Articles by: Lexie Lu
Ways to Use Videos on Your Website
You’ve likely noticed that more and more videos appear online each year. Google now offers an option for videos at the top of search results, and many websites feature videos. Brands use them to market on social media as well.
The number of people using videos online is staggering. About 78 percent of people watch online videos each week, and 55 percent state they view online videos on a daily basis. By the year 2020, 80 percent of all online traffic will be video viewing.
With such strong trending toward videos, you’ve probably thought about adding more to your website, but you may not know the different ways you can use video to pull in your site visitors. Here are six strong options.
1. Sell Your Product
If the main goal of your website is to sell a product, then a video is a must. One study showed that 80 percent of people remember a video ad from the past month, and 46 percent took action after watching a video. If you want to show off a product from all angles and show the uses of it, creating a product video should be one of your first steps.
Fix Asphalt features a video on their landing page that highlights the asphalt services they offer. They feature processes to fix or complete projects involving asphalt, concrete or pavement maintenance. The video highlights how their service solves a problem.
2. Tell a Story
Does your company have a unique background story? On a given day, in a given minute, about 700,000 Google searches occur, and 100,500 digital words flit by the average person in a day. If you want to stand out, you have to find a unique way to connect with consumers. Telling your own story is one of the best ways to accomplish this goal, and what better way to make it memorable than through a video on your website?
3. Add to the Aesthetics of the Design
It takes the average person just 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about the overall design of your website. Some users form an opinion in only 17 milliseconds. You have the blink of an eye to grab the user’s attention. Present them with something that pleases them visually and makes them want to stick around. Adding a video to your landing page gives readers a break from the text and shows something desirable to the user.
Joe’s Garage Coffee uses a looping video to show the process of creating their private label coffee and how it’s superior to that of their competitors. The looping video adds some interest to the background that immediately shows the user what the company is about and why they’re special.
4. Incorporate Embedded Videos
While it might be tempting to add a video to your website and stream it from your server, doing so isn’t always the best choice. Most web designers prefer to embed videos from sources such as YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia. You can upload a unique video specific to your business or use one of the videos on their site with sharing permissions. Using other videos to enhance your message expands your ability.
In particular, if you own a very small business, you may not have the budget to create a video that shows how to install a new furnace filter or any other topic. However, someone else may have already produced that video, and you can simply share it. Just make sure the video you share isn’t from a competitor.
5. Create Product Marketing Videos
Showcasing a product via video allows the user to see the item from all angles and see if it’s for them or not. It’s the next best thing to seeing the product in person. This 360-degree view of a product helps consumers decide if the product meets their needs. It should help cut down on returns and unhappy customers too.
Nine Line Apparel does a good job of highlighting their products in videos. Not only do they show the product, but they show it in use. In the video above, the guy keeps dropping his bottle of beer until the Nine Line hoodie arrives. Suddenly, he has a pocket to hold his beer bottle. It’s presented in a humorous way. However, the other features of the hoodie are also highlighted, such as the thick material and long sleeves.
6. Provide a Vlog
Your website likely has a blog already. Why not make the content a bit more dynamic and add videos to your blog? You can create videos that go with a blog topic or blog posts that are videos. Topics should help solve a problem for your typical customer, so look at questions you receive on a regular basis, and answer them for readers.
The great thing about adding videos is that you can use them on your website and gain traction via social media. YouTube has a massive audience, as does Facebook, so sharing videos on those sites is a great place to start.
Figure out new and exciting ways to implement video on your site so that site visitors see that you have something special to offer. Whether you add videos as part of your looping background or go into detail about the history of your company, each video adds a different element to your site and makes it more interactive for your users.
Seasonal Sales Techniques for Small Business Owners
By the time the holiday season arrives, most business owners aren’t prepared. There are so many aspects to running a business and staying afloat that it’s difficult to find time to prepare for any one season.
The average person spends around $900 on Christmas gifts each year. Holiday sales are predicted to increase to as much as $729.89 billion in the United States. If you don’t find the time to focus on seasonal sales, you can be sure your competitors will, and they’ll snatch some of that potential holiday profit away from you.
No matter what type of business you own, there are some seasonal sales techniques you can use that will draw in the holiday shopping crowd. Here are six key ways to incorporate seasonal sales into your business just in time for the holidays.
1. Tap Into the Spirit of the Season
The last two months of the fiscal year are known as the “giving season” because people give about 24 percent of their annual giving in November and December. Part of the reason is a look forward to tax season and the ability to deduct donations to 401c and 501c classified organizations. However, another reason people give so much more during the last couple months of the year is that they’re in the holiday giving spirit.
You can tap into the spirit of the season by calling on the emotions of your customers and figuring out how to give back as a business.
WestJet taps into the holiday giving season by offering a screen that features a Santa. As people step in front of the screen, they receive various prizes, some big and some small. The video on YouTube shows the reaction of the recipients and taps into that warm feeling that people associate with the holidays.
2. Remember Your Current Customers
It’s easy to get caught up in the drive to gain more customers, but your current customers are of a higher value than a new lead. The chance that a current customer will buy from you is 60 to 70 percent, while the change that a new lead will buy is only five to 20 percent. Current customers are also more likely to try new offerings and spend more on each purchase.
As you can see, your current customers are quite valuable and should be a big part of any holiday sales planning. Spend time looking at what your current customers typically order, and figure out what new products might most interest them during the holidays. Items that complement what they already own but give that item a seasonal twist are popular. However, you should also offer exciting new products to current customers and give them special offers no one else receives.
3. Choose Your Season
Even though we talk about the winter holidays a lot in this article because of the sheer amount of business done during that time of year, Christmas isn’t the only time when you can incorporate seasonal sales. If you run a pumpkin patch, fall is your hot season, and you should put most of your focus there. If you run a romantic Italian restaurant, your season might be Valentine’s Day.
Choose the season that works best for your business, and focus on that for now. You can always add other seasonal sales throughout the year.
Marketview Liquor does a nice job of featuring special items for each holiday season. Take a look at their fall selection, featuring images of pumpkins and deep fall colors. They also offer a 1/2 off shipping discount if you order a certain amount of product. Finally, they offer a weekly special, sometimes tied to the season. If you’re looking for a gift for any occasion, you’ll find that they offer a special “gift set” section on their website.
4. Plan Your Social Media Marketing
To tap into the extra business sure to come your way during the holidays, plan out your social media marketing campaigns in advance. A multi-channel approach often works best to drive traffic to your special sales, so think through where your target audience spends their time and how you can best grab their attention on those social media platforms.
A holiday social media calendar is a great idea. You can also schedule out posts and offers in advance using a program such as Missingltr (free) or Buffer.
5. Turn a Negative Into a Positive
At some point in your business career, you’ll make a mistake or receive criticism. One of the best things to do is to tie it into your overall seasonal efforts and embrace the error. You can, of course, fix the error, but also own up to it. If the problem was something serious, then a sincere apology might work best. But if the criticism is something lighter, you can turn it into a joke.
Reese’s received quite a bit of criticism about their tree-shaped Christmas candy. People began posting on social media that the trees look more like human excrement than Christmas trees. Reese’s embraced the criticism and started an #AllTreesAreBeautiful campaign. The screenshot above is an example of a candy tree seeing itself as the perfectly shaped Christmas tree. They released a series of #AllTreesAreBeautiful ads on Twitter.
6. Handling More Orders
Figure out now how to manage the extra workflow more orders bring to your business. It won’t do you any good to have an absolutely brilliant marketing campaign that brings in thousands more in sales if you can’t fulfill those orders and wind up with angry customers. When people order during the holidays, they expect those items to arrive quickly. Some might be presents they’ve purchased and need for a holiday gathering.
Hire on more staff, make sure you have enough inventory and streamline your shipping processes well before the holidays hit.
The Best Season Ever
Planning ahead allows you to take advantage of seasonal specials. Push your new products, clear out old inventory by offering deep discounts and show new customers that you have the best customer service on the planet. With a little prep work, the holidays can be a time when your business grows instead of fails.
Your online portfolio is the face you present to the world that shows what you’re capable of as a brand. If you want to gain new clients, your portfolio needs to show you’re a professional that knows your way around a design, product or service. It isn’t always easy to show people what you’ve worked on and all your skills in one place, but a well-designed portfolio allows you to do just that.
One of the best ways to figure out how to create a portfolio is to study others. Figure out who your competition is and assess their portfolios. What is lacking and what works well? There are eight things you should include in your online portfolio to make it stand out to potential clients.
