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Focus on Important Instead of Urgent

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Paige Wilson  – Enjoy! 

photo credit: Copyright: elnur / 123RF Stock Photo

photo credit: Copyright: elnur / 123RF Stock Photo

As a small business owner, do you know how much your company earns or loses because of the skills of your employees? How can you increase the productivity and efficiency of your business?

Productivity is vital to the success of a business, especially for small businesses. Every business owes its success to the productivity of its employees which is defined as the rate of output per unit of input. Productivity is not about working harder but working smarter and more efficiently.

What are the factors that contribute to productivity?

The most important factors are high morale, encouragement, and time management. Statistics shows that two out of five business owners rank time as their most important asset. Small companies need to keep encouraging and motivating their employees even in times of stress.

Some ways of improving productivity can be using apps and cloud tools which enable tasks to be completed with greater accuracy. Other ways are through steps like managing “dead time”.  Many employees complain that they are unable to manage and complete their tasks within the stipulated time. One great way to resolve this is by using the Eisenhower Matrix. 

Increase your productivity manifold with this simple and effective Eisenhower Matrix

Eisenhower Matrix

This matrix is the very popular Urgent-Important Matrix popularized by Stephen Covey, but originally discovered by President Dwight Eisenhower. President Eisenhower always made decisions regarding work and time on the basis of two simple questions: Whether the work was important? Whether it was urgent? He described it briefly in this form- “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” 

How are important and urgent two separate things and WHY understanding this difference can change you routine and eventually your life?

Before coming to how the matrix can be used, it is important to understand what Eisenhower meant by using the words “urgent” and “important”. The term “urgent” refers to things that demand our immediate attention. They scream out for instant responses and hence can be stress inducing and time wasting. These could be emergencies, telephone calls, meetings, or emails. But do they really merit our attention? Today’s digital technology and extensive use of social media have made it worse with multiple stimuli distracting us.

The term “important” on the other hand refers to those things, tasks, or activities that are important for us in the long term. They may refer to our mission, values, goals and need our time and attention. They are not “time wasters” but may never seem “urgent”.

How can YOU make use of Eisenhower Matrix to help yourself and manage your time better?

The matrix as depicted above has four categories of tasks. Check out which quadrant the task demanding your attention falls into. The top two quadrants fall under “important” and not “urgent” categories. If they are important give them priority. If the tasks do not fall into the above two quadrants, then either do it later or delegate it to someone who has the time to do it. This would help the work efficiency and help you in maximizing your time.

Examples of some activities falling into these quadrants are:

  1. Quadrant 1- Recreation, long term goals.
  2. Quadrant 2- Crisis, problems, deadlines.
  3. Quadrant 3- Meetings, activities.
  4. Quadrant 4- Timewasters.

Adapt the Eisenhower Matrix now

As a small business owner, it would help if you could adapt this approach and incorporate it into your daily life and train your employees to follow this as well.

Paige WilsonAbout Paige Wilson – Paige is associated with http://90dollarwebsite.com, an organization that provides business optimization solutions such as website designing, content engineering, social media and web marketing solutions. She loves to write and pitch in brand strategies. In her free time, she likes traveling with her family.

12 Simple Ways to Improve your Small Business Blog

 It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Steff Green – Enjoy!

angry man with computer

photo credit: Anton

As a business owner, you’re always keen to try new things. So when you heard that blogging was a great way to improve website traffic and brand awareness, you thought you’d give it a go.

Sadly your business blog hasn’t produced the results you wanted. Hardly anyone is visiting, no one is commenting, and you are losing the motivation to keep up with your regular posts. So what do you do if your blog is tired, stagnant, or you feel as if the content isn’t reaching the right audience?

