• Learn How to Build a Powerful Personal Brand That Will Differentiate You and Allow You To Compete in the Global Marketplace.
  • 6 Tips for Content That Converts

    Name a major company, and you can bet it invests in content marketing. Among those with 100 or more employees, 84.5 percent use the tactic to build awareness and generate leads. So why is it that barely half of B2B marketers think it produces “good” ROI?

    The reason is simple: Not all content converts. Content must be aligned with its audience, on brand, compelling, and helpful to actually make a dent. On top of that, it needs to be part of a marketing funnel that drives readers to take the desired action.

    Even if your content is producing some conversions, it could almost certainly create more. To optimize your content marketing:

    1. Personalize, but don’t get carried away.

    Customized content will always outperform generalized material for a simple reason: Consumers want content that’s relevant to them.

    Email is one of the most effective channels for customization, but today’s readers expect more than just a customized greeting. Persona-specific emails can improve click-through rates significantly, and they’re particularly effective for companies that cater to diverse audiences.

    Hook your audience by building meaningful personas based on demographics and psychographics, but know when to stop. B2B agency Renegade’s CEO, Drew Neisser, points out that the law of diminishing returns applies to personas — a lot of brands waste money by over-segmenting. That over-segmentation can lead to a splintered brand message, so Neisser emphasizes cohesive messaging. Don’t let personalization take you too far away from your brand story.

    2. Deliver real value.

    At the end of the day, you want your content to be useful to those who see it. Consumers are smart enough to spot thinly veiled product pitches. To ensure you’re delivering value, Lindsay Kolowich, a team manager at HubSpot, recommends writing to a single person.

    Think back to those demographics and psychographics. What problem is your user trying to solve, or what opportunity might she want to tap? Then, consider how your product or service fits in. You don’t want to pitch it directly, but do steer the content in its direction.

    Say you sell lawn and garden equipment. A homeowner might simply want a faster way to cut the grass, but a professional landscaper may care about beauty above speed. Before writing the first sentence of your post, determine which person’s need you want to address. 

    3. Pick platforms wisely. 

    Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are just the start. Newer sites like TikTok, Kik, and Houseparty offer additional options for reaching your audience members where they are. Yet many marketers continue to treat social media monolithically, blasting the same content regardless of site.

    Each platform has a different set of rules — written and unwritten — that dictate which posts are successful. Shopify’s content marketing manager, Braveen Kumar, explains that snark, sarcasm, and inside jokes resonate with Redditors. Kumar also emphasizes the importance of choosing the right subreddit and participating in discussions.

    Before posting from a branded account, spend an hour scrolling through top posts. If the community seems like one that would be receptive to your brand, comment on others’ posts. Avoid making too much of a splash until you know how you’ll be received: Posting a few times and then abandoning the platform looks worse on your brand than skipping the site altogether. 

    4. Promote the right way. 

    With different platforms come different promotional tools. When Instagram announced its new promotion mechanism, the photo-sharing site revealed that 68 percent of all users come to the platform to engage with content creators. No wonder branded content ads and influencer marketing are particularly successful on Instagram.

    Other promotion options exist outside social media. Via Google, many content creators invest in paid search, a model in which the advertiser only pays when a user clicks through to the target site. Search engine optimization is a popular alternative: SEO focuses on optimizing the target site and content itself to encourage Google to list it higher in search engine results.

    With any promotional tactic you can name, studies exist showing it’s the most effective. Instead of treating any one as gospel, experiment. On YouTube, for instance, you might invest a little in pre-roll ads, a little in skippable ads, and a little in overlay ads. Scale your investments according to performance.

    5. Default to video. 

    Cisco reports that this year, video will account for 80 to 90 percent of all traffic on the internet. Although that figure might make you worry about your video getting lost in the shuffle, don’t be: One reason video claims so much bandwidth is because consumers love to share it. If your goal is to boost brand awareness, video is the obvious path forward.

    The difficult choice is picking the right type of video. Should you go for a six-second short that makes people laugh or a long-format one that elicits deep engagement? Think back to your goals: If you’re looking for leads, something brief with a call to action at the end is your best bet. For awareness, longer features may be better.

    With either option, skip celebrities and show real people. Lexus’ “Takumi” is a 60,000-hour documentary that honors the Japanese craftsmen behind its cars. Not only would the video be prohibitively expensive if Lexus had hired big-name actors, but it also wouldn’t have had the sense of authenticity Lexus was looking for. 

    6. Be human.

    Speaking of authenticity, the most impactful content is rarely the flashiest. According to SEO expert Kristopher Jones, authenticity boils down to honesty. Authentic content is upfront about its value, casual in style, and unapologetic about its author’s perspective.

    Spend time with your content. Don’t be afraid to throw away the first draft, and don’t worry about whether it makes you sound “smart” enough. Deliver tips plainly, but with ample explanation. Lastly, make sure you byline someone specific. Unless you have reason to believe the content will be a magnet for trolls, allow users to respond and engage with comments.

