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

    Sponsored Post

    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.

    Communicate

    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

    How To Leverage Your Brand To Attract New Clients

    What is the best way to use your brand online in order to attract clients and customers?

    These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

    1. Show Your Face

    Clients need to see a brand as more than a logo. It is a great strategy to use social media to give insights into the lives of the people behind the logo. This creates a human link between the company and the customers. This helps create a more likable persona of the company, which is seen as an extension of the people that customers get to see. This makes you more approachable and relatable. – Abeer RazaTekRevol

    2. Amplify the Voices of Others

    Your brand can’t effectively be an expert at everything and well-informed about every single topic. However, you can still take part in online discussions around trends and industries outside of your wheelhouse. Simply engage in conversation with people who are knowledgeable on these things and you can increase your brand’s online presence while also helping other people. – Bryce WelkerCrush The CPA Exam

    3. Ditch the Hard Sell

    The biggest mistake people make with their online presence is trying to pitch their products and services to the audience. It’s the easiest way to lose attention. Show yourself to be an expert in your field and educate them without the hard sell. Your prospects will come to you naturally because eventually they will trust you and look to you as the authority. It’s a much more natural process. – Frank B. Mengertebenefit Marketplace (ebm)

    4. Start Conversations and Build Relationships

    Create a conversational brand. Use online platforms to engage with customers through your brand vision and voice. Interact with them and use current customers stories and feedback as ammunition for building trust and support around your brand. The more you can use your brand to foster a community and relationship with potential customers, the stronger your business and brand will be. – Jared WeitzUnited Capital Source Inc.

    5. Educate Your Clients

    Content marketing is a super scalable way of generating more leads and increasing brand awareness. I’m not talking about posting a few funny Instagram photos, witty tweets or product videos. Share educational content around your greater industry. If you’re a tailor for men, create content around your product and craft, but also talk about men’s style in general. It’s the new radio ad. – Karl KangurMRR Media

    6. Tell a Relatable Brand Story

    People buy from people. If a potential customer is deciding between you and a competitor, you can make yourself stand out by being personal and sharing your story with them. Regularly post your story on social media. Have a page on your site that tells your story. Talk about it on podcasts. Network and share your story. The more your brand story is out there, the more attraction you will create. – Connor GillivanFreeeUp

    7. Find Your Niche

    Knowing your niche can help find your lifelong customers. Find out where they hang out — online message boards such as Reddit or popular social media pages. Become part of the community to gain recognition and to also make sure you’re always up to date with what your customer base’s needs are. The information gained through the niche community will be invaluable. – Andrew SaladinoKitchen Cabinet Kings

    8. Provide Tremendous Value

    You need to understand your customers better than any of your competitors. This means you know what their psychological needs are, their fears, how they think and their consumer journey in your industry. Only then can you provide tremendous value to them at each stage of their journey. This value will come in the form of content and experiences that meet those psychological needs. – Kevin GetchWebfor

    9. Personalize Every Customer Experience

    Attracting new customers and clients requires an attention to detail that most companies fail at achieving. I’m talking about personalization. Make sure you’re making every experience with your potential customers personal with targeted content and products based on their behavior on your website. When a business nails personalization, both consumers and clients remember their experience. – David HenzelLTVPlus

    10. Share Your Expertise Through Thought Leadership

    I think the best way that brands can attract clients or customers online is by building thought leadership. Showcase your expertise through writing bylines, guest blogging, booking podcasts and getting featured or quoted in the media. – Kristin Kimberly MarquetFem Founder

    11. Retarget Site Visitors

    It’s very rare that a user visits your website for the first time and makes a purchase. To get consumers to come back to your website as well as to keep your brand at the top of their minds, use retargeting. A retargeting pixel is placed on your site, when a user leaves without buying, it “follows” them around the web to display targeted ads, encouraging them to return and make a purchase. – Stephanie WellsFormidable Forms

    12. Solve a Problem

    The No. 1 thing every single brand can do to attract clients and customers is to solve a problem that currently doesn’t have a solution. When you create something that improves the quality of life for a large number of people, potential clients and customers will take notice. – Blair WilliamsMemberPress

    13. Stay True to Who You Are

    As a branding expert, I’ve seen so many times how people move too far away from their real, authentic brands when marketing online! Stay true to who you are, but take steps to reach out to targeted online clients, including leaning into aspects of your brand that certain targeted cohorts will appreciate. – Beth DoaneMain & Rose

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    How to Monetize Your Skills with an Offer That Sells

    From where you’re sitting, everyone else has made it online. Are you really the only one who hasn’t figured it out? You know you want to build an online business, but you have no idea what to actually sell. You tout a long list of digital accomplishments. You can do it all – social media, content creation, email marketing … the whole kit n’ caboodle. But, it’s not just about knowing what you’re good at. It’s what you do with that knowledge.

