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Monthly Archives: May 2012

How to Use Google Plus for Your Business

There are a lot of things that businesses can do to boost their online profile and get more traffic to their websites. One of these things is taking advantage of the social media craze. By jumping on the social media bus, companies ensure themselves that they will get in contact with people on the internet who are geographically close to them and who are somewhat interested in the goods and/or services that they provide. Google Plus is a great social media website that can help you and your business take off! If you are thinking about using Google Plus to help advertise your business, then here are a few things that you should keep in mind as you go about creating the online profiles that you will need in order to do so.

Get Your Feet Wet

The first thing you should do is register and explore! Google Plus is a pretty intimate social media site where the things you share are very specifically stored and kept track of in the Google Plus profile that every user has to create. You need to look around the website and see what you like about it. Because there is so much to it, it might be necessary to keep a main focus at the center of your business Google Plus website and feature a link with more information about specific things that some people might want to know about. Google Plus is the perfect place to find people in your area who have already expressed interest in your line of business. You can add these people to your Circle of Friends. Once they are added to your Circle, they can access all the information on your Google Plus page. If it so happens that they hope to get more information about your company, they can just click the link and be taken straight to your website.

The website is the most important part of an online marketing ploy. You have to make sure that your company’s website is both engaging and aesthetically pleasing. If it is too boring or hard to manage, then people will get tired of working with it. If it is ugly or difficult to read because of brash color schemes and too flashy graphics, then the people who are brought to the website from Google Plus will be turned off by the appearance and exit out of it.

Working With a Pro

If you aen’t very up to speed on web design, there are web design companies that will do what they can to create a great website for you. By hiring another company to do web design for your website, you can be sure that the website you end up with will be everything that you need it to be.

Micah Castro is a freelance writer for Skyhook Internet Marketing who specializes in Web Design Phoenix and interactive marketing.

 

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Gifts You Can Give Your Boss without Looking Like a Kiss-Ass

Whether it’s his birthday, the holidays, or any other occasion, it’s never easy to pick out the perfect gift for your boss. You want to impress him, but you don’t want to do it with scoffs from your colleagues. The gift you give to your boss should show him that you appreciate him without going over the top. He makes more money than you, so don’t spend a lot. If you spend more than $50 on a present, you’ll seem like a kiss-ass for sure. There are plenty of nice gifts you can give that are thoughtful, reasonably-priced, and not screaming for a promotion. Here are some gift ideas for your boss that won’t annoy him or your coworkers.

A Bottle of Spirits

If your boss likes to enjoy the occasional drink, consider getting him a bottle of his favorite liquor or a nice bottle of wine. The bottle you choose will show you’re paying attention to his tastes, but if you’re not sure, you can never go wrong with red wine. A bottle of wine is a great gift because you can almost never have too many, and there will always be a future occasion to drink it.
A Fancy Wine Opener

If you don’t want to go with the traditional bottle of wine, you can take a more practical route and get him a nice wine opener. There are lots of different wine openers on the market, so go for something that’s a little more high-end, such as a sleek-looking electric wine opener that will look good on a countertop and make opening wine a breeze.
A Wine Decanter

Okay, perhaps at this point it might seem like your boss is an alcoholic with all these drinking-related gifts. But drinking-related gifts are good for one reason – the show you have a jovial spirit (no pun intended). Whenever there is a gift-giving occasion, it’s likely a cause for celebration. A wine decanter is another gift that will give a happy, celebratory vibe.
Travel Accessories

If your boss travels a lot in his position, you can give a thoughtful, practical gift with a travel accessory or two. Good travel accessories include neck pillows, travel shoe bags, necktie cases, and toiletry bags. They all serve a useful purpose and can make his travelling easier or more stylish.
Fun Tech Accessories

For the boss with an iPad or iPhone, there are lots of fun accessories you can get that will show you have a sense of humor. For example, there’s an accessory that will turn your iPad into a mini arcade game, or a case that will make it look like an Etch-a-Sketch.
Bluetooth Headset

Bosses are always on their phones. If yours doesn’t have a hands-free Bluetooth headset yet, it will be the perfect gift for you to give him. They are not very expensive at all, and they will make it easier for him to talk while driving and multi-task in general. Just remember if he starts wearing it 24/7 around the office, it’s your fault.

Charlie Adams is a tech guru and internet expert who works and lives in the Las Vegas area as a consultant. If he ever needs to blow off some steam or entertain guests from out of town he simply takes them out to experience the Vegas nightlife.