1. Limit the Number of Projects
There is no need to share every project you’ve worked on since the beginning of your business. In fact, the projects or designs you complete when you first start probably aren’t your best work. Instead, choose a few things you’d like to highlight. If you design landscaping and backyard retreats, then you’ll want a section for each and photos that highlight a variety of your best work. For example, you might showcase backyard fire pits, a stamped concrete patio and a retaining wall.
2. Use Images to Create Categories
Studies show that people remember visuals much longer than they remember text. Hearing information has a 10 percent recall, but if a relevant image is aligned with the words, then they remember 65 percent of the information. Create categories that feature your most popular products or your best work. These images become a sort of flipbook that allows you to highlight what you want the moment a visitor lands on your page.
Moscot does a great job of highlighting the craftsmanship of its products and uses images to showcase its beautiful glass designs. This is a great example of a company that offers a product and a way to highlight it through an online portfolio. If the consumer has any questions about the quality of Moscot’s work, they are answered both with words and images.
3. Highlight Your Bio
If you’re the face of the brand and more of a one-man or one-woman show, take the time to share your experience and philosophy behind your business. This builds a level of trust with potential customers. Show them who you are and why you do what you do. If they sense the passion behind your work, they’ll be better able to trust that you’ll provide quality work. Trust is particularly important in industries such as web design or service industries.
4. Show Your Processes
Are you proud of the way you do your work? Don’t be afraid to show your processes and highlight why your product or service stands out from your competitors’. This shows leads that you take pride in your work. Don’t worry about competitors stealing your ideas. If something is truly that secretive, there are ways to show what you do without giving anything away.
PSI — Performance Services Inc. — does a great job showing its work in action via a project gallery. Photos are placed on a grid layout and show images of its cleaning and maintenance services in action. One image is of a man hanging down the side of the building as he cleans windows. Another is of a worker on a lift cleaning hard-to-reach beams in a college gym.
5. Extra Print Copies
One thing to do if you plan to present your portfolio in print format is to create extra copies. You may show up at a meeting and discover there are multiple people there to hear you speak. Having extra copies allows everyone to look at your work as you give them your pitch. You also never know when you might run into a business owner in the lobby of the building where you are providing services. Having an extra copy or two of your portfolio allows you to take advantage of those impromptu elevator meetings.
6. Know Your Audience
You have to know your audience when creating a portfolio. If your goal is to reach serious-minded business owners, then your portfolio will have a classic layout and photos that show your work. On the other hand, if your goal is to reach consumers and your brand has a humorous approach, you might want to include silly photos and funny points in your portfolio. You have to understand the tone that works best for your particular audience.
ToyFight is a design team that has worked with toy designers, so it makes sense that its portfolio is lighthearted and fun. Look at the screenshot above of its portfolio landing page. It shows a cowboy riding a toy dinosaur and chasing a running man. The colors are bright and eye-catching and show the humorous side of the founders.
7. Interact With Visitors
Make your portfolio interactive. Add animation as the user moves over different images or categories. Add a video in the background showing your design team hard at work. Create a game the user can play that shows what you do and how you deliver to the customer. Anything you can do to involve the user from the minute they land on your page keeps them there instead of bouncing away to a competitor’s site.
8. Add Testimonials
A portfolio might not be the first place you think of for a testimonial, but adding in snippets from happy customers allows you to showcase just how well your service or product works for your current clients. You don’t have to add a three-page long testimonial to each image. Instead, pick out a sentence that sums up what you did for a client, such as, “They increased our company’s productivity by 50 percent in three weeks.” Go for concrete, specific examples from satisfied clients.
One of the smartest things you can do to stand out from the competition is to study them. Figure out how you can best present yourself. Use different colors and better examples, and make your site or paper portfolio simple to navigate. Anything you can do to highlight why you’re the best gives you an advantage. Remember that your portfolio is often the first introduction a potential lead has to your business, so make it the best it can be.
Creative types know that working day after day on various projects is taxing for even the most creative person. Figuring out ways to refill the creative well and stay motivated isn’t easy. But what if you could find inspiration from the very space you work in?
One study on employee engagement found that about one-third of workers aren’t fully engaged. Disengaged workers are less likely to feel satisfied in their roles and more likely to leave, causing higher churn rates for companies. While many factors play into how engaged employees feel, the overall work environment has a huge impact.
Help your employees feel engaged and inspired with the following nine ways to update an office space for creatives.
1. Get Rid of the Cubes!
Cube farms are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Dry, boring cubicles aren’t inspiring to anyone. Not only that, but they separate workers, creating a situation where brainstorming is next to impossible. If your office is filled with cubicles, swap them out for flexible walls that can be moved around at will to fulfill a wide variety of needs.
2. Add Collaborative Areas
At times, your design team will need to work quietly and alone. Other times, everyone will need to pull together and collaborate. On other days, some team members will need collaboration while others need quiet space. Design a work space that allows for all of these scenarios by using small work areas, such as an office pod turned into a lounge area.
You’ll want both small collaboration areas for small groups and large areas for the entire team or several teams to work together on big projects.
3. Display Beautiful Art
Take the aesthetics of your space up a notch or two by displaying art. More than likely, at least one of your designers is also a hobby artist. If you can personalize the space by using art that your employees have created, everyone will feel more connected and appreciated. Swap out the art from time to time to give everyone a chance to share what they’ve created.
4. Go Wireless
Ugly wires running here, there and everywhere mess up the overall design of a space. Look for ways to hide wires or go wireless. Sometimes, hiding wires is simply a matter of thinking through the placement of computers and other equipment. Get rid of wired mice and keyboards, and go for wireless options.
5. Bring in Plants
There are many reasons to add plants to your office space. Not only do they provide beauty, but they also help clean the air, creating a healthier work environment. In one university study, employees who were surrounded by plants were 15 percent more productive. Their concentration levels were higher than in offices without plants.
In addition to the productivity and health benefits, plants make a space look better and can provide inspiration by giving workers a break from drab walls and ceiling tiles.
6. Offer a Pet Day
Although certain standards are needed to keep the office pleasant for everyone, allowing employees to bring in a pet or personal item from home can provide inspiration. Few things are as fun as a puppy’s antics. While it might be distracting on a daily basis, adding a puppy to the office environment every once in a while can provide a welcome break from grueling work and add an element of excitement to the day. In addition, sharing a part of their lives allows workers to become more of a community.
You may want to allow only a few pets at a time or in certain areas to accommodate co-workers who have allergies and keep distractions to a minimum.
7. Incorporate Natural Light
Today’s modern office worker spends about 80 to 90 percent of their time inside. A lack of natural light and fresh air impacts employee health and motivation. When designing your office space, look for ways to bring more light inside. Doing so might simply be a matter of unblocking windows and removing blinds. The strategy could also be more involved, such as adding skylights and more windows.
If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford major renovations — or you’re in a building where they aren’t practical — try to find some outdoor space where employees can escape for lunch or a break and breathe in the outdoor air. A rooftop garden or outdoor patio area are both simple solutions.
8. Throw Away Desk Assignments
Traditionally, workers had a specific desk that they went to each day to do their work. This setup isn’t conducive to a flexible work space, and it’s no longer necessary, as computers have become more portable.
It makes more sense for designers to have a variety of areas where they can work. Allow them to choose the space that feels best for them each particular day.
In practice, this strategy may look like a designer who starts off in a common area, brainstorming with other team members. They then move to the rooftop garden with their laptop to lay out the plans discussed during the brainstorming session and get a bit of fresh air. Finally, they might move to a desk in a quiet spot where they can begin the actual design.
9. Get Rid of Clutter
A space that’s well-organized and uncluttered is more pleasant for everyone. Taking away the assigned desks as mentioned above allows much of the clutter to be cut from the office. Those who would keep messy desks don’t have a permanent desk to create the mess, and those who would normally keep things neat aren’t overwhelmed with co-worker clutter.
Add plenty of storage, and get rid of anything you don’t actually use or need — sell it or donate it. Go digital whenever possible to get rid of paper clutter and the need for lots of storage.
Inspire Your Design Team
There are many ways to inspire your design team, and creating a beautiful work space is just one of them. Take the time to get feedback from your employees about what they’d like to see in their area and what would be most helpful to their design process. Even minor changes can make a big difference in the overall productivity and mood of the whole team.
From primitive man, who drew stories in pictures on cave walls, to today’s novelists, telling stories is a tradition as old as time. There is something about stories that draws the listener or reader into the tale and engages them. Everyone loves an interesting story that captures the imagination. When used as part of a marketing campaign, storytelling becomes a powerful tool to reach new customers.
