samedi 31 août 2013

9 Novel Ways Entrepreneurs Use Email Templates to Grow Their Business

9 Novel Ways Entrepreneurs Use Email Templates to Grow Their Business image Screen Shot 2013 08 28 at 4.58.07 PMSince we introduced our email templates feature last year, countless Contactually users have implemented this critical feature to supercharge their messaging and networking ROI. We surveyed some of users who have invested a lot of time and energy into developing their templates to figure out exactly how they use them in order to get the best results. Read on for some great best practices and advice!

Remco Tuinman of Emineo Business Consulting:

“Email templates really help me quickly get in touch with the many people in my network. It helps me to get in touch more easily since I, more or less, have to think about reconnecting and what to say/write just once. I often change the mail after template application a bit to make it personal to the recipient, but the text frame is already there. Figuring out which templates to use takes some practice, so I’d recommend starting with a simple one and building on it once you’ve started to gather what works and what doesn’t.”

Karl Bimshas of Karl Bimshas Consulting:

As an Executive Coach it’s sometimes difficult to know where a prospect is in their decision making. By sending an email to a small group of like-minded contacts I’m able to send what I think is relevant content via templates. Their actions based on my email determine whether I was correct and also dictate which buckets they should be moved to.

I use the templates as a base email and then customize per contact. I’ll be revamping some of my emails to create a logical flow from prospect to client to customer care and using them in conjunction with the Programs Tab. For example,

  • I use my Discovery Session template on contacts to increase awareness in what I do and sign up for a session.9 Novel Ways Entrepreneurs Use Email Templates to Grow Their Business image Screen Shot 2013 08 28 at 5.08.20 PM 300x194

  • I use a COLD INTRO message on local people who follow me on social media but I haven’t met yet.

  • I quip Happy Monday? on the first Monday back from a vacation or switch it to Tuesday after a long weekend.

Matthew Nederlanden of Security Camera Warehouse:

One of the best things we use templates for is for soliciting reviews. It saves us about $50-250 a month to use Contactually to get these reviews instead of an automated review request program like Reseller Ratings. Contactually also gives us substantially more control. We like to wait until someone compliments us before we ask for a review: that way we can make sure that we aren’t sending a bunch of spammy review requests, aren’t bothering people, and can expect a better percentage of good reviews. Contactually and the templates give us a lot of flexibility here and saves us money.

Marni Evans of Marni Evans Consulting

“Be careful what you wish for! Contactually templates make me TOO successful in that I can send personalized messages to hundreds of people in the click of a button, and get about a 40% response rate. Contactually templates and the ability to personalize email allows me to reach multiple clients while keeping it personal and helping to build my brand. With a desire to be non-salesy, non-douchey, and totally authentically me, my templates are the perfect tools. And the value of that? Well, it’s priceless.”

9 Novel Ways Entrepreneurs Use Email Templates to Grow Their Business image contactually cta 300x250 03

Matt Hounsom of Pixelwrench

My company produces short explainer videos for web startups. I contact previous clients, potential clients & simply companies that I’m interested in with several main themes:

1. Your competitors are doing this, we can help you do something better: I may contact a business that I am interested in with a unique way of showcasing how their product is the best on the market. I use this template to structure the communication, list features, etc.

9 Novel Ways Entrepreneurs Use Email Templates to Grow Their Business image Screen Shot 2013 08 28 at 5.22.27 PM 217x3002. Nice work – Here’s some of mine that’s similar: When I see a piece of work I like on the website of another animator or design agency, I may show something I’ve produced that is maybe in a similar style or uses the same techniques. In my field, the work can be quite sporadic so this is a good method of getting in contact with other designers & animators, whether I need their skills or they need mine. Again, this communication follows a template that makes sure I don’t forget to include important points such as the software used, time taken etc…

3. Check this out: Now and again, I will find a great subject that I may want to refer lots of people to. I will create a template for each resource, listing how great it is, with space to tailor how it would be relevant & beneficial to the contact.

Erann Zlotnik of Groupe ENCORE

I am currently building my business as a consultant so I need to use my time wisely to make sure I spend as much time as possible generating leads. The “template” feature in Contactually allows me to send relevant and personal emails to different audiences (buckets) in no time. I have built different sets of templates in 2 different languages so I can introduce myself, follow up or share stuff with dozens of people in literally 5 minutes. Through Contactually and its template feature, I can effortlessly and in a timely manner build and nurture my relationships, leaving me plenty of time to be “out there” generating new leads. The templates give me the ability to “talk” to many people about different things at the same time… I love it!

9 Novel Ways Entrepreneurs Use Email Templates to Grow Their Business image Screen Shot 2013 08 28 at 5.16.15 PM 300x193Windy Keefe of REONetwork

To be honest, I actually go back to Contactually’s default template the most as it seems to get the best response. I have a similar one that says, ‘It’s been a while since we’ve connected on LinkedIn….” that I send to people I only know through LinkedIn that gets responses too. In general, I notice that I really have to make sure I ask a question in the email to get a response. If I just send them information I rarely hear anything. But that’s OK too. Many times I just want to keep in touch in order to stay top-of-mind, especially before and after networking events like conferences.”

Jeremy Jones of AskJeremyJones:

I’m a marketing coach, and teach my clients about systematic processes to create referrals, one of which is using the email templates in Contactually. I have two examples to share:

1. For my contacts I value and want to stay in touch with: This basic template in which I simply check in with my contacts lets them know I’m thinking of them, and allows them to fill me in on what they have going on so I can offer help if they ask.

2. Referral campaigns: If I am offering a service to a particular industry rather than making a bunch of cold calls to Personal Trainers as an example I’ll put together a referral campaign template. In it, I’ll ask the recipient if he or she knows personal trainers in the area as well as for an introduction. I do this for my own referrals, but I also do this for new clients to add more value. When I bring on a new client I ask them who is a good connection or contact for them. This kind of campaign always makes a new customer happy when you introduce them to 2-4 contacts who may be good customers for them with a warm introduction. It allows me to provide a dream come true, first class experience with my best clients.

Mike Johnson, Mortgage Banker

If you are curious as to how I created my templates, the truth is I didn’t. I went to my managers, other professionals in my field, and got my customers to send me the emails they received from my competitors. Once I have the foundation, I constantly make adjustments to meet new regulatory standards, look for ways to shorten and simplify the message so that it can be read in 3-5 seconds on a smartphone, and if necessary, I customize the email to the individual customer. Adding a short bit with some personalized information is also a nice way to increase the response rate, i.e. “I hope little Kimmy wins her tournament!”.

Learn more about how 5 all-star entrepreneurs maximize their networking with Contactually by clicking here.

via Business 2 Community

How To Make Money From A Website—55 Ways To Bring In The Cash

Building a website that makes money is a dream of many but a reality to few and I am one of the lucky few. I tried one money making method after another until I found the right ones to suit my websites. The problem was, there are just too many opportunities to make money from a website and the worst part was making that choice.

Whether you have an established website you want to monetize or you plan to build a new website to create an additional stream of income, here are 55 ways to make money from a website:

1. Ask for donations

The easiest way to monetize a website, but also usually the least effective. I see some great websites with awesome content relying on donations and I do not believe it to be a solid way to make money from a website. If you want to earn money you should probably come out of the closet and just go for it.

2. Become an Amazon Affiliate

Promote products on your website in exchange for a small (4% to 8%) commission. Probably the second easiest way to make money online, but only effective if you can sell lots of cheap items or at least a few very expensive items. But don’t be fooled as all little things can add up to big earnings and all you have to do is remember to put your affiliate link into your relevant content.