Photo Credit: Cindy’s Epic Cakes

 

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It’s All Geek to Me

Many people earn degrees based on their interests, it only makes sense, right? However, let’s face it, not everyone has same interest and maybe your run slightly (or highly) more to the nerd side. Sure you would love to be musician or draw concept art for car makers, but that just isn’t your thing. You are far more into Dungeons and Dragons than designing buildings. If so, here are some degrees you might like.

Astronomy – If you wish you could boldly go where no man has gone before, well now you can, at least in your mind. If long night and large telescopes intrigue you then why not study astronomy?  Granted, this can be pretty intense and mind boggling at times but deep down inside, you know you would love every minute of it. You might even get lucky and discover a planet or an asteroid about to hit the earth.

Physics – Physics and any other type of physics have a lot of overlap. If you like colliding invisible particles in multi-billion dollar pieces of equipment then you should love this field.  If you know what a mass spectrometer is, or how to use one then you definitely need to major in this.  Once again, this is no casual stroll through academic America, it is pretty tough stuff to wrap your head around, but you can do it. Just don’t look too closely too quantum physics, that stuffs insane.

Math – If you are math addict then you have little choice but to major in math. For some reason, geeks everywhere seem to love this subject and somehow they actually understand it.  Teaching would be your most likely option, but if you learn your advanced stuff you could get into programming, code breaking or the exciting world of accounting. If this isn’t for you, do what I did and go for…

History – On the entirely different end of the nerd mass spectrometer you can delve into the depths of history and the liberal arts. Learn about the battles epic battles with knights and maybe reenact some of them yourself.  Antiquities, artifacts and folklore are yours to master. You can even specialize in a military masters degree. If worst-comes-to-worst, you could at least get a job at Medieval Times.

Which bring us to literature, the cute, shy sister of history. Everyone has seen a bookworm or two in their lives. You know, they are always reading. They read in the car, they read while working out, they read while they eat and they fall asleep while reading. Are all books nerdy? No, but most are. For those who love to explore the vast plains of the unbridled imagination then literature is for you.

Which leaves us to the more important and eternal question, what will you do with these degrees? Well, it is true that many people end up doing something not related to their degree at all, teaching is the most obvious choice. You can go and be an inspiring influence and younger nerds who were once just like yours and let them see just where they will end up.

Jeff Jordan lives, breathes and writes in sunny Southern California. He mainly writes about education. automobiles, navy education, real estate and pop culture.  He would write about romance and dating but sadly knows nothing about it.

 

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Find New Customers with Case Studies from Old Customers

Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool.  If customers love a company, their praise and recommendations can drive business through the roof. If not, the company will often crash and burn.  But word of mouth isn’t completely out of a company’s hands.

You might have seen websites with case studies or glowing testimonials.  These are great examples of a business leveraging customer feedback to drive even more interest among new customers.  It can work for you, too, if you know how to do it.  Here are some helpful tips for using customer feedback to bring more business.

Ask for it.

If you’re not asking your customers to rate their experiences with you, you’re missing two great opportunities.  One is to serve them better, but the other is to collect positive feedback for your marketing strategy.

Send a customer survey after each project or transaction is complete.  Make the questions open-ended so you can get more detailed comments and maybe a few blurbs.  Call random customers from time to time to talk about how they feel about your business.  Or ask for testimonials from happy customers.  You know your customers will talk about you, so make sure they talk to you, as well.

Follow your customers’ paths.

Case studies start with a problem, work through the solution, and end with the effects of the solution.  If you want to use case studies in your marketing efforts, keep track of customers you’ve served in the past.

You already know the problem and solution, but you need your customer to tell you what happened afterward.  For instance, if you run a rodent control service, you can talk about the customer’s level of infestation, the tools and techniques you used to fix the problem, and how their homes or businesses fared as a result.  Case studies are a great way to show your customers how you can solve their problems, so use them to make your pitch.

Use the feedback generously.

Testimonials and case studies have long been used in marketing strategies, so continue the tradition by using them on every channel your business uses to promote itself.

Print ads and direct mail are much more powerful when they include customer feedback, so you can bet your online efforts will do just as well.  Add testimonials throughout your website, including your home page and key landing pages.  Devote entire pages to case studies.

Whenever you serve a new customer, write a short white paper and advertise it using email and social media.  Your customers’ praises can do more for your business than the best copy in the world, so use it every chance you can.

