The Bizz by AnyPromo.com

Business & marketing advice, news and features, design inspiration, and the art of gifting.

Too-Busy Chris Hardwick Shares His Time-Management Philosophy


Chris Hardwick is considered one of the busiest TV professionals today, hosting and contributing to a wide range of shows across several networks. The man somehow does too much with too little time, and here’s how he does it without burning out.


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by Fausto Mendez / photo by Fast Co.

    When Chris Hardwick isn’t hosting the new Comedy Central talk show @Midnight, he’s hosting AMC’s The Talking Dead, voicing Nickelodeon cartoons, getting nerdy on BBC’s The Nerdist, releasing podcasts, cracking up audiences as a stand-up comedian, pitching his next project, or…. well, the list goes on. I think you get the picture. He’s obviously Superman’s buddy the Flash in a suit & tie, or maybe he knows something we don’t.

    His achievements in the past few years would make anyone jealous. Thankfully, he’s willing to share his secret to success: utterly amazing time management. He shares 7 eye-opening tips in an interview with Fast Co, and the one about overcoming a creative block (similar to a “writer’s block”) is perhaps the most inspiring. 

"Even if what you’re coming up with is gibberish at first, you’re unsqueaking the wheel, and you might not notice the benefits right away, but after 15 minutes or so, you’ll find them. You just have to push through it. There’s no trick."

   Though he finds value in pushing through a creative or even physical slump, he warns not to over exhaust yourself.

"Your body tells you when you’ve taken on more than capacity. That’s when you start getting really anxious, or getting insomnia … It’s important to take some time off to recharge, even if it’s just a day or two. Sometimes my girlfriend and I will go to Disneyland, just to take a day off.”

   Keep in mind that you have limits. Sometimes, pushing through the block isn’t worth it, and your relentless drive starts to backfire. Learn how to read your body. Know what it needs in every moment, and give it that.

The Most Important Time-Management Skill: Know Yourself

    Knowing your body and decoding its messages are invaluable productivity tools, and that’s something I quickly learned after college. It’s amazing what a difference my level of performance is now compared to the first year out of school.

    For example, knowing the difference between a caffeine comedown and actual exhaustion is critical for a creative professional like myself, but I had no idea how to tell the difference during my student years. I’d caffeinate myself for way too long with way too much, and little did I know that less caffeine in the right moments goes much farther than tons of caffeine all the time.

    In a similar lesson, I had to figure out that exercise has a very positive effect on my my mental state. My focus and energy were annoyingly inconsistent as a student. As a professional, I discovered the difference between over-exhaustion and exhaustion from not being fit enough. Little did I know that my brain’s energy is directly affected by the state of fitness of my body. The more fit I am, the more my brain can handle, and I could have only learned this lesson by first learning myself.

    Knowing yourself is one the most important time-management skills that you’ll ever develop. Start there, and everything else will surprisingly fall into place. 


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How to do Better Business: Making Brand Evangelists


The brand evangelist is the holy grail of any marketing team. He/she promotes your brand to the most relevant audiences, and the best part is evangelists are free, unlike employees. But how exactly do you make a brand evangelist? 


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by Fausto Mendez / photo by Marcleh

    Brand evangelists are difficult to make, and some brands can never figure it out. Some companies never even give the concept a shot, assuming brand evangelists are impossible for their respective companies or industries. While it’s true that brands like the NBA have a much easier time developing evangelists than brands like Delta Airlines, it’s not true that it’s impossible to make evangelists for your specific business. Think about it…

Success Story: Virgin Airlines

    Prior to Virgin Airlines, it’s hard to believe that an airline could ever be a hip brand like Coca Cola, especially in social media, which is where many evangelists do some of their best evangelizing. But if you take a look at the company’s online presence, it’s clear there is an army of evangelists out there working on behalf of Virgin, and it could not have been as successful as it is today without those evangelists.

    What is Virgin’s secret? More importantly, what is the brand doing that other airline companies are not doing? The answer is actually pretty simple: Virgin has Richard Branson, the company’s CEO and ultimate brand evangelist.

