Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

A quick guide to pulling off Digital Marketing Integration

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Keep the marketing team cohesive

Often companies that are performing digital marketing such as Social Media, Targeted Ads, and other fancy techniques will have separate teams performing each function.  These teams do a great job but work in relative isolation, especially at larger companies.  A better way to obtain the marketing results you desire is to ensure these teams work together and that their efforts play off one another.  Data from social media and the types of people that interact or follow the company can be used to target ads to a better demographic or influence other areas of the overall marketing engine.
Integrate marketing in your product or service at every level

Marketing is not just something you should do to drive people to your website or product page.  Rather, it should be an important and integral part of everything you do.  With digital media marketing, the product or service can help market itself, sometimes achieving things for free that no paid marketing could ever accomplish.  A link at the end of your app, a flyer for your website or app included with every product shipped, or other traditional and digital combinations can pay off as well.  Leveraging both traditional and digital techniques to penetrate the marketplace and ensure your message is reaching your target customer is crucial to growing your brand and taking market share.

Email marketing is still king

Digital marketing can be overwhelming with all the choices a company can have on how to go about it.  From blogs and communities to product reviews and landing pages, the methods are endless and constantly evolving.  But, one method stands out above all others and has since the beginning– email marketing.  The best email marketing is one that is voluntary, that is, the customer has gone through a few steps and clicks to give you permission to market to them.

Why is this a more effective marketing system, because they are more likely to be engaged with your product or message.  A list of a thousand potential customers that only got on your list because they thought they were getting a free book are a lot less likely to buy something from you then those who voluntarily gave you their email or filled out a survey after purchasing from you.  This type of quality email list can also reduce the time you spend cleaning out and filtering the list and increase open rates and sales funnel success.

Email marketing is a long-term strategy whereas advertisements lose all effectiveness once they are no longer shown unless you pay to keep showing them.  A customer who doesn’t open or view your first few emails may eventually convert, for whatever reason, down the line.  They might have not seen your email, had it accidentally go to spam, or not trusted or been interested in your brand at the time.  Unless they unsubscribe altogether, you will always have the ability to enter their email box with your best shot and try to convince them.  Long-term marketing and repeat customers of the highest quality can be found through email marketing.  Remember what they say, ‘the money is in the list’.

Why The World needs More Young Entrepreneurs

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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

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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.

How to Create a Great Email Marketing Template

By | B2C Marketing Communication Strategies, Entrepreneurship | No Comments

Businesswoman checking email

Instead of individually formatting each and every marketing email, creating a great template can help streamline and simplify the process. Likewise, it creates a cohesive look and brand that customers can easily recognize and navigate. Below are some of the best ways to create a great email marketing template.

  1. Use the right software

Creating an eye-catching email marketing template is not the time to utilize Microsoft Word. Instead, programs like HubSpot, Dreamweaver, and even Notepad can be used to help you create code that won’t go wonky in an email.

  1. Manage email width

If you want to allow your emails to be viewed in Outlook’s vertical preview pane, email widths should not exceed 650 pixels. Likewise, limiting width can also ensure users with slower software or connections do not experience issues opening up your content.

  1. Avoid HTML text

While HTML text, such as the pretty bullet points, may seem more exciting and enticing than their plain text counterparts, they can also cause serious issues with spacing and readability for recipients who do not have HTML rich text enabled. Instead, write content in plain text to ensure all readers, including those on mobile devices, can read your text without issue.

  1. Create a plain text version

In addition to minimizing the use of HTML text, emails need to be accompanied by a plain text version. Not only does this mean that everyone can have the option to view your email regardless of the device or platform they use, it also prevents your messages from getting flagged as spam.

  1. Check your photo formats

No matter how great your email’s graphics are, if they can’t be viewed, they take away from your template. While .jpeg and .gif files are generally accepted – and the most widely used – formats like .png may not open up in certain platforms.

