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Yearly Archives: 2019

Social Media – Where to Begin 

Yes, everyone is doing it! Social media is a beast and if you haven’t gotten on board yet, then you may not even know where to begin. What channels should you choose? How often should you post? How can you know if your campaign is successful? Let’s take a closer look at how to get started on a social media campaign. 

Determine Your Goals and How to Measure Them

Before you even login or download an app, start brainstorming with your team about what your goals are. Do you just want to increase brand awareness? Or perhaps you want to drive more traffic to your website? Maybe you want a way to connect with your target audience and supply them with deals and savings? Social media may be your way of generating leads. 

Once you set out your goals, you will be able to determine how those goals will be measured. Google Analytics can help as well as the individual page manager section to each social media platform like: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Those stats can tell you how many people are engaging in your social media posts as well as how many likes, shares, and retweets. 

Know the Pros and Cons of Each Platform

Get to know what the basics are for each type of social media and whether they attract your target audience. For example, Instagram tends to attract millennials and is visually based. Facebook, on the other hand, draws in an older crowd that are looking for content sharing. LinkedIn is more business connection-based. Twitter can be a mix but leaves out the longer content. Before you start setting up your profile or business page, make sure the platform you choose is the right one for your demographics and your service/product. Find out how much advertising costs and what the return is. 

 

Make Your Posts Worthwhile 

Viewers on social media have become quite savvy and are mostly against pages that advertise constantly, or sound like a robot. Be human in your posts and give the readers something worthwhile to read. Make it worthwhile by adding content that your followers will be interested in, or by running promotions/discounts for followers who mention a post. Do something to get your followers to engage with you by retweeting, sharing, or commenting on your posts. 

 

Measure Your Success

At regular intervals measure how your campaign is doing. How many more followers do you have? What is your engagement number like? Should you shift your content or offer more things that encourage followers? Your analytics page can help. 

Need help getting started on your social media campaigns? Check out our calendar of events. We often host workshops on social media and how to boost your business with an online campaign. 

 

Upping Your Communication Skills 

Do you make presentations to clients often or meet face-to-face with consumers? How effective do you feel your presentations are? Even if you have worked in your field for years, and know your service/product well, you may still need to sharpen your communication skills. Here are a few ways to can hone those skills while still sounding natural and genuine. 

Learn the Basics of Nonverbal Communication 

Some studies show that communication is only 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal. That means that what you are saying is such a small fraction of what your audience is getting from you. They are, however, paying close attention to your body language and vocal variety. That means that the majority of what you say is communicated not through words, but through physical cues. To garner full attention many body language experts suggest making eye contact as much as possible with your audience, having good posture, not slouching, making your voice larger than normal, not crossing your arms, and moving around the space if you are talking to a large group. 

 

Don’t Go Overboard on Visuals 

Sure, having a visual aid can help you stay on message and focus the audience’s attention. However, do not wholly rely on visual aids, like PowerPoint, to get your message across. There really is nothing worse than having a presenter read from the slides. Not only is that boring but it is degrading to the viewers. Instead integrate storytelling into your presentation. Your audience is more likely to remember the story than the slides. If you really want to hook the group, ask them to be a part of the discussion or to relay their own stories about the topic. Once they have made a personal connection, they will be dialed in to your presentation. 

Master Your Timing 

Understand the attention span and needs of your audience. Not all people who have come to a presentation have an hour to listen to you. Remember that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was 286 words, about two minutes long. Realize that timing is everything. If you can simplify your message, do so. Short and sweet can sometimes help an audience remember what you said. 

Check out our calendar of speakers every month, we often have workshops on improving your communication skills or honing presentations. 

 

Value of Video on Your Site 

How is the traffic on your website doing? Do you have visitors often? What’s your conversion rate? Looking for ways to draw more people to your site and get more traction with SEO? Maybe you should consider adding some video to your site. 

Video is quickly becoming a fantastic inbound marketing tool for websites. Viewers are consuming video content more than ever before and that trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In fact, 90% of consumers access the videos placed online. 

