Featured

How to Boost Creativity in the Workplace

We are all aware that creativity is something that needs nurturing and certain conditions to develop. Many companies have recognized it as a form of the idea development process which is more abstract than tangible. This means that certain conditions need to be met so employees can work in an environment which will accommodate all the necessary means for their unobstructed creative effort.

The best known example is Google, with its modern and supportive approach to the creative process of its employees. But nowadays, more and more businesses adopt these principles. Encouraging creativity is actually easier than you may believe, although it does take some effort. To help, we’ve gathered some of the important aspects you can adopt in your workplace and boost the creativity of employees.  

Brainstorming

One of the most important aspects of creativity is brainstorming. In order to help your employees with this, organize regular meetings and talk about ideas. Also, encourage the team leaders to have brainstorming meetings and to help the employees develop their ideas into valuable solutions and projects. This way you will encourage people to think more out of the box and freely voice their creativity.

Bear in mind that some employees may have a problem with expressing themselves publicly. So placing a suggestion box and having open doors for one-on-one brainstorming meetings is a nice way to help those shy individuals express themselves.

Team building

Team building has become a completely normal thing in companies. Besides being a great way to create a more friendly atmosphere and better relations between the employees, it’s also a great way to facilitate the idea making process. If people are working in a familiar environment, they will most likely be more creative and stand up for the company’s ideals.

You don’t have to take your employees on extravagant business trips. Friday night karaoke or other forms of joint fun can be more appropriate for people to get to know each other and exchange ideas. You can even organize for teams to go away to a retreat or some secluded place to brainstorm and work on ideas.

Reward new ideas

It may be a little bit old-school, but rewarding your employees for a job well done is still effective. Being creative in the workplace is risky and, unfortunately, the downside of it is failure. That shouldn’t be something discouraging for your employees. It is normal for new and innovative things to fail in the beginning, but that is only a part of the learning process and adapting changes to make it work.

As a company you should prepare for possible failures and make sure that your employees understand that not all ideas will be a success. This will eliminate fear for your employees to be forward and motivated to think freely about new solutions and directions. Every instance of successful creativity should be rewarded with a bonus, promotion or some other form which will serve as an encouraging method for others to think creatively.   

Organize the workplace

Companies pay a lot of attention to design and décor these days, thus recognising the importance of visual surroundings to their employees. Colors can have a huge impact on one’s mind, as many studies have shown. Light blue will support creative thinking, while red creates anxiety and negativity. Placing images which limit the thinking process like statistics and charts can lead to a closed up creative environment.

On the other hand, using some inspiring pictures like nature and animals can promote a more positive atmosphere and release the pressure of the thought process. Instead of keeping unnecessary things like folder cabinets and pieces of furniture, you can place them in an affordable storage or somewhere else where they won’t clutter the workplace. More open office space where employees can interact will create a friendly atmosphere and a more relaxed setting.

Create a break room

Creativity is a process of thinking and as such it requires special conditions. Some people need peace and quiet, while others like to do something completely different in order to organize their thoughts. Today, practically all the companies which work on idea development have some sort of the break room so their employees can relax and take the stress off their shoulders. Usually, these break rooms have video games and table football, but some even go as far as to create a real playland in their buildings.

Board games, chess, twister, bowling alleys, and even courts for indoor volleyball, tennis or squash are used as forms of relaxation and creativity boosters. But even the smallest things like puzzle can be helpful to the creative process just as much as basketball court would be. Your employees need to clear their heads and have a break so they can eliminate the tension and refresh their minds.

Finally

The company is as good as its employees. Today, the market promotes new ideas and creativity is the main resource to be on top of the competition. So don’t spare any means to help your employees be creative and freely suggest their ideas. Maybe there is a new Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk among them who will help you change the world and launch your company with their creativity to new heights.    

 

Written by Helen Bradford

How to Use Email Marketing to Encourage Word-of-Mouth Referrals

For centuries, businesses have depended on word-of-mouth marketing to attract new customers. With the advent of digital channels such as social networks, not much has changed.

Conventional marketing methods such as print and broadcast advertising, together with pay-per-click advertising can spread awareness of your brand. Still, regardless of how well you pitch your products and services, traditional advertising often fails to build trust.

For the most part, trust comes with experience. For this reason, shoppers have an intense interest in the experiences that other people have had with your brand. Even when a testimonial or product review comes from a complete stranger, it can have more influence than any branded messaging.

So, if you want people to believe that your brand is fantastic, you need to let other people tell that story. To make this happen, consider using email. The following tips will help you effectively use email to build word-of-mouth marketing campaigns.