Stories have an impact on the brain that makes them 22 times more memorable than just stating facts. This is because specific parts of the brain are activated when someone hears a story. Dopamine is then released into the system as the person experiences emotions. Everything works together to create a more memorable event for the consumer. Stories stay with those who hear or read them.
What stories look like for different brands and different campaigns vary. Here are some storytelling elements you should consider for your next marketing campaign:
1. Tap Into Emotions
Telling a story allows you to tap into the emotions of the viewer/reader. Common emotions are the best place to start. If you sell items for weddings, what is a common feeling people in the wedding party have? If you make toys for dogs, how do people feel when they give their dogs a new plaything? Anything you can do to relate on an emotional level draws in potential customers.
When Huggies decided to try to tap into the Canadian hospital market, it knew it would have a battle on its hands. Pampers was in 100 percent of the hospitals in Canada, but Huggies wanted to break into that market. The best concept they could come up with was to create a story about how hugs make a difference in the development of babies, particularly those with special needs, such as preemies.
The result was the hugs campaign. It released commercials both online and offline, giving facts along with images of babies needing extra care and getting hugs. Telling a story allowed Huggies to tap into the emotions of having a new baby.
2. Study a Target Audience
Choose a target audience and then study them to learn everything possible about that particular group. You should know their age, typical profession, what hobbies they have and where they live at a minimum.
The more information you gather, the better you’ll know this audience and the easier it will be to create a story they’d be interested in hearing.
3. Share Your History
If you make your brand relatable, then people are more likely to remain loyal to it. Why did you start your company? What challenges have you faced? What are you passionate about as the founder and as a brand? Each and every company has a unique story to tell that belongs only to them. The key is tapping into that information and sharing it in a compelling way.
High Brew Coffee was born from a trip the founder and his family took on the high seas. It worked every day, making the best cold brew coffee possible before taking it to market. High Brew Coffee shares this story on its website. It discusses how it figured out the way to brew delicious coffee and that it is sharing those recipes with customers.
The lesson to take away from High Brew Coffee is to share your story. Why do you do what you do? How is your product superior to others of its kind?
4. Let Customers Tell a Story
Since engagement is the name of the game these days when it comes to branding, involve your customers in the storytelling process. Ask them to share their stories about a particular holiday, something funny that happened to them or even how they use your product. `
About 92 percent of people say they trust their peers over an advertisement, so getting friends involved in spreading news about your brand helps with your trust factor. You can even form a community and allow customers to share their stories on your boards or social media pages.
5. Stand Out on Social Media
With social media storytelling, you take information that may not seem all that important and create a relevant and exciting campaign that attracts shares and followers. There is a lot of noise on social media these days. You can’t log in to Facebook without seeing at least a few ads, many blatantly self-promoting a product or service.
If you want to grab attention, you have to be unique and think outside the box. Storytelling is one way to be unique.
Heinz Ketchup does a good job on social media of sharing stories to engage page visitors and gain followers. A nod to the Fourth of July, Heinz takes the images of the United States’ founding fathers and turns independence on its ear, focusing instead on the right to have great mayonnaise.
6. Inform Your Customers
Even though it’s tempting to just be humorous and goofy with your storytelling, it is best to focus on the idea of getting information across. How you choose to distribute the information might vary.
One study found that 68 percent of consumers felt informational content is the most valuable type of storytelling. Only 17 percent felt content that simply entertains was valuable. Consumers respond best to content that is relevant and high quality, whether storytelling or any other type of information.
Strong stories stick with consumers and help them retain information and remember your brand and what you have to offer. However, there is a science to storytelling, so it’s important to focus on the factors you can control about the story and how it’s presented.
Storytelling allows your brand to stand out from competitors. Your story is unique to you and you alone. No other company has quite the same history or outlook on the market. Sharing that story is beneficial to both you and your customers.
9 Marketing Myths
When it comes to marketing, you’ll hear a lot of different advice. One expert will say to always do A, while another expert says to never do A. At the end of the day, you have to take in all the advice you read and hear and figure out what works for you as a small-business owner.
One study showed that around 70 percent of marketers are not handling the era of big data well and a mere 3 percent said their data was aligned with their marketing efforts. One of the reasons marketing and business goals aren’t aligned may have to do with the many marketing myths business owners face.
Here are nine marketing myths you shouldn’t believe and what you should do instead:
1. The ROI of Inbound Marketing Isn’t Measurable
You may have heard that it’s impossible to measure the ROI of inbound marketing, but it’s actually quite easy to track analytics and see where your traffic comes from. If you seek leads from sources such as social media, they have their own analytics to show you which ads are most effective.
In fact, marketing teams who used automation software and checked analytics a few times a week saw 20 percent more ROI than those who didn’t. Instead of assuming you can’t control inbound marketing, stay on top of your results. Study what works and what doesn’t to convert browsers into leads.
2. It’s Impossible to Set Specific Goals
You might think it’s impossible to set specific marketing goals, because you never know how a campaign might go, but this simply isn’t true. Those who set goals are 429 percent more likely to find success, and top marketers document the processes they use and determine which ones are successful and which ones aren’t.
Instead of avoiding goals until you see how successful a campaign is, set specific goals for what you want to achieve and then figure out how to get there.
3. You Can’t Buy Their Love
You may have heard that promotional products don’t work. People who want something free will take your products and you’ll not get any return from it. However, people tend to view a brand more favorably if they receive an eco-friendly or made-in-America product. About 85 percent of consumers remember a brand that gave them apparel, such as a T-shirt or hat.
Promotional products do work. The key is finding the item your customers will keep and display proudly. This turns the customer into a walking billboard for your brand.
4. Local Businesses Don’t Need Online Marketing
If you run a small mom-and-pop shop, you may assume your online presence doesn’t really matter. After all, most of your business is foot traffic, right? Not having an online presence, even for a small local business, is a mistake.
About 30 percent of all mobile searches tie to a location, and around 28 percent of searches for something near the person turn into a purchase. Instead of ignoring your online presence, figure out where your target audience spends their time and reach out to them via social media.
5. All Millennials Think Alike
Millennials often get a bad rap for being self-absorbed and broke. While they have faced some challenges generations before them may not have, today’s millennials are simply savvy with their money. They also can’t all be pigeonholed into a single description.
Instead of assuming you can create a blanket marketing campaign that covers all millennials, take the time to get to know your customers on a personal level. Understand they are each unique and must be marketed to as individuals.
6. Mobile Readiness Doesn’t Matter
Mobile internet traffic is about 51.2 percent, and some users only access the web via their mobile devices. As more people purchase smartphones and wireless networks adopt 5G and faster mobile internet service, expect to see the percentage of mobile users creep up even higher.
Mobile readiness matters, and Google even penalizes your site for not being friendly to smaller screens. Instead of ignoring your mobile presences, embrace the small screen.
7. Email Marketing Is Dead
Some business owners think email marketing isn’t a wise investment of time and resources. Thanks to loads of spam, people just delete any email that lands in their inbox, don’t they? The truth is that email has a high ROI compared to other forms of marketing. You just have to take the time to get the tone and the offers right.
About 77 percent of consumers prefer email as the No. 1 method of communication by 68 percent over the next nearest method. An email list also belongs to you rather than being controlled by a social media platform. If you aren’t building an online mailing list, you should.
8. Get on All Social Media Platforms
Myth No. 8 says you need to have a presence on as many social media platforms as possible. If you’re going to post on one, you might as well post on them all. However, each platform is a bit different in tone and audience, so a post you created for Facebook may not translate well on LinkedIn.
A presence on social media takes time and resources. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, choose the social media site that attracts your typical customer type. You can always expand into other platforms later.
9. Every Lead Is Valuable
This myth states you need to just collect leads. However, this isn’t true. A good lead is someone who is right in your target audience and most likely to purchase your product or service. Simply gathering names is a waste of time and money.
Instead, narrow down your focus so you attract only those people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to offer. If a lead will never buy your product, then it isn’t worth your time.
Overcoming Marketing Myths
Whether the myths you’re following are from other marketing experts or personal truths you’ve adopted over time, spend a few minutes thinking through which ones are accurate and which ones should be ignored. With a little foresight, your marketing will rise to the next level and you’ll avoid the pitfalls other marketers disappear into.
Good design makes the difference in a company that serves other businesses well and stands out above the crowd. Computer-aided design, or CAD, is one way B2B companies can improve their services, becoming more productive and better meeting the needs of their customers.
By 2023, experts predict the CAD market to reach $11.2 billion globally. The number of businesses using CAD, especially 3D technology, grows annually. CAD is changing the way we design, and, in particular, the way B2B companies do business. Here are five ways CAD is making an impact.