    In the world of content marketing, conversion is the name of the game. But producing conversions isn’t as simple as posting memes or pumping out product guides. Think about what your readers want to know, address them directly, and don’t be afraid to have some fun with them.

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    Posted in Marketing

    3 Things Employees Need to Make Data-Driven Decisions

    Many companies roll out a new business intelligence strategy with high hopes, only to experience underwhelming employee adoption rates and a low return on investment. This situation understandably leaves leaders scratching their heads wondering, “What happened?”

    To put it simply: Becoming a data-driven organization requires more than simply deploying new business intelligence (BI) software or ordering employees to turn to data more often in their daily decision making.

    Here are three things employees need to make data-driven decisions to fuel positive business outcomes.

    Data-Driven Company Culture

    Employee decisions don’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, employees’ attitudes about data and their willingness to embrace it into their workflows are very much shaped by the overall company culture.

    Here are a few key cultural factors capable of affecting how employees treat data:

    • How leaders use data, talk about data and encourage others to do so
    • The expectations surrounding data usage
    • The degree to which employee decisions are taken seriously, implemented and rewarded

    It’s counterintuitive to expect employees to embrace data and incorporate it into regular decision making if leaders seem to be making little effort to do so publicly. Similarly, if an employee sees a colleague stick their neck out to make a suggestion based on data and it’s received lukewarmly or ignored by the rest of the team, they may feel deterred from doing so in the future — and justifiably so. As CIO writes, “Data without decisions is like burying your money in the ground.”

    Data-driven culture starts with setting clear expectations, leading by example from the top down and demonstrating to employees their data efforts tangibly affect decision-making and performance.

    Accessible Business Intelligence Tools

    Employees will also need access to user friendly business intelligence tools to optimize decision-making. Today platforms like ThoughtSpot offer search-driven data analytics tools — allowing employees to ask specific questions and explore queries— plus artificial intelligence-driven analytics to automatically uncover hidden insights lurking within data.

    This multi-pronged approach gives employees ad hoc answers to all the questions they have in seconds without requiring them to wait for a report. It also helps alert users to patterns and anomalies that could otherwise hide within billions of rows of data forever, just waiting for someone to notice it.

    Modern BI tools offer a few key advantages over their legacy counterparts, including the ability to embed BI throughout existing applications and workflows. Todays’ tools also emphasize user friendliness for non-technical users, which means everyone can access insights without needing in-depth training or constant oversight from IT professionals.

    Data Literacy Training

    BI tools themselves may be accessible to all, but employees can still benefit from having deeper context for data insights they find. This means companies should invest in data literacy training to provide the foundation for interpreting and analyzing data.

    Here’s an example of data literacy in action from Transforming Data with Intelligence: Airbnb found it was not feasible to have a data scientist always present to inform every decision, especially with more than 20 international offices. So, the company launched Data University to provide education to engineers, product managers, designers and everyone else — including how to analyze and visualize data, then incorporate findings into decision making. The result? Employees learned how to handle ad hoc data requests without turning to data specialists, and engagement on its data platform doubled within a year.

    Employees need data literacy training, the right BI tools and a data-driven culture to fully incorporate data insights into decision making.

     

     

    Posted in Skill Development

    Personal Branding Tips For Executives In “Boring” Industries

    Building a personal brand is all about capturing attention. If you work in a “boring” industry, it can be tough to communicate the key benefits that differentiate you from competitors. Especially when you work in an industry that’s not usually the topic of conversation or trending on social media.

    Take the VoIP industry, a very boring industry. It’s hard to make VOIP stand out or make it “sexy”. People don’t usually turn to VoIP companies for engaging content, actionable educational or entertainment. But with the right attitude and the ability to produce quality content, leaders even in the boring Cloud VoIP industry can gain recognition and build an audience. (I’ll show you a real life example in bullet #1 below).

    In this article I’ll show you real examples of how to capture your target market’s attention, convert them into stark raving fans, and build your personal brand even when you’re in a boring industry.

    Ready? Let’s roll!

    1. Be Bold. Be Authentic. 

    Wallflowers and shrinking violets don’t build brands. People who are bold and enthusiastic do. For executives looking to make their mark and build a brand, being a hands-on, in the trenches type of person translates into authentic experience.

    You don’t want to be the kind of exec that takes all the credit and not know how anything works. If your team does the heavy lifting while you get the kudos but you can’t explain how your widget works, then people are not going to respect your opinion.

    Someone who shows they know what they are doing and can express their “Why” is going to be more authentic.

    Don’t be afraid to have an opinion and share it, even if it happens to touch on the politics of the day. If it is earnest, authentic and well-thought-out—not some emotionally charged overreaction—then boldly proclaim it and let the discourse begin. That is what builds engagement, followers, and brands. 

