December 6, 2013
rosemary published this at 6:40 am
By Kelly Edwards
Blogging is not limited to cyberspace, and neither is promoting your blog to boost its recognition. In fact, marketing at events is an opportunity to access a whole range of readers and contributors that you might not have otherwise interacted with. But how do you assess if an event is worthwhile for your blog? Traveling to a networking event, paying for a ticket to a convention and even renting a stand to promote your blog are all factors that can make event marketing a more expensive choice, so how do you track if it’s the best choice to make?
Define Your Goals
While calculating the profit made from an event isn’t as simple as counting receipts for a blog, there are still ways you can attribute success to your event marketing. Tracking how many business cards you give out or flyers taken is a good start. You can also take a list of names interested in joining your mailing list (if you have one) or offer entry to a competition. These are all goals that you can measure throughout an event, however any positive effects in traffic or subscriptions may take a few days, perhaps even weeks to be felt.
Choosing the Right Event
Not every event is going to bring in the correct audience for your website. You may be tempted to attend a very large blogger event but will you be finding an audience that will actively want to engage with your blog? If you’re a niche site then it can be more effective to look into more specific blogging events, especially those in tune with your blog’s ethos. If you talk a lot about your local area then have a look into local tourism events which you could attend. If you post on a specific hobby or interest then look into events or exhibitions around these topics. This will lead you to a large group of attendees who are also a relevant part of your demographic.
Combining Real World and Online Marketing
Event marketing can still be supported by your online fans by promoting your attendance in advance. This can be on your own channel as well as outreach into other areas. If you’re attending a local event then would they appreciate some content on their website from upcoming attendees? Get in contact now and promote yourself and the event you’ll be spending time at. You can continue this after the event as well, offering posts on how you found the event and your experiences.
If you met people and exchanged business details then get in contact ASAP whilst you’re still fresh in their mind. You invested in networking and now it’s time to be proactive about all the new contacts you may have made.
Promoting at the Event
There are many ways you can promote your blog at an event and nothing is easier than wearing a branded t shirt. You can also give away branded goodies to those who show an interest in your subject of interest as well as cards and flyers. Ensure that your logo and brand colours are proudly on display and mesh with the blog itself to make the transition for the attendee as smooth as possible.
If you’re attending an exhibition or event with a stand then your promotional displays should be choreographed and also include the URL of your blog. A large and attractive banner will also grab more attention. If you’re promoting your blog at an event or exhibition that is traditionally more focused around sales or crafts then try to get a spot near a refreshment area so that attendees are more likely to slow down and look at your blog. Having an optimised mobile site will also mean that attendees that look up your blog on their phone will be able to quickly access your site.
Improving Your Approach
After your first event you will most likely realise where you can make improvements. Perhaps you were somewhat shy about approaching so many people so quickly. Perhaps you don’t feel as though you explained your blog succinctly enough and people lost interest. Perhaps you regret spending too much or not enough setting up an attractive exhibition for your blog. Whatever ideas enter your head for how you can improve next time, ensure you write them down now! You can also start mapping ways that you can approach these challenges and improve your marketing strategy.
Combining these elements will lead to excellent promotion of your blog at an event and hopefully some greater recognition for your brand.
December 5, 2013
rosemary published this at 7:50 am
The tagline for this blog jumped off the site at me the other day.
Liz says, “you’re only a stranger once.”
The first time you encounter someone, whether it’s online or offline, you have a lifetime of possibilities floating between you. There’s no messy experience to muddy the waters, no shared history. As strangers, you are just two molecules floating around.
The molecules collide.
Now the possibilities start to develop.
Will you share a laugh in your first meeting? Will the other person say something that violates your personal code, and immediately cut off the possibilities? Will you decide to have a second experience together?
I recently had the great pleasure to welcome a new customer who arrived via a two year long, circuitous series of molecular collisions both in real life (at conferences) and online. And the most wonderful thing is that, when each of the encounters took place, neither one of us had an “endgame” or “agenda” in mind, other than being open to meeting new people.
If you’re open to the possibilities, then the happy accidents can happen. And they happen more frequently, the more you put yourself out there. Magically, the byproduct of this open intention is that you can become a “super-collider.”
The beautiful tagline at the top of this page means something. Whether it’s your first comment, your first submission of a guest post, your first time attending a SOBCon event, your first time reading this blog, you’re only a stranger once.
Everything after that is possibilities.
December 4, 2013
Dave published this at 10:38 am
It can be easy to keep track of your small business when you are first starting out.
You know what everyone is doing; in fact, you are often the person doing most of the work. However, as your business grows and expands into new areas and new departments, it can be difficult to ensure that everything is working smoothly until it isn’t.
To avoid crisis, you need to know if your business is functioning well in all areas. This is part of the role of business administration.
One area where you must review is on leadership.
Do you have a leader for every department or is one person trying to handle multiple areas? Is the right person in the right position of leadership?
Whether you believe that leaders are born or made, you must make sure you have a true leader in the right position to achieve the best results from your staff. That may mean hiring the right person or training someone to become the right person for the job.
You must also make sure you have your small business divided into the correct categories or departments to operate in the most efficient way possible.
