Jeff Zelaya

Adam Wexler in This Week’s Featured Podcast

Adam Wexler is the Chief Strategy Officer of Insightpool.

Adam launched Insightpool in 2013 as a marketing software. This software is already being used by companies like: DocuSign, UPS, Influtive, Demandbase and many more. Adam Wexler is a serial entrepreneur, growth hacker, writer and a popular speaker. He’s contributed to articles that have been featured in publications like The Huffington Post, Social Media Today and has presented at events like SXSW, B2BCamp, Dreamforce. In his spare time he consults the Atlanta Hawks on their social media strategy. He’s the star in this week’s featured podcast. Press play to watch the video below:

Want to see more videos like this one? Click here –> Marketing Podcasts

Social Media & Business: A Perfect Pairing

Social Media and Business go together like; rice & beans, peanut butter & jelly, salt & pepper.

From Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest, people gather virtually to initiate conversations, share musings, be entertained by videos and mull over thought-provoking images. Although businesses with visual elements or fun products can thrive on many social platforms, any business can build an engaging and even fun social presence. So if you think your business is too boring for social, think again. Here are a few companies that are proof you don’t have to be in the jazziest of industries in order to master the game of social media.

Social Media and Business

ChildHelp

ChildHelp’s mission is to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect. This is a non-profit whose daily work is focused on trying to quash tragedy, and the subject matter the business is exposed to continuously is dark and emotionally difficult. But despite this, ChildHelp still has found a way to have strong social media profiles, especially on Facebook. The non-profit uses its page to enlighten people about the realities of its cause, as well as to entertain. By regularly weaving in relevant events and pop culture tie-ins, the Facebook page isn’t depressing, but rather uplifting and enjoyable.

H&R Block

You might think that a business like H&R Block would not have an easy time with social media. After all, tax preparation is not a notoriously sexy subject. But H&R Block has been able to create a very successful Pinterest page. By putting together boards that run the gamut from “Fashion on a Budget” to “Travel” to “Sports Finance,” the business displays its creativity and offers something for everyone.

HubSpot

Software is not usually the first thing that would come to mind when you think of something hip and fun, but HubSpot has managed to lay claim to both adjectives. One visit to the inbound sales and marketing platform’s Twitter page, and the company culture is undeniable. Every tweet shows personality and originality. HubSpot doesn’t forget to post pictures, infographics and shout-outs to its company blog in order to keep followers interested and engaged. So maybe software in the past wasn’t synonymous with a party mindset, but HubSpot sure makes it seem like it is now.

LifeLock

Few things in life are scarier than identity theft. But LifeLock, the well-known identity theft protection company, doesn’t use fear to sell its products. Instead, the company takes to its social pages to connect with prospects and deliver useful information. LifeLock’s Facebook page is a prime example of one that educates its audience about the industry and preventive measures, all while still having a good time. By regularly sharing timely news and relatable posts, the company acts like a friend to its customers via social media.

Nielsen

Nielsen, the global consumer and media insights business, is another one that you may not think is an immediate fit for social media. To the contrary, the company has found a way to be relevant and fun through several social channels. One example is Nielsen’s Twitter page, which is rife with things you’d expect like glimpses into the percentage of people engaging in certain behaviors. But Tweets also include things about pop culture and sports that lay people are likely to enjoy, like a random comment about an NFL game or commentary on TV shows. By catering to more popular areas of interest, the company doesn’t limit itself on social media.

If you’ve been feeling like you couldn’t possibly make your business lively enough for social media, think again. With a little creativity, you can use social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to share your company’s personality with your target buyer. Just let loose, think outside promotional posts and prepare to get social.

3 Tips to Make Your Company Technologically Efficient

Technology That Saves You Time

Office supplies manufacturer Brother International found in a 2010 study that corporate America loses more than $177 billion annually due to disorganization. Researchers concluded that the average employee wastes about 76 hours per year searching for files, documents, and even calculators in cluttered cubicles.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can ill-afford to lose that many hours in productivity and expect positive results on their quarterly profit reports. Technology has streamlined many business processes, but there are still many owners and C-Level executives who refuse to embrace these advancements.

