Encourage Your Team to Be More Productive

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It’s not always possible to spend more money. And it’s not always possible to hire more people. But your boss, and your company, still expect sales to grow – month after month and year after year.

How is it possible?

As a leader, you have to do more with less. You have to become more efficient. And you have to coach your team to do the same.

Here is a blueprint that you can use to encourage your team to be more productive this year:

  1. Prioritize

  2. Cut

  3. Automate

  4. Outsource

  5. Test

  6. Start

Prioritize

What do you do that adds value to the business? Where is the cross-over between your personal strength’s and the team’s goals? Everyone should focus their energies on those tasks that add the most value, knowing there is not enough time in the day to do everything. Approach each and every day with one goal: make an impact.

Cut

The flip side of focusing only on those items that add value is the need to cut out tasks that don’t add value. These are the kind of box ticking items that fill your day but don’t move the needle.

Can they be automated? Delegated? What would happen if this simply was not done anymore?

It’s also possible to cut time spent on other things that don’t add value. Reduce meetings from an hour to thirty minutes. Turn off notifications. Only check your email at certain times of day.

Automate

Technology has advanced to the point where if you have regular, process-oriented tasks that don’t vary much from day to day, there is a high likelihood that task can be automated. Automating tasks frees you up to focus on more important projects.

Weigh the amount of time it takes to automate something against the amount of hours you spend on it over the course of a month or year. Chances are, it would be beneficial to automate.

Outsource

Most people are not paid to do busy work. Lower level tasks that can’t be automated yet are candidates for delegation. These may be delegated to other departments within your organization, more junior members of your team, interns, or outsourced completely.

Paying an hourly fee for someone else to do lower-level tasks also frees up your time to focus on more important items.

Test

Teams spend far too long analyzing and forecasting before making a decision. That time is better spent preparing and executing. To move more efficiently, we must be willing to test new things. Try them out, measure the results, and decide what to do next.

Don’t waste time debating potential outcomes when it is just as easy to try something out and see what happens. And be willing to fail. Don’t over-invest in things that don’t work.

Start

Do whatever it takes to get started. The biggest productivity killer of them all is delay. We delay for all kinds of reasons.

Block out time on your calendar for intensive projects that require your attention. Tackle the most difficult tasks first thing in the morning so you don’t push them to the bottom of your to-do list. Say no to meeting requests if you don’t have the time. Seek out help immediately if you are not sure how to proceed.

Why is the Bounce Rate so High on Your Landing Page?

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A landing page is the page on your site which people land on when they click on one of your paid ads – be they search ads, display ads, social ads, or others. And so, many marketers and the companies they represent expect that some percentage of people who land on those pages will end up leaving before the do anything else.

In analytics terms, we call that a bounce. And the page’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who expect your website before completing any additional action.

A high bounce rate is clearly not a good thing. But traditionally, marketers tend to be more tolerant of a high bounce rate on a landing page, where a visitor has come from an advertisement, than they would be on other pages of the site. And I am not here telling you that you should expect visitors you pay for to behave the same way as visitors who come to your site organically.

However, just because we expect higher bounce rates on our landing pages, doesn’t mean we should be okay with them. And it doesn’t mean we can’t work to lower them.

So make 2019 the year you refocus on landing pages, and cut those bounce rates in half.

How? Start by understanding why people are bouncing in the first place.

Here are five possible reasons:

  1. You are advertising to the wrong people.

  2. Your page doesn’t provide enough information.

  3. Your page is not optimized for mobile.

  4. You are not clear about what they should do next.

  5. You don’t give them any incentive to take action.

Let’s explore each of these possibilities and what you can do about them.

You are advertising to the wrong people.

If the wrong people are landing on the page, it’s no wonder that they are leaving. This may happen if your targeting is too broad, meaning that your ad is being shown to people who are not in the market for your offerings. It also can happen when you use the same landing page for multiple channels and audiences. It is a best practice to make sure your landing page is specific to each audience. To accomplish that, you may need to create multiple landing pages for each campaign.

Your page doesn’t provide enough information.

Many companies treat landing pages as teasers for a certain product or service. They provide just enough information to whet a customer’s appetite and get them to take the next step. But what you think is enough information to tease a product, may not answer the questions that most of your visitors have. And rather than take the required next step, they leave your site and go looking for alternative solutions.

Your page is not optimized for mobile.

We are living in a mobile-first world. More web activity is taking place on phones and tablets than ever before. And your landing pages absolutely must be geared toward the mobile visitor. This means focusing on load times, readability, and usability. Challenge your own perceptions of your landing pages by looking at the bounce rate for mobile users separate from desktop users. You may find that solving for mobile alone can cut your bounce rate in half.

