Warning: include(/home/content/a/p/p/apple5/html/rg/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache-base.php) [function.include]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/content/41/4666541/html/rg/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache.php on line 72

Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening '/home/content/a/p/p/apple5/html/rg/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache-base.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/local/php5_3/lib/php') in /home/content/41/4666541/html/rg/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache.php on line 72

Warning: include_once(/home/content/a/p/p/apple5/html/rg/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/ossdl-cdn.php) [function.include-once]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/content/41/4666541/html/rg/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache.php on line 92

Warning: include_once() [function.include]: Failed opening '/home/content/a/p/p/apple5/html/rg/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/ossdl-cdn.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/local/php5_3/lib/php') in /home/content/41/4666541/html/rg/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache.php on line 92
Rick Gundzik | The Way I Roll
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Managing Your Funnel


With the over whelming success of the Digital Marketing Age, you may think that the concept of a marketing funnel is now defunct. And, yes, what used to be a fairly direct route from drawing in leads to converting them into clients has now exploded into a multitude of micro processes.

However, the concept of a Marketing Funnel is still a good way to create a marketing plan that needs multiple levels of engagement to convert leads into clients. Today, in this era of social media and smart phones, we are definitely in a (sometimes) brave new world of marketing plans. Even when we’re ready to run screaming from our computers after trying to make sense of all the rapid changes that have evolved.

If you use a marketing funnel plan, there are probably some adjustments that could be made to your process that will help you see even better results in lead generation and subsequently converting those leads into paying customers. Here are a few procedures to improve your marketing funnel and provide even more successful results quickly.

Carefully Research and Develop the Stages of Your Buying Process

Outlining the steps of the potential client’s process needs to be very specific. How you define a potential client gives you an idea of what key information can help you continue to perfect your marketing plans.

By converting your definitions to relate to buyer stages, your emphasis focuses on where the buyer is in the process. Using care when forming these definitions can be crucial so that the data you receive is actually what you want to know.

Utilize Coding When Tracking the Lead Process

The information your team gathers as customers progress through your marketing is crucial. This habit is a valuable resource, allowing you to follow what stage the buyer is in, where the lead originated, and which campaign produced the lead. Using detailed and accurate coding techniques to accomplish the tracking will tell you at the end of a campaign exactly where leads did and didn’t grow. Additionally, they will inform you what factors successfully lead a buyer through all the stages of the funnel to a positive outcome.

Create a Process to Separate Your Quality Customers from the Rest of the Herd

Although it would be a bad idea to refer to your customers as a herd of cattle, with the wide range that initial lead capturing plans cover, it’s important, as the stragglers weed themselves out, that you are able to start recognizing high-quality clients.

On the flip side of that idea, be aware of clients that may have a negative effect on your business. These are the ones you will probably prefer not to do business with in the future.

When ranking your potential and actual clients, be sure to include definitions of what the mediocre and trouble clients may be like. This way you can determine where they came from and decide if you should you remove your efforts from those venues to prevent more issues from coming up later.

Run Additional Metrics Reports When You Make Any Changes

Usually, key metric reports can be done only once a month, however, when changes are made you’ll want to get an immediate idea about how effective the changes are. During this time, it’s best to increase the reports to once a week.

October 18, 2017   No Comments

Safety Practices for Small Business Social Media Use

No longer the “New Kid in Town.” Social Media and its marketing resources have gone from a compulsive form of recreation for many to a fundamental piece of any business plan, large or small.

What is still not readily known by many business owners and managers is that use of social media by companies and their employees can seriously compromise a businesses’ security. Very often, when it comes to maintaining safety and security via social media, employees can end up being the biggest issue.

Whether it’s from posting on their personal page about things happening at work, or clicking on things they shouldn’t while using an office computer, employees can accidentally leak information or download mal-ware into your network without even realize they are doing it.

To help avoid the issues that can result in these seemingly small actions, here are some tips to assist you in keeping your business and your employees safe from social-media troubles, both at work and at home.

Advise Employees to Avoid Posting Info About Where They Work

Even though you can’t stop an employee from telling people where they work, explain that like giving out their home address and phone number online, revealing where they work can make it easy for people to find them and collect more info on their daily routine.

Employees should also be informed that associating the company with a personal account on questionable social networks could hurt the company and, by default, hurt the employee as well.