    Those who take a position and confidently support their way of thinking are more likely to stand out 

    People value leaders who are confident and don’t flip-flop on their beliefs just to appease the masses. Sure, some feathers may get ruffled, but how many low-key, wishy-washy executives can you name? Exactly. You can’t name many because they don’t stand out and nobody knows who they are.

    2. Share Actionable Expertise

    Just because your industry isn’t interesting doesn’t mean no one is interested. You can still share your knowledge and expertise to build your brand. Take Ryan Stewman, the sales and marketing expert who runs a sales training called The Hardcore Closer.

    Ryan gained a loyal following talking about lead generation. He has built a multi-million dollar business by taking what has worked for him, sharing it, and monetizing it.

    Ryan was on the cutting edge of using social media and videos to promote himself and connect with people when he started in sales. Because of his success, he started to teach other salespeople how to use social media to connect with people and use tools for lead generation. 

    He built a lead generation software company called Phonesites that helps salespeople create their own sales funnels. He offered free training on Facebook live and produced free content in the form of articles and training videos.

    Sharing his expertise helped grow his personal brand which has allowed him to scale into other successful business ventures. He’s doing it right.

    Chris the founder of SalesMessage is another great example. He has been using SMS texting to communicate with anyone who contacts their business or even subscribes to their webinars, events, or blog. 

    He shares actionable tips, tricks and information while trying to covert some of the leads who contact him and gets a whopping 70% response rate on SMS texts. He recently shared the complete set of sample text messages to send to customers on his blog. He engages his potential customers and build his following.

    But, one of the biggest mistakes you can make in personal branding is to be and act like someone you are not. You will eventually be outed, caught, or exposed. 

    When building a personal brand, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not or have expertise when you don’t.

    Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of the once highly-touted blood-testing startup Theranos, was once the darling of Silicon Valley. She was seen as an influencer and visionary in the same vein as Steve Jobs.

    Theranos WAS Elizabeth Holmes and her personal brand of being a healthcare wunderkind carried the firm. Unfortunately for many people, the whole company and the whole story was a massive fraud. She faked her expertise and knowledge, the company was exposed and now it is no more.

    A personal brand built on lies and half-truths will come back to bite you.

    3. Be the MVP of Value

    If you want to really stand out, you must be useful and add maximum value at all times. Do this by offering free info, training, and content about your industry and share that info while speaking at events and on podcasts.

    We’re talking about sharing real expertise, not just thoughts or opinions, but practical knowledge that comes from actually having done the work.

    Jack Kosakowski kills it here. Jack has been providing actionable social selling advice and content for over 5 years. With his SkillsLab social selling site, he has been helping salespeople to increase their presence through social media and how to correctly connect with—and sell to—their target clients. 

    Value comes from experience. Jack has churned out content on social media, his blog, publications like The Harvard Business Review, and on podcasts—continually sharing what has worked for him, and how it took him from a newbie salesperson to the CEO of the US division of a Global Digital Agency.

    4. Stop Selling and Build Trust Instead

    Look, you don’t need to be Billy Mays or the ShamWow guy, pitching and promoting all day while operators are standing by. Constantly pushing product is exhausting. But talking and engaging with people in your own voice—your true self—and showing them how to succeed with examples and actionable ideas will build trust.

    When you let people see the real you, trust is built and your brand strengthens and attracts new prospects.

    Trust isn’t built by speaking AT people. It’s built by engaging and speaking WITH with your audience.

    People like to do business with people they know, like and trust. And that’s usually not the guy with the bullhorn shouting “Look at me! Look at me!” Differentiate yourself by sharing knowledge from real-world experience in an authentic, engaging way that creates value and trustworthiness. This will build your personal brand.

    When someone needs to seek out info in your industry, you will be top-of-mind because you will be the rockstar of your “boring” industry. They will come to you for the value you provide because you’ve built trust due to engagement, value, and expertise. 

     

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    Posted in Personal Branding

    4 Ways to Increase Customer Renewals

    American companies lose nearly $140 billion annually to avoidable customer churn — that’s a number that would be frightening if it didn’t make so much sense. Businesses lose customers all the time, and it’s not always for good reasons. 

    Regular customer renewal is critical to business. It’s no secret that taking on a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an old one. If you’re hoping to keep revenue up and costs down as time goes on, you need a viable customer retention strategy in place. 

    Keeping customers means meeting their needs and treating them with respect. But what does that look like in a practical context? If you’re hoping to increase customer renewals both now and in the long term, there are some absolute musts to consider. 

    1. Keep it personal.

    Consumers respond to personal attention — the average person is willing to spend 17% more when doing business with companies that provide good service. While highly personal service should always be the goal, businesses rarely have the manpower to make it a reality across the board.