Get Your Customers Talking!

Your customers are your business’s best salespeople, so use their words wisely.  Include customer feedback in your marketing mix and turn word of mouth to your best advantage!

This guest post was written by Mary. Maryis an expert on the use of case studies and testimonials and likes blogging about how businesses like rodent control services can use them to find new customers.

 

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Office Management Tips To Control Chaos

Most people who have worked in an office setting have had both good and bad experiences working in the office. The difference between a well-run office and a chaotic office environment is vast and is something that can change very quickly. Many people will look for office management tips to control chaos when they notice problems in their office.

Stop Chaos
A chaotic office is not a place that most people want to work in. It is harder to get things done and people are tenser in this type of environment. The causes of a chaotic office environment include too many workers or not enough worker, clutter, and employees that do not get along. All of these issues can be controlled with the right office management tools.  

A good office manager will schedule the employees according to the workload of the office. It may be necessary to stagger the times that people come in and get off of work to make sure there is always proper coverage in the office. It is also important to schedule time off ahead of time and to limit the amount of people who can be off at any given time. People will enjoy a workplace where they are not bored because they have nothing to do, or become annoyed because they have too much work to do. It is also important to have a written policy about tardiness and absenteeism that employees have to follow.

De clutter
A cluttered office is a very inefficient office. It is important that an office manager removes anything that is not needed for people to do their jobs. It is never a good idea to stack unused furniture in a corner or to have a huge closet stuffed with office supplies. These things lead to waste and can cost an office a lot of money. They also create an unpleasant place to work.

Stop Conflict Earlier
People who work together do not have to be friends but they do have to get along with each other. If there is conflict between two people in an office it can disrupt everyone. It is important that the office manager recognizes these problems and takes steps to resolve them before they become an office-wide problem. It may be necessary to reprimand some people who do not follow the office rules.

Many office managers are afraid to discipline their employees, in case the employees will leave and nothing will get done. If however they try these tips they will quickly find out that people enjoy the order that they will be provided with. They will be happier working in an organized office instead of one that is ruled by chaos.

Louisa Coan recommends Capital Office who specialise in office removal and storage.

 

‘Bang bang, she shot me down. Bang bang, my baby shot me down’!

‘Bang bang, she shot me down. Bang bang, my baby shot me down’! Great lyrics to a great song a few decades ago. Unfortunately, it is much more common now than it was way back when. Workplace & school violence is so much more prevalent now than it was 25 years ago. It seems like every time you turn around, you read and hear about it. I want to help you avoid the anguish and despair of having a loved one, including a child, being injured or murdered in a place where they should be safe – work or school. I have already counted 45, as of May 18th, incidents that have been in the news since the first of the year.

With 29 years of experience in the security field, I can help you, your family, and business avoid these type of tragedies. I have been writing and researching about these incidents since 1991. And if you think you’re immune, ask me about some of the incidents involving companies with less than 25 employees and schools with less than 500 students.

How many of you have also walked into a store and met with the rudest most arrogant sales people you could have possibly imagined( remember Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts?) I also teach customer service. It is an eclectic mix, but both very relevant in today’s economy and world. I want to help raise the level of service at every company I encounter. And with my experience and COQS (Customer Oriented Quality Service) Method I can do that.

I believe in brevity and guarantee to give you the same information in a 4 hour seminar as you’ll receive in an 8, 10, or 12 hour seminar that may cost thousands more! I utilize the Socratic & KISS methods of teaching.

Looking forward to hearing from you all! If you want to know more about Today’s Training LLC

Then send me a mail at todaystraining@aol.com (only if you want me to remember what we talked about!) or call me at 480-251-5197. And if you wanna, you can visit our Facebook page and find out a whole more information on incidents, my blog, and other stuff.

 

How to Make Time to Promote Your Business

As a business owner myself, I know how difficult it can be to juggle all of the tasks associated with just “running” the business from day to day. It’s very easy to get caught up in all of these things, but you must not forget that you need to make sure you are reaching out to new people, and constantly growing your bottom line.

How often do you get to the end of the day, and as you reflect, you can’t really remember the individual things that you accomplished, or anything you did to attract new business? The entire day was just a blur of random tasks that you took care of as they arose, and now the day has come and gone. I am guilty of this much more often than I would like to admit. It comes down to time management.