1. Offer Innovation
Computer-aided design allows you to test out a variety of situations before they occur. It saves you from having to create expensive prototypes or develop a product and suddenly realize it doesn’t have the strength or ability to carry out a given task. When businesses use CAD, they can stretch their skills more than ever before.
Hensley Industries creates parts for equipment for construction. So, imagine a new bucket for a piece of excavation equipment or parts to swap out when the current ones wear down. With computer-aided design, engineers can push the limits of the function, while still making sure the equipment is stable.
Since their specialization is attachments and wear parts, figuring out how operators can replace a tooth on the bucket of an excavator quickly is a major concern. CAD allows engineers to run simulations while designing parts. They can see how the part will perform in a real-world situation and figure out a consumption ratio that works both for the businesses they serve and for their bottom line.
2. Personalizing Productions
CAD makes it easier to test minor changes and personalize products to meet the individual needs of clients. In a world where people expect things to fulfill their needs perfectly, this gives your business an edge over competitors. Instead of somewhat meeting the needs of businesses, you can exactly meet their needs.
In one report, 75 percent of consumers reported they want to buy from someone who knows them by name and tracks past purchases to make specific recommendations. It isn’t as easy to accomplish with B2B business, but CAD allows the ability to at least try different features to meet the specific needs of your customers.
3. Presenting a Solution to Clients
Working with other businesses often requires coming up with a solution to a client’s problem. You’ll need to present various answers until you find one that fixes things for the business owner or meets a definite need.
With the use of CAD, you can present the solution in a three-dimensional format, so the client sees exactly how the answer will look in real life. Even better, these solutions are digital, so you can present them via a virtual meeting, saving both of you time and effort.
Playworld creates playground equipment and uses CAD to come up with designs that work in a variety of settings. The company uses what they call their SketchUp 3D Warehouse to bring design ideas to life. They also have a library of CAD files if you want to see what other people have done creating play zones for children.
4. Improving Collaboration
Digital designs make it much easier to present your ideas to collaborators by uploading to the cloud and using a shared workspace. Imagine your client wants a few changes to the design. You make the changes in your software and upload some screenshots or a three-dimensional image or video to the workspace. The client then approves or asks for additional changes.
Gone are the days where you had to painstakingly create prototypes, only to be told they wouldn’t work and you had to start from scratch. CAD saves designers time and money. You’ll be able to take on more projects than before and manage them all seamlessly and efficiently.
5. Accessing Universal Data
Because many companies post their data to the cloud, future project managers benefit from the ideas that have succeeded in the past. If something didn’t work, you’ll be able to avoid that scenario easily. And if something does work, you’ll be able to build on those ideas and take them to the next level or higher.
Whether the information is only within your company from work with the client at hand or past clients, or different companies are sharing information, CAD allows storage of ideas and the ability to pull up specific files for adjustments.
Eagle Engineering uses CAD to help their engineers become increasingly efficient over time. In one step instead of multiple steps, their engineers can create a project by accessing information stored in the system. Then they can use a “streamlined package” to make modifications or correct an error. Other advantages include more precise designs and the ability to test a design before building it.
CAD Is Changing B2B
CAD is just one of the things changing the way businesses serve other businesses. The world is advancing by leaps and bounds, and computer design technology is only one component of creating new products. As CAD continues to develop and improve, expect to see even faster design capabilities and finely tuned features, unlike anything that was possible even a few years ago. If your business isn’t already using CAD, this should be the year you shift over to it.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to roll out of bed and instantly be at work without a lengthy commute or hours spent on getting ready? More and more people are working from home these days either remotely for companies or as freelance workers.
According to one survey of 15,000 people, about 43 percent of Americans work at home at least some of the work week. Working from home has a number of advantages, including saving money on your wardrobe, commuting costs and lunches out. At the same time, it can be challenging due to distractions, so make sure you’re prepared for the time commitment before taking on a remote position.
If you’ve already thought it over and you’re sure you want a web-based job you can do from the comfort of your own home office, here are 14 that might interest you.
1. Web Designer
As a web designer, you can either work freelance from your own home office or secure a remote position with a company. Web design has many different facets, and it’s smart to specialize in an area or two, such as user experience (UX) design.
While you don’t technically need a formal education to become a web designer, some knowledge of coding and training in the aesthetics of design will help you build your career.
If you have skill with the written word, look into writing as a full-time career. Many companies hire writers to create content for their websites. You can either collect a number of small business clients or find a company that needs full-time writers.
Degrees in related areas such as education, English and journalism are helpful so that you understand proper grammar and how to put together a story.
3. Cyber Security
As more and more businesses go online and conduct their business there, cybersecurity needs grow. By the year 2024, security analyst jobs are expected to increase by 18 percent.
The majority of work in cybersecurity requires a bachelor’s degree and even some advanced training beyond that. It’s vital that you fully understand how the backend of networks operate and what you need to do to protect companies from external attacks.
4. Medical Coding
You’ve likely heard that you can do medical coding from home. That’s true, but many people start with a local hospital and then work their way into a remote job.
Medical coding pays fairly well, and you can get into it by completing certification. You’ll have to pass a test to show that you know all the codes needed. Be aware that the coding system changes, so you’ll also need to stay up-to-date on training over time.
5. Social Media Marketer
Do you have a knack for social media and a background in marketing? Social media marketing is a position that can be done from home. Similar to writing, smaller companies may require only a part-time marketer, so you may need to work for several companies to reach full-time income status.
Make sure you have a background in marketing and that you understand the details of each social media platform and its typical audience.
6. Virtual Assistant
Are you highly organized? Consider working as a virtual assistant. The work for this type of position is highly varied. You might answer emails for a CEO one day and transcribe a recorded meeting another day. You might have a client who needs you to send out notices to their customers the next week.
You’ll need to be extremely organized and have a wide range of clerical skills to do this type of work.
7. Language Translator
The median pay for interpreters and translators is $47,190 per year. The typical education is a bachelor’s degree, and you’ll of course need to read, write and speak fluently in the languages you’ll translate. Because this type of work isn’t something companies typically need every day, you’ll probably work as a freelancer running your own business.
8. Online Teacher/Tutor
Do you love to teach others? A job as an online teacher or tutor is an excellent option. Be aware that if you plan to teach English to other countries, you’ll likely be required to work hours that make sense in that country. So, if you live in the United States and plan to tutor students in Asia, you’ll need to get up very early in the morning or stay up very late at night to cover your shifts.
Most companies require a teaching degree and/or experience with this kind of work.
9. Phone Support
In today’s economy, consumers expect companies to answer live chat, emails and phone calls 24/7. This demand has created an entire industry for remote workers, which gives you an opportunity.
You don’t need an advanced degree to offer phone support for a company, but you will need good phone manners and a decent speaking voice. If you’re unsure, take some basic voice lessons to help you develop your voice and keep from straining it while talking for long periods of time.
10. Legal Transcriptionist
Do you type fast and have accuracy in your finished product? Legal transcription is a good choice for you, and you can do this type of work web-based. Expect about $20 per audio hour, but be aware that it can take you longer than an hour to transcribe an hour’s worth of audio depending on your typing speed and any accents in the recording as well as other factors.
You don’t need any special training for this position, but you’ll be expected to have good grammatical skills.
If your skills are more in the math realm, take accounting classes and learn to do business bookkeeping. You can complete this work from nearly anywhere. If you work for a local company, you’ll likely need to go into the office sometimes, but you’ll find that much of your work is doable at home. Local community colleges typically offer accounting classes.
12. Life Coach
If you’re skilled at inspiring people to do their best, you may do well as a life coach or personal coach. This type of work requires multiple clients, but you can specialize in areas such as weight loss, academics or personal improvement. All work can be completed online via Skype or messaging. You could also meet clients in your home or at a small local office.
13. Video Editing
There are many opportunities to do this type of work at home. Contact local funeral homes to inquire about their need for a video editor. Most now offer this type of service and may need someone to fill the gap and put in the time it takes to pull all the images and text together as well as add music. You could also freelance and create videos for graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and other special events.
Many different types of photography exist nowadays. And, you don’t have to be a wedding or portrait photographer to make money with today’s online marketplace. In fact, you can take pictures of nearly anything imaginable, upload them to stock photo sites and make a living. Another option is to commission with companies such as grocery stores and restaurants to come up with recipes and include images for their readers.
Best Web-Based Jobs
These fourteen ideas cover a wide range of skill types and interests. The best web-based jobs tap into something you’re already passionate about. This allows you to work from home while pursuing that interest. If you don’t see anything on the list that interests you, brainstorm about what you like to do and how you might turn that into a career. With a little creativity and a lot of determination, you’ll work from home before you know it.
