samedi 31 mai 2014

A Plan Based On “Bluebirds” Is Not A Plan

Every sales person loves a “bluebird.” Those are those orders that suddenly appear, we didn’t know about them, they weren’t in our pipeline, but every once in a while the Earth, Moon, Sun and Stars align and a customer wants to buy, without our ever being involved. Bluebirds happen, we gladly accept the order and proclaim victory when they happen.

Bluebirds are parts of what happens with every sales person and in every territory. However, we can’t build a plan based on bluebirds. If we did, our plan is pure wishful thinking.

As sales professionals it is our responsibility to maximize our revenue, share, and growth within the territory. We establish account and territory plans to help us do this. With marketing, we drive demand generation programs and we prospect–all aimed at identifying and qualifying a sufficient number of opportunities to fill our pipelines. We develop deal strategies focused on maximizing our ability to win those qualified deals.

It’s an endless cycle, we continually have to assess what we are doing in each area in developing our overall business plan. We continually look to improve our effectiveness and sharpen our impact in each area–leaving less to chance.

“Run rate” business is different from a bluebird. We know what causes run rate business, we know how to forecast it, how to drive it–even though we may not be able to predict every transaction. Run rate business is manageable and we must include how we will manage it as part of our plan.

Our responsibility to ourselves, our managers, our company and colleagues is to build a plan that enables us to achieve our goals.

Because, everything doesn’t always work as planned, for example, we never close 100% of the deals in our pipelines, we have to over plan–that is we have to qualify more opportunities than needed to close to have a healthy pipeline. This ripples through everything we do–prospecting, marketing programs, account and territory plans. But it’s our responsibility to take all these things into account, not leaving things to chance or counting on luck.

When luck happens, when we get a bluebird, that’s great–it gives us a little buffer or breathing room. It helps us overachieve our goals. But “luck” can favor the competition just as well, luck isn’t something we can predict or forecast. We can’t assign a 10%, 50%, 85% probability to luck!

So if we are to achieve our goals, we have to have a plan that doesn’t count on bluebirds or luck. Yes, I know there is a lot of “stuff” about “making our own luck,” but that still requires planning and execution–the only problem is you can’t forecast it.

Celebrate your bluebirds, they’re great, but build and execute a plan.

via Business 2 Community

How to Get Someone to Do Something You Need That Isn’t Important to Him

How to Get Someone to Do Something You Need That Isn’t Important to Him image Get Someone to Do Something You Need That Isnt Their PriorityImagine you’re on a deadline that’s important to you. The project might not qualify as “mission critical” to the rest of the organization, but it’s certainly essential for your own team. So far, so… ordinary.

Now you run into a road block: a task wherein you need input from someone from another department, or where you need the other person to actively do something. For example, you might be working on a new advertising campaign, but you need somebody in Legal to sign off on it. Or you can’t go any further on writing the quarterly report until you get spreadsheets from someone in Accounting and performance statistics from Engineering. You can’t complete your project plan without it.

The process works fine when your contact in the other department is motivated to help you get the work done. But what happens when he isn’t? Sometimes, your request is a distraction to the other person’s business goal. This can be for many reasons, from self-interest (“You aren’t an item on my performance review!”) to politics (“Your department competes with mine, so why should I make you look good?”) to simple overwork (“I’d love to help, but I’m already behind on the stuff I have to do. You’ve got to wait; how’s November sound?”) – and probably many more. This happens entirely too often, doesn’t it?

Ideally, you’ve already created alliances across the organization, so that your colleagues want to help you. Sometimes that isn’t the case (though perhaps this situation will teach you to think ahead next time!).

So, I asked several people what they found to be effective in getting someone to help them with a project task. Here’s the best advice I heard.

Ask in person

Hit their desk. Ask for help in person. It’s difficult to turn down a request from someone who is standing in front of you.

“I would make the request politely,” one friend told me. “Then I would show up in person the next day, with a big grin and happy expectations all over my face. When the person said the task wasn’t done, my smile would collapse. I’d stare at my shoes, look really crestfallen, and plead that I really need it and please can they do it and what can I do to help them get it done. I’d try to get them to say something (anything) that I could do to help them get my request done. If they said something, I’d do it immediately.”

“Either way,” she said, “I’d be back the next day with the same routine. I guess that was kind of being a pain, but it usually sped up the process.”

Note the elements here: Approach the request as a plea for help (not a demand). Ask how the problem can be solved. Offer to assist in achieving the solution.

Most people are nice and they do want to help, especially when the request is personal. If they don’t… Well, my friend had a response for that, too. She’d ask the individual, “If you’re too busy, can someone else in your department do it? Like, say [name of his boss]?”…while pretending not to know he’s the individual’s boss.

Do a favor that helps your colleague.

Or, depending on your cynicism level, call it: Bribe them.

For us sensitive-new-age types who think of this as “give to get,” the premise is that you ask your colleague how you can help her. If you offer to share your expertise, area of knowledge, access to resources, the individual will recognize that you’re trying to save her time on her regular tasks; that frees up her time (as a groovy hippie I’d say “energy”) to devote to you. Or at least she’ll listen more carefully when you pursue a line of inquiry like, “Can you help me understand…” or, “I need to find this-or-that.”

“I offer a reciprocation for their assistance,” explains Jason Whitt at Geek Powered Studios. “Maybe I’ll help them with something they need. Or perhaps to show my appreciation, I’ll buy them lunch one day. The key for me is making sure that the person I’m making a request from feels like I appreciate the time they’re giving me.”

Make it easy to help you.

You’re already asking someone to do something that’s a distraction from their own tasks. So it behooves you to minimize the work the individual has to do.

“Instead of dumping the whole thing on someone, structure your request so they have to do as little as possible,” says Heather Stagl, author of 99 Ways to Influence Change and coach for Organizational Change Agents at Enclaria.

One option is to step back from asking the colleague to do the task; rather, ask for enough information that you can do it yourself.

“Approach it as if you are gathering valuable information from them, and you are not asking them to do the work,” advises business and career coach Laura Lee Rose. “Share your current situation, and ask their advice on how to go about accomplishing it. Ask them what they think your next step should be.” People often give their opinions and advice freely, Rose points out; take advantage of this human trait.

But be prepared to do the work, with the information and advice that your colleague gives you. “This may mean that you create the spreadsheet with their information. Or that you do the research from the links and pointers that they give you,” Rose suggests. The important point is: “Do everything that you can possibly do to reduce their effort and time.”

And, I think privately to myself, there’s always the chance that the colleague will respond, “Aw, let me just take care of it for you. It’ll be faster.”

Whatever you do, Rose says, “Approach the topics with an appreciation of their time, their talent and their experience. Treat them as special. Realize that they are in the best at what they do and therefore are much in demand.”

Get their buy-in on helping the company.

If the person works at the same company as you do (as opposed to, say, an outside contractor), at some level he should be aware that the organization benefits (in revenue or some other measure) by the successful completion of this project. That is, establish the value to the individual of what you are doing. Ultimately, your project should result in financial gain for the company in some way; communicate that as something valuable to the co-worker.

Tell the individual why he’s the expert you need, with appreciation and respect. “The goal is to approach your colleague with patience and understanding, and a little bit of flattery,” says freelance journalist Danny Groner. “Don’t make them feel like they are being manipulated, however. Something like, ‘I wanted to call on your expert eye for graphic design for a project I’m working on. Do you have a moment?’” Then the individual won’t feel like he’s doing you a favor; rather, he’ll recognize that he is the best person to chime in the subject at hand.

The respect is more than words. Respect the colleague’s time, too. “Give people a heads up ahead of time – even if it’s just an hour – especially if it’s a big project,” says Groner. “Drop the idea ahead of time with a brief overview of the project and why they’ll be the best person to assist with it…. Sneaking up on people can be a jarring experience for the recipient.”

To get buy-in, it may help to show the value of helping you with your project – both personally and as a member of the organization. “Are there other people in the organization that are helping you with your project? Point it out to use the concept of ‘social proof,’” suggests Stagl.

Establish the urgency, too: Clarify what will happen if this doesn’t get done. “What is the impact on them, on the business, on you?” Stagl adds.