    Branson is one of the most famous businessmen on the planet right now. His fame and work rival that of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. More importantly, the global impact of his companies are literally changing the world as I type out this article, not just in terms of technology but in terms of philanthropy as well. Don’t believe me? Check back in ten years when Virgin Galactic is shuttling tourists in space as one of the first space “airlines” for consumers. Oh wait, it’s already happening, and you can reserve your seat right now.

    You could argue that space flight is actually the answer to making brand evangelists for Virgin. After all, that is another major difference between Virgin and the rest of the airline industry, but you’d be wrong. There are a handful of other companies that have achieved similar feats as Virgin Galactic, but most people have no idea those companies even exist. Branson, it turns out, is the key to making brand evangelists out of Virgin customers.

Steve Jobs Illustrates the Importance of Public Leaders

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photo by / LJR.Mike

    Steve Jobs, Apple and its customers have a similar relationship with each other, but don’t misunderstand this. It’s true that you need to have a great product/service and a stellar marketing team to make brand evangelists. However, the company’s “fearless leader” is ultimately the foundation that ensures the existence of brand evangelists. Without the fearless leader, there’d be little to no die-hard fans, or evangelists.

    The Brand Mentalist describes the relationship between Apple and its fans in an excellent piece titled “Evangelism”. 

"Apple users are evangelists because they truly believe in the values of the company. They feel that the company’s motto (“Think Different”) is a reflection of who they are as individuals. Apple evangelists feel inspired and connected when they see Apple commercials, as these advertisements show people who share Apple’s beliefs, messages that challenge the status quo, and people who actually “Think Different.” Most importantly, all of Apple’s products are a reflection of this belief. The company has always innovated products that actually do “Think Different” from what the mainstream version of that product is.

It’s not a coincidence that the leader of Apple held the same beliefs as the company. Steve Jobs was a misfit. Everything he did in life followed the mantra “Think Different.” In fact, you can even argue that one of the reasons he died is because of this belief.”

    Apple represents Jobs, not the other way around. It’s important to keep that in mind when making evangelists. If your company doesn’t represent its fearless leader, you’ll never make evangelists.

"If you, as a leader, live a life that embodies your company’s meaning, and you make sure that all company decisions are a reflection of this mantra, your users will slowly begin to join you. Your users will start to advocate for you, and truly believe that your company is a representation of who they are. They will start to feel that your company always has their best interests, without even questioning you." 

    As long as your customers feel that your brand’s fearless leader shares their beliefs and values, they will trust the company and its decisions. They will even promote it to their friends and family for free. After all, who doesn’t love to share good news?

"This kind of loyalty has nothing to do with design or features; this is about the innate need of social creatures to join groups that represents their values."

    You can always break down any marketing strategy to basic psychological elements that accurately predict the customer’s behavior, and in this case, people naturally feel a primitive desire to join groups with members that share the same values. Exploit this psychological tick with your company’s fearless leader, and you have yourself a competent brand-evangelist-making strategy.


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Ten Important Changes Happening at Workplaces Around the Nation


It’s no surprise the way businesses internally operate is changing, but exactly what is changing?


by Fausto Mendez / photo by mkosut

    Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel details ten of the most important changes that businesses are experiencing in the United States in 2013.

    Change 2: working from home is much more common, and it’s saving businesses a lot of money. Read the rest of Schawbel’s article at Forbes.com.


    Join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh, non-stop marketing advice, and insightful business analysis - plus: free fonts, easy-lunch recipes and more. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Four Tips to Help You Pitch to Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors


Pitching is perhaps one of the hardest things to do in business. You’re asking for a lot of money and - even more terrifying - faith in you and your ideas. Here’s some tips to seal the deal for your next pitch.


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By Fausto Mendez

    Back in March, Kate Rogers published an insightful piece on tips about pitching your ideas to VC investors, but the same tips can apply to many other types of pitches. These tips will stay relevant for decades to come. Here’s the second one.

