Tag Archives: Marketing

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How to incorporate socially distanced influencers into your new digital marketing campaigns

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A new report finds that 60% of surveyed B2B businesses are currently focusing on social media advertising due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world recovers from COVID-19, everything looks and feels very different. The way you do business will be different for the foreseeable future.

Incorporating socially distanced influencers into ad campaigns that reflect our new way of life may seem challenging. After all, you want your influencers to strike the right messaging tone as we proceed out of the worst of the crisis, but you also want their contributions to be engaging and informative and to be seen by the right audience for your products or services.

So how can you create successful digital campaigns that incorporate influencers in our new environment in a positive and timely manner? Follow these guidelines and you’ll strike the right tone and messaging balance.

Encourage your influencers to emphasize health and safety, first and foremost.

Being a responsible marketer means you must prioritize your customers’ welfare before profit. Put out a simple yet powerfully effective “stay safe” slogan, then have your influencers endorse and echo it.

PR Week reports that Nike has done this very successfully with its “play inside, play for the world” PSA. The line, “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance,” which was endorsed by Nike brand ambassadors LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Cristiano Ronaldo, is a great example of safer-at-home messaging.

Choose the right environments to feature your socially distanced influencers on.

“Quarantine crews” are ubiquitous right now on TikTok and Instagram. As long as your influencers’ messaging is responsible and demonstrates safety measures, it is feasible for them to host livestream events on those platforms. This kind of casual forum offers a nice sense of immediacy, but your influencers should stress safety rather than hard selling of services and products.

Another way to use environment to your best advantage: you want to tailor the presence of your influencers to your audiences’ preferred platforms and let them show your demographic their current worlds. For instance, what they’re doing with their time at home. Or, maybe they could take your customers on a safe virtual hike…the possibilities are endless.

Use your influencers to demonstrate any new service modes.

Show your customers the safe way to do a supply run at a grocery store or receive a contactless delivery. You can clearly spotlight the various ways you’re offering services to your brick-and mortar customers at the moment, taking any stress or guesswork out of the potential experience.

Incorporate community into an influencers’ message.

A new survey from Clutch found that one of the advantages people like about working from home is more time to spend with family, roommates and pets. Let your influencers make their own family members part of your campaigns, and customers will likely relate and enjoy the “just-like-me” message.

You can do the same thing with your vendors, too. Pull your vendors in to deliver video messages from their homes or businesses is a great way to boost interest in their unsold stock. They can emphasize the hard work of their employees by featuring their teams Zoom-style, too. Again, you don’t want to be opportunistic or hard selling: you want to address needs, for both your customers and your vendors. This kind of strategy is a powerful win-win all around.

Follow up in an engaging way.

Have your influencers “send” customized emails, or tweet or post Instagram pics that recap a video or customer outreach experience. This is the time to message clearly, then re-message for emphasis in a sensitive way.

Re-message only once, though. Again, aggressive approaches are not appropriate at this time. But reiterating a positive, engaging message to your audience about a product they may want and find useful can put them on the purchasing journey! When your influencers use a light touch and display genuine consideration of your customers’ needs, they’ll make sales happen for your brand.

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5 healthy habits for staying sane while working from home

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If you are working from home, you’re likely spending much of your day video conferencing or teleconferencing. It should be wonderful, shouldn’t it? No commuting, no open plan office distractions, no hot desking.

But unless you create some constructive habits when working from home, your days can quickly become a draining treadmill of calls. You come away from your workday feeling wired and strung out, with none of the decompression time that commuting would normally provide.

Here are a few healthy habits to adopt to help keep your energy up and your co-workers boosted and upbeat.

1. Take a breather between calls.

It’s tempting to arrange your schedule into neat 30- or 60-minute blocks of time, but this is a quantity over quality approach. It will leave you feeling wrung out by the end of the day and strung out before the end of lockdown.

It’s much better to leave five or 10 minutes between each meeting to have a glass of water, refuel or go to the restroom. Sitting all day tends to box us in, so to give yourself a feeling of expansion, try putting on some music and singing along, or going outside for five minutes to soak in the day.

That pause between calls will help fuel your energy. You’ll be able to listen with full focus and to engage your clients and co-workers on your calls.

