Brands are now joining television stations, film studios, magazines and publishers as mainstream content creators. Sometimes, it’s accidental, such as with the Marco Rubio / Poland Spring incident, but it’s happening nonetheless. In 2013, expect content marketing to soar to new heights.
12 Tips to Be the Business Leader Others Need and Want
Good leadership is learned and earned, not inherited. It’s something you have to continuously develop and ponder as the people that surround you change and grow. Find these twelve will qualities inside yourself if you want to become an exceptionally capable leader.
A boss with great leadership skills can really make a difference, not just in the success of the company but also in the quality of her employees’ lives. Unfortunately, too many bosses value ruthless slave driving over wise and compassionate guidance, and they often pay for it with an inefficient and disloyal work force. Below, we list some tips to help you become the best leader you can be, courtesy of Forbes. The whole article is worth a read if you have the extra time, but we break down the basics right here.
+ Never forget that you are your employees’ servant - just as they are yours. When you make their jobs and lives easier, they’ll often return the favor for the rest of their working relationship with you. More importantly, perceive every employee as your equal. In the end, a title is just a title, but loyal relationships last forever, whether or not your company lasts.
+ Don’t be afraid to ruffle some feathers. Develop the bravery to point out unethical or shady practices, and don’t be afraid to do what’s right for the company even if it’s a major inconvenience to everyone around you. In the end, everyone respects the “yes man” as much as they respect the guy that doesn’t care, but when it’s time to follow somebody, everyone will be looking to the few individuals with a relentless sense of honesty, honor and drive - regardless of title.
+ Share your experience, and become a mentor. Talented workers, especially younger ones, care about their careers, which means they often have a willingness to learn as much as they can. Leverage their drive for success to boost the performance of your company. Furthermore, you might need your employees as a reference in the future, or perhaps they’ll become bosses or clients of yours. If you take the time to be a career mentor, not just a boss, they’ll be your loyal friends and business partners for life.
+ Don’t neglect your employees’ personal lives. This is how you’ll know when to push them ruthlessly and when to offer compassion, so you can squeeze as much high-quality work out of your work force as possible. If you really value your talent, you’ll want to keep them around for as long as possible, but if you don’t bend your will to the craziness of their everyday lives, they may not stick around for long.
+ Don’t stop learning, and remain open to new ideas. Don’t fear criticism or debate because they are often precursors to the best ideas. More importantly, encourage this quality in your people. They have valuable perspectives - even the youngest hires. Your employees won’t always be right, but it’s your job to absorb as much information as possible and select the best path forward.
+ Trust your employees, and stop micromanaging. You hired your people to take over the steering wheel in their respective departments and roles, so let them do what they need to do because you probably have a full plate yourself.
+ Maintain high standards set by your example. The key is setting the example yourself. Then, slowly nudge your work force to your level. They may not ever catch up to you (that’s why you’re the boss), but they will continue to improve.
+ Find the best qualities in your employees, and learn how to develop and use those qualities for the benefit of the company - even if your employees can’t see it in themselves. Your employees may fail over and over again as you try to push them to achieve things they never knew were possible, but they will eventually get there.
+ Be passionate and encourage passion because talented individuals are attracted to it. They want to be a part of something great or important, and your passion for your work communicates the same ideal.
+ Fairness is critical, and don’t be a hypocrite. It seems like an obvious concept, but it’s not a common quality because it’s easy to lose focus.
+ Consistency is a necessary ingredient for cooking up trust in your work force because it enables your employees to know what’s coming.
+ Recruit talent the smarter way. Find and hire good talent, but also grow and develop these individuals with wisdom, trust, trial, error and compassion. Even if you’re an excellent recruiter, no one wants to work for a slave driver, so slave drivers don’t naturally attract the best people.
Whether you’re a high-level executive or a business newbie, free marketing is always a great idea. Unfortunately, effective tactics on $0 budgets aren’t always obvious. Fortunately, we’re here to help.