One of the most valuable assets you can build as a business owner is a mailing list. Unlike followers on social media or traffic from a search engine, a mailing list is under your direct control. You can reach out to those leads anytime, and because you spend the time to reach a specific target audience, they will be highly receptive leads as well.
Investing in email marketing pays off. Every $1 spent on email marketing results in $44 in average profit. Building your online mailing list is something that takes your business to a new level and keeps it growing.
There are several ways to gain more subscribers. Here are nine ideas to get you started.
1. Use the Right Color
The color you use for your call-to-action (CTA) buttons truly does matter. While some studies show red buttons grab more attention, other studies show blue or green ones do. The truth is more likely that the contrast of the button against the background is what matters most.
You should choose a color and shade that make the button stand out and grab the reader’s attention from the minute they land on your page. The key is to draw the eye to the CTA in the first place. Otherwise, your visitors might miss it.
2. Keep Your Signup Form Short
Your signup form should be short and straightforward, so users only have to fill in an email address and click to subscribe. If you make the form too long, you risk losing users who don’t have the time or patience to fill in lengthy information sheets. Some people may not want to give up private details, either.
Another idea is to allow an option to add a newsletter signup anytime the user is already filling in their email address. If they are in the middle of contacting you, you need a checkbox on your comment form that allows them to subscribe to your newsletter. If they order something, add an option to sign up for the newsletter there, too.
Nerd Fitness keeps the form to sign up for their mailing list short and to the point. They only ask you to enter your email address, have the option to share which gender you identify as and then click on the CTA, which reads “Free Stuff! Count me in!” Signing up truly couldn’t be easier.
3. Place Your CTA in the Best Spot
Knowing where to put your CTA for maximum impact helps you gain or lose potential subscribers. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to CTA placement. While some people say to place the CTA above the fold, others say to put it at the bottom of the information about what you have to offer.
If the content of your newsletter is obvious, putting a CTA above the fold will grab the reader’s eye. However, if it requires a bit more explanation to entice people to subscribe, you may need to place it a bit further down the page.
4. Offer Incentives
Offer incentives to people for signing up for your newsletter. These can be coupons, letting them know about specials as things go on sale or deals that are exclusively for your newsletter subscribers. Offering this type of incentive is often the only enticement people need to share their email address with you.
A bonus of this type of CTA is that if they want deals, they are likely already interested in what you have to offer. You’ll build a mailing list that is not only hungry for what you have to offer, but also highly targeted.
Wing Tactical uses an incentive of receiving discounts to get people to sign up for their mailing list. Note how their CTA button is in the large, red horizontal bar at the bottom of the page. The words “get exclusive deals” are in large, bold print, and then they clarify with slightly smaller text that reads, “when you sign up for our email list.”
5. Make It Big Enough
Is your CTA button so small it is easy to overlook? Remember, you want to grab your site visitors’ attention. While you don’t want to be obnoxious and fill the entire page with your button, you do want to make it stand out from other elements on the page and large enough to spot easily.
Remember that some people will come to your page specifically to get an offer or sign up for your newsletter. These people don’t want to hunt for your CTA to sign up for your mailing list. Make it easy for them to find it in mere seconds and take action.
6. Pose a Question
Another way to snag site visitors is to pose a question that guides them to the answer you’d like them to choose, which is to sign up for your newsletter. Consumers are pretty savvy these days. There are thousands of free newsletters, so to entice them to subscribe to yours, you need to stand out from the crowd.
Digital Photography School poses the simple question, “Ready to take better photos?” to make site visitors think. Since the natural answer to such a question is yes, they then explain you can receive free weekly tips and tutorials and provide a box for your email address and a button that says “Let’s go!”
7. Tie the Newsletter to Your Site
Newsletter readers tend to spend 80 percent more time on a website than non-subscribers. A big reason for this is likely because you are speaking to a highly targeted group of people who are already interested in what you have to offer. However, meshing the site and your newsletter in some areas can interest people in signing up.
At some point, you’ve likely seen a CTA that says something along the lines of “never miss another post” or “get updates when we post new content.” These types of CTAs remind the reader they don’t want to miss what you have to offer.
8. Hold Their Attention
Don’t forget the copy around your CTA is equally important as the button. You must attract the reader’s attention in a fun or exciting way. They see dozens of ads in a typical day. If you don’t stand out, why would they even bother? Tell them what they have to gain and do it in a way that will make them sit up and take notice.
Look at Campaign Monitor’s customer Flume and the way they entice people to subscribe. They show how they kept Flume’s email subscribers interested and in the know. Then, they offer to help you “build an email like this.”
9. Add More White Space
Filling your page with information is tempting. However, sometimes you need to reduce the noise and allow the user to home in on your CTA offer. Do some A/B testing and remove a bit of the clutter around your CTA button. You’ll likely see an increase in conversions.
Adding white space isn’t always easy, but more than likely, there are elements on your page you can easily do away with. Use heat maps to help you find which areas of your page visitors linger on, and which ones can go.
Better CTAs will bring you more subscribers, but you also need to understand how to convert those subscribers once they’re a part of your mailing list. No matter what type of business you run, CTAs help you make that initial contact with site visitors and convert them into raving fans.
Your company mission statement shapes everything you do as a business owner. It sets the tone for how you grow, how you treat customers and what you value most as a business owner and a person. Taking the time to create a mission statement that will stand the test of time and work even years after your opening day is a good investment of time.
One study found there is a positive correlation between mission statements and performance. However, the overall impact of how a mission statement influences a brand is almost impossible to measure. There are some important factors to consider as you create your mission statement and how to show off that mission to consumers.
1. Figure Out Your Company’s Purpose
Why did you want to start your company in the first place? Once you know your purpose, it’s much easier to write a mission statement. If your goal is to help people in your community by providing a solution to the problem, this should play into your mission statement.
Your mission statement should explain the “what,” “who” and “how” of your company. What does your company do, who does it and how do you serve the community? Answering these simple questions is a great place to start with a mission statement.
Watts of Love’s mission statement reads, “Watts of Love is a global solar lighting nonprofit bringing people the power to raise themselves out of the darkness of poverty.” Note how the statement tells what Watts of Love is (global solar lighting), who they are (a nonprofit) and what they do for the world (bring people the power to raise themselves out of the darkness of poverty). Everything they do will reflect back to that statement.
2. Highlight Your Mission Statement
There are more factors to consider as you create a strong mission statement, but before you finish the statement, you should also consider how you’ll utilize it. If you plan to use it online and offline, then you’ll want to ensure it’s concise enough for print advertising.
Think through places you’ll use the statement, such as social media channels as well as your own website. Does the statement fit or can you break it down into smaller points? Highlight your mission anytime you get a chance. It will also keep you focused as a business owner on your ultimate purpose.
3. Help the World
One way to figure out your mission is to figure out how your company helps the world. While it is typically obvious how a nonprofit helps those in need, it may not be as readily obvious if you run a for-profit business.
This is your opportunity to find a way to tap into what you’re most passionate about. Some companies choose to take on a cause and donate a portion of their proceeds while others focus on how their very product or service helps others.
Take a look at how Mercy Corps works up a mission statement that highlights how they help the world. Their statement reads, “Alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.” That’s a pretty strong focus on how they help the world at large by alleviating the suffering of poverty and oppression. How do you help the world with your business?
4. Study Other Mission Statements
One of the best ways to figure out your mission statement is to study the statements of other companies. Check out the missions of both large non-profits and for-profits. What do you like about their mission statements and what could be better? Take notes on which statements you like the best and why.
Once you’ve studied other statements and have a series of notes, take the time to study what you liked and didn’t like. Really break sentences apart and look at the elements in the sentence. Do they match what you know about — as well as who, how, when and why?
5. Write a Rough Draft
Your next step should be to come up with a rough mission statement. Answer the questions about what your company is, who you are and how you help the world, or at least your customers. You may need some help brainstorming here. Pull in friends, family and other business owners and ask for their views of what your business does and why you do it.
Once you have some ideas, begin to play around with the words until you have a few mission statements you somewhat like. This is your rough draft that you can build on — more on that in a minute — and use to create something polished and well-honed.
Google’s mission statement reads, “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” They go into more detail on their About page and explain that they want to make information accessible to everyone around the world. It’s simple, but they clearly show how they are making the world better for those seeking information.
6. Deepen Your Mission
Once you have gone through the steps to come up with a few rough mission statements, spend some time thinking about which one truly defines you as a company. Once you’ve developed your mission, take time each quarter to study how well you’re delivering on that mission and figure out ways to better meet your mission goals.
