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New Year’s Resolutions Are For Businesses Too

By | Random, Strategy | No Comments

New Year’s resolutions are about as realistic as telling yourself you won’t eat too much on Thanksgiving.

But when it comes to our business, goals have to be made, strategized, and achieved. According to Inc.com, over half of small companies don’t keep track of their business goals and have yet to achieve their vision. With the start of a new year, don’t let this happen to you.

Screenshot 2015-01-02 12.22.36

New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be just a pointless revenue projection, but they don’t have to be complicated either. The key to realistic goal-setting is to simply identify 1) your company’s greatest weakness and 2) what you are going to do to improve it.

So take a look at the top five most repeated New Year’s resolutions ever made and see how they fit in with your business strategy. Decide which goal you think will impact the bottom line most and go for it.

1) Exercise More

No we’re not talking about company outings to pump iron at the gym. We’re talking about toning up your strategy!

Have you let your social media accounts die? Are your 2014 SEO efforts now collecting dust? What areas of your marketing techniques have you allowed to “let go” and gain flab?

Maybe what your business needs most this year is an in-depth look at what assets you already have that you could be utilizing better. You may have an incredibly designed website that people aren’t able to find, or a growing email list that isn’t being put to use.

Take Volkswagon for example. They inspired 2,700 car recommendations in four weeks with just a LinkedIn campaign.

2) Cut Out the Sweets

This will help with the whole exercising thing – cutting out the excess fluff and focusing on what really matters. What aspects of your marketing didn’t produce many results for your company? Either cut them out or replace the “ingredients” of your strategy with “healthy” ones (code for come up with a better strategy!).

Where could your company bear to lose some weight? Cut out what you don’t need. For some, this may mean cutting down on meetings – less strategizing and more implementing. For others, it may be that their presence on Twitter is doing them absolutely no good. Who says you have to be on Twitter? Don’t devote company time and energy towards something if it’s not helping you achieve your vision, no matter what the experts say.

You know your company better than anyone. Trust your instincts and either cut out the aspects of your marketing that aren’t producing results or redefine them.

3) Be Nicer

Overall, your company should leave a positive impression on people. Everyone who comes across your brand may not buy your product, but at least you are leaving a positive taste in their mouth. Organizations that need to focus 2015 on being “nicer” are those that could use improvement in areas such as:

  • Social Media: Don’t overwhelm your audience with self-promotional posts, which comes across as salesy and boring.
  • Customer Service: Amp it up a notch. A customer who comes mad but leaves happy is more important than a neutral one.
  • Employee Satisfaction: Focus on making your work environment a more enjoyable one. Reward your employees for their successes.
  • Public Relations: A business that doesn’t get involved lacks a certain depth. You are more than just a product, so let the public know too.

4) Get Organized

Sometimes what your business needs most is a simple clean up of your processes. It may be time to figure out where your bottlenecks are and assess how they can be tweaked to improve your working system as a whole. You may need to add more people to your design team to keep up with requests, or you may even decide to outsource the design talent as a whole.

To quote the old comic strip, Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Sometimes the worst bottlenecks are personal ones – do you ever feel like you spend half of your day reading and answering emails? No one told you emails alone would be a part-time job.

If you can’t make major changes to the company’s system as a whole, make personal changes. For example, set aside 2-3 specific times during the day as your “email time”. Instead of checking your inbox every 10 minutes throughout the day, set aside a specific time for emails and focus the rest of your day on what really matters: work.

5) Spend Less, Save More

This is a tricky one. Maybe you’ve already mastered resolutions 1-4, but are stuck on the age-old problem of spending more than you make. No one likes to talk about lay-offs or budget cutbacks or less fancy employee Christmas parties, but at the end of the day your business is all about, well… business. And keeping it around. So you do what you have to do.

And you aren’t alone – many large corporations such as Ford, American Express, and even Google have announced major layoffs this past year. For a company with 2015 goals focused on budgeting you may not keep everyone happy, but you may keep your business.   So buckle down and map out your gameplan.

Which New Year’s resolution rang true for you and your company’s needs? Choose the one area that resonated most with you and get to work.

5 Marketing Tactics a Salesperson Would Be Wise To Learn

By | Random | No Comments

Everyone can benefit from the wisdom of a marketer – that’s what we believe at least (no we’re not biased…).

When it comes to the world of sales, success is determined by how many customers can be convinced to hand over their money. As for marketing, well, the ultimate goal is about the same.

We all can agree that sales and marketing have quite a good deal of overlap, so why not also overlap our tips for success? This is just what we’ve tried to accomplish with our latest words of marketing wisdom, 5 Marketing Tactics a Salesperson Would Be Wise to Learn, posted by our friends over at HubSpot.

We’ve combined marketing lingo with sales tactics to provide a mini-guide for those in the sales family who may have never heard of strange terms like “target market” and “purchase cycle”.

Take a look at our post over at HubSpot and let us know what you think.

3 Reasons Being a Follower Is Alright

By | Life, Random, Uncategorized | No Comments

Did you know being a leader in your industry means sometimes sitting back and being a follower?

It’s true.

