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Are you making the most of your content?
Old-fashioned SEO tactics DO NOT WORK. You will get you sanctioned by Google. Every optimization effort you make needs to be above-board and carefully planned to ensure you are using tactics that will help you gain visibility.
The main focus of your content marketing should be exceptional writing.
DaSh factor advice for exceptional content marketing:
- Don’t focus on SEO first.
- Write content that answers questions your audience asks.
- Make your content informative.
- Proofread and polish your content.
- Do not hire “SEO” firms who use archaic tactics.
- Reuse content in multiple ways on multiple platforms.
- Leverage WordPress tools and plugins to make your optimization work for you.
- Do not use poorly-written, keyword-stuffed garbage to try to increase your SEO.
- Do not try to game the system.
- Publish well-written content frequently.
We like this infographic from contentmarketinginstitute.com.
Take a page from Arlo Guthrie and connect with your audience by telling stories.
Last year on this day, we were in Boise, Idaho (the town Shadra spent most of her life) to see Arlo Guthrie in concert. We go to a lot of concerts, but this was a bucket-list kind of show – the 50th anniversary of Arlo’s song, “Alice’s Restaurant.” It was an important tour to catch for those of us who were too young to see him perform the song the first time around. Arlo tends to avoid playing “Alice’s Restaurant” unless it is the 10th anniversary of the song, so if you want to hear it live, you may need to wait until the 60th anniversary.
The concert was an incredible experience. We walked out of the venue feeling we’d spent the evening sitting across from Arlo. It wasn’t simply the songs that left an indelible impression; we’d heard most of them before, many times. And we have faithfully watched the movie, Alice’s Restaurant, every year at Thanksgiving.
So what made the performance memorable?
It wasn’t simply Arlo’s singing that made his performance “stick to [our] bones,” as our Boise State poetry professor might say.
What made Arlo’s performance memorable was the stories he told.
The man can tell a story! And as he weaves a narrative, you’re pulled into the time and place he’s revealing, and the people in the story become tangible. And as he speaks, you feel like he is talking only to you – that if you were not sitting there listening, the story would not be worth the telling.
We can all take a page out of Arlo’s book when it comes to engaging with our audiences. Whether you’re writing, giving a speech, or meeting with a client, it’s the stories you tell and the attention you give to your audience that are going to plant you and your message firmly in their memory, not your presentation, pitch, or hard sell.
Tell a story. That’s how to connect with your audience.
We love the freedom we have to control how and when we work, where we work, and who we work with.
We have been running our own business for nearly a decade, and we love the freedom we have to control how and when we work, where we work, and who we work with. These tips have helped us enjoy more success and enjoy the work more, too.
- Go out every day. It doesn’t matter where you go – even going to the post office counts. Why? It forces you to get yourself out of your comfortable environment, and yes, get dressed if you’re otherwise tempted to work in your pjs all day. It’s a great way to connect with people in your community. You’ll find inspiration, have conversations, and be energized.
- Do something for yourself every day. The big benefit of being an entrepreneur is that you are the boss. You might also be the employee, the administrative assistant, and the maintenance crew, but you’re the boss. It means you can step away and go for a walk, exercise, take a class you’ve always wanted to take, spend time with your kids, or travel through Europe for a month. Being an entrepreneur is hard work, but it is also exhilarating and freeing.
- Embrace new experiences. Having new experiences is how we grow and expand. So volunteer, feed the homeless, do a community project, or attend a networking meeting. Do something new.
- Take a lunch break. Yes, we entrepreneurs tend to work more than we ever thought we would. It is easier to work hard when you’re working for yourself. But it is important to stand up, step away, take a break, feed your soul and nourish your body. Take breaks.
- Do what you want to do, when you want to do it. We are 24/7, tethered to some digital device anyway, whether we work at home or in an office, so we might as well enjoy the freedom entrepreneurship affords us.
To succeed as entrepreneurs, you need to focus on your accomplishments. From traveling and living around the world to working as leaders in your corporate lives, you have fabulous skills that translate very well into running your own businesses.
The best way to prevent being sued for the images you use is to make sure you have the proper licensing for them.
It happens with alarming regularity: bloggers, writers, and businesses are being sued for the images they use on their websites and in their print marketing. The most notorious company to go after even the smallest blogger who doesn’t even have an income from their blog is Getty. Getty can be a nightmare to deal with. Women in Business offers a guideline for handling a Settlement Demand Letter from Getty.
Image Licensing and Copyright
Using someone else’s image for your commercial work (even if it’s not making money) is considered theft. It is really no different than someone copying pages out of your book or off your website and selling them as their own work. The best way to prevent being sued for the images you use is to make sure you have the proper licensing for them. Better yet, choose the following types of images:
- Public domain images. These images have been used on a government website or have been released by the artist to be used for any reason without credit. You can easily find public domain images (or easily attributable images) at Wikimedia Commons.
- Free images. There are a number of sources for images that have come about almost as a response to the stranglehold Getty is attempting to have over stock images. One of our favorites is the work of Ryan McGuire at Gratisography (the creator of the image used on this blog). Additional free image sources appear at the end of this article.
- Your own images. Grab your phone and snap a photo! There’s nothing more satisfying than taking the precise picture you want to accompany your own words and deliver the message you want to deliver.
If you do have to use a licensed image, there are cost-effective stock images available from reliable companies who aren’t sue-happy.
Our Favorite Paid Image Sources:
Our Favorite Free Image Sources:
We can elevate our level of leadership by leading with maturity, resilience, accountability, and doing good.