We came across a helpful piece this morning that describes some valuable marketing strategies that are virtually free or extremely low cost. We break down the basics below, but whole thing is worth a read if you have a few more minutes to spare.
Use real people to design the look and message of your emails, not automated machines, and take your time with your email campaigns. Don’t force your customer to commit on the first message. It really helps to court them over time. Once you build trust with the customer, you can subtly introduce messages that are more direct.
Host webinars. There’s a lot of great platforms that help businesses host small webinars for free. This is an easy way to demonstrate your product to anyone in the whole world, and you can also use it to gauge feedback about your presentation and product. Improve your presentations over time, and you should eventually see some great results. After you hone your presentation skills, upgrade to a paid option to host bigger webinars to reach more customers in one session. and boost your odds of success.
Give away free samples, consultations or trials. This is another great way to collect feedback, but it also puts your product in the clients’ hands. If you play your cards right, you’ll make up the cost with increased sales. Extra tip: If you’re a distributor, you may have access to samples from the manufacturer at no cost to you.
It’s all great advice, but we add our own two cents below. There’s much more you can do on a low marketing budget.
Give your clients and potential clients free promotional items, which are useful office supplies, apparel or gifts with your logo, name or information on it. This isn’t really a “free” option, but it is a low-cost way to stay on the client’s mind long after contact. It is such a common tactic that it is often overlooked by impatient newbies.
A company like AnyPromo makes it easy to stock up on promotional products and gifts for face-to-face sales, trade shows, meetings, demonstrations and more. Try offering products that the client would often use - either on his own or in a community setting, such as in his office’s lunch room. AnyPromo offers customizable cutting boards, mugs, pens, bags, clocks, notebooks, portfolios, planners, USB solar chargers (for mobile devices), backpacks, safety glasses, tumblers, hard hats, business cards and much more.
Of course, you can also try your hand at social-media marketing, which is technically free, but you should have on staff a social-media guru even if he’s also involved in other areas of the company. It can be pretty easy to waste your time if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you’re an expert in a certain field, you can offer free advice on forums, blogs or magazines. In exchange for the free content, ask for or setup a “followed” backlink to your website in a signature to help boost your SEO, but the real reward is the exposure of your brand to new audiences. More importantly, you’re showing the audience your skills and experience, so they know you’re a trustworthy and legitimate source of help or business. Virgin CEO Richard Branson is an expert at this style of self marketing, and you may have already noticed that he’s always writing articles or conducting interviews with industry-leading magazines, websites and blogs.
Social-Media Marketing Is More Important than Ever in 2013
Social media is quickly becoming a critical aspect of search engine optimization (SEO) and other types of online marketing. We found an excellent article that breaks down how social media is changing the way online businesses succeed, and we break down the main points below.
+ Social-media is the source of about 90% of global data over the last two years.
+ Social engagement (or the lack of it) helps Google, Bing and Facebook find relevant content when users search. As a result, a strong social-media strategy is also a strong SEO strategy - and vice versa.
+ Pretty soon, search, social, local and mobile marketing will be one and the same, though significant factors continue to divide mobile and desktop audiences.
+ As a result, targeting mobile audiences is critical for winning the future. Websites and apps need tablet and smartphone-optimized versions.
+ Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube will be hot targets for online marketers this year.
For 2013, face-to-face events will continue to be a major factor for about half of small businesses. For these companies, optimizing direct encounters with the client can make or break the deal, but exactly how can they make the most of these critical moments? We have a few tried & true tips to share.
A survey of small businesses connected to the Web uncovered that at least 45% of these companies will continue to rely on in-person events and 33% of them will bank on in-person meetings as well. Unfortunately the problem with face-to-face encounters is that they are relativity easy to botch. Even if you’re a rockstar in the meeting room or on the sales floor, all it takes is a missed meal or a slightly better presentation to knock your company out of the client’s memory for eternity. Fortunately, this is a relatively easy problem to fix; here’s what you can do to help you close the deal or at least remain memorable enough for future deals.