Are you communicating your mission to your customers and your employees? The best way to be successful in delivering your mission is to get everyone on board with it.
The Importance of Knowing Your Purpose
While the values of your company are separate from the mission, the two are intricately entwined. Your values shape your overall mission and your mission statement reminds you — and the public — of those values. Putting your mission statement in writing is a good way to redirect your focus when you veer off the path you set for yourself in the beginning.
When customers land on your website, they expect a particular type of experience. The human attention span is short, and people don’t have the patience to figure out complicated navigation or sort through a lot of clutter. As a website owner, you must learn to look at your site through the eyes of your target audience and create an experience that’s both positive and productive.
A customer who has a negative experience on your site is 88 percent less likely to revisit your site in the future. It is worth it to take the time to ensure the customer experience (CX) is the absolute best it can be every time. Here are nine tips to help you do that.
1. Offer More Than Promotions
Site visitors aren’t always looking for product promotion. Sometimes they land on your page seeking resources that meet other needs. Perhaps they want specific information, to be entertained or are just browsing for a few spare minutes. Look at your content through the eyes of the consumer. What is missing that your site visitors might want?
Best Made started as a company building a better ax, but today have a line of sustainable and durable tools. Rather than only offering a link to the latest promotion, Best Made takes the time to look at what their target audience might be interested in and adds entertainment value through elements such as a suggested reading list and outdoor activity themes.
2. Focus on Emotion
When thinking about CX for your site, you must consider the emotions of site visitors — 70 percent of the customer experience is based on how they feel they are treated. If you figure out how to serve up warm and fuzzies, you’ll develop a loyal customer following. Tap into those universal emotions everyone experiences, such as sadness, joy and love.
3. Meet Basic Expectations
One of the first things your site should accomplish is meeting the basic expectations of your target audience. For most people, this means your site has features such as an easy-to-find navigation bar and that they can almost instinctively find the things they want to move through your site.
Does your logo link up to the home page? Is your navigation bar near the top? One of the best ways to ensure your site is meeting these needs is to have outside parties visit and tell you how the structure and even placement of features works for them.
The Amish Outlet Store has the elements customers seek when landing on an eCommerce site. For example, there is a “customer service” option in the nav bar, which speaks to both new and current customers. If a customer has an issue with a purchase, they can easily find help. On the other hand, new customers can ask questions or feel reassured that customer service is a priority for the company.
4. Reward Loyalty
Loyal customers aren’t easy to come by, but they will stick with your company through thick and thin and re-order from you consistently. Studies suggest a loyal customer is worth far more than a new lead — they’re five times as likely to buy again, five times more likely to forgive errors and four times as likely to refer others to your company.
5. Show Them How Things Work
Take the time to show your site visitors how the products and services you offer work. There are few things in life more frustrating than getting no directions for a new product. Some things aren’t easy to figure out, and a video or illustration on your website does wonders to alleviate this aggravation. Take the time to instruct your customers and offer insider tips.
Fifty Three sells creativity tools, such as digital pencils. One of the best features of this site is the clear indicators of what the Pencil does and how it works. This is accomplished through images, illustrations and with a bit of text mixed in. If someone is on the fence about whether to purchase the product, seeing what it does allows them to decide between buying or not.
6. Focus on Mobile
Increasingly more people access the Internet via their mobile devices these days. If your site doesn’t have a mobile first — or at least a mobile responsive — approach, you risk alienating these users and losing them to a competitor. If a site has a poor mobile design, 57 percent of consumers say they won’t recommend that website.
7. Share What Others Think
Online consumers tend to seek out the opinions of others through reviews and testimonials. You can make this process easier for them by including reviews and testimonials on your site. This keeps them on your page, rather than causing them to hop to another tab and possibly never return.
In fact, 85 percent of consumers read as many as 10 reviews before deciding whether to trust a business. They trust these reviews the same way they trust personal recommendations.
Marucci offers testimonials from professional players to highlight why their baseball bats are the best. The site is relatively simple, but as you scroll down, you’ll see direct quotes from players such as Andrew McCutchen. They also offer a series of videos with baseball players highlighting why they love the bats.
8. Add Artificial Intelligence
Can you simplify a process for your site visitors by adding artificial intelligence (AI)? Sometimes this means merely walking the site visitor through registration with a bot that intuitively fills in the blanks. Today, 80 percent of marketers believe AI is going to change the way we market in coming years. Of course, how you utilize AI depends on your industry and the features of your website, but it’s worth researching to improve the overall CX.
9. Go Above for Customer Service
What happens when a site visitor interacts with your customer service model? This is part of the overall experience of the customer, so you want it to be the absolute best experience possible. Make sure you have a strong, positive customer service philosophy in place and that you respond as quickly as possible to customers.
Try to connect with consumers in a variety of ways — live chat, email and toll-free numbers are all excellent places to start. If a customer orders, follow up with a thank you email and touch base from time to time. The added effort will pay off in the form of a better CX overall.
Always Strive for a Better Customer Experience
Customers who have an enjoyable experience on your website are more likely to tell their friends and revisit your site. However, word about both good and bad experiences spread across the Internet at lightning speed. Take the time to ensure your customers are 100 percent happy, and you’ll see the payoff in sales and reduced customer churn.
You’ve heard it said that time is money, and this is particularly true when running a tech company. The more productive and efficient your company becomes, the better you’ll fare in this highly competitive field.
Some of the big tech giants, such as Apple and Google, run companies that are about 40 percent more efficient. Over time, this results in more profit and these companies edging out the competition. Fortunately, you can repeat their success by adopting some of their tactics, as well as a few other smart business standards.
1. Group “A” Players Together
Every company has a few stars in their employee pool. These are the people who are the go-getters. They have ideas, and they make things happen. They likely graduated near the top of their class, have internship experience and a passion for what they do.
In most companies, these “A” players are put into various roles throughout the company, working with all different levels, including employees not performing well. However, at Google, the “A” players are put on the same team and allowed to work together to accomplish amazing things. Not only does this spur on the others in the “A” group, but other groups look to them for inspiration.
2. Get Rid of Processes That Slow Things Down
Every company has certain processes that are cumbersome. Sometimes these processes are well intended, such as keeping management in the loop about important decisions or limiting how much money executives can spend.
Companies lose about 25 percent of their productivity to organizational processes that prevent work from getting down. People have to stop and get permission or are unable to complete a task because of all the rules in place. Even though rules protect your company, also include a way around the rules when it’s in the best interest of moving your business forward.
3. Improve Your Company Culture
A strong, positive company culture does several things for your business. First, it promotes a spirit of teamwork. If Manager A isn’t quite sure how to complete a big project, he will feel much more comfortable consulting Manager B if he knows that person well and has participated in teambuilding activities.
Reward hard work and good attitude, and your employees will lose their fear. Celebrate small and big successes together. Keep everyone on the same page with short meetings every morning. All these little things add up to a company culture that teaches employees to thrive instead of simply survive.
4. Audit Your Program
Some industries rely heavily on high quality and remaining competitive, such as aviation. Take the time for a program audit and figure out how you can improve various processes as well as decrease costs. A good audit will also identify ways to move forward and give you a solid plan of action for the future.
Audits have other benefits as well, such as opening up new business ideas, improving quality control and finding issues in the supply chain. An audit isn’t a one-time occurrence, though. A thorough audit should be done at least every year or two.
5. Automate Tasks
Take the time to really look at your business and what tasks require hands-on work and which ones could potentially be automated. If you require employees to file lengthy reports, is there a way to generate the report more quickly or shorten it the process?
The more tasks you can automate, the more time you free up for your best employees to innovate. In a tech company, you can easily automate and outsource customer service tasks. Just make sure the service is still up to your standards. This frees resources you can then point toward creating new products.
6. Stop the Multitasking
Multiple studies show that multitasking is not efficient and actually lowers productivity. Most people simply can’t multitask. Instead, their brains are moving from one task to the other, bouncing back and forth rapidly, but losing momentum in the process. A very small 2.5 percent of people can multitask with any success. That means the rest of us are just spinning our wheels.
Encourage your employees to focus on one task at a time instead of trying to do multiple things at once. Stress the importance of this and share the studies with your workers. Create a company culture that rewards focus rather than quantity of tasks completed in a day.
7. Ban Unplanned Short Meetings
One of the biggest time-wasters in many workers’ days is the “hey, do you have a minute or two?” meeting. This is when someone has a question and they pop over to the other worker’s desk and ask a few questions. The person’s work is interrupted and it takes several minutes to get back into the flow of what they were doing.
