Marketing With Your Website

The hidden-in-plain-sight truth when you have an online business is that its survival is tied in with how good your marketing is. If you have a product but don’t have a market, your business will fail. If you have a good product and an eager market but fail to communicate the value of your product to your target audience, your business will fail.

Look at the role of your website in marketing: From an online perspective, your website’s goal is to help people find your business.  At the very least it should provide enough information for visitors to see the nature of your business and learn how to get in touch with you. And at the most basic level, your website has to offer information about your products in services in a way that will hook visitors into wanting more information — or guide them into taking action, whether it’s to sign up or make a purchase, something  that your site should also help them do easily.

You need to keep a constant eye on the following aspects of your website and its design, content, and security:
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Get Rid Of Red Tape

We all have our own war-stories about red tape and  bureaucracy, but  if you’re an entrepreneur or run your own business, have you ever stopped to think that you may also be a source? Factors that can contribute to red tape are unnecessarily complicated procedures,  unwarranted redundancies, and having too many people in control over too few points of control. Red tape drags on, and it is not limited to the government. Companies have red tape too, which means businesses aren’t immune.

“Red tape” is used to describe bureaucratic policies, procedures and forms that are “excessively complex and time-consuming” in nature.

The term comes from when  Henry VIII bombarded the Pope with around eighty petitions to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his first wife (In his lifetime, Henry had six wives, and Catherine was Henry’s older brother’s widow.) Anyway, the court documentation was collected and sealed  up in red ribbons, which was the custom at the time for official state documentation.

In time, people started using the term ‘red tape’ to describe slow, unnecessarily complicated, and time-consuming filing, forms, and procedures.

Turning the focus on your own work now, have you ever encountered problem in your work flow due to  ‘internal policies’ you follow in running your business? When was the last time you updated your procedures and protocols? Have you reviews your ops manual lately? Continue reading Get Rid Of Red Tape

Make It Real With Your Official Business Website

We’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again until the thought sinks home — at least for the readers who are still-uncommitted and teetering on the fence about creating a business website of their own. If you think that you don’t need to have a business website, you’re not not doing all you can to help your business thrive.

The latest statistics say that there are over  900 billion – no mispelling, billion— websites on the internet.

According to another source , the top three reasons why many small businesses still don’t have a website are: (1) The business owner doesn’t believe that they need a website, (2) the cost of building and maintaining one, and (3) a lack of time.

This is understandable, from a particular vantage point. If you think you’re doing well, and will continue to do so  in the future, why change what’s working? Don’t rock the boat. Besides, better to funnel the money back  into the business and not to a website you don’t even need anyway, right? Especially when you’re too busy running the business in the first place to pay special attention to running and keeping a site.

We can’t force people to adapt to changes if they’re simply not ready or aren’t interested, but for those who are still thinking about it,  here are some important things you need to know that you may not  have been able to consider  from that particular vantage point.
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Pay Attention: Using The Power Of Feedback In Business

If you’re not paying attention to where you’re going, you can get seriously hurt. News programs and entertainment programs often showcase the people who make the spotlight by not paying attention to what they’re doing and getting themselves into trouble. Check out the following videos for proof:

If you’re not paying attention, you’re depriving your  feedback system of half of its function. Say you’re busy refining your  marketing  program and you’re getting frustrated with the non-improvement in sales, or sign-ups. What does your data say?

Paying attention is part of the feedback cycle.  Feedback in this sense  is intimately tied to awareness because awareness demands paying attention and interpreting the information that comes in.

Navigation systems  and the code that runs them both undergo rigorous testing protocols to ensure that these machine are pin-point accurate and the codes run flawlessly.  Lives depend on getting the most accurate feedback possible, because the information is used to plot  — and navigate– the real life conditions of transport: airplanes and air traffic, ships and shipping lanes, cars. It works the same for businesses.

