Say What? 4 Dos and Don’ts of Business Communication Systems

If you want to run a successful business, you need the best techniques and tools to get the job done. This can empower your team to serve your customers, fulfill orders, and stay productive while on the job. However, when it comes to your business communications, a lot of businesses make mistakes. In general, stick to these do’s and don’ts. 

Do Go with a Brand You Trust 

There are a lot of communications companies out there. However, not all of them are created equal. You need to go with a name that you trust. That does not just mean going with the biggest company in the space. 

In fact, it often means going with a company that you might have just heard about. Then, doing your research on them will pay off. Research before investing is everything! You might find that they support your values more than others do in the marketplace. Check out reviews, history, and reputation of their products as well as their customer service.

Don’t Get the Wrong Kind of System

You need to ensure that you have the right kind of communication systems for your business. A golf course, for instance, would want handheld radios, like Motorola walkie talkies, while an office might rely on a office-wide messaging system

The key is to ask yourself how your team is talking to each other right now. Then find ways to improve on that communication. Great technology is something that should do its job and stay out of the way so your team can do theirs even better. 

Do Find the Right Value 

There are going to be different prices and overall values to each communication solution. The key is to understand that each will bring something different to the table. Be sure to look at the overall value, and not just the price, for what you are getting. If your company won’t use a big portion of what a particular package is offering, you might want to go in a different direction.

Don’t Go without Research 

The worst mistake you could make in business is jumping into a decision before you truly know what you are getting in return. Luckily, you can avoid this. If you stick to your plan and look at your options with a critical eye, you can come out ahead. That way, you get a system that you truly want and need. Take your time and learn everything you can about any viable option for your business. Based on your research, you can make an informed decision that will help your employees with their work.

Having a great business does not stop with your sales and marketing. In reality, it comes down to how well your team can work together. Of course, one of the most important factors in how they work together boils down to their communication systems. So don’t make the mistakes that others make. Use the do’s and don’ts above as your checklist.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Keeping It Cohesive: 3 Customer Experience Tips for Every Season

Just like a personal relationship, customer relations need variety to thrive. You might have wracked your brain in the past for exciting ways to shake things up, only to fall flat and realize that most of the large-scale options tend to come off as gimmicky. Sometimes, you don’t have to think outside the box or break the mold to make a mark. There are many small ways you can tailor your business throughout the year to provide a dynamic and engaging experience to your customers. 

A brand is only as good as the people who support it. Customer service needs to be top-notch if it’s going to stand out in today’s oversaturated market. While most business owners are focused on the four quarters of the year, try shifting your attention to the four seasons for opportunities to enhance your customer experience. 

Seasonal Exclusives

Consider offering limited-edition stock for various seasons. Have summer door-buster sales or major holiday discounts. Offer exclusive complementary items that tie into the season or major holidays. The weather and seasons play a huge role in our everyday lives, so you don’t want to miss out on the chance to connect with your customers through something so human and relatable. 

Dress Up for the Holidays

Simple logos are good for many reasons, one of the primary beings that they’re easy to change without losing their identity. Switch up your graphics and logo colors to make the seasonal holidays. You can even put your own twist on them to stand out and grab attention. Seasonal designs and custom displays are a fantastic opportunity to humanize your brand and help contribute to the spirit of the holiday, whatever the time of year. 

Fine-tune Your Content to Seasonal Needs

A content strategy should be fluid and reflect customer needs and current experiences. You don’t always have to create something entirely new in order to thrive. In fact, your target audience is already looking for what you have to offer anyway, so why not diversify your blog posts a little and branch out? Find ways to demonstrate your business’s value through content that taps into your customer’s current wants or needs based on the season.

Business analytics and metrics go a long way, but it’s important to remember the numbers on your data sheets are driven by real people. Behind every click, every impression and every engagement is a live human being who could possibly benefit from your services. 

Stay in touch with your customers through social media. Interact as much as possible so you’re always in-the-know and equipped to make changes before they’re requested.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Getting Your Name Out There: 3 Tips for Business Promotion

One study showed that one-third of businesses lacked significant marketing resources. While some business owners may let that stop them, we already know that you’re a true entrepreneur. But the question still stands: how can I market my business when I don’t have a lot of money for advertising? 

The answer? There’s a lot you can do with limited marketing resources, especially if you decide to get creative and resourceful. Here you’ll learn three ways that you can promote your business. You will get a much better idea of what you can do to put your name out there to your ideal customers. 

