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10 Thing To Consider While Designing A Live Chatbot

The current business world is extremely contentious. Now, meeting your clients’ expectations is not enough. You need to exceed them to stand out in the crowd.

If your customers are surfing the web at 4 A.M. in the morning with a fiery issue regarding your company, they await you to respond to it.

Usual working hours don’t matter a lot in the online world. What matters a lot is the way you handle the queries of your clients regarding your business.

If you can’t provide the customer with the solutions they are looking for, someone else will!

However, before hiring staff to work in the graveyard shift, there is a simple and effective solution – Chatbots.

Designing a chatbot is like whipping coffee; it always requires the exact ingredients to prepare it, but slight variations to the method can change the entire outcome.

However, a recent study has revealed that 60% of participants state that bots are disappointing when it comes to solving their concerns, and that they prefer human support over bot to solve their queries. The concerns are genuine but, possibly, this judgment can be corrected.

We will show you a few things you need to consider while designing a chatbot for your organization, which can satisfy the needs of your business and clients.

Identify your bot’s goal

It’s very crucial to determine the ultimate goals of your chatbot before starting its designing process. And if you are not sure about your bot’s purpose, then you need to rethink if you actually need one.

Here are a few reasons to choose chatbots for your business:

  1. They save your time and effort, as well as human resources for qualitative jobs
  2. Automate your client support process for related inquiries
  3. Enhance your brand value with minimum effort
  4. Affordable development cost
  5. Better user interaction
  6. Easy to use

First, set the goals of your chatbot. Is it for generating leads for your logo design company? Possibly for scheduling appointments? Responding to commonly asked questions? There is no limit!

The more specific the goal, the clearer it will be to both design your bot and analyze its progress. Users are preferring your bot for only one purpose – to get a solution for their problems. Set your goals around the queries of your users, so it becomes easy for you to handle their needs.

Choose between a rule-based and NLP platform

After establishing the goals of your chatbot, it’s time to decide how to design your bot. Most of the chatbot platforms mark their bots with AI tags, regardless if they actually apply clever self-learning algorithms or just cling to normal IF-THEN metrics.

So, you will have two options while choosing a designing platform for your chatbots – “NLP” and “rule-based”. These define how adaptable and smart your chatbot works within a discussion.

A rule-based bot responds according to specified decision trees. Similar to a flowchart, discussions are planned out to predict what a client might request and how the bot should answer.

For example, if a customer input includes words like ‘shop’ or ‘buy’, then send them a message with a list of products.

NLP bots or Natural Language Processing bots are capable of assuming the context even when problems are more complicated. Moreover, their capability to learn from their mistakes help them to develop greater efficiency.

Presently, rule-based bots are a cheaper, quicker, and more efficient option. Furthermore, transparency regarding their function range encourages users to engage efficiently.

Understand your customers and their input

developing a chatbot

While designing a bot, it’s really important to keep your customers in mind. What type of technical skills do they hold? Do they have time to use self-help? What kind of conversation do they prefer?

Do they want to keep it sober or casual? User choices are one face of a coin. The other face is the real user input and facts. What type of information do you need to provide in chatbot conversation?

Will users need to type the query or just select from the available options? If they need to type the query, then which language do they use?

It’s completely up to you how you want your user to interact with bot. According to a survey conducted, people want to see a company’s logo as a bot icon. Now coming back to basics, your logo should be attractive so it can connect with users. AI-powered tools such as Designhill can generate a user-friendly logo within fraction of minutes.

Identify the limitations and drawbacks of your platform

After deciding the preferred platform for your bot, you need to figure out the drawbacks and limitations of your platform.

Most of the rule-based platforms are based on multiple choice, without the opportunity to write unique answers.

You can guide the conversation in a particular direction through this platform, but you can’t compose proper answers to problems that may be asked during the conversation.

Moreover, a few platforms require input questions and their responses in a coded form, which needs knowledge and interest in coding to enjoy using them.

So, it’s better to select a thoroughly-tested platform as it has come along with comprehensive documentation on facilities and tools.

Furthermore, you can join various online communities and forums to know more about your platform. These platforms will help you in troubleshooting your issues effectively and quickly.

Set the tone and personality

Your bot represents your organization and it’s usually the first one that interacts with your clients. Consequently, it’s essential to set the tone of communication that matches your brand value.

You can treat your bot as your digital employee and even enhance your brand image by providing it a friendly persona.

A recent study has revealed that users favor bots with human traits. A personalized and friendly answer by the bot can make your users’ chatting experience more positive.

Siri by Apple is one of the best examples of a humorous chatbot. It’s a sweet and friendly character initiated by the organization.

However, don’t impose humor unnecessarily to audiences that don’t want those features. A simplistic, helpful, and friendly bot is the best option for several brands.

Maintain a simple conversation flow

Bots can be used to perform repetitive tasks where a simple and specified flow has been established. If you are trying to design a self-learn or self-aware chatbot, then you are destined to fail as such advanced technology has not yet arrived.

So, it’s important to include very specific topics that relate to the goals you have established for your chatbot. The more complex and branched out the discussion is, the greater the risk that it will become grouchy.

Apply prompts

If a bot usually asks indefinite questions like “what do you want to search?”, such type of conversation can turn into a guessing game.

The customer will get confused in deciding what a bot can do, and the bot will also get confused in presuming what the user expected.

However, using prompts on your website can help showcase the abilities of your bot. You can set a clickable menu or present recommended solutions, so there will be no confusion or doubt.

Furthermore, the clickable menus or elements will save time, as well as the efforts of the users.

Allow an easy shift from chatbot to human assistance

develop a chatbot

A bot can’t handle every possible question, particularly when it comes to criticisms or unusual cases. That’s when a human assistant comes into the picture.

A frustrated user prefers human assistance to resolve the issue. So, while designing your bot, make it simple so it can switch from chatbot to human assistant.

The most sensible alternative is to combine the chatbot platform with your live chat platform to make conversation handovers quick, easy, and simple.

Perform quality checks at the early stage

No matter how hard you try, there are a lot of things that are impossible to predict during the planning or designing phase.

If you start testing in the early phase, you will notice the places where the chatbot is lacking, even before the launch of the bot.

Furthermore, you will need a Live testing feature to perform this test. You can test every conversation or story created in the chatbot internally before its launch.

You need to ensure that it works as expected before users can use it for queries.

Maintain a balance among reactive and proactive

Chatbots can work as smart promoters for your brand. They can encourage users to begin a conversation regarding promotions and deals.

For example, after a user stayed on a webpage for more than 30 seconds, a bot can proactively prompt a message for a user stating – “Hey, just want you to know that today we are offering free shipping to the users on every order. Want a promo code?”

Or, you can share special deals with them. For example, a bot can prompt “Hey, we have designer sarees on sale? Click here to see.”

However, if you are planning to apply a proactive approach, it’s ideal to place the pop up in an unobtrusive place. According to research, the bottom right corner is the best place for it.

Furthermore, a human brain browses a page from top left to bottom right. So, it’s a good chance to showcase your products and services after your user has approved your chatbot’s assistant.

Looks Salesy and Clingy, Right?

That’s why it’s important to maintain a balance between replying to a user’s requirements and providing a complete service experience.

For example, if a bot is helping a user to find a new study table, but then the bot starts promoting fancy furniture, then obviously a user gets frustrated. The products are relevant, but not helpful for users. As mentioned, there needs to be a balance to avoid this.

The post 10 Thing To Consider While Designing A Live Chatbot appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How Legendary Companies Fix Failed Payments

Most business owners know how much profit they’re raking in at the top of the funnel, but how many are aware of how much failed payments are holding them back?

The Cost of Failed Payments

Every year in America, customer churn costs businesses $136 billion. On top of that, 47% of companies lose auto-renewals due to changes in payment data. However, auto-renewals can be lost many other ways.

Customer churn is considered any instance in which customers, or subscribers, cease relations with a business or service. With that, reasons for cession may either be voluntary or involuntary.

Any instance in which a consumer, or subscriber, makes an intentional effort to leave a service is known as voluntary churn. On the other hand, involuntary churn refers to consumers who unintentionally leave a business or service.

What Causes Involuntary Churn?

failed payment

Most commonly, involuntary churn is caused by payment failure. In fact, payment failure is the #1 cause of involuntary churn.

That brings us to ask: what causes payments to fail? Most commonly, insufficient funds. 53% of failed payments link back to the consumer not having enough funds. However, not having enough money isn’t the only reason a payment may fail.

Submitting a payment with outdated card information (i.e. expiration date, zip code) can cause a payment to fail. This can easily happen with automatically renewing subscriptions. 35% of subscriptions automatically renew, but credit card changes account for 40% of payment failures.

However, payments may still fail for other reasons. For example, systemic errors. If a merchant’s system is down, it’s unlikely a transaction will succeed. Banks with autonomous firewalls can also cause any attempts over the customer’s daily limit to be blocked. Statistically, credit card limits account for 42% of payment failures.

Does Auto-New Increase Risk of Failed Payments?

From a business outlook, failed payments raise expenses.

For instance, 48% of businesses state that chargeback rates reduce their forecasted revenue. Comparably, there’s also an increased customer service contacts when payments don’t go through. Hence, it only makes it more expensive to retain customers, according to 43% of businesses.

Moreover, 35% of available subscriptions can be auto-renewed, and renewals constitute 62% of subscription-based revenue. Still, auto-renewals contribute to higher instances of failed payments. What’s more, 47% of businesses end up losing auto-renewals because of changes in payment information. What can businesses do to decrease this kind of involuntary churn?

Is Improving Customer Retention Effective in Reducing Involuntary Churn?

failed payment recovery customer service

65% of a company’s business comes from their existing customers, and 32% of people will stop doing business with a brand after just one bad experience.

Furthermore, 66% of consumers want companies to show they value their time, and 69% prefer shopping with merchants who offer consistent customer service. Still, only 15% of customers respond to emails seeking updated payment information.

With this information, businesses should work toward building trust while finding unique solutions to outstanding payments. These solutions, of course, will be contingent on each individual business’ weak areas.

Here are some facts to consider along the way:

  • Poor customer service experiences discourage manual renewal after a failed payment.
  • How do clients rate your brand’s customer service?
  • Many customers may only learn their payment has failed when their service stops.
  • How does your company contact customers regarding urgent account matters? If your typical approach is email, consider alternatives such as SMS or phone calls.
  • Creating on-platform software that can audibly or digitally interrupt clients concerning their subscription status may also improve communication.
  • Payment declines and fees create customer frustration.
  • Remember, the customer is always right. What tactics do your call representatives use to make administrative experience stress-free on the client?

Paying Attention To Failed Payments

Reducing card declines has proven potential to bring payment failure rates as low as 0.5%, which can produce a 70% reduction in involuntary churn. Knowing this, businesses using automated card updates, intelligent retry logic, and human personalization to dilute involuntary churn rates may find more financial relief than those who do not.

Research has also found it costs 6 times more to attract new customers than to keep existing ones. As a result, businesses actively working to reduce their involuntary churn rates will likely see more success than those strategizing methods to draw in replacement clients.

Every year, 34% of customer churn costs are due to involuntary churn and failed payments. By improving consumer retention, brands can save money on marketing expenses, increase profits, and improve their quality of service. What software to prevent failed payments are you using?

How Legendary Companies Make Money
Source: GravySolutions.io

The post How Legendary Companies Fix Failed Payments appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Connecting with Customers During a Crisis – Notes for the Tech Industry

Since foot traffic has dropped dramatically due to the pandemic, the corporate arena is facing a great setback. Social distancing, which is beneficial for health safety, has brought many negative impacts for businesses globally. Among several other factors, customer interaction tops the list. When clients are socially isolated, engagement becomes challenging.

Though some industries catering to the basic needs of clients are doing exceptionally well, others like the technology sector are going through a tough time. If you also belong to the technology industry, and are struggling to break-even, stay connected with your customers.

Irrespective of social distancing, there are endless ways to interact and please your clients. Let us shed some light on these strategies:

Video Chatting and Streaming – Going Digital

connect with customers during a crisis

The time users spend on social media has increased dramatically; utilize this opportunity, and go live with your products. Here are a few ways how:

Show Your Products on Live Videos

If not now, potential clients may buy the product after things get back to normal. For instance, if you sell smartphones, make up an exciting deal for customers. Though people might not have the resources right now, they have ample time to listen to you. Use your convincing skills to make your product their next gadget this year.

Focus more on things that are in demand these days. Since remote working is the new normal, laptops, coaxial cable wires, USBs, chargers, and routers are high in demand. Give discounts, offer installment plans, and ask former customers to review your products.

Share Stories

Use short videos to deliver a big message. Show some behind the scenes and also interact directly with your users to increase satisfaction. Empathize with your users and make the clients realize that you care.

Arrange an Online Event

As the pandemic hit the world, thousands of events got canceled, and hundreds of them are still in the pipeline. However, holding events is still possible. You might need to change your advertising strategy, but you will get a good audience. Whether it is your product anniversary or a new launch, you can always have a digital event and grab the attention of a huge audience.

Many technology companies have introduced new apps, products, and gadgets to stay alive in the eyes of customers besides keeping their business running. You can also come up with an innovative digital product and hold a launch event online. For instance, Tik Tok introduced a new app on Amazon Fire recently through an online event.

Tip:

Offer an exclusive discount on products for the first 50 people attending your event.

Bring a Smile on Others’ Faces

connecting with customers

Getting confined in a home is not an easy job. In this scenario, when you have financial burdens and health concerns, frustration rises at its peak. Many companies are standing firm with their clients at this crucial time.

For example, telcos are delighting their existing customers by giving free data. Similarly, many entertainment companies have released movies and TV shows earlier than the scheduled dates. Disney Channel understood the demand of this time and released its blockbuster family movie, Frozen 2, even though releasing a movie on streaming is less profitable than a cinema release.

Likewise, some technology companies are taking an active part in helping their consumers by offering free or discounted meditation and yoga classes. Free subscriptions are being offered, and online education institutes are even offering free online technological courses to help people learn technical skills in their spare time.

Thus, technological companies can also pair up with other companies to provide entertainment to their clients. At a time when people are losing their jobs, sales are near to zero, and the life of every other person at risk, sharing something that can help alleviate mental stress is noble and inspiring.

Most importantly, this gesture of kindness by companies will be remembered even long after the pandemic is over. Many brands that are unable to stay directly connected with their customers have taken the entertainment route to avoid the flak.

Shifting Customers to Online Channels

Though most technology companies have an active website or an online store, some are still facing difficulty managing this shift. This digital shift is a new experience for many brands. Businesses have no other choice than to provide online services and engage customers through digital means. For instance, Cisco’s WebEx is now offering free technical tools for teachers and students to facilitate remote learning.

Technological companies offering healthcare products can grab this opportunity as well. People do not want to step outside, but still, they have health needs. Therefore, they are ready to invest in smart healthcare gadgets that can keep them healthy while at home.

Similarly, hospitals are ready to embrace the best technology for health care. It is imperative to create awareness regarding healthcare gadgets in this difficult time. People are ready to learn new things at this time. Thus, companies are likely to get a good response from potential clients.

Online channels, like social media presence, blogs, websites, and e-stores, are vital today. These channels are essential to keep the sales running and continue engaging with present clients. For shifting customers to the online platform, the following actions can be taken:

  • Blog
  • YouTube channel
  • Paid advertisement
  • Website
  • Social media campaigns

It’s time to revamp all the marketing strategies and shift entirely to the digital landscape. Offline marketing strategies are the only way to connect with customers and maintain relationships. Since every other business is actively implementing online tactics, there are high chances of losing loyal customers if a coherent connection is not maintained.

Conclusion

The technological sector can play a vital role in this unprecedented situation. The digital shift in business operations, remote learning, and virtual meet-ups have opened new doors of opportunities for various companies. However, this has amplified the competition, making it difficult for other brands to stay connected with former clients.

Though the resources are limited and the times are difficult, you may adopt various ways to connect with potential clients. Virtual meet-ups, video streaming, social media campaigns, blogs, and offline marketing tactics are some useful means for maintaining good relationships with customers. Even if sales are zero, never give up. Keep your bond strong, and don’t let your customers forget you.

The post Connecting with Customers During a Crisis – Notes for the Tech Industry appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Amazon is rewarding new business customers this Prime Day

Amazon is rewarding new business customers this Prime Day

SAVE 30%: Create a free Amazon Business account and save 30% on any items sold by Amazon up to £200.


We’ve already given you guys a heads up about how Prime members and non-members can start profiting from Prime Day, and now business customers can get involved in the shopping event.

All you need to do is create a free Amazon Business account before Oct. 9, and then enter the code B2BPRIME20 at checkout, activated 48 hours after verification. This code entitles you to save 30% on any items sold by Amazon worth up to £200. This deal is valid until Oct. 31.

More about Business, Prime Day, Mashable Shopping, Shopping Uk, and Uk Deals

Are Press Releases Worth The Big Bucks?

The fact that press releases and their newswire services are still around should pretty much answer the question. No clue? Well, let’s look at it this way. Press releases have come a long way and have changed at least three mediums; newspapers, social media, and now dedicated PR platforms.

And to give you an idea of a press release’s resilience, how’s the fact that newspaper is still a medium used today to disseminate information through releases, despite print media shrinking both in visibility and relevance. Still asking if a press release is worth the spend?

However, resilience isn’t a trait looked for by businesses and corporations when shopping for a press release marketing service. It’s the ROI they want, and boy, do press releases give them the ROI. Plus, bigger corporations (especially multinationals) are still very adept at press releases, just not the way it works now in marketing.

Corporations like IBM or Pepsico use press releases as a way to keep both the customers and media updated about events, launches or news regarding the company. In short, press releases have carved out their place in the modern business sector and remain as relevant as they were back in the 1950s or 60s. And with relevance comes big business, which a press release can only serve to complement (if used properly).

But to actually gauge if press releases are worth the spending, let’s look at what they provide and claim to actually do for your business.

Press release – what it does

press releases worth it

Press releases, as stated beforehand, can convey news of a corporation to the relevant media sectors and also act as a marketing tool for products or services looking to expand their footprint in the digital marketing sector. As such, it lays claims to both mediums; print media and social media. Let’s take the purposes of the press release and understand them from the ground up.

As a news service:

Every business, from corporations to enterprises, regularly use press releases as their primary method of dispensing information or news regarding company launches or events. For example, whenever you go to Apple’s site or any other site for that matter, you can always find a dedicated corner for press releases that contains a ton of stuff meant as news items. Journalists, whenever in need of a story or filler material, regularly scour these parts of websites to find news that could fill in the blanks, thereby, guaranteeing press coverage of an event or a product about to be launched.

Similarly, whenever a legal matter is at hand for a major corporation, it is usually addressed and notified to the general public through a press release, which can be further utilized by news outlets as a way to gather aspects of a legal battle (i.e stance of the company or the proceedings of the case). To summarise, press releases double as news agents for corporations looking to release news about particular events or product launches.

As a marketing tool:

Now we come to the crux of the article. If your business utilises press releases, will it pay off? Are press releases worth the spending? As a marketing tool, press releases are a pretty potent method of getting your message across the board. And when it comes to answering the aforementioned question, it would be a big YES.

Press release marketing is considered one of the most cost-efficient methods of marketing there is. This is compared to regular advertisement campaigns, which promise the same amount of coverage as a press release but at a Herculean amount. Let’s look at a few ways press releases differ from a regular media campaign.

  • Dedicated releases to business hotspots like Silicon Valley, Wall Street, etc.
  • Releases to capital cities and metropolitans worldwide (London, Munich, etc.)
  • Inclusion of Virtual Digital Assistants (VDA’s) like Siri, Alexa or Bixby to increase spread and suggestions
  • Multilingual translations of press releases (for varying audiences and regions)
  • Distribution using RSS feeds

This is just the tip of the iceberg that is press release marketing. It contains several other targeting methods that are way better than a regular media campaign that focuses on TV and the internet. When a press release is marketed through services like ReleaseLive, it utilises every software and service at its disposal and makes it work to the tune of the press release, letting the algorithm work its magic and flood the internet with the release.

How much is it cost-effective?

are press releases really worth it

To get an idea of how much cost-effective a press release marketing strategy is, compare the numbers of a licensing and merchandising deal with a celebrity (like Travis Scott’s deal with McDonald’s) to the Super Premium plan of iCrowdNewswire, and you can immediately see why it is claimed to be the most cost-effective and is worth whatever bucks you can shell out.

The effects of both the campaigns are pretty much the same: they target a certain market, a certain audience, and bombard them with the relevant press release. The difference is the price and that difference is huge. As you might have guessed, yes, press releases are definitely worth whatever you spend on them. Maybe even more than what you spend. You could call press releases ‘criminally underrated’.

In a nutshell

Press releases are one of the uncut gems of the advertisement and marketing sector that are used widely, but have yet to be known by the general public as a viable method of marketing. While companies utilise it as a news distribution method and as a marketing method, it remains to be seen how much of its price effectiveness can be put to use by other businesses looking to expand their social media footprint.

As of now, press release marketing is up and coming and will be here to stay, all thanks to its one big pro: being cheap to run.

The post Are Press Releases Worth The Big Bucks? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Understanding How To Use Mobile Communication For Business

Mobile devices are a lifeline for most people right now, but even under normal circumstances people rely on their mobile devices for all kinds of information. Last year, 69% of people looked up information about products and services while they were inside of stores rather than asking a store associate. Using mobile devices to get information has become commonplace, and businesses that don’t communicate with customers the way they want are likely to be left in the dust.

Consumers Use Mobile Devices For Just About Everything

mobile communications in businesses

From managing finances to accessing government services, consumers are really fond of their electronic devices. But, increasingly, those smartphone owners are wanting to communicate via text messaging. In fact, 85% of smartphone owners prefer text messages to calls or emails. More than half of smartphone owners ignore emails completely because their inboxes are overloaded. What’s more, almost a third never listen to voicemail messages.

Text Messages Are What Customers Use And Want

SMS messages are just simpler for a lot of people. 90% of people say they open text messages within three minutes, making this an optimal way for a business to communicate with consumers. SMS text messages have a 98% open rate, as opposed to a 20% rate for email. Response rates are five times higher for text messages than they are for emails, 45% and 6%, respectively.

The response time is even more staggering for SMS messages. The typical response rate for a text message is 90 seconds, whereas the typical response rate for an email is 90 minutes. Response rates for text messages are 60 times higher than that of emails.

In 2019, 68% of businesses used some kind of messaging to keep connected with customers, and now they are relying on this type of communication more than ever.

How Businesses Are Using Mobile Messaging

mobile communications in restaurant takeout business

In retail, mobile messaging is used for a variety of purposes, including sending coupons and sale notifications to customers. Mobile messaging is a crucial part of curbside pickup, which has grown significantly in popularity. Mobile messages are used to confirm an order was received, tell a customer when an order is ready, and for a customer to tell the store they have arrived to pick up their order.

Mobile messaging is used in medical offices to remind patients of appointments, check in for appointments, and remind patients of upcoming tests and more. Some offices are also using mobile messaging for prescription refills and physician questions between visits, which has shown to increase patient satisfaction with their medical providers.

For restaurants, mobile messaging is crucial for a growing takeout business, allowing business and customers to communicate quickly and efficiently. Small order changes and communication about order status can be easily communicated through a quick message rather than taking up the time and resources for cumbersome phone calls.

Consumers Want Mobile Messaging

One in three consumers have sent a mobile message to a business and not received a response, and most of the time it was because the business simply hasn’t activated two-way messaging capabilities.

The fact of the matter is that customers feel better about a business that uses mobile messaging. 65% of consumers say they feel more positive toward a business after a mobile messaging exchange because of a number of factors.

Mobile messaging shows consumers that a company values their time – there’s nothing worse than waiting around for the phone to ring or sitting on hold waiting for someone to help you. The ability to communicate with a business via SMS messages makes customers more likely to choose that business, and it increases the chances of recommending that business to their friends and family.

Communication Is Key

In order for businesses to be successful, communication should take place wherever a customer wants it to, and, increasingly, customers are feeling comfortable messaging instead of making phone calls or talking to people in person. Mobile communication also gives businesses the power to reach customers who aren’t physically showing up in stores with specials to lure them back in or to get them to use curbside pickup services.

Businesses that don’t use mobile communication are going to be left behind. Learn more about the power of mobile communication in business from the infographic below.

The Power of Mobile Messaging
Source: SopranoDesign.com

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5 Tips To Build Your Team’s Productivity

When it comes to managing a team, whether in a corporate setting or as part of your business, productivity is one of the most important parameters of success. It’s also something that we all want, although it’s a little tricky to figure out how to get there.

Building your team’s productivity should be a priority for you as a manager, mainly because when productivity goes up, it implies that your business is functioning at optimal efficiency. Here we’re going to talk about a few tips and hacks that you must consider adding to your arsenal for boosting productivity among your employees. Let’s take a look at what these are.

Sense Of Ownership

As a good leader, it is imperative to understand the value of ownership. Ownership is all about allowing your team members to take their decisions and be accountable for the same. This inculcates a sense of responsibility in them towards their job.

It changes their outlook towards the task at hand and ensures that their decisions positively impact the performance of the whole team. You can give ownership in different ways – by asking someone to lead a particular project, handling more responsibilities, etc. It builds their self-esteem as they feel assured that you trust their capabilities.

Open Communication

boosting your teams productivity

Encouraging open avenues of communication between your team members and yourself is something you must ensure from the outset. It makes businesses thrive and fosters healthy dynamics in the workplace. In the absence of communication, there arise unwanted and completely avoidable misunderstandings and trivial errors that waste time, effort, and money.

Instead, if you can take the extra step to articulate and convey your ideas and expectations effectively, it makes matters easier for everyone on board. Sometimes a team member may shy away from clarifying doubts and asking questions during team meetings. As a team leader, you should sense this and try facilitating better communication in other ways, such as through private conversations and one-on-one interactions.

Collaboration

If your team members gel together and get along well with each other, they’re sure to be happier. It goes without saying that their performance will also be better in such cases. Encouraging collaboration among team members can help you maximize your team’s productivity.

No matter how large or small your team is, there is sure to be a fair amount of diversity in terms of the skills that each team member brings to the table. The best way to utilize these varying skills is by making sure the entire team knows about current projects. It will encourage them to volunteer to collaborate if they feel they can add value to a specific task.

Constructive Feedback

An ideal way to help your employees grow personally and professionally is by providing them with feedback about their performance. It should be your aim to guide your team members to figure out what they can do to keep growing in their careers. If there’s room for improvement, share constructive feedback that shows them how to be more successful at what they are doing.

