Borrowing Marketing Strategies From Other Industries





A lot of people are going to try and tell you that there isn’t anything new as far as marketing goes. For the most part, this is true, at least until some new tech comes out that changes the game. Why not try tactics that other industries are using? Strategies that work well with general contracting may not work with promoting a Shopify store. Sure. I get that.



But what if some of these ideas could work for your company? Keep reading to know more about what’s going on in my head.

Foodservice

Restaurant marketing is probably a lot different than what you think.

They use coupons and discounts. They have industry nights where if you come in and you work for another restaurant or hotel, you get a discount.



One of the coolest strategies is having your chef do a guest spot somewhere. They go do cooking classes or visit a culinary school, promote the restaurant, and do a little razzle-dazzle with some food.

While you obviously can’t do that for a construction business, why can’t you do something similar? Go give some talks at high schools. Go to local hardware stores, hang out, and answer questions about what you do.

The idea works with pretty much any field, you just need to think outside of the box.

Car Sales

Every car salesman, for whatever reason, wants a spot on TV or radio. Why?

Younger people don’t listen to the radio and don’t watch nearly as much TV as older people. If you want to hit young people where it counts, these folks need to do what other businesses are doing and hit social media.

The problem with selling cars is that for decades, the marketing has been way too “in your face”. If they were to back up and change their approach for the millennial and younger generations, they could flip their marketing game on its head and possibly sell more cars.



Imagine how many more cars he would sell if a salesman was less salesy and instead, provided real value on a blog and on social media, telling readers everything they need to know about dealing with the process of buying a car. Different, right?

The Flip Side

What about SEO? Why aren’t there more ads for it on TV and radio? Not enough people know what it is and how much value it has for businesses.

Why aren’t we getting the word out? Why is it such a big secret to most people?

Every business deserves to have its shot at the title. People like us can make it happen. Instead, we have to explain what we do for an hour while people look at us with blank-face Radio Shack employee stares. It’s awkward.

Conclusion

Everyone. Every business.

We, collectively, as a whole, need to do more to market our businesses.

We need to try new things and see what industries are doing that aren’t related to our own field and see if we can make them successful with our own companies.

It’s worth a shot!

 

Education Matters: Interesting Courses for the Entrepreneur





When I left university, I thought I was done with school. I’d learned the basics of reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic. I could get a job and make a living now. The more I talk to people with higher ed degrees, the more I realize how much education really matters. It’s not about knowing facts but improving your own emotional intelligence. Some of us might not be able to take the time to go get a Master’s degree. This doesn’t mean we can’t continue in our education. Entrepreneurs love to read books. And they love to give courses. But one thing many of us neglect is real coursework.



If you’d like to continue in your education, here are some of the most interesting courses any entrepreneur could take right now.

1. Digital Marketing with Udacity

Digital marketing is such a broad topic. And when you don’t know where to start, you might just give up on the entire production. Fortunately, Udacity created a complete digital marketing program.

The program lasts three months and you earn a micro-degree at the end. You’ll take courses rich in the basics of marketing, content strategy, media planning, social media marketing, SEO, and SEM.

You’ll learn how to design your website content. The course includes opportunities to network.

2. Learning How to Learn

The human brain is so complex that we still don’t understand all of its mysteries. For example, we still don’t get what consciousness is (if it’s even a real thing and not a concept). We do know it’s not as simple as on/off, but we don’t understand much beyond what it’s not.

We do understand more today about practical aspects of the brain than ever before. And learning about how we learn is useful not only in your own life and career but in helping others toward their goals.

This is what the Coursera class “Learning How to Learn” attempts to give us. A glimpse into the learning abilities of successful and artistic people.

The course is about 12-16 hours. You will learn about brain science from experts who understand how the brain “chunks” information and stores it.



3. The Complete Crowdfunding Course for Kickstarter and Indiegogo

Kickstarter only has a success rate of about 45%. That’s about as lame as the average U.S. Presidential mid-term approval rate.

