3 Easy & Useful Skills (to help improve your life and prevent boredom in self-isolation)
It is safe to say that we are all struggling with this new reality we’re in, however, many people have begun to look for the silver lining. I believe we have each been presented with a unique opportunity to better ourselves in ways that we might not have had time to before. Whether you want to improve your marketability, develop a new hobby, or simply stave off impending boredom I’ve created a list of 3 skills and habits you can develop with this time to keep yourself busy and motivated.
The Adobe Creative Cloud, and more specifically Photoshop, are huge resume boosters even if you just have a basic level of knowledge. Companies look for people with these skills already to help them save money and avoid outsourcing to independent contractors. The Adobe Cloud is an incredibly powerful tool with a myriad of different uses and whether you want to improve your resume or simply need a creative outlet this tool can be of tremendous use to you.
I’ve listed some of my favorite resources to help you get started:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFyOznL9UvA (a great video for beginners)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6lrxMZggMaN1u2V9N2-zrQ (fun and easy follow along tutorials)
Note* The entire Adobe Suite is discounted for students and teachers!
A basic coding language like CSS, Python, or HTML can be a huge asset to you and your resume. There is a growing movement that views coding as the new literacy of the future. Coding is becoming an increasingly common skill with workshops and boot camps cropping up left and right for both adults and children. Code is the language of computers and technology and since technology is only getting more complex, it makes sense that we make a base attempt at understanding it.
The fact is:
If you’ve always been one to struggle with the habit of daily exercise now is the time to develop a routine that works for you. Or if you are now struggling with the reality of commercial gyms being closed now is the time to get creative! Start slow and don’t put too much pressure on yourself and remember that by staying active you’re doing something positive for yourself both physically and mentally. You’d be surprised at the difference something as small as a 30 minute walk can make in your overall mood. The key for many people is to do something active every day. Whether it be to go on a walk, run, hike, yoga, etc find something that works for you and stick to it! We all know the basic benefits of exercise, but one of the most important benefits is that it improves your mood, something that we could all use a little of these days.
The idea of what it means to be a professional woman has come a long way in the last fifty years. However, due to the specific set of milestones in women’s lives, they tend to face a unique set of challenges, especially when it comes to asserting their authority in the workplace.
Many women have expressed a rather perplexing catch 22 at workplace: If they display the stereotypical feminine traits - caring, open and kind - they are seen as less qualified to hold leadership positions than their male counterparts; on the other hand, if women display characteristics that are more associated with masculinity - being assertive, stoic and even aggressive - they are classified as bossy and domineering even though the men who display similar traits are praised as natural leaders. This paradox presents a challenge to the modern working woman. How can she advance to and successfully navigate leadership position without facing personal backlash by those beneath her station?
According to the Center for American Progress, although women make up the majority of the U.S. population and earn over 57% of all undergraduate degrees, they have substantially lower representation in leadership positions than men. While there are likely many reasons why this statistic exists, the reality is that it is essential for women in positions of leadership to find ways to command a greater sense of respect in their leadership role. The following tips could serve as a useful guide on how to come off as assertive and confident in the workplace without seeming overly aggressive.
1. Stop Apologizing
You have every right to express your opinion and you do not need to apologize for having a say. Going along with this, eliminating qualifying and permission statements in your speech and writing can have a positive effect on the way your coworkers view you. Phrases like, I think, Just, and Maybe, indicate uncertainty; therefore, by avoiding these phrases you can easily come across as more self assured and confident. Furthermore, statements like May I, Sorry, and Excuse Me, while seen as polite in moderation, can lead people to believe that you are less competent than you are. That being said, still being able to recognize when you’ve made a mistake and making amends for that mistake is crucial to being a good leader.
2. Be Succinct and Direct
While men are highly valued for speaking at length about a given topic, women are criticized for doing the same. Therefore, it becomes crucial for women in the workplace to be able to express their thoughts and opinions in a straightforward and concise manner, both in their professional writings and in their speech. Also, always support your claims with sound logic, numbers, and objectivity.
