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Why You Should Create Your Own LinkedIn Group

join-our-linkedin-group-golf-marketingIn the last post we talked about how to use LinkedIn to market your business. If you’re not using it now, check out the post and get on it ASAP. It is the premier social site for business professionals on the Web.

So here’s another LinkedIn tip: LinkedIn Groups.

What are LinkedIn Groups?

These groups are like small gatherings of professionals with similar business niches or interests. The entire site is available to you, but concentrated groups help you to target those professionals with whom you need to network.

Groups help you do many things:

* Discover other professionals to meet quickly

* Actively participate in discussions relevant to your interests and needs

* Zero in on the most influential people on LinkedIn within your professional sphere

* Know which profiles to view and which people to “follow” in discussions

* Begin your own discussions to help establish yourself as a leader in your field

These are also excellent reasons to begin your own LinkedIn Group. Before you do, though, get a feel for the process by joining a group or two. You can search for relevant groups using different parameters.

Once you find one that you like, introduce yourself. Do this by posting a new discussion question and then leaving a comment. Let people get to know you.

LinkedIn Groups can also increase your visibility and popularity on the site. While you are leading discussions, don’t forget to leave meaningful comments on other discussion topics. It will look pretty suspicious if you only post questions and never join in the discussions of others.

Build up a presence and a following. When you are ready, create your own group. If you work for a large company, creating a group for your co-workers gives them a place to connect with others inside the company. Post about new job openings; get advice on job advancement and the like.

Ask your new business contacts to join your group. Don’t forget business contacts on other social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Invite LinkedIn members with similar interests as a way of connecting with new faces.

Conclusion

Why should you create a LinkedIn group? You can increase your visibility, ranking, popularity, network and credibility in the business world.

How to Use LinkedIn for Business

imagesLinkedIn is the social network for business professionals. Out of all the platforms, LinkedIn is the one where you can easily connect with others in your industry, find new employees and grow your business network and customer base. If you’re not exactly sure how to use LinkedIn to market your business, read on.

Getting Started

If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, the first step is to set one up. And make it a good one. Start a company page that highlights your best assets. This page will be used to market your business and to connect with other LinkedIn members.

Marketing Tactics

When it comes to LinkedIn, there are basically two marketing tactics: indirect and direct

Indirectly marketing your business happens by completely filling out your profile, making connections and getting the attention of potential customers. This approach works because it allows you to naturally get exposure from those who are searching a business like yours and it allows you to make connections with those who are truly interested in your products or services.

On the other hand, direct marketing is much more aggressive and allows you to really take advantage of the other services LinkedIn has. Direct marketing could be posting status updates promoting your business, joining and participating in Groups related to your industry, sending out direct messages to those in your industry or publishing posts that are shared with other LinkedIn users.

The method you choose will depend on your business, your marketing goals and even your personality. You may also want to do a combination of both for the best results.

Conclusion

LinkedIn is a social network for business professionals. It offers a platform to interact with both businesses and customers. Start using it by setting up a thorough company profile. Then explore what LinkedIn has to offer and decide just how you want to use it for your business.

 

Do you use LinkedIn for your business? Leave a comment and share what you like (or don’t like) about it.

What to Put in an Outsourcing Agreement

outsourcing. image by stockimages on freedigitalphotos.netSo you’ve decided to outsource. One of the keys to good working relationships with freelancers is to have clear agreements. These agreements should cover just about any possible disagreement that could come up over the course of your working relationship.

Here are a few things that your agreements or negotiations should cover.

Payment Terms

How, when, and how much will you pay your freelancer?

Payment terms will vary from freelancer to freelancer. For larger sums, many will require a down payment. Others will not. Discuss the payment terms and amounts ahead of time, and make sure that it’s all written down in your agreement.

Lay all your payment terms out in the beginning to avoid confusion later on.

Rights, Intellectual Property

Who owns the rights to things produced in the outsourcing agreement?

If you’re paying for outsourcing, you’ll usually want to retain all rights to anything that’s produced. In other words, any content, any code and even any ideas generated in the process belong to you.

If you want the right to name the content, in other words to claim that you wrote it yourself without crediting the outsourcer, make sure that’s spelled out in your agreement.

Time for Delivery

When are you expecting the project to be finished?

If it’s a single part project, then a deadline is simple enough. If it’s a multi-part project, then you’ll want to make sure the various milestones and their respective due dates are all spelled out.

Confidentiality and Security

Confidentiality and security become an integral part of the agreement if you’re doing longer term or more sensitive projects.

For example, if you’re hiring a personal assistant, it’s possible you’ll give them access to your email account and even your credit card numbers.