How To Make Money From A Website—55 Ways To Bring In The Cash image forgot affiliate link

See how I make money with a WordPress website using the Amazon affiliate system.

3. Become a digital goods affiliate

Sell ebooks, automated online training, and other digital products with high (50% or more) commissions. The products you advertise usually must match your niche perfectly in order for you to make any sales.

I could give you a big list of different affiliate networks etc but I found an awesome list of 53 different ad networks where you can earn money for your website written by Spenser Haws. This includes places like Clickbank, Commission Junction, Adsense and more.

4. Create your own digital good

Ebooks can be short if they get straight to the point and you can create a 5 hour video course in a single afternoon by just talking into your webcam. (Assuming you’re already an expert in your niche.) Creating your own course ensures it matches your niche perfectly, increasing the likelihood visitors will buy it.

5. Google Ads or other automated advertising

Very easy, but only profitable if people who visit your site are likely to buy high-margin products and services through advertising links.

6. Non-automated advertising

Does the same company keep buying advertisements on your site? Ask them if they want to advertise in bulk for a discount—you get assured income and they get a better rate.

7. Joint Venture #1

Work with your top advertisers to create a product, service, or pitch for just your audience. The advertiser gets an increased conversion rate on your website and you get a commission from every sale. Just make sure you partner up with the real deal.

How To Make Money From A Website—55 Ways To Bring In The Cash image dressed for success

8. Get a List and USE it

Create a weekly email newsletter to turn occasional visitors into regular readers.

The more content of yours people read, the more opportunities you have to sell to them. Even if you create an autoresponder series to send out to your readers, just keep it interesting and give give give.

9. Create a forum #1

Encourage people to join a forum for your niche. Active forum members will return to your forum everyday, creating additional opportunities for you to sell to them. People that join a particular niche forum are very engaged in the topic.

10. Create a forum #2

Create a paid subscription forum for people to help each other. (Often called a Mastermind in marketing.) An ideal way to monetize a niche which helps people become more effective.

11. Sell your audience

People will pay you to write about their products and services on your popular website. This is a personalized version of advertising, but it usually requires a large audience or an audience likely to buy high-end products and services.

12. Use your audience in a triangulation deal

For example, a book publisher (triangle side #1) will pay you (side #2) to write a book because your website has a large audience, and your audience (side #3) will buy your book from the publisher. Triangulation deals can benefit all sides, making everyone happier or richer.

13. Rent your success

If you have a website other people envy, offer high-priced premium coaching to help other people build their websites. People want to learn from pros, so monetize your experience. If you have walked the walk and not just talked the talk then people want to know how you did it!

14. Create an event online

Usually called webinars, you can get your audience to pay to join a live online training session or inspirational speech, and all it costs you is an hour in front of a webcam and some bandwidth.

15. Create an event offline

If your webinars are always successful, you can probably host a conference. For the price of renting a few rooms in a hotel and hiring a few speakers from your niche, you can easily collect $500, $1,000, or more per person from dozens or hundreds of attendees.

But don’t stress yourself out by taking on money making methods that are just not right for you. If you are simply not good at public speaking then find something else you are good at.

How To Make Money From A Website—55 Ways To Bring In The Cash image hard way to make money

16. Speak in someone else’s webinar or offline event for a fee

Use your authority as the owner of a successful website in your niche to command high rates. Plus, people who like your speech will like you and start to visit your site more often.

17. Sell artifacts

If you use collectible material to create your website, don’t just archive them or throw them away. Sell them to your audience. For example, many webcomics sell the hand-drawn panels they used to create each comic. Hardware review sites can sell the devices they tested, sometimes at a premium over the retail price.

18. Sell your statistics

Smart companies are desperate for data about their customers, so if your website serves their potential customers, you have data they can use to better target the traffic they want. Be careful—they could use that data to steal your best organic search traffic—but, then, you can also charge a large fee for simple access to your Google Analytics data.

19. Sell merchandise

Successful websites are their own brand, and people sometimes identify themselves with brands they like by wearing t-shirts and other merchandise with that brand’s signature logo or appearance.

20. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” (Ben Franklin)

Use the advantages of earning an income from your website to save money. A key advantage is that you can live anywhere with an Internet connection—so why are you living in some high-rent district instead of in an affordable beach house with servants in Bali or Thailand?

21. Joint venture #2

Once you have a profitable website, find more customers by creating joint ventures with other people in your niche who aren’t direct competitors. Do more than offer to guest post; develop a free in-depth video or webinar for their audience—anyone who enjoys the video or webinar will then become part of your audience so you can sell them your products.

22. Divide and profit

When part of your website is more profitable than another part of your website, split it into two websites and sell the less profitable part. (Or, if part of your website no longer interests you, sell that part.) Rule of thumb: websites should sell for 12 to 24 months worth of profit, so a website earning a meager $200 a month can sell for about $5,000.

23. Make repeatable improvements

Does your website require custom code? Could there be other people who can use that code? Have your developer put the custom code in a WordPress plugin (he should do this anyway for your convenience) and then you can sell it on the WordPress Store.

24. Supplant your advertisers

Look at the advertisements typically displayed on your site. Can your sell any of those things yourself? (Through affiliate advertising and drop shipping, you can sell practically anything.) Then why not remove the Google Ad code from certain pages on your site and display your own advertisements for your own products—and keep the extra profits for yourself? You can even try this out on just a few pages of your site using split testing code.

25. Use your self-advertising experience to create your own Google AdWords campaigns

If you have positive cash flow from your advertisements, even just for a brief period, you can earn thousands of dollars a day through maximum ad exposure. If you are not comfortable with Google Adwords, why not try Many big niche sites list what adversing space is available on their sites and you can buy a slice through that site.

26. Kickstart your profits

A successful website with an established audience is one of the best research platforms ever available. Find out what your audience dreams about and create a Kickstarter to build it—after factoring in a healthy profit for yourself if the Kickstarter succeeds. (And if it fails, you don’t really lose anything but the time you invested.)

27. Re-brand and resell public domain content and open source software

There are over a million books and software programs which you can legally sell without asking for permission (and still keep all the profits for yourself). The combinations are endless—for example, a public domain study guide for learning Spanish as a foreign language plus a free open source flashcard program can create a $500 product: “The Complete Spanish Study System with over 1,000 digital flashcards in an adaptive learning system which teaches you conversational Spanish within just 90 days.”

28. Telephone consulting

Similar to coaching, but for a single specific problem. All you need to do is put a PayPal Buy It Now button on your site and offer to answer any questions asked during a 30 minutes phone call.

29. Placement advertising

Have you noticed how TV shows frequently use particular products? (As this goes to print, practically every TV show in the U.S. uses Windows 8 computers and tablets in their tech scenes. Last year it was Microsoft SkyDrive, and the year before that it was iPads and MacBooks.) Find someone in your niche and ofter to mention them frequently (but indirectly) on your website for a fee.

30. Co-branding

Similar to placement advertising but more explicit. Find a company willing to pay for your seal of approval. For example, if you run a leading review site in the medical practice software niche, offer to let a software company pay you to advertise their products as “tested and approved by [your site].”

31. Alternative advertising

Making money from a website doesn’t mean your website needs to make money directly. If you use your website to attract social media followers, consider sending an occasional paid advertisement to your followers for some extra profit.