3. Utilize Dominant Body Language
Your body language can convey a lot of information about you as a person. Adopting more dominant postures such as standing tall, draping your arm over the back of a chair, and crossing your ankle over your knee, while simultaneously speaking in a relatively neutral or friendly manner, can help you to assert your position of authority without facing the negative backlash that comes with a leadership position.
4. Keeping the Conversation Friendly
Demonstrating powerful body language while simultaneously keeping the conversation friendly and open is a great way for women to embody the strengths of both male and female characteristics. This can give the impression that you are both open and friendly while still commanding respect and displaying your authority. One way to keep the conversation open and friendly is to actively listen and follow up with questions for the other party. This shows that you are critical yet interested and engaged.
5. Demonstrate Empathy
The ability to express empathy is probably one of the greatest female-attributed strengths that a leader can exhibit. Showing that you care and that you respect those working under you can significantly increase the respect that your employees have for you, making them far more likely to follow your lead. Leading with empathy is a demonstration of your ability to motivate others, rather than commanding by exerting your authority in an aggressive manner.
Empathy also comes in handy when you are in a position to deliver bad news. A good strategy would be to open with something positive, followed by how the decision was made, then expressing your understanding of its impact on the other party, before ending with a suggestion for the next steps. Some phrases that can also be useful to exhibit empathy are “I understand you,” and “Instead of doing A, have you considered B?”.
All in all, finding the balance between being assertive and being feminine in a position of leadership is a tricky line to walk but is one that is, unfortunately, still necessary for many women in order to advance their careers. However, there are techniques that women can incorporate to maximize their chances of success in the professional world, and many women leaders and mentors who have walked the path exist in the entrepreneurship ecosystem to help other women reach their potentials.
If you need more help with navigating the professional workplace, please leave a comment below or send Kay-Tee a direct message!
Contributed by Zachary Painter from Siege Media.
The ecommerce industry is one dominated by rapidly changing consumer tastes and digital trends. If you’re an ecommerce business owner, or plan on opening your own online store at any point, then you’re probably aware of how crucial it is to stay up to date with these changes. While that may sound easy from the outset, online shoppers are savvier than they used to be and have high standards for the shops they choose to purchase from online.
So how can you keep your site ahead of the curve? Perhaps the best way is to constantly look for ways to adapt your site to better appeal to your customers’ interests, behaviors and expectations. For example, the average ecommerce site can increase conversions by as much as 35.26% just by improving its checkout design. This doesn’t mean that your checkout flow is badly designed, but it does mean that a lot of sites have a bad user experience that costs them revenue at the end of the day.
That being said, it wouldn’t hurt to look at your checkout process again (right?). One proven method to catching bad UX on your site is to A/B test certain pages and campaigns. This will allow you to see what works and what doesn’t. Another way is to simply read up on ecommerce trends; you’ll find that mobile is growing more important by the day, and that sites that don’t cater to mobile customers lose their interest in a matter of seconds.
Other areas of opportunity are omnichannel shopping, social media campaigns, general SEO, and even voice search. It can get overwhelming, but it’s well worth your time and effort if it means retaining users and improving conversions. To make the process a little less daunting, Wikibuy has compiled a list of crucial ecommerce stats for 2019. Check them out in the infographic below.
I can be an entrepreneur, you can be an entrepreneur, everybody can be an entrepreneur... While that is true, not everybody is, nor should every person be, an entrepreneur. This term has become a buzz phrase over recent years and rightfully so: The economy depends on such calculated risk takers who are identifying needs and creating marketable solutions. However, the broader the word is used, the more diluted it becomes.
Webster's Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.
Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
Investopedia defines an entrepreneur as an individual who, rather than working as an employee, founds and runs a small business, assuming all the risks and rewards of the venture. The entrepreneur is commonly seen as an innovator, a source of new ideas, goods, services and business models/or procedures.