IT ALMOST NEVER HURTS TO INCLUDE A HASHTAG

Adding a hashtag to your email messages is a subtle way to spark conversations. As a matter of fact, by clicking the hashtag, recipients can instantly transition from email to social media. Also, by connecting with a hashtag, you will have a chance to monitor what people are saying about your message and brand.

Make sure that you choose a hashtag that accurately reflects your brand, so it makes sense to your users. Meanwhile, you want to control your hashtag while also making it easy for users to remember and use.

Hashtags also give you a good way to encourage people to share photos of your products in use. Regardless of where you post these images, your hashtag can tie them all together. Moreover, you can organize contests and other incentives to encourage people to share their experiences.



OFFER EXCLUSIVE DEALS

Include special offers in every marketing email that you send. When you do, you encourage them to share the opportunities and thereby promote your brand. Such referrals can result in a surge of short-term sales and build long-term goodwill for your business.

To accelerate your word-of-mouth results, provide special referral incentives that specifically ask your recipients to act. You may even limit such an effort to your best customers to reward them for their loyalty.

When you ask people to refer customers, treat them courteously and make the process as effortless as possible. In other words, give people the VIP treatment. This includes rewarding referees with discounts and freebies.

influencer.jpeg



REACH OUT TO INFLUENCERS

Connect with influential people in your industry to expand your audience and build the authority of your brand. You can get started by sending emails to prominent bloggers who might give your brand a mention or recommendation.

Essentially, you want to build an entire network of influencers whose opinions rank almost as highly as those of a friend. To find people who can promote your brand, search pertinent hashtags on sites such as Twitter. You can also find influencers in private Facebook groups.

Sometimes incentives can boost the responsiveness of influencers. So, consider offering them free products or special deals that will help them justify spending time and effort on your brand.



HOW TO GET THE BEST RESULTS?

Getting messages opened and read presents a major challenge for many email marketers. Some simple practices can improve the performance of your email campaigns:

  • Wisely choose your email platform and a professional email address. Different providers may have different advantages. For example, Gmail offers high security while Outlook lets you recall messages.

  • Create short, personalized subject lines that both have pizazz and avoid spammy words such as “buy”, “discount” and “order.”

  • Carefully craft your content. Keep it focused on your message and avoid wordiness.

  • At the end, make sure you include a clear call-to-action and a button or link that is easily seen and clicked.

In summary, you can harness the power of email as part of an effective word-of-mouth campaign. By including hashtags and inspiring people to share, you can dramatically increase the number of referrals that you get. In the end, your efforts to include influencers and solid email practices will pay off in the form of steady sales growth.

 

Author bio: Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. Connect with Ashley via Twitter.

 

Big data and business growth: 7 best-kept secrets

Just a few years ago, most organizations were unsure about how to implement big data analytics into their business models. This is because the cost of analysis was huge and it was a lengthy process. But today, everything has become digitized and data is flooding in from every possible direction.  

Organizations can obtain terabytes and petabytes of data from various sources, like their operations and transactional systems, customer service points, landing pages, mobile and web media platforms etc.

But instead of using all this data to their advantage, companies are overwhelmed by the concept of big data. According to a survey held by big data solutions provider, Talend, only 10% of the respondents implemented big data analysis on a large scale, despite seeing nearly 40% growth in interest in big data within their organization.

frustration.jpeg

 

But, if you want your business to survive in today's fast-paced technological environment, you need to stay on top of the game. Big data is the key to get valuable insights from customer behavior patterns that will enable you to make timely decisions and help your business grow.

You cannot expect your brand to develop further without knowing customer demands and market trends. This is when big data tools come to your rescue.

Big data analytics can help you examine gigantic amounts of data and uncover the important aspects that will help your business step forward in the right direction. In fact, it is an indispensable source that will help to design new products or services according to the needs of your clientele.

Here are 7 of our best-kept secrets that can improve sales, increase profits and guarantee customer satisfaction in your business. Just base your business model on the following words of Edward Demming, and watch the magic unfold- "In God we trust, everyone else bring data".

data.jpeg

 

1. Increased efficiency

In the last few years, especially after the arrival of the internet, enhanced connectivity has connected almost every individual to a social media platform. The footprint of e-commerce organizations has grown tremendously and now successful companies are using data analysis tools and data management systems to plan their next marketing initiative.

Big data analytics provide you an instant update on how well your organization is performing. Valuable customer insights help you point the strengths and weaknesses of your product and workforce. By implementing this analysis, you can increase your efficiency immediately and motivate your team to perform even better than before.

2- Improved pricing techniques

Pricing your products can be tricky. Price them too low and you will be facing a loss. Price them higher than average, and you will be pushing your customer away. This is why, you should be aware of the ongoing pricing trends in the market.

By using effective D3 data visualization in data analysis tools, you can check out the competitors' prices and also set your minimum. Big data makes it easy for you to understand market sentiments related to your brand as well as other competing brands in your area.