32. Sell links

Yes, I know Google doesn’t approve of paid linking, but a small number of paid links will look natural enough and help pad your profitable bottom line. The other thing is that Google has links in Adsense ads so not sure why we should feel bad? Everyone needs to earn money and sometimes selling a link can help pay the bills.

This is a great way to make money from your website but you must weigh up the value of your links before doing so. For example, if you sell a link on a page for $100 for one year, make sure you have tested for the possibility of more money already. I have pages that make $30 to $100 a day from a single link placement of my own, so do you think I would sell a link on a page like that? No way!

If you are yet to make sales like that and have not had the chance to test, placing text links into your site for money is a great way to actually prove that your site can make money.

33. Sub-domain co-branding

A special version of co-branding (or a joint venture) where you create a sub-domain on your site dedicated to a specific product; the sub-domain is typically run by the advertiser or your joint venture partner. For example, if your site is, you could create for a Microsoft advertising campaign. Seeing a product name next to your site domain proves to readers that you really do recommend it, creating a huge value for your advertisers.

34. YouTube partnerships

If you have a successful website, you can probably use your traffic to create a successful YouTube channel, which you can monetize instantly through the YouTube partner program. I have been doing this for years now and you can see one of my Youtube channels at This channel makes a $1 or more per video per month so I only need 1000 videos to make $1000. Of course if you get a popular video then these averages change dramatically.

Not only that, I use Youtube for one of my main ways to get website traffic, which is awesome traffic by the way, so I am killing two birds with one stone.

35. Resell your content #1

It’s true, Google doesn’t like duplicated content, so you can’t really sell your content to other websites. But what about offline (or private Web access) magazines and journals related to your niche? I have sold and goven away some of my content to educational institutions, community courses and more.

36. Resell your content #2

Also consider spinning—good sites don’t publish spun (rewritten) content, but you can always spin your content and sell it to your less savory (and less intelligent) competition. Don’t tell anyone I said that!

37. Resell your content #3

Turn successful articles on your site into ebooks, either self-distributed or for Kindle and iBooks. (I find the most successful Kindle ebooks are $2 to $5 extended versions of successful pillar/brick articles.)

An effective content reselling strategy can pay 100% of the cost of hiring writers to write more content for your site, leaving 100% of the profits from that content for you to keep. See a tutorial about how to create an ebook to sell on your website or turn into a Kindle book.

To tell you the truth, it is not always necessary to sell a book to make money. You can also use a viral marketing strategies and give away a free ebook that will return good earnings.

38. Advertise on your error pages

Although you really should fix any broken links and errors quickly, you should also make sure your 404 error page features an ad. People who visit broken links were looking for something—but it was missing, so they’re still looking. That gives advertisers a perfect chance to help your visitors by selling them a solution, so advertisements on your error page will often have higher bids than other ads on your site and higher click rates, creating more profit for you.

39. Pay to pull n make money from a website

This does not sound good and it isn’t. Be careful using this strategy—it can backfire. If you have a legitimate grievance against a product or service and you also have a large audience compared to the number of buyers for that product or service, you can start a negative campaign telling everyone about your bad experience with that company. If your campaign reduces their sales, they may be willing to pay to have you pull your negative content. Again, be careful doing this—you could be sued or lose the trust of your readers. I do not recommend this at all but I have seen it happen.

40. Supplant your audience’s current services

If a large part of your audience all subscribe to an easily-duplicated service, consider creating a clone of that service and selling it to your audience directly. For example, backup services, reporting services, hosting services, content creation services, virtual assistant services, and many others.

41. Sell savings

While everyone sells using affiliate links at retail price, you can sell at a discount and earn money straight from the customer. Here’s how: start a savings club for your niche and charge $50, $100, or more a year. On the club’s Member Benefits page, provide coupons to the same products everyone else in your niche sells. How do you get the coupons? Ask for them. If a company will give a 50% affiliate commission for a product, they’ll also probably give a 50% off coupon for it (with no affiliate commission). After all, they earn the same amount of money either way. Then you can advertise that you help your readers get 50% off prices—making your site much more appealing than anyone else within your niche. Plus, you can make your membership a recurring PayPal or credit card transaction so you collect membership fees every year instead of getting a single one-time affiliate commission.

42. Franchise your website

Another variation on how to resell your content. If there are other niches very closely related to your niche, but different enough that your website can’t serve them, you can sell modified copies of your website which serve those niches. For example, a niche website for a particular medical specialist can usually be quickly adapted to work for a different medical specialty. The same is true for lawyer specialties and other professions too. And then there are websites for specific locations which will work well in other locations, such as realtor websites, used book stores, and bed and breakfasts. All of these can be franchised.

43. Sell subscriptions

Some websites which offer very timely information (such as daily investing tips) can sell premium information via newsletter or a special password-protected website section. In general, you have to help people save or make a lot of money on a regular basis in order to charge for an online subscription.

44. Rent out your platform

Charge a small fee to post guest posts on your blog. Not only does this give you a little extra income, but people who pay to post on your platform will want to get the maximum value out of it, so they’re much more likely to send you high-quality guest posts. You have worked hard to build up your traffic so why give it away for free?

45. Sell an emergency consultation

I know we covered coaching and consultations earlier in the list, but this is a special case of a high-profit opportunity. Some people who visit your website are desperate for an immediate answer and are willing to pay for it. For a few dollars a month, you can setup a toll number (a 900 number in the U.S.) which forwards to your cell phone. If you’re an expert in your niche and can answer almost any question, you can charge $5 or $10 a minute to answer emergency questions.

Another good example would be when your website rankings are dropping fast, it would be great to call on an expert.

How To Make Money From A Website—55 Ways To Bring In The Cash image website errors first aid

46. Sell traffic

Some sites which sell ads based on traffic (not clicks) will pay you to include an invisible iframe on your site which loads their site. This is a dangerous blackhat technique which could get you in trouble with Google and which will also increase your page load times, but if you have lots of transitory traffic which isn’t otherwise earning you income, you may want to try it.

47. Do charity public relations

Don’t just use the techniques above with for-profit corporations and entrepreneurs, but also look for charities who are willing to pay to be featured on your site. The charity “industry” spends billions on advertising every year, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t spend some of that on your site.

48. Facilitate exchanges

What does eBay and CraigsList and ABEbooks do? They help their visitors exchange stuff, and they (mostly) do it for a fee. You have an advantage over those sites because you have traffic dedicated to your niche. Do people in your niche all use the same basic products? Can those products be shared or resold? Then you too can help your visitors exchange stuff for a fee. (And there are even open source auction platforms to help you do it.)

49. Sell your customers

We don’t often like to talk about it in polite company, but it’s quite common to sell subscriber data. That doesn’t just include anonymized Google Analytics data as recommended earlier, but also per-IP address data, email addresses, and other data which can identify specific visitors to your site. This is another one I do not recommend as it loses trust, but it is still a viable way to earn money. Some people even make it their business to collect subscriber data just to sell.

50. Sell re-branded services

You don’t have to do the work to make the money. For example, imagine someone who sells laptop repairs online. He receives the laptops by mail, takes them to a local computer repair shop which does the work, bills the customer for the repair cost plus his fee, and mails the repaired laptop back. It takes him one to three hours a week and some weeks (when businesses is booming) he makes over $1,000.

51. Perform digital arbitrage

Some things are unavailable online (or cost more) to people from different countries. For example, some British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) content is unavailable to residents of the United States. In another case, some online retailers won’t ship Internationally. If you can solve these problems, you can charge a fee for your assistance. For example, a simple VPN trick can let a British resident serve BBC content to Americans and a minimum-wage assistant can help you reship packages Internationally.