    Cue the road block. I bet you regularly ask yourself these 2 questions.

    1. “How can I make a difference online (without working for pennies)?”
    2. “Once I know what I want to do, where do I start?”

    Believe it or not, monetizing your skills is (a) possible and (b) profitable. And, you can do it without forcing yourself to dredge up that list of “Things I Can Do, but Don’t Really Want to“.

    Sell your obsession (and nothing else).

    Between you and me, I can barely stand social media marketing. Somewhere in the last 5 years, I lost my passion for posting. I’m “just not that into” the Instagram worthy photos, cheesy captions, etc. I can do social media and do it well. I just don’t want to.

    But, teaching SEO for bloggers? I live for it. I love using systems and storytelling to make ranking seem achievable for everyone online. So, SEO is my thing.

    Take it from me, when you monetize your skills, that offer becomes what you’re known for. It’s the one thing you can chat about for hours on end.

    It’s what builds the foundation that will become your brand.

    This isn’t the time or place to offer the bare minimum. Don’t even think about being a jack of all trades. Zoom in on a one of a kind specialty. Something that won’t just act as an original hook – but also guarantee customer satisfaction and loyalty.

    Once you’ve narrowed in on your obsession, peel back every single layer. Search for opportunities to improve. Don’t focus on perfection. Just build enough confidence in your offer to sell without hesitation.

    First rule of thumb? Don’t be afraid of feedback.

    If you already have an engaged online community, take the market temperature. You’re probably good at many things – maybe even hundreds. But you don’t have to turn all those skills into an enticing offer.

    For example, let’s say you’re a writer. You churn out blog posts, sales pages, and fan fiction. Showcase your best work. Let your community pick what they’re drawn to. And, if there’s equal interest in all 3, then by all means; you’ve found yourself 3 different offers. But, no matter what, focus on creating one at a time.

    Bottom line. Don’t ever be afraid to ask the question: “How can I improve?”

    Know your people better than they know themselves.

    Your audience should shape your offer creation. For example, maybe your online course would fit nicely into a 12 part video series. But, if audio content really resonates with your community, then audio it is.

    When you know who you’re selling to, you won’t miss these important preferences. And, if your audience still doesn’t latch onto your offer, it means one of two things.

    1. You need to continue molding the product.
    2. You need to reconsider who your target audience should be.

    Bottom line. Your community can offer invaluable insight.

    Use this insight to improve and further develop your product (and more importantly) your craft. Always keep yourself open to constructive feedback.

    Finally, test until the results become predictable.

    So, you’ve put together several offers, but want to pick the one with the most potential. How do you know which one to choose? Test, test, and test some more.

    Split testing helps you tap into the perspective of the people you’re trying to reach. And since they’re the ones making a purchasing decision, their opinions matter. Release each offer to a small list of users (at a discounted rate), and collect candid and detailed feedback.

    Even though your core offer is ready to go, remember, the fine-tuning never ends. The market is always changing, and your consumers will evolve. Don’t let yourself get stagnant; keep your ear to the ground and look for ways to improve.

    Posted in Personal Branding

    Identifying Authentic Brands: 10 Signs to Watch For

    What is one sign or aspect you look for when determining if another brand is authentic?

    These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

    1. Social Proof

    The number one thing I look for when analyzing whether or not a business is authentic is their social proof. I check their content to see if people are sharing their blog posts online. I dig in and check their social media mentions to see how customers are engaging with the brand. I’ve been able to determine that some websites were total scams with this method. – Blair WilliamsMemberPress

    2. Shared Struggles

    An authentic brand is not one that only talks about their accomplishments, but one that admits their mistakes and shares their hardships as well. A brand that shares their struggles with their audience is open and honest. Some brands tend to be wary about sharing their struggles, but sharing shows that there are real people behind the brand, which helps form a better connection with the audience. – Stephanie WellsFormidable Forms