  1.  Include an unsubscribe link

Nothing frustrates readers more than not being able to easily unsubscribe from email marketing they no longer want to receive. Including it as a permanent part of your email template – along with the company name and physical address – ensures that you are CAN-SPAM compliant and that these items are never left out of an email.

Entrepreneurs You Should Follow on Social Media

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Social Media Logotype On Tags

Social media is a great way to stay connected with friends and family as well as stay informed on the latest headlines, news, and trends. However, it also gives us unprecedented access to the thoughts and lives of some of the most brilliant business minds of our times.

  1. Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson, mega-successful founder of the Virgin Group, runs a worldwide network of more than 400 businesses. Somehow he finds the time to regularly tweet to his more than 6 million followers. Branson provides business inspiration and advice that is inspirational.

  1. Michelle Glover

Michelle Glover is the brains behind the popular Twitter account enTREEpreneurz, which is dedicated to empowering other women to grow their own businesses “one leaf at a time.” A founder of one company and current CEO of another, Glover tweets her comments on business articles as well as provides practical startup tips and inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs.

  1. Tony Hsieh

The current CEO of online shoe retailer Zappos, Tony Hsieh sold his first company to Microsoft at age 24 for a cool $265 million. Today he can be found tweeting about his principles for life and business – as well as using social media as a way to interact directly with his customers.

  1. Caterina Fake

The co-founder of a number of popular websites including Flickr and Hunch, Fake is currently working on Findery, a site which lets users search for and leave notes on almost any subject. Fake’s Twitter is full of her comments on interesting articles from across the web.

  1. Tim Ferriss

Best known for his book The 4-Hour Workweek, Ferriss encourages his followers to use their time efficiently and effectively in order to maximize productivity and potential. His teachings and philosophies make him extremely popular among CEOs and entrepreneurs who choose to run their businesses remotely.

Digital Marketing Terms Everyone Should Know

By | Brand Management, Business Management and Leadership, Entrepreneurship | No Comments

Market Business Global Business Marketing Commerce Concept

In the modern market, digital marketing is an important part of advertising campaigns. For those new to digital marketing, however, the field can seem unnecessarily confusing due to the prevalence of unfamiliar terms and jargon.

No matter how much you currently use digital marketing, it is important to become familiar with the abbreviations and terminology being used. According to reports, businesses are projected to have enormous increases in their digital marketing budgets over the next four year, jumping from $57 billion to a whopping $103 billion by 2019.

The following are some of the most important digital marketing terms that can help you understand current marketing trends.

  1. CTR: Click through rate. CTR identifies the number of people who click on a link, such as those sent out in emails or placed on webpages.
  2. Domain Authority: Domain authority refers to the 1-100 scale of how authoritative search engines view your website to be, with 1 being the lowest and 100 being the highest. The higher your domain authority score, the more likely your page is to appear higher in search engine results.
  3. Keyword Stuffing: Keyword stuffing is the idea that putting more keywords on your page will increase its SEO. However, the opposite is true; keyword stuffing can cause you to be penalized by many search engines.
  4. Landing Page: The landing page is the page people are directed to as the entry point for the site.
  5. META Description: The META description is the 1-2 lines of text that appears in search engines beneath the title tag.
  6. Organic Traffic: Organic traffic is created when people find your website through a search engine. Because they are organically finding your page, there are no advertising costs involved.
  7. Paid Traffic: In the broadest terms, paid traffic refers to any form of paid advertisement that leads people to your website. Paid traffic can be generated in a number of ways, including keyword and search engine ads.
  8. PPC: Pay-per-click. PPC ads are often shown as top results on search engines and can also be imbedded into blogs or YouTube channels. Advertisers are only charged when an ad is clicked, meaning you’re only paying for those interested in your ad.
  9. SEO: Search Engine Optimization. SEO helps a website appear higher on search engines such as Google. Rank is determined by complex algorithms that include factors such as backlinks, keywords, organization, and quality content.

How to Provide Support in the Workplace

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Student Overwhelmed Asking For Help

Most of us live fast-paced and busy lives both inside and outside the workplace. Because of this, it is not unusual for some to undergo periods of stress, anxiety, or depression. During these times, it is important to create a supportive environment in the workplace in order to help our coworkers recover faster.

