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Tag Archives: Marketing

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How to automate SEO tasks for maximum efficiency

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As Google continues to optimize its site to be user-friendly, SEO adapts. Famously coy about giving exact SEO specifications, Google has made one thing clear: its algorithms are always going to be working toward making sure results are relevant and trustworthy.

Maybe you’ve just been taken on as a company’s first SEO specialist and are feeling a bit overwhelmed at the sheer number of tasks. Maybe you’ve been trying to keep up with SEO best practices for a long time but find yourself with less and less time to focus on the bigger picture.

It’s probably best to start with a full SEO audit, taking stock of where your site sits currently.

More and more businesses are taking advantage of workforce RPA, creating a hybrid digital workforce that can automate tasks where necessary. Automation is growing, and luckily there are a multitude of ways in which you can automate some of your SEO, saving you time and energy to use on more complicated matters.

SEO Analysis

It might be that, as part of your SEO audit, you have found you need to update several, if not all, of your site pages. Because SEO changes so rapidly, your efforts can be outdated within a few short years as Google strives to make the search experience better for its users.

Don’t panic! You can automate analysis, saving you time and effort and leaving you free to concentrate on more pressing matters.

Consider installing a plugin to your site builder, like Yoast SEO for WordPress. These tools give your pages and posts easy-to-understand SEO rankings (Yoast uses a traffic light system) and supply a list of improvements you can make.

You can go through your previous pages to make updates, tweaking the concentration of keywords, slug length, meta description, and more — all with helpful suggestions from the plugin.

These plugins are a great resource going forward. Every piece of content you upload can be run through the same program, ensuring your pages stay as up to date as possible.

Keywords and Content Creation

Good content is the cornerstone of a solid SEO strategy. Without it, you’re appealing solely to the bots that crawl your site, but even they are looking for how well your content performs in terms of giving value to real humans.

One of the key things the bots look for is unique results — which, if you’re an e-commerce business, you should have in spades! Each product can be a valuable source of unique content, but make sure that the SKU numbers are grouped under one URL so as not to have duplicate pages.

All your content has to be flowing, readable, and interesting enough to hold visitors’ attention. There are some essential skills copywriters need for SEO, and that’s something you can’t automate.

However, what you can save time on is keyword research. Excellent content is all well and good, but if it’s on topics that nobody is interested in, it means nothing — cue extensive keyword research.

Whether you’re trying to take on competitors for head keywords or are opting for a long-tail keyword approach to focus on specific niches, you’ll know how much time it takes to work out what people are searching for.

Enter automation. Pick a tool like Ubersuggest and input your topic. The site will pull relevant keyword suggestions, tell you the cost-per-click for paid terms, and even let you know how often these terms are searched.

Source: AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic is another great time-saver, especially for the long-tail keyword approach. Type in a word or phrase, and it will search Google in a matter of seconds to give you suggestions about how people are searching.

Entering “SEO,” for example, will bring up a plethora of results: “why SEO matters,” “SEO when building a website,” “SEO where to start.” These can give you a great starting point for deciding which direction to take your content in.

Keyword and Backlink Monitoring

Now that you have a roster of stellar, keyword-filled content, it’s time to start monitoring how it’s performing.

No, we’re not talking about spending hours upon hours manually checking up on your content. A tool like SE Ranking can help you to track your keyword rank, as well as discover where your backlinks are.

In fact, SE Ranking is a bit of an all-rounder, offering competitor research and SEO auditing tools as well. That said, it’s a good idea to use multiple tools to get an accurate insight into how your site is performing. Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, and Ahrefs are great places to start.

But that suggests your poor SEO team will be drowning in data, with reports coming in from every angle about how to improve your SEO. Unlike bots, humans aren’t built for hyperautomation!

Using something like Reportz will integrate several SEO analysis programs, giving you actionable insights and data that won’t overwhelm your team. Similar programs include ToTango, Chartio, and GoodData.

Social Media

Because of their high authority levels, social media sites are a fantastic way to generate quality backlinks for your page. That means it might be worth considering sharing your content across a wide range of platforms — and knowing how to use social marketing is essential.

However, it can be incredibly time-consuming — not to mention disruptive — to ensure that things are posted at the right time, especially as that right time might come in the middle of another task!

Instead of manually publishing content as it comes up, look into automating it. Platforms like Facebook have in-built publishing software that allows you to schedule content in advance. There are also programs like Sprout Social and Hootsuite which allow you to schedule posts across multiple platforms and keep an eye on how they perform, all in one place.

There are even options like Buffer, which automatically post when your audience is likely to be most active.

Source: Buffer

Maximum Efficiency — With Users at Heart

Remember, SEO is all about benefiting the users of the search engine, which means a crucial part of your SEO strategy has to be centered around the user experience.

Using subdomains on your site can boost your SEO by creating a better on-site experience for users, giving you a chance to use keywords in your URL, and helps you to target more niche markets too.

On the other side of the coin, you could use intelligent process automation to ensure your teams are working as efficiently as possible and therefore have more time to spend on improving the business.

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What’s the BIG Idea? Episode 3: Jasmine Ahmed on organizational transformation

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In this episode of “What’s the BIG Idea?” we visit with Jasmine Ahmed, Senior Vice President of Global Finance Transformation for NewsCorp. NewsCorp’s media empire spans the globe with trusted brands such as The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Barron’s, News Australia, and Dow Jones.

Ahmed has more than two decades helping companies invent their best future by implementing programs that transform the entire organization to make it “future proof.” In our discussion on the topic of transformation, she helps viewers understand what transformation is about, how it affects all organizations regardless of size, industry sector, or purpose, and discusses how organizations can design and implement a transformation agenda successfully.

