samedi 30 novembre 2013

6 Ways To Make Your Message Resonate Better

6 Ways To Make Your Message Resonate Better image have more impact 300x225

Customers are bombarded with an array of messages coming at them from marketing platforms ranging from email, SMS, mobile, social, media, display, digital, point-of-sale and print advertising. The sheer volume of messages can be overwhelming. So it’s important for marketers to get their messages right from the start. Rather than hoping for the best, here are some simple techniques to improve and refine your messages so it appeals to a targeted set of customers:

1. Talk Like Them – If you produce a toy which is aimed at 9-year-olds then remember to ‘talk’ their language so they will notice. If you’re pitching your service to an operations manager in a mid-size corporate firm then, if needs be, use the appropriate business language to spark their attention. The language you choose says much about your audience and your knowledge of how that audience engages with certain language characteristics. You could call this “linguistic mirroring”. You’re creating rapport through language in order to match your prospect’s mindset and circle of knowledge.

2. Focus On End Benefits, And Prove Them – You passionately believe your unique product or service solves a real pain point or problem productively. Most people will need educating as to what exactly are the key benefits. By researching what exactly the end result is you can tailor the messages more precisely to each market segment. For example: does the business service minimise business bottlenecks, power critical issues, and enable staff to perform more efficiently? Does the service bring departments closer together? Does the consumer product make people feel happier, healthier, or safer? The more simple and clear the message, the easier it will be for your customers and prospects to understand the product in their mind. In addition it’s also up to you to provide some evidence for your message.

3. Think Up One Emotional Idea – Often just focusing on one big idea can be enough to encapsulate what your service or product is about. For instance if your product line streamlines productivity then the “big idea” campaign could potentially focus on the concept of ‘a new world of talent’. If your product is about an ‘eco’ cosmetic skin product then the big idea could be around extending a customer’s healthy lifespan as well as acting environmentally to save the planet. The simple ‘big idea’ acts a golden chance to make your product or service resonate emotionally.

4. Check What Your Competitors Say – You operate in a competitive market. By routinely checking what competitors say and evaluate their calls to action you can more accurately determine what their own message is. When the marketplace is scanned you as a savvy marketer can successfully separate their messages from the clutter, and strengthen the bond with customers. Ultimately messages should have the power to stand up against rivals.

5. Mine Your CRM System – Traditionally a CRM system has acted as a contacts database. Though CRM has come a long way in the last few years. It’s morphed into an all-powerful technology system which serves to generate prospects, develop customer ‘personas’, and deliver targeted campaigns through multiple marketing channels. The latest CRM system allows employees at both small and big organisations to become highly productive. It enables sales and marketing teams to clarify which customers consume inbound content, at what ‘tipping’ stage to contact them for a sale, and what tasks to automate and report on. The sheer richness of information will inform your tailored messages and marketing communications which can be activated through the company web, social media platforms, mobile CRM app, and email for improved sales conversions.

6. Listen Closely To Customer Chatter – The Halcyon days of brand-led ‘push/pull’ marketing are fading fast, if not dead already. These days customers call the shots. Education, content, and digital are lauded as the new marketing. People more readily educate themselves on products, and interact with organisations via the web and social media. The inexorable rise of social media means you cannot afford to “switch off” once the day job finishes, because customers will talk about your product or business on social media 24/7. It’s wise to closely track and monitor all customer feedback on your social media platforms in order to tweak messages where necessary. Equally, this approach sends out the message that you effectively provide excellent customer service and online PR to an engaged audience: your fans and followers.

via Business 2 Community

What Sex Has Taught Us About Our Content Strategy and Attracting Prospects

What Sex Has Taught Us About Our Content Strategy and Attracting Prospects image InNetwork3

I’m a strong believer in the power of influence marketing and content marketing. So much of it overlaps, from co-creating content with influencers, to influencers sharing your content once it’s published. And the beauty of it is, if you do it right, you’ll have plenty of chances to attract the right customers. But you need to know what your prospects like, if you’d like to get into their ‘figurative’ pants.

What Sex Has Taught Us About Our Content Strategy and Attracting Prospects image medium 2722712047

photo credit: via photopin

The following advice applied to 3 things: Improving your content strategy, scoring new clients, and having better sex (we like to give professional and personal advice in the same posts):

  • Listen to the needs of the person and respond to their interests

  • Don’t force them to go somewhere or do anything they don’t want

  • Make them feel comfortable

  • Find out what they like, don’t like, and then adapt

The only way to find out all of this information is to open up a dialogue, and start asking questions.

Start By Asking The Right Questions

I wrote a post last week introducing you to how we’re approaching our new content strategy. The major topic of that post was about asking the right questions. We asked our prospects about how they consume information online, which better helped us adapt our social media strategy. We’ll write more about how we specifically changed our own online behaviours in later posts. But for now, lets focus on some of the questions we asked our prospects :

  • What are your personal interests?

  • What’s your favourite format for consuming content?

  • What value do you want from content?

These are only some of the questions we asked, but they were the most relevant to our content strategy. Most of our prospects are women between the ages of 23-28. We know that they’re interested in travel, fashion, active lifestyle, and cooking, so we try to incorporate this in our content as much as we can. Some of them even mentioned that they like websites like BuzzFeed, Mashable, Gawker, and People Magazine. So this is why we started our Hits and Giggles series, to add an element of fun to our website.

The general consensus was that most of our prospects like to consume case studies, or short-form content. They will read long-form content (over 1000 words) too, but it has to be extremely eye-catching, and valuable. They’ll skim through long-form content more than short-form. The value of the content needs to help them with their jobs – can it advance their career? Can it make them look good in front of their bosses? Can it help them score a new client? Can it help them make daily tasks more efficient? Can it educate them on a topic they’re currently working on?

How We Changed Our Content To Reflect Our Clients’ Needs

From the information we gathered, we adapted our content strategy, starting with our blog first. We started incorporating personal interests into our headlines, and have a blend of short-form and long-form content. We also started publishing guest posts from industry experts, as we know that our prospects look at influencers and experts for content as well.

Now, we know we still need to work on a few things, like case studies (which are in production), and creating content for other websites too (guest blogging), but so far, it’s been paying off!

Search traffic has gone up, because we’re providing valuable content that PR and marketing professionals are looking for. Our social media traffic has gone up, because our content has suddenly become more interesting (on both a professional and personal level). Our engagement with prospects and influencers has gone up, because our content sparks conversation, and is sometimes provocative. And most importantly, we’re generating more inbound leads by entertaining, educating, and providing valuable articles for prospects.