Whether it’s stress from work or a personal issue, these issues can impact productivity and job performance. However, many are unsure about how they can provide support in the workplace. The following tips can help you create a supportive workplace environment.

Start a conversation
Often, the hardest part of supporting someone is talking to them. Most people worry about saying the wrong thing or offending their coworker, opting instead to stay silent. The following are positive ways you can support a colleague during a stressful time.

          Let them know you’ve noticed a change in their behavior or performance
          Suggest they see a doctor or other health care professional
          Offer to help find information or make an appointment
          Refer them to programs or resources provided by your company
          Follow up with them about their experience or progress

Make accommodations
Dealing with a stressful experience often negatively impacts workplace performance. Because of this, it may be necessary to make temporary accommodations to help keep someone in the workplace. The following are ways to make accommodations in the workplace.

          Temporarily reassign projects or bring in another employee for help
          Reduce the number of obligations they have
          Extend deadlines or timelines for assignments
          If possible, grant additional leave for appointments or other obligations

Look after yourself
When helping an employee or coworker through a difficult time, it is natural to take on a portion of their stress. Because of this, it is important to make sure you are taking care of yourself. 

          Find a way to de-stress or debrief after difficult or painful conversations
          Talk to a trusted friend or family member for support
          Communicate with the rest of your team about absences or accommodations 
          Ask for help from managers, human resources, or other company leaders or departments

Providing support in the workplace can be as easy as asking someone “Are you okay?”  By talking, making accommodations, and taking care of yourself you can help support employees or coworkers through difficult or stressful periods in their lives.

Quick Tips For Effective Networking [Face to face]

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Business people shaking hands

Networking is regularly considered one of the parts of business that is least enjoyed. Most people worry that they are coming off as either too pushy or too aloof, as well as struggling to make meaningful connections with people who are in similar industries.

While many people now use networking tools such as LinkedIn, studies have shown that face to face networking is still considered the best and most effective. Building a successful network of colleagues, business associates, or acquaintances doesn’t have to be as difficult as many make it out to be. The following 10 tips for face to face meetings can help you network more effectively.

  1. Do your research. If you’re preparing to attend a workshop, conference, or other event, do research, ahead of time, as to who will be attending. This can help you target other professionals with whom you want to make connections.
  2. Quality, not quantity. Successful networking isn’t measured by how many business cards you can hand out in an hour. Instead, focus on making meaningful connections with people with whom there is a potential for mutual benefit.
  3. Don’t put business first. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, don’t immediately push your agenda when meeting someone new. Instead, get to know them as a person; people are more willing to do business with someone they feel they connected with or can relate to.
  4. Listen more than you talk. The more you talk about yourself or your accomplishments, the more arrogant you seem. Instead, ask questions, listen actively and attentively, and respond appropriately to create a meaningful conversation.
  5. Share your passion. Not all networking conversations have to be business related. It’s easier to make a connection when talking about what you are passionate about. Discussing your hobbies and interests outside of work is a great way to find some common ground.
  6. Avoid excessive compliments. When meeting someone whose work you admire, avoid excessive compliments. Often, the only response to a compliment is “thank you,” which doesn’t add much to the development of a conversation. If you look up to the person you’re talking to, ask specific questions to help create a thoughtful discussion.
  7. Be upbeat. Having a positive attitude is an important part of making a good impression. Complaining about your business or industry can often create a negative impression. However, it is important to note that being upbeat to the point of acting fake or cheesy can be just as much of a turnoff as being pessimistic.
  8. Ask to meet for drinks, not dinner. After meeting someone new, it is common to suggest continuing the conversation over a meal such as breakfast or dinner. However, many people cannot commit to the hour or more that a meal would take. Instead, suggest meeting for coffee or drinks; this shorter time commitment may be more doable for those with busy schedules.
  9. Get creative with business cards. Business cards no longer have to just include cursory contact information. Twitter handles, blogs, or LinkedIn URL’s are all options to further customize your business cards. Likewise, a including a photo may help people better remember you.
  10. Follow up. Networking doesn’t end after you exchange business cards. After meeting someone, send a quick email; it can be as simple as “It was nice meeting you” or include something relevant to your conversation such as “Here’s the article I was telling you about.” Doing this can help keep you connected while opening up further discussion or dialogue.