    3. Customer Reviews

    I love the fact that there are so many people online today. Everyone is more than willing to share their opinion on a product or service, regardless of whether they have 20 followers or 2 million followers. I always make sure to check reviews on the company from websites and social media personalities to see how their experience was with the brand. – Syed BalkhiWPBeginner

    4. Team Photos

    When I’m evaluating a company I always read their About Us page and look for a photo of their team. A photo is a great way to read the energy of the company and see if how they operate on the inside matches what they’re portraying on the outside. – Laura RoederMeetEdgar.com

    5. Value the Opinions of Their Customers

    An authentic brand truly values the opinion of their customers. Not only do they ask their customers for their thoughts and opinions and listen to them, but they also put those thoughts and opinions into action. A brand that asks for their customers’ opinions is not only benefiting by getting actionable insights, but making their customers feel important, as well as showing they want to continue to improve. – John TurnerSeedProd LLC

    6. Look at Terms, Conditions and Privacy Policies

    I always check the website’s terms and conditions and privacy policy pages to ensure the language and policies are legitimate. If I see something that’s suspicious or outright odd, then I will not do business with the company. – Kristin Kimberly MarquetFem Founder

    7. A Visible Founder

    Authenticity is a very strong core value when it comes to companies and that comes from the founder or the CEO. Do some research on them personally and see what they’re like. The best way would be to see an interview, an article about their story or a podcast they’re on. In most cases, you’ll get an idea of whether they’re authentic or not within a couple of minutes. – Karl KangurMRR Media

    8. Audience Engagement

    To see how authentic a brand’s following is, check out their audience engagement. While it may look like a brand has millions of followers, see how many people actually like, share and comment on their social media posts. What kinds of comments are they receiving? When there’s a negative comment, how do they respond to it and address it? These are all important indicators of authenticity. – Rachel BeiderPRESS Modern Massage

    9. A Professional Image

    Proper grammar, clean layout, bug-free UX, clear CTAs and other attributes of a professional online presence build brand authenticity and trust. When I see a spelling mistake or pixelated image, credibility goes out the door. While moving fast is important, that doesn’t mean there’s no time for attention to detail. Increase authenticity and trust to see an increase in conversions and adoption. – Colton GardnerNeighbor

    10. Transparency 

    According to Brene Brown, authenticity is the ability to let ourselves be seen for who we are. Brand authenticity is no different. When a brand is transparent about what they are working on, the value they hope to provide and the areas they fall short, they are being authentic. If, on the other hand, their language is vague and confusing, or solely promotional, they are not to be trusted. – Reuben YonatanGetVoIP

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    6 Motivational Speaking Trends That You Want To Pay Attention To

    Caption: Motivational Speakers From Pexels.com

    Whether you’re planning a small sales meeting with your team or preparing for a national conference, guest speakers need to stay aware of the latest trends to appear — and remain — innovative. More importantly, they need to be able to adapt to changing audience preferences and technologies to ensure their speeches are engaging and memorable. 

    Which motivational speaking trends will impact how relevant your presentations are? Which ones will limit — or open up — future opportunities? Here are six areas that need your attention. 

    Organizers want speakers who deliver more than a speech.

    Conference organizers want to work with motivational speakers who are knowledgeable, inspiring, and capable of providing their audience with actionable takeaways. That’s a given. Simultaneously, event coordinators are looking for presenters who will partner with them, not just deliver a speech and leave.   

    Organizers are looking for speakers who will help them promote the event via their own platforms. This way, their built-in audience can become aware of the speaking engagement and make plans to attend or promote its value to others who could benefit. They also want speakers who will allow them to film keynotes so they can be distributed and shared with those who couldn’t attend.

    The holy grail? Some sales motivational speakers I know will host a meet-and-greet prior to their presentation. It’s a simple and powerful way to build a stronger connection with an audience. It also helps the presenter create more personalized content. Organizers would be thrilled if a speaker stuck around to mingle or have dinner with important clients. 

    Audiences demand participation and connection from speakers. 

    The days of formal presentations, where an audience sat silently in an auditorium-like venue  listening to an individual talk for an hour, are fading. Instead, attendees are demanding smaller, more conversational presentations. This makes the speaker seem more approachable and authentic. 

    This also encourages more interaction with audience members, enabling them to ask questions and share feedback. Speakers can incorporate live surveys and even get a little creative using the setup. For example, an event could ditch the standard seating structure, such as a ballroom layout or a roundtable setup, and go with a lounge setting. Likewise, the event could be held outside, allowing participants to sit on bean-bag chairs, hay bales, or smart benches.     