Why are so many Kickstarters failing? Perhaps it has something to do with the blasted million dollar success stories?

Whatever is happening, Udemy’s Complete Crowdfunding Course wants to give you all the tools necessary for success. You’ll participate in a four-hour course that includes step-by-step approaches to growth-hacking a crowdfunding campaign.

One of the major problems with most crowdfunding campaigns is the lack of audience. Many assume they’ll magically accrue an audience once they begin their campaign. Even people with an audience often fail at running a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve seen it.

4. A Course on Artificial Intelligence

As I’ve pointed out in countless articles here on Shoemoney, A.I. is here to stay whether we like it or not. You already interact with artificial intelligence on a daily basis. Often we don’t even realize we’re talking to a bot.

Another Udacity course wants to help you understand how those bots actually work. And they want to help you apply the technology to your business and startup.

The course, Intro to Artificial Intelligence covers four months of basics, stats, planning, logic and really anything A.I. related. It’s essentially a crash course in artificial intelligence.

The course is based off Standford University’s Sebastian Thrun’s own course on artificial intelligence.

You will need to take a few courses before beginning this one. You’ll need to know a little about probability theory and linear algebra. But that’s the cost for learning to control the A.I. before it learns to control you.

5. A Course on Productivity

I personally have a hard time taking the time to work on my productivity. It feels counterproductive to take time out of my day for self-improvement. But it’s really not a bad idea.

Learning how to throw the procrastination monster overboard and avoiding that feeling of being overwhelmed would be valuable, right? Well, there is a course for that.

You can take two hours out of your day to learn how to be more productive. The first step is to schedule (some of us have a hard time with that word, schedule) the course during a time when you can give your *full* attention.

The course is like a doctor’s checkup on your productivity health. You’ll participate in activities that diagnose how you mismanage your time and find ways to fix those things.



People who find themselves constantly overwhelmed rejoice. You’ll learn to control your mindset and increase your energy level. You’ll learn daily habits you can incorporate that mesh with your personality type.

6. Building a Personal Brand

If you’re not looking to jumpstart a startup, you are probably building your own personal brand. This is where I’m at. And I can tell you that any freelancer I’ve ever known could use a course like this.

And even if you aren’t building a business from your personal brand, you can learn a bit from Gary Vaynerchuk’s course.

7. +Acumen Presents: Seth Godin’s Leadership Workshop

Seth Godin founded Yoyodyne and Squidoo and is a bestselling author. While taking skills related courses can be extremely beneficial, sometimes all we need is a bit of inspiration for our day.

Learning from great entrepreneurs like Godin can have a profound impact on your drive and your mood. This is why I’ve included this awesome short course on leadership.

Even if you don’t feel like a born leader, there is always someone in your life who looks up to you.

8. Google I.T.

The Google IT Support Professional Certificate Specialization is probably the most intensive course on this list. It includes 10 hours a week of video lectures, hands-on labs, quizzes, and widget tutorials.

This is a partnership course between Google and Coursura. They recently opened the course to the public and that’s a good thing for entrepreneurs who want to manage their own I.T.

And even if you don’t want to manage your own I.T., you might want to understand every aspect of what’s going on in your company.

9.  Startup Business: How to Raise Seed Capital

Whether you’re starting with $100 or $100,000, you’re going to need to raise funds to run your business. Some will do this through Kickstarter, other will earn it and still, others will rely on traditional investors.

The Startup Business course is for first-time business owners who feel overwhelmed. They might see startup funding as a mountain to climb. This course gives you the tools to climb that mountain.

10. Why Ethics Matter: Ethical Research

Often in business, we’re not asked to reflect on our personal morals. But morals and ethics guide our everyday actions. From how you treat your employees to what kind of food you choose to eat, you’re making moral and ethical choices in life.

If you want to ensure your business ethics are above board, you should check out this six-hour course on ethics from FutureLearn.

You’ll learn about history that’s shaped and established common ethical tropes in our society. You’ll read case studies about ethical research. And you’ll build a framework for future ethical research and how to apply what you learn.

