3 Online Marketing Tips For Entrepreneurs

If you are an entrepreneur who owns or runs your own business or brand, you are already living the dream of so many people out there. However, you also know firsthand how stressful it can be. Not only are there uncertainties about your income, but also you have so much on your plate each and every day. 

Whether you have a great team of people helping you out or you are doing everything on your own, you have a lot of responsibilities and this can become overwhelming at times. One of the most important things is marketing, so much of which is done entirely online these days. If you are feeling clueless about this or just need a little help figuring it all out, here are 3 online marketing tips for entrepreneurs. 

Hire Help

Hiring an online marketing professional is one of the first and best steps you can take for your small business. If you are able to make room in your budget to do this, you won’t regret it. Be sure to do some research to find out exactly what type of marketing you want to do, and seek out a marketing expert who can help you to reach all of your goals and achieve the levels of success you are hoping for. 

Don’t Sleep On Social Media

Having social media accounts on all of the various platforms for your business is super important because social media is one of the first places people look when doing research about businesses. Using social media is free or very inexpensive, and placing ads there is a great idea as well as they will reach a wide, targeted audience. Whether you are advertising biodegradable products or real estate services, targeted ads through social media will reach the people who are most likely to want to do business with you.

Be sure to always be responsive to comments and messages on social media as well, and to post frequently. If you find that this is too much for you to do, consider hiring a social media manager to help you out!

Understand Your Customer

In order for online marketing to work the way you need and want it to, you need to truly understand your customers and clients, and potential ones as well. You can do this by taking polls or surveys either via an email list or on social media, or inviting your existing customers or anyone interested in doing business with you to an open house or party of sorts so that you can get to know them in person. This will help you to gain helpful insight into what sorts of things your customers want to see from you, and you can use this to better market to them in the future. 

Online marketing doesn’t have to be a stressful experience if you use simple tips like the above. Good luck! 

3 Ways To Be A Better Leader At Work

Whether you’ve been put in a management position at work or you just have people on your team who look up to you and view you as a mentor or role model, there are always things that you could be doing to help you become an even better leader. 

To help you see just what these things are and show you how you can improve your team in all aspects, here are three ways that you can be a better leader at work. 

Be A Source Of Empowerment

Being a leader doesn’t just mean that you’re telling people what to do. As a good leader, you should be helping your team members feel like they are capable of doing much more than they would have thought on their own. But to get to this point, they have to feel like they’re empowered at work. 

To help your team members feel empowered, you have to view them in a way where you honestly see their value and the areas where they excel at work. Oftentimes, people either can’t or don’t see these things in themselves. But if you as their leader can empower them to push themselves further and improve upon their current capabilities, you can be the type of leader who inspires and motivates everyone you work with to do better and be better, including yourself. 

Share Your Passion With Others

A positive attitude and a passion for work are infectious. But just as you can help other people be excited about work by being excited yourself, the opposite is also true.

Knowing this, if you want to lead your team to success, you have to have a real passion for that work that you and your team are involved in. With this passion alive in you, you can help to ignite this same passion and excitement in your other team members. And while this can take some time, it will be something that people can’t ignore. 

Create A Culture You’d Want To Work In

Being the leader of your team, you set the tone for everyone else. As a result, the culture that is cultivated will stem from the culture that you put into place. 

To help you have a great company culture for your team, you should try to create a culture that you’d want to work in if you were the average staff member and not the leader of your team. And if you’re able to do this, you will see how quickly this positive culture can trickle down from you as a leader all the way to each member of your team and beyond. 

If you’re wanting to improve upon the type of leader that you are at work, consider using the tips mentioned above to see how you can do this. 

Here are 4 Flaws in Your Email Marketing Strategy

Email marketing can be an effective marketing strategy. It is a great way to connect with customers and promote your business, but there are some potential pitfalls if you go about it the wrong way. Here are four common email marketing mistakes to avoid.

Failing to Tailor the Tone to Your Audience

When it comes to email marketing, there’s no tone format that’s set in stone. Instead, just as you would take care with the way you speak to someone in person, it’s important to think about the tone of your email correspondence. 