Keep Privacy Settings Updated

This is important on two fronts. First, train your employees how to maintain their own accounts’ privacy settings, this will lessen the possibility of unauthorized info getting leaked.

On your businesses’ accounts, it’s likely you don’t know most of the followers you’ve cultivated. Taking steps to secure those accounts as much as possible, with privacy settings that will work best for your company, will significantly add to your online security

Establish Work Place Use of Social Media

Most of us have done it, checked our Facebook page during lunch or a break. Instead of trying to ban the use of social media on work computers, it may be better to create some policies on how to use it instead.

For instance, stating that visitation of these sites may only be made during breaks and that the use of apps like games, quizzes, or anything else that requires clicking on links, are prohibited on company computers. Putting these policies in place will assist you in avoiding issues that can affect your network.

Make Sure Your IT Specialists Are Trained to Handle Social Media Specific Issues

Once you’ve established an office policy for Social Media use, it will need to be enforced. This means ongoing surveillance of online activities. To accomplish this, invest in consulting, and antivirus protection via software and hardware.

Additionally, the company’s technical staff will need to be updated about current social-media security risks.

A Word on Hacking

All businesses and their social media accounts are potential targets. Any compromise of these tools could result in irreparable damage. Fortunately, the items we’ve already discussed can help prevent a hacker from successfully breaking into your account.

Additionally, use strong passwords with unique alpha-numeric combinations. These days to create the best possible login security, you need to use upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and accepted punctuation as allowed.

Once you have one password, don’t use it for multiple logins. If a hacker manages to figure one account out, you’ll have given up the keys to the entire kingdom.

A Little Prevention Can Go A Long Way

The most important way to prevent harmful issues from social media use is to educated and even provide training for your employees.

Whether this is via a workshop, meeting or included in a section of the employee handbook, be sure your employees have the knowledge that can save your business’ social media accounts and their own from unnecessary attention and use.

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success.

October 17, 2017   No Comments

Knowing Your Blog Posting Options

These days it seems like everyone has a blog. whether it’s an outlet to type out our inner musings of the world today or to let people into a part of our lives we would have difficulty discussing out loud, there a never-ending number of reasons to start one.

If you own a small business, there are even more reasons to have one. While there are a few that would argue as to whether blogs are still applicable with the surge of social media marketing platforms that have taken the world by storm, it’s believed by most that blogging can be an integral piece of your marketing plan.

In case you are still waiting to take the plunge into the web log world, some reasons to consider moving forward with your own blog are:

They are a great way to develop better relationships with your current customers
They will increase your SEO on sites like Google and Yelp.
They can position your brand as a perceived industry leader, even if you are just starting out.

Types of blog posts: Articles on your own blog, mini articles on a microblog, and articles on other peoples’ blogs.

What is a Microblog?

Microblogging is a combination of blogging and instant messaging. It allows users to create short messages to share with an audience online. Two common microblogging platforms are Twitter and Tumblr.

Benefits of Microblogging to consider:

Your content will take less time to create.
It’s easier to post more frequently.
It’s perfect for disseminating urgent information to a large audience.
Ease of access through mobile apps.

How and Why You Should Consider Guest Blogging

Guest Blogging is basically creating an article for a blog that is not your own. It’s a way to share your knowledge with others while simultaneously increasing traffic to your blog. This also means you will need to plan on featuring posts from other bloggers in the future. Featuring guest posts will give your audience a new perspective on your industry as well as help freshen your content if you’ve gotten stuck in a rut.

To get started, first decide what benefits you are looking to get from the process of guest blogging. This will assist you in finding businesses you may be interested in creating content for and give you an idea of which guest bloggers would be good to invite to post on your site later.

Research is essential to guest blogging, begin by asking yourself some questions:

Do the businesses you are looking at have a large number of active followers?
Do these followers regularly participate by posting comments or sharing?
Do these businesses also have a Facebook page and Twitter account where they share their blog posts?

Focus on finding bloggers within your niche and market industry. You should agree with what they have to say, their opinions should match your own. If they don’t this could lead to content issues later if their content doesn’t line up with your business, personality, or tone.

Be sure to promote your guest blog posts on your own social media accounts and on your own blog. This will bring more traffic back to your guest’s blog and their business. It should become a habit to share your content, plus it’s a good way to say thank you to your host for publishing your guest post.

Overall, blogging in each form is a good way to widen your reach and bring more traffic to your own web presence.

