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Start a Business That’s Future-Proof

Featured image by IngoMoringo from Pixabay 

In an ever-changing world, some businesses and industries are future-proof. Some are based on future needs. Others are based on realities so constant they can be relied upon never to change.

Choose a Future-Proof Business in the Face of Rapid Change

It is fair to say that the world is changing faster now than it ever has.

Among other factors, the Internet continues to accelerate these changes. Moreover, consumers’ demands for more, better, and different products and services is continually evolving. This rapid rate of change coupled with global accessibility means businesses can quickly become obsolete.

A classic example is the MiniDisc. This product had a great format and an amazing advertising campaign. However, MP3’s arrived on the scene and killed it within a matter of months.

RELATED ARTICLE: IOT AND BIG DATA ARE SHAPING THE FUTURE OF MARKETING

For another example, let’s say you run a chain of steak restaurants serving South American beef. However, you watch aghast at the rise of veganism. It’s happening so fast you project that in ten years your business could well be finished.

Food retail, too, is running as fast as it can to meet the demands of plant-based diets that people are adopting now. And what about oil companies? If one thing is going to be out of fashion pretty quickly it’s the burning of fossil fuels!

However, there are businesses and industries that are future-proof. For the most part, these are based on future needs or on factors so constant they can be relied upon never to change.

If you run a business that you can see is headed for rapid demise, you might be casting about for another path to take. Here are some suggestions:

A Pest Control Business Is Future-Proof

Yes, pest control is future-proof. It may not be an industry you would care to go into. But consider this: rats, mice, fleas, bedbugs and the like have been sharing the planet with human beings for thousands of years. Moreover, they are certainly not going anywhere.

It might surprise you to know that this low-tech industry has been growing for a long time, and it is still growing. Cities all over the world are experiencing burgeoning rat populations.

Climate change plays a part, as does urban expansion, which forces wildlife from their natural habitats. Additionally, as flooding becomes more commonplace, rats especially head into buildings to make their homes. Warmer winters mean breeding continues throughout the year. Just a few years earlier, colder winters would once have slowed this process.

Meanwhile, raccoons, pigeons and more are also causing multiple problems. London, for example, is full of pest control companies such as Empire Pest Control. These companies thrive as pest problems for human beings continue to worsen.

As Flood Waters Rise, so Do Companies That Deal with Flood Risk

Flooding is on the increase in many countries today, thanks again to climate change. As devastating as flooding can be for those who are affected by it, flooding presents fresh opportunities for building companies, city councils, and government agencies at all levels. These entities are just now beginning to grapple with ensuring that new homes and other buildings are not at risk of flooding.

Therefore, they turn to experts for information. Flood risk companies produce reports predicting flood patterns, assess how new developments will drain, suggest flood mitigation systems, and more.

However, it’s not only technical flood consultancy businesses that are future-proofed in these scenarios. Companies that construct flood doors, flood-proof windows, and other kinds of flood protection will also be in a good place as climate change kicks in. Additionally, civil engineering companies that specialize in flood defenses are also future-proof.

While hardly anyone is cheering on climate change, it appears to be happening anyway. So why not make the most of the challenge it presents by choosing a future-proof business?

Online Learning Faces a Bright Future

The Internet has given us many things, running the gamut from good to bad and everything in between.

For example, one positive aspect of the worldwide web is online learning. The concept of being able to learn at your own pace, in your own time, and at any time of the day or night is appealing for a lot of people.

In fact, online learning is a liberating force for many people. Now, for example, anyone anywhere with access to a computer can look to improve his or her career options. What’s more, they can improve their skills in the evenings while still holding down a job to support their families.

The demand for online learning is massive. People can learn everything from guitar lessons to cooking, from languages to coding. In fact, online learning may well become the main source of learning in the future.

For example, learning English online is empowering millions of non-native English speakers. By learning to speak, read, and write English, they can begin working for large global companies. This factor also helps them to integrate into countries like the UK and the US. For this reason, companies such as Perfectly Spoken and Future Learn are only going one way, and that way is up.

Conclusion

Are you looking to create and run a business that’s future-proof? If you are, then look through the lens of future trends and choose a forward-looking business in a progressive industry.

The post Start a Business That’s Future-Proof appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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Deadbeat Client? Here’s What to Do

Featured image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

You have rendered service or sold products to a client in good faith. Now you need to get paid.

The due date on the invoice has long since passed. However, you have not heard from your client. So, you pick up the phone. You have a nice chat with your client and she agrees to pay you within seven days. However, here it is thirty days later and you still have not received payment.

So now what?

Below are some tips you can use to collect from this client. Additionally, here are some suggestions for averting this situation in the future.

RELATED ARTICLE: 6 COMMON INVOICING MISTAKES MADE BY SMB’S

Choose Clients Prudently

Before you agree to deliver goods or services, try to find out more about the person you’re dealing with. Avoid anyone who is vague about what they want from you. Also, stay away from potential clients who seem demanding in their first interactions with you.

Instead, choose to work with clients who appear willing to negotiate and compromise.

However, this may be a difficult policy to enforce, especially during those times when business seems scarce. A feeling of desperation may hook you into working with someone who will waste your time and fail to pay you. It’s during these times that you are most vulnerable to deadbeat clients. That’s when turning down a potential customer might seem like a mistake.

On the other hand, working with people who don’t value what you have to offer and who fail to pay you will cost you both time and money. Therefore, while you’re holding out for the right client to come along, consider taking out a loan to cover your expenses. For example, search for car title loans in Los Angeles if you live in California. This no-pressure loan will put a smile on your face. 