2. Keep calls short and structured.

Don’t make the mistake of making remote meetings the same length as real-time meetings. Virtual meetings need to be short and sweet. Think of the pace of a good broadcast. In 30 minutes, topics are segmented, short and punchy. Depending on the subject matter, use different energy to keep your audience engaged.

3. Reset your energy after tricky calls.

People are stressed at the moment and stress can be infectious. The danger is that after one stressful call, your day spirals downward and you infect the rest of the day’s meetings with that negative energy.

Stress and negative emotions can pull you down if you go from difficult call to difficult call. It’s not good for your work, your health or relationships if you get into this downward spiral. Physically resetting your energy can really help you.

Face: A tip from psychotherapy is to move your facial muscles between meetings. If you take on the facial tension of others in difficult meetings, reset by consciously relaxing your facial muscles between meetings. This will help you to reset your emotions, too.

Body: Do some shoulder rolls and open up the breathing. Often, people hold their breath and tense their shoulders when they feel stressed. It’s also helpful to do some hip and leg stretches after sitting for long periods. When these become tight, it can trigger a flight-or-flight response in our bodies and voices. A short walk or stretch can shift this tension and allow you to show up relaxed and energized for the next call.

4. Avoid taking conflicts personally.

When you’re cooped up in your home it can start to feel as if the walls are closing in. Your sense of perspective warps, and you start to feel overwhelmed by life. Conflicts that are threatening can seem to loom over you. It probably goes all the way back to childhood. But you can adjust these inner “filters” through adopting a more positive perspective.

Try to deliberately lighten up and look on the brighter side. Situations will seem less gloomy. If you feel overwhelmed or threatened, try to deliberately lessen the threat in your mind. As an antidote to stress, you can imagine looking down on difficult meetings from high above. Seeing situations from a distance can make them seem less threatening.

5. Offer kindness and connection.

Our working lives tend to operate in the mindset of maintaining forward momentum. Results, growth, targets and achievements drive us. And while forward momentum still matters, the pandemic has brought with it a different pace. It’s slowed down our need for results. Instead of the previous focus on moving from one task to the next, there’s also a need to look after others around us.

In this challenging time, it’s important to ask others what you can do for them instead of focusing on what they can do for you. Make time for virtual huddles. Find out what people need, and how you can be of help. Try to talk through the screen with care and connection, rather than at the screen in a self-serving way. And when the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, others will remember your kindness and support during tough times.

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6 steps to getting better at everything

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You can become better at almost anything if you follow this simple plan.

In January, you probably made several New Year’s resolutions. According to Statistical Brain, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.

So, how are you doing?

If you’re one of the 62% of Americans who made one or more New Year’s resolutions, by Feb. 1 at least half your resolutions had fallen by the wayside. About a quarter of people who make New Year’s resolutions never succeed in achieving them.

It almost certainly wasn’t that you lacked the interest in making the change. It’s just that something (or someone) hijacked your resolve — and your plan to get from here to there became too burdensome. Or maybe you didn’t have an effective plan. Whatever the reason, something interfered with your resolution to get better.

Lessons from a successful coaching practice. I’ve been an executive coach for almost two decades with greater than a 97% rehire rate (meaning clients who hire me to work with someone on staff hire me for additional people following the results my coaching produced). I want to share some of the tactics and strategies that continue to work across different industries, different cultures, and different kinds of need areas.

1. Start by assessing where you are now.

Here are five tools and approaches I use most often to gain an accurate current picture of where a coaching client is in their career.

Candidate selfassessment. The candidate has an idea of his or her specific needs — what he or she wants to accomplish by engaging a coach. I typically use both a self-assessment and behavioral interview questions. I want to learn about both his or her objectives, plus his or her capacity and motivation to grow.

Behavioral assessment. This tool saves hours of time at the start and enables me to fill in a lot of details to understand why someone behaves the way he or she does. We spend time together exploring the assessment results and then validate the behavioral profile during the time we work together.

Competence/knowledge assessment. This tool allows me to measure what someone knows and understands about the best practices in a particular area, such as management/leadership disciplines, sales, or communication skills. The results allow me to measure the gap between where they are now in contrast to a set of relevant best practices.

Supervisor/peer interviews. In addition to an individual’s observations about themselves, the people with whom they work most closely can shed some light on both the individual’s working environment and the personal and workplace behaviors they observe.

After 40 years of helping people develop to their potential, I’ve been able to know what to look for that can provide the clues to helping someone improve.