52. Threaten withdrawal

If your website provides a valuable service, you can threaten to withdrawal it unless you meet certain income goals. Several podcasts I listen to use this model—they say that if donations don’t increase, they’ll have to go to a reduced publishing schedule or stop altogether. But be careful—if you threaten to withdraw a non-unique service, someone might create a clone and steal all of your customers.

53. Sell local

You don’t need a fancy website to promote a typical offline business, all you need to do is answer the questions your customers probably have (“what’s on the restaurant menu?” or “do they sell any…”). Then just add a little local search engine optimization so customers can find you quickly.

54. Sell your experience

If you have experience building a successful website (even if it’s only earning you $10 to $100 a month), you’re light-years ahead of most other digital content professionals, so you can always sell your experience by helping other people build their websites. You can write content, add SEO, manage contractors, and provide a million other useful services. This is also a great way to learn from more experienced experts and get paid at the same time.

55. Sell your site

Everyday, as you wonder whether you should get out of bed early to work on your website, remind yourself that you’re building an asset. Sure, your website will help you earn a monthly income—but it’s also an asset you can probably sell for ten or twenty times what you currently earn each month. That means a little bit of extra effort today to earn a single extra dollar this month actually adds ten or twenty dollars to the sale value of your website.

If you plan well you could also make money from your website even after it is sold.

via Business 2 Community

11 Tips For Engaging Customer Advocates

Your customers are some of your best brand advocates, but how can you motivate them to share and tell their friends about your brand? Recently we hosted a webinar with Netbase and provided 11 tips and best practices for connecting and engaging with customer advocates.

Invite your best customers to be advocates. When launching your customer advocate marketing program it’s important to identify your customers with the brand passion needed for them to be a true advocate as well as the social presence necessary to allow their voices to

Know your audience. Do you know what a brony is? How about what it means when someone says something is cray? Be aware of the language that your advocates are using. In the cases above, these are slang terms for teens. When you know your customers better, your marketing is better. 2The common vernacular is constantly changing and evolving, and it’s important that your brand stay on top of these in order to better understand your audience to improve marketing programs, as well mine advocates data for insights.

Customers are always on. Customers will always be talking about your brand; whether you power those customers also to become advocates is a different story. It’s important to keep this in mind as you launch your advocate marketing programs. Aim to build lasting relationships with your advocates – just like you wouldn’t turn off your Facebook page you can’t turn off your advocate program.

For the 9 other tips for connecting and engaging with customer advocates – watch the webinar recording below. You can also download our newest ebook The 6 Step Customer Advocate Marketing Handbook to learn how to motivate and scale customer advocates to grow your business.

via Business 2 Community

10 Mobile BI Strategy Questions: Business Processes

When developing a mobile business intelligence (BI) strategy, you can’t ignore the role that 10 Mobile BI Strategy Questions: Business Processes image 273618 l srgb s gl 150x150business processes may play. In many cases, the introduction of BI content into the portfolio of mobile BI assets provides opportunities to not only eliminate the gaps in your business operations, but to improve the existing processes. Often, the impact is seen in two main ways. First, the current business processes may require you to change your mobile BI approach. Second, the mobile BI solution may highlight gaps that may require a redesign of your business processes to improve your mobile BI assets and your business operations.

Business processes will influence your mobile BI design

Existing business processes will have a direct impact on the design of your mobile BI solution. I’m often amazed to discover that the lack of consideration given to identifying business processes stems not from a lack of insight but from wrong assumptions that are made during the requirements and design phases.

It’s true that the business processes may not be impacted if the scope of your mobile BI engagement is limited to mobilizing an existing BI asset (like a report or dashboard) without making any changes to the original end-product, including all underlying logic. But in many cases, the opposite is true—the mobile BI end product may be the driver for change, including the update of the existing BI asset as a result of a mobile BI design.

Mobile solutions may require different assumptions in many aspects of their design, which range from source data updates to report layout and logic. Advanced capabilities, such as a write-back option, will further complicate things because the integration systems outside the BI platform will require closer scrutiny and a much closer alignment with business processes.

Moreover, constraints that surround source data will have a direct influence on the mobile BI design. For example, if you’re dependent on feeds from external data sources, you may need to consider an additional buffer to take into account possible delays or errors in the data feed. Or, perhaps you have a new application that was just built to collect manually-entered data from field operations. If this new application was introduced as part of your mobile BI solution, the process that governs this data collection system will have a direct impact on your design because of its immediate availability. This wouldn’t have been as important before as an operational tool with a limited audience without mobile BI.

Mobile BI solutions may drive improvements in your business operations

As part of designing your strategy or developing your mobile BI solution, you may discover either gaps or areas for improvement. Don’t worry. This is a known side effect, and it’s often considered a welcome gift because it gives you a chance to kill two birds with one stone: improve your business operations and increase the value of your mobile BI solution. However, it’s critical here to ensure that your team stays focused on the end goal of delivering on time and on schedule (unless the gaps turn out to be major showstoppers).

Typical examples are found in the areas of data quality and business rules. The design of a mobile BI asset—especially if it’s new—may highlight new or known data-quality issues. The visibility factor may be different with mobile. Adoption or visibility by executives often may force additional scrutiny. Moreover, adoption rates (ratio of actual users divided by total users of mobile solutions) may be higher because of the availability and convenience with mobile. As a result, mobile users may be less tolerant about the lack of quality assurance (QA) steps.

Business rules offer another example due to the same visibility factor. A proposed change in a business rule or process, which previously failed to get attention due to lack of support, may now have more backers when it’s associated with a mobile BI solution. Strong executive sponsorship may influence the outcome.

Bottom line: Do not ignore business processes

It’s easy to make the wrong assumptions when it comes to business processes. It happens not just in mobile BI but in other technology projects. You cannot take existing processes for granted. What may have worked before may not work for mobile BI. Let your business processes complement your overall mobile BI strategy, and let your mobile BI engagement become a conduit for opportunities to improve your operational efficiencies.

Not only will these opportunities improve your business operations, but they will lead to increased adoption by increasing the trust your customers/users have in your mobile BI content.

What do you see as the biggest challenge when it comes to business processes in your mobile BI strategy?

Stay tuned for my next blog in the series, Ten Mobile BI Strategy Questions: System Integration.

For more on mobile BI, read my other blogs in the series.

via Business 2 Community

Online Reputation Management for Teachers

Online Reputation Management for Teachers image reputation management for teachers 300x200Bullying was taken to a whole other level last summer with the case of school bus aide Karen Klein, who was verbally assaulted by a group of boys. Not only was she brought down in front of a bus full of kids, but her tormentors videotaped her reaction and posted it online, and it quickly went viral. This phenomenon has its own buzzword: cyberbaiting, defined as students baiting their teachers, filming the embarrassing/upsetting footage, and posting it to social media sites. According to a Norton Online Family Report study from 2011, one in five teachers has either personally experienced cyberbaiting or cyberbullying knows someone who has.

North Carolina is the first state to respond to the issue by creating a law to criminalize the bullying of teachers. Students can face misdemeanor charges, fines and/or probation if convicted of tormenting or intimidating a teacher online. Some argue that the law could infringe on the students’ free speech, but teachers in North Carolina support it, stating that they felt a need for reputation management, both online and in the real world.

The Norton Online Family Report found that although 67 percent of teachers acknowledge that interacting with their students via social media is risky, 34 percent of them continue to do so. Additionally, only 51 percent of teachers said that a social media code of conduct exists at their school, while 80 percent of teachers and 70 percent of parents wish for more online safety instruction in the schools.