You can hold regular touch-base meetings to monitor progress and advise the team members on their performance. These meetings can also be an opportunity for the team members to voice their professional concerns to you. Giving feedback may make you feel uncomfortable, but it plays an essential part in your team/company’s success.

Healthy Boundaries

boost your teams productivity

The last thing you want to do as a good team leader is to overwork your employees or cause burnout. Use your position to set healthy boundaries that encourage a harmonious work-life balance. Team leaders and managers can set precedents like not checking emails after working hours. It signals to the team the importance of switching off from work and keeps them motivated for the next day.

It might be tricky to manage this in an environment where flexible work hours prevail, and people start early or work late, depending on their preferences. But if you, as a team leader, can encourage them to set healthy work limits, prioritise their sleep, and avoid burnout, it will lead to better productivity and more success in the long run.

Leading a team isn’t the most straightforward job in the world, which is why great leaders are few and so revered. A good leader understands the techniques, as well as the significance of boosting productivity in the workplace. They value skills like time management, collaboration, and organisation. They also display keen insight into delivering what is asked.

These skills trickle down to the respective team members and make them more efficient at their tasks. A well-supported team is always motivated to bring their best to the table every day, making things smoother for everyone involved. Use the tips mentioned above and see your team achieve better levels of productivity than ever before!

The post 5 Tips To Build Your Team’s Productivity appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Calculate and Reduce Your Customer Churn Rate

Regardless of what business you are in and by whatever name you call it – attrition, defection, or anything – customer churn is real. Every business has to deal with loss of customers and lose some revenue. Understanding what causes this customer churn is important. When a client or customer chooses to stop doing business with your company or stop using your brand products or services, it is called customer churn.

Customer churn depends on the type and nature of business or company. Some of the various ways it can be called in parlance include:

  • Cancellation of product or service subscription
  • Closure of customer account
  • Non-renewal of service agreement or contract
  • Cancellation of user agreement
  • Switching to a competitor program or offering

How to Measure Customer Churn Rate

Customer churn rate can be measured in these following ways.

  • Total number of customers lost in a specific period of time
  • Total percentage of customers lost in a specific period
  • Percentage of recurring business value lost
  • Business value lost

It is also necessary to note here that churn is inevitable. No matter how amazing your service is or useful your products or how great your marketing strategy is, you will have to face customers who want to leave. But this doesn’t mean you can’t prevent churn. Maintaining a good churn rate is possible and that is what is recommended.

Customer Churn Rates as per Industry basis

  • American card companies churn around 20 percent per annum
  • 5-7 percent customer churn rates are reported for software-as-a-service companies

While some customer churn rates are great for one business, they are terrible for another.

3 Ways to Reduce Customer Churn

Customer Onboarding

how to reduce customer churn rate thru customer onboarding

Customers will look for better options if they do not understand the product too well. Any questions in the initial introduction can blow them away. The most important being the customer’s first experience and when that is good, they will want to continue with the business. A clear onboarding process is necessary to better a customer experience and reduce customer churn. The onboarding is the most important step in the process. Customers think of leaving only when they are unsatisfied from the beginning.

Meet Customers’ Expectations

Promising a lot of things to a customer and failing to deliver is one of the quickest ways to lose one. Close to 35 percent of customers stop doing businesses after a single negative experience. Unmet expectations and dissatisfaction are big reasons for customer churn. Consistently meeting customer expectations is important. Being honest to your customer about what they can expect is necessary.

Listening to what customers have to say about the product is also crucial. If they have any suggestions or improvements, finding out the same from customers is just as essential. 16 percent of customers post on social media when they face a negative interaction with a brand. And close to 60 percent of customers are heavily influenced by social media comments on brands and companies.

Provide Awesome Customer Service

how to reduce customer churn rate thru customer service

A survey by Zendesk revealed that 42 percent of respondents found that they had a major frustration with customer service departments. Customer service is one of the major reasons why customer churn happens. Listening carefully to customers’ feedback is one of the best ways to retain customers.

When customers voice their complaints, listen to their exact problems, and find solutions. Even loyal customers can defect if the service is bad and they are being taken for granted. No one likes it when we must wait on a customer desk call for more than 20 minutes to clarify a simple doubt. Sometimes, customers face technical issues which can be sorted through an awesome customer service.

Bottom Line: Maximise Profits by Reducing Churn

A lot of businesses fail because customers are not happy with the customer service. If a customer threatens to close business, then it means the product needs to be explored to the full potential. A call with the customer success manager can make it simpler to resolve issues. Great customer success education should be the beginning of the customer journey.

From customer onboarding, it is important to maintain a great rapport with them. Through the right customer engagement tactics, customers can understand how the product fits into their success strategy.

The post How to Calculate and Reduce Your Customer Churn Rate appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Real Estate SEO Tips: How to Maximize Your Google Visibility

Like other sectors, real estate is increasingly grabbing customers’ attention by coming up with ideal websites that run with proper SEO strategies. SEO has emerged as a successful way to boost your site’s ranking on Google and earn more leads and conversions in your online real estate business.

Today, the majority of buyers rely on Google searches to buy properties. If you want your CRE website to reach the top on the searches, you should leverage the effective marketing strategies. SEO is one of the best digital marketing concepts that can assist your real estate business to gain more benefits and lead online competition ahead. Because SEO matters a lot in hitting your business goals, you must try it in your real estate business.

Best Ways to Optimize Your CRE Website to Boost Google Visibility

Nowadays, the business has the boast of achieving the top position in the search results, which led them to develop an effective SEO strategy to earn the best results. But the question arises from where you should start? How to come up with the best SEO strategy? Here we have come up with a few tips that will assist you in optimizing your site and maximizing its visibility on Google.

#1: Kick-Off the Keyword Strategy

real estate seo keyword tips

Let’s start with the basics. The keyword strategy is the first step for effective SEO. There are a few things that you should consider while strategizing your move. Here, we have mentioned a few essential points of any keyword research and strategy.

Head keywords: When it comes to keywords strategy, the head keywords should be a priority. Generic competitive terms push your website on the Google search and help it to rank high for a specific keyword. For instance, you can consider the “1031 exchange” to “Miami office” and other possible variations that a user usually searches for.

Higher Valuable Terms: Such keywords include your company or brand name. These keywords also play a significant role in helping your site to rank higher.

Long-Tail Keywords: It includes the keywords that relate to a particular category of CRE company. Long-tail keywords include more characters than other keywords—for example, Washington DC Office space for rent, etc.

#2: High-Quality Content

There is no doubt that high-quality content is the core part of SEO, without which you can’t fulfill your dream to rank your site high on Google or other search engines. Therefore, we would highly recommend you to check out the health and wealth of your web content; after all, they are essential for the implementation of SEO strategies that are considered as the smart move towards the success of your real-estate business.

Content is not only limited to text. It also includes images, videos, and graphics. So, it would be best if you prioritize them. If we say clearly, the thing you should focus on for your CRE website is mentioned below. Check it out.

  • Proper company overview
  • Full-fledged property descriptions
  • Only add the original content to your site
  • Content should be relevant to your industry
  • Original news articles
  • Company’s latest updates and news

#3: Optimization of On-Page Elements

CRE website involves several SEO elements that one should always consider. If we say clearly, then on-page elements like the meta titles and meta descriptions of CRE websites are essential to be optimized so that Google can easily understand the page’s content. SEO optimization of on-page elements is necessary as it helps Google to place your site on the relevant searches and further improves the ranking.

Meta Title: In this field, you can describe your company and what you do. The thing which you need to remember is that the meta titles should be around 50-60 characters. Google displays the meta title of up to a maximum of 65 characters. Meta title example: Commercial Real Estate | Company Name | State or City

Meta Description: It allows you to elaborate on the description of your page and the company. The maximum meta description length is 50-160 characters. Along with this, another thing which you should focus on is the geographical area from where your real estate business operates and serves that rendered as target keywords.

Optimized Images: When it comes to SEO optimization, then it is essential to optimize your images correctly using correct file names and ALT tags. But why is it necessary? According to a study, it is mentioned that 63 percent of the people who look at Google images visit the host website, whereas 17 percent of that traffic belongs to the first image. Because website images have a higher CTR, they are also optimized correctly to earn more points in SEO rankings and Google visibility.

#4: Focus on Quality Backlinks

Another CRE SEO tip on our list is to focus on quality backlinks. It is the best way to boost the site ranking on search engines. In this method, you can get other websites to link back to you. Backlinking is considered a part of traditional SEO, but it still works great with today’s websites. But when it comes to quality backlinks, there is a need to develop engaging content that should include something relevant. If your content is not attractive, then people will not provide a link to your site, and your chances for improving ranking will decline.

Why SEO?

real estate seo google tips

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a popular and widely used practice of improving your site’s ranking in Google search results and other search engines. If we say in simple words, then SEO maximizes your business’ visibility on Google and other search engines.

SEO involves several strategies that digital marketers or business owners implement to gain the best results. But at the same time, the process can take months or over a year to offer the desired results. Although it takes a couple of months, if the strategy is implemented properly, it can bring you powerful results, including increased website traffic and Google visibility.

Significance of SEO in Real Estate

“Is SEO important for your real estate business?” Let’s take a look.

  • Google statistics clearly show that around 63K searches are performed on Google every year
  • 33 percent of people click on the first results, and hence businesses always strive to reach on top of the Google search results
  • 75 percent of people never scroll past the first page of search engines

With the above statistics, one can easily conclude how essential SEO is in maximizing business visibility on Google. All these data show that if your business website ranks on top position, then you can easily earn more points in conversions, leads, and sales.

In simple words, you have to focus on several ranking factors that include choosing the right keywords for the meaningful impact and bringing more traffic of property buyers to your platforms. It can make you a better competitor in the online world.

Final Thoughts

The blog has covered everything you need to know about maximizing the Google visibility of your website. So, what are you waiting for? If you are also on the way to boost the ranking of your CRE (Commercial Real Estate) website, then this blog is for you. We hope that you find this helpful enough to learn more about SEO.

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How To Launch And Optimize A Corporate Blog Generating Leads

Blogging became one of the most powerful tools for leads generation. Today, content plays a big part not only in entertaining but also in making sales. Though, there is a long way between just a reader, aka follower, and a qualified lead. How to make that way shorter? Read on to find out more about optimizing corporate blogs for generating inbound leads.

Keep Readers Interested

lead generation blogging

Modern readers are demanding and unforgiving of lapses. Your texts have to be informative, provide value, and be catchy at the same time. No matter what you need to tell your potential customers about, make it interesting. Think on how to present information in an easy and captivating way.

It can be a good idea to lead the narration by using a specially created character or even just one of the members of your team. It all depends on the field of your business, a platform you use for blogging, and purposes you want to reach.

Veterinarian communities can speak through a cat or a dog character who knows about pets’ needs and speak to people in order to explain the animals’ needs. Use your imagination and try to create a friendly atmosphere inside your blog.

Make A Content Strategy

To keep followers active and convert them into customers, you need a content strategy. It should include different types of posts including entertaining, advertising, and informative ones. The blog becomes popular when followers associate themselves with themes you explore. Try to understand what worries your customer and answer those requests in your blog.

If you can’t do it on your own, organize a poll and ask people what kind of content they would like to see in your blog. This way you would kill two birds with one stone. The polls not only push you in the right direction but also increase activity, and show readers you care about their opinion.

Also, content has to be added in your blog on a regular basis. Make a schedule and stick to it because regularity keeps readers involved and interested. What about style? You can tell stories and communicate in any manner you like, but most readers usually like a soft and unostentatious style of narration.

Encourage people to communicate and share opinions more, ask what they think about your latest article, and that will bring results. Communication is key to generating leads.

Let People Communicate

blogging lead generation

How to make followers communicate more? It depends on the services or products you offer to the clients. The following techniques are universal and work well for any area. We talk about useful advices, discussions, and answers to frequently asked customers’ questions.

If people see feedback and feel like their needs are important to blog creators they may become your inbound leads. Make sure your blog has all options for active readers to communicate with you. There have to be options for leaving contact details, which you can use for marketing goals. To generate leads, ascertain that your site makes it possible to:

  • order a call;
  • register a trial account;
  • sign up for updates or webinars;
  • join live chats service;
  • download interesting and useful materials in exchange for contact details.

You can also organize contests with valuable prizes and use chatbots to get more leads. Read on to know more about this method of leads generation.

Contests

Contests are maybe one of the best methods to turn readers into customers and get new leads. If you sell goods, make your followers vote for one of three products, and then offer a discount on “a winner”. Do you want to invite more potential clients into messengers?

You can use chat bots for that purpose. In order to participate in such contests and win the prize, users have to answer a few questions and click the messenger button. The type of contest has to match your platform, goals, and interests of the audience. Photo caption, giveaways, and “comment to win” contests are multi-purpose solutions.

Analyze Leads Behavior

Even if you are satisfied with the number of qualified leads and the followers’ activity, it’s important to analyze users’ behavior. View stats, analyze it, and change a strategy according to that data. It’s the only way you will be able to improve the results of leads generation and achieve greater success.

Author’s Bio

Karl Murphy is a professional journalist from Des Moines, Iowa. After obtaining his Master’s degree, he’s launched his career and over its course, Karl was contributing to the popular publications for men. He’s passionate about eSports, so now he develops his blog, csgo-bettingsites.com.

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10 Tips to Use YouTube to Market Your Business

Since its introduction in 2005, YouTube has become an indispensable marketing tool for every business. With more than one billion users, YouTube is definitely not a platform to ignore if you want to grow your business.

It has enabled more than 50 million content creators to showcase their content through interesting videos everyday and reach a global audience. YouTube supports video marketing, therefore, expands social reach of your business, builds traffic and enhances your online existence.

Entertaining your viewers while promoting your brand might sound challenging, but with the right approach it is totally doable. Creating intriguing videos with valuable content can keep your viewers engaged. Get your YouTube channel noticed with fascinating images and interesting titles. Remember, symbols can establish your channel’s identity.

Creating an alluring YouTube logo is essential to express your brand’s personality and attract viewers. A highly creative logo maker is the right person to contact to add charm to your YouTube channel and make it stand out from the crowd.

By the time you finish this 10 step-by-step guide to market your business on YouTube, you’ll surely have a clear idea and detailed understanding of the facts you need to know to reflect your brand on YouTube. Let’s get started.

Creation & Customization of Your YouTube Channel

Once you create a YouTube channel, customize the background banner and icon. Use high-resolution images that create a strong impact and convey the message to your audience. To ensure a good impression and global recognition of your brand, it’s essential to have a professional logo. You can either create your own brand logo using a logo creator or hire a professional who’ll do that for you.

Don’t shy away from writing a channel description in the ‘About’ section. It helps your audience understand your business, offerings, and mission. Don’t forget to include links of your company’s website and social media pages on the videos and in the descriptions, too. Also, invite new and potential viewers to follow you on social media platforms.

Uploading a Trailer

It’s worth spending some time in creating an impressive trailer for your YouTube channel. Because that gives you an opportunity to engage with your audience with superb content, convincing them to subscribe to your channel.

The ideal duration of a YouTube channel is 1-2 minutes. Hence, you need to ensure that the preview is short yet informative. It’s also important that it captivates your audience in the first five seconds. With the concept of ‘show, don’t tell’, you can encourage your audience to subscribe to your channel and leave comments.

Work with an Influencer

promote your business using youtube

You’ve created your YouTube channel and you’re done with the customization but your brand is still not getting the exposure it deserves? If this is so, working with an influencer is the best step to take for your brand to achieve global recognition.

Get in touch with an influencer relevant to your niche and send them some free samples so that they can try your products. Make sure that you let them know the pros of the products. This enables them share the information with their followers, who might be your relevant audience.

Ask the influencer to share images of the product and even highlight its benefits, which can help in catching the attention of social media followers. Working with an influencer can, therefore, engage new target audience, build trust, and improve search ranking of your channel.

Researching Keywords

Research, find, and implement the keywords relevant to your niche and reach your target audience with ease. Putting researched applicable keywords in your video title, as well as in the description and tags, is a smart approach towards enhancement of the channel’s visibility. Keywords in place tells the search engine what the content of the video is and lets people searching for videos related to your business find you.

Channel Optimization

Don’t hesitate to browse your competitor’s YouTube channels to find out what kind of titles and meta tags they are using. Now try and execute the researched keywords into Google AdWords. Choose the right video format and examine the results.

Integration of your YouTube Channel with Social Media

You have amazing content on your YouTube channel. But delivering it right to your potential subscribers might be difficult. But with social media you can do that easily. In today’s time, it’s an effective and a handy video marketing platform to help expand your reach, create brand awareness, and improve your ROI.

Above all, make sure you have an active presence on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Creating unique videos and posting them on social networking sites is the key to increase the number of subscribers of your YouTube channel. Moreover, encourage your viewers to share the published videos on social media.

Video Creation and Optimization

use youtube to promote your business

The best part about creating YouTube videos is that they don’t have to be expensive and also save the expense of hiring a professional. Having a smart phone is enough to film interesting videos and create sharable content. But make sure you have a good amount of lighting and better sound quality to leave your viewers with a pleasant experience.

After you have created and posted the video on your channel, then comes the optimization part for SEO ranking. To do so, select a catchy title (less than 70 words) and use keywords relevant for your business. This will help in getting more views for your content.

Have Testimonials

Remember YouTube is one of the most preferred platforms for marketing that’s visited by billions of people every day. And leaving a mark on the minds of the viewers becomes quite challenging in today’s competitive world. One of the effective tricks is to include testimonials from your existing customers on your YouTube channel to build a solid reputation and gain the confidence of viewers.

Include YouTube Advertising

YouTube advertising is the best platform to get connected with your audience. When you opt for this, you can expect to have an extra exposure of your brand that ensures personal brand building, customer retention, and more subscribers to your YouTube channel. Moreover, YouTube advertising keeps the video entertaining and hyper-targeted.

Understand Your Audience

If you have a business YouTube channel, you have access to the Analytics tab. It gives you a statistics of your channel’s insights and the behavior of your audience. Moreover, you can have the count of the viewers, average watch time, rate of videos and last but not least, generation of revenues. This step is a confidence-booster and definitely helps you reach the right audience.

To Sum Up

Marketing your business on YouTube is a learning process. The more you create videos, the more you’ll get better in content creation and filming. Analysis of the viewers can help you refine your style, improve keyword usage, and understand the left out points that might increase your subscribers, resulting in the growth of your business.

So, keep posting unique content and make visitors stay tuned to your channel!

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7 Reasons Why You Should Invest In Wristwatches As An Entrepreneur

Watches are a timeless symbol of class and sophistication. Even in this age of smartphones, wristwatches offer a more convenient way to check the time. They also act as tasteful statement pieces and can bring together an entire outfit. In this article, we will discuss the versatility and enduring nature of the wristwatch industry, and why men’s and women’s watches are a good investment opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Reasons to Invest in Wristwatches

While some people may argue that wristwatches are a symbol of a bygone era, wristwatches remain a symbol of class, professionalism, and taste – depending on the watch and the setting in which they wear it. Read on to find out the different types and uses of wristwatches, and how there are many niches in the watch industry that entrepreneurs can invest in.

Watches are a Booming Industry

With wristwatches becoming more accessible and with the increasing variety of designs on the market, the wristwatch industry is experiencing a boom. In 2018, the international luxury watch market had a reported value of roughly 6.93 billion. It is even estimated to increase to 9.3 billion USD by 2025.

Apart from the luxury watch business, there are numerous new brands coming up every year that offer watches of distinct qualities at different price ranges, signifying the fact that many people from all walks of life are taking part in the wristwatch industry.

Keeping this trend in mind, a lot of wristwatch companies are appealing to the working class and student market. That is by creating low-cost models and offering incentives such as discounts on their items.

Impact of Technology on Modern Watches

watches a good investment

Modern technology has had a big impact on the watch industry by incorporating additional features and turning a wristwatch into more than just a tool to tell the time.

These range from simple digital watches to highly advanced models which include a variety of other features. The most famous example of this would be the Apple Watch, a smartwatch released in 2015. It is designed to act as a fitness tracker and can also be paired to the wearer’s iPhone. The success of the Apple Watch has incentivized other watch manufacturers to create similar models with more useful and unique features.

Symbol of Quality Craftsmanship

Both watch enthusiasts and even laymen to some extent can appreciate the quality and finesse of a luxury wristwatch. There are several established brands that have been crafting high-quality watches for decades.

Other than the longevity and quality offered by a quality wristwatch, watches are also a collector’s item. Some watch enthusiasts take great pride in their collections of novel models and quality wristwatches from established manufacturers.

Signifiers of Professionalism

Watches are an essential feature of many workplaces. Even with the presence of smartphones, wristwatches provide a discreet way to check the time. Watches can also add covey an air of professionalism to the wearer. A wristwatch is an infinitely better way of checking the time than your smartphone, especially in professional settings such as meetings, where looking at your smartphone can seem like you’re not paying attention.

A wristwatch can also signify that you are serious about being punctual and that you value discipline, qualities that will allow you to make a good impression on your colleagues and superiors, and therefore help you advance in your professional life.

Watches as Accessories

watches as good investment

With the explosive growth of the fashion industry, brands have created a variety of strikingly different wristwatches, which act more than accessories and statement pieces than just a functional wristwatch.

Wristwatches that are meant to be used as accessories are especially popular among women’s fashion. These differ in style, with many different faces, embellishments, strap colors, and materials.

These kinds of wristwatches are also available at different levels of quality and price, and cheaper and discounted models are most prevalent in this category of watches. To give an extra advantage to customers, there are some discounts and offer such as stylogear.com that helps your customers to become your potential consumers

Watches as Signals of Class

Quality watches are an established symbol of wealth and class, harkening back to the days when watches were an exclusive luxury item. Even though watches are a ubiquitous item these days, a quality wristwatch will still stand out because of its fine craftsmanship and the high quality of the materials used to construct it.

A quality wristwatch can, therefore, be a worthy investment, depending on the wearer’s social status and what they want to convey through wearing it.

Specialized Watches

An oft-forgotten aspect of watches is how certain professions require specialized wristwatches. Advances in watch mechanics and technology have led to the production of a wide variety of watches for different purposes and for different professions.

For example, such advances now specifically make diving watches for divers and swimmers to be waterproof and to also withstand the high pressures faced by divers underwater.

Triathletes also require watches that are designed to both withstand and track the different aspects of running, swimming, and cycling.

Other professions that require watches include medical professionals, both for noting the time for medical records and for recording a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate, etc. Watches for medical professionals often include another smaller face which can act as a stopwatch. They also require a watch that is easy to clean and disinfect, for obvious reasons.

Conclusion

Wristwatches have strengthened over time to serve a variety of different purposes and to communicate different styles. As the watch industry grows, both in physical outlets and in the e-commerce industry, it provides an opportunity for investors to take part in the market and grow their business.

The post 7 Reasons Why You Should Invest In Wristwatches As An Entrepreneur appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Tools to Help Your Employees Work from Home

Working from home has become the new normal, but it’s something that not all businesses and individuals can immediately jump into. There are things to consider, such as new technology and employees used to working on site.

The transition can take time if your company is not prepared for it. Sometimes, situations like this cause confusion and uncertainty among the workforce. However, technology is always one step ahead, so there’s no need to worry.

There are numerous tools available online, both free and paid. These make the process more convenient for you and your employees.

Whatever it is you need, there’s almost always a tool available for it, like video conferencing tools, audio tools, productivity tools, and even project management templates.

Choosing one from the many is challenging, so it’s vital first to find out your choices. Here are some tools to help your employees make working from home more comfortable.

Tools for Productivity

productivity tools for remote work

One of the things businesses worry about when working from home is employees’ productivity, and several tools can help with this.

● Google Online Suite

If your employees use Microsoft Office for many of their tasks, Google Online Suite is what your business needs. It’s Office’s online version, and it has Google Drive, Forms, Sheets, Calendar, Docs, Hangouts (now Google Meet), Slides, and Gmail. It has everything your employees need to be productive.

Google Online suite also makes it easy for teams to communicate, share, and collaborate.

● Trello

Teams tend to achieve more when using a collaborative task management tool like Trello. With its easy-to-use dashboard, monitoring your employees and their progress is simple. There’s an editorial calendar that shows what all the tasks teams are working on – writing, designing, editing, and publishing.

● ProofHub

ProofHub allows you and your teams to work together in one central place. Its main difference from some of the other project management tools is that you and your employees can also communicate and collaborate with clients.

Communication Tools

Most work from home tools have communication components, but using a tool intended solely for communication is essential. Here are some choices to consider.

● Skype

There are now numerous communication tools available online, but Skype is still popular and used by many businesses. It’s highly functional and equipped with a variety of features that help make communication convenient between teams and individuals.

Aside from chat and video conference functions, Skype also works efficiently for online interviews and meetings. Sending photos, videos, and files are likewise easy.

● Intercom

Intercom is another online messaging tool for you and your employees. It’s not as popular as Skype, but it’s just as useful. It’s not only for communications; it’s also an app for customer acquisition. Your employees get to answer clients’ queries, work on email campaigns, and perform various functions.

Video Conferencing

video conference tools for remote work

Video conferencing tools are different from chat or communication tools because they allow you to perform tasks you usually do when you’re in a meeting or conference with your employees. Here are some choices to consider.

● Zoom

Zoom is probably the most-used video conferencing tool nowadays. It’s simple to use and comes with features that make an online call look like it’s happening inside the conference room.

There are two ways to use Zoom – for free with no time limit but with only 100 participants, or paid with unlimited time and up to 1,000 individuals. It has tons of features like scheduling calls/conferences, text chat, recording conferences, and sending individual private messages.

Zoom also allows users to share their screens, either a part of it or the whole screen.

Even if you or your employees have internet connection problems, Zoom will keep working, albeit at a reduced quality.

Zoom is compatible with iOS, Android, macOS, Web, and Windows devices.

● Google Meet

The best reason for using Google Meet is your free access to and use of Google apps such as Google Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Classroom, Slides, and Gmail. Likewise, you can schedule video conferences ahead of time and mark them on Google Calendar.

Google Meet is available for free or for a fee. Some of its most exciting features include live stream support, real-time captions, 250 participants at once, call recording and mic muting. It’s also easy to share your screen whether you want the participants to see your entire desktop, one window, or a tab.

Social Media Management

Social media plays a significant role in ensuring business success. There are several tools to choose from.