And go for personal self interest: Mention your intent to tell his boss how cooperative she was in getting your project completed. (Don’t forget to follow through.)

If all else fails, of course: Bring in the chocolate. Bake brownies. People are willing to do amazing things for food.

How to Get Someone to Do Something You Need That Isn’t Important to Him image 42c1c115 80d5 4ad5 b63c a6598bfadb644

via Business 2 Community

Craft a content strategy with these five questions

Craft a content strategy with these five questions

If you’ve been reading our blog up until now, you’ll have seen a lot about content marketing, content measurement and customer insight through content, but not a lot about devising strategy.

Whether you’re a seasoned content marketer or a first-timer, it’s always useful to go back to basics and establish first principles for a measurable and engaging content marketing program. To do this you need a content strategy.

A content strategy provides the foundation upon which you can apply your ever-changing marketing objectives. By going through these five questions, you should be able to formulate a rock solid content strategy:


The first step to developing content strategy is to work out what you’re trying to achieve.

Your objectives may fall under one or more of these categories:

  • Improve customer engagement – Objectives designed to help you connect more effectively with your customers.

  • Increase number of conversions – Objectives designed to drive your customers to a business metric (a sale, a download, a sign-up, etc)

  • Operational Efficiency – Objectives designed to address things like cost or sales effectiveness.


The next step is to consider your audience.

To meet your objectives, think about who you need to reach: Is it all customers or a specific subset? How much do you know about these people?

It helps to create a profile so you understand your target’s motivations and needs. Here are some useful data-points to consider when building a customer/audience profile:

  • Demographics – What are your audience’s age, income level, education and cultural background? These can influence your messages and choice of device.

  • Purchase history – What have your customers bought historically? What can you infer about their lifestyle needs and interests from these purchases?

  • Social data – What is your audience talking about online?

We ultimately recommend using insight derived from your audience’s content consumption to inform your content strategy, but as a place to start demographic data, purchase history and social data are excellent sources.


Whilst it’s probably too early in the process to develop actual content (unless you’re reading this retroactively having already started a content marketing program!), knowing what type of assets are available is important because it will impact what technology you use to support your content strategy.

The building blocks of digital content are images, video and text. However, don’t get too comfortable thinking you can get away with a weekly blog and a few youtube videos – there are at least 101 types of content you can choose from!


The idea of “timing” can apply to many aspects of content marketing, this might include content length, message timing and update frequency:

  • Length of content – We’re in the ‘Age of Distraction’; consumers are time-poor, attention-short and increasingly busy. To that effect, think about the different times your audience might consume your content (at the office, during a lunchbreak, at home, on the train?) and make sure different content assets are available to meet these contexts.

  • Message timing – Another consideration is time of day and/or day of the week. If your customers shop differently or purchase different products based on specific days or time periods, you may want to consider automating your content marketing to deliver messages during precise time or day slots.

  • Update frequency – How often you update your content will depend on your objectives and audience. If you are intending to personalize the content on your site or in marketing communications, content will change as the data changes.


Measurement is important for two reasons. Firstly, it helps you demonstrate success, which is typically needed to secure ongoing funding for your content marketing initiative. Secondly, it helps understand which content is resonating and which content needs refining to improve future digital initiatives.

Depending on your objectives, your measurements may be quantitative or qualitative:

  • Quantitative Measurement – Measuring return on investment is typically used with business objectives related to operational efficiency, because there are cost savings or increased sales involved. Not only do you measure if the objective was met, such as increased sales lift, you also measure the return on your investment over a specific time period.

  • Qualitative Measurement – This might entail measuring against non-commercial objectives, enabling you to prove campaign impact when it’s not possible or feasible to tie it directly to sales. This might be through showing how content marketing increased brand awareness, improving your NET promoter score, retaining loyalty program members, or increasing social media engagement.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be well placed to get cracking with your content marketing.

It’s also helpful to remember that once you have your initial content marketing program underway, you can use Content Intelligence to learn from your audience’s content consumption and optimize your content strategy accordingly.

via Business 2 Community

5 Things I Wish Hiring Managers Knew About Corporate Recruiters

5 Things I Wish Hiring Managers Knew About Corporate Recruiters image HighFiveI have been in the recruiting and sales game for 20 years. I have had the opportunity to work with hiring managers of all shapes and sizes. I have worked with some great ones and I have worked with difficult ones.

Somewhere along the way, I have learned that picking battles is essential in this HR business. Some battles I choose to take on, while others I let lie and walk away from confrontation. After all, the hiring manager usually gets their way.

Recruiters are dispensable and we know that. We are the first people to go in an organization when hiring slows down or if budgets get tight. I think all recruiters have heard “Thank you for your service, we can’t afford to keep you any more”.

We all get wrapped up in the hiring process. Everybody needs their candidate yesterday and every managers need is the most important in the world. Believe me, recruiters get that.

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to recruiters. Here are some things I wish that managers understood.

Here are 5 Things I wish Managers Knew About Recruiters

  1. Recruiters Want Managers to Get the Hire. We want to make sure that they are successful. Why? When they achieve success, we achieve recognition. Ultimately, recruiters are successful when managers make the hire.

  2. Recruiters Become Emotionally Involved With the Process. We are in the people business. We are dealing with people’s lives. For everyone we place, there are the ones we have to tell that they were not chosen for the job. If a position is put on hold or if there is a no-hire scenario, we hear about it. If there is a poor hire, it reflects poorly upon us. We too want the best person for the job.

  3. Recruiters Have Multiple Requisitions. This is so often forgotten. Recruiters have multiple managers we are working with. We also want to work for people who appreciate us as colleagues. We are helping you, so there has to be some mutual respect. Most recruiters will jump through hoops for you if he/she feels valued.

  4. We Will Most Likely Cross Paths Again. Recruiters move around and no job is permanent these days. Managers should be cognizant of that. It is in the manager’s best interest to become friends with their recruiter rather than an enemy. Managers will switch jobs too and may need a recruiters help in the future.

  5. Recruiters are Human. We do not carry the letter “S” on a cape on our back. We try. Believe me, we try. It is just not possible to do everything a manager wants in a specific time frame all the time. We will put our best foot forward and screen the candidates and get you the candidates you need. We do have lives, and families just like managers though. Sometimes Recruitment just takes time.

Recruiting is a partnership. It is a game of respect on both parties. When managers and recruiters are both on the same page, success is sure to follow.

via Business 2 Community

Top 10 Predictions For The Future Of Customer Experience

In the realm of customer experience, today’s consumers are more informed, more collaborative, Top 10 Predictions For The Future Of Customer Experience image 275773 h ergb s gland have higher expectations for retailers and lower thresholds for dealing with impersonal, unresponsive companies. Thanks to the Internet and social networks, everyone’s voice, positive or negative, can be heard and companies have the opportunity to provide a more diversified approach to reach their audiences. Within the next few years, this space will continually innovate and things that we never thought possible will become completely possible…and even the norm.

Here are ways the customer experience will be transformed.

1. What you want to buy will never be out of stock

Smarter supply chains that factor buying behavior and other conditions, such as the weather, into their algorithms will make forecasting easier and will help retailers plan with improved accuracy. Because of the convergence of data, sensors, and predictive analytics in supply chain management, customers won’t experience the disappointment that comes with unavailable products. Also, digital disruption will remove the need for traditional means of assembling user data and will replace it with innovations such as in-store applications that monitor movement, point of service, store traffic management, and in-store promotion. Thanks to these changes in technology, we may never be disappointed by our favorite product being out-of-stock and we can avoid that uncomfortable duel for the ‘last one on the shelf.’

2. Everything will be exactly what you want

From shoes to shirts to electronics – everything will have the opportunity to be completely customized. At CES 2014, Whirpool showed off some of their new products. They had dishwashers and microwaves with customizable skins making the not-so-attractive appliances appear as personalized pieces of art. And in the fashion world, individualize looks and styles are taking over and retailers are embracing individuality with styles and offerings (leaving cookie-cutter companies that promote one look losing ground). And honestly, if you want something completely unique, like a figurine of your favorite pet, 3D printing makes it possible. With some 3D printing options, you can create just about anything to be exactly as you want. From the 3D scanning photo booth that can create a blueprint of your dog (and print a 3D version) to creating custom products online and sending the specs to a 3D printer, just about everything is in reach. As the cost of the printers decline, these options will become more mainstreamed.