So just like sex, content marketing has a lot of give and take, and proper communication will always make it better. Find out what tickles your clients’ fancy, and incorporate it into your content marketing to reap the benefits, and score! In my next posts, I’ll focus on how we changed our social media behaviours and content curation to attract targeted prospects, and how our whole strategy comes together by working with influencers.

What kind of content do your clients/customers/prospects like? What are their personal interests? How can you attract more leads through content marketing and influencers? Please leave a comment below!

via Business 2 Community

4 Essential Ingredients to Creating an Epic Audience Experience

4 Essential Ingredients to Creating an Epic Audience Experience image epic audience experienceThe idea of how to creating an epic audience experience has been a meaty subject that I’ve been noodling on for the past year.

I firmly – hand of my Walking Dead comic books – believe that you shouldn’t just speak, but create an experience for your audience.

I’ve never been sure just HOW to go about doing this. What’s the process? What does it mean for the audience to have an experience with a speaker?

My friend and the co-founder of Blogcast FM (which you should be listening if you’re not), Srini, is organizing The Instigator Experience. He and his co-conspirator chatted on the podcast about what this event would be like and how it would be different from any other conference in the history of time.

After listening, I went to pilates. After getting my butt handed to me, I hobbled back to the Mini, and it hit me (not my Mini).

Emotion. Value. Action. Meaning. The ingredients of an epic audience experience.

What do you want your audience to feel?

The first step in creating an epic audience experience is to tap into an emotion.

When was the last time you started preparing for a presentation by pondering the question, “How do you want your audience to feel as they take this crazy journey with you?”





Mad as hell and they are NOT going to take it anymore.

Emotion is how we connect with each other. It’s essential to think about how you want to make your audience feel. It’s how you build a lasting relationship with the people you speak to.

Share a crazy amount of value

The one piece of advice that I give all my entrepreneurial clients is: Give your best idea away for free.

They bristle and say “If I give them my best stuff, no one will hire me.”

Wrong. They’ll hire you because you impacted their life. You made a significant change in your listeners. They’ll want more from you.

For an audience to have an experience, they must value it. Remember, the only reason to ever give a speech is to create change!

Taking action

Now, it’s not enough to vomit information at an audience. Too many speakers who “sell from the stage” overwhelm with information.


Because then you’ll hire the guru on the stage to clarify and show you how to implement what they spewed on you.

Yuck (on the speaker and this metaphor is getting totally gross).

During your presentation, what action can your listeners take to implement the information NOW?

Recently, I saw a speech on goal setting. At first, I thought “YAWN another speech on goal setting…BORING!”

Bad, cynical Michelle! It was awesome. Why? We went through her process for goal setting together. At the end, we implemented her process and had a goal that was not only SMART, but was tied into how we would FEEL after we accomplished it.

The best part? She had us share our newly crafted goal with her and each other.

Which brings me to the final ingredient in creating an audience experience…

Co-create meaning

When I was in Ph.D. school this idea of co-creating meaning was all the buzz. In a nutshell, meaning emerges because of the relationships we have with each other.

The big problem with the speaking industry or speaking in almost any setting is it does not allow the audience to co-create meaning with the speaker. It’s one-way communication. There’s a huge divide between speaker on stage and person in a chair listening.

When we create meaning together, we all have a richer, more creative, and more inspiring experience. The speaker actively interacts, asks questions, and has the audience connect with each other.

You know why I remember a presentation on goal setting? Because I shared my thoughts, I talked with the other people and shared in their dreams.

Meaning was made, and an experience had.

It’s hard work to create an experience

Giving a speech is easy compared to creating an experience. However, if you prepare by absolutely knowing what you want your audience to feel, understanding the insane amount of value you create, having the audience take action and co-create meaning, I know your presentation will make a huge splash and change lives.

P.S. If you are challenged by creating an speaking experience, I still have a limited number of free Presentation Transformation sessions available. Bring me your biggest speaking challenge, and I’ll craft up a few actions that will make a huge difference in your communication. Snag a session now before they are gone!

via Business 2 Community

Simple Marketing – Eliminate Confusion and Win New Customers

Simple Marketing – Eliminate Confusion and Win New Customers image simple marketing eliminate confusion

Simple marketing eliminates confusion and encourages action

In this complex world of too many choices, a small business can stand out from the competition through simple marketing.

Simple marketing also helps to eliminate the marketing overwhelm facing business owners due to the rapidly changing digital landscape. Marketing overwhelm creates paralysis, guaranteeing that nothing gets done, and those activities that do are often random and ineffective.

Customers are looking for simple solutions to their complex problems

No one has time to sort through complex messages, confusing web design or too many options in order to find the solution to their challenges. The Global Brand Simplicity Index 2013 by Siegel+Gale points out that customers are looking for simplified experiences, which can lead to increased revenue, loyalty and referrals.

Business owners are looking for simple activities to create visibility for their businesses

Online marketing requires action on a daily basis. The days are gone for a small business to place an ad in the Yellow Pages and then go about their daily business activities. Content needs to be continually created, optimized and promoted in order to implement a successful inbound marketing strategy. However, small business owners feel overwhelmed by all the options available and continue to redirect their efforts every time something new catches their attention.

Here are 6 tips to simplify your marketing and help your business uniquely standout from the competition:

1. Focus on one specific target market

Picking the right target market enables you to become laser focused on addressing their particular challenges.

Simple Marketing – Eliminate Confusion and Win New Customers image right target market

Choosing the right target market simplifies your marketing efforts

If you try to market your products and services to an undefined audience, you most likely will fail. Many small business owners avoid making a decision to target a specific market and try and be “all things to all people” because not making a decision feels less risky. That is far from reality.

Being clear about who you work with increases efficiency, eliminating wasted time and money on activities that are random and unfocused. And despite being a prominent marketing myth, defining a target market will not limit your business. Directing your marketing efforts towards a specific market increases the clarity of your message and heightens your visibility to a much broader market.

2. Create a simple marketing plan

Creating a simple marketing plan helps you choose strategies that are focused on attracting your ideal client within your target market.

Without a simple marketing plan , you may be selecting marketing activities as you would food from a Chinese menu. However, when it comes to marketing, the Chinese menu approach does not work and usually results in a bad case of heartburn. With so much distraction in our day-to-day activities, we need to put structure around our marketing so we remain focused on our goals. We have only so much time to devote to marketing, so let’s use that time wisely.

3. Simplify your message

Crafting messages that are simple, compelling and focused on the problem you solve for your ideal client creates visibility across a wider market.