Being the very best at what you do involves evaluating the competition and seeing what their particular strengths are. If they are doing something better than you, there is no better time than the present to figure out WHY. Then use that information to make sure you are the best going forward.

In this post we analyze three marketing reasons why it’s okay to sometimes sit back and be a follower.

1. To Snag New Email Marketing Ideas

Email marketing is without a doubt one of the most effective marketing channels.

A study conducted in 2013 by Custora found that customer acquisition via email has quadrupled over the last four years.

In addition, the average customer lifetime value (CLV) for customers acquired by email is considerably higher than most other marketing channels.

In other words: email marketing cannot be ignored.

Knowing that you need to send emails to your list is the easy part. Coming up with creative designs, clever copy and click-worthy subject lines is the harder part.

You can cover the basics by sending these types of emails:

  • New product or service announcements

  • Discounts for birthdays, anniversaries or other annual events

  • Share links to new content (blog posts, white papers, ebooks)

  • Transactional emails (new order, shipping notice, thank you email)

  • Follow up to a purchase or download asking for a review

You can also send emails rewarding your list with special discounts and promotions on frequent basis.

When you’re not sure what kind of promotional email to send, it’s time to check out what the competition is doing.

If you aren’t already signed up to receive emails from your competitor’s go ahead and do it today! You can create a new email address for the express purpose of receiving and saving emails from them.

Then anytime you are in need of inspiration, go check the inbox and see what your competitors are up to. You don’t want to copy them word for word (or design for design), but seeing what they’re doing should get your own creative juices flowing again.

Keep in mind, you’re doing this for inspiration, so you don’t need to stick to direct competitors. You can broaden your list and sign up for emails from any company that’s even closely related to your industry.

For example, if I was managing email campaigns for a women’s apparel company, I might sign up to receive emails from Rent the Runway. Even if my products aren’t for rent, I can still get good email ideas.

For instance, if I was looking through my inbox and saw the above email around the holidays I would notice a few things that would help me with my own campaigns:

  • The sub-headline of “Turn heads this holiday season” is catchy

  • Previewing the Hottest New Year’s Eve dresses is probably a good idea to copy in advance of the holiday

  • Offering free shipping is a good promo to help increase sales

  • Using an image of a woman in a party dress ready to hit the town is appropriate for the holiday season

I could then use that list of ideas to come up with my own creative email to send out.

I might even use the sub-head “Turn heads this holiday season” word-for-word in my email (while changing up all the rest) – and I wouldn’t feel guilty about it either!

There’s no doubt that checking out the competition can help you snag a few new email ideas. You don’t want to be a copycat, but looking to others for inspiration is not a bad thing at all.

2. To Increase Your Social Media Engagement

Is your social media engagement stagnant while your competitor’s seem to be having a lot of fun tweeting with customers, hosting Facebook contests and Instagramming pictures from product photo shoots?

Don’t sit back and let that happen any longer! It’s time to shake things up on your social media channels. If you aren’t sure where to begin, just follow what your competitor’s seem to be doing right.

Here are some key things to look for when evaluating the social media channels of the competition:

  • What type of posts get the most comments / likes / shares?

  • How often do they post to each channel?

  • Do posts in the morning / afternoon / night seem to get better responses?

  • How often do they host contests and giveaways?

  • What are the entry requirements for contests and giveaways?

  • What kind of pictures do they post – product shots, stock photos, candids – and which tend to get the best engagement?

  • Do they ask customers and tend to get good answers from followers?

  • How many people are they following on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.?

  • Who are they following? – Look for influential bloggers, reporters, etc. that you should also follow and engage with.

After you complete your evaluation, make a list of what seems to work best for your competitor’s and use that information to fuel your own social media growth.

3. To Speed up Your Link-Building Efforts

If you need to ramp up your link-building efforts, check out who links to the competition. This is a great way to find new inbound link opportunities.

You can pull up a list of sites linking to competitor sites using a tool like Open Site Explorer (OSE).

Simply type in the URL for your competitor’s website and OSE will show you a list of sites that link to them along with the pagerank for those inbound links.

Let’s say you are conducting a link-building campaign for a social media software company. One of your competitors is likely to be Sprout Social, so you would just pop their URL into OSE and would immediately see a list of sites that link to them.

Looking down the list I can see that the following sites link to Sprout Social:

  • Zimbra

  • Behance

  • Moz

  • Social Media Today

  • Avinash Kaushik’s blog

  • TechCrunch

  • Social Media Examiner

  • Mashable

  • Gigaom

  • many more

I can even click to see the actual page that links to my competitor.

Being able to click through on each of these links allows you to:

  • See author information for the post so you can reach out and pitch a new topic

  • See contact info for the publication so you can pitch your own guest post

  • See what others are saying about your competition – perhaps there are features that everyone is raving about that you might consider adding to your product

Once you have a list of the sites that are linking to your competitors – start your outreach program!

You can repeat this same process for all of your competitors thus increasing your chances to not only gain some visibility on sites that had previously only written about the competition – but also to earn those all important backlinks.

What Competitive Intelligence Are You Conducting?

These three ways of following your competition’s moves are certainly not the only ones out there.

What tactics are you tracking in your competitive playbook?