3. Online purchases are delivered in 30 minutes…faster than a pizza

Could you really get your online purchase in less time than it takes the local pizzeria to deliver your Friday night dinner? Sounds like a dream, right? With last year’s news about the potential of Amazon drones dropping packages at your front door within 30 minutes, we were excited about the speed and opportunities of this service…but then we were quickly schooled on the reality of these flying vehicles and how they could impact the world on a larger scale. On one hand, there is actually a lot of air traffic – just with airplanes, there are between 25,000 and 27,000 flights taking off and landing every day. And on the other hand, drones can serve more purposes than just delivering consumer products. Either way, the concept of drones for daily use may still need some work to operate within regulations, but this in-the-works concept is something that could be a reality sooner than later, and a flying vehicle might get you that last minute delivery before you’ve even closed your laptop.

4. “Can I tweet your order?”

Want a pizza? Go tweet your order. Need a new shirt? Tweet your style and size. With customer service fully transformed into a multi-level approach forcing companies to power phone lines and tweets, the future is now, and when you want to order something, picking up the phone or heading to a website isn’t the only option. Businesses such as restaurants and hyperlocally-focused services are taking to Twitter and text messaging to manage and respond to customer requests. Companies are using the omnichannel approach to bring convenience into the palms of customers and changing the experience to be as seamless as possible.

5. Companies use people like you for product design

There is beauty in crowdsourcing and companies embracing and implementing this strategy seem to be reaping the benefits. Tesco, one of the world’s largest retailers, has been championing crowdsourcing and,earlier this year, its online community helped invent the world’s first socially-created wine. The product was shortlisted and the crowd proposed the branding. In an article posted on SAP’s Business Innovation site, Deola Laniyan, account director at Tesco’s social and PR agency, is quoted as saying, “Consumers now have an expectation that their voices will be heard, they want to be more involved in the process and this campaign answers that beautifully.” Other companies who have jumped on the crowdsourcing train with success include Vitamin Water, Doritos, and NetFlix.

6. There’s something it in for you if you let your favorite brands get to know you

As consumers, we are pretty much walking data generators. From our loyalty cards that we swipe at the supermarket to our online accounts at retailers – we are blatantly sharing information about our habits to retailers who are using the intelligence to tailor their offerings and marketing messages. As a result, retailers will continue to collect, store and use data, which will result in two things – more of what we want and less of what we don’t want. As we continue to consume and reap the benefits of retailer data collection, we as consumers, will have to decide what we really want and determine if we appreciate the relevant marketing or want to pay a price to keep our data private.

7. The weather, demand, availability, and YOU can make prices fluctuate by the minute

We all know that as oil prices increase, our pockets eventually feel the pain at the pump as we get less for our dollars. But we often expect this price change and are willing to pay to power our vehicles. So what about companies changing the prices of shovels during a snowstorm? This isn’t just merely an Economics 101 case of supply and demand, but now, with the ubiquity of connectivity, vendors are suddenly able to use algorithms to change the pricing of their goods and services at a moment’s notice. This works well for retailers who can dictate their prices and change in an instant, and it can actually be beneficial for consumers who are willing to pay that perfect price for that perfect product or service. It’s a personal demonstration of price equilibrium and we need to remember that in a networked economy, consumers have all the power.

8. Shop, buy, and return: Automation takes over retail stores

Ever hear of the cupcake ATM? Or have you ever purchase something from the Best Buy Express vending machines? These hyped-up vending machines are examples of automated retail and fall into the category of self-service shopping, which is a popular way to provide convenience at places such as airports, malls, and resorts…and even the street corner in NYC. There are also supermarkets and other retailers adding automation to their in-store experience, which is allowing customers to check out sans a cashier and complete other transactions on their own. As these machines and automated practices become more connected and intelligent, the full customer experience, from purchase to service, could be automated to deliver a superior, self-serve customer experience.

9. Keeping your personal information private may cost you

With the understanding that we create data all day long and offer it up to ecommerce companies, brick and mortar stores, mobile devices, and wearables tracking our athletic performance, there are some companies capitalizing on the trend of being privacy-friendly. For example, Mozilla, a presumed underdog in the browser market, suggested that it would allow its users to disable third-party tracking software altogether. And search engine DuckDuckGo promotes the same advantage – no tracking. So with all this data floating around and all these companies jumping at the chance to capture some, consumers will begin gravitating toward companies that offer privacy, even if it’s for a premium.

10. In-store shopping becomes as intelligent as online shopping

With e-commerce, consumer behavior data is as easy to track as web analytics, which let retailers know exactly where a customer is coming from, what he or she is doing when they are on the site, what that same shopper purchased in the past…and even where they go after they leave the site. Thanks to the information online shoppers “give away,” ecommerce sites create experiences that use algorithms to make suggestions (to upsell and cross-sell) for product purchases. This same experience can be duplicated by offline retailers as they strive to make stores more intelligent and understand consumer behavior within a physical space. Bonobos, a men’s retailer, is taking on that challenge with their showcase stores. These 1000-square-foot storefronts give a customer the ability to touch and feel the products while an associate guides him through the shopping process, creating a personalized and exceptional customer experience. During this process, the store captures customer behavior and, through human interaction, suggests products and converts the opportunity to a sale. And, with the blending of offline and online data via social check-ins and apps like Foursquare’s Swarm , the store associate can become that much more informed before the initial conversation.

Get involved in the conversations on the Future of Business and read, watch and learn about how the customer experience will be impacted by technology, consumer needs, and data, and continue to transform.

via Business 2 Community

Evergreen Content for Marketing Credibility and Staying Power

Evergreen Content for Marketing Credibility and Staying Power image long line of evergreen trees Dollarphotoclub 20169169 600x399

One key strategy in managing the costs (and stresses) of content marketing is making it scalable. One thoughtful white paper can become a series of blog posts, a webinar, a video, an infographic, an interactive quiz, or anything else you can think of. With a slow-burn schedule of rolling release dates and a full set of social actions around each piece, you can get a lot of value for the original research and writing investment.

Another way to scale your efforts is to create “evergreen” content. Evergreen content doesn’t get dated over time, but remains relevant to an issue or topic for the longer term. Which means that you take the time and trouble to create it once, and it continues to draw traffic over a long period of time. As Kevan Lee pointed out on Buffer, talking about blog posts, “As long as the post can be linked to and gain traffic long after it is originally published, it qualifies as evergreen.”

The Oreo effect

Most content marketers work hard to stay timely. We review trends, we interview thought leaders, we jack news items (see “Oreo: You Can Still Dunk in the Dark”) or celebrity gossip when we can; we like to announce new products or partners, break fresh ideas and create conversation. We can get buzz this way, and draw attention to our brand. All good.

The problem with hot fresh breaking-news buzz is that it gets dated pretty quickly. What worked for you yesterday morning may have gotten tired or saturated by yesterday afternoon, and by today it’s stale. You have to come up with something else and do the work all over again. It’s taxing. And it’s expensive, in terms of time and talent.

Evergreen content, in contrast, may cost more to produce in the beginning, but you can amortize the costs over a much longer period, making it a great value. And it serves a different purpose.

Beyond awareness, to interest and exploration

Fresh timely content helps create awareness and interest and works to generate new leads; evergreen content helps position your company as a solid, knowledgeable player, which in turn helps prospects ease into the funnel with growing comfort and confidence in your capabilities. You need both.

Evergreen Content for Marketing Credibility and Staying Power image person at computer Dollarphotoclub 64575273 300x199Creating awareness is excellent; you want to be top-of-mind when someone gets interested and decides it’s time to consider purchasing a product or service in your category. Once that light goes off, people move into the exploration stage and begin the research to learn more about what’s available (first) and which vendors to consider (second).

Content marketing is your best friend and staunch ally here. The content on your website (pages, papers, eBooks, videos, blog posts, and so on) helps visitors understand who you are and what you do, and displays the character of your company. The visitor is looking for fit between their interests or needs and what you offer; they’re also interested in your level of expertise and professionalism, and how you perceive them.