11. The Complete SEO Course

While you can learn the basics of SEO from free articles on the web, SEOs still like to keep secrets from the general public. How else do you think they make their money?

SEO is as essential to your business as that bowl of oats you had for breakfast is to your daily focus. In this course, you’ll learn about how to measure SEO success, how to drive customers to your company through content marketing, and more.

It includes quizzes at the end of each section.

12. Intro to Virtual Reality

After the 90’s we all thought the virtual reality dream was dead. But just a few years ago, Oculus and HTC made that dream a reality.

While most people who own headsets are gamers and creatives, the market for VR is still growing in the business sector.

If you want to stay one step ahead in your visual marketing game, it’s a good idea to understand virtual reality as a marketing and training tool.

This is a basic intro to the technology by Google and it’s a free two-week course. You’ll come away understanding optics, displays, stereopsis, tracking, and hardware. You’ll also learn about various VR applications.

 

Scam or Totally Legit Business? What You Need to Know About Multi-Level Marketing





I grew up watching my mom jump from one multi-level marketing business to the next. She was a stay-at-home mom who needed a hobby. It began with blocky 90’s jewelry and ended with Longaberger Baskets. I saw various things fill my parent’s shelves from candles and stamps to useless cooking utensils. My mom recently tried to give me some Longaberger baskets when I complained my shelves were empty.



For my mom, MLM was a social opportunity. She had friends who wanted to buy stuff from her. And she got to throw parties at their houses (more fun cause you don’t have to clean up after).

But if you’re actually trying to make money, is multi-level marketing really worth it? Or is it a “pyramid” scheme like so many claim? Let’s take a closer look.

The Basics of Multi-Level Marketing

Alright, let’s banish the idea of the pyramid scheme. A pyramid scheme is illegal in the United States. A pyramid scheme relies on investment rather than product sales. The Ponzi Scheme is a good example.

While some multi-level marketing businesses have a history of shady practices, they aren’t usually intentional scams. And, as long as a company is selling a legitimate product to the public, in the U.S. they are a legit business.

Where Does the Name Come From?

The biggest incentive to get others to join you in an MLM business? You get some of their money.



When you recruit someone into an MLM business, the company often awards you a percentage of their profits. This is the multi-level aspect of MLM. The money flows upward and the lower you are on the totem pole, the less you make.

But the more people you have under you, the more you make. You get a higher percentage of overall profits the more people you have below you.

The higher you are on the totem pole, the more you make as well. It’s pretty easy to see why people might get this mixed up with a pyramid scheme. The structure still mimics a pyramid.

Benefits of Multi-Level Marketing

Most MLM businesses draw people in by pointing out how little they need to invest. Get started for only x dollars, they say. They’ll point out that you become your own boss and you make your own schedule.

And it’s all true.

The Entry Bar is Comparatively Low

But the biggest benefit of MLM is the low cost of entry. Even the most expensive businesses like Lularoe ($5,000 worth of merchandise? No thanks…) don’t require much compared to the overhead of a typical small business. A franchise itself could cost upwards of $100,000 and you might need a net worth of over $500,000.

There are a ton of MLM businesses who charge way less than Lularoe. Some have an entry fee of $500 or less.

The Mentorship is Inherent in the Program Itself

Just because the person above you is profiting off your sales doesn’t mean they don’t care. In fact, the better you do the better they do. It’s a win-win scenario if they want it to be.

It’s how the best MLMs grow rapidly at first. If the product is a great one, they then remain stable after a time.



Those above you can help you set up your marketing, answer questions, and even some companies feature regular meetings for their sellers.

You will succeed only if you have the best support from above in an MLM. You don’t want to be caught out alone not knowing anything about marketing.

The Marketing is Social and Simple

My wife bought into the Lularoe craze for a while. She didn’t sell, but she bought…a lot. One of her favorite sellers had the best marketing strategy out of most Lularoe consultants.