Nowhere does it say that an entrepreneur is an employee, subcontracted salesperson, or solo-practitioner. People, in any role, can demonstrate entrepreneurial characteristics and some may even be coined an intrapreneur for acting like an entrepreneur of a project or brand while under the umbrella of another enterprise. Possessing entrepreneurial traits and creating solutions for discovered problems is valuable for people in any role.
Consider this: if anyone could call themselves a doctor regardless of a degree or call themselves a mother without ever caring for a child as their own, anyone should be able to call themselves an entrepreneur without starting a business from scratch. One may wonder where the integrity is in that thought process. Rightfully so, as we depend on the predictability of words and titles being used as their definitions are intended.
The world needs solutions and seemingly craves entrepreneurs, so the door is open and red carpet laid for anyone identifying as an entrepreneur to take that leap of faith in their abilities and to invest in the startup of a business. As entrepreneurs create businesses, such action leads to the creation of jobs and delivery of solutions.
Help aspiring entrepreneurs bring ideas to market by supporting Kay-Tee’s book “Fueling a Food Truck” on Indiegogo.
Originally published on Vervoe.
It’s a much-debated topic and a growing trend, but most companies still don’t seem to take a deliberate approach to flexible working. Instead, they just offer a vague middle ground of “flexible working” on a case by case basis.
There are strong arguments for encouraging remote working and, conversely, arguments for bringing everyone together under the one roof. As recent examples highlight, there is no “one size fits all” answer. The key is to tailor your company’s approach to your objectives, operating rhythm, desired culture and workforce composition.
Back to the officeYahoo!
CEO Marissa Mayer famously abolished working from home in 2013, saying that “people are more productive when they’re alone, but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together”.
It’s a powerful argument. It also contains an inherent assumption that working from home increases productivity, which may not always be true. But Mayer had to do something to shake up Yahoo!’s culture and she put collaboration ahead of flexibility, which is what she felt the company needed at that point in time.
In 2014 Reddit decided to consolidate its workforce in one location, San Francisco, and abolished remote working. Reddit’s reasons were similar to Yahoo!’s.
More flexible companies
Envato, a marketplace for creative assets, takes a very different approach, explicitly promoting remote and flexible working on its careers site. Remote working, travel, flexible hours, paid parental leave and secondments are just some of the many employee benefits Envato highlights.
Envato’s culture is different to Yahoo!’s and, importantly, its head office is not in Silicon Valley but rather in Melbourne, Australia. Envato chooses to promote flexibility and optionality as important features of its culture.
Automattic, the company that developed WordPress, is another company that promotes flexible working, citing talent as its primary reason. Automattic CEO, Matt Mullenweg, said that remote working “… has been amazing for the company in that we can attract and retain the best talent without them having to be in New York or San Francisco or one of the traditional tech centers.”
Automattic uses chat, alerts and an internal blog to communicate effectively and ensures staff are adequately supported with great tools. WordPress is the most dominant content management system in the world so Automattic doesn’t appear to be suffering from a lack of productivity as a result of its remote workforce.
The conclusion is therefore that it’s different strokes for different folks. It depends on your company’s situation and, most importantly, how you execute your desired approach.
Here are some of the questions you should ask before deciding which way to go:
Under the right circumstances, remote working can hugely advantageous. The key is to put the right processes in place and maintain a structure, as Automattic has done. Otherwise it can get messy and very quickly. If executed well, the benefits can be tremendous.
Email is one of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal, with an incredible average $1 to $38 ROI. It provides you with a method to interact with existing customers and reach out to new leads, so it’s no surprise that the majority of B2B marketers consider it the most effective medium.
Although email is an incredibly efficient way to increase your sales, a strong email marketing approach can have a substantial impact on your ROI. Best practices like segmenting lists, tracking key metrics, and using an email verification tool can help you run a successful campaign.
Beyond that, the following tactics will help you build a successful long-term email marketing plan that works well with other aspects of your marketing strategy.
Problems to Avoid
While sending marketing emails may seem easy, there are several mistakes that can make your content less engaging for readers. Fixing these simple errors will significantly clean up your emails and increase your conversion rates.