If that’s the case, you want to make sure you have precautions in place to protect your confidentiality and security.

If you’re outsourcing to a firm, check what kind of security measures they have in place. If you’re outsourcing to a person, give them access to sensitive materials over time as you trust them more, rather than all upfront.

Edits and Rewrites

Are edits part of the price?

One big thing you should negotiate beforehand is whether or not fixing or changing the product is part of the price. This is particularly big in programming jobs and content writing gigs.

If you ask someone to code up something for you, you’ll almost always want to have a few things changed once they give you the first draft.

Are these changed included in the original price? Or will you have to pay for those changes all over again? This can be a big source of disagreement if it’s not negotiated beforehand.

Conclusion

These are some of the most important things to negotiate before beginning a working relationship with an outsourcer. As a rule of thumb, try to negotiate any snags that’ll come up before you begin working together, rather than after.

When to Outsource and When to Hire in House

outsourcing, image by Stuart Miles on freedigitalphotos.netOne of the biggest strategic decisions many businesses have to make is whether to hire in house or outsource. There are many departments that this choice applies to. Should your order takers be in house or in a call center? What about support? Fulfillment? Written content? Tech and IT?

When should you outsource your work to an outside company and when should you hire your own staff to do it? Let’s take a look.

Communication

When it comes to communication, hiring in house is a clear winner.

With freelancers, you often have to go through a system to communicate with them. You might use email, or have to wait for them to return your calls.

With someone in house, you can just walk down the hall.

If you’re outsourcing to a country like India, you may also have language barriers.

Costs

On the other hand, when it comes to costs outsourcers almost always win hands down. Usually when you outsource, you pay a per-item, gig, project fee that’s significantly lower than if you had to hire someone on staff to handle it.

Remember, staff costs aren’t just salaries. It’s also their share of the office space, medical insurance, the social security that you split and so on.

Scalability

Outsourcing is much more scalable. Hiring people is difficult to scale. If you suddenly get a huge surge of tech support volume for example, it’s very hard to hire a dozen high quality support staff overnight. However, an outsourcing firm can easily snap up the volume in a heartbeat.

The flip side is also true. If you suddenly get a lower volume of calls, if you’re in house, you still have to keep paying your staff per hour even if they’re sitting there doing nothing. With outsourcing, you don’t have to pay anything if you’re not getting calls.

Quality Control

On the other hand, quality is almost higher in house than when outsourced.

If you’re outsourcing your programming for example, you’ll almost always find that the quality of the work isn’t as high as what you’d get from in house programmers.

There are many reasons for this. They’re less accountable. They don’t have to look you in the eyes. Also, you can’t be as discerning – It’s much harder to hire the best when you’re only going by online profiles.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that both outsourcing and hiring in-house have their own advantages.

In general, it’s a good idea to outsource only things that aren’t part of your core competence. Think about the advantages of disadvantages for each specific project before deciding which option is best.

 

 

Turn Your Business Blog Into an Authority Source

authority source, image by Stuart Miles on freedigitalphotos.netOne of the reasons to maintain a business blog is to show yourself an authority in your niche. As an expert in your niche you will get a certain amount of respect, which leads to more traffic, better relationships and more sales. But, in order to become an expert you must start at the beginning. Here is how to turn your blog into an authority.

Blog Often and Regularly

You’re never going to be viewed as a niche authority if you blog once a month. Set up a viable blogging schedule and stick to it. Aim for at least twice a week. Blog about much focused topics, starting from a beginner’s perspective and working your way up over the next year to a more advanced perspective. Also, guest blog strategically on websites that market to your audience. Blogging often is the best way to get traffic to your website.

Write Articles

Write and distribute articles about your niche on topics your audience would be interested in. Find online and offline magazines in which to contribute as an expert in your niche. If you submit a compelling article, it’s likely your submissions will be used. Whether online or offline, this type of content helps establish you as an expert to the public.

Become a Resource

Let the local and national press know that you’re a resource they can call on when they need a quote about your niche. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as sending email to reporters when they write about your niche, making blog comments, and using a service like HARO (Help a Reporter Out). HARO is a way that you can sign up to be a source to qualified reporters on any topic you choose. There are free and paid opportunities.

Set up Consistent Profiles

No matter whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or your blog, your profiles should be very consistent. You want to be very careful about contradicting who you are across accounts. Ensure that you essentially say the same thing on each social media account but in different ways based on the type of social media account. For instance, LinkedIn is more business and buttoned up, while Facebook is more social – more like an after-hours business event. Of course, be businesslike and professional on all accounts.