Encourage people to shoot out an email instead that the person can answer at a later time. Few things are as urgent as they seem. Teach employees to figure out the difference between urgent and important and to keep unplanned meetings for only those tasks that truly are urgent.
8. Engage Employees
Investing just 10 percent more in employee engagement improves your bottom-line revenue by about $2,400 annually per engaged employee. What are some ways to engage employees, though? First, cultivate leaders in your company. A strong leader can inspire employees and will make them feel part of the team.
You should also allow an open forum where employees present their ideas, reward the effort and provide plenty of team building and company teamwork opportunities. Reserve one day a month for mini-retreats and one day a week for recognizing stellar work and effort.
9. Seek New Tools
When it comes to running your business on a day-to-day basis, embrace new software and tools. More and more people use Instagram today. Is your marketing department focused on an Instagram presence? Does your target audience live there?
Don’t be afraid to try a new tool, new way to promote your business or new software. A tech company should be on the cutting edge of new innovation more so than other types of businesses. You can always return to the old way of doing things if needed.
Successful Tech Companies
The most successful tech companies start with innovation and a unique outlook on the world and never stop innovating. Apple didn’t just create a smartphone and leave it at that. Instead, the company constantly releases new updates and phones with better features. If you want your tech company to be the next Google, or even just successful in your own little corner of the world, you must open your eyes and mind to doing things differently and encourage your employees to do the same.
How to Create Engaging Content: 7 Ways
When visitors land on your page, do they stick around for a while or do they bounce away? Most people go to a site looking for information on a specific topic or with the intent to buy. Providing the engaging content your target audience wants isn’t easy, but you can accomplish this by studying your typical site visitors and answering their most pressing questions. If you answer questions your competitors don’t, that’s even better for your branding.
There are approximately 1,874,655,290 websites on the internet. While this number varies from second to second, what this means for your business is that there is a lot of competition out there. Standing out from all your competitors isn’t easy, but the first step to being memorable is adding engaging content.
There is more than one type of content, but creating engaging content is about more than just the type you offer. Here are seven ways to create more engaging content for your readers:
1. Answer Pressing Questions
Does your content answer the most pressing questions site visitors have? One way to clue into these questions is by looking at what search strings brought them to your site in the first place. Today’s search engine browsers often type in questions to find what they’re looking for. You can also search for popular keywords in your industry. Make sure your content answers those questions.
Scotts is known for its menswear, and it seems to know its audience well. The target audience is young, single men who want to look fashionable but masculine at the same time. The information on its blog directly applies to that demographic, with articles such as “Five Things to Do on Valentine’s Day if You’re a Single Man.” By keying into search phrases this target audience seeks, Scotts draws them to its website and hopefully keeps them there.
2. Use Strong Opening Hooks
Site visitors make up their minds about your site in mere seconds. If you don’t grab the person from the minute they land on your page, you risk them bouncing away to a competitor. Using strong opening hooks in your content draws the reader into the article and makes them want to read on.
An opening hook can be a question, a shocking statement, a quote or some interesting fact. The key is to engage the reader while also explaining what the piece will be about. The best way to learn how to write an enticing opening line is by studying the work of excellent writers and seeing how they accomplish this task.
3. Add Video
About one-third of all online activity goes to video watching. It only makes sense to add a video to your website so visitors can absorb content quickly and effortlessly. Don’t just add a video to add a video, though. Make sure it adds value to your site by providing information or answering a question site visitors might have.
Note the video for One Point Partitions and how it showcases the way you can lay out a public restroom facility. The video clearly shows how the partitions go together and how easy things such as the locks, handles and hooks are to install.
4. Know Your Purpose
Before you add a single piece of content to your website, you should know the purpose of that content. What do you hope to accomplish by writing this article or posting this video? The purpose doesn’t always have to be to gather more sales, but you should have a purpose, even if it is just to educate your site visitors.
Your purpose will likely tie into what your customers want to know and who they are as a group. If your customers are mainly millennials, they’ll expect your content to entertain them while informing. Older generations may be satisfied with an infographic that lays out the info in understandable terms.
5. Share the Value
Internet gurus recommend sharing the value of your content with site visitors. This simply means you state what they’ll gain from watching a video or reading a guide and why this information is precious — even if you offer it free. This engages the user from the very beginning because they know there is a reward for investing their time.
Kimpton Hotels offers a Life Is Suite blog where it delves into topics related to the city visitors might travel to. For example, one of the topics is springtime in Denver. It indicates it has a list of musts you need to know about if you’re traveling to Denver in the spring. This entices those travelers to click on that content and read it.
6. Conduct Quizzes
Use quizzes to direct your site visitors to the exact product or area they’re seeking. One example of this type of method is Birchbox. The company used a quiz to help consumers find their “facemask soul mate” and wound up with $7,260 in orders. The quiz is short but helps guide consumers to specific products that cater to their needs.
7. Add Visuals
You likely already know people process visuals much better than they do text alone. Visual content is powerful. When people hear info, they only remember about 10 percent of that information a few days later. However, add a relevant image, and they retain about 65 percent of the same information in the same time period. If you want your site to be memorable, add infographics, graphs, charts and photos that go along with your content.
Engage Content for Your Visitors
In order to keep your visitors engaged and coming back to your website, you need to add content and add it regularly. However, as we’ve seen through the studies above, that content needs to have a purpose and be presented in a way that draws site visitors in. With just a few minor tweaks, you can accomplish this and turn casual visitors into lifelong customers.
What is real time technology & how has it changed the way we do business?
Real-time technology is exactly what it sounds like — data that changes what we do at the moment we do it. With the rise of cloud servers and better wireless capabilities, more businesses use this type of technology in daily operations today. Here are a few ways businesses use real-time technology and how it’s improved or changed over the years.
1. Using Live Chat
Live chat is one way real-time technology changed the way we do business online. Even though the capability has been available for years, live chat wasn’t as popular in the past as it is today. A decade ago, people still used email or picked up the phone if they had a question.
Today, consumers go to a website and connect instantly with a customer service representative to ask a question. Analysts estimate live chat will grow by 87 percent in the next year. Although some companies choose hours when live chat is available, it is still fast, efficient service.
SnapEngage includes their live chat option on their 404 error pages. Since a 404 page often results in visitors leaving a website, adding a live chat feature is a way to keep site visitors engaged, no matter where they are on your site.
2. Updating Information
Real-time technology provides the opportunity for updated information. This is particularly true for industries that provide information, such as online newspapers. Gone are the days when people had to wait until the next morning to see a breaking story in the newspapers.
You don’t need a television these days to get your news. In fact, breaking news sometimes hits Twitter and Facebook before journalists report it on cable news networks. Updated information that is ahead of the game is why many news consumers prefer the Internet.
3. Locating People in Real Time
Real-time technology can also track where someone is at any given moment. This type of technology tracks traffic flow at a trade show or predicts the needs of a patient in a hospital and allows staff to respond quickly and efficiently.
Centrak is an example of a real-time location system built with health care in mind. The system allows for efficient serving of patients, and it measures environmental conditions and integrates with other technology and systems within the facility. One advantage with this system is the ability to track assets. If two departments share the same medical device, whoever needs to use it can locate it quickly.
4. Improving Performance
Real-time technology improves the performance of people such as athletes. Most NFL teams use real-time GPS location tracking now during training. The trackers report data that allows coaches to figure out ways to improve performance.
Watching game tapes provides some information to these teams, but having the ability to see the exact positioning of a player during a specific play adds the ability to tweak fine points that mean the difference between champions or almost champions.
5. Planning Reservations
Real-time technology also helps businesses that sell tickets, such as theaters, airlines or event venues. This technology helps consumers see what is available at any given moment, but also helps the business sell empty seats. Systems have the capability to adjust pricing.
For example, if there is a single seat available, it won’t be as attractive as seats in groups of two or more. The price on that single seat can be reduced to make it more attractive and hopefully fill the empty spot. This increases overall profits for the business.
Cinemark is one of many theaters moving to a reserved seating system. Instead of showing up at the last minute and hoping to get a decent seat, consumers purchase tickets ahead of time and choose the seat location. The system updates availability in real time, so consumers see what seats are still available.
6. Managing Field Workers
Another way real-time technology works for businesses is by managing field workers. If you employ workers who go out into the field, such as movers, service professionals or salespeople, organizing calls is a real challenge.
However, with real-time GPS tracking technology, call center managers easily see where each field worker is. Workers check in at different points throughout the service process, so the call center also sees if the job is almost wrapped up or the field worker needs more time. This current information allows the call center to assign jobs as they come in and re-route field workers who finish a job earlier than expected.