Receive Payments from Clients Upfront

Especially when you’re working with a new client, it can be a good idea to insist on payment before you start working with them.

This may be less necessary when you have worked with a client for years and have established a good working relationship with them. In that case, there is trust on both sides: trust that you will deliver, and trust that he or she will pay.

However, with new customers, insist on getting paid before you deliver products. If your product happens to be a service, you might choose to insist on at least a partial payment from new clients before you begin working on their project.

Charge Interest on Overdue Invoices

Add a statement to the template you use for client invoices that indicates you will charge interest if the invoice is not paid by the due date.

Keep in mind that some states prohibit late-payment interest charges if you haven’t given your clients notice beforehand.

Deliver After You Have Been Paid

Imagine for a moment that you have agreed to work with a client on a work-for-hire basis. This means that after you deliver the project, the entire project becomes the client’s property. You will no longer have any rights to your own work.

However, as the owner of your business, you can decline to deliver your work until the client has paid you. This can include files, services, or other property. This action is legal in most countries.

Of course, in the interest of a pleasant customer relationship, it would be best to include a a statement in your initial contract that expresses your right to this condition. For example, your contract could say that the project will become the property of your client once you have received payment for your services.

Contact the Billing Department

If your client works for a large company, talk with a representative in your customer’s billing department. Once you have reached that person, provide them with information about the situation. Then request the payment be made by a specified date.

If your payment still fails to appear by that date, then contact your client’s managers.

Conclusion

You’re not going to win this battle every time. Some customers just won’t pay, no matter what you do. When you run into such a situation, look to see whether there is something about the delivered goods that failed to meet your client’s expectations. If that’s the case, do what you can to make things right. Your reputation is worth more than any money you might or might not receive.

In the future, resolve to work only with clients who value your time and your work and deal with you honestly, and leave deadbeat clients behind.

The post Deadbeat Client? Here’s What to Do appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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6 Tools That Boost Small Business Profit

Feature Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

The good news? You’ve opened a small business. The bad news? You now have to figure out how to run it profitably. We are going to let you in on secrets that larger companies know and use in order to maintain their productivity and profit margins. Here are tools you should be using to boost small business profitability, whether you’re completely new to business ownership or have been operating a company for years.

Optimize Your Office Suite

Chances are, you use at least some of the Microsoft Office Suite products. They’re generally user-friendly and are adaptable to almost any operating system. However, you might not be getting your money’s worth out of these products; especially Microsoft Excel. 

In order to use this spreadsheet tool as productively as possible, you should consider contacting an Excel consultant. A consulting company that specializes in Excel (and the other Office Suite products) can help your company streamline your team’s workflow and accurately log data or products to ensure all needed information is at your fingertips within minutes, no matter where you might be working from! 

Additionally, a consultant will help you properly train employees on how to use the program and how to apply that knowledge to your business. This means that workers will get more done, ultimately increasing profits and decreasing wasted time. Productive employees boost small business profits.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Voice over Internet Protocol is a service that allows you to make phone calls to anywhere in the world through a computer or any device that connects to the internet. If you happen to have clients, partners, distributors, or manufacturers in other areas of the world, VoIP helps avoid international calling rates. 

Finding the right VoIP service for your business can be difficult. So, use a VoIP phone service buyer’s guide to find a perfect match. By thoroughly researching your options, you can decide which aspects are most important to you. Consequently, you won’t overpay for VoIP features you don’t need, want, or won’t use.

Small Business Sales Proposals

It’s exciting when a potential client wants to know more about your business and what you have to offer. Although you can type up a well-worded business proposal, unless something about it completely wows them, you could lose the sale. So, instead of walking into a sales meeting with a mundane offer, use proposal software to enhance your proposal. By generating professional-looking offers, you can increase positive responses and boost small business profits.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The first page of Google search results captures anywhere between 71-92% of traffic. Therefore, if your website isn’t listed on the first page of results, your potential customers may not find you. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. While the algorithms of search engines are complex, they have one main commonality. They return websites via keywords.

boost small business profit
Photo by Webaroo.com.au on Unsplash

Finding out which keywords are best to use for your site can be difficult to do on your own but it isn’t impossible. Google AdWords provides a free method of setting and testing keywords. However, companies exist that specialize in finding the keywords that are relevant to your business and including them in content that is created especially for you. 

Also, in addition to utilizing keywords to improve Google ranking, posting interesting and timely content to social media outlets boosts site traffic. When informative content is shared on social media, people tend to share it with their friends. This helps drive traffic to your site (which obviously helps your search engine ranking) and allows for exposure to people who might not otherwise see your website.

RELATED CONTENT: HOW TO EFFECTIVELY SCHEDULE SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT

Small Business Virtual Private Networks

A virtual private network (VPN) allows you to connect to the internet or to your business’ network securely. Using a VPN can help make sure that the data you send and receive is encrypted. This prevents prying eyes from gaining access to things they shouldn’t. Opting to use this type of network keeps you and your customers safe from data breaches. Such security will boost small business profits by retaining customers.

Team Communication

Communicating among team members is incredibly important to the success of your business. As technology has improved, many business owners utilize the convenience of text messaging to reach team members quickly. However, assigning tasks and communicating in giant group text messages can become unwieldy and annoying. 

Instead of trying to keep up with group texts or long email exchanges, team chat apps are the way of the future. These apps allow you to direct message colleagues about a project or ask your entire team for a solution to an ongoing problem. This type of app can build a positive office culture even for those team members that work in remote areas of the world.