    People love the TED experience. 

    The debate on ideal session length rages on. Audiences crave shorter talks, where they can attend snappier sessions held by diverse speakers, which is more in line with the TED experience. 

    On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to present an innovative idea and get the audience to put that idea into practice in only 20 or 30 minutes. In reality, you’ll need anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. 

    It may not be feasible to host a TED Talk-style conference, limiting speakers to 20-minute talks. However, presentations are getting shorter. It’s now the norm for a one-hour standard presentation to be replaced by multiple 30- or 45-minute sessions. 

    If a talk does deserve more time, facilitators may want to break up the speech into parts. For example, an hour-long presentation could be divided into two 30-minute sessions, with a break in between. 

    Presentations need to be visual. 

    Your audience didn’t RSVP to your conference or seminar just to read your slides. They could have done that at home. They want to be engaged and entertained, and the best way is by skipping text-laden PowerPoints. 

    That’s not to say that PowerPoints are banned. It means limiting your text to 10 words or fewer and using more visual content like pictures, infographics, and videos. This not only holds the audience’s attention, but visual aids also create a compelling story and reinforce your message. In fact, according to the 2018 State of Attention Report, the key to engaging content is a compelling story and the use of visuals. 

    The most important takeaway: Don’t overdo your visuals. They should be clean and easily scannable, adding meaning to your story or concept. 

    Organizations and speakers need to keep up with the speed of change. 

    The world is rapidly speeding up: Just look at how a business model or new gadget becomes obsolete in a year. Organizations must respond accordingly.  

    For starters, planners focus on creating events that address emerging trends, innovations, and strategies. This empowers an event’s audience to stay up-to-date on the latest disruptions and prepare for them. The best speakers help them envision how to pre-empt or get ahead of a major industry disruption.

    That increased pace doesn’t just apply to innovations — speakers can expect to be booked much faster, too. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon to be booked for a speaking gig a year in advance. However, because we live in a high-velocity world, the planned talk may no longer be relevant. That means coordinators are booking speakers only months prior, ensuring their discussion will be significant and timely. 

    What’s more, in order to stay ahead in a world of change, speakers need to provide specific solutions. While there’s still room for inspirational speakers, it’s become increasingly important for the audience to walk away with actionable steps to answer their real-world questions. 

    Finally, both event planners and presenters need to stay current on technology. For example, while PowerPoint is still a popular tool for sharing information, a variety of tools like ClearSlide, Keynote, and Prezi allow anyone to create dazzling presentations on their smartphones. 

    And don’t dismiss the virtual realm. In order to save money and dive deeper into a talent pool, organizations are looking for speakers who provide online content, webinars, and virtual coaching. 

    The message needs to be reinforced. 

    For an event to be successful, it has to promise lasting results. In other words, attendees must leave the event able to implement what they’ve learned. As such, it’s the responsibility of the speaker to guide attendees in making the concepts stick. 

    This could be done by showing a pre-event video to establish a connection and then surveying the audience after. You can also hand out reference materials, like infographics, for everyone to take home. To save on paper, let audience members know where they can access more in-depth information online. 

    If you want to connect with your audience and ensure your presentations — and your preferred events — remain relevant, act on the trends above. Focus on keeping your audience engaged, remaining aware of disruptions, and reinforcing an event’s message. You’ll not only remain relevant, but also earn more audiences to speak to.

    Posted in Personal Branding

    Customers Demand Cross Channel Conversations. Here’s How Brands Can Deliver

    Nine in 10 customers expect brands to provide a seamless experience across channels and devices, according to the New Jersey Institute of Technology.  Right now, nearly 90 percent of customers think companies are failing at this endeavor. So how can brands send the right message, to the right person, on the right channel, at the right moment? This is the holy grail of Customer Experience Management (CXM) and a business imperative.

    Companies that want to survive in the coming decades won’t make it by focusing on a single channel. In order to thrive in the coming decades, brands must put customer experiences at the heart of their marketing strategy — across every channel — and that’s obvious now.

    Part of the problem is solutions on the market today focus on one channel – like email or mobile. That’s not bad, in fact, ten years ago that was a correct strategy. But what we are seeing with recent enterprise acquisitions is that the entire paradigm is shifting away from specific tools to clouds-based systems that allow data to inform and execute everything along the customer journey.