● Hootsuite

Hootsuite is probably the most popular among all social media management tools. Its features include content management, filtering social conversations, analytics, and reports. It works with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and most social media networks. Hootsuite is also easy to understand and use.

● Buffer

Buffer is an intuitive social media management tool used by reputable businesses, individuals, agencies, and brands. It’s perfect for collaboration, engagement, publishing, and analytics.

Helping your employees transition to working from home is not a walk in the park, but using the right tools helps make the process easier. Spend some time studying which options are best for your business before settling for one or two (or more).

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8 Tips for a Compelling Business Presentation

Everyone has great ideas at some point—that’s not the biggest challenge. Success is all about showcasing your creativity in a way that amazes your audience. And how should you do that? By having a compelling presentation.

An amazing presentation will make you look professional and confident. Being careful with the smallest details will not go unnoticed and will probably make the audience trust you more easily. Taking time to perfect your presentation—which is both about your slides and your speech—will ensure your success, along with that amazing idea of yours.

There are a few opinions on what makes a presentation great, but some things are universal. You should pay attention to the design of your slides—keep it clean and attractive. Another important point is how you display your data. Don’t throw all the text you have on a few slides and be done. Exhibit your most important, strongest point and develop it in your pitch. And use powerful visuals—they don’t say that a picture equals a thousand words for nothing.

How to Make a Compelling Business Presentation

Be convinced about your idea

If you don’t believe in your idea, no one will. This means that you have to build your presentation to showcase your passion. Show your audience why your idea works and why they should care.

Having passion is a great way of showing how much you care. That this is not just another business idea, but something you have strong feelings about. Usually, the audience will pick up on your attitude. This greatly influences how much they will care about what you have to say.

Tell a story

People tend to show more interest in personal stories rather than listed facts. If your pitch originates from personal experience—use it to your advantage. Become a narrator, rather than a salesman, and see how your audience changes.

Having a story to tell makes you more human. Make people feel something about your idea by transposing them in your narrative. We’re hardwired to get involved emotionally in a good story. So use that to your advantage.

Use supporting materials

create a compelling presentation

Everyone will be more inclined to trust your data if you have supporting materials. Don’t be afraid to quote your authoritative sources. It only shows that you’ve done your research and you’re confident about it.

Most of the time, if someone puts effort into something, it shows. If you’re worried that quoting your sources will make your idea sound less original, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. All of us find inspiration in everything that is around us. What is important is what we do with that inspiration.

Memorable visuals and quotes

Maybe this one doesn’t sound important, but trust us, it can change everything. A well-placed quote or a striking image that supports your ideas is easy to remember for your audience. Inspire your audience to believe in what you present.

Visual content is also a way of influencing what your audience feels. Some images, for example, can be scientifically linked to feeling a certain emotion. So by using memorable visuals, you can technically show your public how they should feel about what you’re saying. Emotion can be a really great incentive if used well.

Questions and rhetorics

If you want your audience to pay attention, engage with them. Ask questions—even if they’re rhetorical—to stress what you want to say. If people agree with you, or if they find themselves having the same questions you have, then they will remember you. What is greater than a hooked audience? (See what we did there?)

Having an engaged public means that not only will they pay attention during your whole presentation, but they will also try to anticipate what you want to say. You can use that and try to surprise them. Thinking out of the box will only make people love your pitch even more.

Skip the jargon

More often than not, people won’t be familiar with your jargon. Technical terms or words that are hard to understand will make you lose the audience’s attention. Explain everything as if you were talking to a child – simple and without showing off your knowledge.

You can still showcase your knowledge but in a subtle manner. If you start throwing jargon in the public’s face, there’s a very small chance that they will be impressed. But if they feel like they actually learned something new—that they didn’t know they needed to know—then congratulations! You’ve definitely impressed some people.

Clean design

A simple design doesn’t have to be bland. Think out of the box! Try to be creative with your slides. Luckily for you, there’s plenty of free PowerPoint templates online ready to use. All you have to do is download them and start editing!

Try to match your template to the feel of your presentation. Sometimes it’s a good idea to be conventionally professional. But there are times when showing your human side can bring you more success. Think about what you’d like people to think about you and your idea, and act accordingly.

The 10-20-30 rule

creating a compelling presentation

This rule is simple but golden. You should have around 10 slides. Your presentation shouldn’t last more than 20 minutes. No font you used should be smaller than 30 points. The attention span of a person gets shorter and shorter every day. By following this rule, you won’t overdo and you have all the chances of having an engaged audience.

Maybe you won’t respect this rule word-by-word. But you should still be aware of what it brings to attention. It’s easy to make a 100-slide presentation when you have a lot to say. But it’s a bit harder to sum up everything in 10 slides while still touching all the points you need. However, the latter will help you have a more engaged audience and it will improve your presentation skills.

What to Take Away

There are many elements involved in a great presentation. But perhaps the hardest part is making it look like it took little or no effort. Like that’s how you arrange your ideas, naturally. A well-designed presentation will make you look professional and trustworthy.

Amazing presentations take you a long way. You need to have more than a great idea to convince anyone. Make your audience say “Why haven’t I thought of this before??” after your pitch. Impress them with your clean, minimalistic slide design. Back up your facts. Make yourself memorable with visual elements. But most importantly, try not to show off or overdo anything. Just be yourself, show your passion, and hook your audience!

The post 8 Tips for a Compelling Business Presentation appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Self-Development Tips for Every Entrepreneur

Anyone can start a business, but not everyone can succeed with it. That’s a fact that every aspiring entrepreneur should understand when planning to open and start their own company.

In fact, thousands of people have opened a business only to find it failing at the end. The truth is, success isn’t a sure-fire thing in business. You, as an entrepreneur, should be prepared to face some changes along the way and learn how to adapt to them.

When you run a business, you’re required to develop personality traits that will help you stay resilient through tough times. As you go through self-development, you’ll learn to become a better entrepreneur. The more you grow, the better your decisions will be and the higher your chances are of succeeding in your industry.

With that said, here are some self-development tips all entrepreneurs can use to ensure the success of their business:

Read Books

self development tips for entrepreneur

Books are the hub for learning – whether in school or real life. They exercise your mind which improves your focus, concentration, creativity, and expands your vocabulary. These attributes are important when running a business since you’ll be constantly speaking with and dealing with different people. Your creativity will also help you in creating solutions to problems, as well as increase your business’ profitability.

According to Rockefeller Habits, entrepreneurs should read at least 24 books in a year. Half of them should be business-related that deal with topics such as marketing strategies, finances, or anything related to a particular skill in an industry. The remaining 12 should focus more on personal development. This includes topics related to culture, politics, or anything along those lines.

Take a Break

Did you know that 50% of most business owners don’t take time off work, at all? Many may not even realize it, but even the most successful business owners need a vacation. Most entrepreneurs are too hesitant to take one because they fear their business would fall idle without them. This can lead to burning out or worse, you might lose your passion and give up on your business dreams, entirely.

Once your workday is at an end, step away from business emails or calls, unless it’s extremely urgent. Push pause, and try to forget about the stresses of running a business. As you may have heard, great ideas come from when you’re relaxed and doing nothing at all. Be sure to take a break sometimes. You’ll be surprised at how relaxing and renewing you will become.

Determine Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Entrepreneurs have their strengths and weaknesses. Many of them, however unintentionally, make the mistake of improving their weaknesses. With the number of resources available today, you can easily hire an employee and delegate tasks that you’re not an expert in, and begin to focus on doing the things you excel in.

For instance, if you’re not good at accounting, you can hire someone on a retainer basis to do your company’s numbers for you. This way, you won’t be left with the burden of doing something you’re not good at. Besides, it’s also not advisable to stretch yourself by trying to do everything yourself.

Learn or Improve a Skill

self development tips

Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from college. It goes on forever. This is especially true when it comes to running a business. Many business owners make it a top priority to brush up their skills or learn new ones relevant to their industry. Many find it helpful to enroll in courses relating to marketing, finance, or other areas of study that are relevant to their business.

If you don’t have the time to attend physical classes, you can always sign up for online classes. Many schools offer online classes that are specifically designed for people with day jobs or busy entrepreneurs.

Lead but Learn to Listen to Your People

When you run a business, you automatically become a leader. However, acting like a boss all the time will affect your relationship with your people. Sometimes, you also have to step down, listen, and learn from your employees. In doing so, there will be times when you get a measure of insight into how you’re doing as a leader. Even if you receive criticism, take it and learn from it while using it to create a better version of yourself.

Have a List of Things You Need to Improve On

Believe it or not, there’s an endless list of things you can do to develop yourself as an entrepreneur. You have to work on yourself continuously if you want to count yourself among the best in your industry.

If you discover something you need to improve, put it on your list and start working on the solution. Do it one by one, step by step so you won’t lose track of your goal.

Be a Better Entrepreneur and Lead Your Business to Success

Improving and developing certain characters is critical to the success of your business, regardless of the industry you’re in. If you are not constantly striving towards becoming a superior entrepreneur, you’ll miss out on many new business opportunities.

The self-development tips you have discovered in this article will help you develop your relationship with customers, suppliers, and even financing institutions, if and when you’re looking for extra financing.

Always remember, taking action is what will bring your business to success. Knowing what to improve will not ensure success. You need to actually take action and devote yourself to incorporating these improvements within yourself.

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Beat The Competition: Self Discipline For Business Success

How would you describe the business landscape in today’s time?

Would you describe it as competitive? Ruthless? Cutthroat, aggressive, or maybe a dog-eat-dog world? Well, all of the above are accurate discussions of how the business world truly is. Indeed a world full of ambition, it is still a world where simple hard work won’t be enough to guarantee success.

Once it was easy to prosper with your business ventures, simply some common sense, a good balance between spending and saving, and the thirst for success. Today it is not that easy. Just like you, there are a hundred thousand young minds out there, with their own ideas and a thirst for success. And competing with all of them is not going to be easy.

Why So Competitive? A Quick Analysis Of The Business World Competition

According to statistics — only 40% of new businesses become profitable after a certain point. And if you are thinking that you can easily make it into that 40% club, then you’re not only ambitious but also a tad bit arrogant.

The truth is that everyone out there is thinking the same. But after a certain point, they are all going to be losing money. No matter how client-specific services you have, or how much of a good businessman you are, it is going to be very hard for you to beat the business world competition.

This increasing competition can be the result of the increase in internet usage and the rise of smart device users. People today have a bigger pool of resources they can dive into and find the one solution that works for them. They are willing to conduct hours of research just to find the perfect match of a solution for them. This can be problematic for your business.

One of the main reasons why businesses might fail can be the lack of self-discipline among business owners. And no, when we say self-discipline, we don’t mean military-style discipline that requires you to wake up at 6 am every morning. We mean the kind of discipline that drives positive growth and success, and sadly enough, in this “live fast die young” world, businessmen are lacking in it.

The rise of big corporations resulted in a very limited amount of space in the market for startups. If you want to take that space for yourself, then you have to find some kind of strength and self-discipline in yourself. And if you are still wondering what kind of self-discipline I’m talking about, you should check out the list below!

Self Discipline: The Key To Business Success

The growth of your business depends on your personal self as much as it does on the market. Having no sense of discipline in individual life can lead to an ultimate business disaster. So, what kind of personal discipline do you need to make it into the world of business?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn and go for a run. The kind of personal discipline we are talking about sustains personal growth and positivity. With this, you’ll feel the positive effects of the business in your personal life as well. Here are a few personal disciplines that are going to help you on your way to business success despite the cutthroat competition.

Think Outside The Box

self discipline

The first thought in everyone’s mind when starting a corporation is what the majority is doing.

We look at our contenders, how they are solving the client problems, and try to imitate them, but only in a better way. But THIS is not the secret to success.

We have discussed how clients today have a larger pool of resources to pick their solution provider from. During this research period, they would basically compare you along with all the other competitors out there and decide whether investing in your solution is going to be worth it. In order to be successful, you have to break this chain of comparison.

To be unique is one of the most common thoughts today, and yet it is incredibly useful. To be truly successful, not only do you need to think outside the box, but you also have to reinvent the box completely. The key here is to come up with a solution that makes all the other available solutions in the market completely obsolete. When you do THAT, you’ll know that you have started on the path of business success.

Be Patient — Things Take Time

In this world of instant gratification, patience is truly a virtue, especially when you are looking to succeed in the business world.

Let’s try to understand this with an example — both Joe and Dan started a software development company around the same time. After a while, they both made the same investment decisions to increase the annual revenue amount. The investment decision, however, was not effective immediately. While Joe lost his patience and scratched the investment idea fast, because it was not giving him results, Dan stayed patient and stuck with his decision, which ultimately brought him more revenue than he was expecting. In the end, Joe’s business failed, while Dan’s business flourished.

You see the problem with Joe’s decision, right?

The truth is that when controlling a business, you have to be patient with the decisions you take. The world of business is not a food delivery app where your results will be ready after 30 minutes of making decisions. Good business decisions take their time to come to fruition. And that’s why if you’re a business owner, and feel impatient when a business decision is not working out, you have to give it time. After all, all good things come to those who wait!

Plan, Plan, Plan, And Then Plan Some More

Whether you are spontaneous or a planner in your personal life, it doesn’t matter. When it comes to your business, you need to make sure that you know the value of planning ahead of time.

Sure, all the variables that affect the success of your business can not be controlled. But having a plan for all of these variables and their fluctuations can prove to be more than useful.

Let’s think of the present situation, shall we? The global pandemic situation has definitely affected the entire world and businesses around it. Now there are some businesses that planned ahead and already had a remote work from home policy in place. As soon as the self-isolation/quarantine measures started in effect, these companies executed their plan. And now they are working smoothly from home, without any hitches and slowdown in their productivity levels.

Now, what happened to the companies and businesses that didn’t have any plans in place? Well, they had to scramble around and try to make sense of the situation before making a plan, which means delayed action.

Having a plan in place helps you to make the right decision at the right time, which means there won’t be any kind of slowdown in your business growth. Planning and executing the plan at the right time will help you to prepare for anything.

Be The Master Of Your Own Thoughts

We all have around 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts every day. All these thoughts in our head can seriously impact the success of the business venture.

For this reason, controlling the thoughts in our mind is more important than we think it is. Being able to capture all the thoughts and ideas and turning them into action is important to achieve success in the competitive market.

Controlling and channeling the thoughts in our mind is one of the most important self-discipline we can use to achieve business success. Without it, we won’t be able to conduct any kind of business decision with the much-needed clarity.

Leave Some Room To Breathe

Calling oneself a workaholic may seem trendy, but in reality, being a workaholic is actually more harmful to you and your business than you think.

Working for hours might seem like the best way of beating the competitive market. But at the end of the day, it affects both individual and business life. Too much work stresses us and makes us question if all this is worth it.

Not to mention, the long work hours will affect your personal life as well, which in turn will affect your business. So, do yourself a favor and leave yourself some room to take a break.

See Also: 5 Effective Tips To Maintain A Healthy Work-Life Balance

Stay Healthy For Success

self discipline is success

We have all grown up hearing the phrase “health is wealth”. As children, it sounded silly, but as adults and business owners, this phrase seems too real.

Being healthy is definitely key to success. If you are sick and bedridden for days because you did not take care of your body, then you will be nowhere near being successful. Hence, fostering good and healthy habits, along with a positive mindset is crucial for your business success.

The tough competition of the business world demands business owners to be at the prime of their health. They have to keep up with healthy and happy habits that lead to better success for your business venture.

See Also: The 11 Most Important Rules For Healthy Eating

Believe In Self Sufficiency

For a business to be really successful, you have to ensure that it is self-sufficient.

It is important for the organizations to have the right kind of investments, that is true, but the more outside investment you have, the less of control you have on your business. That’s why today’s startup methodologies such as Lean startup and Bootstrapping are becoming popular. With these methodologies, startup owners can start with as small an amount of investment as needed, and then eventually grow their companies from the revenue earned.

These methods are not spoofs, but the real deal. Developing a self-sufficient business that does not need any other investment to run itself is the key to beating the competitive market. If you’re still skeptical, then read up on the benefits of bootstrapping your organization.

So What’s The Last Thought?

The matter of self-discipline has always been portrayed as something we HAVE to practice, not something we need to in order to succeed. However, with a little bit of personal and professional discipline and, along with positive and practical thinking, we have better chances of really succeeding in the competitive market landscape!

The post Beat The Competition: Self Discipline For Business Success appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

7 Benefits Of Using Google Ads

Is Google Ads right for your business? Is it worth the investment? These are the questions you have to ask yourself before you approach any new strategy, particularly paid online advertising. You only have so much money to dedicate to marketing, which means you need to make strategic, smart moves about how you utilize that budget.

In order to evaluate the impact that Google Ads will have on your business and marketing strategy, it’s important to discuss the benefits of using this PPC advertising platform. Then, you can make an informed decision about whether the investment of Google Ads makes sense for your company and budget.

Benefit #1: Increase Your Website Traffic

benefits of google ads

In the Digital Age, website traffic is a top priority. An increasing number of companies conduct some or even all of their business online. Thus, mustering up traffic to your company website means increasing the number of potential business opportunities. More opportunities can lead to more sales and revenue!

The majority of your digital marketing strategies share the same end goal: to drive more traffic to your website. It’s why you link your website to almost every social media post you publish and why you’ve worked tirelessly to improve your organic search rankings. Visibility leads to website traffic.

Google Ads introduces another channel that can help produce this ultra valuable traffic to your website.

Benefit #2: Generate More Qualified Leads

Investing in Google Ads doesn’t just ramp up your website traffic. It creates more qualified leads. In this respect, the traffic created through Google Ads is often better than many of your other sources. That’s because ad traffic generally consists of more qualified leads.

It all has to do with customer intent and behaviors. Every message created by Google Ads has an “Ad” logo next to it, so users can clearly distinguish paid versus organic results. When a user makes the choice to click on an advertisement over an organic result, it’s an indication that they are incredibly interested in converting —and quickly.

For search ads, you can also target keywords that suggest a user that is ready to convert. This saves you time and resources waiting for leads to mature and work through your marketing funnel.

Benefit #3: Get Faster Results

The digital landscape changes so rapidly, yet many of the top marketing strategies take months to develop and mature enough to produce tangible results. Think about how long it takes to grow a following on your blog or social media accounts. Similarly, reaching the top of a search results page can also take months and months.

Google Ads users begin seeing results as soon as they launch their first PPC campaign. This also means that you can reach the top of those search results pages in a fraction of the time that organic strategies require.

Consumer behaviors can change in an instant. The immediate results of Google Ads is the right solution for meeting these frequent and important changes.

Benefit #4: Build A Buzz

Most marketers utilize Google Ads because of its ability to drive website traffic and produce conversions. Google Ads is also a potent platform when it comes to growing brand awareness and building buzz. Publishing display ads can put your brand and marketing materials in front of users across the Internet.

Brand awareness is vital for new companies in a competitive space and when launching a new product. If you need to get the word out to a lot of people in your target audience, Google Ads is also a great option.

This means that Google Ads is not only superb at closing ready-to-convert leads, but also stimulating a steady stream of new prospects. When you empower both ends of the marketing funnel, the results can be huge for your business!

Benefit #5: Drive Local, In-Store Traffic

Another common misconception regarding Google Ads is that it only benefits online businesses. After all, what good does website traffic do for a local business? However, many small businesses produce huge results through Google Ads by focusing on using PPC ads to generate in-store traffic.

Local PPC involves targeting location-specific searches and using geo-targeting to only showcase ads to audiences in a specific region. These ads are crafted to drive foot traffic to a store, office or restaurant, instead of website traffic.

With more users using their mobile devices to access the Internet and find local businesses, Google Ads is a great channel for companies that want to position themselves in front of these individuals.

Benefit #6: Experience Affordable And Scalable Costs

benefit of using google ads

Most digital marketing strategies are free on paper. For example, there is no cost for a business to create a Twitter or Facebook account and begin using it to market materials and connect with customers, just like there is no inherent expense when creating a blog post or building organic search rankings through SEO practices. These strategies just take time and effort.

Easily the biggest fear for new Google Ads users is the costs. Why pay for these ad messages when other facets of digital marketing are free? Marketers also worry that the costs can get out of hand if they aren’t careful.

In reality, the costs for Google Ads are low and completely within the marketer’s control. You can set a daily and monthly budget to ensure that you don’t suddenly have a huge marketing bill to pay. And, those costs can be scaled at any time. If you want to spend more or less, you just change your budget and Google makes the necessary changes to your account.

Benefit #7: Measurable ROI

There is actually an advantage to the direct costs of Google Ads that many marketers overlook. When you know exactly how much you’re spending on a given strategy, it’s extremely easy to measure that channel’s ROI. Google Ads even shows you your return on ad spend to make it incredibly easy to judge how successfully your budget was utilized.

For strategies that are free on paper, calculating ROI can be much harder. There is, of course, some type of investment involved to produce these strategies, even if it isn’t monetary. Writing a blog post or crafting a witty social media post takes time that could be spent elsewhere. Then, you have to track what sort of results these tactics produce. It’s messy.

The Google Ads dashboard is rich with metrics and data that share every detail about the performance of your ad messages and the results of your investment.

Conclusions

Your marketing strategy aims to facilitate the buyer’s journey through your pipeline. By supporting both ends of the funnel and encouraging multiple types of traffic to visit your business, the Google Ads platform is a no-brainer.

Editor’s Note: The above article reflects the views and opinions of the guest author.

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10 Quick Link Building Tactics For Beginners

Link building, according to a lot of digital marketers, is a very old and very traditional digital marketing method. However, just because it’s all that antiquated doesn’t mean it’s useless. In fact, we may consider link building as one of the most timeless yet most effective digital marketing strategies out there.

Link Building: A Quick Rundown

With great link building, your brand may be able to reach any kind of audience and any kind of industry. That’s regardless of your chosen marketing channel, marketing method, or even timeline. That sounds awesome, right? If people and other members of your industry link back to you naturally, the likelier it is for your content to rank. In fact, 62 percent of top 10 Google results in most searches are actually more than three years old!

This is also the reason why it’s very effective despite the impression that it’s traditional. For a beginner marketer, link building seems really intimidating. However, it can actually become one of the most fun in most creative digital marketing strategies you can apply to your campaigns. Here are some quick tips:

Tap into broken links and transform them into your own

Broken links happen when websites have backlinks that end up in error or 404 pages, rendering the link in that particular piece or page generally useless. This can make that particular piece or page unattractive for search engines, and may even result in lower rankings. You can leverage on these broken pages by messaging website owners and suggesting they put your own link in that broken link instead. This not only redirects all traffic to you, but you instantly get linked to a potentially high-ranking page. Remember, though, when you offer links, make sure they’re related to the piece.

Find broken links to your own pages and fix them

linkbuilding for beginners

If broken links can be catastrophic to both guest sites and the competitors that put them, it can put you in a disadvantage as well. Broken links can lose you relevant viewership numbers, and they may end up becoming lost conversions and customers. To avoid this, make it a habit to actively find broken links to your site — be it unlinked anchor texts, misspelled names, and wrong links — and to message the webmasters to send the right ones. SEO tools can easily help you find those broken links and restore them. This ensures your link building efforts haven’t been put in vain.

Add a guest posting feature to your blog

A great way to attract increased viewership and better partnerships would be opening your blog for guest posts. You’d be surprised with how many high-ranking websites may want to connect with your site. This not only lets you have a share of their readership, you also get high-quality content for free. If you want, you can negotiate with these blogs to exchange links, where you post their blog in exchange for your link being posted in theirs. This can be a great way to build a network and establish yourself in the industry, both to search engines and your audience.

See Also: How Guest Blogging Can Boost Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

Choose your network and connections properly

Aside from opening your website for guest posting, it can also help a great deal if you make posts that other websites can feature. However, while guest posting in itself can be an effective link building method, you need to choose your connections properly. Make sure you post on blogs related to your industry so that search engines can properly associate your content with your keyword. Websites who fail to do this get on the bad side of search engines, as search engines might feel these websites are just spamming keywords for the numbers.

Find resource links and form your own spin to its contents

Most of the major websites in any niche likely rely on resource websites for information on their most popular content. Articles pertaining to trends, statistics, and new discoveries most likely have sources in the form of research, studies, statistical findings, and even testimonies from these resource sites. However, did you know you can use the same resource links to make your own cornerstone content?

One of the best ways to create appealing content is to find the main source of information in your niche, and tackle its data with your own angle. This would instantly make you and your content more unique. In fact, if you take advantage of the fact that long-form (3,000+ words) content can get 77.2 percent more backlinks compared to short-form content, your cornerstone content can be the reason for your rising ranking.

Take advantage of putting your links in social media content

doing linkbuilding

Did you know that 3.8 billion people are actually active in social media? This is 75 percent of existing people using the internet (4.5 billion as of 2020) right now! As such, it is very likely for you to find an online forum or community of your nation on a social media platform. You can take advantage of the situation by joining these forums and communities, and posting relevant content such as posts, images, videos, and even infographics that contain links to relevant pages you want to link back to. If you choose the right content and post in the right community, you will likely get a lot of traction and even new audiences.

Make your content optimized for mobile

Before you release any form of content — be it blogs, posts, multimedia or ads — it’s important to make sure they’re optimized for mobile first. This means they have to be viewable from a mobile device without any hassle. You should also make sure your links are easily recognized in the middle of the piece, as they’re more helpful compared to sidebars and footers. Doing this can earn you huge plus points from search engines, as they like content that is visible across different kinds of media platforms. This also makes sure all audiences across all devices can check out your content without any worries.

Reuse old data to create new and improved content

If you have a page with interesting content but isn’t ranking, you don’t necessarily have to discard it. Rather, you can actually take data and relevant information from that content and repurpose it into something more updated and more appealing to other content platforms. For instance, an old blog post you think has potential can be repurposed into an infographic or social media post.

The trick here is to find old and struggling content that you think might be relevant to your viewers today. Using new content can boost your old data, as you can link back to that old piece of content. Likewise, if other content creators find your new content interesting, the likelier it is for them to give you backlinks as well. The trick here is to post new content in platforms that can naturally and organically earn you links.

Add links to your content organically

What a lot of brands don’t realize is that they sometimes force their keywords into their content. As a result, they create content that seems “scammy” or off-topic. Unfortunately, they may have included the keyword in their website, but doing it in a forceful way also spells trouble for their SEO. This is why link building services often focus less on aiming for high search engine scores and instead focus on making contextual pieces.