Cloud Computing

Most office workers have likely seen the 1999 comedy “Office Space” and its classic opening scene. Peter Gibbons had apparently misplaced a memo that described a new process for handling “TPS Reports.” He was first asked by the main office manager if he got the memo, followed by his immediate supervisor a few minutes later—then got a phone call from another manager asking if he received it. These time-wasting situations can easily be eliminated by incorporating cloud computing solutions.

Google Docs is a word processor, spreadsheet, and database tool that allows real-time collaboration between several individuals. In other words, it has all the features of Microsoft Office, but with online storage that makes documents accessible to anyone with the password. It’s especially useful when several team members are working together on a project, as it keeps edit logs and allows in-line communication for everyone working on it to see.

DropBox can be used as a one-stop online hard drive to store everything from employee handbooks to blank W4 forms. It allows remote access from any computer or smartphone, along with the ability to synch documents across all devices. DropBox saves money by eliminating the need for paper documents and increases efficiency by neatly organizing important documents all in one place.

BYOD Policies

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon has quickly evolved from a trendy option to a near necessity for SMBs. Technology research firm Gartner predicts that 38 percent of companies will stop providing devices to employees altogether by 2016. Half of employers will require employees to supply their own devices by 2017, according to the same study. Further, a 2013 Cisco survey found that BYOD employees gain an average of 37 productivity minutes per week over their non-BYOD counterparts.

Devices today like the Samsung Galaxy Note are designed to collect and share ideas with advanced accessories like the functional S Pen that can be used to jot down notes without the need for pen and paper. These devices are also equipped with an enormous amount of battery life—25 hours talk time and up to 420 hours of standby time.

Despite all the advantages of BYOD, data security continues to be a primary concern for IT managers. But mobile device management (MDM) solutions, such as AirWatch and Amtel MDM, are not only compatible with every mobile operating system, but also allow administrators to both remotely lock or wipe any device. Some MDM solutions even allow administrators to keep work and personal data completely separate on devices.

Gerald Hetrick, COO of Vox Mobile, told Business News Daily that companies need to draft enforceable BYOD policies that all employees can easily access. The standards should, at minimum, include an acceptable-use policy, enforcement methods, and a means to contact technical support.

Virtual Appointment Setting

SMBs that deal with numerous inbound appointment requests from customers likely cannot afford to hire someone specifically to field calls and cannot waste time playing phone tag when customers leave messages. Cloud-based scheduling systems can handle the entire process, while keeping everything neatly organized.

Genbook allows customers to go straight to your website or social media page, and book appointments based on times you make available. They automatically receive email confirmation once they book the appointment. KickServ and Mhelpdesk are two more options to consider.

Technology has made it possible for any business to run as smoothly and efficiently as ownership wants it to. It’s simply a matter of learning and embracing all the technological possibilities to maximize profits and minimize risk.

Tools to Give You an Edge in Business

social selling tools for your businessIf you’re self-employed or running a small business, your priorities are to make money and grow the business. And, anything that helps you do that, gives you an edge. Even if you have to spend a little money to make a little money, it is often worth the investment. Here are some tools that will change your business.

Time-Tracking Tools

BusinessNewsDaily paints a vivid picture of “days that go by when you have no idea where the time went.” This is a common problem in the business world, and if most of your days are like this, it’s time to look at time-tracking tools.

  • Toggl is a software program that is basically a start and stop button on your workday tasks. As you go through your day, you can have a visual timeline of your productivity.
  • My Minutes incorporates goal setting and motivation into time tracking by letting you budget your time with minimum and maximum time goals.
  • Rescue Time works in the background of your computer or mobile device to track your time on the Internet and in computing applications. It reports on your activities, highlights your accomplishments and sends notifications for work prompts and reminders.
  • Paymo includes time-tracking, reporting, project-management and invoicing in one app.
Sales 2.0 Tools

There are a lot of tools out there!!!