You wouldn’t want to come across as too formal or too casual depending on the demographic the emails will be addressed to. For instance, if your primary audience is the elderly residents of assisted living facilities, avoid using slang or overly technical language. 

Alternatively, if your target demographic is teenagers, use slang that is informal and relatable.

Failing to Personalize

Another mistake people make when emailing is failing to personalize the email. Just as with the tone of your email, it’s important to remember that you’re emailing another human being. 

Addressing the recipient by name is a small, but important, way to show that you value them as an individual. 

Another way to personalize your email is to include information about the recipient. If you have their purchase history, you can use that to recommend other products they might be interested in. Or, if you know they’re attending an upcoming event, you can mention it in the email.

Failing to Not Spam

This is an especially fatal mistake to avoid. Bombarding your customers with several emails a day is a good way to be assigned to the spam folder very quickly. 

It’s important to find a balance between staying in touch and becoming a nuisance. In general, it’s a good idea to stick to one email per week. 

If you have multiple things you want to promote, consider sending a weekly digest that includes all of the information in one email. This way, your customers can read through everything at their leisure and decide what they’re interested in. 

Failing to Test

Before you hit send on your email marketing campaign, it’s important to test the email. 

This means sending a test email to yourself or a small group of people to make sure the email looks the way you want it to and that all the links work. 

It’s also important to test different subject lines to see what gets the most opens. You can use an A/B testing tool to help with this. 

To illustrate how A/B testing works, let’s say you want to test two subject lines for an email about a new product. You would send one email with Subject Line A to half of your list and another email with Subject Line B to the other half. You would then track which subject line got more opens and use that as your winning subject line.

Email marketing is a top marketing strategy with numerous benefits. Yet, it can be tricky to get it right. So, it’s important to avoid these common mistakes to ensure your campaign is successful.

3 Tips For Targeting Busy Professionals In The Digital Space

Whether you’re working in a B2B or a B2C business, if the people you’re trying to sell your product or service to are busy and not spending too much time just cruising the internet everyday, you might be worried about how you can reach and connect with these people. Especially if your target demographic doesn’t even spend a large portion of their day working on computers, like a farmer or rancher might while being on their tractor, it can be hard to know where to focus your digital effort.

To assist you with this in your business, here are three tips for targeting busy professionals in the digital space. 

Use The Right Keywords And Phrases In Search

When busy professionals need something, they don’t have time to waste. Rather than looking for countless referrals and spending all their time independently researching, they trust search engines to help them find what they need quickly and efficiently. 

Knowing this, it’s up to you to ensure that when someone searches for something relevant to your business, they’re able to find you. This requires you to have great, useful content published online with the right keywords and phrases. Try to create content with the most relevant keywords possible so that your business shows up for the right searches made by the right people. 

Market To The Right Mobile Apps

For many busy professionals, they may not even have the time to go out and search for the solutions you could offer to them. This means that you have to know where they’ll be spending their time and market your business in those places. 

Some ideal options for this can include things like placing ads on calendar apps, relevant news websites, and the websites of other online products that people in your industry frequent. 

Shy Away From Written Content

While you might feel like written content might be of value to your target audience, busy professionals may not have the time to read through long-form content very often. 

Knowing this, you might want to shy away from written content whenever you can. Rather, try to create short videos or infographics that can more quickly convey your ideas and messaging to people looking to get answers or advice fast. If you don’t know how to do this yourself, work on hiring someone who is experienced in creating this type of content and has a proven track record with its success. 

If you’re wanting to do more marketing in the digital space but aren’t sure how to get the attention of people who are already too busy to spend much time online, consider using the tips mentioned above to learn how to better target these individuals.

3 Tips To Become Better At Project Management

Whether you’re working as a project manager over a group of people or you’re just trying to stay on top of all the projects you have going on yourself, being a great project manager isn’t something that can just happen overnight. To become a proficient project manager, you have to really understand how work best gets done and what tactics can be used to help streamline these processes.

To help you see how this can be done, here are three ways to become better at project management

Complete Work In The Proper Order

For any project, there are certain steps or processes that need to be done first before you can move on. And when you get behind on those first few steps, the whole rest of your project can get thrown off.