Before you give up on your blog, here are 12 tips to kickstart your stagnant business blog and ensure all your hard work pays off:

  1. Have you gotten started on your blog? If you’ve been thinking about blogging for your business more than you’ve actually been blogging about your business, it’s time to get started. I love the free get started blogging guide at First Site Guide for simple, image-based direction for getting your blog up-and-running.
  2. Are you using social media to help grow your audience and promote your blog content? Perhaps it’s time you started. Don’t head straight for Facebook, though – think about where your audience is most likely to hang out and what they might be interested in. Pinterest and Instagram are growing social sites that love visual content and how-to tutorials.
  3. If you’re writing product tutorials (or any kind of tutorial), include images, videos, diagrams and other visual content. Not only is your piece more likely to be useful if it contains visual guides, but the images themselves will be shared on social media, expanding your reach.
  4. Ditch the “blog” moniker. Many people don’t actually read “blogs” and will assume your blog content is all company and product updates, even if you’re writing fun and useful articles. Call your blog tab “Articles” or “How-to guides” instead.
  5. With every Google update, guest blogging is becoming an obsolete form of generating backlinks. However, guest blogging is still a powerful way to grow your audience, as long as you aim for quality over quantity. Write a post on a lifestyle blog related to your industry; for example, if you’re a tourism company, create some content for a travel blog.
  6. Do you have an old blog post that still pulls in decent traffic? Update the post with new information and better images, tighten up the prose, and republish it with a strong call-to-action.
  7. Use an editorial calendar to plan your posts weeks and months in advance. This editorial calendar should be part of your company’s marketing calendar because you’ll need to plan content around your various campaigns.
  8. Create a top-ten list associated with your industry or product. For example, if you make and sell scented candles, compile a list of the top ten scents for getting rid of a bad mood.
  9. You don’t have to “create” all your content yourself – compile posts of “curated” images, quotes and videos related to a single subject. As long as you attribute all the creators, you can republish their content and create a picture resource for your readers. For example, if you’re an interior designer, you could compile a post of 25 beautiful rustic kitchen designs to help your clients dream up ideas for their kitchen.
  10. Create a playlist in Spotify for an occasion associated with your business. For example, if you’re a wedding planner, you could create a romantic wedding playlist. Publish this list on your blog and share it on other music websites.
  11. Create a list of popular books in your industry. Choose books by popular industry leaders, and focus on interesting titles that cover a range of abilities. For example, if you were a fashion designer, you might include books on sewing techniques, on the fashion industry, and biographies of famous designers. You could even use Amazon affiliate links to make a bit of extra money when someone clicks through to buy a book.
  12. Have fun! Blogging for your business is a lot better than researching keywords for search, or sending out hundreds of press releases in the hope of getting coverage. Embrace it!

Do you have a business blog that just isn’t working? How are you going to turn things around?

author pictureSteff is the author, blogger and heavy metal maiden behind steffmetal.com, a blog about loud music, alternative subcultures and her adventures living off-grid in rural New Zealand. Steff writes dark fantasy fiction for adults; her latest book, The Sunken, a dark steampunk fantasy set in Georgian London, is now available on Amazon. Sign up for her author newsletter and receive a FREE short story.

 

Avoiding The Pitfalls Of The Small Business Do-It-All-Yourself Mentality

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Sarah Brown – Enjoy!

When you’re a small business owner, it’s imperative to take on a lot of the tasks yourself, especially in the early stages of running a business. How many of us have found ourselves needing to do a little bit of finance, customer service, marketing or product development at any given point? Yet many small businesses owners try to take on too much themselves beyond the early stages of the business–sometimes more than they can chew.

Being a leader means knowing yourself well enough to know when you should take on a task, and when it makes more sense to hire someone or outsource. Here are some great questions to ask yourself in order to ensure you’re focusing on the right tasks in your business.

Is This Something I Love Doing?

Does learning about Google AdWords paid search best practices really excite you? Then, by all means, you should continue doing it beyond when your business can afford to hire someone or find another tool. Do you prefer pursuing a big sales deal or designing new products? Those are factors to consider. An easy question to ask yourself is, “is this something I’m passionate about and love doing?” Spend time doing what you love, or you’ll find yourself spending too much time doing what you don’t.

Is This A Task That Only I Can Do?

Many small business owners got into business because a particular area of expertise. As the boss, you may be the only one who can hire or fire employees, for instance. These are the kinds of tasks that it would make sense for only you to do. If not? For many of us, some self-reflection can help us see various places where someone else could step in. If possible, find a way to teach or hire someone else to do it.

