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One key part of being a great marketer is understanding how people think and knowing why they act the way they do. 10 principals.
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Which Social Network Should You Advertise On? Social media advertising is a great tactic to use to supplement your print advertising.

Greeting Card Grammar TIps

With December only one month away, that means one thing — it’s time to send out those end-of-year holiday greetings again.

For friends and family, that might be as simple as shooting off a text message, but for clients & colleagues printed cards still score top marks.

While adding standard best wishes to a greeting card, a few questions about how to write them properly often come up. For instance, should it be “Seasons Greetings” or “Season’s Greetings”? Should “holiday season” be capitalized? And what’s the preferred spelling for “Hannukah”?

So, before you head to your office’s card signing party — or sit down to tackle your own list — consider these guidelines for 10 common holiday greetings:

  1. Best wishes for the holiday season – The holidays are a special time of year, and it’s tempting to emphasize this by capitalizing any word associated with them (and write this greeting as “Best wishes for the Holiday Season”). But stick to the basic rules of grammar, and you can’t go wrong. In general, capitalize only proper nouns, such as the name of a holiday, and the first letter in a sentence.
  2. Deck the halls – Adapting expressions from popular holiday songs can be a fun way to send well wishes, as in “Hope you have fun decking the halls.” But many people wonder whether it’s necessary to capitalize the adaptation or set it off with quotation marks. Usually neither is necessary. Unless proper nouns or the start of a sentence is involved, lowercase is appropriate. Quotation marks can be used to emphasize the fact that you’re borrowing from what might be licensed material, but if the expression is well-known, using them is more a matter of preference than official style.
  3. Happy Hanukkah – The biggest question many people have is about the right way to spell the name for the Jewish Festival of Lights. Hanukkah, Hannukah, and Chanukah are all common spellings — and Webster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary even lists Hanukka and Hanuka as alternatives. But Hanukkah is often the first listing in dictionaries and is the preferred spelling in the Associated Press Stylebook.
  4. Happy Holidays – With so many people celebrating different holidays at the same time of year, this has become a catch-all greeting to cover everything. While “holidays” isn’t technically a proper noun, in this instance, it is being used to replace words that are (substitute “Christmas,” “Hanukkah,” “Kwanzaa,” etc.). So, capitalizing it is common practice and is acceptable even when it’s part of a sentence, as in “Happy Holidays to you and your family.” Outside of this use, lowercase “holidays,” as in “I hope you enjoy the holidays.”
  5. Happy New Year – The official holiday is New Year’s Day, but it’s acceptable to keep the capital letters for this standard greeting. In some other uses, however, lowercase is more appropriate, as in “I hope your new year is off to a great start.” Also, note that New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve are written with an apostrophe before the “s.”
  6. Joyous Kwanzaa – The correct spelling for the holiday is “Kwanzaa.” Do not confuse it with “kwanza,” the Swahili word meaning “first,” which the holiday is derived from.
  7. Merry Christmas or Merry Xmas – “X” is the symbol for the first letter in the Greek word for Christ and has long been used as a shortened spelling of the holiday. But some people are put off by the substitution. If you’re not sure about the preference of the person you’re sending greetings to, you won’t go wrong with “Merry Christmas.”
  8. Peace on earth – Similar to “deck the halls,” capitalize “peace” only if it begins a sentence. No need to capitalize “earth.”
  9. Season’s Greetings – Multiple holidays are celebrated in one combined season, so use an apostrophe and “s” to show that you are sending greetings of the season. Also, treat this catch-all greeting like “Happy Holidays” and capitalize both words.
  10. Warm wishes – If trying to remember when to capitalize is too taxing, keep it simple by avoiding words that might need it.

Chances are most people will care less about your grammar and more about the sentiment of your greetings. So, whether you use these guidelines or not, remember to take a moment to send well wishes to clients, colleagues and friends.

Source: Ketchumblog / Written By: Calmetta Coleman

Friday, 12 September 2014 10:25

Business Signs That Get Attention

Written by

Business Signs That Get Attention

Creating a business sign that stands out requires an understanding of what grabs attention and ultimately encourages customers to buy a product or service. There are many ways to design an attention-getting business sign, but follow these basic rules when it comes to style, content and messaging.

Keep It Simple

    An attention-getting business sign needn't include tons of information. It's usually best to include only the most important, relevant information or key words for the product or service. Include the business' basic information and a couple of selling points that differentiate the company from its competitors. Always include a phone number and email address.

Make It Stand Out

    While it's best to keep a business sign simple, make it pop with some unique features. Capitalize the letters of important words or make certain phrases bold. Give the sign a bright color or design it so it contrasts with the surrounding environment. A good business sign has at least one or two visual aspects that invite attention and require people to look more closely.

Keep It Proportioned

    Design the sign so that visual aspect and text are well proportioned. Don't use several type sizes or place small pictures beside much larger ones. In general, the sign's information should be balanced for aesthetic appeal and readability. Stay consistent with colors and fonts. Don't place a small business sign in a large, empty area; if you have a small sign, position it in a smaller place where it will appear bigger.

