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


    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. 

    Another tool to complement Right Inbox is Aeroleads. It allows you to find people’s emails that are leads in your pipeline.

    If there are any other tools I should have on my radar, let me know!


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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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    Posted in Career Development, Career Resources

    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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    Posted in brand matchup

    Direct Response Marketing Amplifies Social Media Results

    Social media has always been a strange marketing channel. On one hand, Facebook gave businesses a unique ability to find their markets and build relationships. No other marketing tool has been able to reach such large numbers of people and allow businesses to maintain a long-standing connection with them. Despite the ability to enact some type of direct response marketing tactics, those connections don’t immediately translate into sales.

    Social Media Content + Branding = Direct Response Marketing

    That’s where content marketing steps in. Typically described as “branding” or “engagement-building,” content marketing’s success has been measured by reactions and shares, not by sales. The sales come later.

    In many ways, companies are okay with that process. They know social media has contributed to those future purchases. In fact, it’s easier to land a new customer when the lead acknowledges they have a problem and knows there’s a solution.

    Even easier is when leads know and trust your solution. Facebook has been an ideal social media marketing solution for raising awareness about those solutions. The social media channel has also helped to build that trust. As a result, conversions can take place when the offer is made.

    Using Live Video to Propel Direct Response Marketing

    That’s especially true when it comes to live video on social media. Marketers who have used live video have found that there’s no better way to bring leads closer to a sale. Businesses can demonstrate their products, show people how to make the most of them, and emphasize the extra value customers receive from their purchase.

    At the same time, though, companies can communicate directly with their audiences. The ability to directly interact builds the trust necessary to convince people to buy from a particular brand.  For example, as viewers watch, sellers can answer questions and quash objections. They get a first-hand view of the benefits available from selecting that product.

    Until now, even live video hasn’t been able to close the deal. On the other hand, infomercials have always been able to show the price of the product, flash a phone number, and urge viewers to make a purchase. With live video, sending viewers to a sales page where they can take that action just hasn’t been the best process process.

    New Solutions For Direct Sales Results

    However, there may be a potential solution waiting in the wings. BeLive, which makes a leading third-party add-on for Facebook Live, recently launched a live shopping list feature. Users can now showcase their products, including item descriptions and prices during the live broadcast.

    It’s a simple feature. But, it’s one that promises to make a big difference not just to live video marketing but to social media marketing, in general.

    If marketers on a social media platform are able to present information about a product, including its price and sales points, and direct viewers to a place where they can make a purchase, then social media is no longer just about branding and engagement. It’s about sales.

    With this transfomation, it’s possible to add a new direct sales benefit to social media content. Marketers can leverage new techniques to finesse the content. Also, there are an expanded number of metrics to measure direct response marketing success.

    Although we’re not quite there yet, the direction is clear. Ssocial media marketing is moving toward direct sales. Are you ready, marketers?

    Posted in Personal Branding

    Branding yourself during a job interview – what should you know?

    Job interviews can trigger a lot of stress, especially if you don’t have that much experience with them. While you might be properly qualified for a certain position within a company, if you don’t do well at the interview, you won’t be able to land that job.

    But what exactly can you do to increase your success odds? How can you make a great first impression?

    The key to successful interview results is to know how to brand yourself. There are a few important aspects you should be aware of, which will make this type of experience seem less overwhelming, and will allow you to tackle any trick questions asked. Here are some useful pointers on the matter to keep in mind:

    Show up prepared

    Simply not being able to answer a common interview question will make you seem unprofessional in front of the recruiter, and will put you in a rather uncomfortable position. Being prepared is the most important thing here. What does that mean? Besides learning everything you can about the company and job you are applying for, make a list of questions you think could pop up during the interview, and prep some great answers.

    Nowadays, you have all the resources you need to learn the most compelling interview answer just by searching online. Sites such as algrim.co help you get acquainted with different interview topics, so you can easily understand what you should and shouldn’t say while discussing with your recruiter.

    Bring along your personal branding toolkit

    Presentation is often more relevant than skills and abilities. It’s up to you to build the image you want in front of a potential employer, and to start off on the right foot, you should bring a personal branding toolkit along. Besides the usual resume (which should be well written), business cards, cover letter, references should also be incorporated in the toolkit. If you’re applying for a job in the creative field, you should have your portfolio on you as well. All of these materials will help you “sell yourself” and will also likely impress your interviewer.

    Ask questions!

    Get involved in the conversation and show your interest in the job and in the company by asking questions. This will allow the recruiter to see you as thoughtful – you will be presenting yourself as someone who actually wants to know more about what the said enterprise does. Don’t let the interviewer be the only one asking questions.