Since all organizations want a better future, everyone will want to view this episode full of transformation program best practices and BIG ideas.

About What’s The BIG Idea?

What’s the BIG Idea? was born during the global pandemic of 2020. I spoke with a number of business leaders about how the pandemic was changing the ways they ran their organizations. I heard some amazing accounts of how the crisis brought out innovative and creative approaches to address the challenges these leaders were suddenly facing. I wanted to find a way to capture their authentic stories and energy and share it with others who might be similarly inspired to overcome their own set of challenges.

Each edition of What’s the BIG Idea? is a six to eight-minute conversational interview with a high achiever who is making a difference in his or her organization, field, or industry. What’s the BIG Idea’s host is Hank Boyer CEO and founder of the international management consulting firm, Boyer Management Group, and host of the #1 national syndicated business radio show, Executive Leader’s Radio. What’s the BIG Idea? is provided to viewers in partnership with the self-improvement team at Achiever’s Circle.

For more information about What’s the BIG Idea? or to inquire about being a guest, contact hank@boyermanagment.com.

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How does the shift to remote work affect marketing agencies?

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The pandemic and its resultant lockdowns have shown us that workers can be just as productive and effective when working from home, relative to when they are in the office. Consequently, companies across the globe will inevitably introduce work-from-home policies in the coming months.

Marketing agencies, too, are reaping the benefits of working remotely. Since most marketing activities are now done digitally, they can also be done independently outside of a conventional workspace.

For instance, employees can continue to craft copy or edit videos without being present in the office. Apart from this, the pandemic has shown that daily marketing activities like posting social media updates, guest blogs for link building, and email marketing can also be done efficiently by those working remotely.

Source: Float

This is an option highly preferred by agency staff. A Global Agency Productivity survey conducted by resource planning app Float showed that a large share of the workforce (41%) prefer to work partially remote, with a two- to three-day office working policy. An additional 40% prefer a remote option, whereby you can work remotely or in the office as you wish.

This is no surprise, as there are numerous benefits to remote working. The same report claims that remote working can double the productivity of agency staff, who can now spend more time accomplishing deep work without being interrupted. Deep work is defined as being able to work without distractions for over 6 hours. This can, in turn, lead to a healthier and more productive workforce.

Source: Float

In this section below, we will analyze the pros and cons of the shift to remote work and how it might benefit or cause detriment to marketing agencies.

1. Working Remotely Reduces Expenses

Digital marketing agencies can reap significant savings on office-related costs when a hefty portion of their workforce is remote. The overhead of running an office, from rent to heating, and snacks to equipment, are often among the most considerable costs of running a marketing agency.

When your employees work from their respective remote locations, you will no longer need to rent substantial office facilities and reduce spend on administration, utilities, and equipment.

Agencies can instead also pass on some of these cost-savings to their workers, whether as a stipend, a wage increase, or additional benefits to help workers stay productive while working from home. This can include hosting regular social events, providing perks such as fitness and workout subscriptions. A survey conducted by CNBC reported that up to 37% of millennials are ready to be paid less if they could instead work from home or have more autonomy in their work hours.

2. Increases Employee Productivity

In addition to the report above, another study conducted by Stanford found that working from home in general increases productivity by 13%.

This can be attributed to increased work-life balance when people work remotely. Reducing the time and stress in commuting frees up more time for employees to better manage their day-to-day life. This ultimately results in a healthier mind, and likely improved work ethics. For marketing agencies, where creativity and productivity remain the utmost priority, it is a paradox that the more freedom that you provide to your employees, the better their work productivity get.

In addition, employees can work on flexible hours. For instance, some prefer to work at unconventional hours and night hours because they are more productive at night. This freedom of flexibility is again a productivity booster, and hence the work is delivered on time.

3. Better Deployment of Technology

Marketing agencies are putting technology to best use for all purposes, promoting themselves, conducting online meetings, and everything else. The widespread adoption and acceptance of video conferencing tools like Zoom and other instant messenger apps over in-person meetings offer a cheap and easy solution for team members to work in sync, and for teams to make effective client pitches.

With the new normal, agencies can reduce the time and money needed to travel to clients and for work meetings.

4. Access to Talent Beyond Geographical Boundaries

The most significant benefit of remote employees or consultants is not just restricted to the cost-saving or productivity improvements, but also the ability to hire the best cost-effective talent for the job. Every digital marketing agency has reflected this as the most important reason for hiring remote employees.

Since the office’s physical location won’t matter a lot, you can now hire contractors from anywhere across the region or even from foreign countries. This represents great cost-efficiencies for agencies to identify and work with the best talent for their budgets.

Admittedly, there will be significant onboarding costs and productivity losses from working across different time zones, but we see this as a challenge that will be better solved in the coming years. Physical locations will no longer be an impediment to effective collaboration.

5. Creative Collaboration Might Suffer

The main disadvantage of remote working in a marketing agency is that this might potentially hamper creative collaboration. While some employees can effectively work individually and independently from their preferred location, innovation and in-person meetings whereby there is a rapid and fluid exchange of ideas might suffer.

Moreover, the lack of healthy, in-person and social office culture may result in a lower sense of belonging with the organization.

In Conclusion

To summarize, it isn’t fair to say that the shift to remote work will effectively render marketing agencies redundant. Rather, it is more likely that agencies that do not heed the wishes of their employees will be left behind. The best and brightest talent will have the autonomy to decide where they’d like to work and for whom they’d want to work with.

As a last caveat, a shift to remote work should also not necessitate an increase in employers policing their workers. Some agency owners might wish to opt into more profound surveillance tools and software to monitor communications and track employees accordingly. However, this signifies an explicit lack of trust in your workers and signals a poor hiring process where you continue to hire the wrong type of people to work with you.