2. Next, determine what is most important to improve, add, or fix first.

Each of us has a different set of priorities dictated by our current work objectives and circumstances, our supervisors, the important people in our life, and our life situation.

I work with each client to prioritize the need areas in order to determine the top three to five areas that if improved, would lead to the greatest growth and success. These areas don’t remain static, so we periodically reassess and reprioritize. We use a proprietary tool to do this, and my clients can use it to reprioritize anytime they want.

3. Next, identify the best practices in a specific area and compare to your current knowledge. Then measure the gap.

There are a number of reliable sources that can be used to set forth the best practices in any given area, from best-practices authors, trainers, practitioners, and experts. Consult those whose results are proven in actual field use. Avoid the trendy stuff and the “three-step cures for whatever ails you” solutions.

Look for resources which have a strong record of success in your business area. Choose the practical over the theoretical. Over the years I collected a best-practices inventory and kept it current as best practices evolve. This has helped my organization create nearly 200 training programs that are in use on four continents. (Shameless self-promotion: please visit our course catalog and see all of the topics we address — especially leadership, management, and sales!)

4. Build a four-quadrant plan.

Over the years I’ve found the most effective plans are often the straightforward and practical ones. A planning template is just that, a template that makes it easy to organize the actions you want to or need to take in order to move from where you are to where you want to be. I favor the more/less/stop/start format, though there are others. I ask my clients to create their first draft, and then we refine it together over time.

Purpose Statement: This is usually the first item on the plan that gets created. It is a statement of reasons why improving in this specific area is important to you.

More quadrant: List the actions/approaches that you need to do more of, selected from the set of best practices associated with your improvement area. This quadrant is often the one with the largest list of actions.

Less quadrant: List the actions/approaches that you need to do less of, the habits and approaches that need to be diminished as the More habits replace them.

Stop quadrant: List the actions/approaches that you need stop doing. These are easy to identify when you compare your own current practices with the set of best practices in the improvement area.

Start quadrant: List the actions/approaches that you need to start doing. Again, easy to identify when you compare your current practices to the improvement area’s best practices.

Resources: Identify the people and other resources that can help you. Include an accountability partner and/or coach and the best-practices sources.

5. Execute your plan.

Here are several best practices associated with the successful execution of your plan:

Daily review. If you’re a morning person, review your plan in the morning. If you’re an evening person, review it late in the day. Either way, be intentional about it and schedule this daily event on your calendar with a notification to remind you.

What to look for. It’s unlikely that you had an opportunity to take every action you listed on your plan on any one day.

Rather, there were opportunities to do more of, less of, stop doing, and start doing certain actions during the preceding workday. And there will be opportunities to do more of, less of, stop doing, and start doing certain actions during the day ahead. By reviewing the list every day you can choose which actions to take as part of your normal workflow.

Reminders. You may be someone who likes to post copies of your action plan on the mirror (and see it morning and night), or somewhere in your car, or at your desk. Multiple impressions of your plan serve both as reminders and a reinforcement to take the actions you listed. So, keep your plan visible where you’ll see it.

Habits. According to experts it takes 21 days to create new habits and between 45 and 60 days to replace ineffective habits with effective ones. So, your action plan should be in place for at least 60 days for it to help you make permanent changes to improve.

6. Review your plan with a coach or accountability partner.

While it is possible to get better at anything without a coach or accountability partner, most people lack the discipline and expert guidance to achieve the high levels of quality and quantity change that a coach or accountability partner will provide. Today, professional coaching is recognized as one of the very best investments organizations can make in their people, and people can make in themselves.

Coach or accountability partner? Accountability partners are people you trust to give you honest feedback, and who agree to come along side you to keep you on plan. Coaches typically bring objectivity, experience, education, practical training, and sometimes certification to your development. The best coaches and accountability partners have practical experience in the areas in your identified improvement areas.

Internal or external coach. Internal coaches are typically found in the largest organization while external coaches have their own practices or are part of an organization that offers coaching. Look for a coach with broad experience and record of success in the roles you are in or aspire to.

Chemistry, trust, and confidentiality. A coaching or accountability relationship will not work unless there is good chemistry between the two of you. And since you’ll be sharing personal and confidential matters make sure this person is someone with a history of trustworthiness and integrity. What do his or her clients say about this?