3- Minimize the risk factor

Entrepreneurs are scared of a loss, while planning to expand their business. One wrong decision can make an undesirable impact on the whole company. Big data can help mitigate the risk involved in expanding. With the reliable prediction tools big data has to offer, CFOs and auditors can monitor risk in advance and stay away from common project failure points.

4- Innovative approach

Big data analysis helps organizations identify the needs of their customers and understanding them in a much better way. Equipped with valuable customer insight, you can design a product or a service that is much more efficient and up to the mark.

You can choose to be as innovative as you want and pertain to the customer's point of view while brainstorming. This will help you to grow in the right direction.

5- Satisfied customers

Everyone knows that nothing can help a business grow more than its loyal customer following can. With the help of big data pattern analysis and opportunities, you can make sure that none of your customers return unsatisfied. Identify brand improvement opportunities through customer reviews, discover the pain points within your product, offer personalized shopping - the possibilities for improving customer service through big data analytics are endless.

6- Monitor your brand's reputation

Before planning to grow, it is essential to understand your organization's current standing. Big data analysis can help you by actively monitoring your social media presence. Big data has created a social scale and your company will be scored on excellent customer service, online reputation, corporate social responsibility etc. All these factors help in building a positive online reputation which is extremely important if you plan to expand within the next few years.

7- Effective advertising

Through big data analytics, you can test all your advertising materials for their effectiveness. All landing pages, pop-ups and images should be assessed and tweaked regularly to see if they are making the desired impact on your customers. This approach helps you identify the best sources of advertisement so that you can drive maximum engagement and sales towards your website.

Advertising is expensive and by using big data analysis, you can know which advertising technique resonates best with your customers and get immediate return on your investment.

advert.jpg

Conclusion

Without any doubt, the future of business growth depends on how intelligently you are applying the business analysis potential offered by big data. If you provide your enterprise with the understanding, techniques and tools to leverage big data insights effectively then nothing can stop you from succeeding.

So, take out the time to get into the nitty gritty of big data and apply it to all areas of your business operations. You will be surprised to see the instant improvements after using a good data analytic tool.

Which areas of your business are you analyzing through big data? Share your best-kept secrets related to big data analytics that can help other entrepreneurs grow their business.

 

ABOUT Alycia Gordan

Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia

 

 

How to Broaden Your Audience

No business can hope to succeed without customers. Sure, you might think that the only thing you need to do is open up shop and wait for customers. Truthfully, it's much more complicated than that. Today's market is saturated with various businesses and they all struggle to attract the right customers. Also, you can't just start promoting your business to random people either, because it would only be a waste of time and resources.

If you want to reach success, you need to identify your target audience. Your target audience is essential for your business because they are the consumers that will show interest in your products or services. Moreover, they are the people you'll most likely convert into customers, and use relationships you've built with them to expand your reach and grow your business. Here are a few ways to broaden your audience.

 

Identify your audience

When your business is fresh on the market, its influence isn't developed enough to effectively reach everyone. More importantly, no one has the funds to appeal to everyone. It's better to identify a specific niche and focus your efforts there. For instance, you may target consumers that fit the criteria of "everyone who's interested in buying my products or services", but that is a bit too general. Instead, define the market further to identify consumers who are most likely to buy from you.

However, that doesn't mean you're excluding everyone that fits the previous criteria; instead, you're currently focusing your investment where it will generate the biggest ROI. Don't worry, as your ability to generate more income improves, so will your ability to reach a broader audience. Still, you'll need to conduct thorough market research in order to you identify your target audience first and make sure your efforts aren't in vain.

 

Determine who isn't a part of your audience

In order to identify who isn’t a part of your audience, you must take a closer look at your existing audience. For example, who are your current customers and why did they decide to buy from you? What characteristics and interests do these consumers have in common? That will help you identify people who could also benefit from your products or services but are not a part of your audience for some reason.

group-2212760_640.jpg

 

Then it's up to you to identify the problem - what is it that drives them away, and what can you do to mend the situation? Here's a good example, Universum, a Stockholm-based company, had difficulties reaching out and engaging with their non-academic audience. With the use of the right social media analytics, the company has managed to identify a problem and adapt their content to pique the audience's interest. Therefore, the problem could simply be in your approach.

 

Market to audiences, not people

Personalization allows you to target specific individuals with customized offers and lead them to make a purchasing decision. However, too much personalization can show consumers that you've gathered a bit too much information on them. Also, too little personalization, and your offer will feel the same as any other. But in truth, individual personalization isn't always as effective as entrepreneurs tend to believe.