    Google has some catching up to do

    It’s rare to think of Google as #3 in any space except for Google Plus but when it comes to the cloud that’s where they are. Recently acquiring business intelligence platform Looker for $2.6 billion is a bold move. It doesn’t sound like a lot in today’s “Monopoly money” mergers and acquisitions space but it’s actually the third largest acquisition in the history of Google putting it on par with YouTube.

    It didn’t make the kind of headlines that an acquisition of Lyft or Snapchat would but it’s far more important. And Looker and Google had over 350 customers in common before the mergers it allows them to speed things up quickly.

    The downside is that both Salesforce and Adobe have spent considerably more time and resources on this space. As consumers we love the ease and simplicity of Google Suite tools like Gmail, Sheets and Docs but on an enterprise level, you wouldn’t use Google Analytics over something from Salesforce or Adobe because they are too simple.

    This acquisition will help Google compete but they’re currently behind. What it really shows most is how important this space is going forward for everyone.

    Salesforce is signaling its intent

    Today’s leading brands must engage with their customers and prospects through a variety of devices and touchpoints to be competitive. This poses a challenge for marketers who seek to use data and technology to personalize and deliver timely and compelling experiences to people across multiple channels.

    When Salesforce acquired ExactTarget in 2013, it did two things. It was a huge win for the city of Indianapolis. Drive through their downtown and a giant Salesforce sign now anchors its downtown tech scene. But it also pushed Salesforce in to the Marketing Cloud race from where they were first a CRM company.

    In fact, each company that is now positioned to lead the next decade of enterprise marketing too k a different route. Salesforce through CRM, Google through search, Adobe through creative. Each makes a strong but different appeal.

    The problem/opportunity for Salesforce is that search and creative are still relevant. CRM is slowly losing its hold as the needs of the market change. Companies don’t just want to track relationships, they want to use data to automate action items and use that data and insight to convert not just converse.

    And this is why Salesforce just bought analytics platform Tableau for $15.3 billion. That’s aggressive but they have to be. ExactTarget was a great solution six years ago. But the landscape changed. Its specificity, single-channel approach, has become a hindrance when every signal in the industry from both consumers and enterprise is that cross-channel will be the only acceptable solution.

    Salesforce making its biggest acquisition to date, Google making its third means they are afraid of something happening in the market. That fear comes from Adobe. Their stronghold on the creative side is unquestioned but they have been making strong but subtle moves in the cloud space for the last ten years, inching closer and closer to cross-channel experiences.

    If the space had stayed CRM and email-based, Salesforce would be dominating. But this shift toward customer experience has been slow and methodical. Adobe made their first cloud marketing acquisition of Omniture in 2009. They followed up last year by acquiring the fourth-largest marketing cloud company, Marketo and added eCommerce platform Magento which competes with BigCommerce and Shopify.

    This is what an enterprise customer expects in 2019.

    London’s Heathrow Airport airport uses information customers provide through WiFi logins, flight reservations, and in-airport purchases to send targeted communications about booking subsequent trips. Heathrow reaches out to customers on the platform they prefer — if a potential traveler likes social media, Heathrow might reach out via Twitter. If someone purchased a handbag at the airport before and is headed to a terminal near a certain store, Heathrow might send a deal on handbags to that person’s cell phone. Operating under a cross-channel model helps Heathrow Airport engage with 6 million customers every month. And when customers enjoy coming to the airport, Heathrow sees a boost in revenue.

    Heathrow currently uses Adobe. In isolation no single move the company made has been seen as a game-changer. But putting the pieces together you see where Adobe has been positioning for where they see the next evolution of marketing. If you’re looking for cross-channel experiences they are now the only cloud solution that offers creative, analytics, eCommerce, B2B marketing automation and programmatic ad buying.

    And while we steer perhaps away from programmatic ads toward eCommerce and targeted personalized messages that appear in your social feeds, this still feels like the best positioned company at the moment.

    But that moment can change quickly. More acquisitions will be made. Consumer habits will change. We are due for a change similar to the smartphone in 2007 that disrupts the entire landscape. For now, pay attention to the data and cloud space. Email and CRM will fade. Mobile and CXM are on the rise. And the real battle will be fought over which company can automate data the best and turn that data in to action.

    Posted in Personal Branding
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