Tip #2: 

"…one of the biggest mistakes companies are making today is thinking too small. That won’t get this VC veteran’s attention."

Finish reading this article at Fox Business.


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How Social-Media Marketing Boosts Sales by 30% in the Video Game Industry

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By Fausto Mendez

    The effectiveness of SMM (social-media marketing) is a widely debated topic, but the video game industry is done with that debate. And its verdict is in. It turns out SMM may be its most powerful marketing channel yet. 

     Twitter broadcasts over 400 million tweets everyday. That’s a lot of talk - most of it gibberish, but the video game industry is learning that guiding those conversations towards upcoming video-game releases has a very significant impact on sales, according Twitter and Deloitte LLP. Twitter UK commissioned Deloitte LLP to measure the impact of those 400 million daily Tweets on the sales of 100 best-selling PS3 and Xbox 360 games, and you can see the results for yourself in the full infographic below (click to enlarge it). 

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The Lesson: Creatively Integrate Multiple Channels in Your Marketing Campaigns

    The point is not to rely solely on Twitter - or even social-media marketing - but to shape your campaign using a variety of tools that guide your audience towards positive online conversations about your products or brand. 

    Now, let’s use this lesson to design an effective marketing campaign for a company like Rockstar, maker of the famed Grand Theft Auto series. As a marketer for a major gaming company, you have to think bigger than an unforgettable TV ad, a beautiful billboard, a hilarious Twitter author, or a well-designed Facebook page. You want to design marketing tactics that start conversations that move to and from various marketing channels. 

The Example: How to Move Customers From Channel to Channel

    For example, you might design a set of TV commercials that confuses and surprises viewers. Throughout the commercial, you’d display a unique hash tag at one of the corners of the screen. The confusing ad would encourage users to search for the video or the hash tag online. The confusing ad also airs between 4PM and 8PM because that’s when the target audience watches TV. By 9PM, the audience is most likely playing video games and/or browsing the Web.

    At this point, those gamers that aren’t gaming are probably searching for the video or hash tag in order to discuss it and share it with their friends. After discussing with their friends, they probably want more information, so they would search for related websites later that night. This campaign would have three important effects.

+ By adding social and online components (that are easily searchable and sharable) to the TV ads, the ads are viewed by many, many more people than if they were developed without those social and online components. 

+ Conversations with friends about upcoming games has a more powerful effect than ads that intrude on the audience’s time and attention. Friends are often entertaining, welcomed participants in such conversations. Ads that try to dictate how you think, on the other hand, run the risk of being an annoyance if they appear in the wrong situations. In other words, your friends’ excitement for the next Madden NFL game is more effective than a tv ad for the same game, but the conversation that exposed you to that excitement may have never occurred if it wasn’t for the TV ad in the first place.

+ The search-engine performance of your website is increasingly becoming dependent on the performance of your social-media profiles and content. As your profiles and content are shared across social-media sites, your website’s SEO grows too, so by catalyzing conversations that involve your social-media profiles, critical keywords and links to your website, you should increase the traffic that your website receives from search engines beyond the traffic that arises from curiosity just after a new ad airs. 

Why does it work?

    In the previous example, the process starts in the living room. That means you have to know when your audience will be there. If you do your homework, your customer will see your ad on TV at the perfect moment. They would then search for your hash tag or video online (which would cause the initial search-engine traffic boost). As the audience start conversations about the video and any related content, they would share this content on social networks, and then you get a second search-engine traffic boost as Google notices that your brand name and content are being shared on social-media sites. As excitement, rumors and information spreads, sales grow. Just rinse, and repeat.

    Whether you’re ordering promotional products for a trade show or finalizing the details for your next TV commercial, a strong and wise marketing campaign can go a long way. Take notes, people!

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Marketing Case Study: Weight Watchers Leads the Weight-Loss Race

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By Fausto Mendez

We love to break down complex marketing campaigns to uncover the core motives of human behavior that fuel corporate success. This week, we’re analyzing Weight Watchers and the company’s classic marketing techniques. 