By Not Outsourcing This Task, Am I Sacrificing Quality?

The perils of not outsourcing can in some cases include a poor job. Perhaps you like learning, but remember you are spending money to learn. For paid search marketing, optimization takes time even for experts. You can actually save on marketing by paying someone else to do it who will do it with enough efficiency to justify her cost.

By Not Outsourcing This Task, Is This Taking Time Away From Tasks Only I Can Do?

An important factor to consider when deciding whether a job/task should be for you, or if you should outsource, is whether a task you’re doing may be taking time away from another business task that’s in the critical path of profits. If you don’t have enough time to meet with investors because you’re swamped with mundane tasks you could’ve outsourced, you’ll find yourself frustrated and impede business growth.

Has outsourcing helped you in your business? Was it a crucial moment in your business growth when you decided to hire out help? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

SocialIcon2014Sarah E. Brown is a digital marketer at PPCPath in Boulder, CO. PPCPath is the most cost-effective way to get better-performing AdWords campaigns. Follow @PPCPath on Twitter or visit http://www.ppcpath.com.

Stop Undervaluing Yourself and Get Paid What You’re Worth

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Stephanie O’Brien – Enjoy! 

As your skills as a marketer or businessperson grow, one of the best ways to increase your revenue is to raise your rates.

Because you’re getting better at what you do, you can give more value for the same amount of time and effort, and your pay should rise accordingly.

But sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Not because your clients won’t pay what you’re worth, but because YOU won’t ask for it.

You’re used to valuing yourself at a certain level, and when you think about asking for more, uncertainty floods in. “What if they say no? What if I can’t give them enough value to be worth that? What if they’re disappointed, or they take their business elsewhere?”

All too often, people will allow those fears to make them underquote, so even though they’re attracting clients, they’re still losing a lot of potential revenue because they’re being underpaid.

In this blog post, I’ll help you to make a shift that will allow you to not only make the income you deserve, but also to serve your clients more effectively, so they WILL be happy to pay you what you’re worth.

It’s all about the questions you ask.

Right now, you’re probably asking yourself two questions when you set your prices. They are,

“What are my clients willing to pay?” and “What is my competition charging?”

While it’s true that these questions may come into play when your client is considering your offer, you can’t rely on them when you’re setting your rates. If you do, they will limit your income, and keep you from seeing and showing your own true value.

It also places imaginary limitations on your clients’ buying power, when in reality those limitations might well exist only in your mind.

What can you ask instead, that will give you more income and your clients better service?

The next time you’re about to set a rate, start by asking yourself, “How much money would make this job worth my time?”

This can be uncomfortable, especially if you feel it would be unfair to your clients, or are afraid of scaring them off. But it has to be done – in fact, I’d like you to do it right now, before you continue reading.

Once you’ve done that exercise, if you feel like this figure is too high, DON’T lower it.

Instead, ask yourself: “How much value am I giving?”

How much time will you save your clients? How much money will you MAKE for them?

How much will their health, mindset, lifestyle or relationships improve?

How much happier will they be after they work with you?

Remember, it isn’t just about the effort you put into the job. It’s about the benefit that your work gives to your clients.

What if the value you’re offering seems like less than the price you want to charge?

Once again, do NOT drop your rates. Instead, raise your value.

For example, I was recently hired to help one of my clients rewrite her ‘about’ page. I wanted the page to reflect her real story and the source of her passion, instead of reading like an encyclopedia.

To do this, we needed to have a conversation via Skype, and I wanted to be paid $75 for the time we were going to spend on that. But simply getting her to tell her story didn’t feel like it was enough; I wanted to give her real value for the money I was charging.

So I made her an offer: while I was getting the story for her page, I would also teach her how to tell her story in a way that drew her clients in, so she’d be able to use that skill any time she needed to.

She agreed, and was happy to pay me $75 for the call.

Are you charging as much as you want to be?

If not, when are you going to raise your prices?