Go Social 

A set of researchers from the Pew Research Center found that over 75 percent of adults now use some sort of social media network. This number multiplied by ten from 2005, the last time the study was done. 

Don’t just jump on several social media channels and then quit all of them a week later. All the social media channels have their own etiquette and rules of engagement, so pick one or two and really try to make them work. But if you put in the effort, you could find that you’ll get fans of your business to engage with you.

Create Viral Content 

Your ideal customers want valuable content that they will want to share with their loved ones. Search engines such as Google want you to do the exact same thing. You can do such activities as creating infographics, making videos, blogging, hosting a podcast, and writing guest posts for authoritative websites. You won’t just become an expert in your niche, but you’ll also get web traffic. Other ways you can establish your expert status is appearing on podcasts in your niche and becoming a guest blogger on blogs in your space. 

Don’t want to sit at your laptop for hours crafting the perfect guest post for your favorite blog? You can hire freelancers and agencies to help you create high quality content. Find companies that specialize in strategic communications and promoting businesses in your industry for the best results. 

Guerilla Marketing Works 

Guerilla marketing can work if you work it. Many small businesses use this type of advertising to compete with their larger competitors. You can plenty of tactics to advertise your business. Hire an artist to draw a mural on the sidewalk in front of your coffee shop. Get a flash mob to bring people into your clothing boutique. You’re only limited by your creativity. 

Don’t let a lack of funds keep you from fighting the good fight. If you’re going to be in business, you have to weather a lot of bumps in the road. Getting your name out there in any way you can could give you great results if you stay the course.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Feeling Burnt out on Business? Spark Creativity with These Ideas

It’s not just artists who need to be creative in their work. When you’re a business owner or an entrepreneur, your bread and butter is likely to be your ideas, whether your next big thing is a new project, product, or branding strategy.

But if you’ve been doing the same thing day in and day-out, you might find your usual creative spark fading. Don’t bang your head against the wall (or the desk—or the conference table) trying to come up with a brilliant new idea for your business. Push through your creative block with a few of these tips, and you might just find yourself overflowing with creative energy:

1. Build a New Morning Routine

You might not be a morning person, but you likely have a regular morning routine, especially if you happen to be an entrepreneur who works from home or has a long commute. While most rely on their morning ritual to fully wake up, sometimes that creativity comes to the less-awoken (or, at least, the more unkempt). Instead of going through the motions—showering, brushing teeth, the usual—try going straight to your desk or dining room table, cracking open your laptop or notebook, and jotting down a few ideas. Even if you’re wedded to your six-step skin care ritual, you might find a little jolt from shaking up your routine at the office with small changes, such as switching up your usual coffee run or taking a different route to work.

2. Catch Some Zzz’s

In this case, snoozing definitely doesn’t mean losing. If you’ve been pouring over a problem for the past several weeks, you and your team are probably suffering from lack of sleep. Research indicates that sleeping on some of your best ideas can help more to come, not to mention it can help you retain facts and memories. Don’t stay up past bedtime waiting for inspiration. Turn in early as many nights as you can. And when you do hit the hay, try to shut off screens—you can improve your quality of sleep by maintaining good sleep hygiene, and that includes cutting out the time spent scrolling on your phone before bed. A good way to monitor your screen time is to use a screen time tracker app like Moment.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice (and Then Practice Some More)

Practice makes perfect, so they say—and they’re right. Sometimes the absolute best thing you can do to get unstuck from a major creative block is to make a practice of your work. Take time each day to write down a new idea or ask your team to brainstorm one new strategy a day. Even if you’re not feeling the spark of inspiration, it helps to schedule time every day to come up with new ideas, rather than waiting for a thunderbolt of new creative energy. Bonus, too—practicing creative thought every day will help you even in your off hours.

4. Keep an Idea Notebook

Sometimes you’ll be shopping at grocery store, other times you’ll be putting gas in your car for your commute or you’ll be out on the town with friends. A genius idea can hit any time, especially if you’re working in time for creative thought every day. Carry a pocket notebook with you to jot down your big ideas on the go, from brunch to business meeting.

5. Think Outside the Box—But Get in the Box, First

You’ve probably heard of thinking outside the box, and if you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, you’ve likely done plenty of your best thinking outside of the box. But you can’t always reinvent the wheel—sometimes you’ll find the best idea is something solidly within the box, a solution that easily solves consumers’ day-to-day problems. Build on useful ideas you know work, and go from there.