Small Business, Big Impact

It is every entrepreneur’s dream to have their small business take off and be successful. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t have risked starting the company. Taking the time to determine what tools work for you helps run your business efficiently and profitably.

Even if you don’t intend for your business to be a Forbes 500 company, the smooth daily operation is a must for your sanity and pocketbook. Use these tools to reach your goals and boost your small business profits.

The post 6 Tools That Boost Small Business Profit appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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The Universal Translator: How Marketers Can Improve Communication with Internal Stakeholders

How Marketers Can Communicate with Internal Stakeholders

How Marketers Can Communicate with Internal Stakeholders

Star Trek is one of my favorite franchises. It’s a beacon to guide humanity to a brighter future: One without wars and scarcity, dedicated to discovery and enlightenment. 

(Can you tell I really loved the Picard series premiere?)

[caption id="attachment_27932" align="alignnone" width="600"]Poster for the Star Trek series Picard (He has a PIT BULL named NUMBER ONE.) Photo Credit: CBS[/caption]

But the best tech in all of Star Trek isn’t the transporter, the replicator, or even the holodeck. It’s the universal translator, a gizmo that can process language in real-time and convey every nuance and idiom.

We have a similar technology right now, but… well, it could use some work.

“Shivers down my spine” turns into “chicken skin?” That kind of margin of error would cause some serious diplomatic crises in Starfleet.

But we shouldn’t be too hard on Google Translate. Sometimes people speaking the same language have trouble communicating with each other.

Marketers are good at speaking marketing-ese, for example. But within our team we likely have multiple dialects, and that causes communication troubles. And when we step outside of the marketing department? Well, we’re back to flipping through a phrase book, asking “Dónde está la biblioteca?”

Here are a few pointers that can keep your marketing team from getting lost in translation.

Tips for Fostering Better Communication with Stakeholders in 3 Key Departments

#1: The Marketing Department: Build a Shared Dictionary

Marketing is a multifaceted discipline these days, and you’re likely working with a diverse team to cover all the necessary skill sets. There’s the more technical-minded SEO folks, the more creative (but still strategic) design and content people, and of course the project managers who make it all work.

Odds are, each specialty has its own lexicon. For example, our SEO and content teams have one definition for power page:

Power Page [ pou-er peyj ] (n): A comprehensive, 2,000 word or more content asset that aims to be the best answer for a group of search queries.

However, for account managers (the ones communicating with clients), a “power page” was a page designed to convert — what content folks would call a “landing page.”

This misalignment in terminology was confusing for all of us. Once we sat down and agreed on common definitions, we were better equipped to give account managers what they were looking for, and keep our clients happy.

via GIPHY

I’ve found it’s valuable to have regular meetings with marketing team members in different specialties. Take a few minutes to understand what they do and the terms they use. The more your team understands each others’ roles, the better equipped you will be to work towards objectives together. 

[bctt tweet=”The more your team understands each others’ roles, the better equipped you will be to work towards objectives together. – @NiteWrites #B2BMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#2: The IT Department: Use an Objective & Solution-Based Framework

Of course, getting all of marketing speaking the same dialect is the easy part. What happens when you have to talk tech with the IT department? 

For example, if there’s a shiny new martech solution you’d really like to implement, or if your design team needs to use Macs in a PC-only environment, you might have a hard time making the case.

Your IT team is likely highly opinionated on these issues, but what seems like stubbornness is just practicality. They need to have a controlled, secure environment. If you sneak in your own solutions to avoid confrontation, you can compromise the work they’re doing. It’s better to try and speak in terms that will resonate with their needs.

Keep the conversation grounded in objectives. Talk about the capabilities your team needs to have, and be able to explain why they matter. It helps to understand at least a bit of the IT architecture already in place.

If you’re talking about adding a new solution, make sure your vendor equips you to handle objections from the IT team. Even better, involve IT in the search process — don’t try to bring them in at the end when you’ve already decided on a solution.

#3: The C-Suite: Leverage Storytelling & the Bottom Line

Even more so than getting IT on the same page, marketers can find it challenging to communicate with the executives who set budgets and make purchase decisions. In a recent interview, Zari Venhaus shared her tips for speaking a language that resonates with the C-suite.

“If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has,” Zari says. “We had to learn how to storytell.”

[bctt tweet=”If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has. – @zvenhaus on storytelling for stakeholders #B2BMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Zari’s team was able to use the same skills that make for great content marketing — empathizing, knowing your audience, and telling a compelling story — to address their internal audience. (We highly recommend you tune in to her full interview below; great stuff in there.)

Ultimately, with the C-suite it comes down to proving the value of your marketing in concrete terms. That means connecting your marketing initiatives to revenue and ROI, whether it’s raising awareness or investing in new automation tools. It’s one thing to say, “With this tool, we’ll be able to increase conversion rates by .53%,” and another to say, “This tool will have a 135% return on investment within three months.”

Become a Universal Translator

We marketers are skilled communicators and strategists. We’re good at getting the right message to the right people in a way that inspires action. The key to good internal communication is treating our team members and stakeholders like our customers.

That means first getting our messaging nailed down and consistent throughout the marketing team. Then it means delivering relevant messages — offering value, even — to the rest of the organization in terms that are meaningful to each stakeholder.

As Jean-Luc himself would say: 

Jean-Luc Picard says Make It So

The post The Universal Translator: How Marketers Can Improve Communication with Internal Stakeholders appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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How Is Social Media Changing the Recruitment Process?