Your sales are the lifeblood of your business, and so it’s extremely important that you allot some time to take good care of your current customers, as well as gain new ones. That’s the only way your business will grow.

I was reading a blog post recently about tips and tricks to stay organized and clutter-free around the home. One of the tips they offered made complete sense. If you want to keep your home clean and clutter-free, try spending 15-20 minutes each night, cleaning a different room in the house. This will keep all (or most) areas of your house clean all the time, and it eliminates the thought of having to spend your Saturday or Sunday cleaning your entire house. Knowing that there is such a large task ahead of you is what keeps people from doing it in the first place. Instead, do it little by little.

Ok, enough of my Martha Stewart moment. But this same technique should be applied to your business…especially when it comes to promoting it. You should be setting aside an hour per day to focus on promoting your brand.

Eliminate all distractions, and use this time to hop on the phones, create an email marketing campaign, hand out fliers, update your social media profiles, or write a blog post. These are just a few things that you can do to generate some leads and get more traffic through the door (or computer).

You’ll be surprised at how much business you can gain from just 1 hour of promotion each day, and eventually it won’t even feel like you’re putting in a whole lot of effort.

John Ehlenbeck is a small business owner, and contributing writer for Aprimo Integrated Marketing Management software.

 

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The Significance of Lead Scoring in Marketing Automation

Marketing automation platforms – those that allow ‘dripped’ marketing by email, text message or another form of contact – have become incredibly popular as more consumers integrate the internet into their daily lives.

What is ‘Lead Scoring’?

Lead scoring refers to the process of choosing how close a lead is to purchasing based on where they are in the prospect cycle. For instance, if a prospect visits a website and spends two or three minutes browsing around before entering their email address into a form and leaving, they would likely score very low. Conversely, a prospect that has clicked through from a marketing email, browsed an online shop and added items to a shopping cart is likely very close to making a purchase, and would score much higher.

Motivating the Prospect to Take Action

Lead scoring is the best way to make marketing automation software work with high efficiency. Leads that are already close to purchasing or have made a purchase in the past are going to be turned off if they receive marketing material directed at cold prospects and brand new leads. By using a multi-step marketing campaign, leads can be coaxed to higher and higher scores and eventually converted when they are ready to purchase or end up making an impulse buy. Leverage marketing automation software to continually provide more and more motivation for the prospect to respond, and they will take action accordingly.

Creating a Long-Term Conversion Plan

The vast majority of prospects won’t convert the first or second time they are contacted. As a matter of fact, research suggests that prospects – especially those being contacted via email – may take up to ten or more contact points before they are converted into paying customers. This is where marketing automation software comes in handy; these automation platforms never forget about a prospect, and can be set to contact them with new content indefinitely. Invest the time and resources in creating a long-term contact and conversion plan for your prospects and with a few tweaks along the way it is sure to pay off.

Without a doubt, modern marketing automation software platforms offer marketers the ability to connect with leads and prospective customers far better than has been possible in the past. As long as campaigns are planned, executed, analyzed and optimized for improvement, there are few better ways to market to leads generated online.

John is a small business owner, and contributing writer for Aprimo marketing software.

 

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Why Flash and Animated Websites Can Be Bad for Business

by Chris Bolton

Click to View Animated Gif

I love special effects, video games, and Sci-Fi movies. But I can’t stand a slow-loading animated website when I’m trying to accomplish a purpose. If I’m trying to get some information or buy a product, I want the shortest distance between my mouse and my goal. This is why Flash websites can sometimes do more damage than good. Sure, you’ve got a goldfish swimming behind the article you’re trying to read and fireworks following every move of the cursor–that’s a nifty trick–but I can’t read anything on the site, and it takes forever for all the graphics to load.

Most people who work in the web-world know that Adobe Flash-based websites have numerous issues. They don’t work on manymobile devices; they load slow; they can’t be read by Google (which means they get poor search engine ranking).

That being said, what if there was a solution that worked better than Flash–something that loaded faster and played nice with Google? Would we all start building websites that snow, sparkle, flip upside down, and make burps when we click buttons?

Well, there are alternatives to Flash these days. HTML5 is the most promising, and as it is more widely adopted, you will see more websites with HTML5 animation. But this is where I think we need to pause . . .

Just because we have these tools doesn’t mean we should run out and start dousing our sites in animated menus, dancing puppies, and scrolling banners.

Here are 5 reasons I think you should think twice before creating a website that relies heavily on any kind of animated effects.