This means adding links to pieces as needed, and only when they provide value to the piece. As such, when writing blogs and making posts, add links that point users to statistics, facts relevant to the niche, and informative pieces that can help enrich user experience. If you want your link building strategies to work, your content must have their keywords and links naturally placed there.

Never buy a backlink from websites

While it can be tempting to just pay websites to post your content, websites that do ask for payment in return for backlinks most likely have low search engine scores in the first place. This not only makes them unreliable, but being associated with them may lower your own ranking and even affect the way search engines perceive your website. if you’re talking to a website that asks you to pay for your guest post, you should probably look for another website to submit your content to.

Link Building: A Timeless Way to Build Connections

With the above points taken into consideration, it’s important to understand that link building remains timeless because its methods can be applied to almost any up and coming trend. Despite the rise of tools such as chatbots, virtual reality, and AI, all of these concepts have to rely on link building if they want to become effective digital marketing tools. At the end of the day, these tools still have to rely on keywords and concepts in order to link brands with their audiences. And with the tips above, knowing how to tap into these tools can give you an edge and help you build better links.

If you have other quick tips you want to share to fellow marketers, feel free to share them below. And if you want to discuss some point we’ve raised in the article, feel free to start a discussion in the comments.

Author Bio:
John Gonzales loves two things the most in the world – technology and pizza. As a writer by trade, he spends a lot of time writing about food, travel, and the latest in tech developments. John is your guy when it comes to writing pieces on gadgets and consoles, games, health and medicine, and even marketing. As a techie himself, John wants to make sure his pieces aren’t just informative, but also very personal and tailored to reader needs.

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Expand Your Brand Using Business Cards

Every successful business expecting high returns should have investment projects. Just like any other advertisement plan, a business card is crucial. It links up your company and the potential customers easily. It’s cheaper to design and distribute the cards.

However, for a startup business which is low on budget and high on initial expenses, designing the card may be a significant challenge. But, it should not stop you from being a successful entrepreneur. You can create it yourself or have the best free business card makers Shopify for perfection.

How to Design Your Business Card?

making business cards online

To make your business cards online, you should first understand the content to display. It will depend on the type of your business, your potential customers, your expectations and your budget. Thus, make a shortlist of your content bearing in mind that the card is small and can’t fit a ton of data.

Besides, a large number of people ignores typically long statements tending to concentrate on short ones. Make it appealing, readable and don’t overwhelm it since the appearance of the card speaks about your brand.

The card should display a positive image of your business brand. You should incorporate your business name, email and business products. Customers need to know the business location and any contact to use while reaching you.

If you do your business online, remember to include your website URL. Also, you can add a QR code which will help in mobile shopping. These codes make iPhone and android users shop faster by merely scanning them to access your products.

You should likewise know how to arrange all the data on the card and its size. Usually, the right business card size is 3.5 x 2 inches. Decide on the card formatting design where you can either choose from portrait or landscape layout.

You can either follow one side or double side design depending on data length while making the card. Don’t forget the visual aesthetics such as colours, font sizes, patterns, lines and logo if you have any. Make sure the visual branding of the business is fantastic, communicating and attractive.

See Also: Choosing Brand Colors: How to Pick The Best Hues For Your Business

Why Do You Need to Have a Business Card?

using business cards

A quick first impression

Business cards always make the first impression of any brand. For your business to stand out, you must immediately seize the customer’s attention even before they notice your products. Your card must be attractive and create a positive impression of your brand.

It delivers business details

It displays all the contact details about your brand with clarity. Customers usually lack time to go searching for shops, so having the business name, contact number, and location is a must.

It gives a personal touch

In this digital age, a business card gives that special personal touch. It lets a potential customer who may otherwise forget you, have a chance to whip out your card and contact you. At best, your business card will be shared with friends and family thus widening your reach and increasing your sales.

See Also: Here’s Why Business Cards Are Still Useful

The post Expand Your Brand Using Business Cards appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Define The Character Of Your Business For Social Media

Social media is the primary marketing channel for a majority of marketers – regardless of the size of the business – in recent years. But many businesses fail to make an impact in social media because they don’t define a character for themselves in particular platforms.

More precisely, the social media accounts of businesses should exhibit certain characteristics of success. Especially for long-term results, the character of social media accounts is critical. It is also an important element in the overall digital marketing efforts of businesses.

If you are a business and using social media to connect with new audience and customers, creating the social media protocol or character is critical.

Be Active And Responsive

You should give good care to your brand in social media and ensure that your audience has a seamless experience. They should be able to find the information they want in less than a minute. Engage and make your leads active by posting on a regular basis.

Occasional posts can’t give you the magical numbers in shares, likes, and retweets. Don’t forget that businesses that tasted greater success on social media have done some serious long-term work with clear objectives. This is especially important for businesses so you shouldn’t expect overnight results.

You should also be attentive to your audience and respond to their messages and comments in a few hours – not in a few days. Ensure that you have enough manpower to handle the social media and the incoming traffic.

Add Value With Diversity

how to build your brand in social media

Various social media platforms serve different types of contents, and the content created for one platform may not work for the other. While Facebook is for videos, Instagram users may not be happy to see long footages.

However, you can still add value by offering diverse forms of content. Don’t always go and create contents with links that ask your audience to make up their mind. You can post tutorials, guides, or recipes to let your audience learn more about your products and services. Interestingly, this can work out as an art of sales rather than boring, repulsive marketing.

You should do the fine job of attracting your audience with information, suggestions, tips, and more. For instance, Coca-Cola utilised its social media accounts to engage the audience with images, updates, event updates, different meal combos, and more. Who can resist after seeing an image of a delicious pizza with a Coke in social media?

See Also: How Using Live Video Can Boost Your Business Dramatically

Reach Out To Influencers

build your brand in social media

You can seriously route the relevant audience to your pages using the top of the industry – the influencers. Businesses who have mastered in engaging with customers and tasting greater success are credited with making an excellent relationship with the top names in the niche.

Inexperienced business leaders do not try to reach out to influencers as they think that they may be ignored. In reality, you lose nothing if they turn down your message. But by keeping that in mind, you shouldn’t make a proposal without careful consideration of things. Pay attention to treating the influencers worthwhile to encourage them to promote your products and services.

You can achieve this in several ways, like proposing to send a free product to the influencer or offering a free trial for the service. Your relations with the influencers can give more credibility and give more shape to your brand’s character.

See Also: How to Measure Influencer Marketing Impact

Base Your Analytics And Strategies

Keeping track of your posts is highly critical if you want to make your campaigns successful. After each campaign is over, you should make thorough research and archive the data. Anything and everything about your campaigns is valuable information, and you should ensure its proper storing.

After the campaign season is over, these pieces of information can give you an overview to create better campaigns next time. You will also get valuable insights that let you know the right direction for your campaigns – an important phase in shaping your social media character. Once you start spending time on social media and understanding the numbers, you will also learn the simplicity of these platforms.

Importantly, you shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes and getting the right lessons for your long-term business growth. Create quality content, eye on how your audience responds to your campaigns, and make conversions in no time.

The post Define The Character Of Your Business For Social Media appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

The Best 11 Marketing Automation Software to Boost Startup Branding

Once you get your company off the ground, there’s so much responsibility to take on, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and torn apart. Marketing, sales, financing, customer support, and other tasks are nearly impossible to handle without assistance.

In such cases, most startups have minimal resources to hire a large team of specialists for every task above. That’s where marketing automation is coming through the whole affair like a breath of fresh air.

Marketing automation has fast become a staple of most bootstrapped startups. It lets the technology work as the marketing team, making it easier to manage repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

In today’s digital era, if you are well-versed with the right software, you can single-handedly automate your marketing activity while you’re sitting at your desk sipping coffee.

The following is a list of top marketing automation software that is tailored to the limited resources and the unique needs of startup firms.

Hubspot

hubspot marketing tool

Hubspot is one of the most widely used and powerful marketing automation software in the digital sphere. This software provides all-in-one inbound marketing tools, including a full platform of marketing, sales, customer service, and CRM. It brings your entire marketing funnel together into one platform for better control and superior results.

With the help of this software, you can effortlessly manage impressive customer support. It also has useful analytics and reporting features to help keep your startups performance on the track.

The all-in-one marketing software can unleash tons of automation possibilities that would be painful if you use separate tools. Also, its easy-to-use interface makes it easier for you to craft simple or highly sophisticated conditional workflows.

Mautic

Mautic provides you with an open-source to automation software at an affordable price. Its modern approach to marketing automation makes it easier for you to automate personalized communications across all your digital channels.

This software automates the process of getting and nurturing leads generated from landing pages and web forms. It manages email, social media monitoring, website visitor tracking, real-time reports on key metrics, and even integrates with your CRM and other technologies.

With a high level of integration and deep audience intelligence, it takes actions and automates them based on your target customers’ behaviors and needs. It helps you to develop a meaningful connection with your potential customers– which is the key to making them convert to loyal customers.

This is one of the best marketing automation software you should consider if your startup is on a tight budget, but determined to create a marketing automation pipeline effectively.

See Also: 9 Signs You Are Doing Your Email Marketing Wrong

Drip

Drip is a feature-packed marketing automation software purposely designed for business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. It’s mostly known for the visual email marketing campaign building. This software allows you to create personalized emails to first-time buyers or returning customers, develop a visual workflow of your campaigns, and handle your leads.

It supports different types of marketing emails that suit the different promotional and campaign needs of individuals and businesses. With an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, you can seamlessly send targeted emails and personal communications to a handful of subscribers.

Drip also integrates with Facebook Custom Audiences for more targeted, effective advertising. Now it becomes easier to create custom ads with Facebook and manage them within Drip.

If you’re looking for a marketing automation software that reaches your Facebook audience, Drip is worth considering.

AdRoll

AdRoll offers you a precise segmentation of your potential customers through its location, behavior, and interest. With its industry-leading automation and personalization, you’d be able to structure, measure, and sync your marketing efforts seamlessly.

It provides you with reliable data you need to get a grasp on why some of the potential customers convert and why some don’t. That way, you’ll understand their preferences and set better plans to draw them down the marketing funnel and convince them to buy.

One of the best features of AdRoll is dynamic retargeting. So when a potential customer visits your website, they get targeted with your ads on other platforms (including social networks) once they leave – based on their pools and interest. If you have a retargeting marketing campaign to run, AdRoll is one of the best ways to go.

MailChimp

mailchimp marketing tool

MailChimp is a reliable marketing automation and email marketing tool. It helps you to create a customized email to market your products, find the prospects, and convert leads into sale.

With the automation features, you can send out an auto-respond message to welcome new customers. You can wish them a happy birthday or even remind them when they abandon a shopping cart. That way, you can engage your customers and make them stick around longer.

This software also allows you to monitor your startup email marketing performance by showing you interactive graphs about how many emails were sent, what percentage of customers opened the emails, and more.

If you’re looking for a solution for automated marketing software to leverage your email campaign efforts, MailChimp is worthy of being in your toolbox.

Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft combines your CRM with marketing automation, e-commerce, social network, and payment collection. It allows you to record sales, capture leads, and send automated emails. So, it makes it easier for your startup to streamline communication and boost the brand building.

More than just an automation software that saves your time and energy, Infusionsoft helps you map out each step of your marketing strategy to improve your sales pipeline while developing personal relationships with your customers.

Using this tool, you’d be able to see which prospects and leads that are actively engaged with your brand. That way, you can easily adjust and adapt your marketing effort cost-effectively. This software is highly recommended if you’re looking for an easy way to organize all the customer interactions and their daily activities in one place.

SharpSpring

SharpSpring is a cloud-based marketing automation software specifically designed to help you target leads with behavioral-based communication that turn them into sales. It provides you with feature-packed tools for lead management, lead distribution, sales management, contact management, and analytics.

With this software, you can create powerful automation based on your lead’s behavior. With the Drip Campaigns feature, you can effortlessly personalize and automate emails. It makes you keep up with customers much easier and targeting new leads much more effectively.

Also, there are dozens of stunning landing page templates designed to convert. It lets you create personalized landing pages based on behavioral information — taken from your lead data. If you’re a startup that’s aiming to improve lead nurturing with marketing automation, SharpSpring comes in handy.

Zapier

Zapier allows you to create interconnectivity between several business apps or software and integrates them (even when there’s no native integration) without requiring any coding. It means that if you write a new blog post on WordPress, it will trigger an action in other apps – depending on the conditions that you set up.

That way, you can easily automate data flow from one software to another, eliminating redundant and time-consuming manual data entry. Also, there’s social network automation you can use for sales and marketing. It supports major social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, making it easier for you to assist your social media campaign.

If your startup emphasizes on a marketing software that can automate data integration between thousands of business apps, then Zapier is the solution.

Act-On

Act-On is a feature-packed marketing automation software that helps you to create quality marketing materials with ease. It connects your email operations to other lines of business, including CRM, website visitor tracking, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and many more.

It also offers automated program templates that you can easily customize to meet your startup needs in driving leads into your marketing strategy. With a drag-and-drop interface, you can create a top-notch looking email, landing pages, and forms.

One of the best offerings of Act-On is that you can integrate almost any leading CRM available in the market, as well as webinars and online event planning. If you’re looking for any full-featured marketing automation software with minimal IT involvement, Act-On may be an ideal one.

Marketo

Marketo is an excellent automated solution to create professional, rapid-fire content such as emails, landing pages, forms, social posts, and any marketing campaigns that are tailored to leverage digital marketing efforts.

With its focus on various aspects of digital marketing, it offers essential features like lead generation, leads nurturing, CRM integration, analytics, and report.

This software receives much praise for its usability. With a simple, straightforward interface, the features and tools are easy to get used to. It also has a native Salesforce integration, as well as other popular software to keep your marketing and sales database in perfect harmony.

If you have pretty straightforward automation needs, Marketo is a must-have in your marketing tech-stack.

Pardot

Pardot is designed for organizations that mainly focus on B2B sales and marketing automation. It features lead management, a landing page builder, an automated drip campaign, ROI reporting, and real-time sales notifications to align marketing and sales team functions.

As a Salesforce product, Pardot offers native integration with the CRM. With the integration, it allows your customer service team to seamlessly add a current customer to drip emails and review them.

However, one thing to be mindful of is that this software is quite pricey in the market. But, if you have an extra budget to ramp up your startup marketing efforts with some robust technology, Pardot should be on your list of options.

Wrapping Up

Marketing automation software not only saves you a ton of time, money, and energy, but it also helps you streamline and speed up your marketing processes. If you’re considering jumping into marketing automation for your startup, it’s crucial to understand your business needs and how it affects your marketing performance. Choosing the right marketing automation software that covers all your business needs increases your chances of developing your startup’s brand cost effectively.

The post The Best 11 Marketing Automation Software to Boost Startup Branding appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

It’s ‘bullshit’ that VCs are open for business right now (but that could change in a month)

Earlier today, to get a sense of what’s happening in the land of venture capital, the law firm Fenwick & West hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with New York investors Hadley Harris, a founding general partner with Eniac Ventures; Brad Svrluga, a co-founder and general partner of Primary Ventures; and Ellie Wheeler, a partner with Greylock.

Each investor is experiencing the coronavirus-driven lockdown in unique ways, unsurprisingly. Their professional experiences are very much in sync, however, and founders should know the bottom line is that they aren’t making brand-new bets at this very moment.

On the personal front, Wheeler is expecting her first child. Harris is enjoying lunch with his wife every day. Svrluga said that he hasn’t had so many consecutive meals with his kids in more than a decade. (He described this as a treat.)

Professionally, things have been more of a struggle. First, all have been swamped in recent weeks, trying to assess which of their startups are the most at risk, which are worth salvaging and which may be encountering unexpected opportunity — and how to address each of these scenarios.

They are so busy, in fact, that none is writing checks right now to founders who might be trying to reach them for the first time. Indeed, Harris takes issue with investors who’ve said throughout this crisis that they are still very open to pitches. “I’ve seen a lot of VCs talking about being open for business, and I’ve been pretty outspoken on Twitter that I think that’s largely bullshit and sends the wrong message to entrepreneurs.

“We’re completely swamped right now in terms of bandwidth” because of the work required by existing portfolio companies. Bandwidth, he added, “is our biggest constraint, not money.”

What happens when bandwidth is no longer such an issue? It’s worth noting that none thinks that meeting founders exclusively remotely is natural or normal or conducive to deal-making — not at their firms, in any case.

Wheeler noted that while “some accelerators and seed funds that are prolific have been doing this in some way, shape or form for a bit,” for “a lot of firms,” it’s just awkward to contemplate funding someone they have never met in person.

“The first part of the diligence process is the same, that’s not hard,” said Wheeler. “It’s meeting the team, visiting [the startup’s workspace], meeting our team. How do you do that [online]?” she asked. “How do you mimic what you pick up from spending time together [both] casually and formally? I don’t think people have figured that out,” she said, adding, “The longer this goes on, we’ll have to.”

As for what to pitch them anyway, each is far less interested in sectors that aren’t highly relevant to this new world. Harris said, for example, that now is not the time to float your new idea for a brick-and-mortar business. Wheeler separately observed that many people have discovered in recent weeks that “distributed teams and remote work are actually more viable and sustainable than people thought they were,” suggesting that related software is of continued interest to Greylock.

Svrluga said Primary Ventures is paying attention to software that enables more seamless remote work, too.  Telecommuting “has been a culture-positive event for the 18 people at my firm,” he said.

Naturally, the three were asked — by Fenwick attorney Evan Bienstock, who moderated the discussion — about downsizing, which each had noted was a nearly inescapable part of lengthening a startup’s runway right now. (“It sucks,” said Svrluga. “People are losing their jobs. But to continue to run teams with the same organizational structure as 60 days ago, [which was] the most favorable environment for building industries, you can’t do it.”)

Their uniform advice for management teams that have to cut is to cut deeply to prevent from having to do it a second time.

Though no one wants to part ways with the people who they’ve brought aboard, “no CEO has ever told me, ‘Dammit, we cut too far,’ ” said Svrluga, who has been through two downturns in his career. In contrast, “at least 30%” of the CEOs he has known admitted to not going far enough to insulate their business while also keeping its culture intact.

The “second cut hurts way more,” added Wheeler. “It’s the second [layoff] that really throws people.”

If you’re wondering what’s next, the VCs all said that they’ll be receptive to new ideas after working through layoffs and burn rates and projected runways, along with the new stimulus package that they’re trying to find a way to make work for their startups.

As for how soon that might be, Wheeler and Svrluga suggested the world might look less upside down in a month. They proposed that four or so more weeks should also give founders more needed time to adjust some of their expectations.

Harris seemed to agree. “It will probably be a gradual thing . . . I’m not sure what next week holds, but feel free to ping me in a month and I’ll let [founders] know if I think it’s opening up.”

How To Use Social Media For PR: A Step-By-Step Guide

Social media marketing is one of the most important aspects of digital marketing and PR. If you don’t use social media platforms to promote your business, then you are missing out on quite a lot. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use social media for PR.

Build Your Brand’s Personality

It is extremely important that you know who your audience is in order to be able to create the content that they will enjoy and make your digital marketing campaign suited specifically for them. In other words, if you don’t know who you are posting for, then you can’t expect to attract a dedicated audience on your social media accounts.

Do as much research as possible about who you want to target. It is also a good idea to segment your audience to have several groups that you will be posting for. On the other hand, you might want to focus only on one of the groups if you want to create a more personal relationship with your followers and make your audience more uniform.

Once you know who you will be writing for, you will need to decide what elements you will be incorporating into your content to make it shape your brand image in the right way. Branding with the help of content is still considered one of the most effective ways to give your brand a personality instead of simply making it look like a soulless corporation.

It is crucial that you make your social media content personalized and personal at the same time. Personalization will make it more appropriate for each of your audience segments.  Making it personal will also make your content more individualized, relatable, relevant, and attractive to the majority of social media users.

See Also: 5 Instagram Tools That Can Boost Brand Performance

Start and Participate in Conversations

use social media for pr

Starting and participating in conversations on social media is a great way to reach out to your potential collaborators and followers while also building valuable connections.

Conversations can be initiated in different ways: posting action-inspiring content, creating polls and surveys, replying to posts and to comments under the posts, and so on.

However, if you don’t have enough experience to write good text that starts conversations, you could hire a professional writer from a reputable or recommended company. A professional writer will know how to do their job well to meet all the objectives you set for them while also being efficient with their work.

Every social media platform will require a different approach from you, so you need to keep in mind the specifics of each of the platforms:

  • Instagram: You can create polls, questions, and quizzes in your Instagram Stories, but you can also reply to posts and comments.
  • Twitter: There is an option to make polls, but you will have to reply to tweets most of the time.
  • Facebook: Creating high-quality content that motivates readers to write comments is one of the most effective tactics.
  • Other: Pin often and create interesting boards on Pinterest, upload insightful videos to YouTube, and repost and comment a lot on Tumblr.

Put Energy and Value into Your Content

Energy and value in content are both very abstract concepts, but they are actually essential for your social media content to be actionable. Here are some things you should definitely do:

  • Motivate Your Followers: Motivating your followers should not be something they come to hate eventually because you are being too clingy, but rather something they anticipate because it makes them do the things they have been procrastinating with. In other words, motivational content is the one that promotes hard work while also showing that you want your followers to be better in every way possible.
  • Inspire Your Followers: Inspiring your followers is also important, and even if it seems like it is the same thing as motivating your followers, it is actually quite different. Inspiration comes more on the creative side while motivation is more technical. You need to be an example and a role model that will show your followers that everything and anything is possible.
  • Make Valuable Content: Lastly, always create valuable content. If your content doesn’t bring value to your followers, then they won’t want to follow you. Everyone is looking for something they will either enjoy in terms of entertainment or something they can get knowledge from in terms of education. Consequently, choose your strategy and create either entertaining or educational content.

Create Your Own Opportunities

using social media for pr

Last but not least, stop thinking about where you can find new opportunities and start creating them for yourself. There are numerous ways you can do this, but here are some of the most effective ones:

  • Start Live-Streaming: By live-streaming regularly, you will be able to significantly improve engagement and brand awareness among your audience. Some of your followers will be looking forward to your next livestream if you create a schedule when you go live every week or month. In other words, this is probably one of the best ways to establish a better connection with your audience.
  • Create A YouTube Channel: A YouTube channel will not only help you build your community on that platform, but it will also allow you to post your videos on other social media platforms. Right now, video content is in-demand (and it will likely be even in ten years because of how much viewers enjoy it), so you need to use this situation to get through to all of your followers.
  • Be as Creative as Possible: Being creative is the key to success. If you find unique ways to approach a subject or to create your next piece of content, you will notice that there are many people who find such content useful. Stay out of the crowd and you will attract more people to what you do.

See Also: Finding Out the Best Time for Posting on Social Media Sites

Final Thoughts

To sum up, improving your PR with the help of social media marketing is not as difficult as it seems. Just follow the advice and tips in this article and try to combine these tactics to create a more effective digital marketing campaign.

The post How To Use Social Media For PR: A Step-By-Step Guide appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Eight Ways Entrepreneurs Can Finance their Business Ideas

Every entrepreneur or startup owner faces the biggest concern of financing their business. With minimal experience and no business background, entrepreneurs find it very hard to get the money at the initial level. Be it working capital or provision for the troubled times, you need money to run and grow your business. Let’s discuss some of the options that can help you get funding for nurturing your business ideas.

Before digging deep into the topic, it is necessary to go through two ways of financing your business — Equity and Debt. The equity option enables entrepreneurs to fund their business by providing an ownership stake to an investor. Here, there is no obligation of repayment. But then, you need to give up a part of your ownership in the business. It can also make you lose control over the company in the long run.

The debt option is like taking a loan for a specific period. You have to pay interest on the amount. Here, the ownership of your company is not at stake. But, if for some reason, you fail to repay the loan, the lender can take your company into liquidation. In such a scenario, you lose your company. The debt option is worth only when you have a strong financial backup.

Equity-based Funding

how to finance your startup idea

Self-funding- This is the safest way of funding for your startup. You can either use savings, personal debt, or both for your business. Also, you can consider selling assets like a second home or a boat to generate cash for your company.

Friends and family- This is a source of both equity and debt funding. Though this seems a handy source of funding, you need to remain cautious while assigning part of your business among friends and family members. Many businesses fail because key parts of business go into the wrong hands. Also, when the capital erodes, it hurts feelings and ruins friendships.

Angel investors and Crowdfunding- Affluent investors can bring capital in the startups. They are known as angel investors as they are always willing to invest in ideas they find lucrative in the future. Angel investors can also form a group of investors to spread risks and assist you to do extensive research. Local angels and the Chamber of Commerce are also good sources for funding your business at the initial stage.

Crowdfunding is also a concept similar to angel investors. The only difference here is that there is a large number of people or investors who contribute to your startup idea as per their wish. Crowdfunding has certain norms and its success rate is lower than that of angel investment. Crowdfunding is based either on equity, debt, or rewards. You can select the most suitable platform from hundreds of crowdfunding platforms.

Partnership- This is one of the strongest sources of funding for your business. Strategic partners can not only bring investment but also give new thoughts to take the business to the next level. Partners can also help your business by managing key processes. Let’s take the example of a property management company. A strategic partnership with a property maintenance company can help this company to provide 360-degree solutions.

Debt-related Funding

financing your startup

Lenders- Many lenders and organizations lend money to small businesses and startups. They lend money either at higher interest rates or ask for assets as security. Here, the interest rate is a bit tricky. For example, if the interest rate is 3% and the term is one month, then the actual annual interest rate is 36%. This is quite high as compared to a 3% rate.

Lenders are of two types- Traditional and Government lenders. Traditional lenders can be the first choice. Banks and credit unions are included in this type. This type of lenders, however, do not fund any innovative or experimental ideas. Government lenders work with the government arms to get more funds with some risks.

7a Loans- It is a type of loan that assists startups or businesses that have no collateral. Entrepreneurs with no personal or business assets are the most eligible candidates for this type of loan. However, a common man may not get this type of loan. What makes this loan attractive for entrepreneurs is the fact that the 7a loan has simple T&Cs. Entrepreneurs need to give a repayment guarantee of 85% to take this loan.

Banks- Both government and private banks lend SMEs and startups. But they need a track record and want to secure their loans by some of your assets. Banks are, however, not much friendly for SMEs and startups. Many entrepreneurs tend to stay away from banks at the initial stage because they have issues of both working capital and initial funding. In today’s time, banks have quickly become out of focus for entrepreneurs.