Evergreen content should meet those needs, by addressing topics of perpetual interest to new buyers in a way that conveys your authority and confidence, and your strong desire to help people solve problems.

Examples of evergreen content

Evergreen content is informational, and should stay consistently relevant for a relatively long period of time – months or years, depending on the volatility of your industry. When it genuinely meets the needs of prospects (and is properly optimized), it’s probably going to be search engine friendly, helping you with consistent engagement and page ranking.

Typical examples of evergreen content include:

  • Papers and books: Dale Carnegie published How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1936. It still sells well in the 21st century because it addresses perpetual problems in a basic, useful way.

  • How-to articles: Papers, articles and blog posts that tell people how to accomplish a task will remain consistently evergreen. Think “10 Steps to….”

  • “About Us” pages: These pages give insight into your company and its background while at the same time providing a place to shape your business personality.

  • Historical material: Articles discussing the history of your company or the development of your field are always going to be relevant.

  • Video: If you can include video on your website, you’re more likely to capture the interest of both casual browsers and current customers. Video tours of your company, how-to videos, or historical videos are good candidates.

  • Infographics and other visuals: Explanatory graphics or visual step-by-step directions will be appealing over the long term. These serve both prospects want to understand more about your company’s approach to a problem and existing customers who expand their efforts and discover a need for that type of information.

What’s Not Evergreen?

Any content including particular dates or a schedule is likely not evergreen. Examples:

  • Event announcements

  • Press releases about company news such as awards, big deals, new partnerships, personnel changes, or other one-time occurrences or temporary changes

  • Yearly trend forecasts

  • Seasonal or holiday-related content

  • Content tied to news

  • Sales or limited offers such as introductory offers

Creating Evergreen Content

As you plan the creation of your evergreen content, remember that it must be interesting, relevant, and timeless. It should appeal to your customers and potential customers now and in the future

  • Choose relevant, useful topics. Produce content that’s useful and interesting for your unique target audience, and write it in clear, simple prose with lots of bullets and white space. Make it a narrow focus, and aim for creating a piece that’s the most definitive on this topic.

  • Optimize. Use you keyword/phrase well, with plenty of synonyms. Make sure the metadata is scrupulously accurate. If it’s a video, add a transcript so the search engines have something to search. Simon Penson of Search Engine Watch gives tips on how to optimize longer content (2,000+ words) for SEO.)

    Pay attention to your use of words. Stay away from putting dates in anyplace they aren’t needed (do use the publication date of research you quote), and refrain from phrases such as “last May” (two years from now, it won’t be “last May” anymore).

  • Keep your audience in mind. Relatively basic content will serve you well, as successive waves of new prospects researching your niche will be at the beginning of their search.

  • Present the content properly. Some types of content will work better in different formats. Think about videos, infographics, and interactive content such as quizzes. Shorter informational pieces might work best as a blog post. An information-packed how-to article could easily deserve permanent space on your website. A lengthy and detailed topic might support creation of an eBook or white paper.

    (A note about those short blog posts: Search engines seem to be appreciating longer content, even up to 2,000 words, so “short” is relative. You piece should be as long as it needs to be to deliver the goods; no longer, no shorter.)

  • Include multiple links: Include several links within your evergreen piece. These links should connect back to other blog posts, relevant sections of your website, or to article collections or resource sections. These internal links serve the reader who’s gotten interested and wants to know more – and you definitely do want them to stay with you for further exploration. Plus, internal links such as these improve your search engine rankings.

  • Review for updates. If a piece of evergreen content is performing well, check on it once in a while to see if it needs to be refreshed.

  • Promote your evergreen content. Link to it from blog posts on related content, build a social campaign around it, or offer it on a third-party or syndication website.

One of my favorite examples of evergreen content is a post on this very blog. Kaila Strong, an SEO expert with Vertical Measures, wrote a guest post for us called “5 Reasons Why Exact Match Anchor Text is Bad” which we published on July 31, 2013. From that time until now, this post has been our most-read post every month, outscoring its nearest competitor by two-to-one. If you Google the long-tail keyword “exact match anchor text” you’ll find this post at the #2 position on the search engine results page.

And if you’re looking for information about anchor text, this definitive page about exact match anchor text links to a basic page on link building as well as to a post on 10 ways to vary anchor text, to round out the picture.

Your evergreen content may not be the most-read on any given day, but it will perform consistently over time, scaling your content marketing efforts and enhancing your SEO effects. What’s your experience? Do you have pieces of content that perform for you day after day, month after month … year after year?

via Business 2 Community

7 Things You Must Do to Salvage Your Annual Fundraising

It was my first week as a new development manager for a mid-sized, regional nonprofit. I was astonished at what I found.

This well-resourced, highly regarded organization, the envy of other nonprofits in our area, had NO annual fundraising program.

Sure, they faithfully mailed an appeal twice each year, kept meticulous data, and sent out prompt thank-you notes. They threw a ton of lovely events and had grants coming out of their ears.

But they were losing money and didn’t even know it.

Why? They were not managing their donors.

7 Things You Must Do to Salvage Your Annual Fundraising image Calendar1Although this organization was blessed with an effortless, constant flow of new gifts, and a plethora of mid-level, repeat donors, there was zero effort to understand who those donors were or nurture them into higher-level, deeply engaged partners.

There was no thoughtful planning. There was no analysis of what was working, where to focus, or strategy for more effective appeals and campaigns.

Lamentably, this scenario is rampant in the nonprofit world.

Annual fundraising is the neglected, overlooked step-child of development.

Although we know how to run events and we shower attention on donors who send the big checks, our lower and mid-level donors tend to slip through the cracks.

While those smaller gifts don’t generate the excitement of your gala’s net revenue or the $10,000 check from a major donor, smaller gifts are collectively just as important, if not more.

Why are donors of smaller gifts worthy of your time? Because the consistent, deliberate nurturing of these donors year-after-year is the catalyst for future major gifts, capital campaign support, and bequests.

Annual fundraising is the building block of your entire development program.

In addition to generating significant unrestricted funds on its own, a well-run annual fundraising program illuminates which donors are worthy of your time and money.

When you pay attention, you’ll identify the most engaged, most committed, and best prospects for a long-term, high-value partnership in your mission.

So what does a strong annual fundraising program look like? Here are 7 must-have components of an effective annual fundraising program:

1. Develop a written plan specific to annual fundraising.

A strong annual fundraising program must have a system. You need to establish processes and write them down.

Your written, strategic plan should include goals, tactics, timeline, and budget. It will keep you accountable, consistent, and on task.

2. Hire dedicated and knowledgeable annual fundraising staff.

You need someone on your team who knows what they are doing when it comes to annual fundraising, or who makes a consistent effort to learn. This person has been explicitly (if not exclusively) tasked with managing annual giving.

Perhaps this person is an annual giving manager. The duties may fall on a development director or an executive director. In any case, annual fundraising must be a clear priority in their workplan and the person in charge must be knowledgeable.

These tasks are not an afterthought to be undertaken only when and if there’s time.

3. Prioritize donor loyalty and giving history along with gift size.

Usually it’s the big gifts that get all the attention. Without a doubt, cultivating major donors is important. Yet you must also pay attention to and praise donors who give consistently, regardless of gift size.

Cumulatively, these faithful donors may give just as much as a larger donor. With the right cultivation, some will become major donors themselves.

4. Treat all communications and conversations, not just solicitations, as an important part of annual fundraising.

You need to do more than send a few appeals and newsletters each year.

You must nurture donors with interactions that are relevant, personal, and carefully planned in advance.

This means calling your donors to thank them or having your board write hand-written notes on a newsletter. It means sending an unexpected thank-you letter to your multi-year, $25 donors or a “welcome” video to new donors.

It means going above and beyond a typical appeal.

If you have staff who are specifically tasked with communications or marketing, you must integrate and strategically coordinate messages with your annual donors in mind.

5. Listen to your data!

Effective annual fundraising programs use their data to identify and measure responses of important donor segments.

They use their database to track the behavior of those groups such as who is or is not responding to appeals, emails, or invitations.