First of all, it would cost too much to tailor personalized messages to each individual customer in your audience. Second, you need too much data and time to identify each individual's preferences and dislikes. That's why marketing to audiences is much more effective. The main reason is that once you identify common interests and preferences in your audience, you can leverage that to tailor messages and promotions to everyone in your focus group.

 

Collaborate

 

Broadening your audience doesn't mean you have to do it alone, especially if you don't have the right idea or you lack the funds to properly implement one. A good way to extend your reach would be to establish a partnership or simply team up with someone from similar niches and leverage each other's audiences to expand both of them. For instance, let's say you're in the business of selling nail polish, while your partner from a similar niche sells makeup. Both niches have women as their target audience in general, but aren't competitors in any way.

You can collaborate and organize a beauty event which would bring both audiences into a shared event space. That way, you'll be helping each other out by recommending a similar business to your audiences, who share the common interest in beauty products. If you recommend to customers that like your nail polish a business that sells makeup, and vice versa, you're basically expanding each other's consumer base.

 

Content, content, content

Content is king in the marketing world because it offers something of value to the customers, such as education, entertainment or simply information. A familiar cliché when establishing relationships with customers is:  "You get what you give". Simply put, you must provide value to customers to get engagement and loyalty in return, and content is the best way to achieve that. However, the content you provide must be relevant to your audience to produce the best results.

Let's go back to the Universum example. In order to reach their non-academic audience, the company launched a "Millennial project" that consisted of six-part eBook series accompanied by other content. The research addressed the issue of millennial concerns about career, retirement, work-life balance and so on. By addressing an important issue, Universum managed to get the uncooperative part of their audience aboard. The point being that, by adapting your content to different needs, you’ll be able to reach a broader audience and expand your consumer base.

content-is-king-1132259_640.jpg

Broadening your audience doesn’t happen overnight. However, if you nurture and cherish your relationship with your customers, both your business and your audience will grow over time.

 

 

 

About Jolene Rutherford

Jolene Rutheford is a marketing specialist-turned blogger. Interested in media and social media, digital marketing, and psychology. Loves coffee, jazz, dystopian and fantasy movies.
 

4 Reasons To Use Instagram To Market Your Business

Have you been looking for a fun way to market your business? If you haven’t considered Instagram, then it’s time you did. With half a billion users, 300 million of whom are active every month, the potential locked up in that social media platform is enormous. So why should you use Instagram to create brand awareness and drive traffic to your site? Here are a few reasons!

Stay at the forefront of your audience’s mind – Even though you want to make sure that you offer fascinating and even mind-blowing content, you will be surprised to know that if you publish average content consistently, you will be able to engage your clients and gain followers with ease.  By creating your Instagram business profile and sharing useful information, fun facts and more, you will engage the audience and appear at the top of their news feed.  

  1. Marketing strategy – Before you dive right in, you need to create a content strategy that targets your potential clientele. You want something that will grab their attention and also cater to the various preferences represented by your audience. Not only should you post great pictures, you also need to make sure that you use the right filters to show off your pictures to their best advantage. In addition, make use of the Instagram stories feature that allows you to showcase live videos for twenty-four hours. Be sure to diversify the content as well so that people expect more than the same old stuff day in day out.

  2. Market real-time – Today people are going live on social media all the time and Instagram is not being left behind. You can do some real-time marketing that allows you to reach the audience you are targeting right in the nick of time. You can use a company like Gramista to help you come up with your Instagram marketing plan and action it so that you keep up with all the changes that happen. If you are having a sale, a promotion or some other event, you can post live and encourage your audience to come by. This makes people feel connected to what you are doing and gives it a personal touch.

  3. Have a great time with marketing – Even though marketing your products and services is serious business, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have fun with it!  Instagram makes it easy to post your photos and go live, which will save you lots of time. You don’t have to worry about having perfect pictures, or content that is extraordinary; you just need to make sure that you showcase your pictures to their best advantage and post regularly too. With the videos, you can let loose and have a little more fun as you show your audience what happens behind the scenes as well.  Make marketing fun and you will make more sales.

Make sure that your business profile is high-quality, stay visible, direct traffic to your website and create an unforgettable brand. Be sure to engage your target audience and by so doing, leverage their networks as well.  

Bio: Harris is a leading blog writer and content marketing professional with thousands of real Instagram followers for his postings.

Essential Tips For Starting And Growing An Online Business

Starting out a business is no laughing matter and setting up a palpable online presence is nigh-impossible when faced with the obstacles that come with the turf. Although seemingly-insurmountable, most of these hurdles can be overcome with just a bit of forward thinking and preparation. The truth of the matter is that there is a tried and tested formula that is guaranteed to give a business the right footing to venture out into larger circles and try its luck. Think of it as a trial by fire, pushing fledgling companies into the thick of it to see whether they have what it takes to survive in the harsh world of online marketing.