See Also: How to Get A Short-Term Business Loan

Venture Capitalists

They are basically the innovators of the business world. They’re constantly in search of entrepreneurs with lucrative ideas. If your idea is capable of working at a small level, you can easily convince a VC (Venture Capitalist) to support your business. VCs provide funds in two ways — equity or debt. Venture capitalists can lead your business to succeed at the international level.

Some venture capitalist companies invest in businesses by offering scholarships to entrepreneurs. Techpreneurs can leverage the benefits of these scholarships and become owners of small companies or startups at a young age. What’s more, your company can get money along with qualified business mentors through such venture capitalist companies. Simply put, VCs can assist you to launch your products while guiding your company at the initial level.

The SBA (Small Business Administration) is also a considerable debt option. It has many options but these options need a guarantee of repayment.

Concluding Lines

Many options are available to fund your business at the initial level. If you have a unique idea that you think it is worth investing, you can certainly explore various options and find the ideal one for your startup.

The post Eight Ways Entrepreneurs Can Finance their Business Ideas appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Top 9 Financial Mistakes of Young Entrepreneurs You Need to Be Aware Of

Thousands of young businessmen and women start new companies in the United States each year. Most will not last. However, whether you decide to form a limited liability company or go out on your own, you can increase the odds that your business will be one of the few that makes it. Success is not a question of good genes or dumb luck; it’s usually just about being prudent. Avoid these nine common financial mistakes of young entrepreneurs.

Not Separating Personal and Business Assets

You should always keep your personal and business assets separate. Not only does this help to streamline your business operations, it also allows you to take advantage of tax deductions, such as writing off business expenses.

One way is to set up a limited liability company (LLC). There are many benefits to establishing an LLC, including the ability to safeguard your personal assets if your business loses money or in case of a lawsuit.

Racking Up Personal Credit on Business Expenses

financial mistake of young entrepreneurs

If you’re using the same credit card for your movie tickets as you are for ordering branded stationery, you need to stop. Don’t mix your personal and business spending. Business credit card issuers stipulate that you can only use these cards for business purposes anyways, so it’s best to steer clear of such practices.

Another key reason for keeping your personal and business spending separate is that putting both expenses on the same credit card jeopardizes the protections that having a limited liability company gives you. Most business expenses are tax deductible, so separating personal and business spending makes life easier during tax time.

Not Preparing for Unforeseen Circumstances

When you’re young, it’s hard to imagine difficult situations such as death and divorce. However, it’s important to make provision for unforeseen circumstances to protect your loved ones—and your business. Having a buy-sell agreement in place outlines what will happen with your shares of a business should the worst occur.

You can use a revocable living trust to decide who will get your property when you die. This can be altered as your wishes and circumstances change, but the most attractive aspect of a living trust is that it allows you to avoid probate. Probate is the legal process of handling an estate, and it can be expensive and complex.

It may not be very romantic, but if you have your own business, it’s also a good idea to sign a prenuptial agreement before you get married. This legally binding contract describes who owns what assets, and how those assets would be distributed in a divorce.

Foregoing Insurance

Insurance is a legal requirement if you have employees, but even if you are a solo operation, insurance protects you if anybody makes a claim against your business. Business Owners’ Insurance provides an income if your business is temporarily out of action due to a disaster, and covers expenses such as rent and utilities you would’ve incurred during that period.

You may be cash-strapped when you’re starting out, but not taking out insurance could become a very costly false economy.

Not Planning for Taxes

When you first launch your business, it can be tempting to focus all your energy on generating income. But have you thought about taxes?

How LLCs are taxed depends on the number of members it has, and whether you decide to treat your LLC as a different business form for tax purposes.

This checklist from the IRS will help you ensure that your new business complies with federal tax requirements. Each state has its own tax rules, too. It’s not all bad news, though: You can also take advantage of tax incentives relating to energy use and other aspects of your business.

Not Paying Yourself

financial mistakes of young entrepreneur

It’s very common for young entrepreneurs to deny themselves an income. However, you should still pay yourself the market rate for the job you’re doing as soon as the business can afford to do so. When you don’t compensate yourself, it can be hard to determine whether your business model is profitable.

Not Hiring/Speaking to an Accountant

When you are starting out, it can be tempting to try to do everything yourself. This is understandable, considering that your funds are probably limited, and your enthusiasm is unbridled. However, thinking you can be your own accountant can end up saving you money upfront, but costing you more over time. Unless you have financial training, you’re better off hiring a professional. He’ll be able to help you build a strong foundation for your business and save you money in the long term.

Expanding Too Quickly

While it may seem hard to believe, growing too quickly can sometimes be as bad as not growing at all. This is largely because rapid expansion can put too much pressure on your fledgling business, and you have neither the infrastructure nor the experience to deal with it.

The result can be customer dissatisfaction because of your inability to handle an influx of orders, employee burnout from too many long days, and even cash flow problems because you might be shelling out for inventory while customers owe you money.

Insufficient Capital

Likely the biggest mistake that young entrepreneurs make is not having enough money to fund their business properly. Either you, your partners, and/or your shareholders need to invest sufficient capital in the business to ensure its success.

If your business focuses largely on providing services (for example, copywriting or web design), you may not need much capital. However, it’s still worth remembering that the leading cause of failure for all businesses is a lack of money.

See Also: Get Your Business Running With These Business Funding Solutions

The post Top 9 Financial Mistakes of Young Entrepreneurs You Need to Be Aware Of appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How To Improve Your Business’ Email Response Time

Promptly responding to the emails you receive is crucial for an array of reasons. For one, it builds trust with whom you’re communicating with. If popular media has convinced you that “email is dying,” I encourage you to think again. In fact, email is doing the exact opposite. By just next year, about 126.7 trillion emails will be pushed out annually. About 90% of the people in the country reported relying on email communication in 2017 alone.

Saying this, email responsiveness is important because it’s in demand. 46% of Americans open their inbox as soon as they wake up – even before they turn to social media, check the news, or make a Google search for what’s on their early morning mind. Additionally, 35% of email traffic warrants an answer. 23% of those require quick answer. Yet, that expectation is not met on average. Let’s get more specific.

When emailing a business with inquiry, 11% of clients expect to be answered within 15 minutes. Given slight more leeway, 19% of clients expect an answer within 1 hour. 14% of clients will wait 4 hours before getting antsy. 1 in 3 GenX and Boomers expect to be replied to within an hour or less.

Despite that, the response time, on average, is around 42 hours. What does this imply?

Think about it this way:

Time is money. For every minute you don’t respond to your customer’s email, the more disinterested they grow. When you fail to give them what they want in a quick manner, they’ll feel frustrated and annoyed. Response time is a nonverbal cue to your business-goers. They’re more likely to zone in on these nonverbal cues if you don’t address them with swiftness.

email time

On a more positive note, responding to inquiries within an hour makes you 7x more successful in qualifying the lead than others who take 2 hours to respond.

What Customers Want

Remember: the customer is always right. Always.

But how do you know what they want (outside of a quick response)?

I’ll tell you.

80% of people say friendly service, convenience, and knowledgeable help are the most essential components in making a positive client-business interaction. Once you meet their expectations, the individual client is 80% more likely to continue using your business. They will go on to spend 67% more than they would’ve before having such a delightful interaction.

In other words, customers just want to feel heard and valued by the places they spend their money on. Here are a few things you can do to improve your business’ response time.

To begin, you must encourage your entire brand to rethink about electronic mail communication. Email is far from dead, so encourage each employee with email access to work toward a response time goal catering to the aforementioned client expectations. Furthermore, suggest that your team organizes their inbox to minimize their rate of electronic chaos. By doing so, this employee will be able to find what they’re looking for much easier and quicker, allowing more time to focus on replying to customer inquiries.

Furthermore, emphasize the importance of apologizing in the scenario your team member falls behind in client communication. A simple apology can buy goodwill; however, lengthy excuses are unnecessary and distract from the original inquiry that was made. The last thing you want to do is have your client focus on your brand’s non-responsiveness.

Set a standard that outlines when you’d like your team to get back to clients. You can do so by creating an email policy. It should outline how vacation responses are covered or how many emails (at maximum) can sit in a shared inbox.

Another method would be to schedule specific times in the day check the inbox. By setting clear expectations with your team, you will indirectly train your clients on when to expect a reply. This will leave them feeling less frustrated in the case of delays.

email responsive time

Quick replies are also helpful. They can help you make scripts to respond to frequently asked questions. This way, you don’t have to continue rewriting the questions you’re asked the most.

There are many other ways you can work with your employees to improve your email response times. Just be sure to measure your progress along the way so you can figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Furthermore, be sure to maintain that human touch in your approach to electronic mailing. Including a bit of human and personalizing your message can go a long way with those on the other end of your text – especially if you frequently use pre-written scripts.

Time is money, and being responsive is critical. Below, you can find more information on the importance of email responsiveness and how to improve your response strategies.

See Also: Essential Tips On How to Manage Work Emails Without Losing Productivity

Please include attribution to Time To Reply with this graphic.

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Cash Flow Management Tips to Improve Your Business

Cash flow management is simply a process of tracking the amount of money coming in and the amount of money going out. It helps you determine the amount of money that will be available to your business in the future. There is no business that can survive without proper cash flow management. It is an essential part of financial analysis and is an integral part of any business.

Cash flow management is especially important for startups. If the company is not able to manage its cash flow during the first year of operations, it will probably not survive during the second year. Poor management of cash flow can result in a company’s inability to pay its suppliers or finance urgent needs. Without any doubt, you can make use of a credit line.

However, when your loans and credit cards are empty, you will be left in a situation where the cash is needed.

In order to perform cash flow analysis, you will have to take three key elements into consideration and they are as follows:

  • Accounts receivable – This is the amount of money customers owe you.
  • Accounts payable – This is the amount of money you owe to suppliers.
  • Shortfalls – This refers to the situation where you owe more than what you have on liability.

You have to be able to manage all the aforementioned elements in order to lead your business to success. It is not advisable to allow a situation where your customers owe you too much or when you owe your suppliers too much. Otherwise, it can hurt your business significantly.

In order to determine the current cash flow, you will have to look at the amount of money coming in and the amount of money going out. In case you have a number of customers that owe you money and have yet to pay, make sure not to consider this as part of your cash flow.

Undoubtedly, cash flow management is vital for business. However, if there is no cash to be managed in the first place, the business is in trouble. There are, however, a number of ways to increase your cash flow and eliminate any difficulties with it.

Here are the most important cash flow management tips you can use for your business:

Calculate the break-even point.

cash flow management business tips

It is critically important to determine the break-even point for your business. In this way, you will know when your business becomes profitable and also gives an early goal to strive for.

During cash flow management, keep your focus on reaching that break-even point. This type of analysis can be done in two ways: unit-based or dollar-based. Both approaches involve fixed costs.

In order to calculate the BEP with the use of a unit-based approach, you will need to take your fixed cost. The next step would be taking your revenue per item and subtracting it from the variable cost per item.

The final step is to take the fixed cost and divide it by that number. BEP, with the use of a dollar-based approach, involves taking a fixed cost and dividing it by the contribution margin.

Consider cash flow before profits.

It might sound contradictory, but this is a reality. Even if you reach your break-even point and your business is profitable, you still need to take care of cash flow management.

The next step after reaching the BEP is making an analysis of accounts payable, accounts receivable, and shortfalls. Then, determine whether any of them possess a problem for your business.

It might also be the case that your business is able to break even but it does not have any cash left. If this is the case for you, then it is time to have a detailed look at the aforementioned elements.

It will help you to figure out whether you need to attract new customers or it would be wise to cut the expenses. Even the smallest modification can have a great impact on the profit margin and provide you with an idea of what impacts your business most.

Try to have cash reserves.

Any business has shortfalls and yours is not an exclusion. The survival of your business highly depends on the ability to manage these shortfalls. If you start your business already with some cash in your bank account, it will make your life much easier.

It would be great to have cash reserves that will help you to last for the first three to six months. In this way, you will be able to protect your business from situations where a market dives into a temporary downturn.

Focus on collecting receivables ASAP.

Customers like situations when the invoice says “due in 30 days”. Even though it is good for customers, it is not good for your business. It is recommended to state “due upon receipt” on your invoice.

You can also delegate the task of keeping an eye on receivables to your employees. He/she will be responsible for contacting your customers and collecting payments.

Extend payables ASAP.

Approach to account payables should be the opposite of account receivables. It is advised to extend payable to net 60 or net 90 if possible. It will give you a chance to have a higher cash balance and increase your debt.

Another reason for having cash reserves is your ability to pay suppliers. If you owe suppliers and do not have enough cash to make payments, you will harm the relationship with them. They might also impose additional fees. Apart from that, they can withhold the next shipment, which will interrupt the whole production process.

Carefully monitor your cash flow.

Make sure you have a professional team in the finance department. These people should be completely informed about all the company’s finances. It is also important to have a person who will be responsible for monitoring the cash flow and informing you when the company reaches a certain threshold. For example, when your cash flow hits the $1,000 mark.

Apply technology to your cash flow management.

cash flow management tip

Specialists recommend keeping your cash flow spreadsheets in the cloud. Some of these sites are DropBox and OneDrive.

By utilizing these services, you will be able to access them from anywhere. You can also make use of professional accounting software. One important detail to be mentioned is security.

Thus, when using cloud-based technology, make sure to have the best security practices in place in order to protect the data. Security should be priority number one for your business.

See Also: How Cloud Technology Can Help Your Business Grow

Project future cash flows.

Estimating future cash flows is an important element of cash flow management. This is normally done with the use of historical data and market movements. Make sure to make projections for every month, quarter, and year. Precise cash flow projections can alert you to problems before they appear.

Without any doubt, it is almost impossible to make the forecast that will match with real numbers when the time comes. However, it is possible to make a prediction that will be close to the real numbers.

Cash flow projections will give you an idea of what to expect in the future. In this way, you will be able to prepare your company for any difficulties that will come along the way.

The post Cash Flow Management Tips to Improve Your Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How To Transform Your Logo Into A Piece Of Art

We all know just how important the logo is for any company or brand. You don’t have to listen to me rant on and on about the importance of the logo, how it is supposed to be memorable and evergreen and everything else. You know it better than I do.

That is why a lot of companies pay a hefty amount to a logo design company to make the logo as relatable, relevant, and sometimes mysterious as they can. Your company’s logo is supposed to tell your story. People should relate to it. It should have the right colors and geometry to be easily understandable and memorable.

It’s not like sitting down on your desk, drawing a circle, using a font to type in your company or brand’s name and voila! You have yourself a logo.

Oh no, no, no!

It takes much more effort than that.

That is why a lot of people must have told you to use a logo design service instead of doing it yourself. You may be good at business, sales, marketing, but if you are not on the up and up with the logo design world, you just might end up with an average logo that looks like a hundred others.

This is what happens when you use free logo maker websites and software. A totally uninteresting, uninspiring and boring logo that no one wants to look at.

So, the question is, whether you are a company or a logo designer, how do you ensure that your logo is not among the hundreds of logos out there that all look the same? How do you ensure that your logo stands out and catches the eye of the audience?

By……..wait for it…….turning it into art.

SAY WHAT NOW?

Yes, you heard me right. There are a million different ways that you can turn your logo into a piece of art that people will talk about for decades to come. It is difficult, but totally possible. Later in this article, we will discuss how you can do that and what are the elements that you will need to incorporate in order to do so.

But for now, let’s talk about how to begin. It’s not like you have a clear idea about designing your logo. So, experiment with various logo templates to get yourself warmed up first. It can also be the starting point of your journey towards making a killer and memorable logo design. It can give you an initial idea of where to begin and just might give you further ideas that you can adapt and incorporate later on.

Do you have a logo maker tool that’s handy? Is there an online app? Make a few logos and circulate them among your friends and colleagues to find out what they think about them. They can suggest any edits that they think you might need. Getting your peers on your side is something that you really need.

So now that we’re done with the warm up exercises, let’s dive into the world of logo designing and see how you can make your logo stand out.

Do you know what a Visual Double Entendre is?

A double entendre is a figure of speech or anything else that can convey two different meanings. Simple as that. A visual double entendre is the same thing but the double meaning is conveyed visually. Some of the world’s most renowned logos use this element to increase the engagement level of their logos and people all around the world remember these logos for their wittiness.

Take for example the Amazon logo. Now who doesn’t know Amazon? At first glance, the logo has an arrow that goes from the ‘A’ in the beginning to the ‘Z’ in the middle and it looks like they are saying that they provide service with a smile. The thing that a lot of people miss is that the arrow is pointing from ‘A’ to ‘Z’, meaning that they have everything that you might ever need or want.

visual double entendre amazon logo

Another great example is the Baskin Robbins logo that uses the curves of the letter ‘B’ and the straight line of the ‘R’ to show their audience just how many flavors they actually have.

The Importance of Colors

One of the most essential decisions that people tend to make about their logos is the colors that they want to use. You might think that it is an easy decision, but it’s not.
You may or may not know this, but every color conveys a deep meaning that resonates with the audience and if you don’t get it right, you just might end up losing your audience instead of gaining one. Colors can communicate various messages and ideas.

For example, red is the color of danger, but it is also the color of excitement and Coca Cola has used it to great effect.

coca cola logo

There is a rich palate of colors that you can truly explore before selecting one or more for your logo. Because once you have a logo, you might not be able to make a lot of changes to it, much less change it for something else. The colors that you use can either grab the audience’s attention and pull them in or they can push them away. The best thing about the color palate is that it is completely up to you. You can even choose a gray scale logo if you think it works.

Avoid the Cliches

Just like every other industry, the logo design industry is also prone to various trends and fads that come and go. What a lot of good businesses do is to follow these trends and fads and generate a logo according to them. What they don’t remember is that trends last for a little while and then fade away.

It doesn’t mean that you stay away from every new thing that enters the market. Study them, do your research on them, but also make sure that you don’t jump on the bandwagon for the pretext of keeping up with the times. It accomplishes nothing more than a bunch of similar looking logos created by different people.

Own Your Logo

Everyone owns a logo, right? So, what am I talking about here?

When I say ‘Own your logo’, I mean that instead of taking into account the latest trend and going for it, you should do your research about the company or the brand. Get to know their products and services, their background story, and then come up with something that reflects those things. That will resonate more with the viewers and they will relate with it instantly.

As an example, let me show you the Evernote logo.

evernote logo

If you look at it, it is just an elephant head which has got nothing to do apparently with the app. Or does it? Remember anything about elephants and their memories? Now check out the way the trunk is curled and the way the ear is marked/folded. That is something that the viewers can immediately connect with.

Say It with the Fonts

Sometimes you don’t need to put so much effort into the colors and the design of it. Sometimes you can do it all with the typeface. Give your simple and minimalistic logo a creative and unique font to make it awesome and super memorable. As an example, I will have to go back to the Coca Cola logo. The font became so famous that a lot of other companies started stealing it and using it as their own typeface in their logos. Now that is the kind of uniqueness that every logo designer is going for.

Go Negative

Yup! You heard me right. You can use the negative space in your logo to create illusions and tricks just like a logo with a double entendre. Instead of talking about it, let me just show you what I mean.

Do you see the hidden arrow between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’? Now if that is not an ingenious idea, I don’t know what is. The use of negative space in the FedEx logo is amazing.
Now that you know how negative space can be used, check out the NBC logo and see if you can figure out how they have used the negative space.

This one is pretty easy, right?

Summing It Up

Knowing these things can greatly help a logo designer, whether you are working in-house or as a contractor. You can show your client just how much effort you have actually put into the logo and blow their minds away.

See Also: Building Your Personal Brand: 3 Ways To Stand Above The Noise

The post How To Transform Your Logo Into A Piece Of Art appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Improve Business Website: A Guide for Wholesale Business Owners

With the competition among wholesale and distribution businesses getting heavier each day, being one step ahead in everything – from production to marketing – is a must. And knowing how to improve business website can take you ahead of the competition.

B2B customers are expecting more from their wholesale partners, demanding a high level of service like B2C customers. Gone are the days when wholesalers simply transact and close a deal. These days, there’s a need to connect more and bring positive experiences to retain and attract clients and boost their revenues.

On-Site Changes for Better Online Presence

It’s not enough that you have a website. Remember, your competitors have websites, too. Your goal is to know how to improve business website and create a virtual place to sell your products or find distributors. You need to create a better online presence.

And no, you don’t need a website overhaul to achieve this.

Here are some proven on-site changes you can implement in your current wholesaler website to improve your online presence.

Provide an e-commerce platform

In case you haven’t heard yet, B2B e-commerce sales are expected to top $1 trillion by 2020. Adopt eCommerce functions on your websites, such as streamlined ordering systems, information-rich product listings, and up-to-date inventory data.

Since you’re targeting corporate clients, added features like order histories and subscriptions will definitely help you gain more customers and boost your sales.

Keep a blog that provides helpful and up-to-date information

Your B2B audience definitely appreciates the detailed information you give about your products and services through your blog. If you’re selling wholesale tarps, for instance, you can talk about the different types of tarps, their uses, and some other technical info that people may need more understanding about.

Keep your blog updated. Make your wholesaler website a reputable resource people can go to for answers. It’s one way to gain trust and credibility.

Make ordering, delivery, and billing as seamless as possible

improve business website

Make use of a flexible invoice tool that makes the payment, billing, and shipping options as easy and as quickly as possible. Give your customers a variety of payment options to cater to their individual needs. Also, make it easy for existing customers to log-in, give new ones an option to create an account or check out as a guest, and put checkout calls-to-actions in locations (top and bottom, usually) and colors that stand out.

Ensure easy navigation

The reason is pretty obvious. The overall structure, presentation, and labels of your website have a huge impact on your business. They affect traffic (how you rank) and conversations (lead-customer conversion).

Be descriptive with your labels. The fewer the items in your navigation, the better for SEO. Keep your design simple, fresh, and clean. Make sure your products are no more than three clicks away. Your goal is to help your visitors find what they need as quickly as possible.

Add relevant and high-quality visuals

Connect closer to your B2B customers by opening up yourself to them.

What are the business practices that make your company stand out? How do you do it? How about you invite them for a virtual tour to your production house?

Through a short, high-quality video clip, show them the tarp weaving process, for instance, featuring the high manufacturing standards and quality control your company adopts. Or perhaps, post a video about the relevant industry updates to showcase your subject matter expertise.

See Also: How Using Live Video Can Boost Your Business Dramatically

Make your website mobile-friendly

improving business website

Having a mobile-friendly website is not just a good practice to adopt. It’s required! 2018 is all about mobile-friendliness. Most likely, the majority of your potential business partners communicate and transact via their mobile phones. Create a mobile version for your site, install a mobile plug-in, or better yet – create an app.

Target the right keywords

Behind each successful wholesale website are careful keyword research and analytic process. If you’re not targeting the right keywords, you could be putting all your efforts to waste. It’s not enough that you base it on the search volume and adopt the highest-volume keywords. It’s important to understand your own website, create hypotheses, test, and repeat – the classic formula for internet marketing. The great thing, there are keywords research tools that make this process easier.

In this tech-heavy world, a big part of your success depends on your website. If you want to be ahead of the competition, convert leads to customers, and ultimately grow your business, take time to analyze your website and identify the things you can make better. With these on-site changes you can implement, you won’t just know how to improve business website, but you’ll also be one step closer to creating a website that ranks and a website that sells.

The post How to Improve Business Website: A Guide for Wholesale Business Owners appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Trucks VC general partner Reilly Brennan is coming to TC Sessions: Mobility

The future of transportation industry is bursting at the seams with startups aiming to bring everything from flying cars and autonomous vehicles to delivery bots and even more efficient freight to roads.

One investor who is right at the center of this is Reilly Brennan, founding general partner of Trucks VC, a seed-stage venture capital fund for entrepreneurs changing the future of transportation.

TechCrunch is excited to announce that Brennan will join us on stage for TC Sessions: Mobility.

In case you missed last year’s event, TC Sessions: Mobility is a one-day conference that brings together the best and brightest engineers, investors, founders and technologists to talk about transportation and what is coming on the horizon. The event will be held May 14, 2020 in the California Theater in San Jose, Calif.

Brennan is known as much for his popular FoT newsletter as his investments, which include May Mobility, Nauto, nuTonomy, Joby Aviation, Skip and Roadster.

Stay tuned to see who we’ll announce next.

And … $250 Early-Bird tickets are now on sale — save $100 on tickets before prices go up on April 9; book today.

Students, you can grab your tickets for just $50 here.

10 Ways to Encourage More Women Into Your Workforce

Female participation in the labor market across the globe is declining. According to a World Bank research report, the women’s labor force participation rate is 48.5%, whereas the rate for men is 75% in 2018.

In this article, I will deliberate upon ways to minimize this gender gap and sexism in the workplace by allowing more female employees to join the workforce.

Offer flexible working hours

By allowing flexible working hours to women, companies can help them maintain a work-life balance and enjoy a fulfilling career. In a global culture that is rapidly becoming 24/7, this initiative will result in better well-being, reduced absenteeism, and enhanced productivity.

Remote working, a form of flexible working schedule, is also gaining momentum. It has grown 140% since 2005.

It is interesting to note that women have more leadership roles in remote companies as compared to traditional brick and mortar ones. According to a study conducted by Remote.co, 28% of remote companies have women CEO and presidents.

Eradicate sexism in the workplace

female in the workplace

Sexism in the workplace (both overt and subtle) is the most blatant irritant for female employees. From sexist remarks to workplace sexual harassment and gender bias, obnoxious sexism takes a toll on female workers’ retention.

According to PewResearch.Org, 42% of working women in the USA say they have faced job discrimination because of their gender.

It is, therefore, vital to create zero tolerance for any type of gender discrimination and sexism within the organization. Promote this as one of the most positive attributes of your company’s culture and that will surely result in the female talent pool and higher women workforce retention.

Provide a clear path to advancement

If you claim to be a company that offers equal opportunities for both sexes, it should be reflected in your career development policy with a good number of female employees working in senior management positions and leadership roles. On this front, the corporate sector has still to do a lot.

The following stats from McKinsey & Company 2018 report about women in the workplace depict a sad picture.

  • 29% of women believe their gender will be an obstacle to advancement.
  • A quarter of women (unlike only 8% of men) believe that their gender has actually played a role in missing out on a raise or promotion.
  • Men hold 62% of managerial positions whereas women hold only 38% and it gets worse higher up. (Women are just 22% of C-suite executives).