Too many companies create complex messaging. Figure out what your ideal client wants and focus on the most important point that you want to communicate. Let your audience know what problem you solve for them and why they should work with your business. It is understandable that you may want to share everything there is that is wonderful about what you offer, but remember that your potential customer only cares about what you can do for them. Ensure you present your solutions simply and in their language so it is easy for them to make a decision, helping them move swiftly through the sales process.

4. Create an action plan

Simple Marketing – Eliminate Confusion and Win New Customers image marketing action plan details 300x253

Marketing Action Plan defines the details needed to complete a marketing activity

Developing an action plan helps you define a realistic set of activities based on your resource limitations.

A marketing action plan eliminates random activities that create haphazard results. It takes your marketing plan one step further and assigns dates, topics and other activities to each activity so that it eliminates the guess work and ensures you always know what you should be doing and when.

5. Clean up your website

Simplifying your website to clearly guide your visitor helps them find what they are looking for and helps you convert them into a lead.

Most small business websites say too much or not enough and have a design that detracts from its usability. Your web site needs to lead your visitors through the site with the purpose of helping them decide what action to take. If you let the visitor wander without a clear path, you run the risk of them getting confused, frustrated and leaving before they tell you who they are. Make sure your website design is clean and easy to navigate and your home page clearly speaks to your ideal client, helping them understand why you can help them solve their biggest challenge.

6. Select your social media wisely

Selecting and then dominating the social media channels that best reach your ideal client is more effective than trying to create a strong presence across them all.

Simple Marketing – Eliminate Confusion and Win New Customers image social media channels

Pick your social media channels wisely

You do not have to be on every social platform in order to make an impact in your business. You hear about how businesses use Pinterest or Twitter to grow their business and you feel you need to do the same. But your strategy is going to look different than others, even in your industry, and you need to decide which platforms make sense for you.

Take some time to figure out where your target market hangs out and make sure you have a strong social presence there. When you successfully build a strong presence on the more appropriate social channels, you can decide when or if it makes sense to add another to your online presence.

What are you waiting for?

Simple marketing has benefits for both your customers and your business. Keep your marketing simple and help your ideal clients understand why they will benefit from working with you.

How do you simplify your marketing to help your target audience and you?

via Business 2 Community

Michelle Obama and Sesame Street Team Up to Market Healthy Foods

Michelle Obama and Sesame Street Team Up to Market Healthy Foods image sesame 300x144

A new advertising campaign focused on getting kids excited about healthy foods will soon be launching – and with the endorsement of First Lady Michelle Obama to boot. An agreement with the popular children’s show means that boxed and bagged fruits and vegetables will now be able to carry the faces of the Sesame Street characters.

Boosting Fruit and Veggie Consumption

According to an announcement from Michelle Obama (along with Sesame Street characters Elmo and Rosita), starting as soon as mid-2014, bagged, boxed, and individual pieces of produce can now carry the faces of these fuzzy monster friends. The catch? Produce companies can now use this product promotion tactic absolutely free of charge due to collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association.

The idea, of course, is to help kids learn that fruits and vegetables are not just healthy but also fun. Hopefully, according to Michelle Obama herself, these healthy choices will be a little easier for kids to make with this new marketing effort. The agreement is intended to last for two years, and for Sesame Workshop to provide the use of these characters free of charge for marketing efforts is a huge step forward for the produce industry.

The Takeaway

Advertising to kids is changing, and as it turns out, these efforts are working. Marketing fruit has already gained quite a bit of leverage. Says Michelle Obama, “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy, and chips.”

The takeaway here is that good marketing campaigns can change the face of almost anything. Young children who might have once turned their noses up at healthy fruits and vegetables may find that the presence of their favorite characters creates a newfound enthusiasm for nutritious foods.

What do you think of the new campaign? Do you think kids will respond well?

via Business 2 Community

5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Employee Scheduling Software

5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Employee Scheduling Software image iStock 000015878418XSmall6Overworked managers have enough on their hands without throwing employee-scheduling issues into the mix. Although the majority of retail and restaurant managers still use printed calendars and digital spreadsheets to manage their staff schedules, a crop of new web-based tool employee scheduling software making the process easier.

The average restaurant manager spends between one and eight hours a week creating employee schedules using spreadsheets and printed ledgers, according to a survey by TimeForge. As a business grows and the number of employee increases, the complexities related to scheduling issues can quickly multiply. Vacation days, work hour limitations, and employee preferences all have to be taken into account when creating staff schedules, and last-minute changes can throw a major wrench in the process.

Although there is no doubt that employee scheduling software is more expensive than traditional methods of scheduling management — after all, a pen-and-paper are almost free — the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Here are five reasons why companies should consider using employee scheduling software.

1. Time

Employee scheduling software automates what was previously a manual process for managers, saving employers significant time. Managers input each employee’s preferences once, and cloud-based scheduling platforms take those preferences into account each time new staffing schedules are generated. Managers don’t have to worry about remembering which cashiers can’t work on Mondays or which part-time employees go to school during the day. As a result, they are better able to focus their attention on more pressing management issues.

2. Automated Staffing Adjustments

Connecting their scheduling systems to their point-of-sale (POS) or customer relationship management (CRM) platforms makes it possible for companies to harness raw customer data and use that information to make better staffing decisions. Using POS data, managers can see when their stores or restaurants are busiest. Integrated scheduling tools take this information into account and seamlessly adjust employee shifts to account for customer demand. For example, if a retailer is always busy on Saturday mornings, then the POS system will feed that information into the scheduling software and an additional staffer will be assigned to an early morning shift.

3. Self-Scheduling

Let employees deal with last-minute shift changes on their own. Rather than asking a manager to find someone else to cover a shift, or emailing the entire staff to find a replacement, cloud-based tools offer a way for employees to connect with each other behind-the-scenes. Deals for shift coverage can be worked out via in-app messaging systems. Self-scheduling features allow employees to make the appropriate changes to their schedules without bogging down managers with unecessary requests.

4. Unlimited Changes

One simple change to a weekly staff schedule can have a rippling effect that takes hours to sort out. By switching from spreadsheets to automated software, managers can quickly generate completely new schedules at any point during the week. Most scheduling tools will still take employee preferences into account when making scheduling adjustments, and staffers can be notified automatically if any of their shifts have moved as a result of the changes.