They constantly test and measure the performance of each activity and adjust their plan based on their data.

6. Integrate annual fundraising into your overall development program.

Annual fundraising can’t operate in a silo.

For example, you’ll want a plan to follow-up with attendees of your event and encourage them to become regular donors.

You’ll want to think about how major donors can best be incorporated into your annual campaign. You’ll need to work closely with special events and major gift managers to make this happen.

7. Invest in tools and services to do the job efficiently.

Without good tools, it’s impossible to run an effective annual fundraising program.

You must have a user-friendly, up-to-date donor database sophisticated enough to manage and track your donors.

You need easy-to-use email software. You need to budget for quality service providers such as printers, designers and mailing services. These will make your job easier and allow you to spend your time fundraising rather than stuffing envelopes.

Does your organization have some work to do to prioritize annual fundraising?

Implementing all of these components is obviously not going to happen overnight. Start small by choosing one or two areas where you can improve.

Try one new tactic to thank your most loyal donors and track their response. Carve out time to evaluate your last appeal, or create an annual fundraising budget if you’ve never done this before.

If you are farther down this road, perhaps it’s time to think about hiring an annual giving manager. Try doing a better job integrating with other development functions.

As for my organization, our entire development team worked very hard to strengthen our annual giving program. After a couple of years, we made great progress.

It’s a good thing we did. Our future depended on it. Yours does too.

img via

via Business 2 Community

Telemarketing Tips – Use Lazy Days to Improve Productive Ones

It’s summer in a lot of parts in the world. And with summer comes the lazy days it’s filled up with. But while days like that can just mean boredom for teens, tweens, and toddlers, it can mean bad news for productive telemarketing. You’ve got calls to make and appointments to set. You can’t just stop just because you don’t feel like it right?

Actually, it’s possible to go with the flow of a lazy day and come out even more productive in days after! This applies whether you just don’t feel like picking up the phone or don’t want to pressure outsourced telemarketers to give you more summer appointments.

Forbes contributor Michael Simmons warns against too much focus in building business relationships. And while his advice seems to apply itself to networking, certain elements of it can also apply to telemarketing:

  • Telemarketing Tips – Use Lazy Days to Improve Productive Ones image 730869 bigthumbnailTelemarketing techniques can improve from other marketing ones – This doesn’t just mean integration. It also means applying the underlying concept of a particular method. Social media marketing for example emphasizes a lot on nurturing and thought leadership. Why not formulate your scripts based on how you interact with brands on social media during your spare time?

  • Learn from having real conversations – Surprisingly, this can include casual ones. It may not seem much but it’s a nice touch to apply the finer, cultural points of conversations to your telemarketing calls. For all you know, speaking to a diversity of people in real life helps you get accustomed to speaking to others living in far more different cultures or regions.

  • Take time to actually be lazy – A paper by the Harvard Business School states that setting aside 15 minutes to write can actually make you more productive! If you can’t really afford to be lazy all the time, set aside a portion of it to just pause and reflect. Who knows, a cooler head might indentify unseen flaws and create better ideas to act upon in the following day.

Even if you’ve got a vacation already planned out, having brief bouts of laziness have subtle benefits on your productivity. The key lies in retaining what you learn during relaxed moments of your day and making the most of it when you finally get back in the mood to work.

via Business 2 Community

5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Local SEO

5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Local SEO image banana split

If you run a business that has a physical address and wants to attract customers locally, local SEO is a must. Take the time to do some local search engine optimization in addition to any general SEO you’re already doing.

The good news? There are lots of free resources to help improve your local SEO. Whether you sell ice cream in small-town Massachusetts or sushi in Manhattan, here are five ways to gain more customers through local SEO.

Know What Good Local SEO Looks Like

Search for your business niche and location on the major search engines (e.g., “ice cream in Northampton, MA”). Where do you come up in the results? What do you notice about the top listing?

5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Local SEO image local seo ice cream

Make Sure Your Business’ Name, Address, and Phone Number Appear Across Your Website

Tell those search engines where they can find you! Note: Be careful to spell out your business’ name, address, and phone number the same way across the web.

Claim Your Business’ Local Listings on Google, Bing, and Yahoo

Follow the instructions carefully, and be sure to upload great photos. Be thorough and use correct grammar. Here’s how to claim your local listings:

Build Citations on Other Websites

Having more citations makes the search engine algorithms view your business’ listing more favorably. What’s a citation? It can be:

  • a listing in an online business directory (local or for your business niche)

  • a mention on any website or blog (local is probably better), even without a link

Whenever possible, ask to have these citations include your business name, address, and phone number.

Here are a few places to start:

You might also:

  • approach any (relevant) local bloggers about reviewing your business

  • send press releases to local news sites (it’s always best to have some actual news to share)

Encourage Reviews

This is a biggie! Online reviews are essential to local SEO. The best way to gain more reviews is to ask your customers. How might you do that?

  • Link to review sites from your Facebook page

  • Put up signs in your business that feature review-site logos (e.g. Yelp)

  • Ask for reviews in your email newsletter

With these five steps, you’ll be well on your way to stronger local SEO. If you have any additional tips or anecdotes to share, we’d love to hear them!

via Business 2 Community

Graduates and ADHD: What’s Next?

Living with ADHD has been a challenge throughout your life, but one that you’ve been able to overcome thanks to hard work and the support of your teachers and family from grade school through college. The nature of college coursework, however, is such that classes do not run longer than a couple of hours, schedules are flexible, and there is a variety of interesting topics to explore.

So how will you deal with entering the workplace, which is sometimes defined by workers as a 9-to-5 daily grind, in which you have to complete the same tasks day in and day out while sitting in a cubicle?

The answer is to look beyond those sorts of office dweller roles to find ones that align with your strengths and celebrate creative thinking. Here are some factors that graduates with ADHD should consider when finding and starting a new job:

Avoid jobs that have you chained to a desk.

One of the toughest challenges when you have ADHD is to not have freedom of movement because you’re bound to rigid schedules or tight deadlines. To find workplace success, look for opportunities that are more collaborative in nature (in which you can work closely with others who share a team goal). If you must work in an office, find a company that uses an open layout rather than cubicle work stations, and that promotes a laid back culture that feeds the creative process.

Seek work that rewards multitaskers.

Jobs that require a lot of focus to complete a repetitive task day after day aren’t ideal for employees with ADHD. For you, it’s better to wear many hats and juggle a variety of responsibilities or simultaneous projects since that staves off boredom and keeps you engaged. When you’re settled into a new job, don’t be afraid to volunteer to join special project committees, and be vocal about your desire to accept new challenges.

Think beyond the office.

Having a job that provides a frequent change of settings can be a blessing to someone with ADHD. Whether it’s working as a police officer, a salesperson who does a lot of outside client meetings and travel, or becoming a small business owner, getting to meet new people and take on something different everyday can help keep you engaged and feel passionate about your work.

Learn to channel the hyperactivity aspect of ADHD to supercharge your productivity.

Once you find something you’re passionate about, you’ll find that your ADHD can actually help you power through massive amounts of work more quickly than others who might lose steam. As career expert and author Martin Yate explains, “When we face, learn to manage, and harness the power of ADHD to our goals, people like us become the world’s great achievers.”

Tap into your people skills.

If you’re typing away at a computer all day, it’s easy to zone out and give the impression that you’re lazy or inattentive. However, as someone with ADHD, you likely enjoy communicating and brainstorming with others, and in those situations, you’ll stand out as someone who brings energy and excitement to the workplace.

According to MidAmerica Nazarene University’s recent study, it’s one’s interpersonal skills and the ability to network that are most vital for landing a job in the first place, and then later, advancing your career or entrepreneurial endeavor to the next level.

ADHD doesn’t have to limit your possibilities. Think of how far you’ve come already, and find inspiration in others from every walk of life who’ve managed to “crack the code” and harness their ADHD superpowers, as Yate puts it. Among them include Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Justin Timberlake, and Bill Gates, to name a few. Follow your passion, choose a job that plays to your strengths, and keep forging ahead, and you’ll have a lucrative and meaningful career.