Making your site a top performer means keeping up with this video trend. Less written content and more video seems to be the way this trend is leaning. Although websites should never be lacking content, the video version is catching on. More and more companies are adding video with the intent of sharing their expertise, demonstrating a product or service, and telling a story. 

If you are wondering why you should add video to your site, here are a few reasons to motivate you. 

Videos are the Way Consumers Browse 

Face it, website browsers have an extremely short attention span. When given the option between watching a video about something and reading about it, the viewer will almost always choose the video. Take the stats from YouTube, the second largest search engine in the world. “More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month. Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year. According to Nielsen, “YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network.”

Video Helps Your SEO 

Using a video on your site means that visitors are on your site longer watching and learning. According to Vital online, one important factor on how well a page ranks in search results is how long a visitor stays on a page, the longer the visit, the more important Google thinks the webpage is.

Video Builds Relationships

As a viewer watches your “How To” or your testimonial online, they become connected to your business. In fact, businesses that use actual employees to do their videos and footage on your warehouses or offices help the public understand who you are as a brand. Those connections can create new customers and solidify the relationship with loyal ones. 

Video Helps Your Company Stand Out from the Competition

The truth is that not many companies have the marketing budget, time or energy to create custom videos for their viewers. Custom video is a great way to differentiate yourself from your competition.  

Video Helps Deliver Your Message 

Whether you are making a story video, how-to, or introducing a new product, your video will easily deliver your message with a personality attached. 

Keep an eye out for our workshops on making videos to driving traffic to your site. 

 

Customer Service in a Digital Age

We live in a time where more and more consumers are shopping around for the best prices and they expect exceptional customer service or they can easily take their business elsewhere. Add to this the fact that many consumers are shopping with their mobile devices at anytime, anywhere, and it means that ecommerce is at a critical crossroads.

Let’s look back for a second at shopping just a few decades ago. Traditionally, consumers would drive to a store to shop, purchase, and have personal interactions with employees in said store as well as at the registers. Many people got to know the owners of stores and would be loyal to people they knew best. In addition, unless you had a lot of time on your hands, driving from store to store wasn’t economical.

Today, all it takes is a few keystrokes to find hundreds of products and services. Comparing prices has never been easier. Shipping costs have never been lower. Online coupons, or product codes can reduce prices even further. Shopping alerts can tell consumers when items they have been looking for are on sale. And all of this can be done while riding the train to work or curled up in your jammies in bed at night on your smartphone.

So what might make a difference to a consumer now that online shopping is so easy? The answer is customer service!

Now that the rules of engagement have changed, customer service needs to step up its game as well. The first thing to realize is that consumers are on many channels and many different types of devices. Make sure that your website is responsive and is easy to navigate, no matter what type of device is in the hands of the buyer.

Secondly, realize that consumers will be interacting with your business in many ways. They may leave a message on social media with a question, they may need an online live chat for more immediate concerns, or they may still want that personal connection over the phone without having to jump through hoops before they get to an actual human.

Finally, realize that the hours of interaction are no longer the hours that your store is open. Shoppers can find your website at anytime of the night or day that is most convenient to them. That means you may want to have a way of connecting with your customers at varying hours or the day.

With that being said, businesses also need to be aware and responsive to online reviews such as Google Review, Yelp or other sites. Consumers who do not have a positive experience will be very quick to leave a scathing review or call out errors on social media sites. Be sure that you have a customer service rep who can quickly and patiently deal with these types of incidences so you can show that you want to do what is right and help the customer in the best way possible.

Improving Brand Awareness

How familiar with your product or services are consumers? Do they recognize a tagline, a color palette, or a logo that is associated with your brand? Brand awareness is critically important because it helps your company stand out from the others in your field.

Take for example the products Kleenex or Bandaids. We all know I am referring to tissues and bandages, right? There are plenty of other brands that create tissues and bandages but the brand names are so widely known that they are used interchangeably as the products themselves. That is exceptional brand awareness!