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The power of success: How to cheerlead instead of compete — and win more

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Much of the world today seems to indulge in schadenfreude — taking pleasure from others’ misfortunes. But if we train ourselves to focus on cheering for others’ successes instead, we also create much more success for ourselves. We need to fundamentally understand that when other people have success, it’s a good thing for everyone. It is not a poor reflection on us. It does not highlight our lack of achievement. Rather, it creates an environment of success for us all.

That’s why every day, we should practice encouraging others with our cheerleading powers. We need to lead by example, and be the head cheerleader at home, at work, or in our community organizations. When your neighbor brings home a new Mercedes Benz, be the first to congratulate her.

At work, be the boss who takes responsibility for all mistakes, gives their team credit for all successes, and develops their subordinates to one day not only take their own position, but to even surpass them in their careers. Tremendous success and fulfillment come to those who cheer for the accomplishments and achievements of others, simply because of the laws of attraction. A rising tide lifts all boats.

Use these three fundamental strategies to harness the power of success:

1. Believe in abundance, not scarcity.

It is important for us to believe in abundance, not scarcity. We can’t believe that just because someone else is enjoying a wonderful slice of pie, that there is less pie for the rest of us. We need to understand the pie is limitless. The servings are infinite. Technology and the onward march of mankind has continually proven that what we previously thought was finite is infinite. Our fears of lack of food, water, energy, and even space on the planet have been repeatedly dispelled by abundance solutions, and now Elon Musk is even moving us all to Mars.

The more people we connect together to help each other and do business together, the more concentric circles of reward we create around ourselves. Restaurants counterintuitively group together in specific locations and pray that their competitors prosper, because they know they will, in turn, also flourish. Car dealerships do the same. Starbucks cafes often locate diagonally across the street from each other because people don’t like to make left turns … well, except in London.

2. Help people recover when they fail.

When people fail, be the first one to help them recover. Don’t go to NASCAR races for the crashes, don’t watch a hockey game for the fights, and don’t take pleasure in others’ stumbles. Remind others that they only stumble when they take risks, but those risks are necessary for ultimate success. Encourage them to continue to stick their necks out.

Don’t reinforce the system’s tendency to cause people to stay in the middle of the pack, head down and unscathed. Encourage them to stretch and reinforce the true definition of success — simply getting up one more time than they fall. I am living proof that great success can allow us to take our eye off the ball, but that great failures can teach us profound lessons that have the power to propel us to the next level.

3. Compete only with yourself.

Compete only with yourself — but promise me you will compete. Get in the race or maybe get back in the race. Compete with whomever you were yesterday. Stop watching the shows about celebrities’ fabulous lives because we all know they are not actually fabulous. Stop watching the reality and talk shows displaying the terrible lives of underachievers so that we feel better about ourselves, thinking, “At least I’m not that bad” when we haven’t put ourselves out there.

Compete with yourself and focus on getting just a little bit better each day based on your own benchmarks and your own grading system. Hold yourself accountable, but give others a break. We never know what mile has been walked in their shoes today.

A metaphor for my corporate golf outings: “Putt yours out but always ensure your clients’ putts in the leather are gimmees.” Those who understand will understand.

The world today needs more cheerleaders. We can mentor and cheerlead in so many ways. We can help someone get that job, help them get into the right school, or maybe even help them get that first date. And, in turn, life is reciprocal. How do we get the most business referrals? By spending all day giving referrals to everyone else. How do we keep our office climate upbeat and exciting? By practicing management-by-walking-around and zapping everyone with positive energy.

Help your friends see opportunities instead of problems. Help your teammates see that when one door closes, another one opens. Be that mentor, that coach, that cheerleader. You will be greatly rewarded — and if you’re not careful, you also just might make the world a better place.

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How to build an app your clients will love

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Many consumers are glued to their mobile gadgets, so creating an application is a smart business step. With over 3 million mobile apps available, you have to ensure that yours stands apart from the competition if you want to make good profits. Therefore, finding the right way to create an app that sells requires a strategy.

Consider these tips when developing an application that meets your company’s needs.

1. Perfect the Design Early

Before you start getting glued on your computers, start by making a flawless design. Invest heavily in contemplating how you would like the outcome to look. Part of your initial process should be to hire multiple designers to do the job.

The trick is to ensure that nobody is aware of what the other people are doing. The strategy enhances every designer’s job’s best elements, blended until you settle on a final design.

2. Use the Right Software

Without software, the application might be very difficult to build. Luckily, you can choose from the many app builder software in the market. Some are free, while others require the user to remit a small fee. If you are an advanced or expert-level user, you may not require many of the software’s features.

Beginners can use templates to ease the process. Your app won’t become the top Android app development software overnight. It will take time but using the right software will definitely help.

3. Become a Versatile Business

Applications may have been limited to a few features in the past, but modern-day options have numerous benefits. The best apps are versatile and are compatible with many operating systems. Most industries benefit from including their service delivery apps, from acquiring leads, spreading information, and offering great convenience to customers. Businesses are also using apps to sell products and services and connect with their consumers.

4. Develop What 200 People Will Love, Not What 2,000 People Like

Most people use a small number of apps regularly. They also install a host of other apps they rarely open. Consider creating a quality product that people will use to beat your competition. That way, you will have a highly engaged audience that gives feedback regularly and recommends your app to others.

5. Define Your Goals and Objectives

If you want to create a superior app, you need to determine your objectives and goals. Make sure you know what the app should do from the beginning for easy decision-making.

  • What is the need for developing this app?
  • How will customers benefit from using this app?
  • Is it a full-service product, or will it focus on doing one thing well?
  • Will you collect customer data, and for what purpose?