7. Pushing Notifications
Mobile devices create the perfect conduit for real-time push notifications. For example, the consumer nears a store at the local shopping mall and suddenly their phone pings. It is a message from one of their favorite stores informing them of a flash sale going on at that exact moment.
This use of real-time technology allows businesses to highly target customers and make sure they aren’t forgotten amidst all the competing stores. Businesses can also use other triggers to push notifications, such as the opening of an app, arriving home after time spent out driving or an number of other triggers all created by real-time data.
Real-Time Technology Tomorrow
Already, real-time technology impacts our lives every single day. From gaming to online chatting to improving processes, up-to-date technology makes businesses more efficient than ever before. In the future, expect technology to become even more refined. While tech can track people’s movements within a short distance now, as technology improves, this will become even more precise. Who knows where business in the future might take real-time technology and where real-time technology might take businesses?
Knowing your target audience impacts the way you approach the content on your site, but it should also shape every other element as well. Since a mere 22 percent of businesses say they are happy with their conversion rates, focusing on how to convert your audience should be a key component of your website strategy.
The first step to creating a site for your target audience is figuring out how to engage those who land on your website. If you want to truly engage your audience, then the best place to start is making sure you know that audience and what they want from a website.
1. Know Your Target Audience
This should go without saying, but it bears repeating because is such an important element of creating a strong website that converts. Make sure you know who your audience is. Use website analytics, polling and some common knowledge about the age group you’d like to reach. The way you present a site aimed at Generation Z is going to be much different than the way you present a website aimed at Generation X.
Gap tends to target its clothing to multiple generations, but it doesn’t overlook the importance of Gen X in its marketing, and it showcases this intent with its website. Gen X is sometimes overlooked by marketers, but they have quite a bit of buying power. They may not be as large as a group as baby boomers or millennials, but they still rank around 60 million. Notice how the images on the site target different generations, such as parents in Gen X as well as millennials.
2. Choose Colors Wisely
There is a psychology to colors that can impact everything from the impression your site makes on a visitor to your conversion rates. Even the gender you are targeting should be considered. If you’re trying to reach women, for example, you’ll want to avoid colors women hate, such as orange and gray. Know what emotions which colors evoke and you’ll be better able to choose design elements that will have maximum impact.
3. Relevant CTAs
Are your call to actions (CTAs) specific to the products you want to introduce to your readers? It is tempting to create a landing page and just leave it for years while you work on social media and other endeavors. However, you should take another look at your CTAs any time you add a new product. Update your CTAs often.
HydroWorx does an excellent job of highlighting its new product, the HydroWorx 200, and adding CTA buttons that tie into the new product release. The buttons lead the user to either get additional information or see the product in action. This targets its audience, who is likely made up of baby boomers and want all the details before making a big purchase.
4. Study the Competition
Take the time to really study what your competition is doing, especially if you have the same or similar target audiences. What is your competition doing that you aren’t doing? How can you offer your site visitors more than they do? If they don’t provide any instructional videos, for example, adding some to your site could help draw visitors your way instead of theirs.
5. Figure Out Your USP
Take the time to figure out your unique selling proposition (USP). What value does your website offer to your target audience? Once you know what your USP is, you can present it with a tagline, video or through the content you share.
De Beers is all about offering diamond jewelry. It is probably best known for its tagline of “a diamond lasts forever.” Its USP is that it offers heirloom-quality diamonds that last forever and are handed down year after year. Knowing its unique identity is what sets it apart and makes it so well known.
6. Understand How They Access Your Site
Take the time to really dig into your site’s analytics and figure out how people are accessing your site. With more and more people accessing the internet on their mobile devices, you may find that a number of your site visitors are doing the same. If 75 percent of your traffic is via mobile devices, you may want to switch to a mobile-first design.
7. Show Your Personality
If you want to really reach your target audience, don’t be afraid to share your personality with them. Take the time to create a company persona and share it with those who visit your site. Storytelling pulls the visitors in as soon as they land on your page.
Take a look at how much personality M&Ms shows on its website. It has animated its candy and brought it to life with a cast of characters and a bit of humor. It offers numerous videos featuring the M&M candies. This is also reflected in the bright colors on its site.
8. Make Your Content Shine
At the end of the day, the reason most people come to your site is to get information. Make sure you provide in-depth and solid information on anything related to your industry. This can include product guides, articles on related topics and instructional videos. This is another area where studying what the competition is doing can come in handy. What information does your target audience want that your competitor isn’t offering?
Create a Website With Your Target Audience in Mind
Take the time to look at your website through the eyes of your target audience. Is there anything missing that you’d like to see if you were a potential customer? How can you improve what is already there? Take the time to survey your customers, too. This will provide you with information you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Creating a website that targets the exact audience you want to reach isn’t an easy process, but the results will make it worth the effort. Pay attention to each aspect of your site, small and large, and your site visitors will respond positively.
Satellite technology changed the world dramatically after the first experiment in the late 1950s. Today, people communicate in real-time around the globe, view a specific location via Google Earth or beam a signal from one corner of the globe to another. Satellites get smaller and more powerful with time similar to the advances in computers.
The advances in communication alone are staggering. Fifty years ago, people were not able to watch an interview with someone in Jerusalem in real time. Today, with a minor delay between the person speaking and the stream arriving, we see what is going on at almost any point on the globe at any time thanks to satellites.
Investment in space companies is growing and with good reason. The advancements are astounding — from launching rockets into space to reusable booster experimentation to reducing the size of satellites. In the last 18 years, space startups attracted over $13.3 billion from investors. Much of the growth in coming years will be in satellite technology. There are six main reasons your business should consider investing in satellite technology.
1. Edge Over Competitors
Launching your own personal satellite into space, typically low-orbit, lets you collect data about a specific area. This can give you an edge over competitors who don’t have access to this information. The cost of these personal amateur satellites is rapidly decreasing. What was once government domain is now in the hands of anyone. For example, a small cube satellite, called a CubeSat, may only cost a company $3,000 to launch into orbit.
Larger corporations will benefit from that ability to privatize their own communication channels. No longer will they have to rely on outdated and expensive telephone companies, but they can launch their own systems to use for everything from connecting a computer network around the world to teleconferencing capabilities. Chrysler and Hughes have a contract for a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) system that will allow the company to transmit data more easily.
2. Information to Grow
Another advantage to investing in satellite technology is the actual analysis capabilities of the information you collect. Imagine a real estate investment group having access to how many people are flowing into an area over time. This would allow that group to see where to build new condos or where shopping complexes are most needed.
While you can do some of this analysis from the ground, getting these stats from orbit gives you another piece of the puzzle and allows you to make more informed decisions about the future of your business.
3. Offer Supportive Products
Another way your company can invest in satellite technology is through offering supportive services. For example, one of the concerns with CubeSats is the thermal challenges. A way to overcome that challenge is through heat sinks or embedded radiators to reduce the heat. Knowing what products to offer and how to best support satellite technology requires partnering with the companies building mini satellites and thoroughly studying the issue.
4. Invest Financially
Perhaps you aren’t quite ready to launch your own mini satellite into orbit or create a new product to provide support for those who do. However, you can still invest in satellite technology financially.
Any type of business can provide financial support for a local entrepreneur looking to launch into space or further develop this technology. Alternately, you can invest in a large company or donate funds for research — which may be tax deductible if the organization is non-profit.
5. Be Ready for the Changes
Knowing what satellites provide can also allow your business to look toward the future and figure out how you might prepare for the coming technological changes. One way to figure out what satellites will offer is by looking at what they have offered. As the cost of equipment continues to drop, enhanced communication will follow.
Imagine a world with a wireless Internet that anyone anywhere can connect to, even those in very rural locations. Not only would it be easier than ever before to connect and have face-to-face conversations, but the network will become more reliable with less dropped communication or some of the delays experienced today.
6. Support the Environment
Has your business committed to the environment? If your goal is to leave a small carbon footprint, you can take things a step further and actually improve the environment by using satellite technology to spot issues before they grow too large.
Imagine that there is an oil spill in an area near your company headquarters. With satellite imagery, you can see how far the spill reaches and make a plan for the best way to begin cleanup. Perhaps you run a dog food company, so your commitment is to go in and save as much of the wildlife as possible. With satellite technology, you can pinpoint the areas of the spill and the areas where wildlife is located. Then you can make a plan to rescue as many creatures as possible.
Invest in Satellite Technology
Technology advances at such a rapid pace in the twenty-first century that it can be hard to keep pace. Companies that don’t stay on top of advances tend to fall rapidly behind. Satellites are the future of data and now is the time to invest in this technology, particularly if you work in the IT or technology sectors. If you don’t invest, you can be certain your competitors will.