What are some best practices for search engine reputation management? Below are some tips on how to appropriately use social media to protect yourself and your students.

1. Secure your private life. It’s okay to have your own private social media pages, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. But be sure that your security settings are set at the highest levels. This will allow you to talk and post photos of your personal life without letting nosy students in on the details (and you know they’ll be searching for it).

2. Use social media wisely. Many teachers argue that social media is a great way to connect with students, particularly high school students. Public Twitter or Facebook pages dedicated to your class can help foster relationships and discussions on the course material during off hours. The key here is transparency: ensure that the page is set so that only your students are interacting with each other, while allowing parents and administrators to view and monitor the conversations. With allegations of student-teacher misconduct an issue all over the country, discretion and good judgment by teachers are more important than ever.

3. Don’t gossip. Even if your Facebook page is 100% private, err on the side of caution and refrain from posting about your students’ classroom behavior, inappropriate dress or incomprehensible essays. Comments can be copied and reposted or forwarded and create serious problems to classroom morale.

4. Don’t handle any defamation issues by yourself. If you do find yourself in a situation where you are being bullied or defamed online, don’t attempt to handle it yourself. Involve your school district and union as soon as possible and document every action.

5. Hire an online reputation management company. An online reputation management firm, like Reputation Rhino, can assist you in privatizing your social media accounts and bury negative or embarrassing information about you online.

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Data Scientist Intro Education, 6,800 at a Time

A couple of months ago I wrote about Dr. Lisa Dierker at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and her plans to teach statistics to 13,000 students from around the world in a free massive open online course (MOOC). A professor of psychology at the university and chair of the Quantitative Analysis Center, she designed a course in which students could choose projects on topics that interest them.

Early this week I checked back with her to see how the course had done. The university supported her by paying several students to help mentor online participants, which turned out to be a great experience for both. Student monitored the discussing forums for large blocks of time during the week, responding to posts and launching conversations.

“Wonderful things can happen when the instructor doesn’t jump in,” she said. She often would let the conversation go and several hours later weigh in and have everybody move on.

“I think it was fantastic,” she said. “Our students who come back to mentor and tutor in on campus intro courses learn more than the students in the course. It’s not just that this is the second time around for them. They get the information again, but now they have to use it flexibly, they have to be able to respond to all the questions the students are asking. In any technical area we often make students take an intro course and then they have no interest in going on. This was a great opportunity to think how peer tutoring can be that second course — getting students exited, getting their confidence up.”

It was also a great exercise for her, she added.

“When you have to think about 10,000 students you will never talk to or explain things to, it took my materials to a new level. This had to work without my being able to talk to them.” She took a project approach to the MOOC, she added, with videos, lectures and demonstrations so students could go back to any areas they had difficulty with and collaborate with other students online.

The course drew a wide variety of students. A politician took it so he could better understand policy, and a nurse took it so she could go toe to toe with hospital administrators and researchers. A math Ph.D. from Spain signed up because he was teach a lot of statistics courses to earth and environmental science students, and he wanted to make his own course more interesting.

“He ended up being a super TA, helping everyone. A SAS programmer from Chicago who has a job in data management and then pumps his results to Ph.D. statisticians to do cool analyses, took it so he could learn how to use the data himself. After I showed students how to do something, he would show five other ways that I had never seen before. I have never in my life taught a course where the actual enrolled students brought so much to the table.”

The discussion rooms were super active, she added, although she saw the same names appear again and again, much like a regular classroom.

“I bet only 300 were on those discussion forums. They can be an amazing learning tool for those engaged, but just as a classroom or office hours, if they don’t walk through the door those things are not useful.”

The analytics company SAS made its software available online for the course.

“They were amazing at supporting it all around the globe,” said Dierker, “making sure the data was up on their cloud servers, but there were people who didn’t have strong enough computers, especially outside the US.”

Ron Statt, a senior director in R&D at SAS whose team supported the project and worked closely with the professor, said the course offered a great learning experience. SAS carried on a collaboration with the professor throughout the course and participated in the discussion forums to offer support, share advice, and get a pulse for what was going on in the course, which not so incidentally introduced thousands of students to SAS software.

“Students came from all over the world, but we saw the largest participation from the United States, India, Britain, and Canada,” said Statt. “We saw students discussing issues such as not having appropriate systems or wanting to use their Macs. It so happens we had a solution for them. To make it easier to program in SAS, last year we introduced SAS Web Editor, a Web-based tool for writing and running SAS code. Available at no cost, SAS Web Editor requires no software installation. Users simply connect to a website to access code, files, projects and libraries, anytime and anywhere. Since it only requires a Web browser, it works on Macs as well as iPad 2 and above. We let them know about SAS Web Editor and many students began to use it. It resolved their issues and enabled them to move forward with the MOOC course.”

Although MOOCS have been criticized for high dropout rates, Dierker said 6,800 completed the course. The most common reason for dropping out was simply a lack of time; most of the students were working or going to university.

Back in December when colleagues knew she was going to teach the course, she was inundated with encouraging articles about what a hare-brained disaster MOOCs were. She got a little concerned about her decision but now has no regrets, although she exhibits some becoming humility about the timing.

Hers was a first generation MOOC experience, she said.

MOOCs could change everything

“I did it at a great time,” she said. “This is exploding. It was a first generation MOOC experience, but MOOCs could change everything. We are getting a better rap than we might deserve because we had such willing participants,” she added. “I am taking the positive feelings with a grain of salt. The students really wanted to do this, and although the course was designed for complete novices, a lot of the students were data geeks or wannabe geeks.”

She expects the next generation MOOCs will have ways of requiring participation from students and eventually ways to test them and offer credit.

MOOCs are raising big questions about how education is done, she said. One colleague at Wesleyan suggested the world might not need more than two or three intro courses in statistics or biology, a suggestion which did not make him the most popular man on campus. Her experience designing a course for delivery online has made her think about the usual hierarchy of introductory courses followed by more in-depth courses. The modern world is too dynamic for a simple ladder of courses; some professors are talking of staged courses where students can come in and pick from the materials they find most relevant to their needs. Now she is excited about the idea of marrying a MOOC, on-campus course and peer-tutoring in ways that feed each other rather than have three separate courses to support.

SAS’s Statt said that discussing the course with Dierker before, during, and afterwards enabled SAS to anticipate issues, provide support in near real-time, and discuss what we learned and how we might make future enhancements.

via Business 2 Community

New Leadership: Are Two CEOs Better Than One?

Does every company need a Steve Jobs — someone who will mold the organization to his or her unique vision? Even in less iconic organizations than Apple, it’s assumed that the CEO should be the boss. But some companies are finding success with an alternative model called paired leadership, in which top managers work in pairs.

In the Harvard Business Review, management consultants Stephen A. Miles and Michael D. Watkins write, “Such teams by their very nature are able to do things that individuals and noncomplementary teams can’t.”

Fishbowl is a company that’s taken the paired leadership concept further than most. The maker of inventory software, founded in 2001, has a structure where all of the managers work in pairs, including the CEO and president.

The experiment began with the company’s adoption of agile programming, a software development methodology also known as extreme programming or scrum. This development method lets companies create software products faster using an iterative process in which requirements, design and architecture develop along with the actual code. One agile technique that Fishbowl adopted is pair programming, where two programmers write code together at the same workstation.