5. 24/7 Accessibility

It’s not uncommon for employees to have questions after their weekly schedules have been printed. By giving employees their own logins for the company’s scheduling platforms, managers are providing a way for staffers to view their own schedules at any time, day or night. Systems can be set up to automatically notify employees via email, SMS, or push notification when their schedules are available to review each week. This cuts down on the number of back-and-forth emails and phone calls that come about when employees have questions about the hours they’ve been assigned to work. It also eliminates the chances of an employee claiming that he or she didn’t know that a particular shift was scheduled.

via Business 2 Community

How to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter

How to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter image identify thought leaders twitterOut of all the companies actively using Twitter to promote their content to reach a wider audience, I wonder how many are missing some simple tricks and not identifying or engaging with thought leaders?

If you’re one of them, then below is one way that you can achieve this.

Twitter predictive search

When you start typing into Twitter’s search bar, you will see predictive search queries appear based on what Twitter thinks you may want to see.

For example, when you type in ‘social media’ you start to see suggested results for; social media marketing, social media results, social media today and more.

At this stage, each of these predictive search results are potential research opportunities to delve further into. I would make a note of these in an Excel file or Google doc and come back to them for supplementary research.

How to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter image Twitter search

Twitter results filtering

How to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter image twitter results

Once you select the search query, you will have options to filter your results by; top, all or people you follow – for this exercise of finding thought leaders, ‘top’ and potentially ‘all’ will be of most interest.

  • Top’ will filter by the most relevant Twitter results based on your query and the level of engagement and interactivity surrounding the post

  • All’ – as the filter suggests – will be everything deemed relevant to the query

  • People you follow’ will be everything deemed relevant, filtered only to people you follow

Who are relevant profiles following?

Asking this question will take your thought leadership approach to a natural next stage ie. who is leading the leader? Applying this logic to a number of identified thought leaders will enable you to start to see trends and correlation between identified thought leaders relevant to your search query and who they follow and look to for updates and advice.

Twitter sharers, promoters and retweeters

At this stage, our single goal is not simply finding thought leaders but also getting the most from our content marketing. So whilst we may have now discovered a number of thought leaders, you will want to question whether thought leaders alone will also be the main content sharers, retweeters and people engaging with the content.

An easy step to take whilst in the Twitter main interface is to check some of the most highly commented posts relevant to your query and identify trends with who is engaging with it – bringing into your follower network natural content engagers and sharers will support greater reach and a more active (and naturally increasing) audience.

Tools for Twitter

As with almost every social media platform there are great external tools that you can use specifically for finding and connecting with more people and for getting more out of the social platform.

For Twitter, can be a great tool to help explore who your current follower are, when to engage with them, how to identify more followers and more.

Other tools like can help if you are managing multiple Twitter accounts, allowing you to create repeat searches, keep track of activities and much more.

Who to follow

If you are looking to build on your existing follower base, you can use the ‘who to follow’ recommendations tab to see who Twitter recommends. Don’t forget to dig deeper than the initial highlighted accounts and use the ‘view all’ feature:

How to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter image twitter who to follow


It’s surprising how many Twitter posts don’t include #hashtags but they have a great purpose and can certainly lead you in the direction of industry leaders currently discussing key topic areas as well as key trending topics to gather initial engagement.

If I were to leave you with a final tip…don’t forget to look outside of Twitter for lists of key accounts to follow based on other people’s research. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you look to complete research on social media.

Think about search queries like the following and you will discover authoritative thought leader lists from surprisingly good sources (don’t forget to de-generalise these by including a sector):

  • Top 100 Twitter accounts

  • Best Twitter accounts 2013

  • Top 10 people to follow on Twitter

via Business 2 Community

Giving Back for Your Legacy and Personal Brand

Giving Back for Your Legacy and Personal Brand image shutterstock 49081369 221x300Have you thought about giving back lately?

I have attended more than my share of funerals and memorial services in the last few years as my friends and colleagues have died before their time. It makes you feel pretty mortal when someone younger than you dies.

I have a client who recently attended the funeral of a high school teacher who died in his early 60’s and he was struck by how many lives this teacher had touched. The outpouring of emotions and love really touched him. Having spent a couple of years teaching at an inner city high school, I can relate that teachers are in the position to affect a lot of children’s lives in positive ways. Those effects can last a lifetime.

Most of us in our corporate careers have not been in a position to create such a legacy. Many of us are now thinking about giving back.

How can we do this?

Be a Mentor

Have you taken a younger employee under your wing at work and guided them? If you can provide nothing more than being a sounding board and providing encouragement, I can almost guarantee that they will appreciate it.

Serve on the Board of Directors of a Non-profit

Many non-profits need qualified people to serve on their boards of directors. These non-profits need your valuable professional skills. I have served on multiple non-profit boards of directors for professional associations and non-profits. I currently serve on the board of directors for Launch Pad Job Club, a thirteen year old organization that has served more than 12,000 individuals.


What about using skills that you do not use in your corporate life or develop new skills by volunteering? How about helping Habitat for Humanity to build a house? You might be surprised who shows up next to you. Jimmy Carter, maybe?

Find a cause that you are passionate about and go volunteer.

Over time you will meet many people and create a legacy in the minds of people you have helped.

I previously wrote a column called Paying it Forward to Establish Your Personal Brand. I like to think of Giving Back for your Legacy as paying it forward on steroids.

Will this contribute to your personal brand?


Does it really matter?

You tell me!


Marc Miller Career Pivot

via Business 2 Community

5 Powerful Tips to Becoming a More Productive Blogger

5 Powerful Tips to Becoming a More Productive Blogger image 5 Tips to Becoming a More Productive Blogger

There are so many problems that can arise when you’re trying to be a successful blogger. Maybe you can’t figure out what you want to write about. You might be suffering from writer’s block. You might get easily distracted while doing your Internet research. Do you plan out your writing to make it easier on you? Do you have goals and schedules set for your writing? Do you have some favorite productivity tools that you use? Following are some tips to help you in your journey of becoming a more productive blogger.

#1. Write

Have you ever stared at a blank page in your WordPress blog trying to decide what to write? “Blank page syndrome” is one of the biggest causes of loss of productivity when it comes to writing. Writing content is easy when you know what you’re writing about or you have an idea on how to get started. And often getting started is the problem.

So how do you get started?

This is going to sound weird, but the simplest way to get started blogging is to just get started. Open up a blank page and write anything that comes to mind. Steer it towards the topic you need to write about if you can, but you don’t have to. The idea here is to jump-start your thinking process. At some seemingly miraculous point during your writing you’ll have an idea and that idea will blossom and become that article or short story you need to get written. This process is called free writing and has been used for years to fix all manner of writer’s block.