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success.

October 10, 2017   No Comments

Improve Your Email Marketing with a Marketing Funnel

What is a Marketing Funnel?

The idea of a funnel is used to illustrate the process a potential client goes through as they become familiar with your products or services.

Visually, clients enter the funnel at the widest part, the top, then proceed to descend, stage by stage, leaving at the level they lose interest. What you end up with at the bottom are the final few who have purchased and love your product or service. These are the clients that will keep coming back

Your goal is to raise the number of potential clients that enter the top and lower the number that loses interest at each stage.

To accomplish this, you will need to have a conversion tactic for each stage.

There are a few different Funnel maps out there that vary in their vocabulary but each basically means the same thing, for the sake of this article, we’ll go with the following terms:

Awareness
Interest
Conversion
Loyalty
Advocacy

Using Email Marketing to Get a Client All the Way to the Bottom

Now that you understand how a marketing funnel works, let’s discuss email marketing plans for each.

Awareness

The top of your marketing funnel is awareness. This is when the potential client finds out you exist but doesn’t know anything about your product yet. At this level, you should start showing them the value of your product or service. This can be done with free informative content, such as a free eBook on product related subjects.

Interest

At this level, potential clients are starting to show an interest in your company and products and want to know more.

You also know more about the client, which allows you to send them more targeted content that can relate how your product or services can help them. This email could include specific items that you believe will be beneficial to them and even include an invitation to a free consultation or demonstration.

Conversion

Now you potential client is aware of the value of your product or service and it’s time for them to decide if they are ready to purchase.

Here, you start communicating to the client why your product and service is better than your competitors’ and perfect for them.

Loyalty

OK, you’ve made the sale, your potential client has graduated to the title of actual client. Your work is not over, however, not even close.

Now you need to implement your plans to keep them.

Repeat and long term clients are a wonderful asset for any business. Help keep these valuable assets by continually engaging them with fun and useful content such as educational emails related to upcoming products or surveys asking them their opinions on potential changes coming. Make them feel like their opinion really matters to you.

Advocacy

Advocacy happens when your clients turn into your biggest fans.

They’ve probably purchased or used your services several times because they adore you. The best part? They start telling everyone about your and how great your products or services are!

Word of mouth, still the best way to gain more potential clients that will stick.

Now, as you start to recognise these special clients, you can start sending them special requests like emails asking them to refer you to their friends. You could even create a version of your initial email sent to the Awareness level that they can forward to friends and family they think would most benefit from your products or services.

Now you have the information you need to plan your own email campaign and begin to channel your potential clients all the way to being actual clients.

By developing your email strategy with the marketing funnel in mind, you’ll convert more prospects into customers and more customers into fans, which means more money for your business. Yay!

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success.

October 9, 2017   No Comments

Fear and Entrepreneurship

Your stomach ties itself into a knot. Your heart races nowhere as your mind sorts through every conceivable worst case scenario.

We call this “fear” and our instincts often scream for us to avoid it at its source.

As irrational as it can be, as silly as it sometimes seems in others, fear is something we have to continually confront throughout our lives.

But artists, entrepreneurs, and ambitious people especially—who often elect to walk paths and choose goals steeped in uncertainty—have to learn how to live with fear if they want to go far.

Because what should scare us most about fear isn’t how it makes us feel, but how it tricks us into denying ourselves the things we want most.

Understanding Fear

For many neuroscientists, “fear” refers to the physiological state of a particular neural circuit in the amygdala that decides how we respond to threats.

The way we experience fear, however, is a negative emotional response to perceived danger that affects us both physically (rapid heart rate and breathing) and mentally (expecting a potential undesirable outcome). Physiologically, the fear of public speaking could feel very similar to the fear of getting hit by oncoming traffic.

Fear is supposed to serve to protect us from harm and preserve our well-being.

When it’s not actually protecting us, however, fear can be an obstacle. In a recent survey of our readers, fear was second only to marketing knowledge when we asked what almost got in the way of getting that first successful sale.

fear in entrepreneurship survey

“I was kind of scared to launch; [I] didn’t know if my website was lame or not.”

—Anonymous Store Owner

The 5 Types of Fear

“Fear” is just the word we use to capture a feeling that can vary greatly in intensity, duration, and irrationality that can be triggered by any number of things.