+ First, sell a product or service that delivers the expected results. Also, if your product doesn’t at least inspire some kind of passion, excitement or curiosity in yourself, you can’t expect the client to feel the same way. For example, Blackberry is learning this the hard way.
+ Presentation is critical. The difference made by a few simple details can be critical. More importantly, if you don’t want to be there, your clients will feel the same, and they will be distracted by the search for an exit. On the other hand, if you offer snacks, give out coffee, vacuum the floor, polish the wood, offer comfortable seating, practice your argument, update your marketing materials, etc., you can make a huge impact in the focus and attention of your client. Consider Microsoft’s “lounge” at the Macworld expo vs. some of the more plain booths at CES.
+ You need to smile. Be happy about the encounter with your client, or fake it if necessary. Nothing is more uncomfortable than visiting a store, booth or office with attendants that would rather not help you.
+ Give off the right signals and stay seated with the client most of the time. Present on your feet, but sit down for the negotiation. Standing up suggests a major change in the negotiation, possibly encouraging the client to get up and leave.
+ Take notes even if it’s unnecessary. It suggests that you’re paying attention, and for people with social anxiety, it’s an easy way to keep your hands and eyes busy as the client speaks. Most importantly, it suggests to the client that what he’s saying is important enough that you went the extra mile to remember it.
+ Take it easy on the caffeine. It’s easy to consume too much coffee and energy drinks, which could easily boost anxiety and reduce confidence during awkward moments. Drink no more or less than you would on any other day.
+ Make eye contact, and remain confident. The eye contact is a sign of respect. The confidence suggests capability. Both are critical.
+ Don’t treat potential or past clients any different than you would current clients.
+ If you can, know your client well. This means researching the client’s website, industry, competitors and more. Don’t ask questions with answers that you should already know. The client’s goal is to move on to the next step, but it’s hard to do that when you’re asking questions that don’t need to be discussed, such as, “what’s on your website right now?” Everyone involved wants to move forward, so hit the ground running.
+ Also know the individual’s personal tastes and preferences, not just the company. For example, a graphic artist is likely to be moved by a very visual and emotional presentation. A CEO with a background in accounting might prefer a less-exciting analytic presentation with binders full of spreadsheets and graphs.
+ More importantly, know your product better than anyone else, or bring along an engineer or specialist that can explain it for you. The client shouldn’t know the company better than you, and if he’s asking questions that you can’t answer somewhat instantly, he’ll assume you don’t care (and no one wants to work with people that don’t care).
+ Unless you’re eating dinner with the client, don’t schedule meetings or events just prior to, during or after dinner. People get really hungry and tired towards the end of the day, which is also when people stop thinking about work. It’s best to catch them while they’re coasting on their morning coffees or hearty lunches.
+ Try presenting multiple choices as if the client has already decided to work with your company. It’s a simple psychological tactic that also works with toddlers that refuse to eat.
+ Use a phrase like “authorize the deal” instead of “sign the contract”. The idea of signing contracts can be daunting, but “authorization” is just giving permission.
+ Offer a useful gift that is branded with your company’s logo. This is the letter opener that your client uses every evening. It’s the solar charger for mobile phones that your client takes to the woods on the weekends. It might even be the cutting board in the client’s lunch room or the Bluetooth (wireless) boombox in his warehouse. More importantly, the measured statistics speak for themselves. About three out of every four expo/show attendees in a 2003 survey favorably remembered the name of the company that gave them a promotional product. A company like AnyPromo can label virtually anything with your logo or name, so it’s easier than ever to stock up on self-branded apparel, customized office supplies and other promotional products and gifts.
Tomorrow, we post the full info graphic with PaySimple’s research (check the sneak peak above). Today, Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+, and stay updated with marketing & business advice.
Introducing the RoxBox - Custom Bluetooth Boomboxes with Big Sound
We’re welcoming 2013 with a whole new line of high-end electronics, including Bluetooth (wireless) boomboxes, several types of headphones, mobile chargers and much more. The RoxBox (pictured above) is one of our new favorites. Customize it with your company, team or organization’s logo for the finish!