Computers used to be the only way to check your email, but the majority of emails are now opened on mobile devices. This means that you have to adapt your content to fit on a wide variety of screens. Anything wider than 650 pixels will go beyond the edge of the screen and force your readers to scroll.
Generic, One Size Fits All Copy
One of the biggest mistakes email marketers can make is making all of their content look the same. Personalizing the copy in your emails substantially improves open and conversion rates. Generic, mass-produced emails turn customers off and end up being grouped together with spam.
Targets to Hit
The first step in improving your email marketing approach is making sure that you’re not making either of those common mistakes. On the other hand, there are also some easy opportunities that marketers often miss. Being aware of these tactics will give you the tools you need to reach out and attract new leads.
Automating Emails Whenever Possible
There’s no way to completely automate the email marketing process, but letting software do some of the more tedious work will help streamline your campaign processes and give you more time to focus on other aspects of your marketing approach. There are many email marketing applications available that offer an expansive set of features.
Promoting Action in the Subject Line
When readers are scrolling through a long list of emails, a strong subject line can be the difference that incentivizes them to open your piece. Keep it short and to the point in order to attract attention immediately. If you’re offering a promotion or discount in the body, make sure that’s prominently featured in the subject.
Email marketing is an incredibly effective way of increasing your outreach and sales, but simple mistakes can hold you back from achieving the best results. Start by following these tips to streamline your tactics, and continually refine your approach. The best thing you can add to your marketing strategy is consistent evaluation and adjustment.
Need help with your email campaign? We’d love to work with you! Contact us here for a complimentary consultation.
According to a 2017 survey done by Marketo, 47% of B2C and 65% of B2B customers responded that businesses could do a better job of aligning their engagement efforts with the customer’s preferences. Despite this, out of the marketers that were interviewed for the survey, 82% of them believe that they were aligning their engagement efforts with customer preferences. This shines some interesting light on what marketers think they are doing versus what the customer perceives.
So how can this gap be closed to put the marketers’ perception more in-line with the customer experience? Here are a few tips:
Know the Audience
This could not be enforced enough. Know the audience well, including their buying habits, lifestyles, challenges, communication channels, and personal tendencies. Their preferred methods of communication should be used whenever reaching out to them, as well as the right content format and tone (articles, videos, infographics, emojis, etc.). The reason that the customer is being contacted should be relevant to their interest, otherwise it could be seen as spam.
Make the Brand Relatable
A brand with a personality is more memorable than one without. If people are able to connect with a brand on an emotional level, they are more likely to feel passionate about the brand and even become great ambassadors. Close attention should be paid by business owners to create a brand that resonates with their audience. Doing this can be more difficult with B2B than with B2C, but it still can be accomplished through careful considerations for the scope of your products and services, and with carefully crafted marketing content.
A company shouldn’t wait for its customers to come to them with questions. The company should actively be asking questions and trying to engage with their customers. If a customer makes a big purchase, a follow-up should be done to make sure that everything met their expectations and to find any opportunities for improvement. Also, incorporate AI technology such as automated chatbots to facilitate social media campaigns. This enables businesses to engage with audiences after the campaign and to create a personalized experience.
Speaking of Social Media…
With the invention of social media, it easier than ever for customers to connect with businesses and to leave feedback. Because of the accessibility of social media and the amount of customer engagement which happens there, it can be tempting for a company to rely on social media as its only form of customer interaction. Yet, only 52% of B2C and 51% of B2B customers rate social media as a highly effective tool for engaging according to the customer feedback survey that was referenced earlier. While having a customer engagement strategy that focuses primarily on social media will work for some businesses, it’s not one that should be used by every business. Since only over half of all customers find it as an effective way to engage with customers, it’s wise for business to include other methods of engaging customers in the mix. This brings us to...
Ask for Feedback!
The importance of feedback from the customer cannot be understated and should be given serious consideration when trying to figure out where the company can improve. With a big enough sample, trends will start to emerge, and company can start to create a picture of how it is performing in the eyes of its customers versus how the company believes itself to be doing.