    Automation tools can give your communications a personal edge. Workflow automation from providers like Mixmax can give you the tools to create custom email templates, connect with clients, and automate internal manual processes. Automation helps ease the burden of connecting with all of your customers. 

    2. Make them automatic.

    At the end of the day, most of us are just lazy. If there are two options available and one requires no effort at all, most will choose that option. 

    That’s the logic behind automatic renewals. By letting your customers’ accounts and payments renew automatically, you’ll follow the footsteps of brands like Costco. This process maximizes retention by making the process incredibly easy for customers. 

    That being said, you should never make it difficult to cancel a service. If a customer wants out, it’s in your best interests to part ways quickly and cleanly. Automatic renewals are a good way to make customer retention the norm, but don’t keep any of your customers trapped in the long run.

    3. Streamline the process. 

    Automatic renewals might not be right for you or your business. That doesn’t mean you can ignore the whole process of renewal itself. Companies need to stay as focused as possible on making their onboarding and retention process functional: 48% of consumers have left a product’s website for another simply because the experience was confusing or poorly curated. 

    The fix here is simple: Make renewal a breeze. If you’re not doing automatic, make the steps obvious, clear, and easy. All types of people and businesses are liable to use your company; make sure you have a customer retention format that fits as many different experiences as possible. 

    4. Don’t cut them off.

    Let’s say one of your customers is out. He doesn’t want your product or service anymore, and that’s that. What do you do? Most businesses would immediately suspend service and call it a day. While this might make sense in terms of immediate cost, this can incur other problems down the line. 

    Consider providing your service for some additional amount of time while reminding customers that they can pay to renew at any time. Possibly even offer a “parting gift” of sorts, like a renewal discount for the future. Leaving your customers on good terms is not only a great way to boost your business’s reputation, but it’s also a good way to get departing clients to return. Research from McKinsey & Company shows that satisfied customers are almost universally more likely to upgrade or retain a service than dissatisfied customers.

    No business can really work without return customers. Loyal patrons are what keep every kind of business afloat, from big-box stores to web design firms and everything in between. As critical as customer acquisition is, customer retention makes every new acquisition that much more valuable. 

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    Posted in Positioning

    How to Make a Logo that Perfectly Matches your Brand

    You may know this already, but your company logo is the beating heart of your brand. Your rivals, leads, and customers will judge your business with your logo. So, it has to be perfect. The question is, how do you create a perfect logo in the first place? In this post, you will get all the answers!

    It doesn’t matter if you appoint a professional graphics designer if you create a logo on your own by using online tools like logo makers, the following are some of the basic rules that you need to follow in any case:

    Pick the Right Colors

    When it comes to branding, then the visuals are everything. And when we talk about visuals, then colors become a priority.

    Professional graphics designers understand the importance of good colors in a logo. This is because different colors work differently for different brands- green for eco-friendly and green brands, blue for IT companies, etc. However, there are some rules that you need to follow here too. For instance, your logo should look good even in black and white, i.e. in greyscale. You should also try to use colors that are close to each other on the color wheel i.e. red with yellow or orange, and blue with purple and pink.

    Test in Different Sizes

    A top-notch logo is versatile. In other words, it looks good when it’s scaled up and also when scaled down. This quality is important because you use the logo in a variety of places- massive billboards, small pens, and even electronic forms like digital ads, social media banners, etc.

    When designing a versatile logo, you should pay attention to the font as the typography is what will be affected the most after resizing. If the font is illegible when you reduce the scale of the logo, then it’s better to find another font. Also, make sure that you don’t use too many fonts as that’s one of the most common logo design mistakes that amateur logo designers make.

    Go for Recognition

    A logo will fail its purpose if it’s recognized easily. Think of popular brands like Apple, it’s logo is attractive and iconic that they are recognized by a large number of people in the world. It has a lot to do with another key quality of a perfect logo, which is simplicity.

    Simple logos that are creative are more likely to work and get the desired results with your branding endeavors compared to logos that are unnecessarily elaborate and complex. So, whether you are using a logo for personal branding or company branding, you must take a simpler approach in the design process.

    Keep it Original

    If you haven’t created a logo before, and even if you have, you are likely to refer to some popular designs in the industry for inspiration. The practice is common with professionals even. However, you need to know where to draw a line between drawing inspiration and brazenly copying design elements of a logo in yours. No matter how many designs you study, your own logo should be original and based on your own ideas.

    Apart from preventing replicating attractive design elements, you should also avoid clichés. For instance, you will find countless logos for messaging services that use speech bubbles to show “communication”, or lightening icon to represent “speed”. These ideas have been used numerous times, so much that they now reflect nothing but laziness and a lack of imagination. You don’t want to show that to your target demographic under no circumstances.

    Conclusion

    Creating a perfect logo doesn’t have to be an impossible task. There are ways to make the process simpler and easier. Doing research beforehand alone can prevent unnecessary effort and time you need to invest. So, go through the information that’s shared above, and you are likely to get excellent results in a few attempts. Good luck and have fun!