Efficiency Tools

Anything that helps business people do more with less, do more faster or understand their business better is good news for their business growth and success.

  • Bplans offers free business calculators for cash flow, starting costs, break-even, email marketing, direct mail ROI and pay-per-click ROI.
  • Free Business Forms has a library of free forms for a variety of business purposes including bill of sale, business letters, lease and contracts. They also offer economical software for employee handbooks, financial statements and business valuation.

Sales Leads

Just opening the doors and advertising your sales deals is not enough to keep revenues coming in. It takes active sales leads, which take time to develop. Many business owners might not have the revenues to add a sales manager or hire a top salesperson, so instead they may want to buy hot leads from a service like QuoteWizard. This company is one of the largest independent lead providers, and promises that they sell their leads at half of the industry standard. Paying for leads can get a new business off the ground or help a business in transition such as during a merger or acquisition in order to keep productive through changes.

When paying for leads is not an option, Colabo CEO Yoav Dembak recommends using some simple tools to generate sales leads. Google Alerts, which uses keywords that are relevant to your business, can bring in business intelligence that can turn into leads. For example, Colabo gives examples of IT management services who set alerts for “application outage” and SEO software sales companies who set alerts for “marketing campaign optimization.” This can help you find both customers and relevant information about your field. Additionally, LinkedIn’s and Socedo’s saved searches produce similar results as Google Alerts.

Want to learn about other tools that you can use?

Check out the SlideShare below with 52 more tools that give your sales an edge.

Your Mobile Office: The World Is Calling

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Stop for a moment. Step back and observe yourself. Look at how many computers surround you from smartphones to tablets to notebooks. They are all connected and all have access to more information than anyone living prior to the computer age could rightfully imagine. For the ones who need or choose to work on the fly, current technology allows a freedom unparalleled in human history.

Whether entrepreneurs are traveling for business or are on family vacation, they now can work from anywhere without a problem. They can set up a mobile office with just a little bit of forethought. Just be sure to establish these three primary areas to be able to work outside of the office.

Communications

This is the area most business professionals have covered already. The smartphone has become ubiquitous. Something you may not consider, though, is that your cell phone may not have access in every location you visit (even inside the U.S.).

One way to be sure you stay connected is to get a satellite phone. Not being able to get or receive messages—whether by email, voice or text—is a helpless feeling. But, satellites are accessible 24/7 whereas cell towers are not. Along with the phone, be sure you have multiple charging cords (in case one breaks or is lost) and a solar charging device in case the power goes out. Communication is the most important piece to the traveling puzzle, so be prepared because without it, you are invisible to your staff and clients.

Collaboration

It isn’t too difficult to replicate a face-to-face meeting—even a group meeting—with a little help from technology. You all can be in different countries across the globe and still have conference calls, collaborative projects and brainstorm sessions without a problem.

One remote meeting tool includes GoToMeeting. Or, for simple video meetings and sharing screens, Google+ Hangouts On Air works well for free. For project management, Trello has a simple interface, and Zoho is a more elaborate tool with an array of functions.

Shared Storage

With the move to cloud computing, your office goes with you. Backups, programs and files can all be remotely accessed and shared. You can subscribe to Microsoft and Adobe’s powerful suites and operate them from a mobile device. Primary places to consider holding and sharing files are Dropbox and Google Drive. You can slide a document into a shared holding area on your desktop, and your team has almost instantaneous access to it—even if you are thousands of miles apart.

The possibilities today’s technology offers are limited only by your imagination and desire. You don’t have to travel the world to benefit from tools like these. Try a trip to Disney World with the family or even a day of work at a local coffee shop without worrying about losing touch with your team. You don’t have to work constantly, but it is of real value to be able to work when you want or need to no matter where you are.