Lock onto your target

First and foremost, take special care to figure out who your product is for and what your best method of attack is. Many new companies mistakenly believe that broader strokes help rack in more people, but actually cause more harm than good. Without an established brand and presence, the only way to get noticed is to cater to a specific group by offering it something they do not have. When a focus group has been established, the majority of the company’s focus should be on the perfected delivery of said product/service. This will both establish your brand, strengthen your position in the area of your choosing and build an online following.

product.jpeg

Dish out quality content regularly

When talking about quality content, the point is not to spam our site with throwaway content that is neither informative nor entertaining to the average reader. Dishing out content needs to be regular, but not at the cost of quality. Anything posted should incentivize users to come back for more, whether it be advice articles or cooking recipes. It doesn’t really matter what is getting posted as long as it is achieving the desired effect, a blog is a perfect hub for various writers to put in their two cents and answer any possible questions or concerns in regards to our site, service or anything in-between.

Apart from users, the content should also cater to our autonomous overlord over at Google’s HQ. However much visibility we might muster up will be for naught if Google’s very own Hummingbird decides that our site isn’t compliant with its search parameters. This is why any site management should be done with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind. This will guarantee that that content provided suits everyone visiting the site, human or artificial. Keep the site fast, neatly organized and you’re sure to see results from our real life Skynet in no time.

Make it personal

As the focus group starts forming and you start to build a steady readership coming back for your offers, articles and so on, it’s time to hit it home. Unique online experiences are far from unreachable and most people have come to expect it. This can easily be achieved by monitoring where certain users end up when on the site, what their interests were and what they previously decided to purchase. This will help your underlying system pitch offers and other options closely relevant to their search patterns, making them feel special while also boosting the odds of making another sale.

Keep mobile in mind

Mobile .jpeg

Although this doesn’t necessarily make every company’s priority list, it still is a very important factor for both SEO and real users alike. AMP capabilities aside, doing our best to optimize site load times for various Android and iOS devices will show a great increase in traffic both from Google’s organic funnel and people staying for the quick load times. Nowadays, everyone expects a site to load in a second or two, anything longer and they start to lose interest and more than often just back out. With so many people in a rush and the market itself shifting towards mobile, investing might not be such a bad idea after all.

Keep it sleek and simple

There’s no easy way around it, you are going to need good web design. The majority of the reasons listed above pretty much spell it out for us and there is a reason why. Simply put, anything that looks “stock” is considered a huge turnoff for a great many people as they do not wish to spend money on a site that looks like it came out of a box. Thankfully, premium web design is more than affordable and helps small businesses get exactly what they need without having to blow the entirety of their budget.

Subs are worth looking into

Among several payment methods, a newer one that has been gathering steam has been the subscription business model. Although it has been present for decades, its resurgence came with the rise of gaming culture around the world. As the marketplace migrated more and more into the digital landscape, people started getting used to the notion of certain services being automated. A good example of a subscription model doing it right is Loot Crate, their business model is completely based on monthly subscriptions and is mutually beneficial for both parties involved.

simple.jpeg

Feel around

Despite covering all of the bases mentioned above, the online world is sure to throw a curveball or two our way during our first few runs – stay vigilant. There is no telling what obstacles we’re bound to find on our way to the top, but we can certainly make the most of what we have and do our homework. As the customers start to rack up and business starts to flourish, we will be faced with a new set of challenges and it is imperative that we face them with the same calm approach we tackled anything that came before – turning obstacles into nothing more than stepping stones.

Author: 

Helen Bradford

5 Tips on making sure you and your guests have the best experience at your cooking class

1. Be prepared

Prepare all required ingredients and have everything in its place before your guests arrive. This is so that you can greet guests as they come in, with a warm smile.  Other nice touches that help guests feel taken care of is giving each guest an apron to use during the class, as well as a possible snack and water. You can also let them know where the restroom is, and provide a place to put their bags. Make them feel welcome as if they are a special guest in your home.

mira-bozhko-237954.jpg

Also, if you have all ingredients prepared, you will not have to scramble to get what is needed during class, when all eyes are on you. For example, if I am teaching a class, like the mochi class, that involves 4 different dishes, I put all the ingredients for each dish on 4 separate baking sheets. This way I can grab each baking sheet as I teach each dish, and I don’t have to run around the kitchen getting each component I need to teach the next recipe.