You are not clear about what they should do next.

Some people will leave your site because they simply don’t know what else to do. A strong call-to-action is an important part of any landing page design. Once you have provided enough information to convince the visitor that they are in the right place, give them an action to take. It could be a phone call, a form to submit, a button to start the sales process, a web chat. And make it obvious. The more they have to search for it, the greater the likelihood that some will give up.

You don’t give them any incentive to take action.

Why do this now when I can do it later? That is the mentality of most consumers. It is up to you, as the marketer, to give them a reason to act now. Perhaps it’s the opportunity to claim a special offer, perhaps your offer is only good for a limited time, or perhaps they don’t want to have to wait in line. As a marketer, you are constantly fighting for attention. So don’t squander that attention when you get it by letting consumers leave without taking the next step.

What is a Retail Location For?

Depending on who you listen to, retail in the United States is either on its last legs or is about to be a part of a major evolution in experiential marketing. The truth is, it’s a little bit of both.

Traditional retailers – after years of trying to compete with the likes of Amazon – are falling by the wayside. Consumer behavior has changed in significant ways, which means the way we shop has changed. Even if we aren’t doing all of our shopping online, there is still less in-person shopping to go around. And many of the older brands are no longer able to keep up.

However, there are a number of companies who are having new or renewed success with brick and mortar retail. These companies have found ways to appeal to today’s shoppers and offer something that both the online experiences and the traditional retail experiences were lacking.

And so, more and more, companies are asking themselves:

What is a retail location for?

While the future may bring with it a number of different retail models that can be successful, there are already three categories of retail experiences that companies are having success with today. These include showrooming, support, and experience.

1. Showrooming

Showrooming is the broad category name we give to retail locations intended to get people to try out a company’s products in person. While many of these locations also sell products, that is not the primary reason for their existence.

Companies that have opened up Showrooming locations recognize that much of their actual sales will still happen online. However, the online experience is still bad at giving people the ability to try physical products before they buy. And this is where a Showroom can pay off.

Think of the Apple Store as the premier example of a Showrooming strategy. Many other technology companies are following suit, as are some fashion brands who will show off their wares and let customers try them on, but won’t necessarily hold the inventory necessary to sell on site.

2. Support

There are some retail locations that are not for selling at all. Instead, they are places for existing customers to get help. In this way, they are intended to serve the customer experience – keeping customers happy and promoting brand loyalty in the long term. I put these retail locations into the Support category.

Again, this type of retail experience has been most common in the technology space, where products can often require an experienced professional to review a problem in person. Best Buy popularized this type of retail experience when they introduced their Geek Squad.

3. Experience

Some companies have decided that they want people in their stores regardless of whether they are customers or not. That’s because building a community of people around shared interests related to the brand is more important to them over the long run.

The Experience category includes storefronts that may or may not have been traditional retail environments in the past, but now include some combination of education and training, live events, speakers, meet and greets, and more.

Think of the bookstore that hosts a popular author on the release of her new book, or a camera retailer that features a free lecture given by a world-famous photographer. These are not direct selling experiences, but they help to attract an audience that companies hope will end up developing a lasting relationship with their brand.

What Happens When Amazon or Facebook Comes After Your Business?

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It can be scary at times looking over your shoulder at a larger company that seems to have the intention of swallowing you whole. There are sharks in the tank that are gobbling up the rest of the fish, growing ever larger, taking over new terrain, all in the hopes of being the biggest and most powerful.

These sharks have names. They are called Google, and Amazon, and Facebook, and to a lesser extent Apple and Microsoft. They are tech giants, born to do one thing, grow.

They cross different industries and seem each to have economy-dominating aspirations at times.

And so you, with your little business, which is quite successful now, is constantly at risk of being pushed aside by one of these giants. Should they decide to enter your market and compete for your customers, what should you do?

1. Don’t Panic

I know they’re big and scary and as soon as they announce a new product or service it makes waves. But you are not in trouble just yet. The worst thing you can do – for your business and your health – is overreact and do something that doesn’t make sense. The best thing for you and your team to do is be patient. It’s business as usual until you have a clearly defined strategy for how to proceed.

2. Do Your Research

Get to the bottom of the threat. Make sure it is a threat. In the initial hype or announcement, a lot can get lost in translation. Do your best to look under the hood and find out exactly what you will be up against. It is only by knowing the details about their plans that you can develop your response.

3. Determine How You Win

There is a reason why you have been successful to this point. You are doing something right. Do you know what that is?