Send Out Press Releases

When you do something exciting in your business, whether it’s publishing a book, having a webinar, or conducting an interview for a radio show or podcast, send out a press release. Press releases are a good way to get online back links to your website but they’re also a good way to get in print

Conclusion

Turning your business blog into a niche authority is a great way to command respect, grow your audience and boost your sales. Use these simple tips to blog your way to business niche infamy.

 

 

 

 

Is Your Website User-Friendly?

user friendly website, image by Stuart Miles on freedigitalphotos.netHaving a user-friendly site is a big deal. The usability of your website makes a huge difference in the amount of traffic you get, if those readers decide to come back and how quickly people bounce away from your site.

If you took a look at your site right now, would you say it’s user-friendly? Is your menu easy to find and easy to read? Is all the content spaced out well enough that everything is readable? If you think some changes could be made, here are some tips on making your site user-friendly.

When it comes to navigation, simple is best. Your website navigation should follow 3 principles: simplicity, clarity and logic. This means it should be clear, easy to understand and follow and structured in a way that makes sense. Basically, make things as easy as possible for visitors to find their way around and you’re golden.

Make your contact info stand out. For business websites, it’s important for your contact information to be at the forefront. Nothing irks me more than when I’m trying to email a business and I can’t find any contact info. Don’t they want business? Make it easy for readers who what to get in touch with you. Also, showing off your contact info helps prove to consumers that you’re legit.

Make your site purty. As in make it attractive. I’m not saying to clutter up your site. Adding too much glitz will detract from your usability. But, you do want to fancy it up just a little. People are much more likely to spend more time on a site that is visually appealing. Choose complimentary colors, have a nice logo. Small things really make a difference here.

Keep an eye on load times. If your site takes too long to load, some visitors may turn and leave. Not all of them, but some will. Online viewers are impatient. They want their information fast. Make sure you have enough bandwidth to ensure fast loading times. Install a caching plugin that will help increase load speed or a compressing plugins that will compress your files and make your site faster.

Conclusion

Making sure your website is user-friendly can really help increase your traffic and your business. With these tips in mind, take a closer look at your site. Is it user-friendly? If not, some simple changes can make a huge difference.

 

How to Take Your Business to the Next Level

business tips, image by samuiblue on freedigitalphotos.netIt’s easy to become somewhat complacent about business. If you’re paying the bills and living a balanced life there may be no incentive to push it. Yet, the only way to know what’s possible is to set bigger goals and strive to grow your business. It’s time to look at how to take your business to the next level.

#1 Take Bigger Risks

You’ve learned a lot along the way. Even if you’ve only been in business for a year or less, chances are you’re much wiser than you were when you started. It’s time to take more risks. Not crazy or impulsive risks. We’re talking about calculated risks. Know what the risks are and what you stand to gain and then make a decision to forge ahead.

#2 Write More Content

If you blog, try to increase the frequency. If you send email messages, strive to send one a week. If you use social media, publish or share relevant content on a daily basis. In short, publish more content, be more noticeable and more accessible. Test and track your results. Chances are as you publish more content you’ll also notice an increase in traffic, SEO and sales or profits.

#3 Be More Relevant

What does your audience respond to the most? Use your analytics to figure out what your audience likes the best and provide more of that. You can use your data to help you find that sweet spot with your prospects.

#4 Host Webinars and Seminars

Teaching opportunities not only strengthen your credibility, authority and brand, they also provide tremendous marketing opportunities and an abundance of content. One webinar can produce books, reports, and email content and blog posts not to mention the product potential. Engage, teach, and publish – that’s how you take a business to the next level.

#5 Ask Questions

Do you really know what your audience wants and needs? Even if you’re on top of it now, the answer can and does change. Integrate communication into your marketing. Ask more questions. Ask your audience what they want to learn, how they want to learn and how you can help them succeed?

Conclusion

Pushing your limits and growing your business can be terrifying and rewarding. Plan, strategize, and follow through. Use your resources, talk with your audience, customers and prospects, and use the technology available to you to evaluate your results. It’s all in your power to decide how high you want to reach and how big you’d like to grow your business.

Can the Passion in Your Voice Affect Customer Motivation?

customer relations,If you want to create customer motivation, one of the first places you should look is yourself. The way you speak and communicate with your customers plays a large role in how they feel about your brand, product or service.

The Infomercial Example

One prime example of how excitement can play a role in getting people motivated is late-night infomercials. If you turn your TV on late at night and watch these infomercials, you’ll find that every single person you see appears to be jumping out of their skin with excitement.