     

     

     

     

    Posted in Corporate Branding, Marketing

    How to Use Email Software to Immediately Boost Your Email Efficiency

    A lot of time is wasted on email management all over the world. In fact, The Radicati Group estimates that we sent 281+ billion personal and professional emails per day in 2018, so it’s little wonder that a large percentage of American professionals’ days are spent reading and answering emails. 

    But Right Inbox can help change that. This simple Chrome extension will allow you to schedule emails ahead of time, integrate your inbox with your CRM, and track the performance of your emails over time.  

    And these are just a handful of the many features offered by Right Inbox.

    Installing Right Inbox

    Downloading Right Inbox is incredibly simple. Simply navigate to the Add to Gmail button in the top right-hand side of the Right Inbox website, then click Add to Chrome. 

    When you first start writing a new email in Gmail, you’ll see two lines of helpful features, the first at the top, and the second below the Send button. 

    New features

    In September 2019, Right Inbox 10 was launched to include the following features, which we’ll expand on below:

    • Signatures – Save and access your favorite sign-offs.
    • Templates – Save your most effective messages as templates to use later on.
    • Sequences – Set up automated follow-up emails. 
    • CRM sync – Link your Gmail account with your CRM for extra insights. 
    • GIFS – Bring your message to life with an animated visual. 

    Key features

    Recurring emails 

    If you’re an individual or business sending the same emails over and over again, you could be wasting a lot of time unnecessarily. 

    For example, a restaurant might need to circulate their latest menu, or a finance director might need to remind staff to fill in their expense forms at the end of the month. Right Inbox lets you automate these activities and save lots of time in the process. 

    First, you need to compose your email, entering the relevant recipients and subject line. Click on the Recurring button at the bottom of the compose window, and choose the regularity of the email, the day of the week, and the time of day (including time zone if needed). You can even add a start and end date. 

    Once you’ve set the parameters, the recurring emails will be sent automatically from your inbox to the recipients at the time, date, and frequency you’ve specified.

    Email signatures

    If you’re sending out various types of emails, such as cold emails to unknown recipients or seasonal greetings to friends and colleagues, chances are you’ll sign off emails in different ways.

    Fortunately, Right Inbox lets you save a selection of your email signatures and quickly access them with the click of a button. 

    At the top of your new email window, click the Signature button, then Manage Signatures. From there you can set up your signatures, where they’ll be stored for you to access when you need them.       

    Send later

    One of Right Inbox’s latest features is the Send Later button. This is a bonus for people who need to send time-sensitive messages or who are mindful of time zones.

    In the menu of the Send Later button at the bottom of the compose window, you can choose from a list of preset time delays, or you can customize your own. When you’ve clicked Send, your message will be saved in the Send Later folder until it’s sent at the specified time.

    Email reminders

    If you have complicated email sequences to keep on top of, Right Inbox can be set up to remind you about an email conversation at a time that’s relevant to you. 

    You can choose from the preset times, choose a specific time, or customize your own menu so you can easily access the times that make the most sense to you. 

    Email notes

    When used in conjunction with email reminders, email notes help you stay on top of your email conversations in a way that’s tailored to you. 

    When you add a note to an email conversation, only you will see that note, and they don’t get in the way of your email content. 

    Templates

    When you send lots of marketing emails, you tend to discover which emails work and which ones don’t. Whether it’s a slight change in the subject line, or a visual that stands out, the emails that work are worth their weight in gold. Right Inbox lets you save your favorite templates for this very reason. 

    At the top of the compose email, click on the Template button and go to Manage Templates. 

    Here, you can create different templates for the different messages you’ll need to send, and access them quickly next time you need to send that type of message. 

    Email sequences

    A large chunk of your time may well be taken up monitoring and chasing those who haven’t responded to your latest sales or marketing messages. 

    Right Inbox can help with this by letting you set up email sequences that automate the process for you. 

    When you click on the Sequences button at the top of the email composer, you can choose to Manage Sequences. 

    Here, you can set up multiple stages, inserting the appropriate message for that particular stage. Once you’ve saved and activated the sequence, the emails will be triggered, unless a reply to the original message is received. 

    CRM integrations

    Right Inbox can also be integrated with most major CRM systems, allowing you to sync up your emails with your CRM so that you can track and monitor them. 

    At the bottom of the message window, you’ll see the integration button (it looks like a small jigsaw piece), which will take you to a choice of CRM systems.    

    Right Inbox also lets you determine which email threads are synced, and which are not. You can set your emails to sync automatically with your CRM and then click the checkbox when you don’t want a thread to be synced. 

    Embedding GIFs

    If you find yourself sending out far too many dry sales or marketing messages, then GIFs are a quirky way of catching the eye of your recipients. 