 

2. Be an expert

 

Guests want to feel that they are getting the most value for their money during their cooking experience. Be prepared not only with expert advice on the specific cooking techniques you will be teaching, but also study up on the origin and background of the foods you are creating. Find unique bits of information about the dish you are teaching about and share it with your guests; they will appreciate the extra information and will feel that they are learning intellectually as well as through hands-on experience.

bank-phrom-349420.jpg

They will be more well-versed and knowledgeable about the food they are making, and this provides added value to your cooking class. For example, for my homemade Pho class, I give guests background information on the origin of pho, the regional varieties, and the recommended way of eating pho. I have noticed guests love to know about the information surrounding the dish, in addition to learning how to cook it.

 

3. Create the atmosphere

Create an atmosphere that is relaxed and fun. It’s completely normal to feel a little nervous before every class, or excited. Maybe you feel a little underprepared, and that’s ok too. The important thing is to take a deep breath and to have a fun time teaching your class.  Remain calm and speak at a good pace; if you are calm, then guests will also feel calm. Speak slowly and not too fast; guests will have a hard time understanding you if you talk too fast.

To break the ice, I like to have students, in a circle, introduce themselves and why they chose to come to the class. This usually generates some laughter, especially if someone was dragged to the class by their partner. A lot of times guests may not know each other, so breaking the ice helps them to relax, loosen up, and enjoy the process of cooking together.

 

4. Focus 100% on the experience, and not on what you will get in return

It’s easy to start fixating on how guests are doing, or to read too much into their expressions. It’s easy to start worrying about if guests are enjoying your cooking class or not, or if they will leave you a positive review. Instead of focusing on what you can’t control, focus on what you can. During a cooking class you can control the quality of ingredients, the amount of ingredients, the venue, how prepared your ingredients and the venue are, and how prepared you are, both physically and mentally. All you can give is your best. So, give in-depth explanations of the dishes, be accommodating, warm, welcoming, and maybe a bit light-hearted or humorous.

annie-spratt-102806.jpg

Being present allows your guests to be present and open so that they have a fun time while they cook and enjoy their food. This was a learning process for me, but I realized (through both being a high school teacher and a culinary teacher) that people’s expressions don’t necessarily translate to what they are feeling, and that I can sometimes impose my own worries onto people’s expressions. A lot of times they are just enjoying your experience and the process of cooking. Some people are loud and engaging, some are quiet and observant. It doesn’t mean that you are doing a good or bad job depending on their personality, or how they react during class. Over time I learned to just enjoy the time I have with guests as I teach and to just be myself. Your guests want your true unique self and not some expectation of what you think you should be.

 

5. Most importantly, have fun!

crew-89808.jpg

Most of the hard work of teaching cooking classes goes into the preparation for the class, and the clean up afterwards. As long as you prepare well for the class, you shouldn’t have any problems. While you’re teaching a cooking class, it’s important that you are having fun, and you are excited about teaching people what you are passionate about. Express your innate excitement and appreciation of the dishes you are cooking, and your guests will start to feel excited too. Ultimately, your guests will have a good time if you are also having a good time!

 

Host Article: Chef Kaori

Host_spotlight_Main_Landnig_Page.png

Originally from the Bay Area, Kaori Becker is a cooking instructor and owner of Kaori's Kitchen cooking school and catering. Drawing from her Japanese roots, Kaori has taught culinary classes and demonstrations in Columbus, Ohio at the Franklin Park Conservatory and The Seasoned Farmhouse, as well as Kitchen on Fire in Berkeley, Draeger's School in San Francisco, and at other Oakland locations.

How to Streamline Organic Search Through SEO

For small businesses and freelancers just starting out, SEO is the scariest set of three letters that ever graced the Earth (well, maybe the second scariest after VAT). SEO, what it is, how to do it, what is it supposed to do for you: these are all questions that everyone thinking about e-commerce nowadays has asked themselves. And the answers are often confusing. The only thing everyone seems to agree is that SEO is very important.

edho-pratama-152392.jpg

It hasn’t always been like this. During the Internet’s salad days SEO used to be a quite straightforward. People soon figured what were the main factors to get to the top of Google organic results: keywords and links. And so, people used and abused the system, using it to get their sites to the top regardless of content and quality. Google soon got fed up and said, “no more.” Enter Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird, the updates to Google’s sorting algorithm that to this day haunt SEO experts all around the world. These updates started punishing those that abused the system buying links from other sites and abusing keywords, pushing their sites to the bottom of their search results.

Google algorithm has gotten so complicated, and sometimes so punishing, many are timid to use traditional SEO techniques at all. There’s a fair amount of guesswork and even superstition. Self-proclaimed SEO gurus sell themselves as modern day alchemists. They’d have you believe SEO is magic.

However, at its heart, there’s nothing arcane or obscure about SEO. It’s not high tech. It’s not witchcraft. The core foundation of how to get good Google organic results is today the same it has always been:

Content. That’s the secret.