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Social media affects almost every aspect of our lives, both personal and professional. And that includes the recruitment process.

Why Is Social
Media so Important?

The average person spends 153 minutes each day on social media. Breaking it down, around 900 million people use Facebook on a daily basis. And Twitter has more than 280 million people tweeting, retweeting, and messaging per month. Meanwhile, Instagram serves more than 300 million users each month. Not too surprisingly, nearly 79 percent of job seekers rely on social media for their job searches.

With that many potential candidates literally at your fingertips, why wouldn’t you turn to social media for your company’s recruitment needs?

RELATED ARTICLE: 8 POWERFUL WAYS TO USE INSTAGRAM FOR YOUR BUSINESS

More than 80 percent of organizations now use social media for recruitment purposes. However, trends in recruitment have changed considerably over the years. In 2011, for example, this figure hovered around only 55 to 60 percent. That is a big change in such a short time.

Why Is Social Media Helpful in Recruitment?

Most people who are considered to be high-end talent are also “passive” candidates. These are people who might not be interested in sending a recruiter their resume out of the blue. However, they may be willing to learn about potential opportunities that might be available to them. Social media can be an excellent option to tap into this pool of talent.

Smart recruiters turn to social media for hiring because it allows them to easily reach passive candidates or candidates with specific skill sets. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are the best social media platforms for these types of recruitment.

How Can You Build
a Powerful Social Media Recruitment Platform?

There are multiple strategies that can help you with implementing social media in your hiring process. For example, a good hiring tool such as Greenhouse recruitment software will automate your recruiting and hiring processes.

RELATED ARTICLE: SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING WILL HELP YOU TO HUMANIZE YOUR BRAND

Additionally, encourage your existing employees to submit posts to your company page about their experiences of working in your company. Naturally, you will need to review these posts before allowing them to go public. However, positive posts about your company’s work culture will be helpful in your recruitment process.

Your Social Media Presence Helps to Create Better Bonds

You inevitably create stronger bonds with candidates, employees, and customers when you use social media in your recruitment process. Your company’s social media presence will also help to build a powerful brand image that showcases the company’s culture and your vision of the organization.

However, be careful not to overdo it. Always remember that social media is, well, social. People expect to be entertained on social media. If your posts are all about promoting your company, and they don’t provide content your followers find useful or entertaining, those followers will drift away.

So keep your posts light, entertaining, and humorous, only occasionally throwing in a purely serious promotional post. When it comes to mixing business with social media, less is definitely more.

How Is Social Media
Changing the Recruitment Process?

In the last decade, HR specialists have used social media extensively for recruitment purposes, and this trend shows no signs of reversing. Perhaps this is chiefly because social media gives businesses improved employer branding and greater exposure to a better talent pool.

The post How Is Social Media Changing the Recruitment Process? appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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Do You Really Need a Mentor?

If you’re serious about succeeding with your business, you have probably considered finding a good mentor. This is a good plan, whether your company has been around for a while or you’re a brand-new entrepreneur. If you doubt the wisdom of this advice, please keep reading. We make the case in this post for why you need a mentor.

Why Do I
Need a Mentor?

Entrepreneurs are notorious for thinking they don’t need anyone’s help. After all, entrepreneurs are, generally speaking, adventurous, risk-taking types. They’re self-sufficient go-getters, and most have a clear vision of what they’re aiming for.

However, even the brightest and most visionary among them won’t be able to see everything.

For example, if you have never tested a prototype and worked to develop it as a product and bring it to market, you might need some guidance about how to do that. After all, why should you waste your precious time trying to reinvent the wheel when someone else already knows the answers to your questions?

And wouldn’t you want that product you’re testing to become a success? Then set your ego aside long enough to have an in-depth conversation with someone who’s been there and done that.

RELATED ARTICLE: CAREER DEVELOPMENT: A GUIDE FOR MENTORING YOUR EMPLOYEES

How Will a Mentor Benefit Me?

One big benefit you’ll receive from working with a good mentor is that you’ll gain access to that person’s network over time. The invaluable connections you’ll make in this fashion can lead you toward success you never before dreamed possible.

Kieran Perry, an independent business advisor and sales expert, mentors business owners in the UK. He teaches clients how to increase their sales and boost their profits.

Importantly, as their mentor, he guides them toward achieving the success they themselves have envisioned for their businesses. “I help my clients to think differently, identify and tackle barriers, prioritize tasks, and focus on the right strategies,” he says.

Perry’s clients say that having him mentor them has been a game-changer for their businesses. By following his advice, they have improved their business processes. As a result, their sales have snowballed and their businesses are thriving.

What Qualities Should I Look for in a Mentor?

Once you’re convinced that you do, indeed, need a mentor, make sure you connect with someone who has a broader and wider range of experience than you have.

Using Kieran Perry as an example once more, it’s clear he has a wide breadth of sales, management, and marketing experience. What’s more, he has worked with top brands, including Waterford Crystal, Wedgewood, Lifetime Brands, Pierre Cardin, and others.

Moreover, you want a mentor who can help you to see the long game. When you’re working on your business day after day, you’re likely to get caught up in the details and fail to see the bigger picture. But a good mentor will help you to broaden your view so that you’re working on your business more often that you’re working in your business.

After all, you can hire others to help you with the everyday workings of your company. Only you can hold the perfect vision for your business as you want it to be. And a good mentor can help you to make that vision a reality.