    Weight Watchers continues to dominate the weight-loss game with over $1.2 billion revenue each year and 8 million website visitors per month, and it’s closest competitors are about a third of its size. This constant success stems from a solid product that delivers results, but behind every great product is an even greater marketing campaign. Below, we break down the principles that made and continue to make the company’s marketing campaigns so damn successful. .

+ Sell the consequences. The average Weight Watchers customer isn’t interested in the product itself. Actually, the idea of self control is scary or boring, so why are people lining up for a membership? They want the consequences associated with that self control. They want the success, intimate relationships, fitness, appearance, money and whatever else results from losing weight, and they want to eat what they want while getting it. Weight Watchers sells the consequences, not the product.

+ Sell happiness. Weight Watches sells happiness, not a weight loss system. Similar to the previous point, the idea is to focus on the internal (emotional) results, not the actual product. 

+ Offer a test drive. Weight Watchers allows prospective customers to “join” the service for free. Furthermore, Weight Watches doesn’t force prospective customers to hand over a credit card number to do this. This style of free trials produces about a 30% conversion rate, which is not bad at all. 

+ Make it easy. The PointsPlus system makes it easy for customers to track calories without actually tracking calories. Sure, it’s based on basic nutritional science, but the target audience hates learning. PointsPlus is much easier in the short term. 

+ Exclusive products make it hard to leave the proprietary system. Weight Watchers sells (and sometimes gives away) PointsPlus calculators, snack foods, frozen meals, ice creams and other products that make it even easier to track calories. These products actually serve a brilliant marketing purpose because they: 1. boost brand awareness at key locations within supermarkets (where the target audience spends a lot time) and 2. make counting calories the traditional way even more tedious. 

+ Seek out new audiences. Your audience can get stale if you don’t actively court new targets. Weight Watchers recently started marketing to men, but they don’t expect men to show up at the meetings where 90% of the attendants are women. As a result, the company launched online tools and mobile apps that help men diet on their own - since men often prefer to diet alone. 

    As a marketing professional, it’s hard not to get jealous when a company’s marketing campaign is consistently successful, but that’s why we’re here to break it down. Happy hunting! And thanks to  Marketing Profs for the core data

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Why Social-Media Marketing Works: The Psychology of SMM

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By Fausto Mendez

    I’m honored to be a guest contributor at SmartBlogs, one of the most useful digests for marketers, business owners and industry leaders that seek to improve both their own day-to-day performance and the performance of the organizations that they steer.

    This is an excerpt from my latest post on the psychology of social-media marketing at the SmartBrief blogs.

"Today, social-media is one of the most effective marketing channels for any company. Why? Most experts explain away the phenomenon with the how, not the why: "social is an excellent venue for content sharing and a useful tool for subscribing to news of your favorite brands." While that is true, it only scrapes the surface. There must be a better answer, and I’ve found it.

Social media is unlike any other marketing channel because it requires the customer to reach out to the brand before the brand reaches out to the customer with a message that leads to customer action. Normally, it works the other way around, but why is it so effective when the roles are reversed? The explanation boils down to a basic rule about relationships between people.”

    Read the rest of “The Secret Psychology of Effective Social-Media Relationships” at SmartBlogs.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Recipes to Boost Focus & Mood in Meetings: Snickers Popcorn

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By Fausto Mendez

Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so we always recommend that you bring along some tasty treats, preferably sugary stuff, to boost client focus and mood. It can make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting. This week’s recipe: Snickers popcorn.

    Making Snickers popcorn is actually pretty easy. All you have to do is cook up the syrup, chop up some Snickers bars and coat the popcorn. It breaks down to a few simple steps.

Step 1 - Stir up the Syrup

+ Start by popping some kernels. An air popper works best. The popcorn should be plain, no butter. Next, make the popcorn’s caramel coating. It consists of brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. You stir up, and boil it for about five minutes. Be careful. Don’t burn the syrup. 