So in order to understand it, it might help to group fear as we commonly know it into 5 categories described by Dr. Karl Albrecht in his book Practical Intelligence:
• Extinction: The fear of no longer existing (a.k.a death), which gives birth to the fear of heights or flying.
• Mutilation: The fear of losing any part of our bodies or being physically invaded or harmed (includes the fear of spiders and sharp objects).
• Loss of Autonomy: The fear of being helpless because of physical or social restraints that are beyond our control. This includes the fear of closed spaces or even commitments that might make you feel like a prisoner.
• Separation: The fear of rejection and being unwanted or unvalued by others, which can be especially damaging when you consider that we are social creatures that crave connectedness. This is usually the voice in your head that asks you, “What will people think?”
• Ego-death: The fear of losing our established sense of self, having our confidence crushed, or questioning our own competence and understanding of who we are. This includes the fear of failure and shame.

Each type of fear can be tied back to our needs as humans, but the last 3 categories are perhaps the most prevalent for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Are you afraid of commitment to a new venture and the loss of freedom that it might entail? Are you afraid that being successful might mean you lose the life you know or your current circle of friends and family? Are you afraid of the shame you’ll experience if you fail?

These are the kinds of questions only you can answer; fear is very personal after all. Our tendency to be fearful or anxious may be genetic, but what triggers it is something we can learn from our environments and experiences (i.e. phobias or chronic fears with specific triggers).

However, fear can also be what defines an entrepreneur.

The Fear of Failure Can Be an Entrepreneur’s Friend

You’re probably familiar with the “fight or flight” instinct we rely on when we encounter any source of stress. The choice we have seems binary (do you address it or do you avoid it?). But there’s a third option that we sometimes choose instead: “freezing” or no action at all.

In animals, like possums, the freeze instinct can be justified as a way to automatically “play dead” when confronted by danger. In humans, it can result in inaction or indecision that we might mislabel as run-of-the-mill procrastination.

For entrepreneurs, the fear of failure comes out of our assessment of threats in situations where we could potentially lose. These situations force us to recall what failing feels like or the consequences it has led to in the past.

However, that can lead to one of three outcomes:
• Flight: We avoid facing the situation altogether.
• Freeze: We find ourselves paralyzed in the situation and unable to commit (such as being unable to launch a business even though we know it’s ready).
• Fight: We approach the threat aggressively and fight to control the outcome.

Choosing to fight—to attempt to be the master of one’s own destiny when presented with the prospect of failure—is what makes an entrepreneur.

In fact, this is a common theme I’ve noticed in my conversations with entrepreneurs who often experience a sense of urgency born out of fear: a fear of being last to market, a fear of wasting all their invested effort by giving up, a fear of not being able to pay the bills, a fear of never realizing their full potential.

For these entrepreneurs, fear becomes a rival and not an enemy, as the things that keep them up at night are also what get them up every morning.

The Fear of “Success” (It’s Real)

“The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
—Steven Pressfield, War of Art

The fear of failure makes total sense. You can understand why someone wouldn’t want to fail and look badly in front of everyone.

But what we don’t talk about enough is the fear of success. A huge part of it, according to at least two studies that interviewed young adults, seems to be the anticipation of discomfort and drastic change we expect as a result of unprecedented success.

The mere prospect of these uncomfortable changes can create anxiety in otherwise achievement-oriented people and encourage underachieving. The studies found that this anxiety was pronounced in those from disadvantaged backgrounds who anticipate a jarring loss of community and culture from success, or are uncertain what will happen to them if success forces them out of the role that society has for so long expected them to fill.

Dealing With Fear: Breathe, Meditate, Push Past It

“Fearless” is a lie. We just learn how to lean into our fears, even when it hurts, until it no longer does.

It’s easy to say “just face your fears”, but that’s not always easy. Fear is a physiological response and can sometimes take a bit more than just willpower to overcome.

One of the more noticeable symptoms of fear is rapid breathing. Scientists have found that rapidly inhaling (which we do when we’re under duress) improves memory recall and response times that can be useful when we’re faced with a threat.

But when there is no reasonable threat, we can use conscious, deep breathing to help ease fear and anxiety. This is also a key component of mindfulness meditation, which on top of controlling our breathing, helps us look at our emotions and thoughts as passing experiences.

Apps like Headspace or Stop, Breathe, Think (free) can walk you through mindfulness meditation, helping you slow down a little every day or whenever you need to most.