Your unique value proposition is the reason why customers do business with you in the first place. One of the sharks might go after your business, but they might not understand the real reason your customers chose you. So identify what you do well, and focus all your energies there.

4. Focus on Making Customers Happy

Your existing customers are your best defense against any impending threat. So long as they are happy, you won’t lose them. And with a customer base, you have an attentive audience and an army of potential sellers.

Continue to put your efforts into delivering on your promises and turn your customers into advocates on your behalf.

5. Consider Reaching Out

Often, when one of these tech giants first enters a new market, they may be looking for an easy win. And that might mean they are looking for existing companies to buy out.

Maybe you have no interest in selling. But then again, maybe you do. And if that’s the case, it never hurts to get in touch via a lawyer or experience sales agent.

5 Ways Social Media Can Wreak Havoc on Your Business

The following is a guest post by Diana Smith. Diana is a full time mom of two beautiful girls covering the good and the bad of today's business and marketing. When she is not being to serious and busy she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

It’s not until a brand starts experiencing customer wrath on social media that it would even consider this godsend of a marketing tool to be a potential risk to your business. Unfortunately, as with many things in life as well as business, it’s a double-edged sword; one with the potential to help you conquer the realms of your industry, and one to gloriously self-destruct in the effort to succeed.

The potential benefits and profit that your brand can earn from a solid social media approach most certainly trump the potential poor outcomes, but knowing how to handle or preferably prevent some of the issues may actually be the key to help your brand thrive.

Before one of your novice social media managers causes a company-wide fiasco, or you come across a particularly feisty customer publicly ruining your reputation one post at a time, read on and learn about the best ways to prevent disasters in the world of social media and what to look out for.

Negative reviews

Mind the plural, because a single poor comment on your Facebook post, or a customer with a mildly dissatisfied tone will not truly be any cause for alarm. These simple, somewhat common situations are relatively easy to handle if you have a contingency plan in place, and a way to repay and apologize to the customers in question. More often than not, such a gesture is enough to make things right; even if they might not be a return buyer for your brand, at least there is no permanent damage to your image.

On the other hand, if negative posts, tags, comments and reviews start getting disseminated quickly, this can turn into a wildfire that may just be the one to turn your brand to dust. An ignored complaint can transform into a rant in an instant, while a single unhappy client may cause an uprising in social un-follows for your company. You need to be prepared and your social teams educated to handle complaints and negative reviews, otherwise they are bound to backfire.

Poor branding

With the rise of memes, animations such as gifs, and the relaxed tone of voice that is prevalent on many social networks (sometimes even LinkedIn), there is a time and a place for everything. Depending on your company’s list of services or products, your own language and types of posts can vary from slightly quirky to completely informal, but they should still retain the essence of your brand.

Your business social profiles are not the appropriate channels for expressing personal beliefs, as that will most likely lead to alienating your customers. A great (or terrible is more like it) example would be the KitchenAid tweet during a presidential debate, which was mistakenly posted from the brand’s page, not the personal one of the employee. While they mitigated the crisis quickly, it’s a valuable lesson for many brands out there to keep their professional and their personal thoughts separate.

Ignoring social mentions

It’s commendable that a brand should spend ample time on crafting, fine-tuning, and delivering a slew of consistent, well-branded posts, and make sure that the company is posting such content on relevant networks for their audience. Providing value should be the first and foremost goal of any social media strategy, but even the most experienced of companies should embrace the learning curve and hear what their customers and users have to say. Not doing so can actually result in missed opportunities, mishandled issues, or ones not handled at all.

The fact that approximately 60% of Australia’s population is on Facebook caused brands Down Under to begin implementing their social listening strategies more wisely, and the rest of the world follows suit. The sheer volume of active individuals using social mention monitoring tools can prevent full-scale crises and make the most of any brand mentions across the social realm.

Timing can be everything

While there’s no indication that an institution such as the NRA can get shut down after a poor social media move, there is so much any other commercial brand can learn from them when it comes to social blunders.

With a whole record of poorly-constructed tweets, some of them posted right after another mass shooting, or in an equally sensitive moment for the nation and the world, they are the perfect example of when not to post self-promotional, insensitive posts. It’s not just about following trends and taking care of being up to date with the latest events, but also delivering a brand image that will resonate with your values.

While there is a multitude of “dos” to utilize social media to do good, support your brand’s growth, and help your customers discover your business, it’s equally vital to know the “don’ts” imposed by common sense, as well as best practices on social media. Master them, and you’ll be able to prevent numerous crises, ensure long-term relationships and inspire loyalty.