Leadership is all about taking people on a journey.
“Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre
Many small business owners struggle with leadership. It’s not a one-size-fits-all function, which often makes it more difficult to grasp. Instead, it’s more of a work in progress; what works for certain team members may not work for others. When it comes to small businesses, effective leadership is critical; it can be the difference between surviving and thriving.
As Sartre says, if you spend all your time rowing, you’ll never find a way to grow.
10 Tips for Prosperous Leadership
- Think “family.” You may not be related to your team, but you might as well be. Treat elders with respect, teach new hires life lessons, and understand that everyone needs a little help at some point in their lives. Regardless of your personal feelings, most members of your team work to live – not live to work.
- Communicate openly. Every person, no matter what level, needs to know what is going on and feel that he or she has a voice in the room. If your subordinates feel like they can’t speak to you openly, you will probably miss out on great ideas and opportunities.
- Trust your team. As an entrepreneur, it may be tough to accept the fact that you can’t do everything yourself. You must allow people to make decisions on their own and give others a chance to lead at times. Mistakes will be made, but they are a requirement for growth.
- Strive to be likable. You don’t have to be a Godparent to twenty babies, but the more amiable you are, the more influence you will have. Watch out for things like the tone of your voice, your facial expressions, and your body language when you are communicating to your team.
- Get emotionally attached. Great leaders are sensitive to the needs of those around them. Stay in tune to people’s emotions and well-being. The more you know and understand your staff, the better you’ll be able to motivate, teach, and reward them.
- Train others. Remember that leaders often come from unexpected places. To be successful yourself, you need to have leaders below you who can make an impact, too.
- Be intelligently aggressive. There is a time and place for going after strategic goals, but do it in a way that is deliberate, well-planned, and purposeful.
- Stay defensive. Show them that you’ve bought into your mission and you’re committed to it – and them. There’s nothing worse than a leader who doesn’t follow his own motto or doesn’t pull his own weight.
- Adapt to your environment. You can practice solid leadership skills anywhere, at any time; all you have to do is tailor your approach to fit the situation.
- Escape the confines of your desk. It may seem silly, but leaders who aren’t out there engaging others and learning new things become sluggish and stagnant – words that no business ever wants to embody.
Leadership is all about taking people on a journey. The challenge is that most of the time, we are asking people to follow us to places we ourselves have never been.
Whether you are carving your path for the first time as an entrepreneur or you’ve run a multi-million-dollar company, leadership should be more about putting your employees on display than yourself. You can only get so far without the help – and ideas – of others. The more you show your team that you understand this, the more they’ll be willing to step up to facilitate your goals and dreams.
What Should You Really Be Posting on Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter?
It may seem silly, but do you have a unique strategy for every social media outlet? Followers on every channel expect different things. Some want more behind-the-scenes details while others may be looking for tips or inspirational quotes. If you’re posting the same thing everywhere, there’s a good chance that you are wasting your time.
Go behind the scenes. Facebook users want to know what’s going on behind your professional persona.
Inspire and motivate. People troll Facebook all day long – at their desks, on the way home from work, and while cooking dinner. They appreciate positive thoughts and tips.
Show them you’re the expert. Your Facebook followers are following you for a reason. Reinforce that reason every once and a while with informative blog posts and links to other quality content you’ve created. And yes, it’s fine to recycle content as long as you space it out!
Set up a killer, cohesive profile. Instagram is the most visual platform, so ensure that your profile is eye-catching and a perhaps little quirky.
Be different. What should you do on a platform that’s very visual? Give them stuff to read! Be charming. Be witty. Be funny. Just don’t be boring.
Relay simple tips. Keep them “snackable” and make sure that they relate to what you do – and how you do it.
Demonstrate that you’re on top of your game. Again, you want to prove to your followers that you not only know what you are doing, but that you are on top of everything that is going on in your industry.
Illustrate that you care. Because of hashtags, Twitter is the perfect place to shout-out other businesses and people in your community. People care that you care.
Think happy thoughts. Since Twitter isn’t as visual as the other social media channels, mix in quotes that are either encouraging or helpful.
Keep them in the loop. Announce new content, events, or business changes so that your followers feel like they know everything that’s going on with your business.