On the Other Side of Fear

Fear is an inherent part of entrepreneurship because uncertainty, risk, and standing out often are as well.

But fear is also the thing that lights a fire under us and gives rise to our ambitions, like the fear of regret, an un-lived life, and unrealized potential. I won’t deny that fear has kept me from doing some of the things I’d like to. But it’s also what pushes me to do the things I most want to.

What’s interesting is that in the dozens of interviews I’ve had with entrepreneurs, the same plot point often comes up in their stories.

Before they started or found success with their businesses, they came face-to-face with the same proverbial monster.

On one side of it was them. On the other side of it was their ambition and everything they ever wanted.
Link to Original Article

October 2, 2017   No Comments

Choosing the Most Effective Social Media Posting Times

It never fails, you received a free eBook and get excited to read about the latest, and best, way to utilized Social Media posting for your business. You hungrily tear through the information and then re-write your marketing plan to implement this new strategy only to receive entirely different information the next day, week, month, and so on.

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to CoSchedule. In their great wisdom, they have put together information from a variety of reports to provide you with the last word in Social Media Post schedules.

We learned in school that there are 4 time zones in the U.S. So, with clients spread from sea to shining sea, what are the best times to post on the various social media platforms?

To decide this, we need to take into consideration where most of these clients are living. According to Census records, 80% of those people living in the United States are found in the Eastern and Central time zones. It would make sense, then, to focus our schedules on time as it is followed in those locations.
Facebook

As the platform that brought social media into the spotlight and taught us a new way to communicate and market ourselves and our businesses, it’s still the first account most new businesses, and 13-year olds, open when getting started in the Social Media universe.

Best Days: Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
Best Times: 9 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm

Notes: Posting at 1 pm gets you the most shares while posting at 3 pm will get you the most clicks.

Twitter

Best Day: Wednesday
Best Times: Noon, 3 pm, 5 pm and 6 pm

Notes: Wednesday about Noon and between 5-6 are the peak moments of an employee’s break times. Also, Twitter users are 181% more likely to be on their account during the commute home. Hopefully, for the rest of us, this refers to carpoolers who are not in the driver’s seat.
LinkedIn

Best Days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Best Times: 7-8am, Noon, and 5-6pm

Notes: Business people are most likely to peruse LinkedIn in the morning, in the same manner many (used to) peruse the paper. Also, even though LinkedIn is geared more for the business market, the best time to post is still before or after work.
Pinterest

Best Days: Weekends (Saturday and Sunday)
Best Times: 2 pm, 9 pm, and 2 am

Notes: The best window for posting is Saturday nights between 8-11pm. The worst time is during business hours.
Instagram

Best Days: Monday and Thursday
Best Times: 2am, 8-9am, 5pm

Notes: Avoid posting between 3 pm and 4 pm. Posting a video at 9 pm can get you 34% more interactions.
Google+

Best Day: Wednesday
Best Time: 9am, 11am, 12-1pm

Notes: 90% of people on Google+ are lurkers, people who are just looking and not wanting or perhaps not ready to engage with the content or a call to action.
Additional Notes for Each Platform

Facebook: Widely used both via mobile and stationary devices, at home and at work.

Twitter: Audience dependent, as Facebook is also. Often set up as an RSS feed and visited during commutes, breaks and other down times.

Pinterest: Used mostly in the evenings after work and on the weekends during a viewer’s free time.

LinkedIn: Designed for the professional world, viewers use it during work hours and in the mornings.

Google+: Targets professionals in a similar manner to LinkedIn

Instagram: Designed for the mobile platform and therefore used at any time.

So, a special thank you goes out to CoSchedule for their tireless efforts to make scheduling social media posts across all platforms as easy as pie. For this and more information on their services, visit them at Coschedule.com.

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success.

September 27, 2017   No Comments

Business Funnels–Marketing and Sales–What’s the Difference?

.

Marketing Funnel–A system that assists in tracking the steps potential clients move through to before ultimately making a decision on the purchase of goods, or use of services. Marketing funnels let you see at each step what you need to do to influence potential clients toward the end goal, turning them into actual clients.

Sales Funnel–Refers to the buying process that businesses direct a client through when purchasing products or obtaining services. Like a Marketing funnel, it is divided into several steps. These steps will differ according to your particular sales model.