Tasks need to be delegated to the area where it makes the most sense. This may differ from what has been done in the past, but results in better operations.
Do you have adequate communication channels set in place for your business?
A successful organization is one that receives input from all areas of the company. Furthermore, the leaders of the organization provide information that is accurate, relevant, and timely to the staff. No one feels left out or left “in the dark” as to the direction of the organization.
To have an effective administration means in part that you offer the opportunity for everyone to be heard.
This may include providing anonymous surveys for input. An organization must have weekly or monthly department and company-wide meetings to keep everyone updated on the different aspects of the business.
A business must also have an effective review system in place.
This not only ensures that things are working well, but it gives you the opportunity to see if there are ways you can do it better. It helps keep your company organized while you make sure everything is progressing along based on the business plan. If you find deviations, you must decide if they need addressed or if your plan needs altered.
As your business grows, you will find it harder to keep your hands on the pulse of the organization. However, it is important to maintain the proper oversight of every aspect of your company to ensure future success.
By focusing on having the proper administration in place, you can achieve your goals and keep your company running smoothly on all levels.
Photo credit: smallbusiness.chron.com
About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including SEO and business administration.
December 3, 2013
rosemary published this at 7:29 am
By Dipti Parmar
The best advice I received during my career in corporate America can be summed up in these four words; inspect what you expect. These four words that can provide focus for managing a business, a staff, a team, and even your children.
When it comes to business, the only metrics you should concern yourself with gathering are those that will help you make the right decisions. Most analytical software tends to emphasize metrics that might make you feel good about your business but do not really provide any useful guidance for making decisions.
For example, a report that reveals you have a total of 20,000 “hits” to your website may make you feel good, but the report tells you absolutely nothing about how you achieved those hits. In this sense, such statistics aren’t terribly useful.
You may have seen this in your business. You launch a new feature or product and a few days later sales and revenue are up. Everyone pats themselves on the back. The product guys think it is the result of the feature, the sales guy thinks it’s the new promotion and the customer service people think it’s the customer-friendly policies. The fact is, you don’t really know what caused the up-tick, but when sales and revenues drop back to baseline … no one wants to accept the blame!
Compare this to what I would describe as an actionable metric. For example, by adding a new feature to your website but allowing only every other customer to see it, you would be able to examine both sets of revenue streams a week later and make some meaningful conclusions. This metric is designed to allow you to ascertain the effectiveness of the new feature based on revenue differences. If the new feature increased sales, then you obviously want to implement that feature for all your customers. If you see that it didn’t move the needle for either group, you could scrap it. The important take-away here is that these types of metrics are actionable. It is data from which a conclusion can be readily made and acted upon.
How to Achieve Actionable Metrics:
Split tests—such as the one I described above, will allow you to take the right course of action on anything from minor copy tweaks to major product changes. These tests are widely known as A/B tests and you can get more information and background from this whitepaper titled “Controlled Experiments on the Web: Survey and Practical Guide” (PDF).
Per Customer Metrics—because people are metrics! Ordinary metrics can fog our focus on reality by diverting attention to unreal groups and pseudo concepts. It is significantly advantageous to examine data from a per customer or per segment perspective. Try focusing, for example, on the number of page views per new or repeat customer rather than just the total number of page views. Per customer data can indicate that you are increasing the level of engagement with your customer. Looking at aggregate data will not reveal this trend. There are several analytical packages that offer a business the ability to reduce aggregate data to per customer and/or per segment analyses. One is Google Analytics, which in combination with Google’s goal tracking feature will allow you to see which web referrers are driving the most conversions. Armed with this information, you can make decisions on which referrers are worth your time and money. This allows your business to maximize its return on investment.
Group analysis and funnel metrics—can be among the most useful metrics for forward decision making. For purposes of illustration, let’s say you have an e-commerce product with a few life-cycle events. These may include registering for the product, signing up for a free trial, using the product and, ultimately, buying the product. A simple report can be created to show these metrics for groups in a defined time period. For example, you might create a weekly report which shows what percentage of customers registering in that week went on to take each life-cycle step. If these numbers reflect no changes from group to group, then we have learned that nothing significant is happening. If one spikes up or tumbles down, then we have an unmistakable reason to investigate. Using funnel metrics to consolidate this data into a few useful numbers is easy to do manually, even if you have a large number of registrants. Simply break out the old fashioned index cards and record the number of customers registering each day. Then for each conversion (sale), make a tally mark on the index card corresponding to the date that customer registered (not the date they bought). Then on a weekly or monthly basis, you can compute conversion rates for the customers registering in that time period. Obviously, it is this number you want to focus on driving up!
What I have shared here today has been focused on the e-commerce business but the theme of managing to expectations is equally applicable to brick and mortar businesses. The idea of inspecting what you expect is applicable to all business enterprises, from invoice financing companies like CBAC Funding to the mom and pop dry cleaning store in your neighborhood.
If you expect to achieve a goal, measuring your progress is essential; otherwise, how will you know you reached it?