About the author: Dawn Papandrea is a Staten Island, NY-based writer specializing in education, careers, parenting, and personal finance. Her work has appeared in publications including Family Circle, Parents,,, and more. She has a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from New York University. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.

via Business 2 Community

5 Tips to Turn Your Business Into An Educational Powerhouse

5 Tips to Turn Your Business Into An Educational Powerhouse image lightbulbMany businesses don’t do a great job when it comes to educating their prospects on the true benefits of their products and services. Sure, they have a website, but they don’t take advantage of the opportunity to differentiate themselves by maintaining an active blog with valuable information for their target audience.

Why Is Education So Important For Your Business?

In a competitive industry (and which one isn’t nowadays?), demonstrating your expertise in the areas of interest to your prospects goes a long way towards building trust. Consistently writing, optimizing, publishing, and sharing original content on your blog can consistently keep them engaged. It shows that you’re interested in being helpful and sharing your knowledge to solve their problems and meet their needs.

In short, your business becomes a trusted resource. Your website will be viewed as a hub for educational content, and your blog will be the driving force behind it. In fact, creating valuable information for your blog will be the single most effective way to build awareness for your business, demonstrate thought leadership, attract more prospects to your website, and generate more leads.

How to Start Creating Content For Your Business

If you haven’t already added a blog to your website, now’s the time. Remember that dedication, consistency, and quality are key to achieving success with your blog. If you don’t plan on frequently updating it with original content—at least once a week—you may want to reconsider blogging as part of your content marketing strategy. An ignored blog or a blog with poorly written articles will do your business more harm than good.

Here are five tips to help you start creating valuable educational articles:

1. Stay Informed

Keep track of industry trends to get ideas for article topics, and follow influential blogs to stay up-to-date on top of industry news. Leverage your expertise to add your own perspective and contribute to the conversation. Put a new spin on an old topic. Be controversial. Ruffle some feathers. It’s a good way to get people talking about and interacting with your business.

2. Perform Keyword Research

Use a keyword tool to discover the terms your target audience is searching to find information related to your business. Look at the amount of monthly searches for keywords, and remember to compare their competition so you choose keyword phrases that are frequently searched but aren’t so competitive that you can’t rank for them.

5 Tips to Turn Your Business Into An Educational Powerhouse image blog cloud3. Write High-Quality Articles

Both your target audience and the search engines want to see that you’ve created a substantial piece of content. But most visitors do not—and will not—want to read a 3,000 word treatise on the benefits of your products and services. Instead, write more concise 500-600 word articles that educate your target audience on the specific topics they want to learn about. It’s been said a gazillion times, but it always rings true: quality over quantity.

4. Don’t Be Self-Promotional

Nothing turns-off prospects faster than an article that blatantly promotes your company’s products and services. Remember that the point of content marketing is to educate and share valuable information, not sell directly. You want your blog to be the go-to resource in your niche, not a place where you toot your own horn. That’s what press releases are for.

5. Use Social Media Wisely

Share your great content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other social media sites where your prospects and customers hang out. Include relevant keywords in your posts, and encourage your network to share your content as well. The visibility of your articles can spread very quickly to increase the visibility of your business and boost website traffic.

Get Started

These are just a few of the many best practices for writing, optimizing, and publishing articles on your blog. Now you’re ready to start creating and sharing content to turn your business into a trusted resource, build awareness as a thought leader, and generate more qualified leads.

via Business 2 Community

Brainstorming Revisited: A New Approach to an Old Technique

Brainstorming Revisited: A New Approach to an Old Technique image brainstorm revisited

Lately, there seems to be a growing argument against group brainstorming, with questions being raised about whether it can be used as a springboard for a creative project. Critics maintain that it simply doesn’t work, but the need for teams to generate ideas won’t be going away anytime soon.

The reality is that the act of brainstorming itself isn’t necessarily flawed. It’s that the old-school, traditional approach doesn’t work for everyone. Instead of condemning the practice as a whole, it’s time to consider some new tactics to make it more effective.

Getting the storm started

The chance of good ideas being generated is slim to none if people are expected to produce good ideas purely from scratch in a group setting. Giving people some direction beforehand will lead to more productive brainstorming, but if people arrive with some ideas already formulated, the chance of success is even greater. Creativity itself requires outside influences to produce something vital, yet brainstorming likely won’t be effective if it takes place strictly in a group. Letting individual members do some ideating on their own before a meeting is what the old-school brainstorming sessions didn’t include, and that’s largely why they’re considered ineffective today.

Yet when doing some individual brainstorming, knowing that your ideas will be judged by the rest of the group can put a crimp in your creative thinking. That means you’ll need to balance your instincts with your inner critic.

Balancing instinct and critical thinking

When doing some individual brainstorming, following your instincts is a good way to begin. Coming up with many different ideas, no matter how unusual, is an effective way to exercise your creativity and potentially hit on something original; but we rarely give ourselves the permission to do it. Going in any direction can potentially lead to an idea you might never have hit on if you were forcing yourself to work within narrow boundaries. Be sure to keep in mind the project’s scope, audience and goals.

After you’ve produced a list of possibilities, rein your instincts back in and take a cerebral approach to what you’ve done. Striking a balance between following your instincts initially and doing critical thinking will prevent you from constantly shutting yourself down before ideas are fully conceived. After weighing what works and what doesn’t, you’ll then be ready to collaborate with the rest of the group.

Don’t take it personal: Team collaboration in action

One of the criticisms of traditional brainstorming is that the extroverts in the group will likely dominate the discussion, while others will be inhibited by the possibility of having their ideas shot down. These problems can be countered by taking a pragmatic approach to the meeting.

In other words, make sure that the team understands that the goal is to generate the best idea, that it can come from anyone, that everyone’s expected to contribute, and that any criticism isn’t personal. Any critique is meant to get the best out of the session since feedback from colleagues can eliminate any dead ends and mold a good idea into a great one.

Think! It ain’t illegal yet: Devising your brainstorming technique

Establishing rules for creativity is a slippery slope, even when it comes to brainstorming. Everyone has their own creative triggers that will get them into the right headspace for producing ideas, and an organization that provides the right conditions for creative thinking will go a long way toward helping good ideas become a reality.

Whatever success or failure you’ve experienced with group brainstorming, the impetus behind it is to pool a team’s talents together and realize something that can’t be achieved singularly. The old-school approach may no longer work, but by combining individual creativity with group evaluation you’ll be able to design a process that will expand the boundaries beyond the routine and become something your organization can depend on.

Image credit: Andy Mangold

via Business 2 Community

7 Best Issue-Tracking Apps to Help You Squish Even the Nastiest Bugs!

7 Best Issue Tracking Apps to Help You Squish Even the Nastiest Bugs! image Anthrenus verbasci larva front akaWho wouldn’t love to have the ability to simply put their foot down on the bugs that periodically crop up within their lines and lines of code? Sadly, you can’t use “brute force” in issue-tracking. Efficient issue-tracking calls for a streamlined, surgical approach – and every surgeon needs the right instruments! With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of the best apps to help you do just that.

With the apps on this list, you’ll be able track and treat issues with professional results. We’ve considered the unique positioning of each of these apps in an effort to compile the seven best issue-tracking apps while acknowledging that some apps are aimed at specific types of teams.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and take a look at the most effective issue-tracking apps around.

7 Best Issue Tracking Apps to Help You Squish Even the Nastiest Bugs! image JIRAJIRA

At the top of our list is the app we use here at GetApp, JIRA.

JIRA is a complete project management solution that helps you plan, track, and follow teams with ease. One of the more alluring aspects of using JIRA is its strong focus on issue-tracking.

Bug tracking brought to the forefront of this all-around able project management app wherein issues are given full focus.

What’s more, JIRA allows you to add incentive to issues to help motivate your team to seek speedy, effective resolutions to bugs that crop up.

JIRA features:

  • Complete project tracking

  • Centers on issue-tracking

  • Agile, Scrum, and Kaban

  • Browser-based mobile

  • OpenSocial gadgets

  • Large library of add-ons

  • On-demand or hosted

  • Gamification

JIRA works well for us, and we think it will work well for a variety of businesses. The only downside to JIRA: no native mobile apps.