To what extent is your brand recognized by consumers? Do you want to improve that and don’t know where to start? Here are a few suggestions to get your brand out there and carve out a name for your business product or services.

Build Content on Your Website

We have all heard that “content is king,” so start by building content on your website. One of the fastest and easiest ways to do this is to start a blog. Posting even a few times a month can increase the amount of content on your site which increases your SEO, which starts the ball rolling. Make your content interactive and shareable in the form of quizzes, feedback, or calculators and you will boost your awareness in leaps and bounds.

Partnerships and Community Involvement

You have seen the sponsor names on the back of little league hats, or on the signs around town where local businesses take a financial role in community events. Be a part of that in order to get involved in your local community and to promote your brand as well. Partner with other companies to help provide a service or to improve a neighboring event. The networking connections will be priceless and the word of mouth marketing about your company will be excellent.

 

Be Present on Social Media

People who are on social media love to share videos, graphics, quotes, and interesting articles. Make sure your brand is represented with your own unique posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever channel your demographic indicates.

Connect with Industry Publications

Part of getting your brand out there is being known by people in your industry. Contact magazines, news sources, industry blogs, or other publications (online or offline) and see if they’ll publish your content or company news.

Connect with Consumers Via Newsletters and Email

Now we are not saying to overwhelm your client list with emails and newsletters just for the sake of sending them. Instead, send well planned emails or newsletters informing consumers of new products, services, promotions, or even content that is new to the people in your field. Consumers love to feel like they are getting the inside scoop and are gaining valuable information by reading your newsletters or emails. This will help mark you as a leader in your field and promote your brand.

Do you need help finding new and innovative ways to promote your brand. Enterprise Center often has workshops with industry leaders who can help. Check our calendar often as we are adding programs and workshops all the time.

 

Business Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Social media feels like it is everywhere! Depending upon your age, field of work, and lifestyle, you may be on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Twitter, or Pinterest. It’s hard to keep up with all of the posts, pins, tweets, and snaps!

The good news is that you really don’t need to be everywhere, but you do need to be somewhere. Read on to find out about your business and what you should be doing on social media by looking at some pretty common mistakes of social media marketing.

Failing to Have a Social Media Strategy

Social media may seem like fun and games, but for businesses it is actual work that needs to be carefully crafted and maintained. Companies need to find their niche and use that to drive their marketing strategy. Without a strategy there will be no understanding if your efforts are working. What’s worse is that followers will wonder what’s going on with your company if they try to interact on a channel and there are no replies. That would send a message that your business is not thriving in this digital age.

Failing to Understand the Target Audience

One of the main goals of any marketing department is to understand who is using your services or buying your products. Demographics are critical. What age, gender, education level, and/or location is drawn to your company most? Without knowing who your audience is, you will not be able to focus your social media strategy in the right areas. For example, LinkedIn tends to be a platform for professionals trying to make connections in the business world, whereas Instagram and SnapChat tend to draw a younger crowd with more visual content. Once you understand who you want to market to, then you can focus your efforts on the right social media platform.

Failing to Address Negative Feedback

We have all seen it on social media, a benign post gets a negative comment and the company does not react. This is sending a message that you either do not care about your consumers or you are not on top of your social media pages. Either way, it is not a good message to send to potential customers. Along the same lines, do not delete the message but rather respond quickly and courteously to show that you are responsive and want to correct any wrongs that may have occurred.

Social media is a full-time job where someone on your team needs to develop content, post it and, most importantly, follow through with comments made by followers. Don’t have a spare employee to spearhead this process? You may need to hire a social media consulting company or social media specialist who can nurture your presence online and steer you in the direction you want.

Retaining Top Talent

Is your company a revolving door of employees coming and going endlessly? In today’s business world, young workers have a reputation for moving from job to job looking for the next big break. Unfortunately, that means that business loyalty is not as it once was.

How, then, do business leaders deal with this issue and retain the top talent that they worked so hard to attain in the first place? There are several methods that may help with retention and overall employee morale as well.