Or to put it more simply, marketing funnel is about capturing a lead and taking people to the point of a sale where a sales funnel captures and then leads people through the sales process via a series of pitches, etc.

In businesses where the marketing and sales departments/people are separate roles from one another, the two different concepts are implemented separately with Marketing Funnels working to create interest at the top and acquire clients at the bottom, these acquisitions becoming the top of the Sales Funnel.

In smaller businesses, this distinction may become a little muddled as employees may need to wear multiple hats, but for the sake of this article, we’ll go with the simplest viewpoint.

Your marketing is responsible for compelling an individual to become a potential client by creating awareness. It will typically focus on a broad area through a variety of methods, with the idea of attracting as much interest as possible. These days this of commonly done via social media, paid advertising, blog posts, and PR. Thanks to the internet, the possibilities are almost endless when looking for a target audience.

This initial scouting is the TOP of the marketing funnel. The goal of these endeavors is to provide enough information to interest the general masses in taking action and becoming potential clients.

The final goal is to end up getting the potential client to provide contact information and hopefully specific product interest. This can be accomplished in a number of ways including a free eBook download, providing a contact form with the promise of more info, calling a toll-free number, or any other process you can collect their details. This result makes up the BOTTOM of the marketing funnel.

By acquiring this info from a potential client, you will then be able to move them into the procedures outlined on the sales side and bring them to the TOP of the Sales Funnel.

Different businesses will show a variety of ways that this transition from Marketing to Sales may happen, but the overall desired result will be the same, gaining a loyal and long term client that will refer others to a business’s products and services.

So essentially, sales have the power to change condition through the skills of the sales team. A sales funnel dictates the actual steps used to lead your customer towards the final goal, the actual purchase or use of services that you are offering.

Marketing, however, generally does not possess this same power. It needs to work with conditions as they come. The use of a marketing funnel is to create some anticipation about what is being offered or sold.

Both Marketing Funnels and Sales Funnels can become very complex systems with numerous sub-steps within each primary step, depending on who your client is compared to what you are offering.

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success.

September 26, 2017   No Comments

Virtual Assistants-Taking Your Online Marketing to the Next Level


In this era of the Digital Age, more and more people are turning to the Internet to increase their marketing exposure. The problem? Every day the ways to use online marketing seem to grow exponentially.

From Clothing Boutiques to Real Estate Agents, Social Media Marketing has become a necessity to keep up in today’s marketplace. So, as an entrepreneur or small business owner, how do you find the time to run your business, increase your productivity, have a personal life, and keep up with the ever-evolving online marketing field?

The short answer? You don’t. You hire someone to do it for you. Enter the Virtual Assistant (VA).

Who are Virtual Assistants?

Virtual assistants are home-based, skilled professionals, offering businesses, and entrepreneurs support remotely instead of within the traditional office setting. Communication is usually done via email, phone, or even face to face services like Skype. This alleviates the need to provide additional work space at your office or other business location.

Don’t Virtual Assistants Just Provide Basic Admin Support?

Back when remote assistants first came on the scene, the majority of their services focused on administrative tasks that were similar to those of an executive assistant or secretary. They were just done from home. However, with the growing number of VAs available, their offerings now run the gamut, and thanks to the incredible increase in popularity of Social Media Marketing and other Online Marketing, specialists in that area have become easier to find, and are extremely beneficial to have working with you.

In fact, just a few years ago, the University of Florida created the first Bachelor and Masters degree programs to provide accredited education in Social Media Marketing and other schools followed quickly after that.

A Few Things to Consider When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

When you choose to hire a virtual assistant the first thing you’ll want to determine is whether you want them to be an employee or a self-employed contractor. There are pros and cons with each arrangement.

When you hire an employee, even a remote one, you’ll need to provide any benefits your other employees receive, based on their employee status, ie: Full-time, Part-time, or hourly, as well as add them to the regular payroll. A real estate agent in the northern California area reported he has a full-time person who’s only job entails maintaining all Social Media postings for active

If you choose to work with independent contractors or a freelancer you will have none of those responsibilities. But, you will have little control over what hours they work or be able to demand when they can be available.

To be designated as an independent contractor, an individual must be free to determine how the work will be done to completion, free from the client/company’s control. The contractor is responsible for the final product only as far as the terms of their contract requires.

Where Can I find a Virtual Assistant?