How Can I
Find a Mentor?

Start looking for a mentor in your own professional circles. Who do you admire among your colleagues for their accomplishments in their field? Is there anyone among those people whom you aspire to be like?

If no one comes to mind, then you need to broaden your circles. For example, join a professional organization for entrepreneurs or a social club such as Rotary, the Lions Club, or Kiwanis.

There, you’re bound to meet someone you feel you can trust, someone who can help you out with wise advice from time to time when you run up against thorny problems you just can’t seem to get past on your own.

About the Author

Carrol Strain is a Top Rated copywriter on Upwork. She is also editor and on-call writer for the Business Opportunities blog.

The post Do You Really Need a Mentor? appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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In a Fast-Paced Digital World, B2B Marketers Can Benefit from Slowing Down

Why B2B Marketers Should Slow Their Marketing Roll

Why B2B Marketers Should Slow Their Marketing Roll

We are living in the age of speed: faster connections, faster answers, faster service. People expect many things to happen instantly, in real-time, and technological advancements are increasingly making it possible.

As such, it might seem counter-intuitive to suggest that we as B2B marketers are wise to slow our roll. Sometimes we tend to go through the motions too quickly, or in the wrong order, and it can hurt our results. In fact, it can prevent us from even accurately evaluating our results.

Sean Callahan recently wrote a post on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions* blog arguing that a top priority in 2020 for B2B marketers should be to slow down when measuring ROI. The case is simple and convincing: Sales cycles have grown significantly longer but analytics haven’t responded in kind. Per the post, 77% of marketers are still measuring ROI in the first month of a campaign, even though the average B2B sales cycle is now about six months long.

“The reality is,” writes Callahan, “most marketers are showing up to their book club having only read a sixth of the book.”

This got me thinking about the argument’s broader applicability in B2B marketing. There are a number of different areas where it’s becoming clear that practitioners might be moving too quickly and doing themselves a disservice. To be clear: We’re not suggesting that you delay making decisions or drastically cut down your content production; sometimes it’s as simple as stepping back and taking a beat.

Let’s talk about four opportunities that stand out: experiences, strategies, social media, and SEO.

4 Areas Where B2B Marketers Can Benefit from Pumping the Brakes

Slow Your Experience

There are plenty of metaphors I could toss out regarding the inverse relationship between speed and quality of an experience, but I’ll go with this one: Would you rather be shuffled through a fast-moving line at a fast-food joint, or carefully walked through a restaurant menu by a knowledgeable and curious server beside your table? 

Yes, customers want things quickly, but there’s a balance. It’s been nearly two decades since William McEwen made a point that remains very true today: When marketers emphasize doing things faster, they often end up doing things worse

“If the goal is to create strong bonds that ensure customer retention, companies must focus on activities that create and sustain the customer relationships, not just on those that enhance company efficiency,” McEwen wrote in his book, Married to the Brand

In his example he notes that a cold, tasteless sandwich from Arby’s isn’t going to yield a happy customer, no matter how fast it’s delivered. The same principles apply to any B2B experience — fast isn’t memorable. But when content is unusually entertaining, impactful, or tailored? That can stick in one’s brain.

More recently, Ann Handley preached this premise at Content Marketing World 2019, arguing that the most efficient is not the most effective. She recommends that marketers step back and ask themselves a few questions with regards to the customer experience they’re providing: 

  • How can I build trust and momentum for the content experience over time? And what does that look like?
  • How can I involve the audience in a meaningful way so they are invested in the outcome?
  • How can I create an experience that individuals rally around in a way that makes them more invested in the community?

[bctt tweet=”The most efficient isn’t always the most effective. Stop conflating them. @annhandley #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Slow Your Strategy    

Thinking through the questions above, and others, takes time. Rushing through our B2B marketing strategies invariably leads to overlooking key factors, while also generating undue stress for the team.

It’s a real psychological phenomenon: Slowing down helps us reconnect with the present, enrich relationships, and find more productivity.

“When you slow down, your mind can work on solutions to problems you may be experiencing, finding a better way to do something, prioritizing tasks and projects and eliminating or reducing conflict,” writes Suzanne Kane at Psych Central in the article linked above. These are the tenets of successful strategy.

The “Slow Your Strategy” directive runs the operational gamut, including pre-planning, resource allotment, promotion, and — as referenced earlier — measurement. 

When I think about pacing a business strategy, I think about the game of chess. Great players aren’t often the quickest; instead, they proceed methodically, analyzing the entire board and mentally playing out the consequences of a possible move before pushing the next piece.

Marketers should adopt the same mindset. Strategy is by definition “a careful plan or method,” and being careful means taking our time. Don’t hurry while solidifying the seven elements of your your B2B marketing strategy:

  • Goals and Objectives
  • Audience Segmentation and Characteristics
  • Brand Messaging
  • Multi-Channel Touchpoints
  • Content Types
  • Content Topics
  • Measurement

[bctt tweet=”Strategy is by definition “a careful plan or method,” and being careful means taking our time, B2B marketers. Don’t rush the strategy process. @NickNelsonMN ” username=”toprank”]

Slow Your Social

The world of social media moves so quickly, it’s easy for marketers to feel under pressure to keep up. 

“Has our latest tweet already been buried on feeds?”

“Are we seeing results yet from this LinkedIn campaign?”

“Should we be on Tik-Tok?”