The Top 5 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Remember

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Professional Entrepreneur Job Success

Taking the leap to turn an idea into a reality is a risk that most people are never willing to take. This is also what sets entrepreneurs apart and has created some of the most successful business minds in the industry.

However, being an entrepreneur isn’t easy; in fact, creating a successful business can be one of the most difficult things in the world to accomplish. The following five tips that every entrepreneur should remember can help guide and encourage you through the sometimes difficult process of creating your own business.

  1. Be willing to adapt

Having a strong vision is an important part in driving the growth of your business. However, being unable or unwilling to change can be the downfall of even the most well thought out businesses. In today’s modern market, many products or services that were once thought of as indispensable are now obsolete. Because of this, it’s important to be willing to adapt. If not, your company may soon become obsolete itself.

  1. Mistakes are not failures

Although it may feel like it, a mistake does not always equal failure. Instead, use mistakes as learning opportunities to help refocus and redirect your efforts. If you don’t succeed – no matter how bad you may feel – don’t allow yourself to wallow in self-pity. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going; giving up is the only true failure.

  1. Keep a work/life balance

Whether you are trying to woo investors, get a business off the ground, or manage day to day operations as a CEO, an entrepreneur’s work is never done. However, it is important to maintain a work/life balance. Give yourself time to rest, relax, and recuperate; spending time with friends and family, or taking a vacation, can leave you refreshed and ready to redouble your efforts when you get back to the office.

  1. Learn to say no

When trying to get a business off the ground, many entrepreneurs will say ‘yes’ to almost any investor, project, or opportunity that comes their way. However, as your business takes off and becomes more successful, it is important to learn how to say no. Not every potential client or investor will be a good fit for your company; by learning to say no, you can surround yourself with people and projects that align with your company’s mission and values.

  1. Find a business mentor or role model

The best way to learn about starting a business is from those who have already done it. A mentor can serve as a sounding board, helping to guide you along the sometimes difficult path of entrepreneurship. By learning from the mistakes of others, you can potentially avoid making the same mistakes and put your business on the fast track to success.

Business Innovation: How to Stay Ahead

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Business People Jigsaw Puzzle Collaboration Team Concept

In the social media age of going viral and trending topics, staying relevant is often one of the greatest challenges company’s face today. However, it is not an impossible task. Business innovation is one way that companies can ensure their continued and long term success.

While innovation can sometimes seem like an impossible task, there are a number of ways in which businesses can help themselves stay ahead of the competition. These three business innovation strategies may seem simple, but they can help you change and improve your business model and operations.

Don’t reinvent the wheel
While innovation is important, it doesn’t always mean a ground breaking, or earth shattering, discovery. Instead, business innovation can be as simple as a shift in outlook or strategy. Too often, businesses invest time, energy, and resources into projects or research that never come to fruition, because they are trying too hard to come up with “innovative” ideas. Instead, work within your established principles, and core values, to find ways to adjust your perspective and keep moving forward.

Encourage collaboration
Companies like Google, Samsung, and Amazon are often considered the industry’s top innovators. However, it is not because they have more time or money; instead, they provide their employees with better platforms for brainstorming and sharing new ideas. By giving people room to cultivate, explore, and experiment with new ideas, their employees can work together to find creative solutions to pressing problems.

Listen to feedback
Oftentimes the most innovate ideas can come from vendors, employees, or customers. Because they regularly use and interact with your business or product, these people often have the best insight as to how to improvement it. Likewise, frontline employees are often the most equipped to tell you what is working, what isn’t, and what new trends can be expected in the future.