The companies should have strengths of both the genders by putting women at its executive boards. Susan Lucas Conwell, the Global CEO at Great Place to Work® say that women tend to lead from an interactive and cooperative style, bringing different perspectives based on a different set of life experiences. This broadens the executive board’s insight and making it more agile.

See Also: Helping Women Succeed In The Workplace

Make sure the women are paid fairly

A discriminatory salary structure that results in lower pay to women for the same task performed by their male counterparts is downright obstructive. It’s a waste of talent and skills from equally capable women with such an unjust system. The salary structure for female employees must be competitive and based on performance.

Have a hiring model that engages female talent

Your hiring methodology should never send negative signals for women applicants. If you are conducting an informative session about your company to prospective female employees, you need to consider following points seriously:

  • The session should be led by both women and men. More importantly, women should not be appearing in supportive roles only, such as welcoming participants on the entrance or distributing brochures and leaflets.
  • Try to include women speakers in the panel of speakers, explaining the core functions of your business.
  • Don’t project images with only men as active players like soldiers, technicians, pilots, etc. The women will be less engaged with these types of presentations.

Hiring good female talent is like fishing. If you can’t fish, it is not the fish to be blamed but your lack of good technique.

Avoid gendered job description

Women perceive a job from the language used to describe it. If you want to establish a more gender-balanced workforce then try to avoid using male-oriented titles like “Super Hero” or “Rock Star”. Instead, use descriptive titles that sound neutral .i.e. Project Manager, Developer, etc.

A Hewlett Packard report reveals that women apply only if they meet 100% of the job requirements. Men, on the other hand, apply when they meet only 60% of the qualifications.

The companies should therefore only include must-have requirements rather than too many nice-to-have requirements.

Hunt female talent through colleges and professional organizations

Every organization wants the best of the talents. In this pursuit, the best female talent can be hunted at professional organizations and colleges. A Harvard and Tel Aviv University studies revealed that companies that recruited from targeted women’s colleges managed to increase their number of women managers by 10% within 5 years. This targeted hunt will provide you the high performers.

Does your business name need to be changed?

This question is more pertinent to startups.

The mistakes when naming a business startup often hinder its growth, let alone annoy prospective employees. Take Reebok’s women’s running shoes brand ”Incubus”, for instance.

It failed miserably because, in mythology, Incubus is a devil that rapes women in their sleep. Hence, it is crucial for startups to revisit their name. If it has an obscene or negative connotation in some other culture, change it before your operation and hiring process begins.

Arrange mentoring for female employees

sexism workplace

The mentoring must be made a priority if your company wants to attract more women applicants, as well as to retain them after being hired. Assign some senior managers and executives to conduct grooming sessions at lunches and breakfasts.

During these sessions, women should be encouraged to ask questions about personal and career-related issues. The mentors will then provide guidance about best management practices and developing the necessary skills to perform a job.

Provide the right information

More often, one-size-fits-all information about the job does not work. HR needs to provide other information points to attract female applications. For example, informing about the proportion of female employees is helpful to show that diversity is encouraged in your company. Also, it influences how women employees rate the company in terms of the work environment. This micro-targeting will result in better response from female job seekers.

The post 10 Ways to Encourage More Women Into Your Workforce appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How Companies Should Handle Office Romance

We spend more of our waking day at work than anywhere else. Throughout our careers, we come across many new faces and form strong connections with those we work with.

Spending so much time with the same people leads us to build strong friendships and for some, more than that. Office supply company Viking has conducted research to find out how common romance in the workplace is and what effect it has on those who have been involved with someone at their office.

Is Office Romance Becoming More Popular?

to deal with office romance

From a single kiss to marriage, 5,000 workers across Europe were quizzed on their experience of office romance. In the UK, over two-thirds (68%) said they have been involved in an office romance. This shows how common it is in the workplace.

Of the 68% who said they have experienced office romance, 20% were lucky enough to say it ended in marriage or a civil partnership. With so many people finding that someone special in the office, it’s important employers address this to ensure the best outcome for employees and the business.

Viking’s research shows a rise in office romance among the younger generation. 24% of 25 to 34-year-old employees said they have had or are in a long-term relationship with a colleague. That’s compared to 12% of over 65s. Over half (53%) of the same age group also said they would consider a romantic relationship with a colleague in the future. This makes it even more important that businesses know how to deal with office romance.

The Effects of Office Romance In the Workplace

To shine some light on the effects office romance can have on employees during work hours, Viking questioned those who had dated a colleague about how this impacted office life.

There were some positive responses. However, those who have been in a relationship in the workplace voiced mainly negative opinions on how they felt the relationship affected their time at work.

A full list of the positive and negative effects of romance on workers is included below:

Increases productivity & creativity – 11%
Decreases productivity & creativity – 37%

Reduces stress levels – 17%
Increases stress levels – 21%

Positive impact on wellbeing – 22%
Negative impact on wellbeing – 20%

Boosts work motivation – 12%
Reduces work motivation – 7%

Improves focus – 5%
Is distracting – 26%

Positive effect on your career – 6%
Negative effect on your career – 16%

As you can see, people had different opinions on whether office relationships have a positive or negative effect on those involved.

But the two most popular responses were that office romance decreases productivity (37%) and can be distracting (24%).

How to Deal With Office Romance

To limit any negative effects on the workplace from office romances, below are some guidelines managers and HR departments can follow.

Train Management on Office Romance

It can be as simple as creating an environment where employees are comfortable openly discussing office romance.

42% of UK workers said the worst thing about their relationship with a colleague was being the subject of gossip. A further third (33%) felt they needed to keep it from HR.

If employees are familiar with office romance and feel confident approaching their peers or managers to discuss their relationship, there is less risk of it being either a secret or a subject of gossip.

To help encourage an environment where business can operate as usual around the natural social relationships formed between colleagues, providing training to managers and HR on office romance is advisable.

Relationships are likely to be stressful when it influences employee’s ability to do their job. If managers are aware and have the correct training, then they can help employees remain professional and leave the personal things at home.

As shown by Viking’s study, relationships can improve well-being and boost motivation. It’s important for employers to ensure they don’t decrease productivity and cause distractions.

Introduce a Romance Policy

A vital part of communicating when it comes to office romance is having a policy that clarifies the companies’ attitudes toward internal relationships. As mentioned before, it wouldn’t benefit employees or the business to forbid employees from engaging in relationships.

However, setting out a romance policy can help protect the business against potential HR issues. It can also help outline the conduct expected from those in a relationship.

This is something that needs addressing by companies around the UK as just 33% of employees are aware of their employer’s policy on office romance. If employees understand how they’re expected to behave, it will stop their relationship from impacting their work life and those around them.

Without a policy, behavior in the office when involved in a relationship is left to the judgment of employees. This could lead to distractions and unwanted arguments. The differing opinions on what’s acceptable could cause friction between employees.

A fair office romance policy is the obvious solution. It’s down to you to include what you feel will best benefit the business.

dealing with office romance

Keep Your Door Open

Office romance can harm employees’ ability to do their job. This is why it’s important that it doesn’t slide under the carpet.

Giving time to employees who want to discuss confidential subjects is important. It gives you a clear understanding of the happenings in your team. Turning a blind eye won’t solve anything. Relationships can turn sour and you should be on the lookout to protect your employees and the business.

An office romance that isn’t going so well is far more likely to lead to the negative impacts highlighted earlier on. Showing you understand and doing what you can to support employees if needed will build trust and help maintain productivity.

This handy guide on how to deal with office romance will help you keep your employees happy while taking care of your business’ interest. People spend more time at work than anywhere else and see no one more than their co-workers.

Therefore, romance is expected in the workplace. Finding ways to increase the positives and decrease the negatives caused is the secret to success for businesses around the UK.

See Also: Redefining Office Culture To Boost Employee Satisfaction and Productivity

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How to Measure Influencer Marketing Impact

The rise of social media in the last decade has altered the way we live, work, buy, and do business.

Millennials and Gen Z that have the most purchase power spend most of their time online. This is why it has become indispensable for organizations to have a robust presence on social media platforms.

Influencer marketing is a relatively new concept that has really caught on. It is perceived to be more personal as it comes from individuals whom customers trust.

Due to the massive expansion in the influencer market, authentic content created by influencers has taken the center stage.

Before diving in to understand how to measure influencer marketing impact, you must know that influencer marketing is not just about selling.

Marketing through influencers has become synonymous with creating a community of like-minded target audiences and growing it organically. That is the reason why brands commission influencers to create scalable content that has the power to spike interest among the target audience. In fact, consumers trust online influencers far more than a newspaper ad or a radio commercial.

What is Influencer Marketing?

influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is a means to bridge the gap between social media users and your brand.

Influencers on social media are individuals who boast a substantial following and are considered subject-matter experts among their niche. Built on trust and face value of the influencer, this type of marketing could help you in many ways, including increased brand recognition.

You must select influencers by conducting a thorough study. Based on your end goal and budget, you may choose from various mega, macro, and micro-influencers to promote your products or services.

See Also: From Baby Bump to Social Bump: The Rise of Mom Social Media Influencers

The Impact of Influencer Marketing on Consumers

Influencer marketing may not bring immediate results, but it definitely ‘influences’ online users to subconsciously explore the product, if not buy it.

Whether you choose an established actor with a following of over 7 million or a micro-influencer with high engagement, your influencer marketing plan is bound to impact prospective customers.

Here are some of the most prominent results of influencer marketing:

Brand Exposure

Influencer marketing helps create brand awareness and exposure. This could be highly beneficial for new brands.

Perception

Marketing programs created with influencers can help create a brand image among users. For this reason, choosing influencers that speak the language of your brand is a must.

Sparks curiosity

Influencer marketers can spark interest among the target audience by just giving a sneak peek through their profiles.

Builds trust

Influencers are regarded with high respect and considered experts in their field. So, they help build trust by being a representative of the brand.

How To Measure Influencer Marketing

how to measure influencer marketing qr code

The ultimate goal of marketing is to generate sales and the same is true with influencer marketing. Setting online goals and measuring their success is naturally the first step.

What you want to do is analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) of the influencer. These KPIs could include the number of followers, reach, impressions, traffic data, etc.

But, more often than not, the real dilemma arises when you need to analyze the offline effect of an online campaign.

But there is a way around this too!

You can make a dynamic QR Code and use it to measure the offline success of a digital campaign.

How does that work?

Have influencers share coupon codes or discounts in the form of a QR Code as well.
This QR Code can be saved to Apple Wallet or as an image and then, later on, used at a store.

Once the salesperson scans this code, the sale gets attributed back to the influencer campaign.

The data gets stored in the linked program, which you could further use to analyze the overall impact generated on all offline mediums.

Influencers are here to stay. Therefore, the world of influencer marketing will keep evolving.

See Also: How To Nail Social Media and Influencer Marketing: The SME Edition

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How To Build A Minimum Viable Product

In the era of constantly churned out applications, the only thing that can make you stand out from the crowd is a Minimum Viable Product.

An application is hardly ever a one-person job. It is a lot of people coming together and putting their heads together to create a product that will, in turn, be accepted by the market.

There is always this risk hanging on top of your head, one that implies what if your application isn’t as great as what you believe it to be. For dispelling all your doubts and reducing the risk of your investment, it is a good idea to create an MVP.

An MVP is a product that provides the basic core functionality to its users without any of the sophisticated trimmings on top.

Every big application in the market once started as an MVP. Amazon initially started as an online marketplace that only sold books. It later diversified into the e-commerce giant it is today.

At the same time during the E-revolution, there were hundreds of websites that began but then failed, never to be heard about again.

Your MVP is what creates your initial user base which can be further worked upon once you know your product is feasible enough to survive in the market.

An MVP is also important to secure funding for your project as an application requires manpower and resources, which are both next to impossible to get without adequate funding.

But there is no point in building an MVP if you’re planning to go in guns blazing. A successful MVP is a collection of right steps taken in the right direction in the absence of any kind of preconceived notions.

So here is a guide on how to build a minimum viable product.

Do Your Research

build a minimum viable product

The leading problem with most MVP is the startling lack of research. A product can be built simply by sharing the wireframes with your developer and them creating a running application.

However, just the existence of an application is not the basis of a successful application.

Research needs to be carried out. Your target audience needs to be defined and their needs understood. Your product also needs to be useful to them and add value to their life.

You also need to carry out competitor research that clearly states how you are better than what exists in the market. Even in the absence of a direct competitor, just the fact that your product is the new kid on the block will not be of much help.

Your Idea Needs Definition

It cannot be stressed enough but your product needs to add value in your customer’s lives. Your product needs to have the intention behind every aspect of its working.

Understand the functions that are part of your application’s core functionality. Don’t add features just for the sake of bulking up the application.

Decide On The Design And User Flow

building a minimum viable product

Once you have managed to figure out the ideal market, it is time that you begin to design your application.

Everything you do should be done with the user in mind. It does not matter what you think about it as long as the users are happy.

Begin with designing user flows (User Journey maps are good, too) to describe the stages of the process. That would help you chart the path that a typical user would take while completing a task on your application.

This in-depth detailing is essential as it lays out the necessary steps that are required to be taken by the user. It also allows you to improve their experience.

See Also: Integrating User Experience Design and Internet Marketing Successfully

Decide on the features

You have finally completed building your process. Now, you move on to in-depth detailing. You determine exactly what are the features that you want your application to eventually incorporate.

See the process list and then jot down the features that you believe will work with them the best. Prioritize these features next.

Once you have finished organizing the features, define their scope for the first iteration of your application. Then, you’re good to move on to the next step.

Build the MVP

Welcome to the final step of your journey, the actual iteration of your dream. Remember that your MVP is not a low-quality render of your final application. Yes, it is stripped back but by no means is it anything less than what you have decided to release in the market.

An MVP is not the end goal, a full, functioning application however is. Once you have an MVP, it is time to test it. You now need to test it with real audiences to ensure that there are no kinks in the product.

Your customer perception is the only thing that can make or break your product. It is essential that you take their views into account before figuring out whether or not your product is market-ready.

The post How To Build A Minimum Viable Product appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

3 Ways to Reduce Customer Acquisition Costs

Have you ever stopped to think how much it costs to get a person to buy one of your products?

Then you’re in the right place.

Customers come with a price tag called customer acquisition cost (CAC), and it’s one of the most important pieces of information for business owners who want to get more customers without breaking their marketing budget.

So, how do you get more customers without breaking the bank? We’ve broken things down into three categories:

  1. Streamline your customer’s shopping process
  2. Optimize your marketing tactics
  3. Embrace customer relationship management

Let’s dive right in!

What is customer acquisition cost?

Your customer acquisition cost is defined as how much it costs your business to attract a new customer.

How to calculate customer acquisition cost

reduce customer acquisition cost

CAC is calculated by adding up all your marketing and sales costs and dividing them by the number of new customers acquired for a certain period of time. Here’s the formula:

customer acquisiition cost

For example:

Let’s say you spent $5,000 on marketing and sales expenses this October. That same month, you got 1,000 new customers (meaning only customers that have never previously visited or made a transaction at your store).

Sum of all marketing and sales expenses = $5,000.00
Total newly acquired customers = 1,000
CAC = $5

In this example, it costs you $5 to acquire a new customer.

The next question you should ask is “what is my average transaction value?” If your point of sale system’s sales reports tell you that your average transaction value (ATV) for October is under $5, that means you’re effectively spending more than you’re making per sale. Not good. Your ATV should ideally be higher than your CAC.

How to reduce customer acquisition cost

Let’s say you fall into the above category: Your CAC is higher than your ATV. How do you lower your CAC?

Streamline your customer’s shopping experience

A great way to lower your acquisition cost? Remove as many barriers to purchase as possible.

Make it easy for customers to find and buy what they’re looking for either in your store or on your website. The easier it is for them to find and complete a purchase, the more transactions your store stands to make (that’s why online vendors are developing one-click to purchase technology).

The same can be said for brick-and-mortar transactions: Every retailer’s goal should be to remove as many friction points from their purchasing process as possible.

Imagine being a customer ready to buy something, only to find yourself in a lengthy lineup to pay. Most customers will abandon their purchase entirely if the wait time is too long. Research from Irisys found that Americans will leave a checkout line after waiting just six minutes.

The best way to stop losing sales from long checkout lineups? Eliminate them altogether.

Barbara Thau, a contributing writer for Forbes, suggests that brick-and-mortar retailers “banish the wait in line, once and for all” to avoid losing sales.

A cloud-based point of sale effectively removes the need for lineups and traditional cash registers. Sales associates can ring up sales from anywhere in the store and accept any type of payment. Only If the transaction is in cash do you need to move the transaction to your cash register, but consumers are using cash less and less these days.

If you want to increase your average transaction value, we suggest refreshing your store merchandising and point of purchase displays to cross-sell more items. For a deeper look into how you can increase in-store sales, check out a list that Lightspeed curated with other retail experts, How to Increase Retail Sales – 11 Tips.

Make your business easy to find online by local customers

reducing customer acquisition cost

The next step is to get more customers to find your store or website for free. To do this, we suggest doing the following:

  • Create a Google My Business (GMB) profile
  • Include your store’s contact information on its Facebook and Instagram Business Profile
  • Use the right keywords to describe your business on your Facebook and Instagram Business Profile

The concept here is simple: focus your marketing on people that live close to your business. If they can find you online, see your inventory and get directions fast, the likelihood of them paying you a visit increases substantially.

That’s why we created a step-by-step guide to creating a GMB profile and optimizing your business’s Facebook and Instagram profiles so that you get found online by more local customers entirely for free. With a little work, you can attract customers for $0.

Embrace customer relationship management

If you consistently have what customers are looking for in stock and your customer service is personalized, friendly and helpful, customers are likely to come back to your store again and again.

The more they come, the more they buy. Commonly known as customer lifetime value (CLV), the metric looks at the estimated revenue you make from a customer over the duration of their relationship with the company.

We mentioned ATV earlier, you can think of this as a micro view of your sales. CLV, on the other hand, is the macro view—the big picture.

In an ideal world, you want a 3:1 CLV to CAC ratio. In a nutshell, this means that you generate three times more revenue from a customer than what it cost you to acquire them.

But how do you achieve that ratio? In part, by leveraging loyalty programs, referral programs and customer retention.

Loyalty programs

A loyalty rewards program incentivizes members to make more purchases, eventually getting points they can exchange for exclusive rewards. In a nutshell, it motivates repeat visits and purchases. The more purchases they make, the more points they get to exchange for exclusive offers, promotions and gifts.

For the retailer, the loyalty program helps grow their CLV. It’s a win-win scenario.

See Also: Will Your Customers Buy From You Tomorrow?

Referral Programs

Your existing customers are your store’s biggest brand ambassadors. If they’re happy, they’re more likely to recommend your store to friends.

Believe it or not, brand ambassadors and referrals are one of the most effective ways to bring in new customers. 77% of customers are likely to buy from a business that they’re introduced to by friends.

Rather than sinking tons of cash into marketing to acquire customers, the most cost-effective (and financially sustainable) way to acquire new customers is for your happy customers to spread the word and recommend your business for you.

It’s an authentic trust signal that marketing alone simply can’t replicate.

Consider incentivizing your customers to refer your business to friends and family. For every customer they refer, they get more points they can use as part of your rewards program.

Customer retention

Did you know that it’s up to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one?

This means one thing: If you focus on keeping your existing customers happy (happy enough to recommend your store to friends), you can get them to find new customers for you. It’s cheaper and more effective.

Want to know what your business’s current customer retention rate is? Just use this formula:

customer retention rate

Retaining customers brings in a ton of ROI:

  • Affordable: It’s five to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. (HBR)
  • ROI: Just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s revenue by 25-95%. (HBR)
  • Loyalty: Retained customers buy more often and spend more than newer customers (maybe in part to the loyalty and rewards programs they offer). (American Express)
  • Referrals: Satisfied, loyal customers are more likely to refer their friends and family—bringing in new customers, without having to spend anything on marketing. (American Express)

See Also: 12 Tips That Build Customer Loyalty And Boost Sales

Improve your customer acquisition cost

Improving your customer acquisition cost is a process that should start from the inside out.

Before you focus on finding new customers and launching fancy marketing campaigns, you need to make your existing customers happy. When your customers are happy, they’ll voluntarily recommend your business to friends and family. Your customers turn into brand evangelists; walking trust signals that find new customers for you, free of charge.

The next step is increasing your customer’s lifetime value. With Loyalty and referral programs, you can increase how much your customers spend in store and achieve that coveted 3:1 CLV to CAC ratio we mentioned earlier in the post.

But it all starts with customer happiness. When customers are happy, businesses don’t need to spend as much on marketing to convince people that their shop is worth going to and spending their hard earned money.

The post 3 Ways to Reduce Customer Acquisition Costs appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How To Nail Social Media and Influencer Marketing: The SME Edition

I bet you’ve already read about social media and influencer marketing a lot. I bet you’ve already tried techniques that didn’t break the bank but didn’t excite you, either. And I bet you’ve already browsed the internet for answers on how to improve your marketing efforts.

The truth is that social media marketing and influencer marketing are two branches where something can go wrong pretty easily. However, this doesn’t mean it’s difficult to make it nor does it mean that you’ll need to pay a hefty amount of money to lead users further down your sales funnel.

sales funnel
Source: https://www.finteza.com/en/marketing-resources/13-conversion-funnels-must-have-marketing-tool

As you can see, not even 5% of the top of your funnel converts fully. We’re here to make sure that you won’t fall into any traps without having to pay a hefty amount of money for it.

Determine the platform and the target audience first

social media platform

You can’t know what you need to do later if you haven’t decided on who your target audience is first. Your target audience consists of those who will think that your brand is useful and will be positive when it comes to purchasing something.

After determining that, you’ll need to think about the platform they’re using. For example, you’ll need to develop a great Snapchat game if you want Gen Z’ers to notice you. For Baby Boomers, you’ll need a great Pinterest plan.

Two things are for sure though:

  • You’ll need a solid plan when it comes to Facebook and Instagram, regardless.
  • You’ll need a great email marketing and automation tool

The first one, because Facebook and Instagram are the most influential social media platforms and most people check a business online before trusting it.

business graph
Source: https://irishtechnews.ie/sme-utilize-social-media-marketing/

The second one, because email marketing and automation is the most affordable channel with a crazy-high ROI.

What are your goals?

Do you need more leads? Do you need to nurture the already existing leads? What are you after?

If you can’t determine that, you can’t have a strategy. Study all the data you gathered when you went through with step one. This will give you more clarity and insight when it comes to actually understanding the core values of your business, but from a client’s perspective.

Determining clear and achievable goals is what will give you better leverage to pretty much everything, from designing a newsletter template to using a landing page builder down the line.

“But why is that?” I hear you ask.

The answer is pretty simple — because content rules all. However, content that is not consistent with your brand’s tone will, in the long run, damage your goals.

As you see, everything is linked back to your target audience. This leads us to step No. 3:

Use influencers and giveaways

social media influencer marketing

 

You need your name and brand to grow one way or the other and influencers are the perfect people to help you do that. On the other hand, giveaways are the perfect way to give something back to your crowd and perhaps attract more people while you’re at it.

Now, think of combining those two:

Giving something back to an audience that would be interested in you, but is not following you yet.

This is where an influencer comes into play. Again: an influencer. Not a model or an ambassador as this would be a costlier option. Besides, their audience wouldn’t be niche-specific.

For example:

Use a makeup artist if you want to promote your beauty brand. A makeup artist will have followers that will definitely be interested in your product, be it other makeup artists or just people watching YouTube tutorials on how to nail the perfect cat-eye.

That influencer can host a giveaway. It will attract people that will definitely be interested in what you’ve got to give back.

One little tip here:

Your brand tone should match the influencer’s brand tone. Here, you’re the one trying to convert an already existing audience into followers and, ultimately, customers.

Those followers are used to a specific tone of voice and means of promoting a product. So, the best thing to do would be simply leaving the creative aspect up to the influencers themselves — up to an extent, of course.

See Also: The Importance of Storytelling in Marketing

A couple of tips for the road

You wouldn’t want things to go wrong or maybe you’ve already gone through with your first giveaway and it didn’t quite work out.

This is where the following tips come into play:

Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be very careful about what you’re giving out on a giveaway, what is in your inventory in the first place and about the terms and conditions. You don’t want to have to deal with a case like this one.

Don’t be too vague with the rules. Your followers need to know exactly what they need to do in order to be eligible for the giveaway. Confusion is not your friend.

Don’t make things too complicated for a gift that’s too simple and vice-versa. Nobody will bother with a free sample if they’ve got to tag and tag accounts and people.

See Also: How To Drive Traffic to Your Website Through Social Media

Takeaway

The use of social media and influencers can be of great value to SMEs especially, seeing as everyone takes on to social media platforms in order to check the social proof and the end-value of a business.

Leverage micro-influencers that are niche-specific and you’ll see your conversion rate skyrocket!

So, what say you? Are these tips on social media and influencer marketing enough? Is there something you’ve tried and would like to share with us?

Tell us in the comments and don’t forget to share the knowledge!

The post How To Nail Social Media and Influencer Marketing: The SME Edition appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Get A Short-Term Business Loan

Are you a smart businessman? Do you have what it takes to take bold decisions when your company faces the music? Are you aware of the regulations and policies of the top lenders? Do you know how to get a short-term business loan?

If your response is affirmative to the above questions, you know how to sail your company’s ship out of the troubled waters like a champion captain.

Now, before you go ahead and set a meeting with your lender, you must first know your primary purpose.

Basically, such a loan is usually obtained by small businesses when they are in an urgent need of cash. It could either be due to the need for a bigger space to  store your products or fit your growing workforce. They also come across situations where they need extra cash to purchase resources for a big order from a special client.

Such challenges can test an entrepreneur’s ability to handle the pressures of the business world.

Although a short-term business loan can save the day, business owners must repay the loan within 18 months or one and a half years.

Now that you have understood what a short-term business loan is, let’s look into how to qualify for one.

Maintain a Good Credit Score

It all starts with your credit score or the record of your bill payments.

A lender needs to know the status of your finances and how responsible you are in dealing with your debts. If you are able to maintain a clean and reputable credit history, your credit score would allow you to look for different sorts of financing options.

Always keep in mind that lenders check your personal credit score in addition to your business one. It is important because personal debts and mortgages often create problems in the repayment of loans.

This way, your lender will have a 360-degree view of your finances like your credits, debits, and years of business before offering you a loan.

Meet the Minimum Requirements

get a short term business loan

It is essential to know that getting a loan is a two-way deal. You must be equally indulgent and cautious about the whole process as much as your lender is.