7 Best Issue Tracking Apps to Help You Squish Even the Nastiest Bugs! image Kayako help desk app1Kayako

Kayako distinguishes itself on our list for its being geared for customer-facing issue-tracking teams.

Kayako is a complete project management solution (like JIRA). But Kayako brings together a help desk solution with issue-tracking in an integral way.

Kayako has been around since 2001, making it one of the most evergreen solutions on this list. Kayako is a very easy-to-use solution that, as our review from earlier this year points out, is highly intuitive, even to first time users.

Kayako allows customer issues to enter into the platform and be directed to the issue-tracking team member who can tackle the problem. From there, it’s easy to track and resolve the issue. This brings to your business the two-fold benefit of tracking and fixing bugs, while maintaining happy customers.

Kayako features:

  • Complete project tracking

  • Customer support-focused

  • real-time visitor monitoring

  • Self-service help desk

  • Custom ticket fields

  • Mobile – iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry

Kayako is a well-rounded, customer-focused bug-squashing solution – just like your business, huh?

7 Best Issue Tracking Apps to Help You Squish Even the Nastiest Bugs! image freshdesk help desk app1Freshdesk

Freshdesk has a fun company culture and a total dedication to creating happy customers (yours as well as theirs.)

Freshdesk makes the list of best issue-tracking apps for its commitment to helping you and your deliver on the promises you make your customers. In the present business environment, often it is merely delivery that differentiates one company from another. Freshdesk understands this, and the app makes it simple to do just that.

Freshdesk features:

  • Complete project tracking

  • Strong community implementation

  • Support automation

  • Support for multiple products/

  • Gamification

  • Mobile – iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry

Freshdesk is an ideal issue-tracking app for a range of businesses, from lone freelancers to large enterprises – and small- and medium-size businesses in between.

7 Best Issue Tracking Apps to Help You Squish Even the Nastiest Bugs! image EasyProjects issue tracking appEasyProjects

EasyProjects is an aptly-named issue-tracking app.

EasyProjects earns its place on our list by making it easy for even the most disorganized of us to bring order to chaos.

As a complete project management solution, EasyProjects sports a highly intuitive “all-seeing” interface that makes it easy to view audit trails, status indicators, deadline information, and more.

EasyProjects features:

  • Complete project tracking

  • Comprehensive dashboard

  • Extensive analytics and reporting

  • On-demand and hosted options

  • Email alerts

  • Mobile – iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry

If you’re like us, you are looking to keep it simple. EasyProjects stands out from the pack by delivering on its name.

7 Best Issue Tracking Apps to Help You Squish Even the Nastiest Bugs! image VivaDesk issue tracking appVivaDesk

VivaDesk is an issue-tracking app that brings fixes to life.

VivaDesk is among the most versatile of the offering on our list, as it is in use for everything from IT to marketing.

VivaDesk excels at sorting tickets of different issue types into manageable groupings. From there, the app makes it easy to track and manage the bug fix.

VivaDesk features:

  • Comprehensive dashboard

  • Multi-channel support

  • Analytics and reporting

  • Automated escalation

  • Audit trail

  • Mobile – iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry

VivaDesk takes issue-tracking as seriously as you and your customers do!

7 Best Issue Tracking Apps to Help You Squish Even the Nastiest Bugs! image SpiraSpiraTest

If your business needs to test its applications to troubleshoot problems, you will want to give SpiraTest a closer look.

SpiraTest specializes is a quality assurance and testing solution at its core. Within that context, this app manages fixing defects and bugs efficiently.

SpiraTest makes it equally as simple to track manual tests as it does automated ones, allowing you to nail down all the mission-critical issues that spring up.

  • SpiraTest features:

  • Intuitive user interface

  • Testing-focused

  • Manual and automated testing

  • Browser-based mobile support

If you need an issue-tracking app geared at testing and you can live without a native mobile app, SpiraTest is the bug buster for you.

7 Best Issue Tracking Apps to Help You Squish Even the Nastiest Bugs! image Zoho bugtracker logoZoho BugTracker

Zoho is known for its wide range of cloud apps for business. The most beautiful thing about Zoho is how well its various browser apps work together, share resources, and streamline customer service and other management tasks. You can practically run your entire business on Zoho.

Zoho BugTracker presents the pertinent information to squelching bugs in an intuitive dashboard layout, including now with Kanban View.

Zoho BugTracker features:

  • Bugs that you can customize, automate, organize and manage

  • An admin overboard team dashbaord

  • Give each development team its own space to create modules

  • An integration with GitHub social coding software

Zoho brings to bear its robust resources for the benefit of you and your customers, allowing you to handle bug-tracking with confident ease.

Are you using the best issue-tracking app for your business?

You can find a complete list of all the best issue-tracking apps on the Web right over here.

via Business 2 Community

What Not to Say to a Journalist Who Might Run Your Story

There are quite a few things you should say to someone at a newspaper, magazine, or other media outlet who might run your press release. “Thanks” is a good one, also “What can I do for you in return?” Basically, any show of gratitude and appreciation works.

What Not to Say to a Journalist Who Might Run Your Story image yes or noOn the other hand, there are also quite a few things you should absolutely never say to said journalist, intern, or anyone else giving you layout space. These are a little more varied and you may not even realize they’re hurting your relationship with the paper or magazine. Let’s take a look at some of the more common phrases you may have accidentally uttered.

Did You Get My Email/Phone Call/Smoke Signal

Want to really drive your new contact crazy? Then make sure to ask them all the time if they received your message, simply because you haven’t heard from them in the past day/hour/minute. You know they got it, you’re just being paranoid.

It’s hard to understand just how busy most journalists are. Even though we hear all the time how “journalism is dying,” your contact still has a ton of things to do and not a lot of time to do it in. They’re not ignoring your voicemail because they hate you or are ignoring you; they’re prioritizing the fifteen stories they have to edit before they go to copy over your press release that isn’t due to go up for another few days.

Lip Service

Think you have to say whatever you need to say to get the story in the paper? Think again. Never make promises you can’t keep as they will always come around and bite you in the rear. When they do, the publication won’t run your press release anyway, so what’s the point?

So don’t tell the journalist or editor who gets back with you that you can get an interview with the high level CEO of your company or that you actually know Justin Bieber. When the time comes and you have to deliver the goods and can’t, there’s no way your press release will make it in. Also, they will definitely think twice about your credibility the next time you contact them.

Can You Hurry This Up?

The journalist has decided to run your press release but first needs some further information from you. Whether you’re trying to make yourself look more important than you really are or you’re genuinely busy, you decide to let them know you just don’t have that much time right now.

This is a terrible idea. If you want your story in the paper/magazine/online publication, etc. you have to make time according to the journalist’s schedule. Of course if you’re actually super busy or in the middle of an emergency they’ll understand, but even then too much of putting the interview off and your press release is toast.

If they want to schedule a photo shoot or something more in-depth, make sure to add extra time to your own schedule to squeeze everything in. The last thing you want to do after getting such special treatment is to bail on them in the middle of everything because you forgot about a meeting or two.

How often do you contact a journalist after you send off a press release?

via Business 2 Community

Youe Camera Is On, Beware!

Facebook says that it will be turning on your microphone on your smartphone –for what reason, we have no idea but can guess. Turning on cameras and microphones is becoming a huge problem.

Szymon Sidor is a Polish-born software engineering genius currently working for Dropbox as an intern –before that he served two internships with Google working on Google Chrome ® and Google Analytics ® . Now he is working on his PhD at MIT and he writes a blog called “Snacks for Your Mind.” Sidor’s latest “snack” is a demonstration of how the cameras on your Android ® smartphone can be turned on without you knowing it, and sequential photos sent to a third party over the Internet. Along with the photos, data on your location is displayed in the intercept so you can be easily tracked. All this happens without any awareness by the phone user –the screen can either be turned off or on, it does not matter. Szymon has gotten around the Android requirement to display any photo preview on the screen by reducing the preview to only one pixel, which you won’t notice even when your screen is on. On top of this, his solution has gone around Android’s notification that an APP is running, so you cannot even check to see if this brilliant piece of software “mal-engineering” is running.