Censor the inner editor

The idea behind the inner editor goes well with the idea of free writing. The concept is that when you write, you need to forget spelling errors and grammar mistakes. Don’t even worry about the exact order of the information. When you need to write, you just write. When you are done writing, you edit.

Don’t throw it out

Before you found that piece of writing hiding in your mind, you wrote stuff. It may be silly stuff. It may be stuff that makes no sense at all. It doesn’t matter. Save it. Read it again in the future. Something in there triggered an epiphany that saved you from the problem of getting started.

That same something or even a different something in the same writing might help again in the future. Maybe you want to write something fresh and new that isn’t in your editorial calendar. Free writes are treasures waiting to be polished.

Keep writing

Don’t stop now. Keep writing. Write every single day. Write for a set period of time every day. Writing is like any other skill. You have to keep practicing. You will get better. You’ll find your voice. But if you quit writing, there is a good chance that one day in the near future you’ll be sitting in front of a blank page trying to remember how to get started writing.

There’s the old saying, “use it or lose it.”

That goes for writing too.

#2. Avoid Distractions

Distractions are probably the second most common cause of productivity problems when you are blogging. They are especially common as you will be sat on your laptop and you need to do some online research for your next post, but the location where you write can be distracting too, if you’re not careful.

Avoid social media

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can be great places to do some networking as a writer. You can meet other writers. You can find clients if you’re a freelance writer. You can find publishers. Or you can just have a little fun “hanging out” with your Internet buddies. But when you are supposed to be writing, you need to stay away from these places. It’s also a good idea to turn off notifications on your mobile phone too.

I have only found one use for social media sites when I’m in the process of writing: asking questions. Maybe you need that one little suggestion to get the ideas flowing. Social media sites are great places to ask those questions. But once you ask that question, it’s time to leave. Don’t just sit there waiting for answers. Go write something else.

Only check every once in a while.

Turn off your e-mail

E-mail is a wonderful tool for communicating with others but it is also a time sink that can destroy your productivity. It can be as bad as social media and sometimes it can be much worse. Make sure to schedule an hour or so per day to deal with e-mail. If it takes you more time than that, you might want to look into unsubscribing from a lot of services or hiring someone to help.

The key to keeping e-mail from being a distraction is to get the e-mails out of your inbox quickly. A simple way to do that is to take a tip from masters of getting things done. Create three folders called Follow-Up, Waiting and Hold.

Anything in your inbox that needs to be answered or dealt with goes into the Follow-Up folder. Anything that is waiting for a response or action from someone else goes into Waiting. E-mails that contain information you’ll need soon go into Hold. Anything else can just be archived or deleted immediately make sure you’re using an e-mail service with a great spam filter.

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You can also try using another system such as inbox zero which a lot of people find works for them.


You need to pick a location to write that has the least amount of distractions possible. Don’t write in the living room if the family is watching television. Don’t write at a coffee house unless you have a way to keep your surroundings from distracting you. Music is a great way to drown out the distractions as long as you have a selection of music that doesn’t actually add to the distractions.

This is probably unique to me. I was working one day at my desk in my attic and I found the rain bouncing off the roof a soothing sound. I then actually found a website that plays the sound of rain a few months ago and often listen to it when I need to give something my complete focus.

So find what works for you and stick to it.

#3. Plan

Once you have your idea, it is time to plan. You need to spend a few minutes getting an outline done. The outline, in this case, does not even need to follow any specific rules. The concept of an outline before writing it is breaking up the writing into smaller chunks that are easier to write.

For example, if you want to write a 2000 word article on shopping tips for the holidays, you might start with a list of five major topics you want to cover. Then you would take each topic and come up with more specific topics that fall under each one. Instead of writing a 2000 word article, you are now writing a 100 word introduction, a 100 word conclusion and five smaller articles that are less than 400 words each.

It makes it simple

Planning may not sound like much, and it’s not. It doesn’t take much time at all. However, it makes the process of writing so much easier. Remember that at the beginning you learned that finding a topic or idea is the hardest part of writing. An outline provides several topics and ideas and makes it simple to just write until the project is done. And don’t worry if you don’t hit the word count you planned out. Sometimes you will write more about a subtopic and sometimes you will write less. It tends to even out over the entire project.

#4. Set Goals and Schedules

Blogging is a job just like any other. You need to set your own deadlines but the time of day and exact hours you write are all up to you.

You absolutely must set a schedule. Pick a specific time of the day to work and don’t let anything get in the way of that schedule. Act like you are working at a normal job. Would your boss be happy if you decided to watch a television show while at work?

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You are your own boss, so you shouldn’t be happy if you watch another episode of that show on Netflix during work hours. The beauty of being a writer with only a deadline is that you get to pick your own hours. Are you a night owl? Do you stay awake from midnight to six in the morning? Make those your writing hours. Are you more comfortable writing in your pajamas when you first get up in the morning? As long as your writing does not need to be done in an office environment, feel free. The important part is picking a schedule and sticking to it. Make it a routine.

Set firm goals

Goals are just as important as schedules. A schedule tells you when you are going to do the work. Goals let you know how much work needs to be done in the time available. Do you need to publish five or six 1500 word articles per week? Then that is a goal. Pick your goals and stick to them.

You need to stick to our goals and schedule. However, you also need to be reasonable with those goals and schedules. If you find you can’t write six articles per week, then you either need to look at adjusting your goals or schedule. Decide which is more important: the goal or the schedule, and then modify to fit.

#5. Use Productivity Tools

There are tons of tools out there that can be utilized by authors to make their time much more productive. Here are three tools worth considering:

1. Evernote

Remember the free writes? Evernote would be a great place to store those. With Evernote you can clip just about anything you see online or even your mobile phone and store it in a searchable and taggable environment. Store your free writes. Create a notebook for each project and clip pieces of research into the project it goes with. Evernote is an excellent tool for organizing any kind of information. When you are doing your research, you really shouldn’t be without it.

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If you’re interested in learning more about Evernote you should check out this post on using Evernote to be a more productive blogger.

2. Stayfocused

Everyone does it. They’re researching an article and they see a link to something on Facebook. They follow that link and suddenly they’ve spent two hours just browsing through Facebook and Twitter and now you’ve wasted half of your scheduled writing time. Stayfocusd is a Chrome plugin.

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Avoiding those distractions is so much easier when you have a tool that won’t even let you go to those distractions in the first place. You can set a specific amount of time you are allowed to visit a certain site each day and when that time is used up, Stayfocusd blocks you from going there. It’s brilliant and it’s free.

