Our Solutions News Blog was envisioned to gather and share information from the very best to help you and your business to become more effective.
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
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.
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:
It's descriptive, helpful, and personalized. But here's what #FollowFriday tweets actually ended up looking like -- ALL OF THEM:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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
At a recent networking event in Silicon Valley I was struck by how such events can be really great or really bad. On the great side they can be the beginning of interesting friendships. On the bad side they can be shallow, stressful and unsatisfying.
With SXSW just getting started (I will be speaking there on Essentialism) my editor asked me to share a few thoughts on what attendees at any big, high-profile conference should or should not be doing to have a meaningful experience. Here are three ideas for your consideration:
A Fistful of Business Cards (vs. One Genuine Relationship).
The classic behavior at these events is to exchange a lot of business cards. This remains true even though afterwards many of the cards are close to meaningless. They won't remember you; you won't remember them.
Susan Cain, the genius behind the book Quiet, suggests a different rule of thumb for networking events: "One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards." This essentialist sentiment is one I fully endorse. In fact a friend of mine, Dave Hanley, recently pointed out to me that the sharing of business cards often signals the end of a conversation not the beginning of one.
Looking Over Someone's Shoulder (vs. Mindful Listening).
I once sat next to Bill Reilly at a networking dinner at Apple. We connected easily and have built a great relationship overtime. I was interested to discover how he learned to really listen to who he is speaking to. He found if he concentrated on listening to other people the way he focused when he meditated his interaction immediately became richer. The other person could feel he was listening, almost physically. And when they knew he was listening they formed a bond with him faster. Life almost immediately felt richer and more meaningful. As professor Graham Bodie has empirically noted, listening is the quintessential positive interpersonal communication behavior.
The Fear of Missing Out (vs. the Joy of Missing Out).
As I mentioned in a recent piece, I was once at the World Economic Forum for Latin America in Mexico with an amazing array of speakers, panels and participants. The bad news was I felt pulled to attend everything and meet everyone. When I was involved in one activity it was easy to think, "Oh, I wonder if I should have gone to that session instead!" The (well-known) term for this sensation is "the fear of missing out" (or FOMO). After two days of this, I was feeling some meeting fatigue. I decided to opt out of the rest of the afternoon and head, instead, for the pool.
One look at the actual pool and you might say, "Well that is just a no-brainer of a decision!" But that is really my point: it wasn't obvious in the moment. I had been so consumed with the fear of missing out I had not stopped to consider what Anil Dash has termed, "the joy of missing out" (or JOMO).
To my surprise and delight I was not the only person who had the idea. I was joined by fifteen or so fellow rebels. Each of us looked at each other with a little chagrin. But the serendipity that followed was amazing. With the space to relax and just talk without an agenda or scheduled "content," magical things happened. Deep relationships were formed, spontaneous ideas flowed and one important initiative was launched.
Our lives at work and at home are full of many invitations to attend this event or that meeting. Not only can the number of these invitations feel overwhelming, the fear of missing out can lead us to be unsatisfied with the choices we make as we wonder about the other half are doing. I sat down with the Huffington Post recently to talk about this.
Source: LinkedIn Post / By: Greg McKeown
OK, you are doing all the right stuff for public relations. You are using HARO like a pro. You engage with the right parts of the media just enough, (not too much!), and you are seeing some results in coverage on the mainstream media and on the just-right blogs.
For this article, by the way, we don’t really differentiate between blogs and other legacy media outlets. If you have new people learning about you from outlets that they trust, then it’s all the same yummy PR pie.
But now you want to know:
“Is it helping?”
This is one of the trickiest questions in the marketing world, even more than social media. It’s possible (though tricky) to trace a new prospect to a tweet, or a new contract to a blog post. But with PR, the line is even more murky. You may begin to ask yourself questions like:
Did a mention in a respected industry blog help tip the scales with a reluctant customer?
Did a link from a TV station bump us up in your search rankings, or was it just another Google algorithm change?
Does the TechCrunch logo on our homepage give our site the gravitas it needs to get someone to respond to a Call To Action?