6. Try New Things

Another way to come up with new, fresh ideas? Trying new things yourself! Stretch yourself and take a class in something you’ve always wanted to try. Take some gal pals out on an adventure, or try a wine and painting night at a local studio. Go sky diving, learn a new skill, or just try a new bar or a restaurant that you’ve been eyeing. Where you can try many things for half the cost to bolster your creative thoughts. You’ll find the more you push yourself, the more new ideas you’ll have.

7. Try Mind Mapping

Having you and your team’s ideas organized visually can help you come up with new solutions and new concepts for your business. Maybe this year is the year you purchase a drop-shipping fleet or decide to host online seminars. Using mind maps, word association, post-it boards, and even online tools can help you fill in the cracks in your knowledge, and help you think of new approaches to your business model.

8. Exercise

When all else fails, strap on your sneakers and hit the pavement. Exercise helps the brain and the body, improving cognition and focus. So it should be no surprise that a short run, weight training, or really any kind of sustained exercise can help you shake out some of the cobwebs.

9. Bounce Ideas Off of Friends and Mentors

It never hurts to ask for a little help. If you’re having trouble connecting point A to C, then you might find it useful to bounce some of your preliminary ideas off of colleagues, friends, and mentors. Ask those in your field if they wouldn’t mind grabbing a cup of coffee, or ask a girlfriend to grab a quick cocktail. Brainstorm ideas with them, or map out some of the ideas and logistics around your current projects. Even a friend with a completely unrelated business might have some useful advice for you as you’re starting to generate ideas for your business or for your products (and hopefully, they’ll help you with generating a little revenue).

10. Don’t Force It

At the end of the day, make sure you’re looking out for number one—you and your business! Having a regular creative practice can help you and your business thrive, but you’ll always want to make sure you’re not only taking breaks, and taking time out of the day to treat yourself.

Sam Casteris is a small business owner and freelance writer operating out of Phoenix, AZ. You can find more of her work on Contently.

A Shortcut To The Skills: Areas Where Outsourcing Can Really Save You Time And Money

As a business that is constantly looking forward, we’ve all got to embrace the latest trends, albeit to an extent. Whether we’ve gone analog and we’re embracing a new era of digital transformation, or we’re looking to round off the edges, the latest trends don’t necessarily mean the best for our business. Outsourcing is one of those things that, understandably, we all look upon with some form of trepidation. Some think outsourcing rids businesses of their personality, but outsourcing, for numerous startups, can save an infinite amount of time and money. Let’s show you how.

The Ever-Changing Technological Landscape

Because technology progresses at such a rate, the race can be hard to keep up with. These days, as there are so many different IT consulting firms, such as cyberjaz.net, we can choose the right company to partner up with, so they can guide us with a steady hand through these changes. For those people who aren’t able to acquire the skills of workers in-house, outsourcing to an IT support company can make the processes easier to handle.

Content Marketing

Creating content that is easy to absorb by potential customers is a fine art, because it can come across as being a bit too commercial-esque in the wrong hands. And when we haven’t got the time to learn how best to develop our voice, we have to outsource to a content marketing company that has the strategies in place that lends themselves well to your brand. The goal is always the same- to sell products- but we have to do it in such a way that it doesn’t seem like you are relying on sales and leads. We have to generate leads but we have to start relationships with our customers.

Bookkeeping

You may think it’s easier to manage all of the tasks yourself. After all, when you are a novice startup, it’s cheaper! But because the balancing of many plates can result in a dip in productivity, outsourcing to a bookkeeping company isn’t just taking advantage of their expertise, but it’s offloading the more mundane and stressful tasks. Your business needs adequate accounts and documents to support every item of expenditure, and while there are many reasons to not use outsourced bookkeeping services, accountingdepartment.com provides a solid argument for you to use them. You can’t be too careful when it comes to your money. After all, it’s a legal requirement that you keep everything in order.

Outsourcing isn’t a bad word anymore, and it is certainly a way for us to take advantage of the resources out there when we can’t complete certain tasks ourselves. Put simply, outsourcing gives you the opportunity to look at the skills you don’t have, and give the tasks to those that do. From content marketing to bookkeeping and the complicated minefield that is technology, we’ve got so many aspects to outsource. But these things can save us so much time, not to mention money. We could spend years finding the right people to benefit our business, but we have to pay them a full wage. Outsourcing is a great shortcut to the skills.