Find Startup Funding for Your PR Firm

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The global PR industry grew 8 percent in 2012, bringing in nearly $11 billion in revenue and employing over 75,000 people, according to Holmes and ICCO’s latest World PR Report. The five largest global firms claim less than 40 percent of this market, and smaller companies are driving the industry’s growth, Holmes Report Editor-in-Chief Paul Holmes observes. It is a great time for smaller startups and growing firms to stake a claim in this expanding market. But first, the challenge of finding funding for your PR firm must be surmounted.

Assembling Your Financials

Starting a small PR firm costs between $2,000 and $10,000, Entrepreneur estimates. Costs include communications and computer equipment and a marketing budget to attract your initial clients.

In preparing to finance these costs, you should collect some key financials that investors and lenders will want to review when considering your venture. After researching your market and developing a basic marketing and sales plan, estimate your monthly revenue projections. Assemble your key financial statements, which include your balance sheet, profit and loss projections, sales forecasts, inventory schedule and cash-flow forecasts, projected out over your first three years of operation. Your projections should take into account how you intend to use any money you receive from investors or lenders and how you plan to pay back anything you borrow. The SBA provides more detailed guidelines for developing a basic financing plan.

Attracting Investors

Financing expert Dileep Rao claims that 99.5 percent of startup companies will not qualify for financing from professional venture capital firms and are better advised seeking other sources of funding. A more viable option for most startups is finding private angel investors. VentureBeat journalist Christina Farr provides a beginner’s guide to angel investment networks and how to use them to attract investors. Another alternative is crowdfunding. Business reporter Eric Markowitz’s helpful flowchart steers startups through crowdfunding options, identifying MicroVentures as one resource for media-related startups seeking angel investors.

Applying for Loans

If you pursue a small business loan, expect lenders to review your credit rating to determine whether you represent a good risk. According to Craig Watts of credit scoring provider FICO, the two biggest factors affecting your credit rating are your history of repaying debts on time and the ratio of your current balance to your total limit. The higher your balance climbs above 20 to 30 percent of your limit, the more it weighs down your credit rating. If you find your balance has gotten too high, consider accelerating your debt repayments to pay it down before applying for a business loan. If you’re eligible, you might consider using a company that buys future structured settlement payments such as J.G. Wentworth to secure the funds to help reduce your balance.

Lenders will usually require some collateral such as home or auto equity or business assets to ensure your ability to repay your loan. However, the rising popularity of alternative lending resources such as Small Business Funding has made no-collateral financing options more readily available.

How Technology Has Changed Everyday Business Practices

shutterstock_122301370When we look at the effect of technology on business, we are really examining how the Internet has changed business practices. The web has made our world smaller. All markets are global and all strategies have an international flair. Customer service can be outsourced down the street or to another country. Internet technology has created new and varied procedures and business models, which continue to change every day.

Meetings Anywhere

In 1992, the cost of a video phone was around $1,500. Each device only had a small, black and white screen with poor image quality and needed a dedicated line. Now, your average $600 laptop comes with a high definition camera, which allows you to have virtual face-to-face meetings anywhere with an Internet connection. Furthermore, systems like Skype and Google Hangouts have replaced the old video chats free of cost.

Add cloud technology to the mix, where documents can be shared, teams can be built and collaboration can occur anywhere in the world. For example, Cloud contact centers help businesses perform multi-channel inbound and outbound contact capabilities. They include multi-session chats as well as reporting and recording capabilities for live interactions.

Offsite Accounting

The look of accounting has changed because of Internet and software technology. The days of giant ledger books and adding machines are gone. Now, we have software packages that allow anyone with the smallest amount of business acumen to do a passable job at accounting. Just looking at the Intuit products, a small to medium sized business owner can do payroll, human resources and accounting while sitting at a coffee shop. All of the information can be stored locally or remotely on a private cloud server, which gives the owner improved accessibility to the financials as well as increased accountability for the fiscal workings of the organization.