December 3, 2013
rosemary published this at 6:46 am
By Christopher McMurphy
The phrase “adapt or die” has proved true in the animal kingdom, and it has a place in the wild world of marketing as well. Monumental shifts in the advertising landscape since the advent of the Internet have only served to buttress this point. And while larger organizations often have the full weight of entire marketing departments at their disposal, it can be difficult for smaller operations to keep up with the trends. And failing to move with the times can spell certain death for any outfit.
But those small businesses that feel they lack the means to mount an effective online marketing campaign are sorely mistaken. Any organization, big or small, can utilize modern, proven methods to convert leads into customers and generate that attractive ROI. Here’s how.
Set a schedule
Those running an operation themselves may rightly feel they don’t have much time to commit to crafting and posting regular blog posts. That said, there’s no need for the frazzled business owner to overextend him or herself. Owners should commit to a preliminary schedule that involves making at least one post per week. Once a firm schedule has been set, owners can then focus on increasing the output over a period of time, such as to multiple blog posts per week.
Some owners may simply be too busy to even commit to one or two posts per week, and that is understandable. However, that is no reason to forgo a blogging strategy entirely. Time-strapped owners can outsource their needs and hire writers from across the web. There are plenty of quality guest bloggers out there, all with the skill and expertise required to contribute authoritative, original blog posts on a variety of subjects.
In the world of blogging, the hard sell is anathema to success. The most successful bloggers reach large audiences by getting personal with their readers. When it comes to small businesses, owners are going to want to craft an overall theme to their blog posts (helpful DIY tips, Top-5 lists, etc., etc.) and engage while staying on message. Oftentimes owners find success in this manner by adding personal details and experiences within the content.
The best (and most successful) blogs contain content that is of some use to the reader. The average web surfer is highly likely to bypass all blog posts that contain nothing more than sales pitches on their way to more helpful content. That means the blogger needs to be credible in the field in which they write about. An auto parts business, for example, should consider publishing posts on DIY auto repair, as this is of use to their target audience.
One of the best ways small business owners can achieve success through blogging is by being honest. The most successful blogs around are transparent and forthcoming about what it is they represent. Fine print doesn’t translate in the blog world, so business owners should air on the side of prudence and gain trust through total honesty.
In the end, if there’s one thing that all small business owners and operators should take away from this article, it is the need for consistency. All the content in the world won’t matter much unless it is visible on a regular basis. That means being diligent in adhering to a firm blogging schedule is paramount for any successful content strategy.
December 1, 2013
molly published this at 3:00 am
Are your living in someone’s shadow?
Are you building your future out of spite, or to prove someone wrong?
How much misdirected energy is keeping you from achieving your true goals, and how can you redirect that energy for the benefit of all? How much more could you achieve if you could release the “dead weight” of expections (your own and those of others)?
“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you ~ all of the expectations, all of the beliefs ~ and becoming who you are.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen
Have you ever been consciously aware that you are experiencing recognizing yourself in someone else’s experiences? I did earlier this week. It was during a conversation with someone who was just starting a journey that I’ve completed (in most respects). I had walked his path and realized that I was now being given the chance to serve as guide (and to learn even more about independence and autonomy through teaching it).
I want to keep this relatively brief, because I’m actually afraid of getting too wordy and losing the impact of our conversation. Anyone who knows me is familiar with my tendency to give the long answer first, and then follow up immediately with, “the short answer is…”
That said, the gist of our talk was that this person wanted OUT. Out of his life; out of his situation. He had applied a geographical solution to his problem by moving away from the town in which he grew up in order to live his life without the baggage that accompanied the expectations others had of him.
There are those who say this solution may be a form of running away, and in some cases, I would agree (“No matter where you run to, there you are”). I get it. However, the nation’s urban centers are teeming with people who left behind the perceptions, conceptions and limitations of the towns in which they grew up in return for a fresh start. To upend the theme song of the sitcom Cheers, “Sometimes you wanna go where NOBODY knows your name.”
People assign you with a label because it makes life easier for them. Naming you by labeling you helps them to frame their own place in life. Categorizing people as one dimensional, distilling them to one adjective (stupid, smart, lazy, ambitious, crazy, level-headed, clumsy, athletic et al) is inaccurate at best and carries a great potential for harm at worst. What’s doubly frustrating is when others label you based upon the behavior of others (ie. your family).
“Anyone can cut an apple open and count the number of seeds. But, who can look at a single seed and count the trees and apples?” ~ Dottie Walters
This was the case with my friend earlier this week. I could see the pain written in his face and see the energy straining to express itself as we talked. He wanted more. He knew that he had the ability to achieve great things. He was more than the sum of his parts and was willing to do the work in order to develop his own talents.
How much greatness lies dormant in us all?
Our obligation to each other is to recognize, nurture and develop the divine within each other. This precept forms the cornerstone of my work. Each of us has the capacity to reach out and help another evolve into the highest expression of our natures. Our environments have the potential to nurture our development or to squelch it. That said, YOU are the force which determines your life’s trajectory.
Your job is to recognize and believe that you are worthy of great things. You must invest in yourself. Others can accompany you on your journey, but you must do the heavy lifting yourself.
You are not Your Family. You are not Your Past. Your choices are your own. You are capable of achieving anything you set your mind to.
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive)
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