Knowing this, it’s worth your time to sit down and hammer out the details of your project and what each step entails before you get started. If you’re working with multiple people on a project, make sure each person knows exactly what they’re responsible for and when they need to be finished in order for the project to move on. And if it’s just your personal project, create a detailed to-do list so that you can get everything completed in the right order and on time. 

Use The Right Collaboration Tools

If there is going to be more than one person involved in your project, which there usually is, it’s important that you use the right collaboration tools. Without them, you might spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get in communication with the people you’re working with rather than completing your project.

Luckily, there are plenty of software platforms out there to help you work on projects with a team and keep everyone up-to-date. If you aren’t using one of these platforms already, or the platform you have isn’t serving your needs as well as it should be, consider trying out something new to see what improvements might be made. 

Track Time Spent On Specific Tasks

When you’re working on your specific part of the task that’s been allocated to you, or if you’re trying to manage a large project with a lot of moving parts, tracking your time can be a very useful habit.

While you might feel like tracking your time is a little too much like micromanagement, it’s only through tracking how much time you’re spending on specific tasks that you can know if you’re prioritizing things correctly and will end up getting everything completed on time. So if you’re not already tracking your time, this may be something you should start doing. 

If you’ve been struggling managing the projects you have on your plate, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you find ways to improve in this area.

5 Most Common Reasons Why Businesses Fail

All it takes is a short walk in the heart of a city to see at least one sign in a window announcing the closure of a business. The truth is that more businesses fail than succeed, and the reasons for why are usually quite similar. 

The best way to ensure that your business will stand the test of time is to understand the most common reasons for businesses going under. Take a look at some of the reasons why most businesses fail and what you can do to avoid them. 

Poor Hiring  

A business is only as strong as the employees behind it. Businesses that fail to hire the right people and train them adequately are the ones that usually end up falling behind. It’s essential that you are extremely selective during your hiring process and choose the best possible people for the job. 

Not only is hiring good employees important but also retaining them. Good employees are the backbone of success. Make sure that you place a huge priority on this important area of running a business. 

Lack of Planning 

In the world of business, planning is everything. It’s crucial that your team has a plan in place; otherwise, you’re wandering through the dark. A business plan is one of the first things that they teach you when you go to business school. It covers everything from how you plan to finance your business to how you plan on carrying out your day-to-day operations. When you have the right business plan in hand, you’re much more likely to succeed. 

Poor Handling of Finances 

It’s critical that you have an eagle eye view of everything that’s coming in and going out of your business. A close eye on your money is the only way to ensure that you won’t go out of business without even seeing it coming. As a business, it’s important that you pay close attention to your money so that you know where you need to make adjustments and improvements. 

No Leadership 

You can think of your business like a sports team. The only way to win is to have an effective coach. Leadership is everything when it comes to succeeding as a company. Make sure that there is an effective manager in place who can motivate your employees and give them the right tools to succeed at their job. A good leader knows the importance of communication and effective feedback. 

Not Paying Attention to the Competition 

Even though there’s something to be said about focusing on your own path and not letting others distract you, it’s important that you pay close attention to your competitors. If you’re not looking at what’s going on around you, then it’s only a matter of time until you get crushed by your competition. Always keep a close eye on those in your industry. 

Digital Marketing Tools For Your Business

If you’re looking to build a more comprehensive digital marketing campaign, you need to know what tools you have at your disposal.  Understanding what you have to work with will grant you a more versatile ability to market your business online.  

Lucky for you, everything you need to know can be found with the right search inquiry online.  Start by checking out a few digital marketing tools for your business.  Here is a quick look at some of the most influential ways to craft a winning digital marketing campaign.  

Podcast advertising 

Branch your marketing efforts out with podcast advertising to engage your target audience online.  Podcasting keeps people interested with visual engagement and the opportunity to learn something new.  

With a strong podcast marketing effort, your business stands to experience a range of benefits.  Increased sales, hyper targeting abilities, and a small boost in SEO make podcasting a tool to consider.  