6. Cater to Your Customer’s Needs

Before you create an application, find out what features customers would like to see on the app. That way, you will develop something that pleases your target market.

Take note of the ideas that have a lot of positive feedback. If nobody responds to an idea, there is a high chance that it won’t perform well on the market. Take the time to analyze customer feedback to gain valuable insight into the best app development ideas.

7. Focus on Solving a Problem

Don’t start developing a product right out of the gate without a good plan. Having a big vision is ideal, but you achieve success by taking small, calculated steps. Start by launching the most basic app and then develop it based on consumer feedback.

8. Showcase Your Brand

A great application should represent your brand well and stand out in the market. Customize your app to suit your organization’s needs. That involves selecting the right color combination to help you create a memorable app. Adding a logo is also a great way for additional branding that many of your competitors might not have.

9. Focus on Improvement

If you have a long-term goal of having a well-performing app, you should always improve it. Remember that your applications will go through many versions before it is perfect for consumers to enjoy. After a few improvement rounds, you can go ahead and launch it. Businesses that revise their apps often end up with great products.

Developing the right app involves a lot of effort and hard work, but the investment is worthwhile. In a world of ever-evolving technologies, having an app is a great service that modern companies offer. Use cross-channel promotion to market your app once you launch it.

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Understanding business agility as an entrepreneur

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Staying afloat in the face of any crisis can be difficult. But as the most recent economic downturn proved, the state of your business and industry can change at any second. Developing the ability to pivot and stay agile can be your biggest asset as an entrepreneur.

When things go wrong, business plans and even crisis plans can only take you so far. It’s impossible to predict the hazards you may face (who could have imagined a global pandemic in 2020?), so the safeguards you create are merely that. Your business may be protected from the initial blow, but on the tough journey back to normal operations and growth, an agile mindset is invaluable.

We’ll dive deeper into the benefits of business agility for entrepreneurs, then offer some tips on how to increase your agility over time.

Why Business Agility Matters

If you’ve ever played a team sport, you know that agility matters. You always need to be conscious of where the ball and each player are, so you can move efficiently and accurately. Scores and passes can happen at any moment, and if you’re not ready to defend, you could put your team in a tight spot.

Agile methodology looks at business from a similar perspective. It treats change as inevitable and plans as flexible. Business ideas are constantly tested and iterated upon before release — and after release, each product or service is expected to grow outdated. At that point, agile business leaders retire the old idea and collaborate with team members and stakeholders on brand new ones. You’re constantly thinking on your feet.

Rather than make your business dependent on things going smoothly, Agile values collaboration, reflection, and adaptivity. This means you’ll notice changes in the market faster and adapt faster to them, keeping your revenue from sinking.

Harnessing Data to Stay Agile

Business agility is about making quick decisions, but you need to do so wisely. Real-time data — ranging from social media metrics to website analytics — is now available to help you make strategic and proactive decisions about your business.

So, what data should your business focus on? It depends on your goals. With your business goals in mind, select the key performance indicators (KPIs) that can tell you if you’re on the right track or lagging. For example, if your goal is to increase e-commerce sales, two KPIs you might track are your website clicks and abandoned cart rate. Having three KPIs per business goal is a good rule of thumb.

When you start tracking your data, you can accurately assess your business performance and know exactly when you need to pivot and how.

Focusing on Your Consumer

The rapidly changing global business landscape is producing more competition than ever. To focus on transformation, companies must strive to offer more value to customers. Sellers now have the power of choice, and they’ll only choose you if you can continuously provide the best deal over time.

Providing the best deal doesn’t necessarily mean offering sales on top of sales. You can also offer value by:

  • Listening to reviews to improve your product or service quality
  • Focusing on customer service to create a standout experience
  • Rewarding returning customers with a loyalty program
  • Posting educational posts relating to your industry
  • Offering more convenient ways for clients to shop with or contact you

Listening to reviews and social media comments, proactively sending out surveys, and simply talking to customers are huge for staying agile. These offer rich, qualitative data. You’ll be able to learn when your customers’ priorities change to understand what you need to do to continue providing the value they expect.

Empowering Yourself with Continuing Education

Want to buff up your business agility? Staying up to date with modern entrepreneurial practices can help. Just as the business landscape is constantly changing, strategies and methodologies can, too.

Regularly taking courses, webinars, and conferences can help you boost your business knowledge and understand what other business owners are doing successfully. You can use your learnings to help your own company adapt to changing times — perhaps even networking with other business owners along the way.

If you want to maximize your business prowess, you can even consider returning to school for your Master of Business Administration. An MBA can help you maximize your career stability, while offering the core knowledge you need to adapt, including financial literacy and efficient operations practices. You’ll be able to lead your team with ease through any crisis.

Be Willing to Change

Change is inevitable. The most successful business leaders are the ones who lean into it, rather than resisting it. When you change with your industry and your customers, you can continue satisfying your stakeholders, while maximizing your returns. Staying agile can provide the best security possible when unexpected events come your way.

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Another day at the office? The meaning of work life after the death of presenteeism

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This article first appeared in Kivo Daily.

One day last May, Mark Thompson, then the CEO and president of The New York Times, had just concluded his first quarterly earnings call. Three thousand people normally pack the famous skyscraper at 620 Eighth Avenue. Fewer than 20 were in that day. With an unexpected rush of energy, Thompson hopped on his beloved Brompton fold-up bike and pedalled off across the vast floors of his headquarters. Surveying the savannah of empty desks, he trundled past the potted plants, the small, framed photos of smiling loved ones and an abandoned cardigan. The sight of the cycling CEO caused little stir.

“It was like going around an empty milking parlor,” says Mark. “I wondered why we’d had all these people sitting in rows staring at computers.”