    Right Inbox has teamed up with Giphy, so you can browse their GIF library and even save your favorites, all from within Gmail. 

    In summary

    Right Inbox’s pricing model is relatively flexible. 

     

    The free version is available to everyone when they download the app, offering several features (but with monthly caps). 

     

    Or you can upgrade to an unlimited plan on a monthly subscription at $7.95/month (this is discounted by 25% when you sign up for a year) to receive extra features. Team plans are available at $6.95/month, and there’s a $1 per user discount. 

     

    Right Inbox is a super-helpful option for those who want to get more from their Gmail. It helps organize your inbox, schedule and automate messages, and even integrates with your CRM to track your email performance over time. Give it a try and boost your email efficiency right away. 

     

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    Posted in Personal Branding

    5 Best Personal Branding Speakers of 2019

    Every entrepreneur has a personal brand, but they don’t all build those brands themselves. Those who neglect personal branding are inevitably branded by others.

    Before the media or your competitors have a chance to paint your personal brand, be proactive. If you want to be seen as kind and thoughtful, for example, be generous with your team. Create content around what companies can do to treat their customers more empathetically. Make a point to share examples of other-focused businesses on social.

    Need some inspiration? These speakers are full of insights on how to define and build your personal brand:

    1. John Hall

    Author of the bestselling branding book “Top of Mind,” John Hall is known for being one of the better guest speakers that can speak to sales and many other industries. After exiting Influence & Co., a thought leadership company he co-founded, Hall co-founded time management tool Calendar. Through Calendar, he encourages leaders to use their time efficiently and build meaningful relationships. As a speaker, Hall is known for his helpfulness, authenticity, and down-to-earth approach. 

    2. AJ Vaden

    AJ Vaden, co-founder and CEO of Brand Builders Group, helps people reinvent and monetize their personal brands. Before she decided to start speaking about personal branding, Vaden served as a sales trainer for major financial organizations. She has also served as a mediation specialist and executive coach. Vaden’s speeches detail setbacks, strategies, and successes she’s had across 25 years of personal brand building.

    3. William Arruda

    Having co-founded Reach Personal Branding back in 2001, William Arruda is a veteran of personal branding. His latest initiative is Career Blast, a New York-based company he co-founded that provides professional development via bite-sized video lessons. Arruda’s “Ditch. Dare. Do!” book digs into personal branding for professionals, providing 66 ways they can become more influential and happier at the office.

    4. Dorie Clark

    An academic, author, and business communication consultant, Dorie Clark has done it all in the personal branding world. Published by Harvard Business Review Press, her “Entrepreneurial You” helps leaders think more entrepreneurially in order to succeed in the 21st-century economy. At Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, she teaches executive communication skills and personal branding. Having also worked as a journalist, Clark’s speeches are informative, engaging, and fact-based.

    5. Patrick Ambron

    To help leaders protect their online reputation, Patrick Ambron co-founded BrandYourself in 2009. Ambron takes two approaches to personal branding: The first is removing elements that might hurt one’s brand, such as negative Google search results. The other is adding what he calls “reinforcing factors,” or content that showcases one’s brand in the right places online. Expect Ambron to share stories of personal brand reclamation in his speeches, as well as tips for preventing reputation damage in the first place.

    Whether you’re looking for a strict how-to speech or something more motivational, these personal branding speakers are sure to impress. Book one whose background aligns with your needs, and learn how to make your story shine.

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    Posted in Personal Branding, Success Strategies

    5 Creative Communities That Can Help You Level Up Your Skills

    Fertilizer is to plants what community is to creative professionals. With enough time, water, and sunlight, they grow themselves. But sprinkle on some peer feedback and support, and they grow faster and bigger than ever.

    Not long ago, finding that community was no easy task. To spot one that specialized in your medium, you had to check the paper, pick up fliers, and haunt the local library. Now, it’s as easy as pulling up your internet browser.

    Most online creative communities are medium-specific. Join as many as you can that align with your work and interests, and you’ll see your personal brand take on a new sparkle.

    Skill-Building Creative Communities

    There’s not a single personal brand that can’t be helped by boosted skills — and not a single one can be hurt by bringing stronger processes and craft to the table. Here are a few to consider as you build your skill set and portfolio:

    1. ViewBug

    Instagram may be having its moment in the sun, but the social image site isn’t necessarily the best community for serious creatives. Not only are many of its posts intended to impress friends rather than push artistic boundaries, but most users are there to follow their favorite influencers rather than give photographers feedback.

    Classes, contests, and photography challenges make ViewBug a more constructive photo community. Much like Instagram, ViewBug’s more than 2 million members “like” and comment on each others’ photos. Unlike Instagram, however, ViewBug users typically post details about their camera, the time when the photo was shot, and settings like focal length. By adding tags, such as “night” or “transportation,” they can see how it compares to shots of similar subjects. 