When in doubt, hire it out.
Like it or not, social media is an integral part of today’s business environment. Customers look to social media to validate your business, see what you’re doing, and interact with you. If you don’t have time to post or aren’t posting what your audience wants to see, you may actually be hurting your business.
If you need a social media strategy or simply help implementing one, give Conveyance a call. We know what to post, when to post it, and on what platform. We can help build your brand and convey your message – all without you having to emoji, hashtag, or “like” a single thing.
Is your competition beating you?
While it’s crucial to keep moving forward in business, searching for the next “big thing,” it’s also important to look back at what your competition is doing; this is basic marketing strategy. Too many companies fail to utilize the free intelligence from their competitors. What is working for them? What isn’t? You can learn a lot from another business’ successes and failures – without having to invest a dollar of your own.
An excellent way to benchmark yourself is to objectively look at where your competitors are and how they are doing. You can’t just assume that they are doing better – or worse – than you are, based on what a former customer said or a disgruntled employee. Sit down and evaluate them. Here is a quick list of where to begin:
- Is it more polished than yours?
- Does it have better functionality?
- Does it rank above yours in Google, Yahoo and Bing?
- What types of content are they offering their customers?
- How is the quality of that content?
- How do their sales materials, like brochures and business cards, look in comparison to yours?
- Do their sales pieces represent them well? What do you like and dislike about them?
3. Distribution Channel
- If you and your competitors distribute your products, how is their network compared to yours?
- Why is yours better, or worse?
4. Perception in the Marketplace
- How do customers perceive your competitors?
- How are you perceived?
- Try being a “secret shopper.” What did you like about the buying experience? What did you dislike?
- How is their pricing compared to yours?
- How are their products or services compared to yours?
Do you need to take action to beat your competition?
After spending a little bit of time at your desk, there’s a good chance that you’ll have some significant insight into how your competitors are approaching your shared target audience. If they are beating you in sales and visibility, then it’s time to re-evaluate and strategically address the places where they are beating you.
- Do you need a better website?
- Do you need to change your advertising strategy?
- Do you need to increase your branding efforts to alter the perception of your company in the marketplace
- How can you differentiate yourself?
- How can you let customers know that you do not share their weaknesses?
Are they really your competition?
Are you afraid of something that doesn’t even exist? Sometimes our perceptions cloud our judgment, so don’t be surprised if you realize that your arch nemesis isn’t really a competitor at all. You may think that another business does the same thing as you, but it may just be a perception issue – either on your part, or theirs – but hopefully not your target audience. Don’t be afraid to cross a business off your list that isn’t relevant; just make sure that you are the one conveying the right message to your audience.
Stay one step ahead.
Once you’ve compared apples to apples, you can correctly set your sights on where you want to be – and who you want to beat. Your customers want you to be more innovative and creative than the competition, so make sure that you are by keeping one eye on them at all times. Sign up for their newsletters, emails, and catalogs. Shop or dine at their establishments periodically. Your competitive advantage is right at your fingertips; all you need to do is uncover it.
We’ll let you in on how Blogging, SEO and Content Marketing work together.
In our line of work, we see a lot of confusion when it comes to blogging, content marketing, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Writing a blog or placing the popular term “content marketing” on a proposal, sales collateral or website does not mean that you are conducting SEO.
Blogs = Tool
Blogs are simply words on a webpage. While they can contain some keywords that help direct organic search traffic, they are merely one method for carrying out an effective SEO strategy. Blogs by nature are more of a customer retention tool – they help to make your website sticky. Well written blogs make visitors stick around and come back for more … and if you are lucky they share it with friends.
Content Marketing = Strategy
Content marketing is a marketing strategy. It involves giving customers – or potential customers – valuable information in hopes that those customers will eventually buy from you. If your audience believes that you are the authority on a topic, research shows that they will reward you for it. Blogging is commonly used in content marketing. But, downloadable guides, case studies, infographics, videos, podcasts, and books are other content marketing vehicles.