Spying through cameras on smartphones and webcams on computers and laptops, as well as tablets, today is widespread. GCHQ, Britain’s NSA, ran a program called “Optic Nerve.” Optic Nerve scanned live on line webcam chats on Yahoo and probably other chat services between 2008 and 2012. Many of these images were very personal ones, and could be used to either embarrass or blackmail users. Reports in the UK say that NSA engineers helped GCHQ develop the Optic Nerve program. Many have either claimed or speculated that one way the NSA and other U.S. spy agencies got around the prohibition of spying on Americans was to let a third party do it for them. A recent case involving a U.S. law firm representing Indonesian interests was bugged by the Australia Australian Signals Directorate. Special intelligence cooperation occurs under the “Five Eyes” program. The cooperating countries are the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

News reports, based on the leaks of NSA information by Edward Snowden, says that GCHQ stored millions of images gleaned from its webcam surveillance. These images can be retrieved in various ways, including the use of advanced face recognition systems, so seemingly unrelated video chats from different computers and with different names or web addresses, can be linked together. Obviously, when used correctly and legally, this is an important counter-terrorism tool. But when it is used as a political tool to harass to blackmail people, the consequences are different and corrosive. A problem the U.S. government still has, new legislation notwithstanding, is how to assure the proper use of information that can be very personal and completely unrelated to any counter terrorism or criminal activity.

It is not only the NSA or GCHQ that can spy on webcams. Marcus Thomas, a former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico,Virginia, told the Washington Post that the FBI could spy on anyone’s webcam without turning on the camera’s indicator light. While not all webcams have indicator lights, and many laptops do not have them at all, the indicator light is a nice security feature that tells you when the camera is active. Webcam spying is part of a suite of so-called Remote Access Tools or RATS. Thomas told the Post that the FBI has had these tools for years but uses “Rattingly” (the webcam spying tool) sparingly.

But camera spying is not at all limited to governments or official spy agencies and organizations. It is so widespread today that it has even spread to schools. Just this year Lower Merion Township, a classy suburb of Philadelphia, settled a lawsuit, brought by two students, paying them $610,000 in compensation. The crime? The school provided 2,300 MacBooks® to their students and installed spy software on them that snapped pictures of the students. Photos of the students included snaps of them at home, in bed, sometimes partially clothed. In one case the school claimed a student was “popping” pills: in fact he was eating candy.

“Sextortion” is a growing problem. What is Sextortion? Sextortion is the secret control of webcams or smartphone cameras to run extortion rackets against people. A major case gained notoriety in California where a now-20 year old Jared Abrahams ” illegally hacked into the laptops of several young women in the U.S. and abroad, then took control of their webcams in order to film and photograph them while they undressed” according to the FBI. The scam included web cam pictures of Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf, who was a classmate of Abrahams. “Abrahams threatened to post the images to the victim’s social media accounts unless the women provided additional nude photos/videos or obeyed his commands during a five-minute Skype session” Abrahams was convicted and got an 18 month jail sentence. In another case, a Glendale California man was sentenced to five years in federal prison Monday after pleading guilty in a sextortion case that targeted hundreds of women. Interpol announced the arrest of 58 persons in the Philippines for sextortion, including one case where a17-year-old victim committed suicide in July last year following blackmailing by the group. In fact, “The scale of these sextortion networks is massive, and run with just one goal in mind: to make money regardless of the terrible emotional damage they inflict on their victims,” says Sanjay Virmani, director of the Interpol Digital Crime Center.

Webcams and phone cams are also an important source for corporate spying. This works in two ways: companies and organizations spying on their own employees, and competitors and thieves spying on corporations. By being able to activate either a webcam or microphone on a PC, laptop or smartphone, intruders can listen in on sensitive meetings and conversations and even know where the meetings are held, who attended, and everything about what was discussed.

There are plenty of vendors selling spy software, some designed for “professional” business use and marketed as a way to track employees, such as a product for employee monitoring made by InterGuard. Such spying falls into a gray legal area, but once it goes onto a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet it clearly intrudes on privacy outside of the work space. Even so, this is an unsettled area in U.S. law. It is of course illegal to record a conversation without getting the permission of the person or persons being recorded, but keep in mind even web conferencing software allows for proceedings to be recorded and no permission is asked. These days there are hundreds of spying products to choose from, and the best of them facilitate surreptitious webcam and mobile cam spying.

Corporate spying can facilitate “insider” trading, where the “insider” is sitting outside but has privileged access to your webcam or mobile camera and microphone. No one knows the extent of financial manipulation and computer and smartphone spying going on that facilitates insider trading, stock exchange manipulation, and trading of sensitive investment and competitive information.

It is legal to sell spy software, just illegal to use it without permission outside the workplace, unless it is used to spy by parents on their minor children. Even this “permission” is fraught with difficulty, since other kids who are not related to the parents may well be captured while the parents spy on their children.

In short, there is an epidemic of webcam and smartphone camera monitoring and spying and such spying affects everyone. Our laws have a long way to go to catch up to the reality of this powerful attack on personal privacy.

What can you do? One “solution” often proposed is to cover up the webcam on your PC or laptop. This does stop the camera, but does nothing about the microphone, but it is a partial answer providing you remember to do it religiously. But with the number of devices in homes and offices, it is not simple to manage. And tablets and smartphones often have two cameras, one in front and one on the back. Covering both is awkward and probably unrealistic.

A second solution is to get positive control over cameras and microphones so malware and intruders can’t switch them on. One product for Android is Office Anti-Spy. It makes sure the cameras and microphones are turned off and nothing can be recorded. This solution trumps Szymon Sidor’s brilliant Android hack, and other RAT tools that try to control your device.

Most important of all is to realize that the world is seething with snoops, provocateurs and criminals. No one, neither school children, teenagers, adults, corporate tycoons or government officials can escape them or live in this world unnoticed.

via Business 2 Community

Why User Types?

Why User Types? image me presenting the gamification user types hexad

Second post in a day, not very SEO clever, I know.

I wanted to take a moment to explain my view on User and Player types and their use in gamification.

First up, some bullets so you get the idea quickly.

What User Types are not;

  1. Perfect

  2. Applicable to every situation or project

  3. The same in all contexts

  4. Pure science

What User Types are;

  1. A tool in an overall toolkit

  2. Easy to use and get your head around

  3. Useful if you understand their limitations

  4. In my case based on motivation (eg Self Determination Theory), observation and research

I created the my User Types, because I wanted to use something in my thinking and design that focused on users, but was not built for games. I had been using Bartle’s types, but they just did not fit well with gamification – this is something he repeatedly tells people! It was also very hard to talk to people in enterprise about killers (i.e. people who take pleasure in the harm they can cause others). I also wanted to approach my types from the perspective of what motivated people rather than how they behaved.

Some truths

You can’t break down people into little units – as I have been told recently (by a few people both on twitter, linked in and at GWC), reductionism does not work – people are far too complex. This is true – I agree totally. However, my brain works by categorising things, that’s me. So I created the user types to help with that. I had four, then eight, then nine – now six (actually thirteen, but that is a different blog!). The six I talk about are six that I have observed in real life gamified situations. I find them helpful to consider when I build or advice on systems.

Also, the survey. Can you use my survey to predict the types you will have in your gamified system? Probably not. It may give you some ideas, but really it just tells you what type people are when they fill in a survey. You can use it to help tweak the system if you modify the survey with more contextual questions before, during an dafter to see how they evolved. This is in fact being tested by Barry Herbert right now! However, I have found the survey fascinating and will keep running it to get some baselines if nothing else.

My User Types are a single tool in a vast tool kit. Like all tools, they will work better in some situations better than others. Think of a hammer and a saw. You can split wood into two parts with either. Both work, but one is neater than the other, one is probably quicker and requires less effort. Which you use depends on several things. What you have to hand, what your desired outcome is and also what you understand of the tool. I have offered a tool, how you use it is down to you – I help to guide that as best I can.

For me, breaking people down into these types is not the important point, considering people at all is. We concentrate on the product far more than we concentrate on the people and their experience. Types give you an easy way to visualise certain behaviours or personalities and build to try and support them.

If seeing my little green and red hexagon does nothing more than make you consider people and their experience a little more – I am more than happy, I consider that a win.

via Business 2 Community