Social Media

Relationship marketing is a branding and sales technique that focuses on the relationship with the consumer above the final transaction. The theory is that a loyal customer will buy from you. Social media marketing has embraced this idea to its fullest. The advent of social media technology, with its extended application to mobile devices, has taken word-of-mouth and put it on steroids. Social media, video chats and texting have allowed businesses to create a personal face where consumers and organizations can share experiences and create intimate relationships.

Crowdfunding

There was a time when it took money to make money. Investments only happened through banks or rich investors willing to put money into your dream. Now, we do not need to find one person with $5 million when we can get one million people to contribute $5. Crowdfunding has had some amazing success stories. Using new platforms like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, inventors and business people have been able to generate millions towards their projects. One of the most recent success stories of this new system of fundraising is LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow campaign that generated more than $1 million in under twenty-four hours.

6 Signs Your Business Should Offer Telecommuting

Offer Telecommuting? Yes or No?

Should you Offer Telecommuting?

Photo Credit: SmallBizTechnology.com

In an increasingly digital era, more businesses offer telecommuting options and virtual offices. Are you next? It’s understandable if you’re wary of such a big change, especially if you expect some employees will be more successful with this option than others. If you only offer it to a few, office morale could take a hit and you might have some quality long-term workers looking at a career change.

However, just because “it’s always been done that way” isn’t a good reason to not shake things up. When Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer made headlines by forcing all employees back into a traditional (non-digital) work environment, she fired up one of the biggest office debates of our time: Which is better, telecommuting or in-office work? What are pros and cons?

Here are a few signs to look out for to know if you should offer telecommuting 

 

1. Some job descriptions are easily done virtually

There are some jobs where it doesn’t make any sense to bring employees into the office. This can include technical writers, graphic designers, customer service representatives and many jobs that require no special tools or regular interaction with other workers.

 

2. You need to lower overhead

Working from home means less need for office space, which equals cost savings. It’s as simple as that. If you’re looking to downsize but don’t want to force cramped quarters, offering telecommuting options is a great way to do so.

 

3. Your employees want more flexibility

Mary in accounting needs to pick up her kids at 2:30 each day while Bob in software design would really like to make his morning spin class. If you accommodate your employee’s lives, and it doesn’t impact the business, what’s the harm? Letting them telecommute part-time or work from home on days the kids are home for Teacher’s Day, you’ll have happier and more productive workers.

 

4. You’re going green

There are many ways to green up an office, from embracing cloud technology to kickstarting a recycling program. However, do you ever think about the carbon footprints from requiring daily commutes? If going green is your goal, whether you’re trying to woo a sustainable investor or simply do your part to protect Mother Earth, virtual offices can be a great addition.

 

5. You want to attract better workers…

If you want the best candidates to come to you, you need to offer them something worth looking at twice. For some people, telecommuting is a dream come true because it allows them freedom and flexibility. You’ll have an edge over your competition, a wider pool of candidates, and won’t have to “settle” to fill that vacancy.

 

6. …Potentially at Lower Pay

This doesn’t mean you should lowball your candidates, but many people would be happy to trade a percentage of their salary for a work from home option. If you’re unsure about this, you can always give it a trial run and leave it up to the candidate to choose. You’re both happy, yet you save money.

Is virtual office space appealing to you yet? To try before you “buy” offer it to all eligible employees as short-term experiment, making sure they know it’s not permanent. It can be optional to partake, but you may be surprised by the results.

 

About Guest Blogger Larry Alton:

Larry AltonLarry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. You can check out more of his articles at MarketingTechBlog.com or follow him on Twitter @larryalton3

INFOGRAPHIC: B2B Marketing Statistics 2014

Excited to see a lot of growth in the B2B Marketing space. Take a look at the infographic below showcasing highlighting B2B Marketing Statistics 2014 from the Advertising Age B-To-B Marketing Fact Pack.