SEO = Strategy
SEO is also a strategy. It consists of all the different techniques that you use to get your website ranked higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines like Google and Bing appreciate:
- Keywords, especially long-tailed (thanks to the increasing popularity of voice searches)
- Fresh, high-quality content
- Links, both internal and external
- Images and videos
- Social media integration
- Alt and meta descriptions
SEO is an art, yet it’s highly technical and analytical. Blogs and other content marketing techniques are used within SEO strategies to provide consistent, new, relevant content.
Here’s a great way to visualize it: think of SEO as a set of blueprints. If you are going to build something – say, great search engine rankings for your website – you need a plan. To carry out your plan, you need to use a variety of tools.
If you look inside a marketer’s toolbox, you’ll find a wide variety of tools. There might be print tools, website tools, and branding tools. Blogs are one important tool. Let’s say they are the screwdrivers in your toolbox. Content marketing is more like a multi-tool – like a Swiss Army knife. It has a screwdriver, a knife, scissors, and more in it, but without a master plan, it doesn’t do anything by just sitting in your toolbox.
Content Marketing and Blogs are Just Part of SEO
It’s wonderful to provide quality content to your customers. If you are going to spend time and money buying tools, why not actually build something? A powerful SEO strategy can bring your business visibility, which can lead to relationships, and ultimately sales.
If you need any assistance in creating blueprints for the future of your business, Conveyance can help. We not only have architects who are skilled at drawing up plans, but we have a team of “tool experts” ready to help you build something big in 2017. Give us a call today!
Bring your website back to life with help from Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
I’m sure you’ve seen the meme that says the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google search results. While it’s funny, it’s also true. Most research indicates that 95 percent of all search traffic comes from the first page. That number should amaze and scare you. If your site isn’t on page one, there’s a good chance that no one is finding you. Google has made you a ghost… you need SEO!
A little bit of search engine optimization (SEO) can go a long way towards boosting your organic search traffic. If you need to bring your website back to life, here are ten tips for improving your SEO:
- Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. This step is crucial because if you don’t understand your customer and where he or she is coming from, it’s going to affect the rest of your SEO efforts. You need to know who your target audience is, what they like, and how they search. Speak to them in a voice that they can relate to – and give them content they actually want.
- Consider your keywords. Google Keyword Planner is a quick and easy way to find the right keywords for your business. Place keywords in your page titles, sub-headers, alt tags, meta description tags, and URLs. For shorter content, keep specific keyword mentions to two to three times. If you have a page with more content, you can go up to four to six. Also remember that long-tail keywords are helpful because they are less competitive.
- Make content a priority. Google loves good content. You need to speak directly to your audience while being thorough and original. Figure out a way to produce new content for your site consistently – either through blogs or new pages. Answering frequently asked questions is a terrific way to build up solid content. Think outside the word-box, too; videos and graphics can draw customers in and encourage them to hang around. Great content will also lower your bounce rate, which Google tracks, too.
- Build up your links. Both internal and external links are fantastic for your site. Internal links are easy, but you probably need to develop a strategy for building up your external ones. You can reach out to business partners and bloggers, or contribute to sites that are relevant to your industry. You can even use software to track mentions of you on the internet, and then request a link every time someone talks about you. As you build up good links, make sure you do routine housekeeping to remove the ones that no longer work.
- Have a mobile-friendly, speedy site. Google really wants your website to be mobile-friendly, and it will reward you (in ranking) if it is. It also hates slow sites, so make sure your site functions well and doesn’t take too long to load.
- Amp up your social media game. Get followers on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and other social media sites. Google pays attention to how active you are in these areas.
- Encourage customers to review you on Google. Everyone loves reviews, and Google is no exception.
- Utilize local listings. Make sure all of your locations have local listings on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Search engines are focusing more and more on local results, so make sure your presence is known.
- Stay on top of analytics. Google Analytics allows you to track conversions and geographic data, as well as referrers and bounce rates. By knowing where people are coming from, what they are doing, and how long they are lingering, you can make better decisions on where to focus your SEO time and energy.
- Stalk your competitors. I’m not saying that you physically need to follow them, but you should do some research to see where they are showing up in search engine results – and why. If you know their SEO strategies, you can adjust yours accordingly.
If your website has been declared “DOA” by Google, we can help. We personalize SEO strategies based on the needs of our clients and their industries. Give yourself new life by contacting Conveyance today.