Before the shift, Fishbowl found that its programmers at times resented the product manager for setting unrealistic goals, and schedules frequently slipped. So, as part of the agile overhaul, Fishbowl CEO David Williams took the pairing a step further and installed one product manager and one technical lead as joint leaders of the product development department.

With agile programming, Williams says, “We saw what used to take six month go to six weeks – and it was better. And it eliminated all those traditional [tensions] that happen in a software shop.”

Dual leadership of the product department went so well that in 2007 Williams decided to institute paired leadership throughout the organization. Each department is now led by two “captains,” and in 2011, Williams hired Mary Michelle Scott as president. Although Williams and Scott bear traditional titles that imply traditional hierarchy, Williams insists that they make all strategic decisions together.

“Mary has equal voice to me; I never trump her,” he says.

The two have separate offices and play different operational roles, consulting with each other frequently as they execute. Two heads – especially ones with different backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints – are definitely better than one, Williams says.

New outlook

For example, Fishbowl had a long-standing value-added reseller (VAR) program in place. Most were sole proprietors, and most simply referred customization jobs back to Fishbowl, adding approximately 10 percent to its annual bottom line.

“When Mary came on,” Williams recalls, “she said, ‘You don’t actually have a VAR program. VARs go out and buy the software and resell it. You should really call it a referral program – and you don’t need to pay someone 35 percent when you do all the work and close the business.’”

Williams was very attached to his VARs, so it took a few months before he saw that Scott was right. They then reworked the program – with little distress to the so-called VARs. Now, as a referral program, it constitutes some 25 percent of annual revenue while Fishbowl pays out to the referrers a third of what it did before.

“She came in and was strong enough to stand her ground but open enough to listen to my point of view,” Williams says.

Leadership skills

That statement illuminates a crucial point about the leadership skills necessary to make paired leadership succeed. Two complementary leaders by definition have different strengths, so they may have difficulty aligning their vision. And co-leaders need to park their egos in the parking lot.

In fact, the same personality traits and interpersonal skills that make for a happy marriage or a solid friendship are also vital leadership skills in this business structure.

“This takes high trust, high touch, and a leader who has faith and belief in their people, to show up and show that you believe in them,” Williams says.

It’s paying off for Fishbowl, with revenues growing from $5 million to $20 million over the last five years.

Williams details the traits, including gratitude, trust and respect, that he believes have been crucial to his company’s success in the paired leadership experiment — and in business in general — in a new book, The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning: Tying Soft Traits to Hard Results.

Taking the plunge

Williams says it’s best to begin a move to paired leadership with a single pair. That could be yoking two people together to lead a department – or it could start at the top. When the CEO demonstrates the commitment and value of working with a coequal, it’s easier to get buy-in from the ranks.

It’s important to give the experiment enough time to blossom, because paired leaders need to adjust and synch up before productivity increases. Says Williams, “Be assertive on setting the pace by your example, and you’ll see some magical things happen.”

via Business 2 Community

The Best Tips for Backlinking and Efficient SEO

Powerful analytics tools are making it possible for businesses of any size to track keyword trends, popular content, and visitor activity. As you form your web content strategy, you must keep in mind the algorithms and behavior that search engines tend to use. Specific types of links and keywords will be more effective than others. Take a look at these four tips for crafting the best backlinks for your web content.

1. Avoid Duplicate Content

Google will filter out reused content, so make sure that your website copy is original. Search engines are trying to index helpful material that will contribute information on a particular topic. Don’t recycle content across multiple sites or copy articles word-for-word from other websites. Your content should be well-researched material that will help establish your site as an authority web presence.

2. Use Relevant Keywords

Analytics software can help you get an idea of what your visitors are searching to land on your webpage. These metrics can help you plan future content keywords and backlinks. Make sure that these keywords actually fit within the subject matter of your website. In the SEO world, it is considered risky and unethical to flood your content with hype words that do not relate to your website whatsoever. Too many redundant keywords and links can negatively impact your search listings. Keep an eye on your analytics software to identify upcoming potential keywords.

3. Page Rank

It is important to cultivate backlinks on websites that have high page rankings. Google uses the ranking system to measure authoritative web content. Backlinks to your website should be placed on reputable websites that regularly publish expert blog posts and informational content. These websites will also increase the amount of exposure your website gets, since you will be reaching new readerships. You can build relationships within your field by offering to write guest blog posts for other industry websites. Also, don’t be afraid to interact with readers in the comments section. This type of content exchange can generate great backlinks to your web presence on other authority websites.

4. Well-Crafted Anchor Text

Your anchor text includes the words that you click on. These should flow well within your article, and anchor text should never be duplicated. Search engines examine anchor text and links to understand what your website is about and who would benefit from reading it. You will also want to avoid linking to the same URL too often, since Google will only recognize the first instance of a URL on a website. Anchor text should be unique and fit the subject that is being discussed. In general, you want to hone your website content and blog articles so that they answer common visitor queries about your particular industry and product. By combining an aggressive keyword strategy with field-specific content, your website ranking and backlink success will improve.

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Coaching or Copywriting: Which Do You Need Most

OK, I know I’m going to step on many toes here and that is okay.

Last week I talked to a really smart coach I’ll call “Edith.” Edith is actually a composite of about ten people I’ve talked to in the last few weeks.

I know Edith is smart because we’ve had several conversations. I tweeted and commented on her blog posts.We’ve talked many times and I might even have interviewed her for a teleseminar. She’s funny, innovative, insightful and over the top creative.

But she says, “I’m not getting the results I want. People aren’t signing up for my lists or my programs.”

Edith claims to be doing well. She’s got a stream of clients and she hints she’s earning the proverbial six figures (or she’s getting close). She’s attending one of those platinum/gold/insider/mastermind weekends. And she’s paying around $10,000 a year for a coach.

Being tactful is tough for someone who’s got New York attitude in her DNA, but I manage to say it’s about the copywriting without using words like “lame,” “boring,” cookie cutter,” or “snoozeville.”

And she says, “My coach says copywriting important anymore.”

She’s telling the truth. I’ve heard many respected marketers say this publicly on their teleseminars.

She might add, “They told me to jazz it up and pay $35 an hour to a craigslist copywriter to tweak it.”

I choke on my coffee. That’s like saying you just painted your house a bilious shade of green because your cheap craigslist painter couldn’t read paint chips and now you want to touch up the trim so nobody will notice.

And then she says, “Anyway, I can’t hire a copywriter. I want my copy to sound like me.”

What I want to say is, “Frankly, your current copy doesn’t sound like you. You are smart, funny, creative. Your copy makes you sound like 50 of your closest competitors.”

Anyway, most of us can’t recognize our own voice.

Once a client asked me to include two paragraphs from a previous sales letter she wrote herself “Make sure to include them,” she instructed firmly.

So I did.

You can probably guess what happened. She loved the final copy … all but two paragraphs. Yep, those two.

“Where did those come from?” she asked. “I’d never say that.”

More than once, after I’ve interviewed Edith (or Tom or Harry) for a teleseminar, listeners write to say, “Wow! I had no idea they were so great! I didn’t get that from their website.”

And the truth is, when someone’s reading your sales letter, they’re not focused on your charming personality and style. That comes later, when they might actually look at your logo. For now they’re looking for a sense that you “get” what they’re about and you can deliver solutions. At this point they aren’t screening to see if you’re godzilla or a fairy godmother.

So let’s say you’ve got a limited budget. You can hire a coach to teach you WHAT you should do. Or you can hire a copywriter to GET IT DONE.