B2B MARKETING STATISTICS 2014

“The only way to consistently grow in B2B is to be better than very good” – Seth Godin

THE MOST USED MARKETING AUTOMATION PLATFORMS

Act-On 6%
Pardot 11%
Hubspot 11%
Eloqua 21%
Marketo 29%

Marketo announced revenue growth of 64% to $95.9 million for 2013 & forecasts a revenue of $130 million for 2014

WILL B2B MARKETERS USE CONTENT MARKETING?

Yes 73.8%
No 26.2%

 

“Make the prospect a more informed buyer with content.” -Robert Simon, Four Seasons Hotels

 

  • 91 Percentage of B2B marketers that will use LinkedIn to distribute content
  • 15 Percentage increase in B2B marketers that are planning on using mobile in their strategy
  • $272 Cost per qualified lead in 2013, up by $26 from 2012.
  • 25 Percentage drop of budget for Print media.
  • Web Traffic is the #1 way that B2B marketers track success from their content marketing campaigns.

 

Source: Advertising Age B-To-B Marketing Fact Pack

 

 

How to Maximize Your Small Business Website ROI

Simply having a website for your small business is not a foolproof way of increasing traffic and sales. You could have the best product, best of intentions and an amazing layout, but if the maintenance and costs of keeping your site online outweigh the benefit of having the site, it may make you reconsider even having the site in the first place. Luckily, there are ways to have a better small business website that’ll increase ROI and allow business to boom.

Optimize Your Site For Search Engines

You don’t need to be an SEO guru to at least marginally improve site rankings (and thus hopefully increase ROI). There are a few things you can do to get your site noticed a bit more:

On-Site

Make sure your webpage:

  • Is Easily Navigable/Visually Appealing – An easily navigable site ensures that not only your customers have an easy time getting to where they need to be on your site, but it also allows search engines to crawl your site more quickly and efficiently as well.
  • Is Coded Correctly – A badly coded site could range from simple HTML errors like not using H2 tags to utilizing poor WordPress plugins to an actual error in the back-end site coding. Check, double check and check again to make sure all your coding is up to par, otherwise this could further devalue your site (by making it really slow, poor looking or not viewable at all).
  • Has Relevant and Original Content – To sum this up in three words, “Don’t copy content!” Make sure all your content (on your blog, product descriptions, etc) is original, fresh and even entertaining.

Granted, there’s a ton more that goes into on-site optimization, but start small and work your way up. As long as you’re making efforts to make your website better, you’ll see a difference in traffic.

Local

If you’re going to be hosting events, there’s no better way to get the word out than through local sites and local event listings. Hosting things like charity events (for example) gives your business a good image to the local community, but it also can increase in back links to your site. Quality and relevant backlinks are seen as a trust signal to search engines, so if you have some pointing to your site from local event listings or sites in general (such as news sites, local blogs, etc) you’ll rise up in the rankings as the search engine will trust you more.

Backup, Backup, Backup!

It’s imperative to regularly backup your site data. All the hours put into developing it, as well as all the files (images, content, videos, etc.) that you’ve uploaded would disappear if something were to happen. Also, if your site is compromised and goes down, you won’t have a website at all. The easiest way to do this is with an online cloud backup service. While an external hard drive (or two) are certainly an option, cloud solutions allow you to manage your backup no matter where you are.

Not only can you access your files from anywhere, but other advantages make cloud backup the best option. It’s usually cheaper than traditional hardware backups, and it’s also automatic. Any time something is uploaded, it’s automatically available to re-download anywhere you are.

Be Open To Constructive Criticism

Customer feedback is one of the most important things you can get as a business owner, and chances are you can get it for free. You can use this for feedback about the usability and navigability of your website, as well as for for anything else relating to your business. You can come across customer feedback one of two ways:

  1. A customer will give it to you unsolicited or face-to-face.
  2. You can reach out to them and ask for how they felt about your service (via a contact form or survey).

You can also offer them incentive for giving you feedback. Take their feedback to heart, as it can allow you to improve your website and business, which ultimately can lead to greater ROI. Don’t forget it’s always about the ROI! 

Small Business Website ROI