Frequency. Coaches/accountability partners and clients work out a mutually agreeable meeting schedule. I usually meet with new clients every other week for the first few months, and then move our sessions out to every three or four weeks as the situation dictates.

Look for a coach to have flexibility in working with your schedule. A coach should be accessible in-between scheduled sessions to take a call, meet, or respond to your email or text.

Meeting logistics. Technology has made it possible to meet face-to-face using a virtual meeting, so your coach can be from anywhere. I have coaching clients across 10 time zones and distance does not reduce the effectiveness of our meetings.

Challenge and stretch. A good coach or accountability partner will challenge you and stretch you. Just like any other type of improvement there will be a little pain … no pain, no gain! Assignments between sessions should be relevant to your job and situation. Good coaches ask tough questions. They are honest in telling you the naked truth, which sometimes you might not want to hear. But stick with it and you’ll emerge all the better.

Here are a few articles about coaching that you may find helpful:

Bottom Line.

So. there you have it. Six steps that will help you get better at anything. Anything. All it takes is the right approach and a plan to move from here to there.

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Smart bidding can be your new digital marketing weapon for recovering brand profits

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According to a new report, 79% of surveyed B2B businesses say they’ve been negatively impacted by COVID-19. That same report finds that 28% of surveyed businesses think their sales cycle will be slowed by three to six months.

How can you start boosting your sales as quickly as possible? Use smart bidding, a digital advertising tool from Google Ads. Smart bidding is a tech tool you can use to analyze millions of signals within your customer data — something you could never do single-handedly. The key advantage of using smart bidding is that you can set auction-level changes in real time and optimize your advertising campaigns.

What are its key components as laid out by the source?

Smart bidding uses advanced machine learning.

These incorporated algorithms focus and target data on a huge, encompassing scale. By providing you with the results, you can then make more accurate predictions regarding how different bid amounts might impact conversions or conversion value.

Smart bidding targets a range of identifiable traits (called contextual signals) about a person or their context at the time of a particular auction.

The following automatic bidding signal information areas provide you with the most crucial and useful data:

  • Device
  • Physical location
  • Location intent
  • Weekday and time of day
  • Remarketing list
  • Ad characteristics
  • Interface language
  • Browser
  • Operating system
  • Demographics for search and display
  • Actual search query

Soon, these ad characteristics will have data available as well:

  • Product attributes for shopping
  • Mobile app ratings
  • Price competitiveness for shopping
  • Seasonality for shopping

Smart bidding gives you easy and flexible access to performance controls.

This matters because you have the freedom to set and/or customize performance targets to fit your specific brand goals and change your options at any time depending on your overall business model or specific sales goals. You can also get granular when it comes to setting the device performance goals you want to hit (i.e., designating mobile or desktop).

Smart bidding provides transparent performance reporting.

This will give you the key tools you need to see how well your bidding performance is doing and pivot or put out fires as necessary. A big boon in this area is the inclusion of bid strategy reports, which show you how well you’re doing on an ongoing basis.

You can also play with campaign drafts and test out how adjustments may improve your performance. Taking that a step further, you can use simulators for key comparison info. Want to know how well you would have done in terms of CPA targets if you’d chosen different targets? That data is at your fingertips. You can also receive alerts in case problems are detected that need quick attention.

Smart bidding can be used to evaluate your video advertising as well.

It also allows you to use broad match keywords to speed up the process of machine learning and get more immediate data results. You do need to be a little patient while you watch results unfold once you start the smart bidding process, but once the ball gets rolling, you’ll begin to get an excellent analytic picture in about a week.

So why not start incorporating smart bidding into your marketing approach right now? Do a deeper dive into its specs and you’ll see that, no matter what size your business is, smart bidding can maximize your potential in a powerful way!

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Get personal with your brand marketing

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Uncut, vulnerable and camaraderie were words that Ann Handley, Wall Street Journal bestselling author and chief content officer of MarketingProfs, linked to successful brand messaging during these times of COVID-19 and sheltering-in-place. Handley’s keynote at this year’s Content Marketing Conference (CMC) reached me in my living room after the Boston-scheduled event was quickly pivoted to an online platform.

While I can’t claim exclusivity — organizer Byron White notes that the virtual conference hit 14,000 people registered by opening day on April 21 with 8,000 who like me tuned into the live-streamed opening day events — this close-up (and suddenly free) opportunity to connect with top marketing gurus had me feeling like I’d won the lottery.