Call to Action

    An effective business sign usually invites new business by offering a call to action. For example, a sign for a nail salon might say, "Call today and get 20% off your next pedicure!" By giving readers an incentive to contact the business, the sign promotes the company while helping attract new business leads. Offer an incentive, discount or free consultation on the sign to attract more customers.

Source: eHow / Written By: Mara Tyler

Businesses continue to integrate social media into their marketing efforts at an impressive rate and many report that they have used social media to get more brand interactions, contacts, and new customers.

As companies continue to rely on social media sites to reach their business goals, it is important that they pay attention to the way social media demographics are growing and changing. Who is using social media? Which social networks do people use -- and how do they use them?

Search Engine Journal created the infographic, featured below, to help you answer all of these questions and more. Take a look at the infographic to discover a number of facts and statistics that you should know about how social media usage is changing.

Growth Of Social Media [Infographics]

Key Takeaways

General Social Media
    > Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the top three social media sites used by marketers.
    > 93% of marketers use social media for business.
    > 72% of all internet users also used social media as of May 2013.
    > 71% of users use a mobile device to access social networks.

Facebook
    > There are now more than 1.15 billion Facebook users.
    > 70% of marketers have used Facebook to successfully gain new customers.
    > One million web pages are accessed using a Facebook login.
    > 47% of Americans say Facebook is their #1 influencer of purchases.
    > 23% of Facebook users login at least five time a day.

Twitter
    > 215 million people use Twitter every month.
    > Twitter is currently the fastest growing social network with a 44% growth from June 2012 to March 2013.
    > 34% of marketers have used Twitter to successfully generate leads.

Google+
    > There are 1 billion registered users on Google+.
    > 70% of brands have a presence on Google+.
    > The +1 button from Google+ is used 5 million times per day.

Source: Hubspot / Written By: Sam Kusinitz

How the Most Successful People Prioritize

I've been a "yes"-sayer most of my life. I'm a bit of an impulse shopper, always down for an adventure, open to meeting new people or switching plans at a moment's notice.

This has opened many doors for me over the years, especially with bosses and colleagues who are happy with my eagerness and "can-do" attitude. But sometimes, the "yes-yes-yes" approach can be exhausting -- it ends up stretching me way too thin. With every new affirmative comes the quiet ritual of reprioritization, where I look at my to-do list and figure out where on earth the new request will fit in.

Sound familiar? Think about the last time you had to rework your to-do list to accommodate piling demands. Was it last week? Yesterday? This morning? There biggest reason this problem is so widespread is: Many of us are concerned about looking like jerks if we don't do everything our colleagues ask of us -- especially if the person asking is our boss.

I think Ed Batista, executive coach and instructor at the Stanford School of Business, said it best: "When faced with potentially overwhelming demands on our time, we’re often advised to 'Prioritize!' as if that’s some sort of spell that will magically solve the problem ... Here’s the problem. After we prioritize, we act as though everything merits our time and attention, and we’ll get to the less-important items 'later.' But later never really arrives. The list remains without end."

It might seem like every incoming request is important -- especially ones from your superiors. But that's not true. Here are a few tips that successful people follow to better prioritize.

Give yourself a minute.

It's easier to say "yes" in the moment, only to realize later that you probably don't have time. Instead of defaulting to "yes," ask questions about the project (steps, due date, etc.) to gauge how long it might take. And then tell your requester, "Let me look at my schedule and see if I can fit it in." That way, you can take a few minutes to analyze the request and see how it can fit in with your current priorities. Which brings me to my next point ...

Analyze incoming requests.

Even ones from your superiors -- they shouldn't be a given! In her book Rise: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing in Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life, Patty Azzarello (whom Forbes calls "the original Marissa Mayer") reveals a little-known secret: Your boss needs help thinking through the things she requests of you just as much as you need help prioritizing them.

In other words, your boss doesn't want you to just do everything she asks you to do -- your job is to catch, record, and analyze all those asks, and then make judgments about which ones will have the biggest impact on the business. If you just do the things that will make a big impact on the business, you will be forgiven for the things you don't get done -- and that is a big secret to success.

Say "no" to requests that put your top priorities at risk.

Setting realistic expectations on our time is hard, but we have an even harder time saying "no" to our colleagues for fear of seeming unhelpful, not hardworking, not a team player, and so on. "There’s a fine line between effective triage and being an a**hole, and many of us are so worried about crossing that line that we don’t even get close," says Batista.

But in Rise, Azzarello reminds us that, while we can get away with not getting everything done if we deliver remarkable results on a few key things, we need to deliver those remarkable results -- otherwise, we don't have any success to offset why we didn't do better at everything else.

"Don't lose your nerve. Stick to it," she writes. "If you're tempted to work on everything because it feels less risky, just realize that you will remain unremarkable because you have not given yourself the opportunity to really excel on something that has a big impact on the business."

Your ultimate goal, according to Batista, is to confront the emotional discomfort of prioritizing tasks -- to "expand our comfort with discomfort." Saying "no" isn't easy, but it's incredibly important for career growth.

Source: Hubspot / Written By: Lindsay Kolowich

Networking Faux Pas to Avoid

Someone once told me I interrupt a lot.