    2. Doodle Addicts

    If drawing is more to you than a way to kill time in meetings, check out Doodle Addicts. Featuring illustrations done with pen, pencil, charcoal, and paint, Doodle Addicts welcomes an enormous range of art styles. Some canvases are as small as Post-it notes, while others cover whole walls. Although its community is smaller than ViewBug’s, at 25,000 individuals, it does provide users many of the same features.

    Artists on Doodle Addicts can “like” and comment on each others’ work. They can use tags like “urban sketching” to see how others approach similar spaces and styles. Also like ViewBug, Doodle Addicts has a “Learn” section, which features tips on techniques and monetization. Doodle Addicts spotlights leading artists, but it invites everyone to participate in challenges in which winners receive gift cards or art supplies.

    3. Dribble

    Freelance opportunities for graphic designers are everywhere, but sites like 99designs are more about doing work for brands than actually building skills. Especially if you’re just getting started as a digital artist, check out Dribble. The platform does have “Designers” and “Jobs” sections, which help brands and artists find each other, but the heart of the site is its “Shots” page.

    Dribble claims that tens of millions of people view the site, though it’s not clear how many are actually members. Dribble also hosts meetups in major metro areas, which are great networking opportunities. Best of all, Dribble has a huge selection of discounts and deals. Designers can get everything from free business cards to automatic self-employment tax withholding.

    4. Absolute Write

    Although it doesn’t have the most beautiful interface, Absolute Write doesn’t need one. The site features a “Water Cooler” section with stories from more than 68,000 members. Content runs the gamut in terms of genre, from sci-fi to historical nonfiction, as well as length. Some posts qualify as flash fiction, while others approach the length of a novel.

    One of Absolute Write’s best features is its interviews with professional writers. It recently published an interview with Peter McLean, author of Priest of Bones, and another with Suzanne Palmer, who wrote the Hugo Award-winning novelette The Secret Life of Bots. For those new to the industry, Absolute Write provides tips for navigating the publishing industry, writing exercises, and Q&As with freelance writers.

    5. Filmmaker Forum

    For the same reason Instagram shouldn’t be photographers’ go-to creative community, YouTube isn’t necessarily the best place for budding videographers. Although it might be the go-to site for posting and viewing others’ videos, YouTube comments can be downright toxic. Rarely do they provide meaningful feedback on elements like lighting, perspective, or acting. 

    Although Filmmaker Forum’s “Articles” section isn’t particularly active, its actual forums have threads with hundreds and thousands of posts. Participants can get legal advice, chat about indie films, develop editing skills, and discuss distribution. Because Filmmaker Forum doesn’t actually host videos, users have to look elsewhere for feedback on their content specifically. 

    Whatever your artistic medium, the internet has a home for you. Contribute regularly, make connections, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Online or not, that’s how creatives go from good to great.

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    4 Ways to Plan for Your Business in 2020 and Beyond

    In business, planning for the future is as difficult as it is necessary. Branding your business, just like building your personal brand, means you have to think about the long term. What works in establishing your brand today might feel stale tomorrow. It’s impossible to know what the coming year might hold for your company — or others — but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing.

    Future-prepping means trying to assess what your company is going to need, both in the short and long term. Immediate planning means balancing budgets, identifying target markets, and anticipating industry changes. For longer-term planning, however, you have to think bigger.

    It’s hard to predict what’s coming next — or how it will affect your company. If you’re looking to build a sustainable business brand going forward, focus on these steps first:

    1. Invest in cutting-edge thought.

    Most people try to predict what’s going to happen down the line, but some actually know what they’re talking about. Thinkers on the bleeding edge of their fields aren’t easy to come by, but their insights can be invaluable for helping your business thrive well into the future.

    Whether it’s an outside consultant or one of the country’s best futurist speakers, finding an expert with insights relevant to your business can go a long way. Whether it’s blockchain, the Internet of Things, dynamic ads, or something else entirely, expertise in a sector you want to capitalize on can give your brand a powerful edge moving forward. 

    2. Make it digital. 

    You’ve heard it before: Digital platforms are the way of the future. But what does this mean for your company? Sure, more and more business is done digitally every year, but what else can be done on computers that isn’t already? 

    As it turns out, quite a bit. Telecommuting is surely poised to take over as time goes on — more than two-thirds of managers report an increase in productivity from remote workers. Remote work can save money on commuting and office overhead as well. Similarly, video conferencing looks to slash travel costs while enabling businesses to enjoy more personal face-to-face communication than ever before.

    Anything from accounting to marketing could almost certainly be streamlined using a digital platform, so how is your company preparing?

    3. Go green. 

    It’s not just a trend — consumers are increasingly looking toward companies that have environmentalism at the heart of their message. More than 70% of consumers are willing to pay a premium of at least 5% for more sustainable products, with many happy to pay even more. By taking the green revolution to your office, you can significantly increase your brand’s standing with a large number of consumers.