1. Shiny/Flashy/Moving Things are Distracting

Things that blink, buzz, and whir serve a good purpose. There is a reason why we have traffic signs that blink, sirens that scream, and alarm clocks that buzz. These things are designed to tear our attention away from whatever we were trying to do in the first place and PAY ATTENTION. This is never a pleasant experience. Ambulance sirens scare the hell out of me, but I’m generally forgiving because they are serving a public good. If your website starts screaming, talking, spinning, or blinking, it might just scare the hell out of me as well. But my reaction will not be so forgiving. In fact I will never go to your website again.

2. Slow Load Time

Even if you have super-fast internet, your fans and customers may not. You’ve got about 2 seconds to engage your audience before they click onto the next thing. Loading excess animations and video will slow down your site load time. Also, putting a video or song on your website is great, but don’t make it auto-play. If your visitor wants to watch or listen, they will push play and they will usually wait a reasonable about of time for it to load. But most users like to choose whether to watch a video or not.

3. Animations Often Force an Experience

The internet is full of options. People like options. If a fancy animation loads when you land on a website, you are forced to watch it before you can go on to what you were trying to accomplish. The perfect example of this is a “splash page.” This is a page that loads prior to landing on a homepage and usually features some kind of animation or ad. Now if I’m trying to locate a concert date, buy your eBook, or perform any other transaction on your site, a splash page serves a s a barrier between your site and my intended action. If I’m on a mobile phone it could break your website completely.

4. Inconsistent Mobile and Tablet Experiences

More and more people are using phones and tablets to access the internet and leaving their desktops to gather dust. Creating animations that work well on a big screen and a tiny phone screen is a tough challenge and it often fails. The best mobile experience, in my opinion, is a simple one. I’m usually in transit when I use my phone and I want my information fast. Ask yourself what you want people to do on your website and make that super easy to do on any device.

5. Search Ranking

Search engines, like Google, are great at reading text. They are not-so-great at reading images and animations. Sure, HTML5 will be easier for Google to handle then flash, but because of the potential for keyword stuffing and hidden text, words that are embedded in images will probably not be given the same weight as text on the page.

All this being said, I love special effects and animation and there are some awesome interactive websites that are exceptions to the rule because they are designed as a novelty or a multimedia experience. But if you’re trying to grow your fan base and readership and sell some merchandise, you don’t need special effects. You just need a great-looking website that is easy to use.

 

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Tips to Get Out of A Rut at Work

So you have a great job and you love what you do but for some reason the past few days, weeks, or hopefully not, months, you haven’t been finding your feet and biting more than you can chew to compensate for an unproductive day. Sounds like you? Well, recent research conducted by Harvard Business School in January/February 2012  quotes that “happy employees produce more than unhappy ones over the long term” and the key to happiness is more than just being content with your job and loving what you do- it’s about sustainable performance.

So what is exactly is sustainable performance? It’s the process of utilizing high energy (vitality) and new resources (learning) in an efficient way. You can’t have one without the other when it comes to sustainable performance. The Harvard Business School study shows that high energy and low learning resulted in a 54% decrease in health while high levels in both areas resulted in a higher effective rate of 21%. Below are three tips that are essential in being sustainable and productive to get out of a rut at work:

Tip #1: Vitality and The Energy Factor: In order to get out of a rut, you need to decipher the living from the non-living. It’s great to be an expert in your job but doing the same routine to produce good results doesn’t produce great ones or new ideas. Having high energy in the workforce without the burnout is very essential. Try to set new goals for yourself and focus on the parts of your job that gives you joy and make it better. Oh, and lighten up on the coffee breaks and opt-in for a micro-mediation session every once in a while to clear your mind.

Tip #2: The Learning Curve: The world is moving faster today than ever before as technology spearheads and is incorporated into our everyday life. How do you expect to advance your career without learning something new? It’s a never-ending life cycle, even for well-known industry experts. Learning something new allows you to build your resources, enhance your skills, and increases your marketability in this multi-tasking world.

Tip #3: The Work Environment: Everyone talks about teamwork and engagement but it’s another thing to live and breathe it. Make sure you are taking the time to get feedback from fellow teammates as well as give when needed. Our strongest stem is as weak as our weakest stem and encouraging team collaboration is great for any work environment. Be proactive about it if this is missing at your job.

Citations:

This article was written by Yasleen Dates for Institute For Coaching.

 

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