If the lender asks for your financial information and reviews your accounts, then it is necessary for you to do your own research as well. Even before approaching a lender, it is wise to carry out research to make things easier and more transparent for you.

You should look into their mission statements and understand the requirements that should be met to get a loan approved. Having all proofs and documents ready will impress your prospective lender. It will make it easier to meet their standards and increase your chances of getting approved.

Get Your Testimonies Ready

Getting a loan is a hectic process. Sometimes, it can take months of rigorous hard work to complete it and a delay in the process can deliver a severe blow to your business.

As a smart entrepreneur, you should be prepared. Before even applying for a short-term loan, make sure that you have read its details and requirements.

Your next task is to collect the necessary documents, like personal and business balance sheets, leases, and bank statements. It will not only improve your loan application’s chances for approval, but will also save your precious time.

The quicker you arrange the required paperwork, the earlier you are going to have an access to that pile of cash for your business.

Make Your Business Strong

short term business loan

The status and prospects of your business are of great interest to the lenders. No lender would want to engage its money in a business that is not doing well. Things may become even gloomy if your company has no future business plan or if it has a flimsy business structure.

You need to have a robust and proactive approach in your business. You must have a detailed picture of where your business started from, where it is now, and where will it stand in the future.

Make sure that your business plan is free from any discrepancies or shady areas. It must be strong and articulate for the lender. Don’t forget to include your company’s origin, background, mission, and vision statement.

It should mention your product or service description. It would be a great idea to also make an industrial analysis, relevant market research, and a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) for your business. These things will make your lender well-informed and impressed with your efforts.

See Also: 5 Ways Business Investment Loans Can Help Your Start-Up

Final Thoughts

Securing a short-term business loan is quite convenient if you know your business and you’re willing to go the distance to inspire its growth. A suitable lender will see through your hard work and reward it with a prompt loan — and with leniency and a lower interest rate.

You have to believe in your business and pitch the idea to your lender with real dedication and conviction. Do not laze around or delay the process. Be active.

In fact, you need to be proactive in both receiving and returning the loan. If you have the qualities mentioned earlier in your business, you will have a short-term business loan approved in no or little time.

See Also: What Are The Advantages Of Business Consolidation Loans?

The post How to Get A Short-Term Business Loan appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Create Effective Infographics to Boost Your Content Marketing Game

A static content is nothing but an onslaught of dead words running the length of a full page. The wordy research might be of high value, but for today’s generation that’s highly off-putting.

Do you know why?

Because present online users have relatively shorter attention spans and are more likely to lean towards visually appealing content that’s logically moving and impels their participation at the same time.

The true mark of a successful business organization is marked by its ability to use different strategies according to the latest trends.

And what’s in hype these days? ‘Interactive’ infographics that are dynamic, colorful, and engaging. It’s the new marketing strategy.

How do you create a perfect ‘interactive’ infographic? How to create effective infographics?

It’s not an easy process. It’s quite a tricky one. A significant amount of planning goes into it. But you need not worry because I’ve delineated the proper steps in a convenient progression below.

Here’s how to create effective infographics:

Examine your brand

Before heading out towards the battlefield, it’s wise to make a thorough inspection of the artillery and inventory, right? To make sure you’ve got the right weapons and defenses?

Similarly, before creating interactive infographics and adopting this new marketing tactic, it’s crucial that you reexamine your brand from top to bottom.

  • Run tests on it and sort out its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Mark the selling points and focus on improving the lags.
  • Plan your pitch and devise techniques to convert consumers into clients.

Once you know what your brand’s true call is, it’ll be easier to project it from the rest of the world.

Double-check the target audience

If an English Literature teacher delivers a lecture on Shakespeare to a class of medical students, that would sound absurd. It’s a total waste of time, energy, and resources, right?

So, it’s absolutely paramount to understand that audience matters greatly. The people listening to what you’re saying and receiving your message get to have the final say about that message after all. A simple yay or nay of the consumers could make or break your brand’s image.

Know your target audience so you can build a productive interaction through an infographic with them. Consider their pains and problems, find out their interests and motivations, and then mold your call accordingly.

Collect convincing facts

create effective infographics

Abstract propositions are a total turn-off for consumers, believe me. It’s like throwing darts haphazardly into thin air and never hitting the bull’s eye. Missing your mark means missing your chance of survival in the long run.

Only with concrete data, hard-core facts, and undeniable logic can you turn disinterested online consumers into potential customers. You need to convince them why they should opt for your brand instead of others.

If they do choose your brand, what’s in it for them?

Relaying everything through an interactive infographic sounds like a wonderful idea, doesn’t it?

Saves everyone time and positively leads to sales.

Craft an interesting narrative

Information explosion is one thing you have to look out for. It’s hardly delectable and not easily digested. If an infographic is filled to the brim with hard-core facts, then the online consumers will find it difficult to relate to it. And if they can’t find a hook, they’ll just drop it and that’s not something you’d want.

So, to make it easy for your target audience to smoothly sail from one point to the next one, you need to:

  • Craft a clever story around your brand which will take the onlookers on a journey and touch them on an emotional level.
  • Include real-life examples, metaphors, cool analogies, voice-overs, and comments in the infographic. This will allow it to actually speak to your potential clients and convert them into buyers.

Incorporate eye-catching graphics

The appeal of a pastry lies in its delicate decoration. Because it seems pleasing to the eyes, we naturally assume it to be tasty and worth eating, right?

The same applies to interactive infographics. If the information is represented visually, it automatically engages the users’ attention. You might think of graphs, pies, and charts, but they’re too mainstream and bore easily.

Animation, on the other hand, is a foolproof attention-grabbing hook.

A wonderful color-scheme coupled with creative doodles and mechanisms like easy transitions, on-click revealing of hidden information, scrolling and hovering is bound to keep the online consumer’s eyes on the infographic through and through.

See Also: 10 Design Rules You Should Never Forget in 2019

Embed SEO-friendly gambits

how to create effective infographic

An interactive infographic is like an open canvas. You can freely throw paint on it, add music videos in it, include links and watermarks, gifs, voice-notes, and so much more.

In addition, you can embed top-ranking keywords in the visual content in more than one SEO-friendly ways. This will allow Google or other search engines to trace it and rank you higher in its result. Crafty, right?

Elicit user response

The most important feature of all is enabling the online consumer to engage with the infographic and respond to it. To this end, you can include a smart ‘form’ or an opinion-based poll in the content, which the user can fill and give his feedback.

This feedback can then be used to inform the firm’s policies. It is a positive call to action which is the main purpose of the infographic.

Because of this, the user will feel empowered and know that his voice matters for the brand. This will encourage him to share the infographic with others and do an indirect advertising for the brand.

Once you’ve taken all these factors into account, creating an interactive infographic should not be a conundrum for you. Just make sure to operate over a stable connection and you’re good to go. Say goodbye to plain wordy content and welcome the colorful interactive one. It’s the way of the future.

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Did The Gig Economy Jump The Shark?

Is the gig economy working and thriving?

The gig economy came on strong at a time in American history when people needed to be able to onboard quickly and start making money immediately. The country was deep in the grips of The Great Recession and people were losing jobs and homes left and right. The idea of driving people around in your own car for money didn’t seem all that crazy.

And back then, the money was actually pretty good.

These days, gig drivers have seen wages fall by more than half since 2014 and it’s not just gig driving jobs that are seeing turnover rates of more than 500% per year. As the economy strengthens and people are able to find more steady employment that includes the benefits they need to live, the gig economy is starting to show signs of jumping the shark.

Where Did The Gig Economy Come From?

gig economy working

During the Great Recession, unemployment rose to 7.2% and many people struggled to get back into the workforce right away. This is due to the higher numbers of applicants that went out for the same small pool of jobs.

At the same time, tech was being developed to hire and manage independent contractors to do things that didn’t require companies to own any property or employ any workers. It included things like ridesharing and home-sharing.

With an app, you could suddenly rent out your spare room like a hotel or drive people around like a taxi. It seemed like the perfect stopgap move for people struggling to find full-time employment and the money was worth the effort — at least at first.

What Happened To The Gig Economy?

As these jobs became more popular and more people were competing for them, wages fell. Municipalities began to question the legality of such employment situations, with some outright banning the services due to concerns about worker protection and even public safety.

As wages continued to fall, people began to realize that when they factored in the cost of wear and tear and fuel for their cars, they actually weren’t even making minimum wage in some cases.

As a result, some people tried to unionize while turnover skyrocketed to 500% for some companies. Today, 60% of gig workers can’t come up with $400 for an emergency.

The Gig Economy Is Still Struggling

the gig economy working

As this option becomes less appealing as a full-time job and people are reverting back to using the gig economy as a side hustle, incomes have dropped off sharply. Median monthly incomes for gig economy sectors are:

  • $793 non-transportation
  • 762 transportation
  • $534 selling

The number of full-time gig workers dropped from 16.2 million to 15.8 million between 2014 and 2018, but the number of part-time gig workers rose from 12.9 million in 2017 to 14.9 million in 2018. People are relying less on the gig economy to provide them with full-time work and a living wage and more to provide a part-time, short-term gig to help get them out of a pickle when they need it.

The U.S. Department of Labor ruled that gig workers are not employees. Therefore, they are not entitled to minimum wage protections or normal employment benefits such as health insurance. Most workers are flocking to more traditional forms of employment, but employers are increasingly seeking gig workers to do jobs in more flexible arrangements.

As of 2016, one in six organizations had at least 30% of contingent workers in its workforce, signaling a shift in the parameters of traditional roles. Meanwhile, gig companies like Uber are trying out benefits like free college tuition for top drivers, though this is doing little to stave off unionization efforts.

See Also: GenZ and Money: How GenZ Faces Their Financial Fears

Is It Completely Doomed?

As with all new things, the gig economy is going through growing pains trying to find its place in the world. There are some people who benefit from being able to start and change jobs quickly and set their own hours and who don’t necessarily need all the perks that come along with doing a particular job.

As the gig economy grows up, these will be the people who power it, while others will move back into more traditional working arrangements as the economy strengthens. Learn more about the future of the gig economy from the infographic below.
Gig Jobs
Source: Online Schools Center

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Why We Need To Think More About Ethical AI Now

Artificial intelligence is the stuff of nightmares and science fiction stories. What if it goes rogue and thinks we are dispensable? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

Artificial intelligence can automate many of the repetitive things we do every day. It can even drive for us and recognize different human faces.

The problem?

Artificial intelligence is only as unbiased as we can program it to be — and we are humans with bias. How can we ensure AI is programmed in an ethical and unbiased way?

The Proven History of Bias In AI

People have tried several times to program AI to take over lower-level tasks. It was supposed to free us up to handle the things that are higher-order in nature.

Amazon famously tried this with its hiring protocols. It fed resumes into an artificial intelligence algorithm, telling it which candidates were successful hires. The result was not only that the AI refused to consider women applicants for jobs, but it also kicked out any resumes that have women as references.

There are more dangerous instances of biased programming in artificial intelligence. A 2019 study found that driverless cars were better at detecting pedestrians with lighter skin tones. The data fed to the algorithm contained three times as many light-skinned people as it did dark-skinned people. So, the AI learned to detect lighter skinned people much faster but struggled to identify people with darker skin tones.

There’s also been a lot of talks lately about facial recognition software utilized by police departments. Some cities and states are banning the practice. However, states like Orlando, Florida and Washington County, Oregon have already started using the software.

It has many of the same problems as facial detection software in autonomous vehicles. The programming is biased and often misidentifies people with darker skin tones. The ACLU compared 25,000 mugshots with photos of members of congress and found 28 false matches, 39% of which were people of color. This technology scans police body camera footage as well as security footage even with known flaws.

The Purpose Of Ethical AI

Artificial intelligence can potentially make our lives easier. If we can figure a way to program AI to be ethical, we can actually use the technology to save lives. Driverless cars are estimated to save us up to 250 million hours of free time, $234 billion in public costs in savings from accidents, and 90% of traffic fatalities. But this is, of course, only if it is programmed correctly.

driverless car
Via phys.org

There’s not even a consensus about how driverless cars should react in situations that could lead to death or injury. Only about three-quarters of people believe that driverless cars should save as many lives as possible. There’s not even a consensus that human life is more valuable than property or other considerations.

There are people who believe that autonomous vehicles should spare the lives of children almost unanimously. However, less preference is given to the lives of criminals or animals. What’s more, very few people were actually willing to spend the money to buy a car with programming that would minimize harm.

How Can We Promote Ethical AI?

As the old saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.

If we want artificial intelligence to be less biased, we have to understand the inner workings of human bias. We need to spend the time to ensure it doesn’t get translated into the AI’s training modules.

Training the AI to weigh darker skin tones more heavily or to ignore gender could help make the algorithms less biased. Being more careful about the data that is fed into the system and monitoring for any problems in the output are going to be crucial steps moving forward. Subtle human bias can be multiplied when it becomes part of an algorithm. Once the AI is left to its own devices this can become a serious problem.

If we want to be able to fully benefit from AI, we need to do the work on the front end to make sure it thinks ethically. Learn more about ethical artificial intelligence from the infographic below.

Are we ready for a world where the machines can make their own decisions?
Ethical AI
Source: Cyber Security Degrees

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Things to Consider Before Starting a New Marketing Campaign

Starting a marketing campaign from scratch can feel overwhelming. In case you have never made a marketing campaign or if you have at least tried and just felt like you were in a tight spot, you’d know how tough it is.

However, if you want serious returns for your new business, you need to think your marketing campaigns through.

Preferably, before you plan a coupon marketing campaign, you ought to have a marketing plan for your business. The marketing plan is the foundation of your marketing strategy for a product or service. It gives the general coupon marketing strategies and objectives to draw your target market to the products or service your business offers.

A good marketing campaign includes only a bit of your actual marketing plan—an activity intended to accomplish a specific marketing goal. When you know how your campaign fits into your general marketing plan, then you can distinguish your objective market and how best to approach them.

Here are some things you should consider before starting a marketing campaign for your product/service.

When to start your campaign

Your marketing campaign must have a start and an end date. Utilize a calendar to schedule and plot out the significant dates and activities.

Figuring out when to begin your promotions is similar to tossing spaghetti at a wall. You study different marketing strategies and implement what you think fits the bill.

Hence, there is no definite answer to this question as it varies from business to business. You need to consider your market, the type of product or service, the purpose of the product, and other factors before you can decide when to start your marketing campaign. However, you need to take your time to plan out and design the campaign and the strategies you will need to implement in order to make the campaign successful.

See Also: Ask Questions Before Approving a Marketing Campaign Plan

Pick your target audience

Before you start your coupon marketing campaign, you have to decide the “who”. You need to determine your target market and how you will contact them.

The most ideal approach is to comprehend their novel difficulties and how you can tackle them. Characterize purchaser personas for your customers so you can refine your messages to their particular needs as they assess their alternatives.

Create a content calendar

target marketing campaign

When you share content on different marketing platforms, it tends to be hard to remain on track. On the off chance that you fall behind, completely disregard a platform or miss a post, it could destroy your whole campaign.

Endeavor to recall what content to post and when can be a noteworthy pressure. Occasional posts and conflicting messages may make your clients think that you don’t care about your online nearness.

A content schedule or calendar will enable you to remain on track and guarantee you’re posting the right data at the best time. Rather than expecting to recollect what day you should post something, you can check your calendar every morning to decide what ought to be planned for that day.

Moreover, it enables you to see the master plan for your marketing procedure. You will know how each bit of your marketing content fits together to make the whole campaign.

See Also: Effective Content Marketing: 8 Ways to Get Your Content Noticed

Where to distribute your campaign

What media channel will you use to convey your message and pull in and catch your customers?

Some marketing platforms include:

  • Websites
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Mobile
  • Video
  • Search Engines

The channels you pick should depend on your business, target audience, and objectives.

Note: The channel is the way to communicate with people. The strategy is how you use the channel to promote your business. So, your coupon marketing strategy is the thing that you post, share on the marketing channel to promote engagement which turns into leads.

Set your marketing campaign budget

The amount of cash you can spend on your campaign will enormously influence the advertising strategies you pick.

A billboard is much more expensive than flyers. Try not to rely upon free publicizing and advancement procedures for your business.

This doesn’t mean that all free advertising techniques are terrible. However, there is always an expense to marketing. The best method to achieve your target market may not be so cheap, so be reasonable when setting your campaign budget.

Track and measure results

It is imperative to monitor your marketing strategies to results. Results will be dictated by what your objectives were for the campaign. Following and estimating results can be easy or complex depending on the business.

When you have finished your campaign, keeps these things in mind during the review:

  • Did your offer fulfill the needs of your target customers? If not, what would you be able to offer that will?
  • What did you discover that you can apply to your next campaign?
  • Did you meet the objectives? If not, why?
  • Should anything change next time you run the campaign?

Boosting a marketing campaign isn’t something you can do rapidly and accomplish results overnight. Every activity should be arranged and carefully thought of before you start the campaign. Without an appropriate plan, your campaign is probably going to fall flat.

Make changes

marketing campaign

You can dissect, measure, and track your marketing practices to figure out what your crowd will associate with. When you realize your coupon marketing campaign isn’t verging on accomplishing your objectives, then you need to make changes.

Remain mindful of how your audience is responding, yet keep your team ready to make improvements and amendments wherever necessary. Do not sit idle or waste your money on a campaign that will not bring you any returns.

Conclusion

The key takeaways here are to focus on the needs of your audience, pick the channels that you believe will give the best return, and monitor your progress and finally stick with what works for your business. Consider the factors mentioned above before starting a marketing campaign to get the most out of your coupon marketing efforts.

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How WiFi6 Will Make Your Home (And Business) Better

Do you remember the first time you got a WiFi connection in your home?

The possibilities seemed endless, and suddenly they were. A whole new set of gadgets started to emerge, from connected doorbells to connected thermostats. There was an increase in connected gadgets per person, too.

Where the internet was once only available from a shared home computer, people now have multiple devices each, including phones, laptops, e-readers, gaming systems, and more.

Unfortunately, the older generation of WiFi has struggled to keep up. While speeds have increased, it still has a fatal flaw. Many current WiFi routers only connect to a single device at a time, sending and receiving information from just that device before moving on to the next.

More recent WiFi5 routers can connect to 4 devices at a time. WiFi6, meanwhile, will be able to connect to multiple devices at a time, revolutionizing our connected homes and businesses.

Old Technology Leads To Lag Time

old technology lag wifi

Your old WiFi router is getting the job done but sometimes, it struggles to keep up. You can watch streaming video just fine, but when the kids are all playing Fortnite with their friends, your video might buffer more.

That’s because the more devices there are connected to a single WiFi router, the longer it takes for the signal to jump back to your device. Every time you add a new device to your old network, it bogs the signal down even more.

The History of Signal Hopping And WiFi

In 1941, Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr patented Frequency-Hopping Spread-Spectrum as a way to guide torpedoes in WWII without being detected. The technology skipped signals across different frequencies in a predetermined pattern, much like how WiFi works today.

In fact, this invention is also used in Bluetooth and Zigbee, as well as many more technologies. Its importance wasn’t discovered for decades after its invention. Then, Lamarr finally received recognition for her work in 1997. That’s three years before she died.

ARPANET was the first network of multiple computers, hardwired together to communicate with each other. It’s thought of as the predecessor to the internet. The first wireless network was developed in 1971 at the University of Hawaii using radio communications.

Then, TCP/IP was invented in 1983 to grow a single network to a network of networks. The World Wide Web followed in 1990. Multiple technological advances before, during, and after these major milestones had been stitched together to give us today’s modern WiFi.

Upgrading to Wifi 6: The Future of WiFi

future of wifi

WiFi5 routers upped connections from one device at a time to four. As of 2017, the average U.S. household had five connected devices, enough to slow the connection for everything. What’s more, the average number of connected devices has ballooned to more than three times that of 2017, ushering in the need for even better technology.

Think about your connected thermostat and all the auxiliary items you can connect to it, each with its own need for a WiFi connection. Then, think about your IoT refrigerator that connects to your Alexa so you can check the contents of your fridge before heading home from the office. There are all the WiFi connected televisions, gaming systems, tablets, laptops, and more, each bogging down your system.

WiFi6 is going to revolutionize the way we connect to the internet both at home and at work. Not only will the new generation of WiFi be able to connect to more devices at a time, it will also be able to handle larger packets of information from each. Think about all the laptops on your work network and how laggy the internet gets when everyone is in the office on the same day — upgrading to WiFi6 will make that better.

The Need Is Growing Greater

By next year, there will be more than 20 billion IoT devices worldwide. That’s more than 2.6 times what we already have today.

Before you buy your next IoT toaster, stop to ask yourself if your network is ready to handle yet another connected device. It might be time to upgrade to WiFi6 just to save your sanity. Learn more about the history and future of WiFi from the infographic below!

The post How WiFi6 Will Make Your Home (And Business) Better appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

6 Things to Do Before a Product Launch

The best way to bring much-needed attention to your new product or service is by doing a product launch.

Even with an awesome product, a great deal of its success depends on the launch, as the hype surrounding it can bring you more sales, more happy customers, and a better reputation for your company.

Still, having a good product launch is a daunting task, which takes a lot of research and planning in order to be successful and if you don’t go through all the key steps to do it right, you are risking the future of your product.

Here are a few things you shouldn’t skip doing when launching your new product.

Research the market

For a new product to be successful in the market, you should do your research well. There are three key points that need to be considered even before developing the product.

  • Audience. No product will succeed if no one wants to use it, so think about your potential customers and their needs. Is there a pain point your product will solve?
  • Competition. Are there any other businesses offering the same or similar product? How are you going to differentiate yourself from them? What makes your product unique and special?
  • Finances. How much will you need to invest upfront and what are the risks attached to the new product launch?

Once you’ve found the answers to these questions, you will be able to create both a unique selling proposition and a value proposition.

This means you will be able to provide your customers with answers on why your product is better than the one your competitors are offering and what they’ll get in return for their money.

Plan ahead

new product launch

For a product launch to succeed, one must plan ahead.

There are numerous aspects which need to be included in the plan, from product development and testing to marketing and pricing.

Not all the details have to be known at the early stages of the planning, but the timeline and the framework of the activities should be mapped out and defined.

As gaining attention is your main goal, you will need to gear up early and focus on building relationships with influencers, as well as brainstorm all the creative elements which are going to get you publicity. Making a schedule will make it easier for your teams to check their progress and prioritize tasks, and if followed, a plan will decrease the odds of working under stress and launching late.

Find the right influencers

With all the impact social media channels have nowadays, you should focus on finding influencers who can easily approach your target market.

Stats say that 49% of consumers rely on the influencer recommendation on social media, so be sure to provide influencers with the exclusive news and samples of your products.

Encourage, entice, and incentivize them to put their reviews of your products on their blogs, video, and social media channels. This can bring the right kind of attention to your launch and attract the right customers.

See Also: 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Instagram Advertising

Promote the launch

product launch checklist

Before the product hits the market, you need to educate your potential customers on its features and advantages and build hype around its arrival. Here are some ideas on how to best achieve this:

  • Update your social media followers regularly on your progress.
  • Write a blog and educate your customers on products features.
  • Use videos, demos and whitepapers to give detailed info on your product.
  • Submit guest posts to sites relevant in your industry.
  • Have social media contests offering your customers a chance to be the first to get a sample of your product.
  • Provide the industry experts and influencers with samples of your product and freebies.
  • Make a countdown timer on your website and publish teaser videos and photos.

If possible, it is the best to tie your launch day to a larger event, such as an industry event or trade show, to get the most publicity for launching.

Get feedback

The best way to know whether your product is going to be a success once it reaches the market is by soft-launching it to a portion of your target audience. By testing your product in your product market, you will gather valuable information. You can then use this to make the necessary adjustments to your product or campaign.

There are many different ways to get customer feedback that can help you solve the customers’ complaints and issues from the moment your new product reaches the market. Statistics show that a dissatisfied customer shares their experience with 16 people on average, while only 1 out of 26 will actually complain to the company. By using different social media listening and other available tools, you can now respond to both the positive and negative feedback in a timely manner and do wonders for your brand’s reputation.

Keep the fire alive

The launch is hardly over when the launch day is done.

To get the most out of it, plan ahead on how to best exploit it afterward.

You can achieve this by posting the news about your latest product and the benefits it brings into your customers’ lives. Also, think about the ways to involve your customers into this post-launch campaign and motivate them to post videos and photos of themselves using and enjoying your product.

As a successful launch is essential to the positioning of your product in the market and your brand’s reputation, make sure to plan it carefully and not leave anything out. Use as many promotional tactics you can handle, because when it comes to a product launch, you can not over-market it.

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Ask Questions Before Approving a Marketing Campaign Plan

Before you sign off on a marketing campaign plan, it’s crucial that you understand what the plan is about and if the budget is reasonable. You can’t let a plan go ahead without questioning the people who worked on those ideas to see if they are worth doing.

Why did you choose that platform?

The first question is about why the marketing team chose a specific platform.

Is it the best option considering the choices available? Isn’t it a rehash of previous campaigns used?

If the next campaign focuses on traditional ads like the use of pop up banner design and posters, you need to ask if they’re worth the money when compared with online campaigns. The goal is not to discourage the chosen platform, but to know the reason behind the proposed use.

How will it attract the target audience?

You need to ask this question to determine if the marketing team has studied the target audience. Perhaps, the members decided to come up with such a strategy without knowing if the ads will work with the people you want to buy your products. If you don’t think the ads make sense or there’s no guarantee they will appeal to your chosen audience, you need to encourage the use of a different campaign.

How much will the campaign cost?

You need to know how much you’re going to spend if you pursue the plan and if it will significantly affect the overall budget you allotted for marketing. If the amount is reasonable and the team can justify the decision, you can sign off on it; otherwise, you need to ask the team to resubmit the budget plan and defend it.

What’s Plan B?

It is crucial that you know what the marketing team intends to do if things don’t go as planned. In the world of marketing, any result is possible. You can’t always expect things to end the way you want. As such, you need to ask what the alternative plan is and how it will be implemented. You don’t want to work on the plan, but you need to know what it is in case things go south.

You’re not making it hard

You might think that you’re making it difficult for your employees because of your decision to ask several questions. The truth is that you’re only protecting your business because you don’t want to terrible results.

Besides, asking questions doesn’t mean you are power tripping. You’re trying to clarify things and ensure that everyone is on the same page. It also makes you feel confident seeing your marketing team know how to respond and even defend their responses. They will implement the plan, and if they seem to have no idea what’s going on, it could end in a huge mess.