I was offended at first. "I'm just trying to show that I'm listening and on board with what you're saying." It'd be weird to just be silent while they talked. That comes off as disinterested, right?

Fast-forward eight years, and I'm glad I took that feedback to heart. I've stopped interrupting people, and instead use other cues to show I am interested and listening. Now, I find people talk a lot longer than they used to -- it's remarkable what they'll say when they're not afraid of getting cut off -- and interrupting has actually become one of my biggest pet peeves.

One place this has helped me a lot is in networking -- the more I can learn about a new person to whom I've been introduced, the better. Unfortunately, there's a ton of other conversational faux pas besides interrupting that can make it hard to establish a good connection with people. Let's examine some of those, and learn the impact it has on people in one-on-one or group conversations.

Close Talking

If you're not sure what a close talker is, watch Seinfeld media clip posted below:

Most people have a personal space bubble that, if you pop it, sends up alarm signals. It puts people on the defensive and causes discomfort -- not a great environment for a conversation. Respect people's personal space -- reaching in for a handshake only -- and you'll get conversations off to a good start.

Question Barraging

It's a good conversational technique to ask someone about themselves, but it can quickly turn into an interrogation if the questions remain directed at just one person for too long. Find opportunities to relate to the person's responses, instead of continuing to ask question after question after question. When you add your own experiences to the dialogue, it turns from an interview to a conversation.

Bonus: That common ground you establish while networking can lead to fruitful business opportunities. Remember, people do business with people they like and trust.

Staring Off Into Space

You know when you're in a conversation and it's kind of boring? Or you see someone else in the room you want to talk to? Or you have to pee and are scanning for a restroom? It's easy to let your eyes start drifting around the room, causing you to break eye contact with the person or people you're speaking with.

That sends a signal that you've moved on from the conversation, and aren't interested in what they have to say. And even if that's true, it's no way to establish connections. Worse, it just makes the other person feel crappy.

If you have to break off the conversation for one reason or another, use your words. Find a natural break in the dialogue, explain you have to excuse yourself for X, Y, or Z, and use it as an opportunity for your "ask" -- whether that's a business card, an interview request, or just a hearty handshake farewell.

Awkwardly Sidling

Have you ever heard that advice that when you're networking, "Just go up and join a group and see what they're talking about!"

It's fine advice, but it can really backfire if you're not prepared to enter the conversation gracefully. If you sidle up to a group conversation, be prepared to take in the topic of conversation and confident you can think on your feet enough to contribute to it. Otherwise, you risk being the weird person who sidled up to a conversation, said absolutely nothing, and made everyone else feel weird about your unexplained presence.

Dominating the Conversation

On the other end of the spectrum lies the person who just can't shut up. Again, conversations require two or more people to carry on -- give other people a chance to talk. Otherwise, you might find yourself on the receiving end of the "staring off into space" move.

Parroting

Parroting refers to conversationalists who simply repeat another version of what the other person just said. So you'd say something like, "Bananas are really healthy and have lots of potassium." The parroter would respond, "You're so right! Bananas are a great way to stay healthy and get lots of potassium." Not exactly adding much to the conversation, are we?

Often, parroters may think they're being encouraging and positive by reflecting back what their conversation partner has said, but too much of it can leave a conversation at a stalemate. Conversations are two-way streets -- be sure you're bringing something to the table to move it along. Being the only one talking is just exhausting.

Stirring Up Controversy

Among friends, sure, bringing up the latest piece of controversial news is okay -- it's a safe space, and you've aired strong opinions before. But networking events are not the place for it. While I've met a few people that have never shied away from airing controversial opinions no matter what/where/when, most people around them become instantly frozen with discomfort. The conversation makes people go from acting normal to scouting for the nearest exit.

Depending on the group you're talking to, light controversy might be alright -- for instance, if you're at an event with young people in tech, you're probably not going to offend anyone by bringing up twerking. But you've got to tread lightly here, and know your audience if you're willing to take the risk.

Forcing Your Opinion

On a similar note, not everything that's up for debate needs a concrete answer. If topics come up that have some gray area, embrace that gray area and the variety of opinions that come with it. Diverse opinions are perfect for fostering interesting, memorable conversation, but those who try too hard to assert their opinion as the opinion will quickly bring a friendly debate to a close.

Source: Hubspot / Written By: Corey Eridon

How to Regain Your Privacy on Facebook

Facebook just announced yet another way it is encroaching on your privacy. Starting soon, the company said on Thursday, it will use information gathered from other websites to figure out the ads that best apply to you.

But, to its credit, Facebook is also offering a way to opt out of its new data-gathering system. Here's how to do so in just two steps.

Step 1:

Go to this page from the Digital Advertising Alliance, a consortium of advertising trade groups. There you'll find a list of all the companies that track your browsing to deliver tailored ads. Mostly likely, Facebook is among them.

Find "Facebook Inc." under "Companies Customizing Ads For Your Browser" and check off the checkmark to the right.

Regain Privacy Step 1

Then just hit "Submit."

One important note: Disabling Facebook from tracking on one web browser does not disable it on all browsers. You'll have to go through this step on all browsers you use to check your Facebook account, even those on the same computer.