If you don’t feel like your services warrant a price increase, how will you raise their value so they WILL be worth it?

I look forward to reading your opinions, insights and commitments in the comments.

Pic of me for DuctTapeStephanie O’Brien is a copywriter, marketing coach, entrepreneur, novelist, and self-growth addict. She uses her twelve years of fiction-writing experience to make her copywriting fun and inspirational as well as effective, and her lifelong exploration of the human mind helps her to get inside her clients’ heads, pick out the words they’re trying to find, and put them onto paper.

To learn more about Stephanie, and to get more tips to help you connect with your readers in a unique and authentic way, visit her website at www.captivatingcopywriter.com.

 

Using Social Media to Generate Sales Leads

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Dawn Ellis – Enjoy!

Hand over keyboard

photo credit: Free Images

If you’re looking to generate sale leads successfully, you need to go where the people are. And currently, everybody seems to be on social media. At first glance, social media looks like a place for friends and family members to share pictures of their daily outings – which is true to some degree – as social media is about connecting people digitally through conversation.

With the average Facebook user spending 6.35 hours a month on the social platform, and 260 million active users on Twitter, you cannot afford to avoid social media. Businesses are investing a lot of money and time into their social media strategy. On the other hand, smaller businesses cannot afford to budget marketing and finding leads through social media is overwhelming.

If this sounds like your business, stop putting your head in the sand and find those sale leads through social media by following these four simple steps:

Know your audience

People join social networking websites to socialise. They don’t want to be bombarded with advertisements. Advertisements belong in magazines and not on social media. You should treat your social media accounts like you would your mailing list. Be personal, be engaging and be human. Always remember to reply to customer comments.

Give them what they want

You know who your prospective customers are but they don’t know about you. Why should they come to you? Be interesting, be entertaining and be informative with your content. Be reliable, be dependable and don’t ask for anything in return. Soon your prospective customers will find you.

Become the go-to person

You should have an integrated blog on your website. You should be addressing current issues that your customers are facing, updates on your business and daily ramblings. You should be sharing these posts on social media. People are quick to dismiss the brands that they believe will not deliver the services they require. By becoming the go-to person in your industry, you will attract more customers and strengthen existing relationships.

Utilise multiple channels

It is worth knowing that the most popular networking websites are: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Each social media channel boasts their own community. You should adapt your long-term plan to each community accordingly. Have a clear focus, be consistent and prove your expertise. Utilise multiple channels and cross promote. Nonetheless it is better to be actively involved with one or two social channels, than to be spread thinly with no given direction on them all.

Measure your success

There are many free tools to monitor your social media engagement but they do not tell you if people clicked through to your website. Google Analytics is a great tool for learning about your customers. You can see how many people have visited your website through social media. Learn what works for your audience and what doesn’t. By consuming this data you can work to making your social media a triumph.

Finally

Studies show that 70% of businesses generate leads on social media. Productively use social media and your business will see an increase of brand awareness, website traffic and conversation. Follow the above steps and advance your business by attracting more customers and strengthening existing business relationships.

dawnellisDawn Ellis is Content Outreach Executive of AlldayPA, offering businesses a bespoke call handling service, answering calls personally and professionally 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Dawn is interested in marketing, search engines, social media and all things digital..

 

From Zero to Thousands: 5 Steps to Get Your Social Media Up and Running

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Rachel Wisuri – Enjoy!

Social Media

photo credit:pixabay

Maybe you’re a new business, or maybe you’re an older business who recently decided to get active on social media. Regardless, you face the same problem: how do you build a successful presence on social media when no one on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram knows who you are?

Below, I’ve outlined 5 steps to get your social media channels up and running.

1. Choose the channels that work best for YOU

Not every social media channel will works for your business. As the Community Manager for a test-prep company, I’ve experienced that firsthand. Pinterest for test prep? Not the most efficient use of my time. (Have you ever heard your friends say, “Oh I saw the most amazing pin about math formulas today”? No? Didn’t think so.) So first, choose the channels that are right for your company.