    Work on your body language

    Your handshake, your facial expressions, your posture – all of these things matter during an interview and can make a difference in how seriously the recruiter actually takes you. Do a bit of practice at home and work on your body language until you get it right.

    These are the main factors to keep in mind when you are preparing yourself for an important job interview. The way you choose to brand yourself can be the thing that differentiates you from other candidates, and increases your odds of actually getting the job. Each interview is unique, but there are some standard questions that are likely to work in your favor. Look over these suggestions with care, and use each one to your advantage.

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    Posted in Personal Branding

    How to Apply a Procurement Strategy to Your Personal Life

    How do you decide what to buy and when to buy it? Odds are high that it comes down to two major factors: need and price. You know when you need to get something new, and you know what price works for your budget — but is that enough? 

    You may default to big-box stores like Walmart and Amazon, but the truth is that you have more vendor options than ever before. Mindlessly buying from the same distributors over and over again prevents you from finding the best and cheapest options out there. 

    The phrase “procurement strategy” means being more intentional about the things you purchase. Everything from extreme couponing to shopping exclusively online represents a procurement strategy. Yours should match not just your budget, but your lifestyle and personal brand.

    Brand, Meet Budget

    What you buy and where you buy it says a lot about you. If you’re an environmentalist, you probably patronize socially responsible brands like Patagonia. If you’re a deal hound, you shop at secondhand stores so you can wow your friends.

    Whoever you are, your brand has to fit your budget. Only 41 percent of Americans maintain a personal budget, a critical tool for maintaining your financial wellness. If you’re looking to create a personal procurement strategy that works for you, start by plotting out your expenses.

    First ask which products you truly need. Things like food, toilet paper, and soap are your non-negotiables. To get quality versions cheaply, take your cue from companies. As part of their procurement strategies, big businesses often turn to group purchasing organizations, or GPOs. GPOs use the leverage of their large client base to negotiate with distributors and manufacturers for lower prices. 

    While GPOs don’t cater to individuals, there are several similar options you can use in your personal procurement strategy. Membership-based wholesalers like Sam’s Club or Costco are brick-and-mortar options for getting the products you want at lower prices — but these options also force you to purchase a membership and buy in bulk. They also might not carry some of the specialty brands you appreciate.

    What’s the solution? Check online. Companies like Groupon offer special deals when a large enough customer base is willing to buy the product or service in question. As the Groupon model has grown in popularity, so have its competitors. Platforms like LivingSocial or Tippr also offer big discounts for consumers based on how many others buy in. 

    Getting What You Want

    While procurement strategies based on opting into group deals can save you money, they can’t afford you a lot of product flexibility. With Groupon and its competitors, you’re forced to stay in the confines of predetermined deals. When it comes to your brand, you should select the products that work best for you and find the right price from there.

    Say you want to be seen as a tech-friendly outdoorsman. Sure, you don’t need that $100 flashlight from REI that’s also an emergency beacon, bear spray, and battery backup — but it’s OK to splurge a bit on items that are tied to your personal brand.

    Start by checking outlets. Does the REI Outlet, which regularly discounts new but unsold items by half, have that do-it-all flashlight? Call around to brick-and-mortar locations, too: If thy want an outlet item off their shelves badly enough, they may even be willing to toss in extras like free shipping.

    Secondhand stores are a great place to find items like outdoor equipment as well. If it’s something that people tend to use once or twice before storing it in their garage, you can probably find a gently used version at a steep discount. There’s a reason that online resale stores are becoming a “new normal” for many shoppers.

    What if still can’t find that lynchpin of your personal brand at the price you need? Get creative. Can you barter with a friend for it? Can you volunteer to be a product tester? If you’re patient, might it go on sale soon? Outdoor equipment often gets marked down right as the leaves start to change color.

    Procurement strategies aren’t just for major corporations. You spend a lot of money every year; spend it intentionally. Developing a plan for how, when, and from whom you buy your products will give you more financial flexibility and get you closer to who want to be in the process.

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    Posted in Brand Yourself As, Positioning

    Four ways to help your franchise succeed

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    Four ways to help your franchise succeed (Picture of McDonald’s)

    When you take ownership of a franchise, you enter a professional environment that comes with a series of established benefits. These include a concise and easily learnable system of operations, including equipment that’s already in place and a well-established customer base that is loyal to the popular brand you now represent. Additionally, you’ll be in the midst of employees who are already familiar with the system of operations, be part of a supportive network of fellow franchisees, and obtain the backing of a franchisor.