Step 2:

Unless you have an ad blocker, you'll never get Facebook to completely stop using all of the knowledge it has compiled on you. But you can pick and choose some of the things that get thrown into the pile. Over the next several weeks, Facebook will roll out a new tool in the U.S. that will let you add or subtract interests, like "Television" or "Electronics," that Facebook has attributed to you.

When this feature is made available, you'll be able to access it by clicking or tapping the gray arrow in the top-right corner of the ad and then going to "Why am I seeing this?" From there, you'll be able to edit your list of interests.

Regain Privacy on Facebook Step 2

Again: This second step will not be available for a few more weeks. And if none of this is good enough, there's always the nuclear option of (gulp) deleting your Facebook.

Source: Huff Post

Six Outdated Trends

Sometimes, when I think back to internet trends that came and went, it can put a big smile across my face. Remember the hours you or your friends spent playing Farmville and typing all Facebook statuses in the third person? Sweet memories, right?

But then there are the trends that have kind of faded into the background, only to pop up in your thoughts when you're in the shower or in the middle of devising a new marketing campaign. You think, "Does anyone actually do that anymore?" Googling it doesn't really help -- all the articles are from five years ago, and they all seem to think that trend is all the rage. There's nothing explicitly telling you that this trend is really not that cool anymore.

Well, we figured we'd help you set the record straight. Let's take a moment to look back at six internet marketing trends of the last five years that are really not a thing anymore, and give you alternatives to take advantage of now.

1) #FollowFriday

Follow Friday was very, very popular on Twitter back in 2009. Here's how it worked: Every Friday, you'd send a tweet to your followers recommending a Twitter handle you thought was super interesting and others might want to follow. You'd accompany these tweets with the hashtags #FollowFriday or #ff.

Here's what a #FollowFriday tweet was supposed to look like:

Follow Friday-The Correct Way

It's descriptive, helpful, and personalized. But here's what #FollowFriday tweets actually ended up looking like -- ALL OF THEM:

Follow Friday-The Incorrect Way

You can imagine how cluttered your news feed looked when everyone you followed was posting tweets like that at the same time. (Oatmeal said it best.)

Follow Friday started with a single tweet by entrepreneur Micah Baldwin.

One of his followers responded by suggesting the #followfriday hashtag. A few more friends hopped on board, and boom: At the peak of the first ever Follow Friday, the #FollowFriday hashtag saw two tweets per second.

Why did it catch on so fast? Because it was easy, people felt like they were spreading goodwill, and anyone with a free Twitter account could participate. There were great intentions behind its creation and adoption in 2009. If you think someone's tweets are great, why not share that greatness with your followers? But when Twitter feeds became incomprehensible streams of hashtags and Twitter handle recommendations, Follow Friday got old reeeal quick.

It's not clear when Follow Friday started dying, but it's gone.

2) Like-Gating

Have you ever been offered something for free from a brand in exchange for "Liking" their Facebook page? That's called Like-gating, a trend that got really hot in 2011. Here's an example of Like-gating from Sephora:

Sephora Example of Like Gating

 If you've ever Liked a company's Facebook page so you could get free stuff, think back to how that exchange made you feel about the brand. Did their offer make you feel more loyal to them, or did you suspect they'd spam you in the future?

Most of you would probably say the latter. Offering free stuff for Liking your page is a plea for quantity, not quality, of Facebook Likes. But don't you want the people who Like you on Facebook to have done so without dangling a carrot on a stick? Plus, consumers have been able to "unlike" a company page with the click of a button since 2010.

If your goal is to gain a lot Facebook Likes in a short amount of time, like-gating can be a tempting short-term solution. But ask yourself the business value of all those low-quality Facebook Likes. Is it worth the investment?

For Like-gating to be effective at all, the real work would need to start after a consumer Likes your page. You'd need to convince them to stick around by being helpful, valuable, and providing great content. If you really want more Facebook fans, then you need to make sure you follow up and continue building a strong relationship with consumers long after the Like.

But it's far better in the long term to earn those Facebook likes by providing helpful, engaging content from your website. Before people Like your page, they've probably given it a once-over to see if anything there would interest them. So when people end up Liking your page by choice, they're more likely to want to engage with your website content -- which is your ultimate goal, anyway.

3) LinkedIn Events

The idea behind the LinkedIn Events application, which was shut down in 2012, makes total sense: Professionals want to know where other professionals are networking and what conferences they're going to. Plus, you wouldn't want professional events muddled in with your best friend's housewarming party on Facebook Events -- and at that point, how many of you were connected on Facebook with all of your professional mentors and influencers, anyway?

LinkedIn's Events application let users browse events the people in their networks were organizing or attending. You could see the attendee lists, mark down whether you were attending yourself, and even see a list of "attendees you may want to meet" based on connections, interests, and industry. Here's what it looked like:

LinkedIn Events

When LinkedIn announced they would be shutting down the application, my first reaction was, "LinkedIn had an events application?" Apparently I wasn't alone. LinkedIn's official message said they shut it down because they wanted to invest more time and money in building out other parts of the product. It's unclear whether this meant that too many LinkedIn users didn't use the Events application, or it just didn't support LinkedIn's overall strategy.