It’s remarkably easy to revert to surface-level thinking when you’re doing everyday activities — the demands on us habituate us to be hyper-vigilant about the new things that come in, and so all our attention goes to assessment and handling — not exactly to deep processing. When you’re deluged with incoming emails, phone calls, requests for your help, time, input and presence, sometimes it’s all you can do to just ‘go with the flow.’ Then, in what ever time you have left over, you try to recover. In the long run, this is an unsustainable  practice to keep doing to yourself.

In life, as in business and bingo, you have to actually be present to win. You win by being present and paying attention.
Continue reading Pay Attention: Using The Power Of Feedback In Business

Back-Planning and Pre-Planning: Small Moves, Big Results

Think back to your childhood. Before going to bed, what did you do?  In getting up and getting ready for school, what did you do? What about preparing to eat? What about the chores you were given?

Maybe you didn’t like the rules that your parents laid down about school and nap-times, and clean-up and homework, and about eating your vegetable and picking up your toys when you were done playing. But all that training served a purpose: you were being taught to think ahead and prepare the things you need ahead of time.

You were shown a model of behavior to copy when you were young, so that when you grew older, you would know what to do and do it by yourself, on your own and of your own volition. Most importantly, you were shown that you can do things even if you don’t feel like doing them. This installed a sense of discipline, self-regulation, and self-care for you. And bringing that all together is the fact that all of it is meant to instill a sense of organization meant to help you throughout your life.

Why are you organized?
To get what you need when you need it– no scrabbling around, no going on an expedition to find it.
To move efficiently and effectively,  saving time, energy, and effort.
To have order in your life — and structure too.

When we talk about productivity, there are certain key areas which where we need to be clear about because of the challenges we face today: Continue reading Back-Planning and Pre-Planning: Small Moves, Big Results

Why You Need to Learn Negotiation Skills

Life is all about negotiation. We do it every day in ways we don’t even recognize as negotiation. For instance, internally, we bargain with ourselves all the time. Five more minutes and then we’ll get up. Finish these last three pages and then we can go get coffee. We weigh our needs against our wants, and try to work things out to get the best possible result that we can out given the requirements of a particular situation.

Externally, we do this all the time. We just don’t think of it like the formal sort of negotiations we see in media. It could be as simple as asking if someone is available to talk to, for example, then suggesting alternative times or ways to communicate, like sending a follow-up email, or leaving a voicemail.  Basically, we ask if something is possible, then we find a way to work with the information and the reactions that we get.

The goal of negotiation is to work things out so that the people involved get what they need amicably, without feeling cheated or taken advantage of. Everyone with a stake in the proceeding gets to have their time, and during it, consensus and concessions are made and given.

At times the word “compromise” can come off in a rather bad way because sometimes we take it to mean “Everyone walks away unhappy, and not with all of what we want.” That comes from seeing all the dramatized negative spin in movies and popular media, and from how we’re socialized to believe winning is the only way to succeed, and for someone to win, someone else has to lose.

We have to understand that that’s not what compromise is about. Compromise is not ‘capitulation’, which is giving in. A compromise is the result of people coming to an agreement on the results they want out of the negotiation, where both parties can move forward.

Negotiation is an incredibly valuable  skill to develop and the more you practice it, the easier it gets .

Self negotiation and self-discipline — psyching yourself into doing something hard or uncomfortable now and rewarding yourself or enjoying the pay-off later, trains you to put the long-term good over the short-term boost, and the more impactful returns over shallower ones. Continue reading Why You Need to Learn Negotiation Skills

Using Video As A Business Tool

With the way mobility technology and media trends are going, we are seeing more and more content being delivered in videos.

Improved transmission speeds and communication infrastructure as well as short-format videos have made this possible, as well the the spread and market penetration of smartphones. Think of how video use has surged in promoting small business enterprises among various social media platforms. Think of the short 6 second format of Vines, or Snapchats, that make it incredibly easy for one to be shared and go viral.