These questions are inherently difficult to answer. So, give up? You just need to know what your goals for your PR are, and then periodically measure -- using the tools on this post or elsewhere -- to see if you are getting the results you are looking for.
Whether you are looking to improve your landing site performance, looking to increase sales, or whether you’re counting people who are downloading a free offer from your site, there are ways to get statistical results about your efforts. Here are a few:
The Bottom Line
Overall, just remember that PR, like blogging, is a good thing to do and an excellent way to keep a long-term view of your success. Advertising with Adwords may get you the traffic you need for as long as you are paying for the service, but a good story in a good outlet will be around for a long time. It’s worth it to put in some effort with that long-term view in mind. Click Here » to review the full article.
Source: Hubspot / By: Scott Yates
A survey examining the attraction and impact of small business store signage on the consumer -- and its impact on their intent to visit a store, make a purchase and more -- finds a solid connection between good signs and positive consumer action.
The survey, commissioned by FedEx Office, a small business marketing solutions firm, in conjunction with Ketchum Global Research & Analytics, finds:
About: FedEx Office, in conjunction with Ketchum Global Research & Analytics, worked with ORC International to conduct a telephone omnibus survey of 1,000 Americans aged 18 years and older. A small business owner screener question resulted in an end sample of 914 respondents; the margin of error is +/-3.1 percent.
Source: Print in the Mix
You've probably noticed how marketing is getting "smarter".. Perhaps the recent travel brochure you received in the mail was personalized and aptly about the vacations destinations you're interested in, or the new site you just subscribed to sends you emails only about the interests you've chosen. Yes, it's everywhere and it's not going away.
So as a marketer we need to know how it works and how can you use this amazing tool to improve your customer experience and generate more sales. Lots of people are searching about it every day and so we wanted to break it down once and for all. What is smart content and how will it impact your success.
Variable Data Printing
Our soon to be launched Online Print Shop does it all for you, with complete integration so that you can create a mailing piece, link it to your customer database and mail it to their doorstep all in one easy to use online application.
What's behind the change is the marriage of reliable, high-speed digital printing and sophisticated database software, which combine to produce one-to-one marketing using variable data printing, or VDP. Communicators now have the ability to customize messages more precisely than ever before, and they're going to town with it. The growth of variable data printing has spawned new terminology. Conventional printing with no variable data is now sometimes referred to as "static" printing. "Personalized" variable data printing means that the name and address is changed, but nothing else. Although examples are fairly rare, the ultimate in VDP is full customization, where virtually every major element of the publication can be varied in multiple combinations.
Give us a call at 604-681-7504 to discuss how we can make your printing, well - smart.
To learn more about this fascinating new approach to marketing click Here »
Source: Hubspot & XMPie
Mission statements. They sound inherently business babbly, don't they? But even if you think they're a little ... silly ... they're really important guideposts for making decisions, staying inspired, and setting a bigger picture that gives your day-to-day work purpose.
Problem is, because the idea of a mission statement is so vague and broad, a lot of companies have trouble nailing one down. I did some research on companies with excellent mission statements, and pulled out the characteristics they all have in common. This post will show you how to write a great mission statement, told through the lens of some of the best ones out there.
Common Mistakes People Make When Writing Mission Statements
1) It's too long. (This will, ironically, be the longest section of the post.)
In one of my first "real world" jobs, my boss -- the CEO -- asked me to write a mission statement for the company. I knew they were supposed to be pretty short, so I wrote a couple paragraphs.
Wrong. Thank you for playing, Take this toaster as a lovely parting gift.
Just kidding, he didn't fire me, but we were both equally as clueless about how to write a great mission statement. The first thing to know is that they should be really short -- as in, like, a sentence. Maybe two. Check out Southwest Airlines' mission statement, for example:
"The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit."
To give you an idea, I probably would have written that something like:
"Southwest Airlines' mission is all about customer service. Not just any kind of customer service -- but high-quality customer service -- whether at ticketing, on the plane, in the terminal, even on our website. This should come through in a few places. First, warmth. Warmth means ... "
And on, and on, and on ... and on ...