Either way, if you're feeling lost without it, try finding and promoting events on Facebook, Eventbrite, or on MeetUp.com. (The first is much more acceptable than it used to be.)

4) QR Codes

Remember when it seemed like QR Codes were everywhere? They were on store windows, napkin holders, walls, in magazines. In short, QR Codes (Quick Response codes) are matrix barcodes that can be read by QR barcode readers, which people could choose to install on their smartphones. Marketers thought of them as a way to bridge offline and online marketing -- kind of like links you could "click on" in real life.

But there was just one problem: The trend never really broke out of the tech-savvy crowd. Although both Apple and Android have QR readers built in to their systems (Apple's is built into Passbook, not the camera itself), that isn't very widely known.

If you're looking for a way to connect the physical and digital world, it's simple: Place URLs in places you want consumers to see them. They can type them in manually. Just make sure the URL is logical to type -- not a random jumble of letters.

5) EdgeRank

Facebook's News Feed algorithm has kept marketers on their toes by evolving numerous times since it launched in September 2006. In 2006, users first saw personalized lists of their friends' posts that updated throughout the day. To figure out what content users wanted to see on their news feeds, Facebook used a pretty unsophisticated algorithm: the pre-cursor to EdgeRank.

In 2007, at the same time Facebook launched Ads and Pages for companies to use, they released a new News Feed algorithm, named "EdgeRank," that determined exactly which Facebook posts would go into other people's News Feeds. For companies, EdgeRank provided statistics of the engagement on your company page so you could analyze your activities.

But the EdgeRank algorithm couldn't keep up with the rapidly increasing number of people using Facebook, now more than a billion people per month, accessing Facebook on all different devices. In August 2013, Facebook announced changes to the algorithm that could accommodate its huge user base.

Since then, the name EdgeRank has been declared dead, but Facebook's algorithm has continued to evolve and improve. The new algorithm has almost 100,000 weight factors to determine which of your friends' posts you see on your feed. With all of these changes that've cropped up, your survival strategy should be simple: continue creating content your fans, leads, and customers enjoy.

6) Facebook Polls

In June 2013, Facebook announced a plan to streamline the number of ad units by cutting out redundancies they found in their advertising platform. This would include the Questions product for Pages (sometimes referred to as "Facebook Polls"), which many marketers used to engage fans in a way other than just posting to their page's wall.

But it turns out that Facebook Questions, originally predicted to be a big threat to Quora, actually never really caught on. Facebook even repackaged and relaunched a more social, watered-down version of the product in 2011 that allowed you to only poll people you were directly connected to on Facebook, rather than the whole Facebook community.

Questions was quietly shut down in July 2013 under the premise that marketers could get the same information from fans by simply asking a question in new post and looking at the comments. LinkedIn also used to have a Group Polling feature,  but they too shut it down in May 2014.

At this point, if you want to poll your audience on social media, you'll have to stick with asking questions in regular posts and looking at answers in the comments. And even that tactic is kind of outdated -- Facebook's made some algorithm changes to cut down on "engagementbait" in the News Feed, and that tactic could end up easily falling into that category. So you should probably steer clear of Facebook polling altogether, unless you're posting a link to a survey or poll you're running on your website.

Do you or did you follow any of these trends? What did you find good and bad about them? Post a comment.

Source: Hubspot / Written By: Lisa Toner

Proofing

I remember the first time I had to proofread something. It was my third day on the job at my very first internship -- a small marketing agency in central New Jersey. My boss called me over and handed me a 36-page newsletter that needed to be proofed quickly. We had to send it back to the client ASAP.

I was decent at writing and editing, but I didn't want to disappoint my boss and our clients by letting mistakes slip through the cracks ... if only I could have someone proofread my proofreading to make sure I wasn't screwing up. But I don't know a business that has time for processes like that. So I just tried to be extra cautious (even though that still didn't ensure everything was perfect).

Thinking back, I would have loved to have a proofreading checklist. Since I know I'm not the only wannabe perfectionist out there, I decided to create the post below to help anyone in a similar scenario.

Note: We're talking about proofreading here -- not the first draft editing process. When you're editing, there are lots of other things you should look out for.

1) Tone

Having the right tone for corporate copy is tricky -- you've got to be aligned with the overall brand tone, but if it's a social message or a blog post, you might also have the author's own distinct voice to consider. Make sure you're keeping an eye out for both.

For example, your brand may have a super friendly and encouraging tone ... but you see that a writer's been infusing one too many harsh, snarky comments in their piece. Make sure you're course-correcting on those elements so that the piece doesn't seem out of place among the other posts on your blog.

When you're proofing, most of this tone issues should already have been worked out in previous editing rounds. Still, it's possible that a few parts may stick out like a sore thumb -- it's your job to notice and fix them.

2) Product and Persona Positioning

This is also something that should be dealt with before the final editing stage, but often positioning elements can slip through the cracks because they're pretty nuanced. Sometimes fixing positioning comes down to choosing another synonym or adding a simple descriptor to a sentence.