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Step 2 - Mix and Bake

+ Put it all together. Drizzle the caramel over the popcorn. Add peanuts or other nuts, if that’s your thing. Bake at 200 degrees for about an hour.

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Step 3 - Top it Off

+ While it bakes, chop up some snickers bars. Slightly thin slices work best, but you can do whatever you want. You can also try crumbles instead of slices. Finish it with melted chocolate drizzles. Let it dry for a few minutes. Then, dig in. 

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    Thanks to Cookies and Cups for the recipe, and make sure you check in next week - same time, same channel - for another recipe that’ll help you conquer hearts and minds.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Social Media Has Taken Over SEO and Online Marketing: What You Need to Know

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By Fausto Mendez

The old saying goes, “content is king.” This is still true, but recent developments in search-engine algorithms have forced marketing professionals to rethink their SEO strategies. Older SEO techniques are just about useless and, in some cases, dangerous to a brand’s reach, authority and reputation. Why is this happening? More importantly, what can you do to fix your SEO strategy?

    For better or worse, social media has taken over online marketing and search-engine optimization (SEO). The direct force behind these changes appears to be the search industry, but the real driving force is the online marketing industry. That’s because, in the past five to ten years, online marketers have learned to game search engines too well, so search companies were forced to rethink the way their search engines work in order to serve more relevant search results, not just the results of the companies with the most cash to spend. 

How Did Social Media Take Over SEO?

    The marketing industry’s relentless gaming of the system actually caused a significant drop in search performance, which is really bad for the good ol’ fashioned web surfer. And that’s really bad for the search companies, which are arguably the heart and veins of the Web.

    Marketers would game search engines by manipulating backlink counts. At the time, Google assumed that pages with the most backlinks are the most relevant and carry the most authority. For example, a New York Times article may be reposted, curated and outright copied thousands of times across the Web, which would create tons of backlinks to the original article. Google realized that such articles must be important because it is the target of so many links. But what happens if an online marketer pays a few teenagers to build some artificial backlinks to that article?

    What if it’s not a few links; what if it’s a few thousand links? What if it’s a few million links? In Google’s eyes, the page must be important, but if its backlinks are not genuine, chances are it’s not relevant to the end user. As a result, fake backlinks became a real problem, real fast. 

    Google had to diminish the SEO power of backlinking, but how would it measure authority without giving backlinks so much weight? Google learned that another signal of important content is social engagement, meaning the sharing, “liking”, reposting, commenting, etc. of keywords, content, links and brands. This is why social media has taken over SEO.

How do you adjust your SEO strategy?

    Now, how can your company take advantage of the new search algorithms? First, read Google’s just-released-to-the-public Search Quality Ratings Guidelines, which the company hands out to evaluators that manually rate pages for search relevancy. You’ll learn some critical stuff, but we’ve also made a quick and dirty best-practice list to help you get started fast. Check it out below: 

+ Google and search engines prefer user friendliness over relentless keyword optimization. Over-optimization can actually hurt you, and hiding keywords with invisible text or coding tricks is a red flag to Google. It was a cheap trick that worked back in the day, but those days are over. 

+ Set up sharing buttons on all your posts or product pages. If you run an e-commerce store, set up the sharing buttons on the product pages. You also need obvious links to your blog and other social-media accounts. A user shouldn’t have to think twice after deciding to take a few seconds out of his day to visit your brand’s social-media profiles. 

+ Content is still king (you just have to make sure it’s shared over social media). Before this year, you could submit your latest blog post to your SEO company, and suddenly you’d have hundreds or thousands of backlinks that push your post to the top of search-results lists. It’s not so easy anymore. You need real fans, not dead social-media profiles, to share your content. Work on social-media recruitment, and stop relying on services that fill your social-media profiles with fake fans. 

+ Use a tool or company to find poor quality backlinks, and remove them. If you paid for backlinks, chances are they are now hurting your search engine performance. 

+ If you need real fans and followers, that also means you’ll have to work on improving your content. Ugly, over-optimized content just don’t cut it anymore. It must really appeal to your fan base. Otherwise, it’s dead in the water. Amazing content is king.