???

via GIPHY

According to the latest B2B content marketing benchmarks report, social media is the most common content type used by B2B marketers, with 95% listing it. Yet in my experience, social often tends to be an autopilot function, disconnected from broader strategies. Bundles of messages are packaged up for scheduling across platforms, generic promotional links are hastily developed, and minimal effort goes into follow-up or interaction.

What’s the point?

Quality over quantity is a mantra that rings throughout the digital marketing environment today, and social media is a pertinent area in which to emphasize it. Take the time to think through the purpose of each platform, and each tweet or update. Prioritize value over volume. Keep in mind that aimlessly publishing without discretion can actually hurt your visibility on social feeds by diminishing your content’s overall engagement rates and causing people to unfollow.

Slow Your SEO

Every SEO specialist knows that influencing search rankings takes time. As algorithms increasingly shift from technical signals to user-based signals, creating quality audience geared toward a well-understood audience becomes all the more paramount.

If you’re displeased with your website’s search visibility, a good next step is running an SEO audit of existing content. “An SEO audit is a great place to start when you’re trying to understand the factors that are hindering your search visibility,” Tiffani Allen, TopRank Marketing’s Associate Director of Search and Analytics, writes. “The data you collect, once analyzed, should help you create a roadmap to improve rankings and capitalize on white space.”

And as Aja Frost, Head of Content SEO for HubSpot, offers to Search Engine Journal“I’d recommend auditing all of your content for overlapping rankings and merging, redirecting, and archiving as needed so every page ranks for a unique set of keywords,” Frost said. “If your website covers the same topics again and again, even if you’re covering these topics from different angles, your pages are going to knock each other out of the results.”

This is but a sampling of examples of where slowing down with SEO can yield major long-term benefits. Scrutinizing your topical pillars, audience assumptions, and technical health of your site are additional measures that pay off. 

Moving Forward in Slow Motion

While watching playoff football over the past few weekends, I’ve been reminded of how much speed affects our perception. You can watch a play in real-time and miss so many details that become evident in the slowed-down instantly reply. 

There’s no time clock ticking down on your B2B marketing strategy. Obviously we have deadlines and time-sensitive objectives, but in many cases we’re probably placing undue constraints on our programs that take a negative toll on results. 

We live in a fast-paced world. But slowing down our marketing efforts — from experience to strategy to social to SEO — can help brands differentiate and achieve more. 

[bctt tweet=”We live in a fast-paced world. But slowing down our marketing efforts — from experience to strategy to social to SEO — can help brands differentiate and achieve more. @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

So the next time you receive a request from a boss or client that seems to skip steps or rush through critical strategic elements, there’s only one valid response: not so fast

Take a moment to assess and validate your marketing approach for the coming year by reviewing Lee Odden’s rundown of the Top 10 B2B Digital Marketing Trends in 2020.

The post In a Fast-Paced Digital World, B2B Marketers Can Benefit from Slowing Down appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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What You Need to Know to Visit Spain as a Tourist

Featured image from Pixabay on Pexels

Every business owner needs a break from time to time. Are you thinking about some international travel for your next vacation from running your business? For instance, would you like to visit Spain? If you do, you’re going to need a visa in addition to your passport. In this article, we tell you how to obtain a visa to visit Spain.

You Must Obtain a Visa to Visit Spain

There are different types of visas, depending on how long you intend to stay in Spain and the reasons you want to visit the country.

For instance, if you want to visit Spain for a vacation, it will be best for you to obtain a Schengen visa. This type of visa will allow you stay in Spain for up to 90 days for business or tourism purposes.

In fact, with a Schengen visa, you will be able to travel freely throughout most of the countries of Europe. This is because the Schengen Area is set up to be a passport-free zone. Spain became a member of the Schengen Area in 1995 when it joined the European Union.

However, if you intend to remain in Spain as a permanent resident or to study in college, you will need a visa issued specifically by the country of Spain. You can find further information here if you intend to apply for a visa from Spain directly. You will need to do this in order to visit the country for longer than 90 days.

RELATED ARTICLE: HOW TO PLAN A THRILLING TRIP TO THAILAND WITH FRIENDS

Gather the Required Documents

Before you can apply for a tourist visa to visit Spain, you must have all the necessary documents in hand.

For example, below is a list of the documents you will need, whether you’re applying for a Schengen visa for a shorter visit or you need to apply to Spain directly for your visa for an extended stay:

Visa Application Form to Visit Spain

If you want to visit Spain, you need to complete an application form first. This form is available online, and you can access it through various travel websites in your country. Find this form or download it and fill out all the required details.

Photos

You will need two recent passport-size photos that you attach to the application form. The pictures must have a light background and capture your entire face.

Copy of Your Previous Visa If You Have One

You’ll need a copy of your previous visa, if you have one. Also, your previous visas must have been valid for at least three months after the date of your return from your previous visits to Spain.

Cover Letter Stating Why You Want to Visit Spain

Your cover letter is a document stating why you want to visit Spain. You can get some samples online to help you write a good cover letter for your visa application.

Return Ticket Reservation

To get a Spain tourist travel visa to visit Spain, you must have a copy of your return ticket reservation. However, you should not obtain any flight tickets before your visa is approved unless the authorities in your country require it.

Civil Status Approval

You must submit proof of your civil status with documents such as your birth certificate and marriage certificate.

Means of Subsistence

This is a requirement for all visa applicants who are applying directly to Spain for a visa. In short, you must show that you have the financial means to pay all your bills during the time of your extended visit to Spain.