My front-row experience at the virtual conference parallels the peer-to-peer way Handley says brands should be marketing right now.

“It’s just you and me and that’s giving us an opportunity to communicate differently,” she noted close-up on my screen as she initiated her presentation. “I think the very same thing is true with our marketing.”

Now more than ever is time to be building trust and affinity with current customers, she explains. With so much uncertainty and people stretched to their limits, there’s a great need for reassurance, compassion and empathy. It’s no time for impersonal “brand to target” marketing.

Similarly, influencer marketing agency MediaKix advises brands to work with micro- and mid-tier influencers who typically have a stronger, more authentic and closer connection with their followers than big-name stars.

“We have an opportunity to tell stories and create marketing that has more depth and has more resonance for the people we care the most about connecting with,” says Handley.

Tips for marketing with depth and resonance

Narrow your scope. Clarify exactly who the people you care most about connecting with are.

Focus on being a resource. Tune into what’s keeping the people you care about up at night and figure out how you can ease their burden right now. Through not only words but actions that demonstrate understanding and camaraderie, brands can deepen their relationship with these people. It’s showing up in very specific and tangible ways to help the people who matter most to you.

Show your face, be real and be vulnerable. Handley notes that she’s seen lots of letters to customers from CEOs but few instances where executives get on camera to speak — uncut — with customers about difficulties their companies or industries are facing.

Spread some joy. “Find little ways to delight your customers if it makes sense for your brand,” says Alex McPeak, a content strategist at Klaviyo. She notes that with so much heavy and dark news and information out there right now, people are welcoming distractions, so an approach that mixes lightheartedness with compassion is worth exploring.

Be a leader. Ask how you and your brand can lift people up during these chaotic times, says Handley. Why? “Because when this is over — and it will be over,” she assures us, “your brand will be cemented in in the minds of your prospects and customers as someone who is there for them long term and really demonstrated long-term leadership not only of their own company, but of an industry.”

Deliver excellent, useful and helpful content. Giving your clients and prospects the hyperspecific information they need most is the perfect way to deepen existing relationships right now, explains Handley. She highly advocates delivering that content via an email newsletter like the one she publishes every other week. “It’s a channel that’s vastly undervalued by so many marketers and the only one where a person, not an algorithm, is in control.”

Bringing it all together to create close-up and personal content

A newsletter from my own inbox demonstrates these points quite well. In the latest issue of ComMusings by Jeff Krasno at Commune, a personal growth community that offers courses in areas like wellness, yoga and spirituality, he writes a 1,000-word plus letter on loss, death and human mortality.

This might not sound like ideal marketing content to most, but Krasno understands Commune readers. His cleverly written and well-researched musings about death and liberty resonate with people actively seeking deeper meaning to their lives.

Krasno shows vulnerability and builds camaraderie when he shares his own deep sadness in permanently closing the doors to his Hollywood yoga/wellness center and relates it to the loss so many others are living today. At the end, after pointing to upcoming courses and limited-time trials, he invites people who’ve lost their jobs to email him for a free meditation course.

With communication that’s different and addresses the deep concerns of his audience and his reaching out to those with acute financial need, Krasno is developing loyalty and demonstrating leadership in his community. He exemplifies Handley’s closing words.

“I think that this is an opportunity for us to show up for our communities, not to just sell constantly, but instead to be there for them to act as a resource, to show your empathy, your human side and to be relevant,” she concludes.

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Avoiding the two extremes in remote worker management

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If your company is one of the countless enterprises that has managed to stay afloat under COVID-19 quarantines by suddenly shifting to remote teams, it is probably comprised mainly of “knowledge workers” who process information for a living. Your managers, who are used to guiding these workers through face-to-face interactions, are adapting their skills to a new environment, and they’re just now catching their breath amid the rapid change.

In this new environment, many managers are gravitating toward an extreme focus on one of two management styles: widespread surveillance or total worker autonomy. Both extreme postures obfuscate the essential fact that successful management practices must focus more than ever on employee well-being and happiness.

The failure of a surveillance culture

At one extreme, managers who are struggling with remote work oversight are implementing always-on web cameras or screen monitoring technology to ensure that employees are actually working during the time they are being paid to work. Managers who fear their employees are less productive at home have also implemented practices like constant check-ins or mandatory lunchtime chats to see if work is being done correctly.