He imagined his teams comfortable at home, getting more work done and pondered the ways of corporate America. “I thought, there’s a big question mark over the office as an organizing principle of cities and I wondered whether it makes sense anymore. It made me wonder: should you sell your skyscraper?”

Thompson decided hoisting the “for sale” sign on Times Tower might be a step too far. But that was the moment he realized that office working would never be the same again.

“We must get a new sensible settlement about how we all work together that is more family friendly, more planet friendly, more practical,” says Thompson. “It will mean we use offices and collective workspaces better and give people more freedom to plan their lives.”

As the vaccine rollout accelerates, time is running out to re-define what the new world of work will look like. Presenteeism is dead. Hybrid working is the buzz. Managing remote teams is faltering. Managing by results is little understood.

Nupur Singh Mallick is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Tata Group, working out of Mumbai. At the outset of the pandemic, the company moved 600,000 of their people from offices to homes. She is cautious about jumping to conclusions about the future.

“We don’t yet know the long-term impact of large-scale remote working on human connections and our social capital. Work is a collaborative process. We don’t want to lose that, so we need to find the right balance,” Mallick reflects. “People will still need to come together to discuss ideas. People do greater things together because you trust each other. You respect each other. We have to tread carefully and take what we’ve learned and make sure we keep the diversity of thought and experience.”

Yet one thing is certain: The Tata Group will not return to its old ways of working. Mallick adds, “You want to come out of this much stronger. We are seriously considering by 2025 whether we could have only 25% of our people working in an office. We will not go back to where we were.”

Mallick agrees that issues still need to be solved around homeworking. “It is not something that can just be mandated. When you come up with a new way, the people need to be at the centre of the design. We don’t want to create division between the work-from-home group and the work-from-office people.”

The pandemic also accelerated new attitudes and awareness around physical and mental well-being. Suddenly, millions of people have realized how unhealthy their relationship with work was.

There has also been a considerable upside from the new virtual world we work in. Meaningless, health-sapping commuting has been cancelled. Work from anywhere has seen a boom with Barbados, Bermuda and Estonia encouraging workers to relocate there to a new world of sand, sea and Zoom.

There are huge regional differences in attitudes on homeworking across the world. Most parts of Asia never saw lockdown like the US and Europe. George Hongchoy is CEO of Link Asset Management, based in Hong Kong and a major owner of retail and office buildings in China. He predicts that less will change than people are anticipating. “It depends on the function and the nature of the roles,” he says. “I still think that work and social interaction go together. Employers will become more flexible. We’ll need more space for each individual. But I think most people will go back.”

Over the longer term, however, he believes there may be a move away from the concept of the central business district. “Town planners have discussed this for many years. Maybe you don’t need a central business district. Maybe you need employment nearer to people’s homes and an end to the idea of commuting. An end to everyone going to one place.”

It’s not just where we work that will never be the same. Many predict that the style of leadership will be forever changed by COVID too. Leena Nair is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Unilever, the multinational famous for some 400 household name brands.

She believes the pandemic has exposed the “Superman” leader as a relic of the past. She hopes it will cement a new era of compassionate leadership. She describes the attributes of leaders that worked in the crisis and sees them as the template for the future.

“Being kind. Being compassionate. Being empathetic. Being inclusive. No longer is the leader the one who has all the answers,” Nair stresses. “The first thing they do is listen and acknowledge the pain and the answers will follow. Empathize, walk in their shoes. Lead with no hierarchies. Be willing to be humble and curious. These are the leaders who are succeeding at this time. We have undervalued these things in the past because we liked leaders chasing for growth and talking up profit and adopting the Superman style of leadership.”

Homeworking has been the most discussed corporate aspect of the crisis. Yet so much remains undefined about what happens next. Now is the moment to start giving our co-workers clarity. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvent the workplace. It would be a failure of leadership to let this moment pass.

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How to avoid analysis paralysis

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Have you sat in a meeting knowing a decision had to be made while you watched the clock tick? So many ideas and objections are presented that the likelihood of reaching consensus dwindles.

The situation is described as “analysis paralysis.”

The phrase describes individuals or groups that overanalyze and overthink a situation. Decision-making becomes “paralyzed,” with individuals unable to reach consensus or recommend a course of action.

The syndrome causes frustration, failure to complete a task, misunderstanding, wasted time and resignation. Overanalyzing can derail the most well-intentioned group.

Recognizing Paralysis

By recognizing the symptoms, corrective actions can avoid paralysis.

Individuals, or the group, might overthink the assignment. Frequently, they want to solve the entire problem and decide how it will be managed, who will do the work, and deadlines. They should focus on the recommendation and not on the “how to” to carry out the decision. Recommendations usually go to a committee or staff for the implementation process.

Watch out for deep dives. For instance, an assignment to make a recommendation about the conference ends in a discussion of the name badges. It seems easier to address low-level issues than to be brave enough to offer solutions.

Group discussion and decision-making can be daunting for individuals. They may lack experience working in a group, or the courage to state an opinion or make a recommendation.

Encourage everybody to join in the conversation. Sometimes the loudest person is not always the most valuable voice in the room. Be wary of those who speak twice as much as they listen. Respect people and ideas.

Decision-making is avoided by offering a glut of ideas. At some point the ideas must end and closure reached.

Also, listen for the devil’s advocate with a pattern of disagreeing. Hear them out or call them out. Recommendations are meant to offer solutions, not to expand the problem.

Be alert to time wasters. As the clock ticks, the opportunity for consensus diminishes.

Finally, the culture of an organization may be seen as rejection rather than acceptance. If a board of directors is known to reject or micromanage recommendations, the group isn’t likely to work as hard on solutions.