There are two positioning elements you generally need to fix: product and persona. Product positioning mistakes will usually be mistakes that misrepresent what your company offers. It'd be like calling Chipotle fast food ... yes, it's true it's a fast-food joint, but it's not on par with the McDonald's of the world since it uses high-quality, freshly made food. That's a core part of their brand positioning that should be addressed in your copy.

Persona positioning is another mistake people often make -- particularly if your company sells to several different buyer personas. Persona positioning mistakes usually crop up when incorrect language is used for a persona. For example, let's say you work for Dell, selling to both the average consumer and an IT department. If the blog post for the consumer used technical terms only the IT department persona would get, you'd need to revise those terms. Even if your company has tight buyer persona alignment, it's possible that little tidbits meant for one persona slip into a post for another.

3) Logical Flow

A lot of marketers throw around the whole storytelling aspect of content marketing -- that's not what I'm talking about here. What I'm talking about is making sure that each sentence is followed by one that makes sense. Flow. A logical one. (This also holds true for paragraphs, too.)

Poor transitions often happen when a writer doesn't have an outline -- creating an outline from their writing can help you figure out where you need to beef up transitions between sentences or paragraphs. If you find there's an illogical leap from one sentence or paragraph to another, that's when you know you need to make edits to those transitions.

4) Grammar

Even the best writers can have grammar mistakes slip through if they're on tight deadlines. They know that they need to use "their" instead of "they're" but somehow it slipped into the post.

As the proofreader, you need to be hyper-vigilant about detecting grammar mistakes. If this isn't your sweet spot in the writing/editing world, take a look at this post and this post on the most common mistakes people make. Before you hit "publish," find those words in the piece (Control + F on PC or Command + F on Mac) and make sure they're being used correctly.

5) Style Guide Consistency

Abiding by your company's style guide may seem like a small thing, but not following it makes a piece of copy seem out of place among the rest of your work. For example, in the HubSpot style guide, we always capitalize prepositions in headlines that are four letters or more -- so words like "with" and "from" should be capitalized in titles. If we forget to follow this rule, it's not the end of the world ... but it does look sloppier on the homepage or in one of the section pages of Inbound Hub.

If you know that you have a tendency to forget to check certain important parts of the style guide, try to find and replace them as you would with grammatical mistakes.

6) Country-Specific Spelling and Jargon

Pretty much everyone who publishes online content should be concerned with this bullet point. Though international or global companies worry about this more often, the truth is that anyone from anywhere in the world can find and read your content. Don't you want to make sure they understand it?

You shouldn't eliminate country specific spelling and jargon -- especially if your main audience is local -- but just make sure that it'll make sense to someone in your industry from another country. If you're marketing to anyone in the world, the last thing you want is for them to click off your blog because they didn't fully understand the country-specific references.

7) Logical Images

Often, people will notice images more than the text in your content -- especially if they're just speed reading and scrolling through it. So make sure your images always make contextual sense.

Ask yourself: Does the image make sense on its own, or does it require an explanation? If it needs one, you probably need to swap it out for something else. Images are supposed to hit home the points you make in the copy, not make the reader ask more questions.

8) Data and Image Attributions

Frankly, it's pretty easy to steal content on the web, even if you're not trying to. After you've tidied up the copy and made sure you've got supporting imagery, make sure you've properly cited any external data and images. If you're unsure of what data and images you can use, check out this blog post. The last thing you want is to get served papers over using an image you thought was up for grabs online.

9) Spellcheck

When you were proofing for grammar, you should have also found some typos, but it's very possible that you may have missed them. Use a built-in spell-checker or copy-paste your near-final copy into Word to see if you get any red or green squiggly lines. You'd be surprised how easy it is, even for a trained proofreader, to miss a tiny typo in the midst of a long paragraph. This step helps cut down on any human error that may have occurred somewhere in the writing or editing process.

10) Broken Links

Last but certainly not least, you should check to make sure alllll the links are directed to where they're supposed to be and that they actually work. Once you have the content all set in your CMS, just go through and open up every link. The one time I forgot to do this for a blog post, I ended up mis-linking something, directing our lovely readers to a BuzzFeed article instead of a helpful ebook. Though I'm sure you all enjoy seeing cute kittens, you'd rather find what you actually wanted to click on, right? Don't make your readers hunt for content they thought was coming their way.

If you're always fixing these 10 mistakes, you'll end up with quite a tidy piece of content -- if not perfect. It's possible that one tiny mistake may still slip through -- you're human, after all. But this list should help you keep your content squeaky clean, all without hiring a proofreading checker.

Source: Hubspot / Written By: Ginny Soskey

Mastering LinkedIn

With more than 259 million users, LinkedIn is the most popular social network for professionals as well as one of the top social networks overall. Are you using it to its fullest potential?

While new social networks are sprouting up constantly, LinkedIn is a powerful platform that often gets underutilized or put on the back burner.

But the truth is, LinkedIn can be extremely powerful -- especially when you're aware of all the little hidden tricks that don't get nearly enough exposure as they deserve. To help you master LinkedIn, below is our ultimate list of 35 awesome tricks you may have been overlooking.

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Presence

1) Customize your public profile URL.