Social media management

Social media is a huge part of running a successful marketing campaign online.  You go where the people are, and the people love their social media.  

However, your business needs more than one platform to cast the widest net, and managing all those social media profiles can become quite challenging.  

The good news is that there’s a long list of programs that will help you manage your social media profiles in one place.  Check into what Hootsuite can do for your business.  

Google marketing tools

Google gives business owners a bone with their array of marketing tools.  If you’re not in tune with what Google has to offer your digital marketing efforts, today is a good day to check it out.  

Google offers the ability to analyze the performance of your digital content, keyword assistance, and much more.  The best part about using Google tools is that you can do it all for free.  

Email marketing 

Email marketing is another influential element when carving a path in digital marketing.  Your business can get a lot out of keeping the conversation moving via email.  

Managing a successful email marketing effort is much easier when you have the help of a program like MailChimp.  Send emails out to hundreds of people in a fraction of the time it would take to do the work manually.  

Tools for collaboration

Keeping everyone within your operation on the same page is also an essential part of running a successful digital marketing campaign.  Your business professionals can collaborate on projects and keep track of progress along the way with the help of a capable tool like Trello.  

Overall, if you find the right collection of marketing tools, your business will make a more memorable impression on your digital audience.  Take the time to find the programs that best complement your operation.  

4 Biggest Marketing Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Guest Post!

Marketing your business is an essential part of finding customers. A strong campaign will help connect you with the right people who will get a buzz going about your business. However, not all marketing is created equally. It’s important that you put the right kind of marketing efforts forward if you hope to reap the benefits. 

Above all, it’s important that you avoid some of the most damaging mistakes. Take a look at some of the most important errors that you should steer clear of when marketing your business

Lack Of Research 

A critical part of marketing is knowing exactly who you’re trying to market to. Research and testing don’t just save you money in the long run but also time. You should have a basic understanding of how your products will perform based on your research. Research helps you have an idea of how much you should be investing in your marketing campaign and how the public will respond

No Focus 

Focus is important anytime that you’re trying to stand out from your competitors. Having a clear understanding of your brand helps you stay focused and catch the attention of your audience. A lot of companies miss the mark when it comes to developing a strategy for their brand. 

As a result, they have to start over each time that they start a new campaign.  You can avoid this mistake by staying focused on how you plan to pitch your product to customers. Everything that you do should relate back to your one single focus. 

Not Focusing On Current Customers 

A lot of companies are so focused on trying to acquire new customers that they forget to focus on the ones they already have. Unfortunately, statistics show that a repeat customer is worth significantly more money than a new one. The more that a customer buys from you, the more that they are likely to keep coming back. Make sure that your strategies are directed not only at bringing in new people but also keeping your current customers happy and loyal. 

Not Listening To Customer Feedback 

A lot of businesses forget along the way that the customer is always right. They assume that they know best and forget to listen to their customers’ feedback. However, there is nothing more valuable than what your customers want. In order to understand what they need, you need to take their feedback to heart. Ask for their feedback regularly and implement their suggestions into your business plan. 

When customers feel listened to, they become much more loyal to your brand. Fulfill your customers’ needs better than anyone else can, and you’ll have people lining up out the door. 

Why Sending Cold Emails For New Business Actually Works

Not many things are more controversial in the marketing world than cold email.

"You mean SPAM?!"

“You mean SPAM?!”

4 cans of Spam

No, actually, we have laws like CAN-SPAM, CCPA, CASL and GDPR that are very specific about when and where and how you can email new contacts without it being spam or illegal. In most of the U.S., you can email anyone as long as you include a street address and an unsubscribe option.

"But have they opted in?"

“But have they opted in?”

Right, if it’s an opt-in list, those are people you’ve already done some marketing to (even if they just viewed your website), so that’s not a cold list. Those aren’t net new contacts. And opt-in is not required by law everywhere for every purpose. Including an opt-out method is all you need to do for this in most of the U.S.

"But isn't it just wrong to send email to people who haven't opted in?"

“But isn’t it just wrong to send email to people who haven’t opted in?”