How? Figure out where your customers already hang out. Set up a Mention or a Google Alert for your company’s name, and find out where conversations about you are already happening. (Or, simply ask your customers what their favorite platforms are!) You can also consider the demographic information for each channel and try to match that up with the demographics of your customer base.

2. Define your goals

As marketers, we know it’s much better to be able to track and define your success with hard numbers. Once you’ve chosen some channels, it’s time to set up your metrics for success. That will help you see if your hard work is paying off and help you decide if you should continue to invest in a channel that is not working as well as you’d like.

Some things to consider when setting up your metrics goals (a.k.a. how will you define success?):

  • Is getting a lot of followers your main goal?
  • Do you want to increase mentions of your brand online?
  • How important are likes, re-tweets, comments, and engagement to you?
  • What is your goal for response time to customers’ questions and comments?
  • Are you trying to increase clicks and drive traffic to your website?

3. Tell everyone you know.

Great, now you’re set up on the best channels for you and have started making your profiles look awesome. But you still have the same problem: no one is following you. :(

How to fix it: start an online conversation with your current customers to get the ball rolling. Move your existing customer base to your social media channels. Email them, put your account names on your business cards, and scream it from the rooftops. By driving their focus to your social media accounts, you’ll start to build a quality follower base that already likes you and what you have to say.

4. Think like a human being, not a social media robot.

Don’t just promote and talk about yourself. Don’t allow your conversations and posts to be one sided. When you act like a human being via social media and use it to interact with other human beings, you’ll be able to reach new potential customers and people who are genuinely interested in what you’re selling.

Engage in conversations like you would with your own friends — “like” relevant comments and statuses, and start conversations with interesting people and companies.

5. Provide useful information to your community.

Now, I’m not saying you should never talk about yourself, but do so in a way that will benefit your community. What are their main concerns? What do they need help with? This comes back to knowing your customers.

Now that you have these 5 steps under your belt, it’s up to you to upkeep your brand new follower relationships and make them last far into the future!

Bonus Tip: people love contests and free stuff, and your followers are no exception. Engage your new social media community by promoting fun competitions. Got some company pens or t-shirts to give away? Create a contest for your followers and promise the winners swag! They might even brag about it to their friends, which just equals more and more mentions for you!

Good luck and happy Tweeting!

My author photoRachel Wisuri is the Community Manager at Magoosh, an online test-prep company in the Bay Area. There, she spends her time making sure the Magoosh community is happy, healthy, and growing. In her free time she can be found eating peanut butter, listening to the Beatles, and lounging in the park.

 

How True Authority Is Actually Gained

The idea of authority has gotten a great deal of attention in business circles the last few years. People who have amassed lots of fans and follows in social networks are seen to have authority. People who have lots of blog readers or who have carved out some niche of expertise are seen to have authority. Authors and speakers are deemed authoritative.

authority

photo credit: Paul Worthington via photopin cc

But the idea of assigning authority based on position has rarely led to long-term positive impact. Think about those who command authority based on an elected role. We may respect the role, but resent the authority.

In this online social world we live in some individuals, by virtue of somewhat arbitrary measurements, have been able to assign and command authority, but I offer that authority, in the end, is earned through a much different path.

Ultimately, over time, authority is gained by how you relate to communities. How you serve and add value – and I sense a significant shift in what and whom we view as actually authoritative.

It’s not about being expert in a world that has no more subjects left to master. It’s about signal, signal that’s clear and true and consistent.

In a time where our reality is increasingly dictated by screens instead of people and experiences, I believe you command authority not by assigning it to yourself, but by practicing the following five habits.

Share an opinion that matters

Instead of picking up on the latest trend or finding a niche that seems wanting, you command authority by having and sharing a point of view that you believe is true and worth holding on to.

This can be your view on work or life or simply your advice to a client. It’s okay to say to the world – this is the one thing everyone must do – if you believe it, practice it and perfect it.

Surround yourself with teachers

This one is a little counterintuitive because people who want to command authority often strive to be seen as the teacher.

I’m here to tell you that growth and your ability to relate to and add to a community comes from spending a great deal of time as the most inexperienced person in the room.