Create a Detailed Onboarding Process

Some workplace studies show that onboarding properly can help new hires become long term employees. Be sure that your onboarding process includes orientation, socialization with other employees, and continued monitoring that the new hire is learning the specific job well and with support. Seventy percent of new workers report that they are more likely to stay at their new company for three years or more if they experienced a favorable application and onboarding process.

Allow for Flexibility

Retaining top talent sometimes means thinking outside the box. Consider flexible work hours instead of the 9-5 of our parents generation. Flexibility may also be necessary when it comes to remote work. Does an employee have an ailing parent or a young child? Possibly the option of working from home may alleviate personal stressors and encourage an employee to stay with your company.

Provide Incentives

Employees like to feel like they are learning, growing, and moving forward. By providing training and incentives to educate themselves and move up in the business, young employees tend to stay put. Whether you offer a percentage of the cost of a class or include bonuses for each training s/he takes part in, you are investing in your company and the retention of your best and brightest team members.

 

Give and Get Feedback

One complaint that employees who move around a lot have is that they do not feel like they were listened to. Be acutely aware with new employees that you plan to listen and give feedback on a regular basis. Feeling invested in a company and that ideas are considered is a great way to retain some of your top talent.

Retaining your best employees can be difficult but with some creative thinking and an attention to the needs of those employees you can foster a long-term relationship that will be beneficial for both of you for years.

 

The Benefits of CEO Groups

We have all heard the old cliche that, “it’s lonely at the top.” It really is an accurate portrayal of life for most CEOs. Not only can executive officer feel lonely in their specific business, but they may also be in need of peer relationships that bring with it sharing of business acumen, professional experience, and insights that can help grow and mold a successful business. The roles of executives today have never been more daunting or fraught with disruptions. Let’s take a look at how joining a peer group of other CEOs can help.

Having a leadership resource can be just the solution for executives who need to make a connection, want to grow their company, and often don’t have the time during the regular business day to make those connections organically. Joining a peer group can be the answer for several reasons.

CEO Groups Serve as a Sounding Board

During the course of a typical work day, most executives are busy handling day-to-day operations. There is not often the opportunity to call a friend in a similar circumstance to talk about future business questions or concerns. The CEO groups run by the Enterprise Center are a great chance for business leaders to communicate with other business leaders. Peers can act as a sounding board for ideas where CEOs are able to confidentially get feedback from people in similar positions. Other business leaders can add to their experiences and warn of potential pitfalls. The conversations can be incredibly valuable and may even help move your company forward.

 

CEO Groups Can Help with Scaling

One of the more difficult aspects of leading a business is learning how to scale. Oftentimes, CEOs do not have peers that can help them learn how to grow a business by getting more out of the people and resources or by employing better systems and methodologies. A peer group of other CEOs can provide insider access to insights learned from others’ experiences.

 

CEO Groups Can Help with the Big Picture

Often, business leaders do not take the time to plan for what lies ahead. This is especially true for small and medium-sized businesses that are still evolving and finding their niche. Peer groups of other business leaders can be a great chance to plan, organize, and take a look at the bigger picture. Being a part of an executive group means that monthly you will hear about other businesses’ successes and setbacks that can give you a sense of where your company may be heading. It is almost like taking a look into the future when hearing about where other executives are in their journey.

 

CEO Groups Can Provide Support, a Sense of Belonging, and a Little Bit of Fun

Joining one of the Enterprise Center’s three CEO groups can give the support that many executives need – even if it is once a month. These peer groups can not only be substantive in that they allow for professional support but also can spark humor, fun, and a sense of belonging to a group that can help in what can only be described as one of the more challenging positions in business.

Are you interested in joining one of our CEO Groups? Check out the programs page on our website and register now.

 

Creating a Useful Business Plan

If you hear the words “business plan” and immediately think, “Ho-Hum, boring” then your business plan is being done wrong. A business plan is a vital part of your company and it should live in the daily operations of your business as well as guide you when there are setbacks or hurdles to overcome.