Make your profile look more professional (and easier to share) by claiming your LinkedIn vanity URL. Instead of a URL with a million confusing numbers at the end, it will look nice and clean. Customize your URL by going here and clicking Customize your public profile URL down on the right-hand side.

2) Create a profile badge for your personal website.

If you have your own personal website or blog, you can promote your personal LinkedIn presence and help grow your professional network by adding a Profile Badge that links to your public LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has a few different badge designs to select from, and you can configure your own here.

3) Make your blog/website links sexier.

Instead of using the default "Personal Website"-type anchor text links in your LinkedIn profile, you can change the anchor text to make those links more appealing to people who view your profile. So if you want to increase clicks on the website links you display on your profile, change those links' anchor text to something more attention-grabbing than the standard options LinkedIn provides.

For example, if you want to include a link to your blog, rather than choosing LinkedIn's standard "Blog" anchor text, customize it to include keywords that indicate what your blog is about. Each profile can display up to three website links like this, and they can be customized by editing your profile, clicking the pencil icon next to your website links, and selecting Other in the drop-down menu.

4) Search engine optimize your profile.

You can also optimize your profile to get found by people searching LinkedIn for key terms you want to get found by. Add these keywords to various sections of your profile such as your headline or in your summary.

5) Show work samples.

Did you know LinkedIn allows you to add a variety of media such as videos, images, documents, links, and presentations to the Summary, Education, and Experience sections of your LinkedIn profile? This enables you to showcase different projects, provide samples of your work, and better optimize your LinkedIn profile. Learn more about adding, removing, and rearranging work samples here.

6) Add, remove, and rearrange entire sections of your profile.

LinkedIn also enables users to reorder the sections of your profile in any way you prefer. When in edit mode, simply hover your mouse over the double-sided arrow next to the Edit link for each section. Your mouse will turn into a four-arrowed icon, at which point you can click, then drag and drop to another position on your profile.

You can also customize your profile with sections that apply only to you. Find a full list of sections to add to and remove from your profile here.

7) Take advantage of Saved Searches.

LinkedIn allows users to save up to ten job searches and three people searches. After conducting a search, clicking the Save This Search option on the right allows you to save a search and easily run it again later. You can also choose to receive weekly or monthly reminders (+ daily for job searches) via email once new members in the network or jobs match your saved search criteria.

8) Quickly turn your LinkedIn profile into a resume.

Job seeking is one of the most common -- and beneficial -- uses of LinkedIn. Were you aware that LinkedIn enables you to turn your profile into a resume-friendly format in seconds with its Resume Builder tool? Just choose a resume template, edit it, and export it as a PDF that you can print, email, and share.

9) Find a job through LinkedIn's job board.

Now that you've generated that awesome new resume from LinkedIn's Resume Builder tool, you can use it -- and LinkedIn's Job board -- to help you land an awesome new position. LinkedIn allows you to search for jobs by industry and location. It even suggests jobs you might be interested in based on the information in your LinkedIn profile. Save some job searches like we suggested in number 7 to get alerted when new jobs pop up, too!

10) Get endorsed.

Back in 2012, LinkedIn launched a feature called Endorsements, which enables users to endorse their connections for skills they’ve listed in the Skill & Expertise section of their profile -- or recommend one they haven’t yet listed. These endorsements then show up on your profile within that same Skills & Expertise section, as you can see in the screenshot below.

Okay, so you can't guarantee your connections will endorse you for those skills, but because it's so easy for your LinkedIn contacts to do (all they have to do is click on the + sign next to a particular skill on your profile), you'll find that many of them will do it anyway. Just make sure your profile is complete and you've listed the skills you want your contacts to endorse you for. It will definitely give your profile a bit of a credibility boost. You can also remove endorsements if you find people are endorsing you for skills that aren't very applicable.

Source: Hubspot / Written By: Pamela Vaughan

Awkward Grammar - 7 Common Mistakes

Okay, so I'm no English major, but I am a content marketer -- attention to grammatical detail is something very near and dear to my heart.

The more time I've spent in this role, the more I notice little errors in things like text messages, IMs, and birthday cards. This could either be seen as a good thing ... or incredibly stressful to anyone who has to communicate with me non-verbally. (Sorry guys. I can't help it!)

I've become the go-to person for proofreading other people's content before it goes live, and as a result, I have started to notice a few of the same mistakes cropping up time and time again. So, I decided to write this post with the hope of calling attention to those common errors.

Note: I know, I know, not all of these are "grammar" mistakes. But I'm taking a pretty liberal definition of "grammar" in this post -- including spelling, usage, punctuation, and the like.

1) The Apostrophe Catastrophe

The two most common misuses of the apostrophe are:

Contractions

The apostrophe is often used as a contraction. For example, "I can't figure this out." The apostrophe here is used to omit the word "not" so that "cannot" becomes "can't." The same can be used for "don't" (do not), "they're" (they are), etc.

Possessives

The second most common use of the apostrophe is to indicate possession. For example, "That is John's car." The car belongs to John. Without using the apostrophe in this case, you are pluralizing John, meaning there's more than one John in your sentence. And then the sentence just doesn't make sense anyway.