When designing surveys, be sure to include identification questions (age, gender, education level, contact, etc.), satisfaction-related questions (on a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with…), retention-related questions, and open-ended questions.
Capturing the identities of the respondents enables effective statistical testing during survey analysis. Also, while yes or no and rate on a scale questions saves time and provide a lot of insight, it’s important to ask open-ended questions to give respondents the opportunity to leave a more personalized feedback. Customers often bring up issues that no one at a company had thought to address.
Obtaining feedback is an ongoing process and customers must be asked regularly how a company is doing. Feedback should not only be obtained for the service or product, but also for the engagement efforts also. lastly, don’t forget to update your audiences on any changes that were made to incorporate the customer feedback. Doing so will make customers feel like a company cares about their needs and is making an effort to improve in any way that the company is able. This encourages further customer engagements.
Need more assistance with designing and executing your next marketing campaign? We’re here to help! Please DM us here.
Editor’s Note: This is a collaborative piece with Arianna Duse from Market Inspector.
Marketing strategies have many different facets and components, but all have one main scope, namely the engagement of customers. This aim has driven companies to implement gamification in their business.
So what is gamification?
Gamification is the implementation of game thinking and methods to different scenarios that are not game related. Competition, reward, status-building, and pride are the dynamics that are applied to different tasks or marketing campaigns. This strategy is effective as it takes advantage of the competitive trait we all have to certain degrees.
In an infographic created by Market Inspector, a B2B digital marketplace, you can find more information connected to the benefits of gamification. Moreover, you will find five different problems that a company can face and how gamification can solve them.
These issues are divided into two different sections: internal-facing issues and external-facing issues.
Gamification as a marketing strategy
The two key ways to use gamification within your external-facing marketing strategy is to improve the rate of engagement at trade shows, and to increase the acquisition of brand advocates.
Trade shows are always a good opportunity to obtain new customers. Yet, your booth has to compete with ones of the other participants. A way to gain people’s attention and win them over is to actualise game methods. According to the focus of your business, a game can be ideated and the player can be rewarded with a coupon that can be redeemed on your website or in your store. In this way, engagement is created both at the trade show and even after the event.
The second issue highlighted in the infographic is the engagement of brand advocates. Samsung Nation perfectly exemplifies how to achieve this through gamification.This platform was created to engage existing customers and to encourage them to post content related to their product on social media. The activity of posting content is rewarded by the platform with badges and trophies.
Gamification as a HR strategy
Gamification can alleviate the issues related to three key HR matters: the hiring process, retention of talents, and implementation of a new system.
The hiring process is a long and time-consuming path that can result in a variety of outcomes. A game can make part of this process more effective. Through gamification, applicants can be presented with a simulation of a business case related to your company that they have to solve. This way, the applicants that have a fitting profile with your company can be identified in a faster way.
The second problem is heavily linked to engagement. According to studies, new generations require to be more engaged and valued in the work environment than previous generations. Gamified tasks that give immediate feedback can be the key difference for your business and retain talents for longer.
The educational benefits of gamification have been already proven in the academic field. For this reason, this strategy can be a winning tool to use when your company is in the process of implementing a new system. Employees will adopt the required skills faster from a gamified course, consequently saving valuable time and working more efficiently.
Gamification is a strategy that can be applied to a diverse range of issues. The infographic below delineates how companies can level up their business by applying this innovative and engaging tool.
Arianna Duse is a communication assistant at Market Inspector. She has recently concluded her studies at Aalborg University in Culture, Communication, and Globalisation, and now she is part of Market Inspector, a B2B marketplace that helps businesses find quality suppliers and make informed decisions.
It’s that time of the year again when you gather your business partners and executives around the table to discuss plans for 2019. Whether you’re starting a new business or running an established organization, one of the major dilemmas your team needs to answer is determining the appropriate budget for marketing. After all, you don’t want to invest heavily in developing a hip, niche product, only to end up with a fantastic product in your hands without the go-to market plan and promotional materials to drive awareness and sales.