Just as the internet provides the opportunity for the concept of a VA to work, it also provides locations, and even platforms to easily find, hire and pay your VA. Here’s a short list of websites that provide freelancers and businesses a way to find each

24/7 Virtual Assistant
Assistant Match
eaHelp
Fancy Hands
Freelancer
FlexJobs
People Per Hour
Red Butler
Time Etc.
Me
Upwork
Virtual Assistant USA
Virtual Staff Finder
Worldwide 101
Ziptask
Zirtual

Hiring a virtual assistant will leave you with more time and energy on your hands to focus on the other aspects of your business.

September 22, 2017   No Comments

Online Marketing on a Budget


Marketing is one of the single most important things you need to do to succeed in the business world. The problem? It can use a lot of cash to make it work. For an entrepreneur just getting started, marketing budgets can often be practically non-existent.

Fortunately, the age of the Internet has made it easier to run a full-scale marketing campaign with very little cost up front. Here we’ve put together a list of ways you can utilize online marketing resources, often for free. Yep, FREE!

Online Review Sites

Making sure your business is listed on online review sites is important. Not just for traffic and product sales, but for ensuring your online reputation stays positive. The following sites are some of the most influential review sites out there.

Google My Business Page: Setting up a page here will get your business on Google Search, Maps and Google+, as well as allow customers to review your business. Local business reviews usually receive high rankings in the search results, giving you some great, and free results real estate.

Yelp: Since it’s the biggest online review site, creating a Yelp listing is definitely worth it. It gets you in front of the site’s more than 140 million monthly users and, it’s free.

Yahoo: Yahoo offers local businesses the option to get a basic business listing in its directory. Listings are incorporated with other of their products like reviews, maps, and events. And yes, it’s free.

Social Media Marketing

Industry Groups: Choose two or three groups in your business’ industry on Facebook and LinkedIn. By offering advice and support, you help establish yourself as an expert in your field. You can even take it a step further and create your own groups. Eventually, these outlets will build your reputation and drive sales.

Facebook: If you haven’t already signed up with social media platform, Facebook is probably one of the best places to start. Since its inception, Facebook has been in the fore front of social media advancements and has developed and perfected a number of tools for small businesses.

Twitter: This platform has proven to be a powerful, platform for immediate information. By studying and following people in your industry or expertise, you will quickly learn, some dos and don’ts figure out the best way to use it, then set up your own feed and start to Tweet.

LinkedIn: The fastest growing and most influential professional platform online, LinkedIn has done for Professional Media what Facebook did for Social Media. Set up an account to meet, engage and, connect with other professionals about jobs, careers, and branding

YouTube: Visual marketing, especially in the form of video, is still at the top when it comes marketing. With You Tube, this form is now more accessible. Use it to tell a story, showcase your personality, or demonstrate a product without having to pay for ad time on TV. You can be as casual or formal as you want, as long as you are ready to be on camera.

Monitor Brand Mentions: It’s now easier to keep up with what’s happening. Using a social listening tool like Social Mention to monitor and contribute to conversations happening in your industry will help you stay current on trends without having to spend every hour surfing postings.

Blogging: In addition to your own blog, find other blogs and websites within your industry and create Guest posts. Comment thoughtfully on blogs and then leave your website URL in the appropriate field, just be sure to use your real name or business name, not keyword-rich anchor text. Noticing others will get you noticed as well.

Installing a free social sharing plugin on your blog, like Share Buttons, makes it easy for your readers to share your posts and increase your audience.

Other Ways to Get Yourself Noticed

Hold free webinars on your site: If you’ve researched this prospect before but decided it would be too expensive, consider some of these alternatives. WordPress has a webinar plugin called WebinarIgnition, with a one-time cost of $97 for unlimited webinars with unlimited attendees. Or, you can utilize your Facebook account and do a Facebook Live event.

Join Forums and Answer Questions: These days there are multiple forums out there for just about anything. Take the time to make meaningful contributions to conversions by providing real assistance to those posting the questions. This will get the attention of other readers and make them more inclined find out more about you. You can get started on sites like Quora, where real people are looking for answers to questions. Search the site for relevant questions you can answer intelligently.