Bank Statements for the Most Recent Six Months

If you wish to remain in Spain for longer than 90 days, your bank statements should show your financial situation and indicate your ability to pay your bills during your extended visit to the country. Additionally, they need to show all of your transactions during and before your Spain visa application.

Invitation Letter

If you are planning to visit Spain through an invitation from your family residing in the country as permanent residents, then you must ensure they send you a valid invitation letter as proof of their consent for your visit.

Copies of Your Passport

You will need to submit a copy of your passport for your visit to Spain. Additionally, it should have at least two blank pages.

Have Fun on Your Visit to Spain!

These are the essential documents everyone needs to submit before visiting Spain. So whether you are intending to obtain a visa from Spain directly so that you can enjoy an extended visit, or you’re planning to apply for a Schengen visa for a shorter stay, be sure to follow the instructions exactly.

If you need more information about obtaining a visa to visit Spain, check with the Embassy of Spain in your country. They will direct you toward the documents they will need to process your visa for visiting Spain.

Getting a Spain tourist visa can be challenging. But if you follow instructions to the letter you will soon be on your way for your visit to Spain.

The post What You Need to Know to Visit Spain as a Tourist appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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Success in Real Estate: 4 Principles to Master

Working in real estate demands a lot of time and effort, but offers substantial financial rewards for those who become successful. Managing those demands can be an agent’s biggest challenge. Success in real estate is possible with these four principles.

Feature Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery from Pexels

Real Estate Is Business

Many people picture a successful realtor as a friendly person who is pleasant to work with, knowledgeable, and almost always at ease. However, reality paints a more complicated picture. With all of the pressures to make contacts and finalize sales, the real estate business can be challenging. Always remember that as a realtor, your business is just that—a business.

Do not begin your real estate career without considering all of the normal demands of a business. Like any company, you will need to manage expenses, handle communications, and track cash flow. You will need to market your business and make informed decisions on which marketing strategies work best for your success. Moreover, this is a full-time job, and doing it well requires a full-time commitment.

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

Marketing for Real Estate Success

Success in real estate hinges on the constant creation of new contacts and relationships. Therefore, marketing yourself and your business is key to connecting with new potential clients.

Your marketing strategy will require networking and building relationships with the right people in the industry. Brokerage relies on connections, primarily with potential clients of course, but also with professional services related to the business side of real estate. As a realtor, you’ll be marketing yourself to buyers and sellers. You will also build relationships with accountants, lawyers, and investors who can help your business run smoothly. 

Marketing yourself as a real estate broker requires consistency. Target your marketing in a neighborhood with high potential for growth that appears to be overlooked or on an area poised to undergo gentrification. Keep your marketing on-point. 

Marketing expenses should be a constant item in your budget. A portion of every sale or rental should go back into your marketing budget. Don’t waste time and money by frantically trying every marketing approach you can find or dream up. Spend your money wisely with focus and intentionality. 

RELATED CONTENT: 4 HOT TIPS FOR NETWORKING IN REAL ESTATE

For example, while old-fashioned networking luncheons are still viable in today’s world, real estate agents and investors are increasingly connecting online via new tools and social networks. Jake Marmulstein, CEO at Groundbreaker, states, “While at its foundation the real estate industry doesn’t change much from year to year, new technology is beginning to disrupt certain aspects of it, like relationship management and marketing.” Success in real estate demands embracing the disruption of new marketing methods while keeping your message consistent.

Responsive Communication

As your marketing succeeds, you will see an increase in the communication you receive from potential buyers. Your number-one rule for that communication is – RESPOND! The faster the response, the better. If you can’t take the call right away, or answer the text instantly, do so at least before the day is out. Once your business grows, you may be able to hire help to handle the communication flow. 

In the meantime, it’s up to you to demonstrate to both your current and potential clients that you are available and ready to help them. As with most businesses, clients are drawn to businesses that respond to their needs. Responsiveness and great communication skills show competency and reliability, providing further comfort to your clients and strengthening your relationship with them.

A note about social media communications. Social media can generate a steady stream of feedback from your posts and advertising. Use tools such as immediate responses to ensure that every connection receives an acknowledgment. It is easy to lose track of everything in the shuffle, which could cost you a potential client. Stagger your promotions so you’re not dealing with a potential mass of responses all at once.

Budgeting for Success in Real Estate

The core of any budget is the desire to properly manage income and expenses. Ultimately, the budget keeps expenses lower and income higher, ultimately growing the bottom line. A business budget is as crucial as a personal one, perhaps even more so. Real estate brokerage may not always maintain a steady level of profit even when everything is going well. Be sure to prepare for the slow times, especially when business is going well, by implementing a strict budget. 

When the sales are coming in, the contracts are closing, and cash flow is high, it can be easy to think the good times will last forever. That may not always be the case. Properly allocating your funds in the good months will allow you to reduce the stress that comes with the slower months. This will also ensure that you have the money to market and grow your business throughout the year. The key to any good budget is to remember to set money aside when you can. Always take a portion of each sale and assign it to cover costs down the road.

Real estate brokers and agents face all the challenges of running a business. Developing contacts and good relationships with clients will be much easier when you manage the business side efficiently. These tips will help you keep both sides of your business balanced as you pursue your career.

The post Success in Real Estate: 4 Principles to Master appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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Ecommerce Security: 10 Tips for Your Online Store

Featured image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay 

Ecommerce has changed the way consumers shop. No longer does the traditional brick-and-mortar store reign supreme. Instead, online stores, by offering shopping convenience all day and all night every single day of the year, lure customers to their sites from all over the world. And as ecommerce sales continue to swell, the necessity of better ecommerce security grows more urgent.