In the mid-90s, Steve Jobs took Apple Inc. (which was on the brink of extinction) and turned it into one of the most valuable brands in the world. Jobs understood that a strong brand and marketing strategy is a powerful asset and a vital role in the success of any business, and Apple is one of many successful companies that spends more on marketing and sales than they do on research and development.
However, unlike Apple and other global corporations, many small businesses struggle to balance between spending on marketing versus other operations because they have limited resources and capacity. This is why it is important to take time to evaluate your marketing objectives and prioritize specific marketing projects. Below, we will break down the marketing budget, discuss essential areas to allocate your marketing resources, explore how to manage your marketing partnerships to optimize your marketing plan for 2019.
Before You Start
Refer to your marketing plan, if available. There are a few questions that you need to answer before you begin to set your marketing budget.
There are 6 common approaches to setting a marketing budget:
1. The random allocation approach—Possibly the most common method. Businesses that use this method follow no marketing strategy or plan. Budget is allocated based on impromptu efforts: “We need more sales; let’s have a campaign!”.
2. Keeping up with the Jones approach—Matching what the competitors are spending or reacting to a competitor’s increase in marketing efforts. Keep in mind that it is very difficult to establish what competitors are spending or how efficiently their budgets are being used.
3. The last year’s budget approach—Many organized businesses look at previous budgets and make upward or downward adjustments based on their evaluations.
4. The percentage of turnover approach—Organizations that use this method strive to establish an accepted marketing spend based on percentage of turnover (sum of money that the organization has collected from its normal business practices such as sale of goods and services). The generally accepted spend for a business in a steady state is 5%-8% of turnover, higher for new businesses or if there is a need to open a new market.
Note: If there are major changes in strategy, do not base your budget on previous budgets as those are likely to be irrelevant.
5. The task orientated approach—This method involves looking at the strategy and tallying up the costs of all planned marketing activities to arrive at the marketing budget. This may create a figure that you are not comfortable with, but it is the most strategic method.
6. The hybrid approach—Many businesses will incorporate several of these methods to come up with a realistic and flexible marketing budget that matches strategy with affordability.
Aside from selecting the appropriate budgeting approach, you also need to think about what you’re really investing in. Remember that advertising, trade shows, social media, mobile apps, etc. are only tools to help you gain and retain customers.
Thus, your first consideration should be “how much is a customer worth?”
The most straightforward way to calculate customer lifetime value (CLV) is to subtract the revenue you earn from a customer by the money spent on acquiring and serving that customer, where the total revenue you can expect to get from each customer is your average order value divided by one minus the repeat purchase rate.
Let's say that the value of an average order at your restaurant is $35. Also, anytime someone makes an order there is a 15% chance of the customer m coming back and making a repeat purchase. Finally, let's assume that it costs you $10 to acquire each new customer. (Figures are purely assumptions for demonstration purposes.)
CLV = [$35 / (1 - 0.15)] - $10 = $31.17
Your second consideration should be “what is the average conversion rate from inquiry to customer?”
Conversion rates (CR) are calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of total impressions, multiply by 100.
Your site had 2,000 visitors last month and produced 125 sales. (Figures are purely assumptions for demonstration purposes.)
CR = 15/2,000 x 100 = 6.25%
The point is that a marketing budget should not be perceived as an expense towards a single, immediate sale; rather, it is an investment in making and keeping a customer for the long-term.
By this point, you’re probably still wondering what other organizations are spending on marketing, just to gain a point of reference. The answer is: It varies by industry.
Below are some figures gathered in a 2017 CMO survey published by the American Marketing Association.
Percent of revenue by industry:
The SBA recommends that small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing. This budget should be split between brand development costs (promotion channels such as website, blogs, sales collateral, etc.) and the costs of promoting the business (campaigns, advertising, events, etc.). This percentage assumes your profit margins fall within the range of 10-12 percent.
Where to Spend
Using the SBA recommendation as a reference point, you may want to consider setting a 5% of revenue marketing budget for your regular marketing activities, with added spending on periods that require extra marketing efforts to meet changes in strategy or to upgrade/enhance your marketing foundation.