How Digital Transformation is Shaping Industries

Nowadays, we live in a primarily digital world. Almost everything has transferred online or became digitized these days. The fact of the matter is that technological innovations and advancements are disrupting industries left and right. Simply put, modern technology is forcing industries to take on a new approach, in order to remain relevant in the market, as well as remain efficient. However, technology isn’t the only reason industries must consider a digital approach.

As a matter of fact, it’s the consumers and their purchasing habits and behavior, as well as their tendency to follow the latest trends that also forces industries to adapt. If you don’t adapt, in order to meet consumer expectations and needs, your competitors will most definitely outrun you. Companies across various industries must simply develop a more consumer-centric solution, in order to continue providing a seamless customer experience. That being said, here are a few ways how digital transformation is shaping industries.

Chasing a competitive advantage

Newest innovations on the market are always regarded by companies as an opportunity to outrun competitors. The main reason so many companies across various industries are prioritizing digitalization is that it may allow them to gain a competitive advantage. It only takes a single business to disrupt an entire industry and drastically change the rules simply by adopting a new technology or developing a new approach.

That’s why most companies are in one way or another prioritizing digitalization. As a matter of fact, 47% of company CEOs stated that they are being pushed towards adopting a digital approach for their business by their board of directors while 56% stated that their business digitalization efforts are already increasing company profits. In essence, while some companies are considering digitalization others are already implementing new strategies and approaches. In other words, the digital transformation is bound to happen across various industries sooner or later.

Improving efficiency

The fact that every industry is about to experience a digital transformation is evident. Even the industries that are less likely to consider digitalization, such as oil and gas sector are in fact, doing so. Resource exploration industry has so far avoided digitalization but even they have to adapt to modern trends and innovations. The main reason is that a digital approach enables the oil and gas sector to improve efficiency, reduce operational costs and streamline entire processes, among other things.

That being said, oil extraction professionals that are keeping up with the latest technology have implemented an ecommerce solution. As a matter of fact, reliable oilfield equipment zone essentials can be easily bought and acquired online, thus reducing the downtime and maintenance costs for mission-critical equipment on the field. Not only that but artificial intelligence and automation are also making their way into the resource exploration industry, helping operators streamline the processes of detection and exploitation of natural resources.

Meeting consumer demands

As mentioned before, consumer habits are oftentimes one of the main reasons why industries and companies develop a new approach. After all, if you’re not relevant to your customers you will lose a battle to your competitors. Consumer demand for increased and improved connectivity, as well as their increasing interest in smart devices and IoT (Internet of Things), has already made an impact on various businesses ranging from retail to ecommerce and so on. These demands have made their way even to the automotive industry.

Nowadays, one of the rising trends in this industry is self-driving and highly connected vehicles. Therefore, the cars of the future won’t be able to fly anytime soon but they will surely be able to drive themselves. Vehicle manufacturers and sales dealerships are also adopting a digital approach for their consumers. As a matter of fact, 75% of consumers who are interested in buying a vehicle will conduct their research online. Moreover, a digital approach in the automotive industry is also there to serve new consumer needs, especially since 56% of millennials would rather avoid interacting with salespeople in person.

Reshaping the logistics

The distribution and logistics industry is also experiencing vast changes due to the digital transformation. Logistics and distribution providers are practically being forced to adopt a new approach because their clients are doing so as well. For example, retail and ecommerce sectors are leveraging the newest technology to its fullest potential, thus making numerous promises to their customers, such as next-day or even same-day delivery, in order to boost customer experience. Also, manufacturers in the automotive industry want materials delivered at the right time for production, in order to avoid having to store materials around.

These demands force distribution and logistics providers to step up their game and deliver on their clients’ expectations. Even though logistic providers aren’t part of major brands per se, they still feel responsible for representing those brands through their services. Therefore, as manufacturers and retailers implement their digital approaches, distribution and logistics providers must become an extension of their clients’ brands, in order to remain competitive and relevant.

The world is already reshaped by the digital era and it continues to be transformed. As technology continues to advance, the increasing need for new solutions challenges various industries. Even the industries that are reluctant to transform will eventually have to do so. That is if they wish to remain successful and competitive in the market.