There Is a Growing Demand for Ecommerce

According to reports from Statista, ecommerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021. Moreover, retail commerce sales across the Asia-Pacific region are set to be greater than those in the rest of the world by 2023.

There are many reasons why this is so. For example, with an ecommerce store you can reach a global audience, even if your marketing budget is limited. Additionally, ecommerce stores don’t have the overhead expenses their brick-and-mortar counterparts have. Therefore, an entrepreneur can start an ecommerce business with only a small investment.

As a result, buyers can enjoy easily exploring millions of products on their phones and other devices.

Let’s not forget that ecommerce provides plenty of opportunities for landbased businesses as well, however. Both small and midsize businesses can boost their sales prospects by adding an ecommerce aspect to their portfolios.

However, every ecommerce site is vulnerable to security breaches and cyberattacks. Hackers lie in wait, eager to steal sensitive information. Therefore, while store design, functionality, and shopping convenience are important, online stores of all stripes need to prioritize ecommerce security features.

RELATED ARTICLE: WHICH CYBER SECURITY PROCESS IS RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

Below are some important security tips for your ecommerce site:

1. Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform

Many ecommerce store owners establish their stores on platforms such as Magento and Shopify. This is not surprising, since these platforms offer excellent ecommerce security features.

Among your top considerations while selecting an ecommerce platform must be robust functionality, convenience, and security. Once these aspects are handled, you will be able to focus on your core business.

Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify may have the best ecommerce security features. However, even if you choose this platform for your site, you will still need to remain aware of other security measures and take action as necessary.

Rest assured, however, that most ecommerce platforms have secure payment gateways and convenient shipping methods, as well as high-level security features such as automatic security updates.

2. Switch to HTTPS for Better Ecommerce Security

Your ecommerce site must have an SSL certificate. When you do, your site’s URL will begin with HTTPS instead of HTTP. An SSL certificate provides protocols that encrypt sensitive information such as customers’ credit card information, user names, and passwords.

HTTPS represents the standard for ensuring security of ecommerce websites and other sites that deal with sensitive information. In fact, Google ranks sites with the HTTPS designation higher than web pages that lack it.

For example, SSL certificates such as Comodo PositiveSSL Wildcard enable you to secure multiple sub domains at affordable prices and easy installation. Moreover, enrollment provides a 256-bit SSL encryption.

3. Set up Strong Password Rules

In order to safeguard your website’s security and ensure customer information is safe from intruders, set up rules for strong customer passwords. For example, require the use of mixed cases, numbers, and special characters.

You might even want to offer your customers a two-factor authentication system to ensure greater ecommerce security.

4. Have a Data Backup Plan

Every ecommerce website must have a robust data recovery plan. Such a plan will necessarily include regular data backups. An effective plan can help to prevent the loss of vital data related to your business and your customers.

Therefore, be sure to discuss data recovery plans with your host provider. In this way, you will know what you need to do whenever you have a server failure. This is essential for maintaining security for your ecommerce site

5. Use Security Plug-ins for Better Ecommerce Security

It may be helpful to use plugins to add additional layers of security to your ecommerce site.

For example, Wordfence Security is a plugin that integrates a solid security system in your ecommerce store by way of a web application firewall. It offers real-time insights on traffic and prevents potential hacking attempts.

6. Don’t Store Credit Card Numbers

Some ecommerce platforms provide negligent security. For example, some offer offline credit card processing as a standard option for their customers’ payments.

This option stores customers’ credit card details without encryption. This allows the card to be processed manually, which means this mechanism is not safe. If this is what you’re offering your customers, you are putting your customers’ personal information at risk.

Instead, use a payment gateway provider to keep payments safe. Above all, do not store credit card numbers at all. Also, use PCI DSS accreditation to reduce credit card payment fraud and lead to better security on your ecommerce site.

7. Monitor Your Site Effectively

Of course, you have automatic backups and firewalls to ensure security of your ecommerce website. But it’s even more important to check your website code regularly for security issues. So scan all of your site’s code regularly to detect malware.

Keep in mind, too, that content delivery networks (CDN’s) have sets of servers that store copies of website pages. They can help to prevent DDOS attacks, which can significantly interfere with your business and harm your store.

8. Install a Bot Detection Mechanism

More than half of the traffic that comes to your ecommerce website is not genuine. In fact, much of it poses a security threat.

Sometimes bot traffic may be used by competitors to gain an edge over your business. But it’s safe to assume that most bot traffic is directed with malicious intent.

Therefore, you need to have a bot detection system in place. Such a system will have analytics tools for monitoring the source of traffic to and from your site.

9. Conduct Vulnerability Tests on Your Website

It’s a good idea to conduct regular vulnerability scans on your ecommerce website to detect security risks. There are various tools available that will allow you to do this.

Choose a program that will scan both your website and the network so you can understand the associated risks and issues.

10. Schedule Automatic Backups for Better Ecommerce Security

No matter which content management system (CMS) you are using for your ecommerce website, it’s necessary to keep it updated for better security. This will help to resolve issues, fix flaws, and prevent hacking.

Make Ecommerce Security a Priority

It is important to keep your ecommerce website secure and safe by using the best possible security measures. So stay up-to-date with the latest cyber security practices. Also, ensure your site is always backed up, and use effective encryption techniques. These measures will help to keep your ecommerce website secure.

The post Ecommerce Security: 10 Tips for Your Online Store appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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