HARO (Help A Reporter Out): Sign up and get free PR by responding to relevant media queries. This will turn into free mentions and links in publications like Huffington Post, Forbes more.

eBooks: Anyone can be an author and publish now. Whether it’s about business or, choosing the best wine, you can create an eBook simply and for free. Just input your content into chapters using MS Word. Add some images and links, edit, review and spell check. Then save it as a PDF and you have an eBook. Post it on your website, blog or offer it in exchange for a person’s email address, aiding you in growing your email database.

By now you may be experiencing the feeling that the room is spinning out of control, knowing that there are so many options out there that you can implement.

Not to worry. Look at the list and narrow it down to 2-3 options you are really excited about. Once you have them under your belt, move on to a few more.

As a special treat for you, here is a link to a Forbes article outlining 33 great marketing tools for professionals.

Ready…Set…Go!!!

September 21, 2017   No Comments

Increase Your Traffic with Improved Image Names


We all know the old cliché, “A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words.” From the oldest cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphs to today’s social media shares, we are consistently finding new ways to use images to communicate, tell stories, and make sales.

When it comes to e-commerce, companies like Amazon owe a large part of their success to imagery. To hold the customer’s attention, most product descriptions need to be short and to the point. This means you want the photos to speak volumes.

Imagine if you will, you’ve gone through the effort to create the right product, buy the ideal domain name, paid for marketing ads, and launched the perfect website. So, why isn’t traffic to your site what you want it to be?

You need to make sure your buyers can find you, or more importantly, your product. One way to do this is through Image Optimization or, Image SEO.

Choose a Descriptive Filename

By now in your journey through online marketing you’ve probably heard the word “Keyword” from a vast number of sources. According to most experts in the SEO field, keywords appear to be the end all be all of SEO. Primary Keywords, secondary Keywords…Google “Keyword” and the list of sources of info will probably go on forever.

With Image SEO the first location to use your primary keyword will be the image filename.

This means if your image is a women’s top in a specific abstract design, the file name shouldn’t be DSC12345.jpg. Instead, you want to rename it:

“ann-monique-womens-top-abstract-v.”

This gives the search engine spiders something to grab onto and take back to their part of the web.

Start a file name with a lowercase letter or a number and remove all spaces. For multiple words, join them with a dash.

Make the Image File as Small as Reasonably Possible

Loading times can be crucial for websites to maintain traffic. The faster the site, the easier to visit it. Images can have a huge impact on this. Standard resolution for a screen image is 72ppi and most web pages won’t need an image to be more than 1000-1200 pixels wide.

To put that into perspective, a typical smart phone camera today will give you an image at 72 ppi but the file will often be over 3000 pixels wide (or more).

When you are using a website builder online, you may have the advantage of the builder site doing some downsizing work for you. If you aren’t sure yours will, or if you expect to have a lot of images to process, getting a program like Adobe Photoshop would be a good investment.

There are also a few online image editors that work quite well and often don’t cost a thing or have a minimal membership fee with added benefits. Two of my favorites are PicMonkey and Pixl.

Alt Text-aka-Alt Tags

When you get to the point you are ready to upload your image, you will often be given an option to add “alt text” or “alt tags.” This is another good place to use keyword placement.

In one of Google’s articles about image publishing guidelines, they include a section on creating great alt text. Google places a high value on alt texts. In the article, they give the following reasons to consider:

Alt Text provides Google with useful information about the subject matter of the image. They use this information to help determine the best image to return for a user’s search.

Many people, like users with visual impairments, may not be able to see images on web pages. Descriptive alt text provides these users with important information.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/114016?hl=en

To JPEG or PNG?

In most e-commerce catalogue pages, the product is shown in a specific place on the page that doesn’t overlap any other image or text. JPEG images are most commonly used for this. I’m adding this quick highlight in case a need arises for you to remove the background of a photo.

JPEG images include a visible background showing behind any curves or irregular lines. If you’ve taken the trouble to remove the background of the photo of a product but, save it as a JPEG (JPG), you will still be stuck with a background color when you re-open it.

PNGs allow you to make the background transparent so the image can be used on top of any color, texture or other text. This can be helpful if you decide to show multiple products in one virtual shot but don’t have the means to retake the photo.

So Now You are Ready

As history shows us, images will continue to be a primary tool of our culture and the world around us. Now you have the right knowledge to take your products to the next step. Taking the time to Incorporate these into your regular marketing routine will assist your product’s ability to be seen in your customer’s searches and get you the traffic you desire.

So, get your images together and make them work even harder for you.

September 15, 2017   No Comments