Once you have finished asking questions, you can encourage everyone to work hard until you achieve the marketing goals.

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Online and Offline Businesses You Can Start With No Money

These days, it’s easier than ever to start your own business. With the rise of the internet and online platforms for conducting business, there are plenty of opportunities to make money. There’s a long list of businesses you can start with no money.

Traditional wisdom holds that you need to “spend money to make money”. In reality, however, there are many ways to earn money without an initial investment.

Here are just a few potential businesses you can start with no money.

Driving for Lyft or Uber

One of the more popular ways to make extra money these days is driving for a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber. These companies don’t require anything other than a car, a valid driver’s license, and a background check to get started.

It does take some time to complete the onboarding process. However, once you’re a part of their network, you can start earning money fast on your own time. There are some requirements in terms of how old your car can be. Working in certain cities or at specific times of the day will allow you to make more, but it’s relatively easy to get started with these companies.

Pet Sitting

Do you have any friends with pets?

If so, you could easily start working as a pet sitter with little to no upfront costs. Even if you don’t personally know anyone with pets, you can advertise your service on Craigslist or other freelance websites and start taking care of people’s pets while they’re away.

If you’re the type of person who enjoys being around animals, pet sitting is definitely one of the best businesses you can start with no money.

Babysitting

Obviously, babysitting might require more screening than pet sitting. However, if you are good with kids or know people who will trust you to take care of their children, it can be a great way to make money.

Of course, people want to be careful with whom they hire to look after their children, so you may have to invest some time being interviewed by the parents. But other than time and the gas it takes to get around, there’s not much you’ll need to spend to get started as a babysitter.

Selling things on Etsy or at Flea Markets

If you have any items lying around that you no longer use or you feel willing to part with, selling things at flea markets or online marketplaces like Etsy can be a great option. Everything from the furniture you no longer need, clothes you don’t wear anymore, video game consoles you never use or even your old appliances and electronics can be sold to people who have more use for them.

Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are other options for selling your stuff online. If you have some things at home that you no longer need, consider putting them up for sale to start making some extra money.

Delivering Food

Similar to driving for Lyft or Uber, all you really need to start delivering food is a car and a valid driver’s license. Uber Eats, Postmates, Grub Hub, and many other companies offer this service nowadays. It’s a great option for people who want to set their own hours and make money without a significant cash investment up front.

Of course, you’ll want to work during lunch and dinner rush hours to make the most money possible. However, delivering food represents a good business opportunity if you’re willing to work during those times of the day.

Tutoring

If you happen to have a lot of knowledge about a particular topic, such as math or grammar, you can make a fair amount of money as a tutor. Unlike teaching at a school, there’s no formal training that’s legally required for you to tutor. As long as you can prove your expertise, you can find work.

People of all ages may require tutors. You can teach kids in school, college students or even adults attending night school. If you have good people skills and a fair degree of knowledge in a specific area, tutoring could be a good business opportunity for you.

Blogging

freelancer website

There are a few different ways you could potentially make money through blogging. One is to work using freelance sites to write blog articles for other people or companies.

Of course, to do this, you may need to have some experience to prove to a potential employer that you’re worth hiring. But even if you have no experience, you can start your own blog and potentially make money by running ads on it.

Once you have a few blog posts up, try promoting your blog via social media or other outlets. If you can generate an audience, ad networks may pay you to run advertisements on your blog.

Cleaning

While you may need to invest in some cleaning supplies, getting started as a cleaner is relatively easy. You can advertise your services online and make money by cleaning people’s homes or apartments. There’s also the opportunity for you to find regular clients who pay you to clean their place every week or so.

The biggest investment you’ll need to make to start a cleaning business is time since you won’t be able to do this job from home.

House Sitting

If you have friends who are preparing to travel for a long period of time or if you know someone with a summer home that needs regular maintenance, you could take care of their home while they’re away.

House sitting won’t require you to make any expensive investments. One of the downsides, however, is that it can be tough to find this type of work regularly. But if you can rack up a few clients that need some house sitting done, it can potentially be a lucrative business that doesn’t take much money to get started.

Dog Walking

There are websites like Wag and others that allow you to sign up to become a dog walker and start earning money quickly and with no cost up front.

You may need to undergo a quick background check to ensure you can be trusted with other people’s pets. After that, you can start making some cash quickly. One of the perks of being a dog walker is being able to spend time outside and getting some extra exercise.

If you enjoy being outdoors and you like dogs, this could be an ideal business for you.

Social Media

Like blogging, there are different ways you can use your social media skills to make money. You could manage social media accounts for a company or individual.

If you have some experience doing paid social media work in the past, this could be a great opportunity. If the only social media experience you have is running your own accounts, you can still find work, especially if you can show that you’ve generated a lot of engagement.

Another potential opportunity is to make money through your own social media accounts. Some companies might pay you to be a brand ambassador or make sponsored posts if you can prove that your content will be seen by a large enough audience.

As you can see, there are a lot of businesses you can start with no money. Whether you prefer to work online or offline, there are businesses that can put some extra cash in your pocket fast. You can choose to work for another company or start your own in one of these areas.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure to perform the job well and communicate with clients. It’s a really good way to build your network and get more work in the future.

See Also: 3 Home Business Ideas to Help You Start Making Money from Home

The post Online and Offline Businesses You Can Start With No Money appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

15 Benefits to Outsource Document Management

Outsourcing is a significant breakthrough, which started in the late 90’s in North America and Europe. Different aspects and processes in businesses were outsourced, including documents from public, classified, and restricted archives. Without a doubt, outsourcing is an efficient method that enables businesses to focus on core processes.

Why It Matters

The rise of document management outsourcing isn’t that surprising, considering that most companies view their document management solution as an inconvenient part of their functional operations. Companies are aware that it cause an unnecessary delay from time to time. Aside from delays, document management also results in an even more disorganized process.

These inconveniences can lead to errors and redundancies that could easily be avoided by consulting experienced document management experts. These people can provide a holistic solution and approach to your enterprise content management, which plays a fundamental role in the control of the information in your company. The effectiveness of your document management system can have a negative or positive impact on your business processes.

After determining the importance of document management, it is natural for us to know more about what is it and how you can make the most out of its benefits when the process is done as it should be.

What Exactly Is Document Management?

document management
Via sodapdf

Document management is often referred to as Document Management Systems (DMS). This process uses document management software to store, manage, and track electronic documents. In other cases, it is used on images of paper-based information captured through the use of a document scanner, as well as other file types. The system comprehensively shows how your organization stores, manages, and tracks its electronic copy of documents that is applicable in modern or paperless settings.

Document management is one of the precursor advancements to content management. But before it became mainstream, document management was available exclusively in a stand-alone basis like imaging, workflow, and archiving brethren. In the first few years of the document management system, it’s not considered as necessary as other functions. It all changed when businesses discovered the benefits document management system offers,especially when a reputable outsourcing company is hired to do the job.

To date, outsourcing firms provide some of the most basic functionalities to content management such as imposing controls and management capabilities onto otherwise “stagnant” documents. In addition, they now have the capability to create software or programs that can handle more complicated procedures in the document management process. This is extremely convenient at times when you have piles of documents and you have to look for a specific file immediately.

Top Benefits of Outsourcing Document Management

document management outsource

Outsourcing document management is an effective way to help business owners so they can divert their attention and full potential in more essential divisions of the company.

Most, if not all, outsourcing companies can provide the equivalent level of effectiveness in services at a much lower cost. This aspect of outsourcing document management is of vital importance because business and company owners are looking for means to save as much as possible. But, of course, companies need not bargain on the quality of results. Therefore, outsourcing document management is a high common ground that meets both budget and quality of results. You may found very useful information provided by John Mancini here about outsourcing document management.

It’s a cost-effective strategy that allows small to large businesses to save and make use of their budgets in more critical areas of the company.

In general, outsourcing is a great way to save more bucks since you can use the budget in other means that you’d find more profitable. For instance, instead of investing in a few sets of computer or devices, you can use the extra money for office improvement. Subsequently,the outsourcing company will be the one responsible for the machines that the outsourced employees will use. Simple changes like this yield considerable improvements in budget allocation.

It eliminates the risk and burden of launching solution.

When you do choose to outsource, you can cut off the time spent in brainstorming to find the best solutions for your company’s requirements. The document management outsourcing firm can evaluate the demands of your business and find suitable strategies that tailor fits your needs.

Outsourcing helps save space or storage.

document management outsource business
Via eleadersnetwork

Having document management done by a dedicated team is an excellent way to keep office space and room. The documents can either be collected in cloud storage (soft files) or file cabinets if the company prefers printed copies. It’s also a good option if you want to make your office look more ergonomic and organized. The CIO will give you some valuable information about the benefits of outsourcing.

Outsourcing document management requires a little to less employee involvement.

Another great benefit of utilizing outsourcing for document management is the fact that you can cut off the number of employees who will be handling the documents. Also, you don’t need to hire more people to manage the records as the outsourcing company will do it for you.

Get your document management handled by the experts.

Most outsourcing firms are well-trained in providing efficient methods of document management. Thus, there is a higher chance that you’d get the results your company deserves. Moreover, these outsourcing firms choose document managers who are highly skilled and professional in handling different types of files, using dedicated software suitable for your business functions and the industry you’re in. I found this article very useful on Amplexor about document management from the experts view.

Outsourced documents pass industry compliance.

Since experts handle the materials involved, you are ensured that each file passes the industry compliance. Most outsourcing firms offering the service require quality assurance checks to determine if any material needs revision depending on the industry standards.

It’s an efficient way to create reports.

Organizing, validating, and disseminating the reports is another time-consuming factor that causes a delay in the performance of other vital tasks. These tasks normally takes a great deal of time.This is why it’s highly beneficial to use outsourcing firms that offer efficient reports daily, weekly, and quarterly. I think every business platform needs outsourcing firm. Please visit this page of Nytimes to get some ideas of its benefits.

It’s a useful method for maintaining document copies.

It’s true that outsourcing document management can save space and storage in the office. But it doesn’t mean that the document managers will get rid of old files to give room to the new one. In fact, the outsourcing firm will find ways to efficiently save and maintain copies of documents, whether they are created recently or years ago.

An efficient strategy to improve the workflow of the business.

Overall, outsourcing business processes is a great way to enhance the workflow. It makes the tasks easier and the results better. It is suitable for almost all types of businesses across different industries, making it a flexible technique for successful management of the company.

Outsourcing document management is a scalable process.

Document management services can be easily scaled up or down based on your company’s demands and specifications. A professional outsourcing bureau offering this service usually provides a complementary product development team to meet all your company’s future needs. I have this video for you to learn how it works.

Expert management of documents requires shorter turn around.

What makes outsourcing document management even more beneficial is the fact that it requires a quicker turnaround time. Expert document managers can handle more files in a shorter period. In addition to that,

Outsourcing document management provides maximum security and privacy.

Outsourcing document management is not well received in the first few years of its launch. It is due to privacy and security concerns that most business owners have. As time goes by, business owners learned to trust the system because of the advancements in features and security settings. Using a document management system has now become more secure and packed with state-of-the-art features that keep documents in a safe place.

Get accuracy in results.

Utilizing document management services yields excellent and accurate results. Companies offering document management services use techniques and tools that generate accurate reports. These reports are used to analyze the data and determine which files or documents were processed.

Software automation at its finest

Software automation is utilized in document management by outsourcing firms. A large portion of the process relies on a document management software. Every company offering document management services use different software and automation process, depending on the needs of the business or client. This video contains informative ideas for the beginners.

In a modern business setting, there are growing volumes of documents, especially if the company has been around for quite a long time. Thus, it requires commitment and hard work to manage these files accordingly. From reducing the risk of losses to improving employee efficiency in meeting deadlines, there are great benefits that should convince you to outsource document management to a professional record management provider. They can address various company priorities as necessary.

Choosing where to focus your company’s energy and resources is a crucial step to reaching progress. Thus, it’s vital to select a company that you can trust when outsourcing document management for your business. With all of the business transactions happening, it is so easy to feel swarmed and overwhelmed, especially if you are short with manpower. However, if you’re able to pick a trusted firm to handle these, your business processes could go smoothly and more systematic than ever.

See Also: 5 Tips to Stop Wasting Money on Substandard Services When Outsourcing

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5 Rules For Effective Packaging Design

Your packaging choices can make or break your brand. After all, your product’s packaging design influences consumer behavior and brand perception.

If you want to start right with design, check out the following rules to follow.

Be honest with customers

Honesty can go a long way in package design. It must be the true reflection of your product or brand.

Do not attempt to under-deliver or over-promise. Otherwise, you’ll disappoint your customers by tricking them into something that does not exist or that they don’t expect.

Speaking of honesty, strive hard to depict your product in the best way possible.

For example, why would you put a cookie in melted chocolate if you were just selling chocolate-flavored cookie? Or why would you include many strawberries in the design of your fruit yogurt if yours has little strawberry content?

Just be honest. Don’t depict your product five times better than it is. Otherwise, you’ll mislead and disappoint customers who won’t attempt to buy from you ever again. In all cases, don’t use a misleading package design.

Keep it simple

simple packaging design

Simplicity and clarity go hand in hand.

For one, customers have nothing against inexpensive products, so you don’t have to put many unnecessary elements in the design. It will just mislead customers.

Simplicity is the key to helping customers easily recognize what your product is for and what the brand behind it is.

For example, avoid listing tons of benefits without a clear brand name or try to make your packaging look great on the outside without clearly explaining what’s inside it.

It’s one of the main rules of package designing – it must be clear about the product and the brand.

Make it useful

Think about the footprint of your product’s packaging and factor in transportation and/or international transit cost.

Make sure your box, can or bottle is moderately small. Before the actual manufacturing of your product’s package, deliberate over it along with your product’s shelf life.

With usefulness of a product’s packaging design also comes practicality. It deals with the actual functionality, shape, and size of the jar, bottle, box or container and not just of the wrap or label.

The more sales your product might be getting if it’s indeed a practical product.

Remember Heinz?

heinz upside down bottle

Its sales went up when it turned its bottle upside down because that design simply makes ketchup dispensing much easier

At the end of the day, ask yourself:

  • Does my package feature conveniences or innovations valued by customers?
  • Can it solve a problem?

Finally, you must adhere to the law and ensure that your packaging is recyclable.

See Also: Why The Right Product Packaging Is Essential to Your Business’ Success

Create a WOW customer experience

Another rule for an effective packaging design lies in customer experience.

What kind of impression do you want to leave consumers? How would you make them remember your brand and product while browsing different other products in the grocery shelf with your package design?

That’s why you have to express a unique and clear reason to exist in the first place. If you’re good at this, you’ll create a deeper relationship with your customers because they feel good about your brand.

One way to do that is to appeal to them with your package design. Make equally great packaging choices. Don’t embellish too much or else, you won’t make an accurate representation of your product.

You should also not exaggerate things by making your product seemingly loaded when it is not. As again, you have to be honest with your customers.

Make eco-friendly packaging

Go green with your packaging and show customers you sincerely care for the environment. Make sure that your packaging design has a lower carbon footprint to help you create a positive image for your brand.

And again, ensure it is recyclable and your materials are sourced locally. By using eco-friendly packaging, you can improve your brand’s image, too. This will favor consumers who are environmentally conscious.

Final Thoughts

Remember that your choices influence how consumers will perceive your brand and product. It’s your last chance to convince them to choose you over competitors.

If you want to make an impact — not only on the shelves but also in the minds of consumers — think about the best packaging design that shows honesty, eco-friendliness, usefulness, and simplicity. Finally, it should create a WOW customer experience.

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Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out

Scott Andes
Contributor

Scott Andes is the program director for the National League of Cities City Innovation Ecosystem program.

The more than year-long dance between cities and Amazon for its second headquarters is finally over, with New York City and Washington, DC, capturing the big prize. With one of the largest economic development windfalls in a generation on the line, 238 cities used every tactic in the book to court the company – including offering to rename a city “Amazon” and appointing Jeff Bezos “mayor for life.”

Now that the process, and hysteria, are over, and cities have stopped asking “how can we get Amazon,” we’d like to ask a different question: How can cities build stronger start-up ecosystems for the Amazon yet to be built?

In September 2017, Amazon announced that it would seek a second headquarters. But rather than being the typical site selection process, this would become a highly publicized Hunger Games-esque scenario.

An RFP was proffered on what the company sought, and it included everything any good urbanist would want, with walkability, transportation and cultural characteristics on the docket. But of course, incentives were also high on the list.

Amazon could have been a transformational catalyst for a plethora of cities throughout the US, but instead, it chose two superstar cities: the number one and five metro areas by GDP which, combined, amounts to a nearly $2 trillion GDP. These two metro areas also have some of the highest real estate prices in the country, a swath of high paying jobs and of course power — financial and political — close at hand.

Perhaps the take-away for cities isn’t that we should all be so focused on hooking that big fish from afar, but instead that we should be growing it in our own waters. Amazon itself is a great example of this. It’s worth remembering that over the course of a quarter century, Amazon went from a garage in Seattle’s suburbs to consuming 16 percent — or 81 million square feet — of the city’s downtown. On the other end of the spectrum, the largest global technology company in 1994 (the year of Amazon’s birth) was Netscape, which no longer exists.

The upshot is that cities that rely only on attracting massive technology companies are usually too late.

At the National League of Cities, we think there are ways to expand the pie that don’t reinforce existing spatial inequalities. This is exactly the idea behind the launch of our city innovation ecosystems commitments process. With support from the Schmidt Futures Foundation, fifty cities, ranging from rural townships, college towns, and major metros, have joined with over 200 local partners and leveraged over $100 million in regional and national resources to support young businesses, leverage technology and expand STEM education and workforce training for all.

The investments these cities are making today may in fact be the precursor to some of the largest tech companies of the future.

With that idea in mind, here are eight cities that didn’t win HQ2 bids but are ensuring their cities will be prepared to create the next tranche of high-growth startups. 

Austin

Austin just built a medical school adjacent to a tier one research university, the University of Texas. It’s the first such project to be completed in America in over fifty years. To ensure the addition translates into economic opportunity for the city, Austin’s public, private and civic leaders have come together to create Capital City Innovation to launch the city’s first Innovation District at the new medical school. This will help expand the city’s already world class startup ecosystem into the health and wellness markets.

Baltimore

Baltimore is home to over $2 billion in academic research, ranking it third in the nation behind Boston and Philadelphia. In order to ensure everyone participates in the expanding research-based startup ecosystem, the city is transforming community recreation centers into maker and technology training centers to connect disadvantaged youth and families to new skills and careers in technology. The Rec-to-Tech Initiative will begin with community design sessions at four recreation centers, in partnership with the Digital Harbor Foundation, to create a feasibility study and implementation plan to review for further expansion.

Buffalo

The 120-acre Buffalo Niagara Medical Center (BNMC) is home to eight academic institutions and hospitals and over 150 private technology and health companies. To ensure Buffalo’s startups reflect the diversity of its population, the Innovation Center at BNMC has just announced a new program to provide free space and mentorship to 10 high potential minority- and/or women-owned start-ups.

Denver

Like Seattle, real estate development in Denver is growing at a feverish rate. And while the growth is bringing new opportunity, the city is expanding faster than the workforce can keep pace. To ensure a sustainable growth trajectory, Denver has recruited the Next Generation City Builders to train students and retrain existing workers to fill high-demand jobs in architecture, design, construction and transportation. 

Providence

With a population of 180,000, Providence is home to eight higher education institutions – including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design – making it a hub for both technical and creative talent. The city of Providence, in collaboration with its higher education institutions and two hospital systems, has created a new public-private-university partnership, the Urban Innovation Partnership, to collectively contribute and support the city’s growing innovation economy. 

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh may have once been known as a steel town, but today it is a global mecca for robotics research, with over 4.5 times the national average robotics R&D within its borders. Like Baltimore, Pittsburgh is creating a more inclusive innovation economy through a Rec-to-Tech program that will re-invest in the city’s 10 recreational centers, connecting students and parents to the skills needed to participate in the economy of the future. 

Tampa

Tampa is already home to 30,000 technical and scientific consultant and computer design jobs — and that number is growing. To meet future demand and ensure the region has an inclusive growth strategy, the city of Tampa, with 13 university, civic and private sector partners, has announced “Future Innovators of Tampa Bay.” The new six-year initiative seeks to provide the opportunity for every one of the Tampa Bay Region’s 600,000 K-12 students to be trained in digital creativity, invention and entrepreneurship.

These eight cities help demonstrate the innovation we are seeing on the ground now, all throughout the country. The seeds of success have been planted with people, partnerships and public leadership at the fore. Perhaps they didn’t land HQ2 this time, but when we fast forward to 2038 — and the search for Argo AISparkCognition or Welltok’s new headquarters is well underway — the groundwork will have been laid for cities with strong ecosystems already in place to compete on an even playing field.

How To Modernize Your Business By Ditching The RFP

In our modern, fast-paced world, there is hardly any time to spare. Businesses need results and they need them quickly, encouraging the development of new technologies that can keep up. Yet 95% of companies still use RFPs when they need to get the job done – why is this outdated practice still treated like a business staple?

It’s Time To Move On From The RFP

request for proposal

Smart businesses today understand the value of diversifying away from the risk of relying on single one-stop-shop vendors. If the massive change in Forbes Global 2000 companies that outsource IT projects to single vendors is any indication, this shift is a massive trend. In 2008, 42% of these businesses worked with a single vendor for their IT or application needs; in 2018 that number is just 15%.

And yet, for lack of a better method, many businesses find themselves at a loss for reaching new vendors. Whether their project scope is too wide for in-house work, or they just need some extra guidance from creative professionals, it’s easy to turn to Requests for Proposals to scout out the talent. But there’s a glaring problem with using RFPs to do this – the results very rarely elicit the most innovative solution. Companies that use RFPs may ignore innovative startups in favor of “established” vendors, rewarding longevity over skill and flexibility.

How Do Startups Compete With Established Relationships?

When we look at startup funding trends, we are met with stats of explosive growth. In 2017 alone, the global venture capital investments for startups hit over $140 billion, and in the years between 2015 and 2017, the total global startup economy value creation was $2.3 trillion. Any way you spin it, there is some serious firepower behind startups and for good reason. Unfortunately, these talents can go ignored and even outright rejected when forced to participate in requests for proposals.

  • Bidders must specify how long they have been in business to even qualify
  • Not useful and counterproductive in the age of startup innovation

As a result, RFPs are actually a roadblock to reaching effective new vendors, placing incumbent vendors ahead of other bidders. For new vendors participating in RFPs, they may only have a week to respond, yet incumbent vendors are notified several weeks beforehand. Even then, many startup level vendors find it challenging to work within the confines of typical RFP guidelines and are unable to let their talents show.

  • Discourages considerations of more innovative proposals
  • Rewards easy solutions over flexibility and talent
  • Low value and low innovation
  • Long-term costs are higher than originally projected

There’s A New And Better Way

It’ll take more than a simple update to overhaul this antiquated process. Real solutions will come from a total mindset change, improved flexibility, and real ROI projection. The best way to try out a new vendor is by using Proof of Value, or PoV. This process ensures the best value projects are done for the right price and by the right people. Based on information measurement theory, Proof of Value considers the predictability of success or error using measurable, factual information. This replaces the RFP with scalable options using information and performance-based solutions as a new standard.

  • Create a full working cloud-based model app
  • Share the real app with business users to get an idea of what the full solution will look like
  • Use PoV as a first iteration jumping off point to fast-track the project

Accounting for lost time, wasted money, and piles of busy work, RFPs, or requests for proposals just don’t work anymore. A LexisNexis survey revealed nearly 17% of businesses deal with up to 10 RFPs per month, and 15% of businesses have a load of 21 or more. Organizations are relying more on RFPs, but it doesn’t necessarily benefit their firm. Smart businesses can use more nimble vendors and methods to outperform instead.

  • Intuitive user experiences
  • Clean interfaces
  • Deliver against tighter project deadlines
  • Reliable, measurable ROI
  • Diversify risks away from conventional mega-vendors

It’s Time To Ditch The Outdated RFP

Though many organizations are still using RFPs for solutions, when has following the status quo ever done business any favors? Is your company still using RFPs? Take a look at this infographic for more on how RFPs hurt innovation, stunt professional growth, and ignore real talent, and what you can do to break this cycle by developing better solutions that fit with your business’ needs.
RFPs: Dinosaurs of the business world?
Source: Semarchy.com

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Korean AI startup Skelter Labs lands strategic investment to expand to Southeast Asia

Korean AI startup Skelter Labs is expanding to Southeast Asia after it pulled in undisclosed funding from Singapore-based VC firm Golden Gate Ventures.

Skelter Labs was founded in 2015 by founded by Ted Cho, the former engineering site director at Google Korea. It started out developing apps and services that made use of AI but then it pivoted to focus fully on AI tech, which it licenses out to companies and corporations that it works with. Now it is eying opportunities in  Japan and parts of Southeast Asia — which has a cumulative population of over 600 million — with Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia specifically mentioned.

The startup raised a $9 million seed round earlier this year, and Golden Gate has added an additional check to that round which came from KakaoBrain — the AI unit of Korean messaging giant Kakao — Kakao’s K-Cute venture arm, Stonebridge Ventures and Lotte Homeshopping, the TV and internet shopping business owned by multi-billion dollar retail giant Lotte.

More specifically, Seoul-based Skelter Labs works on AI in the context of vision and speech, conversation, and context recognition, while it goes after customers in areas that include manufacturing, customer operations, device interaction, and consumer marketing.

The startup doesn’t disclose customers, but it previously told TechCrunch that its vision is to bring its machine learning technology to daily life and schedules. Possible examples of that might be could include “intelligent virtual assistant technology that can be widely applied to various areas including smart speakers, smartphones, home appliances, automobiles and wearable devices.”

Golden Gate is one of Southeast Asia’s longest running tech VC firms. This deal is part of its recently announced third fund, which is $100 million in size.

In a statement, Skelter Labs CEO Cho paid tribute to the VC’s strong footprint in Southeast Asia that he said could open doors for the company. Startups in Golden Gate’s portfolio that might be of particular interest could include mobile listings startup Carousell, auto portal Carro, fashion commerce site Grana and online furnishings seller Hipvan.

Note: The original version of this article has been corrected. Skelter Labs has announced an extension to its previous round not a new round. Apologies for any confusion caused.