This living document can be an integral part of your company and keep you on track for years to come. That means regular reviews of the document and how your company needs to adjust, or it needs to be changed.

The Small Business Association (SBA) recommends that a business plan include the following areas:

  • Executive summary – a snapshot of your business
  • Company description – describes what you do
  • Market analysis – research on your industry, market, and competitors
  • Organization and management – your business and management structure
  • Service or product – the products or services you’re offering
  • Marketing and sales – how you’ll market your business and your sales strategy
  • Funding request – how much money you’ll need for the next 3 to 5 years
  • Financial projections – supply information like balance sheets
  • Appendix – an optional section that includes resumes and permits

Now that you know the categories, how do you go about drafting a business plan? Our first suggestion is to NOT do it in a vacuum. Talk to other people who are in your field, including accountants, financial advisors, potential clients, trusted advisors, and anyone who will listen. The more you learn and research, the better off you will be with understanding how your business will come together. Here are three simple things to keep you focused as you write your business plan.

Keep it Simple and Straightforward

First of all, no one has the time or energy to read hundreds of pages of your business plan. A lengthy plan also makes it pretty unlikely that you will review it annually. Keep it short and simple, and get to the point. Bullets and charts can get your content across easily and make it reader-friendly.

Know Your Audience

As with presentations and sales, it is a good idea to know who your investors and business partners will be. Keep the language simple if your investors do not follow the lingo of your industry. This is especially true if you have a scientific or complex business plan.

Pick the Right Format

Not all businesses have the same needs or information. Choose a format that can bring out the unique aspect of your business. Check out the SBA’s types of plans such as a traditional or lean format that can convert what you need to in an easy to understand manner.

Working on a Business Plan? Check out our 2019 Business Plan Program and Competition Pitch Panel on June 12, 2019, from 8:30 am –  Click here for additional information including eligibility requirements and application.

Making Annual Reviews Productive

Oh no, it’s that time of year again! Performance reviews are not the most happily anticipated work events. In fact, most employees and business leaders report that they often dread, or at least get anxious at, the mere thought of reviewing the past year.

For some businesses, this meeting is not just a review of how an employee is doing but it is also tied to raises and bonuses. That adds a layer of pressure and stress in the days and weeks leading up to the review.

Performance reviews, although somewhat stressful, are one of the most effective ways to assess, motivate, and engage your employees. If you find that your employees are dreading these or that you want them to be more productive, follow some of these tips and suggestions to make the most of the time.

Be Prepared

As with any other aspect of running a business, be ready. Employees should be given a self-evaluation form so they can examine what they thought of their accomplishments and/or setbacks throughout the year. Management should fill out something similar. The worst thing you can do is forget and just go through the motions by having a review without any direction or purpose. A form that each person fills out can help keep you on track during the review.

Start on a Positive Note

Ask your employee to start off the meeting by talking about their most positive learning experience this year or something they are proud of. Always start on a positive note. This will hopefully put everyone at ease and set the tone for a productive meeting.

Be Open and Honest

As an employer, there are probably some areas where you would like to see some improvement or possibly some training over the next year. Talk to your employees about what training you think they could benefit from. You may find that they want to broaden their learning as well. Be honest as well about areas that you would like to see improvement. Ask your employees how you can help them achieve that improvement. Look at it as more of a group effort rather than an adversarial relationship.

Set Goals

As a part of your review process, you may want to set some SMART goals that can be evaluated next year. Make sure the goals are achievable, realistic, measurable, and specific. This can keep both of you on track.

Ask For Feedback

Not only should you be talking about how an employee can improve or in what areas you want to see growth, but you should be asking for feedback from that person as well about your contributions and how you can help him/her attain those goals. Remember, this is a two-way street.

Do you need help fine-tuning your annual reviews? Check out our workshop on “How to Conduct Performance Evaluations.”  Join Nancy Saperstone, Senior HR Business Partner and Communications Specialist, Insight Performance, on June 11, 2019, from 8:30 am – 10:30 am.