3. Trello

Trello is another place to store information. It is amazing for organizing projects such as major articles. And the part that makes Trello stand out is the fact that you can have other people working on Trello with you. Collaborations are so much easier to do when everyone involved is seeing the progress of the project and able to add their own spin on the project in real time. Imagine having an article and a video that need to be done.

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You’re writing the article and someone else is providing the video. If you both set up the project on Trello, he can see what you are doing with the writing and adjust the video to fit better while you can adjust the writing to fit his progress on the video.


Write. Avoid distractions. Plan. Set goals and schedules. Use productivity tools. Those are five ways to stay productive while writing. There are probably many more. Feel free to use these ideas and tips to make your own system of productivity. Maybe only one of these ideas works for you but you have ways to tweak the others to work for you too. You can do that. It’s your writing time.

Find the way to make it work best for you. No two people are the same, and that includes their productivity.

via Business 2 Community

Telemarketing Tips – Targeting Multiplies Value

In business, it’s often a common mistake to think that the raw value of any business is ultimately what wins competition. If your product is just that good, nothing else really matters. Not marketing, not sales, not financial management etc.

Obviously if you go any further, even a startup rookie’s going to find the idea stupid. Still, this misconception manages to slip through professionals’ minds in more subtle ways. In the end, even if they invest in, say, marketing, they still end up on just the product alone to make a sale.

Telemarketing Tips – Targeting Multiplies Value image triggered email marketingThe results can be disappointing if a product just doesn’t seem to stand up to the value being offered by larger, more popular competitors. You end up spending more money on development even though you know that you don’t always have the resources to compete that way.

What you need is a way to multiply your value without always going back to your workshop and come out with something else to sell. Don’t forget, there are still Davids who’ve knocked out their Goliaths. They didn’t always need a magic growth potion to compete. They used something else to multiply what would’ve otherwise been a lower value.

Here are two examples from Forbes:

“You can put the greatest seafood restaurant next to an average steak house in an urban area, and that steak house will do more business than the seafood place. If you go to the water, you can put an average seafood place next to the greatest steak house, and people are going to eat seafood.”Tilman Fertita, World’s Richest Restaurateur

“Not everything on Broadway has to be a Pulitzer prize-winning play. We are a tourist industry. Wake up and smell the coffee.”Philip William McKinley on Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

In both cases, the value itself wasn’t seen in the product or the service but where it was placed. It was aimed right instead of focusing on what was being sold. Best of all, a concept like that is simple enough that it can apply even in the context of B2B marketing.

  • Create your audience – There are many ways you can do this. You can claim a niche section of the market and specialize it. You can take advantage of locations or industries (kind of like the examples above).

  • Organize current customer base – If you already have a decent following, try to organize it so you can send more relevant content and marketing messages. What do customers in a managerial position prefer versus those further up the ladder?

  • Minimize process hiccups – Sometimes you can get more sales simply by having a faster process of qualifying B2B leads, setting appointments, and shortening the presentations by a minute or two. You may not be making much on each sale but the speed can easily accumulate the value and multiply it.

And as you can see, these are arguably cheaper most of the time compared to throwing more money at your R&D department. You could even outsource some of the non-core functions. Multiply your value instead of adding constantly to it.

Telemarketing Tips – Targeting Multiplies Value image 121DM3

via Business 2 Community

3 Stats That Prove Nonprofits Struggle to Keep Up with Content

No use pretending it isn’t true: at far too many organizations, content creation happens well before strategy or structure.

The result? Chaos, as recent research from the Aberdeen Group shows. But if you work at a nonprofit, you can feel especially overwhelmed by the amount of content marketing that needs to be produced, and the sense that not enough planning is in place.

A new report on benchmarks around content marketing among nonprofits was just released by Blackbaud and the Content Marketing Institute. Among the findings, 92% of nonprofit professionals use content marketing. Not only is the industry embracing content, but many sophisticated practitioners are focused on using their skills to raise money for worthy causes.

Still, if you meet someone cranking out content for a nonprofit, give that person a hug. The survey revealed some startling statistics that many nonprofits are facing increasing pressure to do more – often with less.

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1. Nonprofits are putting out more content.

65% of nonprofit professionals reported that they’re developing and producing more content. The need for content isn’t diminishing as more donors head to the Internet. The need to differentiate a cause and relate directly to donors and clients of a nonprofit’s services means professionals inside organizations are doubling down on production.

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2. Nonprofits are doing most of the content themselves.

If you think nonprofits are outsourcing all their content as they rush to produce more, think again. 50% of nonprofits are making content using only in-house resources. Oh, and another 49% use a combination of outside and in-house resources. So only 1% are using entirely outside resources.

That’s a good thing, as no one can explain a nonprofit’s mission or tell its story better than the staff. But it also means as content creation ramps up, most of the work is falling on the shoulders of employees.

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3. Strategy is lagging behind production.

More than half of the nonprofits surveyed had no content strategy. So that means nonprofits are producing and distributing more content, doing it mostly on their own, but have no set plan or process for ensuring the quality, consistency and effectiveness of all that content.

That’s going to need to change. As nonprofits create more content, they’ll need to invest time and resources into establishing a set process, a clear team, and the right tools if they want to excel rather than burnout. (In fact, the Blackbaud/CMI study found that 86% of the most effective nonprofits had someone in charge of overseeing content marketing strategy.)

Here’s to 2014 being the year of strategy!

via Business 2 Community

Will You Hire a Virtual Assistant in 2014?

Virtually everywhere!

They are virtually everywhere, accessible and have industry experience.

Do I have your attention?

Virtual assistants or outsourcing is the latest craze which has hit our social media platforms and search engines; even your next door neighbour could be one of them.

What is a VA you ask?

Two words come to mind… saver! Or another one of my favourites… support.

In fact, VAs are multi-skilled, reliable, working for themselves entrepreneurs, time conscious and task driven professionals; their prime objective is to get the task done.

They are virtually everywhere, online on their laptops, at home or at a coffee shop organising your inbox, creating templates, updating your website, prompting you, organising you, booking your flights and most important, supporting you to get things done.

VAs have industry experience have who worked in all facets of business support, they are specialist which can be outsourced for project work or have decided that they are in need of a job, so they decide to use their skills they once used or didn’t know they had and commence taking over the world!

VAs are information gatherers who are in need of keeping up with the latest information and changing technology. These attributes are what makes them employable and in demand.

Why do you need one?

We live in an ever changing competitive world. Do you feel as if you can’t keep up? Or that you are spending too much time doing things on your own to save money?

This is no longer practical for you or the running of a profitable business. You need to think outside the square to make things happen, efficiently that is.

How much do they cost?