A common point of confusion for both of these apostrophe use cases is the word "it's." The possessive form of "it" can cause all kinds of confusion, as it doesn't conform to the above rule.

For example, "The elephant is known for its memory" is a correct use of the word "its" -- even though one might think there should be an apostrophe after the "t" since the elephant "possesses" the memory. A simple way to remember the right one to use is to ask if the word can be separated into two words -- "it is" or "it has." If it can, use an apostrophe.

2) That Tricky Little Comma

There are many uses of the comma, but for simplicity, I'm only going to cover the most frequent errors I spot.

To Separate Elements in a Series

I went to the shop to buy apples carrots bread and milk.

That sounds insane, right? That's because each element in the series should be separated by a comma.

I went to the shop to buy apples, carrots, bread, and milk.

Ahhh, much better. That last comma, by the way, is optional. It's called an "Oxford comma," but whether you use it depends on your own internal style guide.

To Separate Independent Clauses

An independent clause is a sentence that can stand on its own, so when in doubt whether a comma needs to be in the sentence, take the second part of the sentence and ask yourself if it would make a full sentence on its own. If it does, add a comma. If it doesn't, leave it out.

To Separate an Introductory Word or Phrase

At the beginning of a sentence, we often add an introductory word or phrase that requires a subsequent comma. For example, "In the beginning, I had no idea how to use a comma." Or, "However, after reading an awesome blog post, I understand the difference."

There are plenty more use cases for the comma, which is really well documented in this blog post from Daily Writing Tips, which I follow and highly recommend for content marketers.

3) Semicolons and Colons

If you only semi-understand when to use these punctuation marks, here's a quick explanation to keep in your back pocket.

Semicolons

Semicolons help writers connect two independent clauses that, though they could stand on their own, are closely related and should remain in the same sentence. For example, "It's her birthday; a party is inevitable!" Notice that each clause could be its own sentence -- but stylistically, it makes more sense for them to be joined. (Note: If the first clause contains a coordinating conjunction -- "and," "or," or "but" -- use a comma instead.)

They may also be used to separate items in a list when those items contain commas themselves.

Colons

Colons should be used to introduce or define something. For example, we used one in our blog post title, "The ABCs of Content Marketing: A Glossary of Terms." Before the colon we give you the title of the post, and after the colon we define what the post is.

You may also use a colon before a list, or when preceded by a clause that can stand on its own. For instance, one might write:

  • A blog post
  • An ebook
  • A novel

And here's the thing about writing a blog post, ebook, or novel: Your business will benefit as much as your personal brand.

See what I did there? Note that because what follows the colon can stand alone as its own sentence, the first word is capitalized.

4) "Fewer" Versus "Less"

This one drives my colleague Pamela Vaughan up a wall.

You know that show 10 Items or Less? That's actually incorrect. It should be 10 Items or Fewer, because the object is quantifiable -- you can count out ten items. You use "less" when the object is not quantifiable.

If you're ever unsure whether you should use "less" or "fewer," ask yourself if you could attach a number to the word. For instance, it makes as much sense to say "He has ten beans," as "He has fewer beans." That's because you can quantify beans. But it doesn't make sense to say "He has ten angst." You can't quantify angst. Thus, you'd say "He has less angst."

5) "Should Have" Versus "Should Of"

This one seems obvious when written out -- particularly in the context of a grammar post -- but alas, people get it wrong all the time. The confusion stems from the way we all slur our words together, so in an age of more colloquial writing, I understand why people make this mistake.

Always write "should have" or "should've." That contraction -- "should've" -- is why writers get confused. It sounds a heck of a lot like "should of," and people probably started writing it without even considering the contraction "should've." But now that you know, it's a mistake that's easy to correct.

6) "Couldn't Care Less" Versus "Could Care Less"

This is another one that seems so obvious when you think about it -- but hey, I guess people aren't really thinking about it when they say it. There's a scenario in which each phrase makes sense; the problem is, people don't use the right phrase for the right scenario. Let's walk through a scenario together to clarify the right usage of these phrases.

Scenario: Bill asks Bonnie on a date, and Bonnie turns him down. Annoyed, he flippantly tells his friend, "Pshh. Whatever ... I could care less."

This is the incorrect usage of the phrase. Why? Because context clues tell us Bill is trying to save face and pretend he doesn't care about Bonnie. But this phrase, "I could care less," indicates that he does care a little bit.

He should've said, "I couldn't care less" to demonstrate he has no care left to give.

If you commonly get confused with this phrase, follow the advice of my fourth grade teacher: If in doubt, leave it out.

7) i.e. and e.g.

i.e. and e.g. are both abbreviations for Latin terms. i.e. stands for id est and is translated to mean "that is." E.g. stands for exempli gratia, which means “for example.”

A great trick I learned for remembering the difference between the two of these came from Grammar Girl's blog. She teaches us to remember that i.e. means "in other words" (both start with i), and e.g. means "for example" (example starts with e).

Not too hard, right? This is particularly important for content marketers, since we often produce educational content that contains clarifications or examples for readers to reference.

Source: Hubspot / Written By: Lisa Toner