But information processing is about output, both in volume and quality, and workers say that surveillance disrupts work-life balance and increases stress and exhaustion. Knowledge workers require intrinsic motivation that is undermined by corporate surveillance. Such micromanaging shows employees that managers don’t trust them. Employees, in turn, then don’t trust their managers and are likely to hide negative information from them.

The failure of an exclusive focus on autonomy

Sensing the pitfalls of surveillance culture, managers will sometimes take the other extreme, hands-off approach: They set clear KPIs and simply tell team members that they are trusted to find their own best way to achieve the goals set by the managers and their companies.

Struggling with how to support distant employees, many managers may tell themselves that active support just gets in the way. Simply provide the tools and the goals, they think, and let these employees run on their own.

Though providing goals and setting clear KPIs are important, they are not motivators by themselves. An extreme focus on autonomy will fail to elicit optimal output just as an extreme focus on surveillance does.

How to engage remote employees

Knowledge work, whether it is focused on customer service issues or specialized business problems, requires the application of social intelligence, complex analytics and creative insight. Workers with these abilities thrive and contribute only when they are highly engaged. For this, they require a sense of security, confidence and purpose. In a remote work environment, where companies can no longer provide highly valued office perks, these truths simply become more important.

Company operators must become employee happiness innovators, and managers must become happiness implementors. Numerous thinkers like Daniel Pink, Adam Grant and Angela Duckworth have stated that employee happiness rests on three pillars: mastery, autonomy and meaning. Financial and other employee benefits only help maximize employee output when those employees feel that that they know how to do their job, have the freedom to do it according to their own decisions and find meaning or purpose in the work they do.

Our new work environment requires managers to be more focused than ever before on providing these pillars. The ability to do so relies on the hard work of an executive to create and articulate a clear vision, then perfect the resources employees need to do their part in contributing to that vision.

How leaders and managers can implement happiness

Committing to a vision and the resources to support it is always difficult, and it may be even harder in the uncertain fog of a global pandemic. However, a number of management practices can maintain employee engagement and drive organizations forward.

Start by implementing new communications standards that fit the current environment. The more certainty that you provide your team, the better its members will be able to focus on pushing forward:

Host monthly town halls where your leadership reinforces your vision. Save time at the end for employees to ask questions and share their opinions.

Create projects that push your vision forward. Taking immediate action to implement your vision gives your employees a boost of confidence in your company’s success. For example, at my own company we conducted an employee survey that we used to immediately establish new policies, committees and actions built on employee consensus. Nearly every employee was tasked with being a part of at least one committee, giving everyone a chance to take part in the decision-making process and contribute to short-term success.

Town halls, even virtual ones via Zoom, create a sense of connection and ensure that there’s no information void where negative rumors can take root. Hold them regularly and launch projects that allow for near-term wins to foster positive behaviors and continued achievements. Success is ultimately a habit for both individuals and organizations, and taking these actions ensures that employees have opportunities to see it realized.

Everyday communication is also key to finding the right balance between micromanaging your employees and rarely checking in with them. This means being thoughtful about the adoption of tools like task-management software, employee chat and internal social software feeds.

Remote teams and the future of management

Workers who require surveillance and other micromanagement techniques are not valuable to the kinds of firms that can function with remote teams — those engaged in creative knowledge work. On the other hand, employees who wish to function with complete autonomy won’t likely derive much value from being part of a firm.

To be successful with remote teams, firms must have management that is focused on required remote work that fosters employee mastery and purpose — and complement it with the right level of autonomy. To do so, managers can constantly innovate by:

  • Improving and enlivening training.
  • Building platforms for continuous learning.
  • Fostering social connection through things like virtual lunches and happy hours, personal check-ins at the beginnings of meetings and fun chat channels where employees can share their pets, food and TV picks to get to know each other on a personal level.
  • Communicating a vision around which every team member derives meaning.

The new remote work environment will require and facilitate rapid innovation in how employees are managed. Organizations that are able to engage employees and foster happiness, rather than relying on surveillance or total autonomy, can optimize employee output in a way that lasts long after the pandemic.

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The pillar page: Your secret weapon to marketing growth

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During the pandemic, you’re no doubt brainstorming ways to boost earnings as soon as possible. A fresh way to do it is by building the perfect pillar page.