Reaching Failure

Finding yourself in these situations, the outcomes are predictable.

The decision is rushed with groupthink taking over — people agreeing because it looks like others agree. Anxiety drives the meeting with people watching the time elapse.

Equally bad is the group that simply missed the mark. They will state, “We didn’t have enough time,” or “we had a great conversation but didn’t really reach a conclusion.”

You want a group leader who can avoid a “hung jury.” It is disappointing when the group says, “Among all of us we could not reach agreement.”

Cures for Analysis Paralysis

Agree upon guidelines to avoid paralysis.

Set the tone. Restate the assignment at the start. Quite often the precise charge was uncertain, or participants don’t give it much thought. It is critical to understand the task.

Appoint a facilitator. Decisions eventually must be communicated. A designated spokesperson will monitor time and engage everybody with statements like, “have we heard from everyone?” and “have we reached agreement yet?”

Keep notes. Ask someone to be a scribe. The only way to ensure the group agrees is to accurately read the final recommendation. If the notetaker is not accurate, almost immediately the group fails and their report becomes, “we also talked about but didn’t write it down.” As is often said, an idea without writing it down is just a dream.

Rely on facts. Without data, any decision might sound good. Ask for clarification and metrics. For example, “How did the program perform in the past? What is the potential for growth?”

Respect time. Know how much time is allocated for the process. If the group is assigned three tasks in one hour, they should allocate about 15 minutes per task and the final minutes for recap. Most groups work under the stress of time, but if a 5-minute break is needed to stretch and refocus, take the break.

Summarize. Encourage the statement, “thus far I think we’ve agreed upon…” Recap understandings often. Before adjourning, restate the final recommendation.

Be brief. To ensure the recommendations are understood, keep them brief. Listeners and readers prefer bullets and examples, rather than verbose paragraphs.

It is rare to find a person who enjoys meeting “just to meet.” Stay laser-focused on the task, deadline, and expectation. Avoid the temptation to overanalyze so that paralysis doesn’t take over.

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The essential guide to effective Facebook video ad campaigns

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You’ve probably heard a lot lately about advertising tools and opportunities from trending platforms like Google Ads, Instagram Ads, or even TikTok Ads.

It’s understandable, given that some of them have been generating a lot of buzz as of late. However, if you’re thinking about launching an ad campaign for your business and you are not considering Facebook as the primary outlet, you are making a big mistake.

Facebook remains the most visited social network in the world and, as such, offers many possibilities to promote your company. Moreover, each advertising format you choose within the platform can be adapted entirely to your needs to achieve the best results.

Since videos tend to perform best out of all types of content intended for social networks, we’ll focus this article on the basics you need to launch a video ad campaign on Facebook.

But, before we dive into the details, let’s check some of the statistics that make this social network one of the best platforms to be part of your marketing strategy.

Facebook Video Ads — The Numbers Don’t Lie

If you’re still hesitant about Facebook, this data will make you change your mind. Let’s start with the most important of all: more than 4 billion video views are registered on Facebook every day, for a total of 100 million hours of video.

Another interesting fact? The percentage of click-through rate (clicks that a link obtains regarding the number of impressions) for a video ad is higher on Facebook than on any other platform: between 1.05 and 3.42%, according to age. Meanwhile, on YouTube it’s between 0.05 and 0.11%, and on Instagram between 0.46 and 1.8%.

If you’re concerned about costs, this stat should put them to rest: average cost per ad on the platform has been falling since the fourth quarter of 2019, and even faster since 2020. This is a trend most experts agree will continue as a consequence of the pandemic.

As you can see, Facebook has pretty interesting numbers. So, if you’re keen to launch a marketing campaign on this platform, we’ll give you the basics to kick off.

Figure Out Your Audience — Ad Campaign Segmentation is Key

Probably the biggest advantage of running a virtual marketing campaign is the possibility that digital platforms offer to send your message exactly to those who will be interested.

Well, Facebook provides the cutting edge of these tools, with extremely detailed options to choose the type of audience that will see your ads. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind as you start to get used to it.

Segmenting Your Target

Facebook Ad Manager allows you to choose your segmentation according to a varied number of elements. The most important thing is to know (and let the algorithm know, of course) where your ad will show up, what the demography of your audience is, what their interests are, and how they behave.

So, the first step to make a good segmentation is to know very well who your customer is. The more information you give to the platform, the easier it will be to have the right people seeing your ad, and the more effective it will become, since it will pop up to those really interested.

Your Client List is a Great Place to Start

If you’re a little lost about how to segment your ad, Facebook Ad Manager lets you to upload a list of clients. Based on this information, the platform will automatically direct your campaign to profiles similar to those who are already your customers, increasing the chances that they will buy from you.

To use this tool, you don’t need too much data from your customers. Their email addresses will be enough. But, again, the more information you add (first name and last name, telephone, ZIP code, etc.), the more accurate the segmentation will be, improving your chances of getting more accurate (and effective) results.

Create Different Ad Campaigns for Mobile and Desktop

User experience is quite different on mobile and desktop, therefore it’s a good idea to create separate ad campaigns for each one.

First, desktop and mobile users tend to differ quite a bit as audiences go. People who access Facebook from their phone generally don’t also use it on desktop, and vice versa. This is important since your ad will look and behave differently depending on the platform it pops up on!

So, an ad may look perfect on a desktop, but not so much on mobile, or the other way around.

Want to get the most efficiency and effectiveness out of your campaign? Then either choose which audience to target, and set it all up to target them exclusively, or (ideally) create both variants to get the best out of both audience pools.

Retarget to Achieve Maximum Effectiveness

Don’t worry! It sounds harder than it actually is!