+ Don’t forget about your robot.txt file and other website optimization. This makes it easy for search engines to find relevant content on your website, and it also boosts load speed to prevent impatient users from leaving too quickly.

+ Take advantage of Schema.org microdata markup. This is the next level of meta tagging, and all the major search engines use it to read and understand the content on websites. In the eyes of a search engine, it defines content, such as “article” or “product”. Otherwise, content is just code and keywords, which is not good enough if you want to boost your SEO to the max. Schema.org also competes with Facebook’s Open Graph protocol, so Google will use it more as Open Graph becomes more widespread. Actually, Schema.org may prevent the widespread adoption of Open Graph since it’s more open and doesn’t require integration of Facebook’s proprietary API, JavaScript and other Facebook annoyances. Also, it was launched and widely implemented before OG.

    If you plan to integrate your business with OG, the best thing to do is to learn it, understand it and, if you decide it’s worth your time and effort, plan it into a long-term strategy. This is exactly our strategy at AnyPromo.com.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

This is Why Good Design Powers Big Business

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By Fausto Mendez

Good design goes beyond aesthetics; it’s about the whole experience. When done well, design is virtually invisible. It gets out of the way to allow you to get stuff done. As a result, when your business, its operational materials and its marketing materials are designed well, your customers never have to think about engaging in business with you. It just happens, like walking or breathing.

    We thoroughly enjoyed 12most’s article on good design as the investment that differentiates good businesses from great businesses. We break down the “hows” and “whys” below, but the whole thing is worth a read if you have more time.

+ It makes you stand out. Spend a little extra on an exceptional artist for your logo and any costumer-facing marketing materials to make the most of every moment.

+ It impacts the public’s perception of your brand. I’m sure you’ve heard the following nugget of wisdom before: “It’s not about what you say. It’s about how you say it.” For example, Starbucks doesn’t just sell coffee. The entire coffee-buying experience at Starbucks is unique in a way that makes it easy, enjoyable, effortless and - most importantly - thoughtless.

+ It makes your message understandable and memorable. Consider the difference between an encyclopedia and the Discovery Channel. Whether you’re talking about aesthetics, creative copy or user experience, you want to produce a message that is easy to swallow (and tasty too). Last week’s article on how to improve your marketing copy is a good place to start if you’re thinking about improving your writing talent.

+ It makes for an enjoyable customer experience. No matter the industry, customers want to enjoy themselves. Also, the more enjoyable a moment, the more likely it is to be remembered.

+ It makes you relevant or credible. There is an old saying: “If you’re right, appear right.” In other words, people make a connection between what they feel is true and what is actually true. If those two line up perfectly, you’ve hit the jackpot. If they don’t line up, you’ve successfully confused your customers and maybe even your own employees.

+ It makes you trustworthy. Good design requires intelligence, creativity and an above-average sense of the human experience, and people tend to trust people with those qualities - whether they realize it or not.

+ It boosts efficiency. When you automate processes and remove paths that lead away from the end goal, everything happens with less effort, less confusion and less waste. Good design also makes it easier for managers to understand the way their company works, which helps them have a greater understanding of company as a whole.

+ It makes your employees feel better. Putting on the right outfit for work can make a huge difference in your confidence and capability. In the same way, working for a company that is designed well is great for employee morale. Employees hate working for a company that can’t recognize and fix its faults.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

How to Make the Ultimate Cake Pops

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You probably know that giving out food, especially sweets, is an easy way to boost potential clients’ focus on your sales pitch, but it also helps to provide exceptional delights in the meeting room for added emotional effect. After all, the more emotional a moment, the more memorable it is.

    We love this tutorial on baking and making the “ultimate” cake pops, courtesy of the Frugalette. I warn you: use this power wisely. Everyone that eats these pops may come back to you for more, so don’t give ‘em to anyone you don’t want to see again! 

   Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

12 Tips to Be the Business Leader Others Need and Want

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    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.

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