smooth.

Establish trust and rapport with content marketing

Case studies and other content marketing can not only help your SEO presence and get more customers to your site but can also help you build trust with potential business customers before you ever interact.

A case study about how you helped another business, the results and impact it had, and how you communicated and worked on a personal level with that business to understand their goals can have a positive influence on your corporate image and reputation.

A potential business or business owner can read that study and place himself or herself and their business in the shoes of the business featured in the case study.  This instant connection can be utilized by the rest of your sales funnel by starting the process you described in the case study.

The customer will be more comfortable and let you take them along for the ride since they now know what to expect thanks to the case study.  They now have a bit of trust and knowledge that their B2B experience with your organization will have positive results for all involved.