When you work with a copywriter, you recognize your strengths and find the holes in your strategy, usually within the first diagnostic call. You discover a whole new revenue stream, repackage your program, come up with new price points and dig up your buried treasure: the answer to the “What makes you great?” question.

Your copywriter won’t do this? Well, get another one and don’t look on craigslist.

You need a designer? Sure. Most copywriters know designers who can be trusted. Or get your copywriter to write instructions so your designer won’t create a website that drives clients away and charge you $5000.

Do you want a design that calls attention to itself? Or do you want something that works and delivers results? Read my ebook (no charge) on 5 Simple Web Design Tweaks That Will Get You More Clients.

So … does it work?

Well, awhile back I delivered a “Done For You” website for a professional on the west coast. She got a simple site with a basic design.

At first she was frustrated. Her phones weren’t ringing. She even said, “I think this whole project was a waste of money.”

Not the words a copywriter wants to hear.

Fast forward two years. She couldn’t pay someone to take down the site and she’d prepaid the hosting so she left it up.

Now she emailed me for a new reason. She was getting many queries from her site. She was moving to a bigger office to handle them and she needed to change the address and phone number on her website.

It works!

And if you want to test my ability to create your next success, check this out.

via Business 2 Community

Managing the Miracles of Mobile Apps and Smart Products

It didn’t take long to hook me. Forrester Research starts its white paper, “Mobile Is the New Face ofManaging the Miracles of Mobile Apps and Smart Products image 271989 l srgb s gl 300x199 Engagement,” with an amazing example of the miracles that mobile apps and smart products promise to perform.

By WiFi- and API-enabling the bathroom scale, Withings, a health and well-being products company, has connected this household staple to a system of more than 30 apps that can turn my weight and BMI into the diet solutions that will finally help me lose those 10 lbs.

So, yeah, I’m sold. Systems that harness mobile, social, cloud, and Big Data – fronted by apps and smart products – are a reformation. More than a “game changer.” More than a “transformation.” A true, Luther-esque shift in the way businesses look at enterprise IT.

Forrester sees mobile apps as the front end and first phase of Geoffrey Moore’s “systems of engagement.” We’re leaving the era of systems of record – of transactions, processes, and reports. We’re shaking hands with systems that exist for us – what we want, when and where we want it.

The case for mobile’s role as the new face of enterprise IT, not just devices that IT supports, is compelling. As the visible piece of systems of engagement, mobile apps deliver context-rich experiences: in-the-moment special offers, real-time business intelligence, customized and location-aware services, role-based or situational interfaces. Infinite possibilities.

Forrester also warns of the unintended consequences if, as is common today, mobile apps are treated as one-off projects.

  • Complications in coordinating data, access, and applications across multiple channels

  • Business processes designed for transactions, not engagement

  • Servers and infrastructure that can’t scale for an explosion of activity volume

  • Middleware, applications, and security models that don’t address the requirements of engagement

  • Design, development, and governance processes that don’t align with mobile requirements

All of this is prelude to what Forrester considers fundamental for CIOs moving into the Age of IT Reformation. It’s time for:

  • The office of the chief mobility officer and supporting mobile architecture team – Under the leadership of the CMOO, this specialized 10-30 person group is the coordinating force across all mobile business and technology projects and an incubator for the culture of engagement.

  • A mobile engagement guide – With “design for mobile first” as the mantra, the guide ensures that every business and technology team knows that mobile engagement is not business as usual. It draws out the best practices from every group investing in mobile and tablet apps.

  • A mobile architecture blueprint – The blueprint helps manage mobile technology investments. It lays out the technology issues that IT must resolve in order for mobile engagement apps to work.

There’s much more detail on this new organization in the full white paper, “Mobile Is the New Face of Engagement.”

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Your Brand Story – Who Should Write It?

In developing you personal brand, have you tried to write your brand story? Your brand story should express who you are and not what you have done. It should convey what you stand for, your morals and values.

Your Brand Story – Who Should Write It? image shutterstock 142759996 300x232Wow that is hard!

I have taken several of online programs to learn about the process of developing your brand story. What I discovered was I was really lousy at developing and writing my own brand story.

I had a couple of my client’s work this process and they did not do any better. In fact, most would never finish. Hmm.. why is this?

I work with baby boomers, who want to take a pivot in their career. I use the Birkman assessment to pick their personalities apart and work through what interests them, how they make decisions, how they fit into the workplace, how they behave and more importantly how they want to be treated. I have completed more than one hundred assessments and thorough feedback sessions. There has been one universal theme:

We do not see ourselves the way other people see us!

What I have discovered is, the worst person to write your brand story is you!

Do marketing professionals sit quietly in a room by themselves and dream up brand ideas? No! They collaborate, they brain storm, they bounce ideas off one another.

When working on your brand and brand story it is important to get outside help and feedback.

I work with clients in a very systematic way to develop their brand story.

Common Theme

Almost all of us have a common theme that has played out through out our lives. The problem is many of us have difficultly seeing it. We are just too close to it.

Work with a close friend, relative, or even a career professional to assist you in developing the common theme. An outsider will see this much more readily than you will. This may be a bit painful but often our greatest lessons and later victories can be tied to experiences that came out of dark times.

Label Yourself

Work with same people who helped you develop a theme to develop a label that defines you. When I worked for IBM in the 1990’s I referred to myself as an articulate techno-weenie, which is an oxymoron. I now refer to myself as a recovering engineer.

Have fun with this. Ask for feedback from friends. Ask them for words that describe you. Ask them if you were an animal, what animal would you be?

Writing the story

You should not do this final step. Find a close friend or relative who writes well to work on this with you. This should be an iterative process and the final product should be put in the summary section of your LinkedIn profile.

The summary section of the LinkedIn profile is limited to 2,000 characters! This limits you to 4-6 paragraphs. The writing needs to be tight and targeted.

Remember the story should express who you are and not what you have done!

You can look at my LinkedIn profile to see an example. I did not write this but my co-author of Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers Susan Lahey wrote it!

I am the worst person to write my own brand story. What about you?

You ready to give this a try?


Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, published in January 2013, which has been featured on, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit. Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.

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Add A Contact Form To Your Blog Without Using A Plugin!

Add A Contact Form To Your Blog Without Using A Plugin! image contact us hand 200x200Plugin-Free

Contact Forms

If you’re not doing elaborate things with your contact form then there is no reason that you should have to muck around with a plugin when a simple embed will do!

All plugins come with downsides, and even though Contact Form 7 is well optimized for speed, like many it can still be guilty of running on (slowing down) pages that are not your contact page.

Sometimes, a simple copy-paste script is all you need!

The Embedded Contact Form Alternatives!

I’ve prior discussed how to do this with Google Drive Forms, but that is a very labor intensive process if you need to use captcha. (Which you do, or bots will spam you mercilessly!)

I started out wanting to use but their embed script was not playing nice at all on WordPress.

Then I tried to use as recommended by some other bloggers, but it is somewhat clunky and appears to no longer be in active development.

I’ve used successfully before – but I wanted something with less of their branding while still being free.

If I was using it on a site with heavy traffic I might look at (but I’m not, at least not yet).

So I finally settled on using: which is super simple, straight forward, and does one thing well (with minimal app branding).

The only downside to Kontactr (which is also an upside in some cases) is that it uses a script embed rather than an iframe. I’m cool with that – but older versions of WordPress may not be happy with this. (Upgrade your site!)

Using Kontactr To Add An Embedded Contact Form To Your WordPress Site

1) Visit and set up a free account. Confirm your email address and then log in.