Retargeting on Facebook is finding who has interacted with you after watching your video ad, and then use this information to adjust the specificity of your segmentation.

Why is it important? Retargeted users are much more likely to engage with your content because they’re the ones that were interested before and presumably will be again.

How to retarget? Facebook statistics will let you know who followed your page, who watched other videos of yours, who commented, or interacted in any way. Then, Facebook Ad Manager will allow you to add this information to the parameters that decide who your ads target.

Choose a Video Style That Fits Your Marketing Goal

Now, in addition to choosing your target and segmenting your audience, and for your video ad to be truly impactful, it’s key that you pick a type of video that fits your campaign’s objectives. How? First, identify where your ad fits in the marketing funnel.

If you’re not familiar with the stages of the marketing funnel, it can be divided into three: awareness, consideration, and decision. Different stages tend to pursue different types of marketing goals, and different types of audiences, so figuring it out at this point will help you shape your campaign and set your ads for success.

Initially, if your goal is to build awareness about your product, you must tell your potential customers about your brand and your product and educate them. So, it’s a good option to go for a product ad or branded social videos. Short pieces meant to get your customers one step closer to your brand.

The second stage of the marketing funnel is about getting viewers to consider buying your product. Explainer videos and how-to’s tend to excel at this stage and make it easier for potential customers to convert.

Finally, if your goal is to give your customers that final push, or retain clients you already have, corporate videos, testimonials, and FAQs can be very effective, but you’ll very rarely see these as parts of an ad campaign (which tends to favor shorter videos).

4 Crucial Tips for a Successful Facebook Video Ad Campaign

So, effective Facebook ad segmentation and choosing the right video styles will put you ahead of many competitors on the platform. But there are four more things that can give your ad campaign a bit of an extra boost and help it perform better on Facebook.

Create Videos That’ll Be Easily Understood Even Without Sound

According to multiple data, most videos on Facebook are played on mute. So, developing video ads that are not only attractive, but work even without sound, through captions or subtitles, is always a good approach.

Engage Fast

Your videos have to attract the audience within the first three seconds, because that is approximately the time that viewers will take to decide whether or not to watch the whole ad.

If they’re not intrigued right from the start, they’ll probably scroll away. So, leave suspense for Hollywood and make your ads compelling from the start!

Add Video Polls Whenever They Fit

Among the available tools, Facebook also allows you to add video polls to your ads. Polling stickers tend to generate interaction with viewers that can be powerful to increase your audience’s engagement. In addition, you can get interesting feedback from the viewers’ responses that you can then implement into future campaigns.

Think Mobile

As mentioned before, most of Facebook traffic comes from mobile devices. So, if you have to choose, prime your content for these devices. Creating vertical videos that fill the screen better and avoiding tiny details that can’t be fully appreciated on small screens are two good principles.

Just Jump In

With its huge user base and its advanced ad manager, Facebook is an indispensable marketing tool. As such, it can be very helpful to promote your business.

However, Facebook and its advertising tools are constantly evolving. Therefore, it’s very important to always keep up with its new features and the opportunities they represent.

We hope this guide has helped you understand the benefits of a video ad on this social network and will help you make your Facebook marketing strategy as successful as it can be. Good luck!

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Top 5 unexpected culture-killers for post-COVID hybrid work

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We’re nearly there.

In just a few months, almost all organizations will allow their employees to return to their offices after over a year of working from home. And even at that point, almost no organizations will have 100% of their teams in the same physical space five days a week.

Based on all indications, neither employers nor employees will abandon remote work altogether: Less than 1 in 5 business owners intends to return to pre-pandemic office conditions, and the majority of U.S. workers want to maintain some regular telework schedule going forward.

Most likely, we’ll all settle into a hybrid work environment where a portion of our team is in the office and a portion is working remotely on any given day. After a full year of working almost exclusively from our separate homes, this will be yet another disruption for our organizations to endure.

The good news is that this go-around we have time to prepare.

Mistakes made; lessons learned

Years ago, my company expanded to bring a couple out-of-state employees aboard for the first time.

We brought them into the office for their first week for orientation, training, and our traditional Friday breakfast cooked fresh by their new teammates in our office kitchen. Then we sent them home, confident that they had been successfully imprinted with our award-winning corporate culture which would continue to be magically transmitted to them over the airwaves.

If you guessed that both of these folks later quit, you’d be correct.

What we learned, the hard way, is that our corporate culture was deeply rooted in our physical office, and the routines and traditions we had built there. This is true for a lot of us, which is what made a sudden quarantine even more challenging from an engagement perspective. And when that’s the case, it is extremely easy for workforces to splinter into perceived groups of “us” and “them.”

In a hybrid work environment, the risk of developing such internal factions is high: You’ll have your permanent remote workers, those who are in the office every so often, those who are in the office frequently, and those who will be in the office day in and day out.

Each of these groups will necessarily experience our companies differently — this is simply the reality of hybrid work. The trouble creeps in when these “different” experiences become imbalanced, impersonal, or inequitable.

Based on the lessons from our past mistakes, and based on 30 years of serving the technology needs of law firms and associations, we’ve since uncovered a number of subtle culture-killers that, if left unchecked, can do serious damage to employee engagement and retention.

I’ll walk you through them below, along with how thoughtful policy and technology solutions can help flip a weakness into a strength.

Five ways hybrid work will undermine your corporate culture

1. Scheduled Meetings

The first potential culture-killer is your everyday internal meeting. After living on Zoom and/or Teams for a full year, we all know how to hold virtual meetings. While a screen full of tiny boxes can grow tiresome, each of the people in those boxes takes up the same amount of space, has the same means of contributing to the discussion, and experiences that meeting in the same way everyone else does.