When you become so big that your ego competes with this notion, you’re on your way down.

Stop seeking reinforcement

People who gain some little measure of authority often try to cling to it by surrounding themselves with people and information that supports what they already believe.

When we do things in an effort to please or prove how right we are, we lose the ability to expand and make choices that are evolutionary for us.

You command authority by exploring new ideas and intentionally stretching your level of comfort.

Expect a response

If you share and hold on to opinions that matter and you do so without trying to please others, you should expect people to respond and you should be prepared to nurture and grow that response into a community.

In fact, if you are to command authority you have a responsibility of sorts to deal with the positive and negative responses that come from how you relate to communities.

Be vulnerable

Vulnerability is another one of those terms that’s getting a lot of play and words these days.

One of the ways you command authority is to show the world you don’t need it. Show your community that you can be as silly, frightened, confused and happy as they are and they will trust your intentions even more.

This is a scary one for most leaders, but know that you don’t have to always have the answer – if you are to command authority people simply need to know they can trust you.

How to Use Your Expert Knowledge to Build Authority Online

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Daniel Glickman – Enjoy! 

photo credit: 123rf

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent. – John Donne

The internet is a living continent that depends on community contribution to thrive. Without input from participating members, the internet would cease to be relevant. However, the biggest strength of the internet is also its biggest weakness: with almost three billion users, the internet is an enormous global stage, and as participants, we are all competing for a bit of spotlight. However, in our fight to get a moment of glory, too many generate content that is useless and irrelevant. So how do you create important content? Use your expert knowledge to benefit the online community.

First, realize that the online community doesn’t care about you.

Like any other consumers, online audiences are seeking to consume relevant, valuable knowledge. Luckily, you have the power to give them exactly what they want. But first, you need to stop contributing only to benefit yourself. Creating content simply for your own marketing benefits will never get you the same results as contributing genuinely for the benefit of the community.

Ask not what the online community can do for you, but what you can do for the online community.

If you are consistently putting the audience’s needs above your own, you will benefit. The key to being a valuable participant is knowing what you have to offer, why it sets you apart, and how to get it out properly. The most important input you can give to the existing online community is expert knowledge that only you have by contributing content that is unique to your specialty to genuinely help others.

Give fresh perspectives.

A core necessity of any content is that it is valuable and high-quality. However, even the best content can easily be overlooked. A constant challenge is creating fresh and interesting content that offers value to visitors. It’s easy for a great post or infographic to become buried under other online content, so how do you catch the attention of an ever-distracted online audience? Know how the element of surprise can attract attention. A moving graphic, interesting color scheme, or dash of humor in a forum post are all real ways to keep audiences on their toes and interested in what you have to say.

Choose appropriate methods for delivering knowledge.

There are as many topics to contribute about as there are ways to get your insights out there. Informative online presentations, guest blogging, webinars, and active participation in online forums are just a few of the many ways to help the community at large and, if done correctly, can drive long-lasting community engagement. Identify why each method would benefit you, and ask yourself if it’s relevant to your niche. The owner of a medical technology company is probably better suited to contribute knowledge to forums than webinars, but either method works if the owner understands his strengths. A great writer but bad public speaker is probably not suited for a live presentation and should choose an online slideshow with great taglines instead. Know how to play up your strengths and invest in the appropriate methods to benefit the most.

Strive to start conversation.

Putting out content that doesn’t generate audience feedback is like delivering a presentation with zero engagement. Before any post or comment, ask yourself if you are just adding your two-cents or actually participating and driving a conversation. One of the best ways to see this in action is by rephrasing your comments as questions. See how much more participation you get from asking your audience their opinion?

There you have it – to be an authority on your niche, deliver genuine content for the purpose of contributing, not benefitting. The most engaging content – that great TED talk, memorable article, or viral website – was created because of a passion of to share, not benefit. If you can do this successfully, you will not only establish yourself as an authority in your field, but will also draw an engaged audience to you naturally.

08c4341Daniel Glickman is the CMO of emaze. He loves analyzing marketing data and building strategic and tactical plans.