She had two platforms and kept them simple. She built a blog and she created a Facebook page. She put all her efforts into these two platforms. And it yielded results.

She is still strong and selling two years on when many consultants have fallen away.

If you enter an MLM, be sure to learn how to build a blog. Getting your storefront to the top spot on Google will help you immensely in attracting customers.

Then focus on one social media platform. With Facebook’s live video platform, it’s easy to attract customers there. But you could use Instagram’s similar features.

My wife’s consultant would use Facebook’s live video feature to host online “parties.” She would showcase clothing live and people could live-claim the clothes as she went along.

You can make quite a small living from MLM marketing if you’re willing to treat it like a business.

A Few MLM Negatives

Unfortunately, some MLMs begin as a fad and then fade away if they don’t pivot. Lularoe is a great example of this. They rode the wave of popularity until they couldn’t. Then they shrank and many sellers went out of business.

Only the sellers with the biggest audience continued once Lularoe pivoted away from cartoonish prints. The rest were stuck with inventory they couldn’t sell for full price. They ended up discounting their wares drastically just to get back some of what they gambled.

Most people don’t turn a profit in MLM because they treat it as a hobby rather than a business.

My advice for success in an MLM? Create a business plan and stick to it as much as you can. Pay for good marketing. Build a blog. Then build an audience.

 

Does SEO Matter for Your Company Blog?





Something I often hear from small business owners is, “Does SEO really matter for my blog? I mean, it’s just a blog, right?” The answer is: Yes. It matters quite a bit. On the off chance you’re the only show in town, it might not mean quite as much. But it still matters.



Half of all businesses will fail in the first five years and the biggest reason for going out of business is low profits or the company has no one willing to invest in their growth, so they get stuck. Either way, it’s all about the money.

SEO can be the difference between success and failure. Keep reading. Let me show you how a few tweaks to your website or blog can make all the difference.

The Company Blog

Content gets stale. If you think search engines and people don’t notice, you’re wrong.

Google rewards those who keep their content fresh and updated and customers do the same by continuing to visit the site and buy products or services.

However, there is a sea of content out there. Most of it is pretty bad. It’s either poorly written or it’s just a bunch of random chatter that doesn’t provide any real value to the readers. You can change that with your blog.

Some entrepreneurs think that they can get away with running their business from 9-5 like any normal job. But you don’t have to do that. You can write your blog posts in the evening, from the comfort of your wfh office, drink in hand with Netflix on another screen or television. Heck, the right SEO WordPress plugin will do most of the work for you.



Contrary to popular belief, the length of your blog posts also doesn’t matter. If you write two thousand words of garbage, how many people are going to come back to your site in the future if you just tried to make them sit through a bunch of nonsense?

Here is what matters: Write SEO friendly content that helps to provide solutions to a customer’s problems.

How to Write SEO Friendly Content

The first part of this is the hardest. You need to know what people want. You need to know what they’re searching for as far as what they’re typing into search engines.

“X near me” or “X in City, State” is a good place to start. There are only so many posts you can write with these kinds of keywords, though. You want to branch out.

Use tools like Moz, Ahrefs, or SEMRush to find keywords. The best thing about these tools is most of them can help you to find a competitor’s keywords. You can use them or you can look for holes or gaps in any niche specific keywords you think might be successful.

You don’t need to jam a million keywords into a piece of content. Have one in your opening paragraph or introduction, one in a header, and one or two in other places throughout the content. That’s really all it takes to get your point across to search engines.

Synonyms also work just fine as Google’s Algorithm has gotten a lot better about picking those up over the years.

Interlinking

Not every post should have sales pitches. In fact, most of them shouldn’t. The best part of your company blog is you can hit people who are in different places in the sales funnel. This is why a blog is so versatile.

The best way to continue funneling prospects is interlinking. Link to other posts or pieces of content on the blog to help drive your prospects to the next step.

You also want to link externally to other authoritative sites. The purpose of this is to show readers that there is data out there that backs up your claims. Or at the very least, other trustworthy souls who believe and say and do exactly as you and your company do.