It’s simple, and yet it’s still the most effective way to get to the top. Relevant, quality content. Providing value to the customer. Old-fashioned tenets, yes, but they’re guaranteed to shoot you up Google’s PageRank.

rosalind-chang-122724.jpg

Good content, however, is not easy to come by. Luckily, there are plenty of tools online devoted to make it easier for small companies. Sites like Market Domination Media help you craft relevant, SEO friendly content, design an adequate website and prepare a sound marketing strategy.

It’s also very important to publish new content regularly. Google loves fresh content. Make sure to keep your website or blog up to date, making regular publications with information of interest to your target clientage. A quick and easy hack in this regard is to freshen up old content. Change the date of publishing of your copy to a more recent date and Google will already look kindly on your website.

markus-spiske-207946.jpg

You should also make sure your customers have no problem navigating your website. Keep in mind that most people nowadays prefer to use their phones to check Internet sites than a computer. Google’s sorting algorithm is known to rank mobile-friendly websites higher than the rest.  Make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices. Small details like these are crucial for your success in the organic search result page.

It’s also vital to be mindful of social media. Have a profile on all the main platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn and especially Google+. On this topic, one of the most frequent SEO mistakes to avoid is having inconsistent info on your different profile. Make sure to keep updated every change in phone number, address, company name, etc. Consistency is key to get recognized by search engines as a single entity.

glenn-carstens-peters-203007.jpg

That said, don’t forget the old-fashioned essentials of SEO: keywords and links. Yes, lately has become quite punishing lately, but only to those who cheat. High-quality links still play an important role in SEO. The key is not going for the spammy strategies so popular just a few years ago. Instead, go for quality over quantity: shoot for links on respected websites. Guest blogging is a very popular way to build links these days, as is infographic distribution.

The same principle of quality over quantity applies to keywords. The days of stuffing your content with non-relevant, overly general keywords that send useless traffic to your website are over. To avoid getting punished by Google’s algorithms, make sure you use targeted keywords that are relevant to your business. Be as specific as you can. If, for example, you own a home improvement company in Dallas, don’t use the general keyword “home improvement.” Instead, you want something more precise, like “Dallas home improvement.” This will send you the kind of traffic that is specifically looking for you, therefore raising your overall SEO performance.

carlos-muza-84523.jpg

You might think that even having this in mind, you still don’t know how to craft good content. However, there’s no excuse in the Internet age: there are plenty of tools and sites, like Five Technology, that can help you optimize your content and bring the tech-savviness your business needs.

These are the basics of modern SEO practice. OF course, there’s much more to it, but following these guidelines you’re guaranteed to get a competent organic search position for your website.


Author Bio:

Rachel Summers has been a social media manager for seven years, working for a variety of companies, both big and small, including Top Canadian Writers, a leading custom writing service. In her free time, Rachel also helps and advices a variety of small and start-up businesses on their social media strategies.

Six eCommerce Hacks for Small Business Owners

With the world getting more and more technologically advanced, traditional means of commerce have upgraded and have evolved far beyond from where it was a decade ago. Now, buying and selling are done at the tips of the fingers. Everything is just found online, even items that you never have thought to exist, like bacon toothpaste (weird, right?). If you are a business owner, and you would like to do business the easy way, there are plenty of growth hacks for your business. And unlike the more sinister “hacking” that we commonly know, e-commerce hacks are actually good. These are innovative and unique marketing strategies that causes fast profit for your business. Now this is the kind of hacks that we all want to learn!

Data analytics

Today’s digital marketing is much better than traditional marketing methods. Now, it is already possible to analyse data from an ongoing campaign in real time. Data from any digital campaign can be gathered before, during, and after its run time. You will be able to check who is visiting your ad, when they visited, and how long they stayed. It is even possible to see where they are from physically, and which device they are using while logged to your campaign. Now, it is easier to gather information about which target group you are attracting and which strategies you are using are working to bring them in.

Blogs

Blogs have a personal touch to anyone who follows them. Most blogs chronicle relatable contents that allow for interaction with the followers. Your blog should also have that. Potential clients often are sensitive to blatant advertising when it is literally shoved in their faces when they browse online. Your blog can help you convert followers by making sure that you are posting relevant contents. Make your posts interesting by using various media, like vlogs, guest posts, articles, and quality pictures. For example, if you are in the real estate business, your content should not only be about your listings, but should also contain tips on what is current in the real estate industry, or you can include infographics on what would be the points to look out for when looking for a house or looking for a workspace. And don’t forget to interact with your visitors and followers. Listen to what they want and use it to improve your brand.

Social media

Social media platforms are great vehicles for your blog contents. You can increase the number of people you reach out by using your social media accounts to share your contents. With interaction and communication as the building blocks of social media, it is the best bet you have to spread the word around. Use it to your business advantage.