A pillar page is a lengthy explainer you use on your company website and across your platforms that will completely answer a question your audience has, using both text and graphics.

According to data from Single Grain, a pillar page can help your SERP on Google if it’s thorough enough in terms of its layout and content. Here’s how to create the ideal pillar page.

The correct setup.

According to HubSpot, a pillar page also consists of “topic clusters” — grouped areas of information that circle back to providing the answer to a consumer question. The information should be general in nature but should be plentiful and stocked with many terms your audience has shown you they search for. For example, social listening and analyzing search engine data will provide these words to you.

As you build the info into your topic clusters, keep asking yourself this key question to make sure you’re covering all your bases: will my customer need to Google anything else after reading this? The answer should always be no. You want your pillar page to be completely helpful and encompassing in terms of satisfying your audience’s informational needs.

The best subject matter for your pillar page.

Rather than focusing on traditional keyword research, you build a pillar page by identifying the top interests your audience demo has expressed to you, or by introducing a product or service that solves a problem or addresses a need you are aware they have.

It’s OK to make the content you produce in this vein fun and personalized, as well as technically informative. Think about how you can make your pillar page content a “must-read” in terms of how it feels — not only should it be user-friendly, but it should be absorbing and engaging as well.

The right factual points.

You need to make sure the info on your pillar page is correct, authentic in tone, and super-clear. It should be easy to understand, without complex language.

A pillar page is most easily thought of as a longer version of an informational blog post. Understanding that, you don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of pouring on extremely technical jargon.

Instructions for product operation or assembly, for instance, can be included, but you need to streamline the how-tos so your consumer can literally accomplish the instructions on the spot while continuing to read your entire post. Make your pillar page a one-stop experience, not a web of data that needs to be digested in multiple readings.

Piquing your customer’s curiosity.

Your pillar page should provide lots of non-specific yet exciting info about a product you’re trying to sell, with the goal of leave your audience wanting more. You should clearly direct the reader to subsequent info on other parts of your sites or platforms, so they want to know additional granular detail.

Plan your links so they offer effortless cross-navigation to each other, and so you’re taking your customers on an engaging tour of your platforms and all they have to offer. Accomplish this, and you will have captured their ongoing interest, which can yield long-term brand affinity.

Sync your pillar page with Google for better ranking results.

According to the Neil Patel firm, your strategy here involves linking all the blog content you have that’s related to your pillar page. This kind of organization will inform Google that your page is really a series of topics within a topic, and as each of those topics is searched for, your search engine placement soars, as does your brand visibility and profit potential.

The bottom line: a pillar page is easy to assemble and its payoffs can be huge. Get to work on building yours today — you’ll see excellent results soon!

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Finding the upside of ‘Groundhog Day’

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During our worldwide quarantine, I’ve heard numerous groans about every day being “Groundhog Day,” a reference to an old Bill Murray movie where every day was a rerun of the previous.

But regardless of the lockdown, how many of us run busily through our days, repeating mechanically the previous day’s agenda? We get up in the morning, struggle for a cup of coffee and breakfast, get ready for work, plow through a day of work while possibly eyeing the clock, go grocery shopping, cook and eat dinner and wash dishes, maybe watch an hour of TV, then to bed for the next day to repeat itself.

Sound familiar? If you’re going through rote motions of living, then you’ve already been living through “Groundhog Day.”

Well, this quarantine forces us to be still, to think. When we are moving mechanically and busily through life, we don’t often take the time to think; we just do.

What many people seem to forget is the ending of that movie. After grousing considerably about the repetitiveness of his days, the “hero” learned he could change his pattern of thinking, and while external circumstances might have been constant, his response and mindset changed. And by changing his mindset, he changed his life.

So, use this enforced quiet time as an opportunity to think. Really think. Think about your life — how you got to where you are, where you want to go, what you want your future life and future self to look like. Then get busy planning. It’s more constructive than sitting around, watching TV reruns or playing video games.

Don’t like your career? Then make a plan for a different career. What skills do you currently have that are transferable? What aspects of your current career do you like, and which do you hate? Does your job give you enough satisfaction in the areas that are important to you?

Like to work alone or work with people? Do you like routine or thrive on change? Do you prefer to be part of a team, or do you need more autonomy in your career? Do you need more education or training to change careers? Do you need a mentor? Make an action list, and then get active.