Monthly, ongoing, or as I like to call it “one offs” are at your disposal.

For an efficient use of your investment, opt out from paying by the hour, alternatively, pay for the task. Your VA should have a set “price list or list of services” to provide and discuss with you.

The amazing thing about all this is that you can tailor a membership which suits the services you will require or may require throughout the month. Monitor your outgoings, and plan for what is in need of delegating, you will surprise yourself how efficient your business has become.

You still don’t know whether you are being quoted fairly, well, this is where you many need to do your due diligence and make a couple of comparisons.

My advice to you is not to think of it as shopping for the best price, focus on the output/quality, reliability and flexibility that there are no probation periods. Enlist on a VA for a month, testimonials on their business webpage and social media platforms which demonstrate samples of their work are a good indication of their skills and connections.

How do I find a VA?

Google Virtual Assistant or Outsource and you will be spoilt with choice. Be strategic:

  • No time, enlist the services of one of many Virtual Assistant and Outsourcing groups, 121 Temps, AVAA – Australian Virtual Assistants Association, Elance and oDesk who will shortlist potential connections for you to Skype with and choose. Essentially it is up to you, choose one or all three until you decide who you wish to continue with…it is that simple

  • LinkedIn is one of my favourite places to see it all in one place, not only are you reviewing the VA’s profile, but you are looking at their professional history, projects and endorsements. Don’t hesitate to inbox the individual who has endorsed the VA you are considering; remember they have already spent the time and money on their services.

  • Twitter, now there is a power search engine. Here is a tip, in your search field enter *Virtual Assistant* all the results with the word containing Virtual Assistant will be returned.

Many of my contacts and clients which I have been fortunate enough to assist have enlisted on a VA, whether it is on a need to need basis or on an ongoing arrangement. The advantage of connecting with a VA is if the connection does not work, there is always another VA which may be more suitable.

What do they do?

Perhaps you are wondering what a VA does? Instead I will be letting you know what a VA can’t do!

Phone calls

Listening to your voicemail and returning phone calls can be time consuming, particularly if your day is filled with meetings and travel.

Solution: Why don’t you divert your phone to your VA, calls will be answered, appointments will be made on your behalf; and your caller will feel looked after. The simplicity behind this is that between meetings or at the end of your day, you will be able to touch base with your VA to action urgent matters.


With your VA on board, you can discuss how to best manage your inbox/sent items and attachments.

Solution: Implementing automated filters and colour coding can assist you by identifying what is an urgent email, which emails can be reviewed at a later time, and most important, which emails you can now delegate to your VA to action to get things moving.


Your calendar needs to be updated with both business and personal matters.

Solution: Colour coding, uploading attachments to your appointments, and perhaps touching base with your VA once a week to discuss your priorities, is all you need.

Update social media platforms

Too many platforms to visit, post, update or tweet?

Solution: Discuss and set a social media strategy (schedule) which works best for your business. Your VA will then ensure things are actioned, articles are sourced, research is done, analytics are reviewed.

Structure, brand and uniformity

Does your business use documents to communicate with clients, agencies, government entities or councils, it is time to structure, brand and use templates.

Solution: Let the expert’s action this, concentrate on the content and voilà……you have consistency, your logo is being used effectively and you can find that awesome template you need to use for next time.

Design your newsletter

You have a great idea to issue your first newsletter; however, time is of the essence.

Solution: Your VA will be able to identify whether a graphic designer is required. Both your VA and graphic designer can design and collaborate to present you with options. You can concentrate on the content. Your job is to review and approve!

Relocating offices or going virtual

Along with running your day to day operations now comes the challenge of running your business and also relocating.

Solution: Brainstorm your ideas with your VA, discuss budget constraints and identify how to keep the running of your business with minimal disruption. Let your VA do the research; provide you with quotes and options. You are there to make the final decision!

Create e-Christmas cards

The silly season is here! It is time to set your goals and strategize for next year. Don’t forget to be humble and send your client or Mum a nice festive message.

Solution: Don’t get too involved with the design; your recipients will be more grateful you considered sending them an e-card. Your role is to provide your contacts list and perhaps personalise the message. Your VA is there to provide you with at least three design options to choose from and press SEND!

Are you still hesitating?

Do a little exercise for me…

Write a list of your goals and align them in a form of an action list, on the third column add who the responsible person is, if this is you, you may need to re-think and consider how you are going to make these goals happen.

Embrace the capabilities of a VA, it will save you time and allow you to focus on the most important goals you ever wrote……business growth, structure and implementation.

Do your research; if you don’t have time to do this, I urge that you put time aside. This will be the most valuable time you have ever spent on your business.

Tell me how you went; I would love to hear your experiences.

via Business 2 Community

The Five Must Have Mobile Apps to Survive Holiday Shopping and Traveling

The Five Must Have Mobile Apps to Survive Holiday Shopping & Traveling

Stress during the holidays has become as much of a seasonal staple as gifts, gatherings, and getaways.

From navigating the frenetic retail scene, to traveling the congested holiday highways, millions of people will endure more aggravation in the next six weeks than they have all year.

In fact, the American Psychological Association says that eight out of ten Americans now expect stress during the holidays.

But if you think there’s little that can be done to mitigate or even eliminate the most familiar frustrations of this festive period, you’re wrong on at least five counts.

Thanks in no small part to the ingenious mobile app developers and entrepreneurial visionaries of our time, the smartphones at our perpetual disposal now deliver an inspiring array of apps that address five well-known pillars of holiday stress: money, travel, fitness, time management, and exhaustion.

Equipped with these apps at the start of the season, busting the holiday blues has never be easier.


Spending and stress go hand-in-hand during the holidays. And regrettably for those who exceed their budgets, or fail to make one in the first place, January’s credit card bill could prove an epic financial burden that lingers well into the New Year. To keep you budgets and balances in check, BillGuard is a personal finance app that connects users to their online credit card statements and helps curtail overspending, missed payments, and even potential credit card fraud.

The Five Must Have Mobile Apps to Survive Holiday Shopping and Traveling image 334240 billguard for iphone a quick look


When it comes to traveling during the holidays, there’s no shortage of stress-inducing hiccups waiting down the road. Waze – a popular community-based traffic and navigation app – can help users sidestep the snags of holiday road trips. From avoiding inclement weather, to dodging heavy congestion, the real-time traffic and road information available through Waze can make traveling safer, faster, and certainly less nerve-racking.

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My FitnessPal

During the holidays, the calories add up even faster than expenses. So keeping tabs on your pounds as well as your pocketbook can go a long way toward slashing holiday stress. Consequently, MyFitnessPal is a particularly useful app. Not only will it encourage stress-busting physical activity, it will keep you cognizant of your dietary habits and goals during the time of year when weight gain is more commonplace than mistletoe.