We work with some of the most inspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders around. Many of them, in addition to being excellent clients and partners are also mentors. We have learned from them what leadership really is. Leadership is an art. Becoming a better leader is a continual learning process, and we can elevate our level of leadership by leading with maturity, resilience, accountability, and doing good.
Leading with maturity means not overreacting but making thoughtful and informed choices. Mature leaders don’t seek glory but are happy to give credit to others who helped them achieve the goal.
Leading with resilience means not allowing setbacks to thwart you. Resilient leaders are optimistic and see difficulties as challenges they can overcome.
Leading with accountability means taking responsibility for missteps. An accountable leader is comfortable with the idea that being human means being imperfect and is ok acknowledging, apologizing for, and owning his or her mistakes.
Leading by doing good means having a focus beyond profit. Leaders who do good choose to personally and professionally donate time, money, and visibility to helping make the world a better place.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou
People will instinctively turn toward brands who are purposeful, genuine, and trustworthy.
Open, honest communication is the best foundation for any relationship, but remember that at the end of the day it’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters the most.–Tony Hsieh
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, understands something that every brand needs to realize: the only question you need to be able to answer as a brand is, “How do you make people feel?” The engagement and experience every brand is desperately seeking cannot be attained appealing to the rationale of the consumer; it can only be reached by tapping into their emotions and senses.
The problem with trying to appeal to a consumer through emotion is that people don’t like being manipulated. They are quick to recognize – and condemn – a company or celebrity (or famous athlete) who is being less than genuine in their approach simply to attain a goal. To appeal to your customer authentically requires you to be honest and open in your approach.
Authenticity is a commitment from the brand to remain true to what your organization promises to be. Brands that succeed at achieving authenticity have worked to communicate a clear sense of what their brand stands for.
Truth is a point of view, but authenticity can’t be faked. -Peter Guber
People will instinctively turn toward brands who are purposeful, genuine, and trustworthy. When given the option, consumers will seek out brands born of a company’s authentic passions versus a desire to simply move merchandise.
Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust. – Lance Secretan
by Shadra Bruce
I had a very positive experience as an intern when I was going to school at Alfred University. I worked in the student affairs office and helped them revise their student adjudication system and digitize all of the records. It was fascinating work that not only gave me experience I could build on but also connected me with people in the university with whom I still maintain a relationship.
As our business expands, we have often considered the need for another person to help us move things forward. According to Mark McFadden, Director of the Alfred University Career Development Center,
“Internships are always beneficial to students and can/should be for employers as well. If you are a non-profit or the federal government, you don’t have to pay interns. However, if you are a for profit company, you are required to pay interns as per the Fair Labor Standards Act. A lot of employers think they can get around payment by offering credit, but that is not the case. Internships vary in terms of hours and pay. For example, we offer a number of internships here at the CDC. All are in the five hour a week range and we pay minimum wage.”
Internships CAN be a great way to introduce new talent and innovative ideas, but if you are a for-profit business, you need to budget for the service these students provide.
We opted to postpone hiring interns until we’ve moved forward with securing legal entity status for our business so that we can avoid any tax headaches. But we are excited about the ability to offer this win-win opportunity to a fellow Saxon. If you’re ready to hire an intern, reach out to your alma mater or a local university’s career center to get started.
Sending 5 billion emails in the second quarter of 2013 provided YesMail with a lot of insight about what works and what doesn’t in email marketing, and they’ve compiled those insights into a report, YesMail’s Email Marketing Compass: The Mobile Effect. As indicated by the title, email marketing is undergoing rapid changes that are almost wholly caused by the monumental shift from PCs and laptops to mobile devices for reading email.
Key findings from the report:
- 61% of consumers either use mobile exclusively for accessing email or use mobile and desktop interchangeably
- The hospitality and travel industry is has a click-thru rate of 23.4% while B2B is stagnant at 1.5%
- 49% of all email is opened on a mobile device
Mobile devices may be the go-to device for consumers, with half of all email marketing messages being opened, but when it comes to engagement, emails opened on a mobile device click-to-open (CTR) rates are 100% lower than emails opened on a desktop. When consumers do open email marketing messages on a desktop, they are 100% more likely to interact in some way with the email message. There is particularly high disparity in the CTR rate between mobile and desktop for healthcare, B2B, and CPG industries.
The one industry in which CTR rates improve on mobile is consumer services. YesMail suggests this is because consumer services are typically web-based and consumers are comfortable engaging online and from a mobile platform to begin with, so they are more likely to continue to do so with emails. This industry is also more likely to have optimized their email for the mobile device, making it easier for the consumer to engage.
The opportunity this report highlights, then, is for other industries to adopt a mobile-based email marketing campaign that makes it not only easier but more likely that consumers will engage with the emails they do open via mobile. For the B2B community, there is a significant opportunity to engage more effectively, since YesMail’s research shows that B2B clients prefer mobile more than any other industry but healthcare. With a near 50/50 split of mobile vs. desktop preference and one of the lowest mobile CTR rates, B2B organizations have the potential to transform their email marketing campaigns by optimizing them for mobile.
While the key takeaway from this research is that mobile optimization is crucial for all industries and especially for B2B, content still matters. In fact, with the right content, multiple emails per week did not deter engagement. YesMail’s key recommendations include:
- Mobile optimization
- Improving customer understanding
- Improving deliverability through regular maintenance
If you’re interested in making a bigger impact with your email marketing efforts, contact us.