From another aspect, think of the video-on-demand streaming services like Netflix that made it possible for thousands of people to “cut the cord” (referring to cable) and choose their own preferred shows for information and entertainment.  In production, presentation, and consumption, video is a very powerful platform for communication, especially when the power to choose is in the hands of the consumer.

Think of the following:   Education, communication (business, entertainment, and leisure), sciences, and innovation. There’s an incredible amount of overlap in these areas — are you poised to leverage this trend within your own market? Continue reading Using Video As A Business Tool

Just Start: How To Keep Going On Off-days

There’s this popular image shared on social media depicting an iceberg and having it explain success. The visible part  of the iceberg (what people see) is labelled “Success.”  The part under the water is labelled “What really happens.” : Hard work, struggles, discipline, sacrifices, late nights, persistence, failures, and many more.

We often take the surface impression as the whole thing, and not look at the years of work and struggle behind the success stories that make the front-pages.  Even with ourselves, we tend to do this. What’s worse, we can be much harsher on ourselves than necessary. We have this image of what we should be and have to be, and measure ourselves by those images. And when we have bad days or off days, we can make it even worse by feeling disappointed in ourselves for not measuring up.

For entrepreneurs who have built themselves strong habits and put good support systems in place, it can be much easier to get through those off days. What follows are simple things you can do to ensure that you get through days like those without unnecessarily having to suffer more that the situation would warrant. Continue reading Just Start: How To Keep Going On Off-days

Is Your Website Optimized For Lead Generation?

Your website represents your business on the web.  When people search for something specific and find it in the search results,  they enter the gateway to learning about your products and services.  Appearance-wise, how well you present your website is how your business comes across.  Function-wise, how strategically you use your website affects how you can carry out  your business. Go about it intelligently, your website can be one of the strongest source for generating leads you have.

While your website is proof of your online presence and  where you establish an always-available, always-connected store for your customer’s convenience, it also provides you with the means to reach more customers when you pay attention to customer capture strategies. You can convert casual visitors and ‘passers-by’ to leads and paying customers.

By paying attention to the small details about specific pages on your website, you can (1) boost your rank in search results through search engine optimization (SEO), and (2) capture more email addresses from interested-but-not-yet-committed visitors.  What follows is a short list focusing on tailoring the 5 most visited pages of any website to make impressions and convert leads. Continue reading Is Your Website Optimized For Lead Generation?

3 Tips to Defeat Self-Sabotage This Year

A new year means new beginnings. It’s a universal thing — it’s like we get a brand new blank canvas to play with.  We can’t go back to last year, but now we get a chance to do better, starting over with a  fresh page in the next chapter of our lives.

The push to have a better year than the last one is based on our wholly understandable desire for a better life for ourselves, which is connected to our tendency to hitch our dreams to fresh starts.  Just as well-known, however, is the  short lifespan of New Year’s resolutions. For all our  renewed hopes and aspirations,  it’s easy to forget and rely on the habits, practices and mind-sets that ruled us last year — some of which may have contributed to the things we wish hadn’t happened. Here are a few tips to assist you so you don’t unwittingly set yourself back again this time.

Use your data of the previous year
Use your accomplishments and  mistakes to help point out where you can focus on doing better and wiser this year.   Mistakes are just that, missed-takes: you did something, it didn’t work. It might have made the situation worse, but you survived. If you paid attention, you’d know what not to do, and this can stand as the starting point for doing better.

Reviewing how and where you spent your time this past year quite literally makes your brain re-view and re-enact those  incidents you remember. This mental re-enactment helps spark new ideas : what to focus on, what to ignore, what resources you overlooked then to work with, and how to put them to better use now, etc.

An in-depth review helps you recall the feelings that were behind certain decisions and their results, and all of that — memory, emotion, and aftermath– can help you classify more forcefully what things to drop, what to work on more, and what things to promote as being vital for a better future for you. Bitter lessons can leave the most lasting  impression on how we do things next. Continue reading 3 Tips to Defeat Self-Sabotage This Year