Well, morality is a bigger question… but if it’s not wrong to show ads to people who didn’t ask for ads, then cold emailing isn’t any different. If you do believe advertising is wrong, well, you’re in the minority of business people, and most successful businesses do some kind of advertising somewhere. Some companies rely on door-to-door sales, and you don’t get to opt-in before they knock on your door.

"But don't people just ignore spam anyway?"

“But don’t people just ignore spam anyway?”

Well, again, spam is really just two things: illegal email, and/or email that your email server thinks is spam. Let’s just call it unrequested email. We call a lot of snail mail “junk mail,” but it’s suddenly not junk mail if you decide to use the pizza delivery discount your mailbox got “spammed” with, is it? And this is the most important point:

It’s not spam if it has value to the receiver.

"WHAT?! How can SPAM be valuable?"

“WHAT?! How can SPAM be valuable?”

As in the pizza coupon example, if I send you info about a problem you need solved, and you reply and we get it fixed, then I’ve created value. We’re more likely to call it “spam” if we receive something irrelevant to us. So again, as in much of marketing, relevance is key, and creating value is how we prove relevance.

"How do you write relevant cold emails?"

“How do you write relevant cold emails?”

As with all marketing, you start with the targeting- who fits what you offer, and what are the problems you solve? The more accurately you can target those people, and the more compelling your value message is, the more response you’ll get, and you can do so well that you don’t get ANY spam reports. We have cold email campaigns for ourselves and clients that are getting 44-75% open rates due to high degrees of targeting and deliverability, plus really compelling messaging. Most companies don’t do that well with their warm, opt-in emails.

"But does it really work?"

“But does it really work?”

One company we worked with during COVID-19 got 353 leads (responses to cold emails), setting over 150 sales appointments and capturing 3 new sales. I’m certain we would have had many more sales in normal times, but unfortunately, COVID really slashed most people’s budgets. Point being, this process does work very well, and even in difficult times.

"How do you get it to work so well?"

“How do you get it to work so well?”

I can’t reveal all our strategies and tactics here, because we need to keep a competitive advantage! But the keys are targeting (quality list acquisition), ensuring high levels of deliverability, and staying in the inbox (of course, staying out of the spam box, but also staying out of Gmail’s categories like updates, social, and promotions. Your cold emails are wasted if most people don’t see them.

And then there are the messaging strategies- most people aren’t great at getting a response with their marketing, and cold emails are even more difficult. Not only “why should I open this?” but also, “who the heck are you?” and “why should I care?” If people’s response to your cold email is, “Not opening that- looks like spam!” or “Some rando salesperson with a lame message not relevant to me,” then you’re not going to get any traction with them.

"Don't some salespeople send cold emails all the time?"

“Don’t some salespeople send cold email all the time?”

Ice cubes on a table

Typically, salespeople write bad emails that don’t work. Getting sales appointments is a marketing job and salespeople usually suck at marketing. But salespeople THINK they’re great at marketing. If that’s true why do they have so much trouble getting leads?

Sales and marketing go together like PB&J. We understand sales (because we do it, too), but we’re brilliant at marketing. We’ll get you the leads. You close them. But don’t make us send some salesperson’s crappy emails, because they won’t work.

And most of the decision-makers in sales know about these problems.

"So how do you acquire good emails?"

“So how do you acquire good emails?”

Hopefully, it’s not by scraping or guessing! A lot of services out there do scrape, but not everyone’s email is online, obviously, so that won’t work very well, or in every industry, or for every job title. 

Or they guess people’s emails by knowing what formula a company uses for its email addresses. But this isn’t the best way. 

Having a good email database requires a lot of data input, and it needs to be updated regularly, especially in a time like COVID-19 where many people are changing jobs or being fired or furloughed. So, it’s best to get your emails from a really big source, a company that mainly does that, because it’s a big effort with lots of government compliance issues to consider. We work with a partner, Brothers Data, with a database of over 140 million people just in the U.S. 

“How do you maximize deliverability?”

“How do you maximize deliverability?”

There are some key things to avoid doing, like sending way too many cold emails at once from a new account, sending lots of emails to low quality email lists, not validating emails ahead of time, certain keywords you need to avoid putting in your messaging, and of course, sending boring, long, hard to read, or irrelevant emails that people will get annoyed with and mark as spam. 