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Although the holiday shopping season seems to start earlier every year, there still aren’t enough hours in the day to manage the endless tasks that come with the territory. That is, of course, unless your time management is superior. If it isn’t, at least there are superior time management apps that can help. Case in point: Simple but sophisticated, the app serves up critically important organizational assistance, helpful time and date reminders, and even geolocation notifications to ensure optimal usage of scarce time and a steady stream of check-marks on that persistent to-do list.

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Sleep Genius

Not only has the CDC declared sleep deprivation a national epidemic, experts say chronic exhaustion generally worsens over the holidays. This is where Sleep Genius can help. A neuroscience-based app that has quickly earned a reputation for being among the most scientifically advanced and effective sleep apps on the market, Sleep Genius delivers to the bedroom breakthrough technology backed by decades of research. Forget the ineffectual white noise apps. Sleep Genius actually serves up a solution proven to help users get to sleep faster and benefit from more quality sleep. There’s no better way to start 2014 than being well-rested and ready to tackle those New Year’s resolutions.

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via Business 2 Community

How to Use Place Pins on Pinterest

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Place pins are the newest feature of Pinterest, now the third most visited social media site. When Pinterest first announced place pins, many people seemed surprised, excited, and a little confused all at the same time. Don’t fret! We’re here to explain how to take advantage of this exciting new feature and share some examples of how people are using it to help them plan their dream trips and how brands, cities, and universities are using it to share why their location is worth seeing.

How to use Place Pins

Step 1: Create a secret maps board

We recommend starting your first place pins board as a secret board – it allows you to pin without worry and to be able to play around with place pins before you take your board public.

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Step 2: Add a Place

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Step 3: Choose a City (optional but makes it easier)

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Step 4: Add a location

Pinterest has partnered with Foursquare to create a more accurate and easy experience.

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Step 5: Add a description

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Step 6: Select or upload a photo to match that location

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Examples of Place Pins

City Favorites

- Airbnb’s Loved by Parisians board

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- Europe a la Carte’s London board

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University Promotion

- University of Michigan’s Tour #UMich campus tour board

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- University of Michigan’s Wolverines Around the World travel abroad board

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Long Term Trips

- Europe ala Carte’s Best Places to Travel in Europe board

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Food Trips

- Mithya Srinivasan’s Pancake Crawl through SF board

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Activity Bucket Lists

Ideas include: golf courses to try, consignment stores to visit, hikes to do (seen below), etc…

- Dmitry Chechik’s California Hikes To Do board

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Business Lifestyle & Office Favorites (aka: shameless self promotion)

- Our HelloSociety’s LA Tour board

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From day trips to road trips, and Europe trips to food or shopping excursions, with place pins the possibilities are endless. Are you feeling inspired? Take inspiration from your bucket list! Get creative with it. You can even make it a group board so you and your best friends can finally plan that trip you’ve always talked about. Think about that saying, “Turn your can’ts into cans and dreams into plans.” You can now take your dreams of one day seeing Paris or Japan and start planning that trip. You’ll be one step closer to making it a reality.

via Business 2 Community

3 Ways to Get Your Customers to Come Back

3 Ways to Get Your Customers to Come Back image 3 ways to get your customer to come backI say it time and again: it is much more expensive to gain new customers than to keep existing ones. Up to seven times more expensive, according to some reports.

Clearly it pays to invest your time, energy and money in getting more so-called ‘repeat business’. Once you’ve got a customer in through your online ‘door’, most of the hard work has already been done. Most – but not all.

If you rest on your laurels, you may well find that customers don’t come back just like that. This post will help you to figure out why you’re not getting repeat business – and show you how to turn things around.

Way #1: Follow up with your customers

Ever said to a friend: “Oh yes, we must meet for coffee sometime…” And then, despite the best of intentions, you found that the time slipped by so fast and it just never happened. Sure, you thought about calling her, but you never got round to it…

It can be just the same for customers. A customer might have been perfectly pleased with both your product and the service you gave him, and fully intended to visit your website again. Yet somehow it didn’t happen. Days turned into weeks and then into months, and he never came back.

A gentle reminder can be the very nudge that your customers need in order to get them to take action. Obviously you’re not about to start bombarding them with endless marketing materials to the point where you annoy them (Vistaprint is one company which is notorious for this) as this quickly becomes counterproductive. However, a well-timed message offering, like a genuine discount, can be just the little push that’s needed.

Way #2: Show your customers you truly care

You don’t need to be flat-out rude to put your customers off – all it takes is simply not caring very much. For you as a customer service representative, that phone call or email might be just one out of many you handle that day. And perhaps you’re not in a good mood. You’re distracted. Or your back hurts. Perhaps you’re yearning for lunch time. But for your customer, those few minutes of contact might form their one and only impression of your company. If the impression isn’t good – not negative, mind you, just not good – they might not come back.

Some years ago, a friend and I decided to go to the Canary Islands. We booked a package holiday through a well-known website. Because we didn’t receive a confirmation email after booking and paying, we contacted the company after a couple of days to find out what had happened. The customer service rep confirmed that our booking hadn’t gone through. But did he help us to make another one? Uh, no. Instead we got a blasé line or two saying something along the lines of: “Oh, well, you can try to book that holiday again, or you can choose something else.” I can report that we did choose something else – with another company altogether.

Way #3: Get out of your ivory tower

I’m not suggesting that you don’t know your field of expertise inside out. Of course you do – chances are you got into the business because you know your stuff. The question is, do you know other people’s stuff?

If you own a webshop, for example, it’s important that you stock the sorts of things that your customers will buy. However broad your tastes are, it’s highly unlikely that you like everything that’s going to appeal to your customers. So be careful that the items you sell reflect the types of things that the market is interested in, and not just your own particular tastes. In addition, you need to know exactly what your competitors are up to, all the time.

There are a number of reasons for this, one being that those ‘competitors’ are often good business contacts. Whether you have a friendly rivalry going on, or you are able to refer customers to each other, they are people in the same field as you are and you have a lot in common. In addition, keeping tabs on the competition means that you can keep your prices competitive, get ideas for new promotions and products, and even see what’s not selling well, based on their ‘bargain basement’ section.

If you’re ready to start working on your customer retention rates, take a careful look at these three areas. They are essential elements of customer service – if you want to remain appealing to your customers, and keep them coming back to your site. And I’m guessing you do.

via Business 2 Community