Make it short and sweet. If you can't say it in a sentence or two, you haven't really nailed the mission statement.
2) You're thinking too small.
Think beyond the tactical. Your mission isn't to create widgets. That's what you do -- but it's not why you do it. Take a cue from Microsoft, for example. Its most recent mission statement is:
"To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential."
I consider this a huge improvement from its previous mission statement:
"A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software."
Why is it better? The old one wasn't bad, but the new one addresses something bigger than just selling a product. The new mission statement tells you who they want to reach -- people and businesses -- and what they want to help them do through Microsoft's products. It gives Microsoft a reason to exist as a business, beyond just making money.
3) It's not specific.
There's a tendency to work in generalizations when writing a mission statement, because you're trying to encompass ... well, a mission. And missions are big. (Remember, we just talked about not thinking too small.) But if you get too specific, you'll back yourself into a corner.
This isn't the right mindset. You can't be everything to everyone -- otherwise, what's your differentiator? What are you adding to the universe?
Zappos does a great job of communicating a larger mission, without compromising specificity. Their mission statement reads:
"To provide the best customer service possible."
They're not trying to loop in price, quality, changing the world, having the best corporate culture ... they want to provide the best customer service possible. That might include all of the aforementioned when it comes down to tactics, but it doesn't need to be in the mission statement. This is the perfect balance between thinking big, but still being specific.
4) The language is full of jargon.
This is where the business babble starts to creep in. (And often, the business babble creeps in because you're not being specific enough.) We all know what business babble is, so let's just look at a jargon-free mission statement to set the precedent for what we should all be striving for. Google's is an excellent example:
"Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
They could have said that like this:
"Google's mission is to utilize the digital information inputs of various sources and outlets and dispense it in a structure optimized for user-understanding."
But they didn't. Because that's ridiculous. (And it's pretty much the opposite of making information "accessible and useful.")
5) It's not something people want to "get behind."
Your mission should resonate with people, particularly you and your employees. It should address a real problem -- or something people care about, at least. Think about why you wanted to get into your business in the first place ... you were probably inspired by something, right? Whatever motivated you then (unless it was for the money, in which case ignore this advice) might be what you want to tap into when crafting your mission statement.
Inspiring mission statements aren't just for nonprofit organizations, either. I happen to think Google's mission statement is one of the most inspiring I've ever heard. Or take a look at Coca-Cola -- how can a beverage company have an inspiring mission statement? Its mission statement is:
"To refresh the world; to inspire moments of optimism and happiness; to create value and make a difference."
That last part is a little vague and verging on business babble (what does "create value" really mean?), but I love that middle part. Your mission statement should be a bit lofty. That's okay. Aspiration is good -- it inspires people to be creative and work hard.
Questions to Ask That'll Help You Write Your Mission Statement
If you're totally stuck on your mission statement, ask yourself the following questions to get the flow of ideas going. Think of it like getting past writer's block ... but, you know, for a mission statement.
1) What do we do?
2) Why did I go into business in the first place?
Or, if you're not a founder of the business ...
3) Why did I want to work at this company/in this industry?
4) What do I want this company's legacy to be?
5) What doesn't matter to this company's legacy?
6) How do I want to help people?
7) What value does our company bring that's unique from other companies?
Remember, your mission statement isn't set in stone. It's actually wise to revisit your mission statement once in a while to see if it still aligns with your company's goals. Some companies, for instance, choose to write mission statements that help them solve a short-term problem their company is facing -- these can be updated later to reflect a larger mission once your short-term issues are addressed.
However you approach your mission statement, just check back every couple years to see if it still aligns with the space you play in, and the world you live in. If your company is around for a long time, it will inevitably change -- your mission statement might have to change along with it.
FWIW, HubSpot's mission statement reads: Our mission is to make the world inbound. We want to transform how organizations do marketing.
And at Dominion Blue our mission statement reads: We will give our customers help in achieving their needs in ways that exceed their expectations. Within the company, we will give each other help in achieving customers’ needs in ways that exceed everybody’s expectations.
What's your company's mission statement?