Now, consider a meeting where half the participants are in the office, and half are at home. Will the office group join a video call from your conference room, where the remote folks are projected onto a small TV screen? Will the remote participants be able to distinguish who is speaking when? Do they have the same access to any whiteboarding or relevant visuals? How hard will it be for them to interject and be heard?

2. Unscheduled Meetings

Outside of formal, planned meetings, a return to the office means a return to spontaneous chit-chat that snowballs into meaningful conversations and innovative ideas. In some cases, you’ll be able to yell down the hall to any other stakeholders and have them join the discussion, and everyone will walk away on the same page. In most cases, at least one person will be left out.

Do you have a way to quickly pull more people into a conversation on the fly? How are the whiteboarding capabilities now? Is collaborative note-taking an option? If some people simply aren’t available, is there a place to share a full summary afterwards? A policy for how and when to do this? Or will one or two people be forced to chase down the information they need to get up to speed while the rest of the team carries on?

3. Team-Building

Looking beyond day-to-day meetings, our overall team- and relationship-building strategies also need reevaluation. Nine months into the pandemic, a Pew Research survey found that 65% of employees felt less connected to their co-workers. Those of us who have been used to building and maintaining relationships through in-person interactions and events have been struggling to translate those skills digitally. Some, viewing the pandemic as a temporary scenario, probably didn’t try all that hard to begin with.

If we continue to treat in-person activities as our default for team-building, with virtual participants “included” as exceptions that need to be accommodated, we are almost guaranteed to exclude a segment of our team, make them feel less-than, erode engagement, and risk turnover.

4. Coaching and Advancement

This is another one for managers. When your direct reports all report in the same way, evaluating performance is fairly straightforward. Over the past year, for example, we’ve all more or less settled into a routine of virtual delegation, collaboration, check-ins, and so forth. But what happens when you see one member of your team in person three times a week, another twice a month, and another never?

Will the person with the most face time get preferential treatment simply because they’re the most accessible? Will they naturally receive more coaching from you, and advance more quickly because of it? Will you develop an unconscious bias that the remote teammate isn’t as invested because you can’t physically see how hard they work every day?

5. Shadow Cultures

Lastly, we have the more insidious threat of what I’ll call shadow cultures. Say, in the spirit of inclusion, your in-office cohort shares photo after photo of all the fun things your team does in the office in Slack for your remote workers to see: meals shared, pranks pulled, kids and pets visiting, and on and on.

Behind the photos there’s plenty of silent hard work, open conflict, and all the other facets of a normal company that aren’t so photogenic. But your remote team doesn’t see this side, and they start to invent their own concept of your culture — one that is entirely separate from both them and reality — as a result. At that point, there’s no scenario that does not leave that employee feeling disconnected and dissatisfied.

Best practices for a strong, inclusive culture

Fortunately, we can head these challenges off with some thoughtful planning and a new technology tool or two.

Be intentional with your meetings.

For every internal meeting, make a habit of thinking through who needs to join, where they’ll be joining from, and how to empower each person to contribute effectively using the various technologies at your disposal. Opt for whichever format creates the most equivalent experiences, not what’s most convenient.

There’s a logistical element here as well—can you simplify meetings by having groups who regularly collaborate come into your office at the same time? (There’s an app for that.)

Upgrade your conference room.

You don’t have to invest tens of thousands of dollars in conference room technology, but you do need to consider solutions that will level the playing field for on-site and remote participants. Interactive whiteboards with app integration (like the Vibe) and high quality sound bar/camera combos with speaker tracking (like this from Poly Studio) will help your remote workers feel seen, heard, and able to fully participate.

Revisit your existing collaboration tools.

If you rushed to implement Slack, Teams, SharePoint, or any other real-time communication and collaboration tool, kudos — this was a smart way to keep your team connected. It’s time to take a deeper, more thoughtful look at these packages and all they have to offer in the way of features and integrations — because they offer quite a lot.

And make sure any “new” findings filter all the way through your organization, not just the savviest departments.

Get your team trained and aligned.

As you bring new tools into play, be just as thoughtful with the implementation as you were with the selection; make sure your team knows (a) how the thing works and (b) your company’s guidelines for when and how to use it. A mix of group training sessions (record these for new hires!), individual sessions, and how-to guides or infographics for reinforcement generally work well.

Your management team needs to understand the purpose behind the changes you’re making and the consequences of not taking them seriously. They also need to be made explicitly aware of factors like proximity bias that might influence their treatment of direct reports.

Experiment and solicit feedback.

Once you have your foundational procedures and technologies in place, you’re in for some trial and error; this is new territory, and we’re not going to achieve perfection no matter how many hypotheticals we anticipate. This is why the most critical element of success is to involve your team.

From formal company-wide surveys to spontaneous polls to pilot groups to one-on-one discussions, keep your finger on the pulse as you navigate this transition. Get your team’s input as you craft your strategies and collect their feedback once you try them out. And listen. Your team’s perception is the only reality that matters here.

Where to start

Our first order of business is to make sure we have a clear vision of what our workplace will look like once our teams are vaccinated and able to return safely. Who will work from where, and when?

From there, consider how the different people or groups in your company will experience your culture given the routines in place and tools at their disposal today. Will they get facetime with your leadership every single week? Will their only exposure to those outside their department be through a monthly all-hands video call where they can’t reasonably contribute? Will they fall somewhere in the middle?

Identify the spectrum at hand and where your culture has room to fall down.

As you begin to take action, I encourage you to be transparent with your team about the steps you’re taking and why. The more clearly you communicate your intended outcome, the more buy-in you’ll generate and the more useful feedback you’ll receive.

We’ve been presented with a new opportunity to show our people that they are, in fact, our most valuable asset.

I hope you’ll seize it.

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