Infomercials are produced by professionals who truly understand how to motivate a market. If you or your spokesperson is highly passionate, your customers will feel that motivation and get passionate as well.

Passion Doesn’t Have to Look a Certain Way

Passion doesn’t always have to look like a person talking quickly or loudly. It can also take a very calm and controlled demeanor. The words you use can convey how much you believe in something, without you having to wave your arms excitedly or talk loudly.

Felt Passion versus Expressed Passion

Have you ever seen someone speak as if they were passionate, but you thought they were just faking it? For example, if you went to a used car salesman, they might sound very excited about a car – but you just don’t feel it.

That’s probably because they’re trying to emulate what they think excitement looks like, without being truly excited.

The key to transferring passion is to first feel passionate yourself. You can’t just emulate passion; you have to actually feel it inside.

If you can muster up a burning passion as you speak, that’s what will motivate your customers.

Who You Are Can Be Intrinsically Motivating

Who you are, your past results and what you stand for can be intrinsically motivating, even if your voice isn’t. What do I mean? If can establish yourself as a leader in your industry, you raise your clout with others. Suddenly others will want to know what you have to say and will look to you for motivation.

Voice versus Technique

Voice tone and speaking technique are equally important. If you’ve ever attended a motivational seminar, you’ve seen techniques in action.

The speaker will have you jumping up and down, high fiving your neighbors and employ a whole host of other techniques to get you motivated.

Conclusion

Your voice is crucial, but so is understanding the mechanics of motivation. However, without passion in your voice, no technique will make a difference. Start with a fiery passion that comes from the inside, then add proof, results and techniques on top.

Keyword Research Tool Comparison Chart

research toolsKeywords are probably the most important element of SEO as they are what helps get your content indexed and found. Choosing the right keywords can boost your page views, traffic and even sales. Picking the wrong ones can mean not getting your content seen.

There are many tools online that can help you figure out the right keywords for your content. In fact, it can be hard to figure out which is best for you. Here is a simple comparison chart to help you pick the right keyword research tool for your business.

NOTE: Comparison chart was created based on available information and features are subject to change.

 

  Product NameWordTracker Product NameGoogle Keyword Planner Product NameMarket Samurai Product NameSEMRush Product NameKeyword Discovery Product NameUberSuggest
 

Cost

 

$27 to $99 Monthly Free — But must sign up for AdWords Account Free to $149.00 $69.95 to $499 Monthly (can order custom plans) $199.95 to $495 Monthly or $1895 to $4752 Yearly Free
Keyword Suggestions  Yes Yes, Limited Yes, Exceptional Yes, Exceptional Yes, Exceptional Yes
Export / Download Reporting  Yes Yes Yes Yes, Branded Reports Term reports, Lists, Industry Keywords You can copy and paste your selections
Local Focused Research Tools  Yes Yes, Limited Yes, Exceptional Yes, Exceptional Yes No
Search Competitors  Yes Yes, Limited Extensive Extensive Exceptional Yes
Results for images, recipes, videos, news, etc.  Yes No No No No Yes
Other Suggestions Yes Yes, related Yes, related Yes Yes, spelling mistakes, related No

 

How to Write a Case Study That Will Boost Your Business

online marketing, business marketing, case studies Case studies are an in-depth look at how a customer has benefited from using your product or service. It is a great way to help your business get extra press. Case studies can be featured as a blog post, a newsletter or even as a brochure or press release. To write a really effective case study, you can hire a freelance writer, or you can write it yourself. If you plan to go the DIY route, here are some tips on how to write a case study with business-boosting power.

Have a strong title. Like any written content, your title needs to capture your audience and give them an idea of what you’re about to share with them. Write a title that is intriguing, but gives your audience an idea of what’s in it for them.

Use real numbers. What is more compelling? Saying your product has helped increase your customer’s productivity or saying it has increased it by 80%? Having concrete numbers (even ballpark figures) really helps show how well your product or service is working for others.

Avoid pitchy jargon. This is a case study documenting a real customer experience. This is not the time to get all sales-y. Skip advertising jargon like “unique” or “market leading” for your case study.

Include quotes. To make your case study really compelling, you will want to include quotes from your customer. It gives a first-hand account from someone who has really benefitted from your business. It also gives readers something to relate to. Your case study can be written in first or third person.

Include contact information. This is especially important if you plan to distribute your case study to other mediums besides your website. Include your business name, email, phone number and any other important contact information.

Conclusion

Case studies give a first-hand account of someone who has used your business. It goes further than a simple testimonial does, and can really help boost your business. If you plan to write your own case study, use these tips to ensure yours is effective.