Dislike where you live? Then investigate new towns/states/countries where the lifestyle is a better fit, and put into action the mechanisms to bring about that change. What finances are needed? Do you need to sell your current home? Where would you live? Would you be able to find work in your new town, or are there opportunities for self-employment?

Unhappy with your relationships? Forgive the past; embrace the future. Invest in your relationships, and they will bring rewards. Too many of us bemoan what we don’t get out of our current relationships without considering what we are putting in. It’s the old adage: you have to give to get. People who want to get more (respect? love? friendship?) before they’ll give it, end up bitter and alone.

Consider this mandated isolation a gift to review your past and create a mid-course correction to grow and prosper.

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Infographic: Are virtual events here to stay?

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Virtual meetings are now commonplace and working from home is here to stay, but will large scale events like conferences ever come back? This infographic outlines how virtual events may be here to stay, signaling a major change for business professionals.

Infographic courtesy Data Connectors

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5 key changes that will make your business more resilient

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When I used to teach business classes to prospective business owners in Seattle, many of whom were turning to business ownership as a way to move out of poverty, I always shared the downside of running a service-only business. Ironically, I used my own business as an example of what not to do, which my students found amusing.

My story was that I had run a number of business providing services (writing, coaching, consulting and teaching) for decades and that this was extremely risky because if I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid. This meant more than just not having paid vacations, it meant that in order to bring in income, I was fully dependent on my ability to physically show up. If I was ever seriously injured or suffered a long-term illness, I was in deep trouble. It also meant that my business model wasn’t really a business, it was self-employment because it wasn’t scalable nor was it sustainable.

During the pandemic, the businesses that have been hit the hardest were nonessential businesses dependent on physical customer contact. This has forced many of these businesses to take a good hard look at their business model. Before, they may have been vulnerable to a natural disaster, but few ever expected that a pandemic would forcefully close their doors.

Painful lessons, yes. Some businesses won’t survive. Those who do will have some things in common: a willingness to get creative, to think of what they offer in brand-new ways, and to be more prepared in the future for the unexpected.

Everything from cash flow to location-dependence to types of goods and services offered are being scrutinized under the lens of the pandemic. What’s being discovered is that it’s become necessary to let go of many of the old ways of doing things and even pivot when necessary, which may mean that a business may resemble nothing of its former self.

So, what does that look like? Here five key changes that businesses can make to become more resilient:

Diversify income streams

If your focus has been on providing one particular type of product or service or even a menu of services, it’s time to consider other add-ons that will bring in income. One example includes adding a membership program or subscription service to your customers.

This helps cultivate loyalty and keeps the flow of income steadier. Another example is to simply expand your offerings. If you only offer a service, add some products. If you only offer products, add some services. If you offer both, add some classes. Affiliate marketing can be another source of income.

Do more work online

If you’ve run a totally brick-and-mortar business, or one that involves lots of contact with your customers, consider setting up more ways to access your offerings online.

Many restaurants for example, have set up online ordering and payment and then let customers simply stop by and pick up orders, reducing the need for physical contact. Setting up online shopping, online courses, online sessions, and online groups are all ways to take advantage of the technology we all use every day.

Pivot some offerings to address current needs

As we saw, a few distilleries pivoted from making liquor to making hand sanitizer. Some clothing companies pivoted as well from selling clothes to selling masks. It’s clear that the pandemic has opened up the need for lots of new products and services.

For example, when I played some online board games with family members, I noticed the platforms weren’t that great and remarked that some companies are probably working on making these online game platforms even better.

Learn new skills

Expanding your offerings or products may involve a bit of a learning curve. Thankfully, somewhere online there’s probably a class for that. Thousands of free classes can be found all over the internet, along with many affordable ones offered by a half-dozen, well-known online platforms offering pretty much anything you’d like to learn. Maybe in the process, you’ll even get an idea for a class you’d like to teach as well.

Get support

There’s no need to soldier though these changes alone. There are lots of groups popping up all over the internet offering support to business owners. Many can also be found on Facebook consisting of either local business owners or even national and international groups. The SBA, along with SCORE also offer support of different kinds.

A few closing words about my business. While still primarily offering services, a few years ago, I finally began focusing my efforts on creating products and offering online classes. I’m currently exploring recording audio tracks and doing a podcast.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

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