There are more than blacklists out there you want to avoid getting put on – there’s also sender reputation on various servers. Big email-sending providers like Gmail and Outlook pool all their info together to prevent spam and phishing. If you do it wrong, your email account will get shut down, or, at best, everything you send will go into spam mailboxes that no one reads.

So you can maximize deliverability with good email lists, good sending practices, and good messaging. Again, we have some campaigns where emails are opened at over 70% open rates, and that’s partly because we maintain great deliverability. Without deliverability, you won’t get opens, because people won’t even see the emails.

“Wow, Brian, how can we hire you to do all this?”

“Wow, Brian, how can we hire you to do all this?”

Just reach out.

7 Keys to Adapting Your Business to What’s Happening Right Now

Hi, I hope you and yours are safe and well during this COVID-19 crisis. And that this post helps you!

These are difficult times. While many people are literally risking their lives as front-line medical workers, grocery store employees, first responders and more, many others are out of work, and still others are able to continue work, but have to quickly come to terms with remote work, focusing despite increased distraction, and adapting to a quickly changing market and economy.

It’s the definition of change management. It touches on so many topics I’ve been concerned with the last few years, like safety, teamwork and leadership). And we’ve experienced many changes in our digital advertising clients who are adjusting to changing conditions.

Here are some things we see that are changing:

  • EVENTS: Many live events are postponed or going virtual rather than in-person, at least until June, and possibly longer. Virtual events are a way to bring together a suddenly virtual team, get them focused and increase inspiration and productivity. They might help your employees adjust quicker.
  • FOOD: Restaurants are either closing or switching to take-out and delivery. We’ve seen very good results driving carryout and delivery orders with digital ads, so that’s something to consider. Groceries are the biggest talked about essential other than medical care, and groceries need employees right now.
  • CONSUMER SPENDING: People are spending money mainly on essentials. People are refinancing their mortgages. Unemployment, layoff and furloughs mean that people will be prioritizing survival, not discretionary spending. A lot of companies are offering discounts as a way to both help the economy and induce people to try something new while purse-strings are tight.
  • ESSENTIAL INDUSTRIES: Essential industries that are dealing with COVID-19 are staffing and recruiting more. It’s a good time to be in food, medical, logistics, transportation, and manufacturing. These companies can help us all get through this crisis and they need more people to make it happen.
  • EMPLOYMENT: There are big changes here, obviously. We’ve been helping with digital ads to driving staffing and recruiting for years, and the focus of the jobs needed has definitely shifted. Safety is a big deal for people that have to work in-person right now, and how to be efficient and effective at remote work is important to the rest.
  • MARKETING & SALES: How do you market and sell during COVID-19? Should you? I have struggled with this topic myself, because it can feel especially self-centered right now to try to market or sell anything in such a dire time. However, I just go back to the basics, which are that marketing and sales are just a way to help people get what they need. In a way, they are just communication. If you are helping to make people aware of something that will help them right now, then you’re helping. The only thing you need to watch out for is advertising, marketing or selling something not so essential- I think any company can make the argument that what they offer is essential, but we need to be especially sensitive right now and make sure we are not being selfish, and don’t come off that way.
  • DEMAND GENERATION: It’s a good idea to look at where demand has shifted. Trying to create demand for something not essential right now is especially tough. There are other key industries like web conferencing and entertainment that need to make sure that all their prospects have them top of mind. Companies like Zoom, Webex, and others are going to be fighting (with advertising and marketing) for a larger market right now. The same is true for channels like STAR that are offering bigger discounts than normal right now- but how many people know that? Just because you have something people want does not mean everyone knows it!

That’s just a short brief on some of the changes we’re seeing. What else are you seeing?

It’s a time for major change and adaptation. We need to stay informed and stay healthy. And we can’t neglect our psychological health at this time, either. Constant news and adaptation can be stressful and stress can lower immune resistance- so be nice to yourself and those around you!

I’m confident that we will get through this. We will adapt and create solutions. And things will get better.