Guest author, Raul Harman, is a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. While he’s not enjoying football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com

Why Does Content Work For Some And Not For Others?

The online space is witnessing increasing deployment of focused content by companies to drive better user engagement and build awareness of one’s brand. The reason is obvious. Content marketing is proving to be a profitable proposition for creating brand appeal among niche users and reaping rich dividends.  The creation and distribution of meaningful, relevant, informative, easy to understand and implement, consistent and purposeful content can turbocharge your brand’s scalability index.

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Content marketing done in right perspective not only attracts and retains customers but also triggers word of mouth promotion by satisfied evangelists. With content, you are actually making the potential buyers more empowered and intelligent which motivates them to make informed and conscious purchasing decision in your brand’s favour. The underlying theme is that, if you keep providing your prospects with valuable and actionable information, it would get reflected in the form of steady traffic to your site and higher conversions.

Have Companies Benefited from Investment in Content Marketing?

Yes.

Stats from various studies show that the lead generation for content is 3x more compared to outbound marketing whereas the money pumped in for content generation and deployment is 62% lesser.

Additionally, content works because it is in demand. This demand for content can be seen in the online audience – a vast majority of people in the demographic class of 18-50 years prefer online news and content to secure the latest information. As a result, the growth in leads for SMEs which have their own blogs has been reported to be 126% more than those counterparts which don’t believe in blogging. In the USA alone, about 61% of online customers have made their purchasing decisions after going through fact-driven recommendations in blogs.

What Makes Content A Successful Strategy For Brands?

If you go by market-based insights, the reasons would be quite straightforward but many:

  • Good content has the right balance of short and long tail keywords which prompts the search engine crawler to index the related sites for all relevant search queries.
  • Quality content must be posted at frequent intervals; delayed or staggered posts are perfect catalysts for driving away your prospective buyers.
  • Content shouldn’t just be limited to your own blog. To make it work, target high authority sites and build your authority through guest posting.
  • Believable content has to be relatable and authoritative so that readers can rely on the information shared and become experts in navigating problems.
  • Exciting content never lets the focus of readers stray and grasps the short attention span through shorter paragraphs and extensive use of visual creatives.
  • Strong content is never overwhelmed with unnecessary words just for fulfilling the expected length.
  • Readable content uses easy to comprehend words and simple sentence constructs. Good content also eliminates the use of jargon.
  • Marketable content does not repeat ideas and never sports cookie-cutter characteristics.
  • Unique content is plagiarism free; even if ideas have to be borrowed, they are presented with a fresh perspective.
  • Engaging content allows sufficient scope to gauge the sentiments of readers and measures the resonance of ideas shared through user polls, reviews, social media shares etc.
  • Compelling content needs to be interactive and addressed to the readers in a manner that they find it more personal than advertising-centric.
  • Content works more effectively when you give your audience the choice to pick from different formats. This means videos, podcasts, blogs, infographics etc.
  • Updated content always gives reflection to activities of importance that have happened for your brand. And is attuned to the current industry trends.

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Why does Content fail to Deliver for Some?

If your brand fails to leverage the potential of content optimally for rich returns, it must be suffering from one or more of the problems outlined below:

  • The content might be pushy and/or advertising-centric.
  • It might not be working because it offers no real value to readers.
  • If the content is outdated, irrelevant and inconsistent with your brand’s vision- it won’t get you any engagement.
  • Your content could not be working because it might have plagiarism issues. Such content invites penalties from search engines.
  • When content lacks strong and catchy headlines, it fails to catch the reader’s interest. So even if your content is giving really valuable information, it might get skipped because it lacks an engaging structure.
  • Content containing spelling and grammatical errors doesn’t work for the audience.
  • When statements are not backed by facts, they harm your credibility. To make this work, you should link your content to high-authority and reliable sources.
  • When content does not have relevant keywords that would help the search engines categorize it properly, it fails to gain visibility.
  • Content that lacks any thought-provoking characteristics is also bound to fail.

Now that you have realized the apparent bottlenecks that are withholding your content from producing that killer’ effect, it is time to give your content strategy the much-deserved facelift. Skip the don’ts and work on the dos to get the most out of your content strategy.

Matthew Booth is the Global Marketing & Operations Director at SMEGoWeb, a global brand which has helped more than a thousand businesses achieve their online goals. With a decade of agency experience, he is now set out to share his marketing knowledge to help companies refine their digital strategies.