Local SEO

Above, we mentioned “X near me” and “X in City, State”.

This is a part of what’s called local SEO and it can make a huge difference in your visibility to people in your local area, either residents or folks just passing through.

If you run an oil change and tire shop, you want people to find you if they’re on a road trip and need an oil change, right?

The first order of business is to go to Big Daddy Google and get yourself a Google My Business account.

Accuracy is the name of the game when it comes to local SEO. You want your NAP (name, address, phone number) to be accurate across the board. This should be on your main page, usually in the footer, as well as your contact page.

Once you’ve got your GMB listing set up, copy all of this information on other directories. This tactic will help to boost your listings and shoot you to the top of Google rankings.

Off Page SEO

There are two things you can do to help boost your SEO that don’t directly involve your website or company blog.

The first is to hop on social media. Many companies over-utilize these resources and stretch themselves too thin. Go after 3-4 of these social networks, but only the ones that are going to work the best for your business.

Share your content. Make some friends and share their content. Use your social networks to provide the best of what’s out there. This will help to establish you as an authority in your niche and you’ll gain followers quickly.

The next aspect of off-page SEO is link building. If you’re a new business, it’s hard to get noticed. Building links is really a two-pronged attack. The more links there are to your site means that more people will see them and click to your site, where they will find the awesome content you wrote.

This is why search engines place so much emphasis on links. The more people like a company, the more they will link to it. The more authority and credibility it has, the more people will use link to that site in their own content.

You can build links yourself, but I suggest having pros do them for you. There are a lot of great services out there. But there are also some shady businesses building bad links. Do your best to vet and research these services to find the one that’s right for you.

The Bottom Line

You need SEO in your life. Just opening up your doors and telling your friends and family isn’t good enough.

Marketing is one of the toughest parts of owning a small business and it’s also one of the most important parts. SEO has become one of the biggest parts of it.

Luckily for you, most of these tips you can do completely on your own. They may be a bit time-consuming, but the bottom line is they’re cheap and they matter. So get started!

 

10 Companies That Took Off in Unexpected Ways





We constantly hear about the Microsofts and Apples of the world. The garage band companies from humble places. But those companies were a semblance of what they would eventually become. What about the companies that took a chance on something new? What about the jokes people expected to go nowhere? These are the surprising stories that continually surprise us.



We’ll start with a company you may not have heard of. And don’t worry, it’s not actually a joke.

1. Potato Parcel

When was the last time you received a letter in the mail? Letter writing is a lost art. So, there has to be a better way than Amazon to buoy the failing U.S. Postal Service, right?

How about potatos? No, not bulk shipments from Idaho, but messages sent via potato.

What began a satirical joke turned into a successful business called Potato Parcel. Of course, sending a potato as a gift is a joke, but people actually pay $14 to send a custom potato through the mail.

2. Taco Bell Hot Dogs?

In 1946, faux-Mexican food didn’t exist. In fact, not many people in the United States even ate the stuff. This is probably why Glen Bell opened a hot dog stand in San Bernadino, California instead.

After four years of hawking dogs on the street, Glen opened his first restaurant, Bell’s Hamburgers and Hot Dogs. This was in a primarily Latino neighborhood.

Glen noticed that the little Mexican cafe across the street had a line outside the door. When he went over, he realized people were buying hard-shelled tacos.



Glen Bell is the founder of Taco Bell. No joke. A hot dog salesman started your guilty pleasure fast food joint.

3. Ship Your Enemies Glitter

While the days of anthrax scares are over, we’re now worried about glitter bombs.

Yep. That’s right. You should be utterly terrified that someone might send you glitter through the mail.

No, really, this is a legitimate business that recently sold for $85,000. They now ship other jokes like an online novelty shop. But they did begin as a joke.

The founder, Matthew Carpenter, never intended on making glitter bombing into a business. He’s essentially an accidental entrepreneur. It was supposed to be a side project and it became stressful to maintain. He decided to sell it then hoping for an easier life.