    It’s not just about image, either. As time goes on, renewable energy gets cheaper. Switching your business’s infrastructure to more sustainable power sources now can save you big bucks down the line. A more energy-efficient office can also slash power bills. When it comes to greening your business, it’s an investment in your company’s success, both now and in the future.

    4. Automate the right way. 

    Everyone has heard that robots are coming for humans’ jobs. While that may not be completely true, it is true that automation is becoming a more valuable tool for businesses every single day. Marketing automation alone has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry in less than a decade — and other sectors are looking to follow suit. 

    One of the best places to start the automation process is with menial tasks that prevent workers from doing the valuable work you hired them for. Look for automation platforms that do things like store email templates or perform mundane customer service. By eliminating those tasks, your workers can focus more on expansion and increasing revenue. 

    Businesses planning for the future need to account for the fact that their competitors will increasingly automate their workflow, and you’ll have to do the same to keep up. Automating at random isn’t going to cut it — you need to develop a strategy for automating the tasks the currently drag your team down the hardest and go from there. 

    Planning for the future might sometimes sound like science fiction, but it’s very real. Businesses that stay on the bleeding edge of what’s happening are far more likely to survive and thrive as time goes on. If you want to make 2020 and beyond work for your brand, you need to stay ahead of the curve. 

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    Posted in entrepreneurship, Positioning, Success Strategies

    She’s Using Sassy Facebook Posts To Market Her Accounting Firm

    Rachel Michaelov is on mission build her accounting business into a multi-million dollar enterprise. You’d think accounting is boring, but Rachel’s Facebook posts, punctuated throughout the day with color and vibrancy show that she sees accounting quite a bit differently.

    I was clued into Rachel by Ramon Ray an entrepreneur and producer of the 14th Annual Smart Hustle Growth Conference in New York City. 

    At his conference Ramon is bringing together successful businesses owners to share their growth insights. Some of the speakers include Deepti Sharma, founder of FoodToEat – she’s helping women and minorities build their catering businesses; John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing will speak how to build a self-reliant business; Mark Levy, brand positioning coach to Simon Sinek will give his insights on finding your ONE BIG IDEA; Josh Cohen of Junk Luggers will share how he grew from borrowing his mom’s car to a multi-million dollar franchise.

    And of course Rachel! Rachel says that Facebook is one of the keys to her marketing success. It’s not just “Facebook” but it’s HOW she’s using Facebook!

    While so many business owners focus on advertising on Facebook, which is important, Rachel focuses on telling stories through her posts. It’s FREE. She tells captivating stories about her client’s success or business owners who have screwed up. One of her recent posts read:

    I don’t know how businesses hire unlicensed accountants to do their taxes.. it’s literally like hiring unlicensed doctors to perform surgery on you!

    I just don’t get it..This is the kind of post that draws you in and makes you sit up and take notice Sure, it’s “fear based marketing” but it works. Another post Rachel recently made, in big white letter with a pink background reads:

    You still need to file corporate tax returns even if you had NO income.

    It’s informative posts like this that make Rachel a go to source for accounting insights, and she’s converting these followers and fans into customers. For sure, it’s getting harder and harder to use social media organically. In order to reach a wider audience most of us have to invest money in advertising. However, you can see from Rachel’s example that by being focused and frequent you can build a loyal following of fans on social media who over time will become your customers.

    Here’s how to get the most out of social platforms and not spend money on advertising.

    • Be consistent
      Posting here and there is no good. Train your fans and followers that every Sunday at 8pm, or Thursday at 11am, you’ll be posting something.
    • Be frequent
      To build a fan base on social media you have to keep at it. After 3 months of posting something on Twitter and you stop? You won’t get results. Give yourself 3 – 6 months of consistent, quality posting to start seeing results.
    • Be interesting
      Boring content is just as good as cold rice. No one likes it. Let everything you post, be it plain text or an image, be interesting and of value for your readers.
    • Measure your results
      If what you’re doing does not work, try something else. Facebook has extensive analytics to gain insights into each post. Other social platforms have similar analytics tools. Take a look at what works, what resonates with your fans and what gets the most engagement. Do more of it.
    • Be responsive
      As people start to engage with you, make sure you engage bag. If people ask a question, make sure you answer and respond. Even if your team responds be sure to respond to your fans and followers.
    • The power of video
      For some people, video is tough. They’re shy. I get it. However, video is a powerful way to connect even better with your audience.

    Facebook can be big, scary and intimidating. However, if you keep things simple and focus on your AUDIENCE, how you can add value to them, how you can make their lives better, how you can serve them, you’ll be fine. Some of your posts might have to “scare” people into action. Other posts might “inspire” people into action. Other posts might give people a chuckle. Yet others might pull at their emotion.

    If Rachel can make accounting fun, sassy and interesting, you can do the same with your business!

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