2) Once logged in, you can either copy the “Ajax Widget” as it is or click customize to make changes. I’m using it “as is”.

Add A Contact Form To Your Blog Without Using A Plugin! image kontactr 1 550x408

3) Create a page on your WordPress site named “Contact” or “Contact Us” and add your desired text. Then flip over to the Text/HTML tab and paste in your script after the text.

Add A Contact Form To Your Blog Without Using A Plugin! image kontactr 2 550x318

3) Preview then Publish your page and go view the result.

Add A Contact Form To Your Blog Without Using A Plugin! image kontactr 3 455x550

4) (Be sure the page is published) Fill in the form with some sample data and hit send. To verify that it works. You should then see a confirmation message display:

Add A Contact Form To Your Blog Without Using A Plugin! image kontactr 5 550x148

5) Check your email inbox and in a few moments you should receive the test email:

Add A Contact Form To Your Blog Without Using A Plugin! image kontactr 4 550x202

(Though it shows “no-reply” as the from email address… the email address the person provided is actually the reply-to address. So all you have to do is reply to the message to send them an email.)

6) It works and you’re done!

It’s as simple as that to add a simple contact form to your website or blog without mucking around with plugins.

This is an excellent replacement for a plugin when you do not need an elaborate form with more “stuff”.

If you have more advanced needs, be sure to check out Contact Form 7 and if you need more than that, use Gravity Forms (it rocks!).

Many contact forms are guilty of calling their plugin data (and thus slowing stuff down) on every page of a site… even though we only use them on a single page! By using a script such as this, we ensure that we do not need to do development tweaks to make the contact form plugin behave.

Of course, you will want to check in, every few months, to make sure that it is still working, since free tools like this come and go.

Do you have a contact form on your website? What do you use for it?

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Customer Service, The Next Generation: 8 Megatrends Evolving Customer Service

Customer Service, The Next Generation: 8 Megatrends Evolving Customer Service image customerpowerThe customer service landscape is changing at a blinding pace as emerging technologies and their convergence make keeping up, much less pulling ahead, a continuous challenge. There are eight overarching trends that are making an across-the-board impact for leaders in the customer service and experience space:

1. New Age Support: Millennial customers represent the largest segment of customers since the baby boomers, and they have exponentially-growing expectations for brands and their customer service.

2. Power Shifts from Brand to Customer: In the past, businesses and organizations have been privy to a Wizard of Oz type of respect from consumers, where the brand could broadcast its sales and marketing messages to all without much question or public dialogue. Customers wanting to speak with the man behind the curtain reached out via channels closed to the general public view, controlled by scripts which standardized the service process and ensured predictable outcomes. But the time of the brand controlling its appearance from behind the curtain is no more.

3. Speed and Agility Provide the Advantage: In a 2013 LivePerson Connecting with Customers report, 83% of more than 5,000 consumers said they consistently need some type of support during their online journey, and 70% of those surveyed expect assistance within five minutes. Yes, five minutes.

4. Social Media, It’s Not Just for Marketing Anymore: Even while recognizing social media’s mass proliferation and the power to alter public perception and opinion of a brand with just a single post or tweet, most mid-market to enterprise brands have not moved to integrate social media into their key business processes. For some, social media remains a marketing-siloed function. But that’s about to change…

5. Mobile Matters: In a February 2013 Forrester Research report, Mobile Engagement Demands Process Transformation, Forrester forecasts that companies will spend about $900 million on mobile process reinvention services in 2013, a number that will more than triple in 2014. Brands must now answer to the channel that has become part of our global lifestyle.

6. The Convergence of the Twain – SoMoGlo: Mobile, social, SoMoLo, SoMo Glo, SoMoClo, social TV, multi-device, click-to-call… as more and more channels begin to mix and meld, it will be increasingly hard to offer service on one but not the other. From phones to tablets to laptops and TVs, Ericsson predicts that more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the web by 2020.

7. The Big Challenge of Big Data: The Nexus of Forces has created a user-driven ecosystem and a vast amount of information which must be gathered and managed from more sources and customer engagement channels than ever before. The ability to manage, select, focus and act on data will make all the difference going forward.

8. Knowledge is Power: A recent study from Fleishman-Hillard found that 89% of consumers go directly to business websites or turn to Google, Bing, social media or online reviews to find information on products, services or businesses before any human interaction takes place, if it ever does. Content is king for brands, every facet of it, and that includes customer service.

New Parature Whitepaper Details 8

Megatrends Evolving Customer Service

Parature’s new whitepaper, Customer Service: The Next Generation, details the eight megatrends above, featuring a wealth of new statistics and key insights from Forrester and Gartner analysts on best practices and the trends that demand every brand’s immediate attention.

Click Here to Download this Free Whitepaper.

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The Care and Nurturing of Your Personal Brand

Creating a brand isn’t a set it and forget it proposition. Even after you’ve gotten a job or built a successful business, you need to nurture and protect your brand. A strong, positive brand shows you have character and competence, which can carry you far in business and work. But one little flub can ruin your personal brand, your business and your future work prospects. Here are some tips to keeping your personal brand growing and healthy:

The Care and Nurturing of Your Personal Brand image shutterstock 110182514 300x210Be the best you can be. Several years ago, I bought an HP computer and after installing some software, I started to have trouble. Not only was I able to talk to a live support person, but she called me back several days later to make sure the fix worked. This experience has always stuck with me because so often when I need tech help, I can’t get live support, at least not without paying a hefty fee, and here HP was calling me to follow-up.

More than anything, brand is about value. Providing stellar service or being a top-notch employee is the best way to maintain and expand your personal brand. Respond to issues in a timely, professional manner and don’t cut corners.

Watch what you say and do. No one would question that Abercrombie & Fitch caters to the young, hip and cool, but the company’s CEO Mike Jefferies, damaged the brand when he said the company targets “all-American” kids and that a lot of people don’t belong in their clothes, suggesting he didn’t want overweight or ugly people wearing his brand. The comment set off a firestorm of negative publicity, petitions and social media buzz that forced the company to make a public apology.

Building a brand takes a great deal of time and effort that can be ruined in an instant with an insensitive or careless remark. Businesses are not the only ones at risk. Many employees have been fired for comments made on blogs and social media. And while you may be protected by freedom of speech from being arrested for sharing your beliefs, consumers and employers are not bound by that section of the Constitution. Unless you want to answer to upset customers or managers, take care in what you say, not just online, but in front of people who might share your comments with others.

Monitor what others say about you. Remember the telephone game, in which you sat in a circle and a message would be passed from one person to the next? The fun of the game was in discovering how the message changed from the first person to the last. This type of phenomena can happen in business and work as well. Gossip and bad news spreads fast, and often it gets worse and more inaccurate with each retelling. The best way to prevent this is to pay attention to what others say about you. Online, this can be done through Google Alerts, which will send you notifications when your name and/or business name is mentioned.

When you’ve discovered something negative is being said about you, strive to correct it or make it right. Don’t respond with anger or threats, which can inflame the issue and contribute your “bad reputation.” Instead, answer with truth and professionalism.

Your brand is a living, breathing asset that needs your attention and protection. Keep your brand healthy and flourishing by providing the best service possible, being careful about what you say and do, and monitoring what others say about you.


Leslie Truex is a career design expert who has been helping people find or create work that fits their lifestyle goals since 1998 through her website Work-At-Home Success. She is the author of “The Work-At-Home Success Bible” and “Jobs Online: How To Find a Get Hired to a Work-At-Home Job”. She speaks regularly on career-related topics including telecommuting and home business.

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