 

Mobile-friendly sites and apps

There are now more mobile users than laptop users. With this change in the trend, be up to date, and have an app that can be used to show your wares. You don’t necessarily have to do it yourself, there are plenty of app developers who can do the work for you. Make it easy to navigate and secure. For your websites, make sure that you have optimized mobile-ready versions of it for mobile users.

User endorsed content

While you may be able to say the best things for your products, most consumers still prefer product that are endorsed to them by someone they know. The power of the word of mouth can’t be challenged by any marketing strategy. As with traditional marketing, it is best to have plenty of endorsement contents for your products. Be sure to include reviews and testimonials of people who have used your products and have loved it. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple review can make a customer go for the purchase.

Thank you cards

While we have been talking about everything modern about ecommerce, nothing ever beats a simple act of saying thank you. Since your greatest aim is to get as personal as you could to your target market, a thank you card is a great way to show them that you are personally grateful to have done business with them. Also, this is one marketing tactic that shows your heart and your personal touch. It makes your buyers see the person of your business, and not just the savvy apps and ads. It is easy to do this. You can start by doing it by yourself, our you could hire someone to do it for you. Whichever way you choose, make your message short and personal. And, you can also throw in a special promo code or coupon to make that person feel that you welcome more business with them.

The ways may have changed, but doing business still at its core is about having the knack of knowing what your market needs, and making sure that your business is positioned to meet it.

 


Author Bio:

Gemma Reeves is a seasoned writer who enjoys creating helpful articles and interesting stories. She has worked with several clients across different industries such as advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare, family matters, and more. She is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is engaged in assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs in finding the best office space for their business.
Check out her company here: FindMyWorkspace

 

Verlocal Pro Booking Tool Integration

Effective Booking Tool Integration

Turn your visitors into a profitable consumer through Verlocal Pro booking tool on your website.

Here are 4 different ways you can integrate Verlocal Pro booking tool:

Note: For the first 3 Go to “Dashboard” then “My Calendar” and click on “Copy or Embed Calendar” to begin.

BOOKING URL

The booking URL will be the first tab with a link that you can use to redirect your or page on your site.

  1. Select “copy calendar” and use the link to paste into your website or share on social channels to promote your listings.

  2. The page this link will redirect to a separate page consist your business listing.

 

HTML FRAME VERSION

This is a website friendly code that can directly embed your booking tool to your site, providing your visitors direct access to all your listings!

  1. Select “HTML Embed Code” on the pop-up, choose “Frame Version”

  2. Simply Copy the code and paste it onto your website

(Read on below to see the best place to install HTML Frame Version Calendar on your website)

 

HTML BUTTON AND POP-UP VERSION (Call-to-Action Button)

This is where you can embed a call-to-action button onto your website. Once a visitor clicks the button, it will open a pop-up window that will display your listings

  1. Select “HTML Embed Code” on the pop-up, choose “Button and Modal Version”

  2. Copy code to your site at a visible range for a direct purchase option.

 

DIRECT PAYMENT PAGE URL

This is a great option when you have a dedicated content of your different types of offer. This link can be implemented to a direct payment page that can allow your user to book instantly to a specific listing.

  1. Go to your “Dashboard”, then select “My Listings”

  2. Select the connected link button

  3. Use the link to attach to your site for direct payment option.

Note: We have three different payment display. To see a live version click here.

 

BEST WAY TO INTEGRATE VERLOCAL PRO BOOKING TOOL FOR MORE SALES

The integration is crucial, because where you place the booking tool is how you will expose your visitors to an offer and implement a call of action.

 

Place listing on your main page to Increase bookings and Ad performance.

Limit the clicks to 1 for your visitors to find your listing. You get a couple of seconds to make your impression before a visitor clicks-out. The best recommendation to place your booking tool is closest to your visitors reach:

  1. Landing Page

  2. Offer Page

 

Get instant bookings with a visible call-to-action.

Give your visitors a way where they can see all your offering immediately meaning, front-and-center. Get instant bookings by placing a book now button. This button will portray as a sense of urgency that your consumers curiosity will want to interact with so you can earn sales immediately! Here are ways you can best use the call-to-action button:

1. Introduction Button

2. Navigation Page

Note: You can customize your button. You’re provided with a code that you can implement simple changes i.e. the color, font, size, and call-to-action word.

Details to intrigue more visitors.

When showing your listings, you can add descriptive notes to give brief description of your offer. This is can be a personal marketing tool to write something creative, or even a reminder to your customers about the experience.

Note

 

Optimize your incoming sales by installing the Verlocal Pro booking tool on your site today! Get more sales with the help of an easy-to-use booking tool. If you have further questions on how to integrate your booking tool we’re here to help, contact support@verlocal.com and we’ll get you started!