    All these benefits will elude those who have decided to start their own business operations, and they’ll certainly give you a great deal of comfort when you begin your position as a franchise owner. What you must remember, however, is that owning a franchise is still hard work, and the onus will be on you to keep your franchise running at full speed. You’re still in charge of what is, in effect, a small business, and it’s your responsibility to ensure the successful development of that business so that it properly represents the brand as a whole. Here are four ways in which you can make that happen.

    Stick to the system

    Taking ownership of a franchise means becoming accustomed to an established system of operations. This system will dictate how each and every one of the brand’s franchises is run, covering everything from administrative processes to products sold and services rendered. A system such as this is extremely necessary in expanding a franchise operation. If the system is concise and comprehensible enough to be taught to a workforce in one location, then it can easily be replicated in various other locations.

    The system of operations is also particularly important with regards to brand consistency. No franchise can operate differently from any other, otherwise the brand itself will be seen as both irregular and undependable when it comes to fulfilling its promises to its customers. That’s why it’s crucial that you run your franchise exactly according to the system of operations in place.

    You might be used to creating and following your own set of rules, but if you don’t act according to the system, you run several risks. You might jeopardize the brand’s image, create tension between you and your franchisor, and possibly break your franchise agreement. If you’re a good sport, then you’ll be closer to helping your franchise succeed.

    Hire well

    As a leader, you will want the best team possible to help you on your way to success. That means being thorough  and selective when you hire. When looking to fill any position, choose candidates who are properly skilled, possess an impressive work ethic, and exhibit a positive attitude. But, it must go further than that.

    Anyone who becomes part of a franchise operation should possess a sufficient amount of knowledge about the industry they are entering. They should also have the same vision for the brand that you do as a franchisee. If this is the case, then you’ll constantly be on the same page as your employees, and you’ll all be working towards a common goal.

    Be a hands-on franchisee

    It’s easy to be lulled into a sense of comfort by the perks associated with franchise ownership. While it’s perfectly fine to be comfortable at work, it is not fine to be detached from the goings-on at work just because everyone’s working according to a set system. A good leader gets fully involved in the job at hand and works alongside his or her team members.

    When you’re a franchisee, it’s a great idea to step into various roles in order to help your teammates out. Not only will you be challenging yourself, stepping outside of your comfort zone and learning new skills, but you will also positively influence your workforce. They’ll be encouraged by your actions and will be motivated to work hard. The end result will be a team of people working towards the success of a franchise.


    Transparent communication should exist between every person working within a franchise operation. This means talking openly with your franchisor about your experiences as a franchisee, bringing up queries, challenges, and successes with your support team, and suggesting ideas for franchise growth. Communication also means being available to members of your own team. If anyone has a problem, be on-hand to address it. You’ll be seen as an effective leader and will create a positive work environment.

    A franchise is a big responsibility. To help it succeed, you need to be a hands-on leader who’s happy to work according to a set system of operations, communicates openly, and is discerning when it comes to hiring new employees. If you tick all these boxes, then you’ll see your franchise become a thriving part of the brand you represent.

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    3 Reasons Why LinkedIn is Important for Job Seekers

    Yes, your LinkedIn profile is more important than your resume!  Do I shock you with this declaration? Think again. Your résumé is typically being sent to individuals, to recruiters, or as a job application, which has limited exposure. Yet your LinkedIn profile is open to literally the entire world around the clock. Moreover, as I understand it, LinkedIn is now considered the choice tool by recruiters and human resources professionals because it is so user-friendly and searchable.

    If you think like I do, then you may want to revisit your LinkedIn profile and make a few easy improvements. For example, upload a professionally produced photo to enhance your image. Make sure the tagline contains a good description of what you do. The summary section should be your marketing piece. Your current and past positions should be clear. Don’t say too much; rather, make them intriguing. Include a few but strong accomplishments in your bulleted items. Keywords pertinent to your profession should be listed as well. Listing your specialties offers additional, specific information that enhances your chances to distinguish yourself.

    LinkedIn lets you upload various applications. Take advantage of that. Recruiters like to see that you have several recommendations. After all, they have to sell you to their clients. Recommendations serve as strong support for your candidacy because they come from others. Everything else you say in your LinkedIn profile comes from you, and in this case you’re a salesperson selling a product, which is yourself. If you have a Web site or blog posts, list them. Belonging to several professional groups also enhances your image. Similarly, if you’ve received honors and awards, they should be listed. You also should include some interests because you’ll be selected not only for your qualifications but also for your fit factor.

    And finally, review your personal settings. There may be great qualifications listed on your Linkedin profile, but if you limit those you allow to view the profile, who do you think is losing out?

    Posted in Personal Branding
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