4. Game Neverending

Imagine a game where you travel the world, interact with others, buy, sell, trade, and craft items. This could be any video game today, right? What if I told you that’s what the photo site Flickr used to be.

It was a multiplayer online game called Game Neverending. And it devolved into a single chat system where you could share and talk about photos.

This was much easier to scale from an I.T. perspective than an online game. And the concept involved a much wider audience.

Eventually, Steward Butterfield and Caterina Fake figured out that users just wanted to share photos with each other. This was just before Facebook took off. And then Yahoo! bought them out for 35 million dollars.

5. Snow in Florida?

I remember the first time I’d met someone who’d never seen snow. I was 10 and she was a cute 11-year-old from Florida. We met on a ski shuttle in Colorado. It blew my mind that this pretty lady had never seen snow in her short life.

Now, our kids can share the joy of snow with their pen pals (are those still a thing?) with the entry of their parent’s credit card. It’s a company that actually ships a box of snow for anyone wanting to share winter with the people in the less fortunate states.



Ship Snow, Yo, and Ship Foliage do similar things. One ships snow and the other ships “hand-collected New England foliage.”

Ship Foliage made $5k in sales within the first week.

6. Berkshire Hathaway Men’s Suit Linings

You might know Berkshire Hathaway as the real estate company Warren Buffet built. But it wasn’t always Warren Buffet’s venture and it wasn’t always a real estate business.

What if I told you they were once a cotton mill that specialized in suit coat pockets for men? In the 60’s, I’m not sure Buffet even knew what would come of the textile business. But he bought it for a “measly” $14 million.

Now it’s grossing a lot more than that, trust me.

7. The Best Pet You’ll Ever Own

I’m not actually surprised when someone tells me their multimillion dollar business began as a bar conversation. Alcohol often fuels ambition and erases fears.

But, in 1975, Gary Dahl actually took his bar conversation to the moon. It was about selling mere rocks to children.

It was a simple idea. Past two googly-eyes on a smooth rock, box it up, and give it to your kid as a pet.

This actually made Dahl an unexpected amount of money and the man is going to be well off for a while.

8. The Marriot Root Beer Stand

J. Willard Marriot started an A&W Root Beer Stand not long after getting married to Alice Sheets Marriot. But it wasn’t just one stand, it was a whole franchise for D.C., Baltimore, and Richmond.

Of course, they couldn’t expand the franchise without starting somewhere. They opened a 9-stool operation at 3128 14th Street, NW in D.C.

Later they opened a hotel and the rest is history as they say.

9. Cat Memes as a Business?

In the age of the internet it’s totally possible to make money off of your cat. Remember Grumpy Cat? My friend met him at VidCon one year. His owner is now well off.

Same goes for the creator of the “I Can Has Cheezburger?” meme. It was a 2008 phenomenon that exploded. Picture of cats with misspelled captions because, duh, cats can’t spell, right?

The site I Can Has Cheezburger launched as a joke and soon shut down due to traffic overload.

10. NASCAR Liquor Bootlegging Service

Thankfully beer is now legal in the United States or I don’t think NASCAR would have much of an audience. But their participation in the alcohol market wasn’t always in providing fast-paced entertainment.

During the prohibition, they were a fast whiskey delivery service capable of blazing past the police. Now they’re a (rather boring) legal operation.

 

If Your Head is in the Cloud Don’t Get Hacked





Al Gore didn’t invent the internet, but he did create Google’s secret Al-Gore-Rhythm. All jokes aside, ever since Al Gore didn’t invent the internet, network technology accelerated at light speed. We went from 56k dial-up to fiber quicker than the industrial revolution invented cars. This also means that network security needed to evolve just as fast. At times, it didn’t stay in step with the revolution. The cost of cybercrime rose and everyone freaked out. This is not an overstatement. Cybercrime cost businesses in the United States over $17 million in the fiscal year 2017.



If you’re jumping onto the cloud bandwagon late (better late than never!), it’s time to make a budget for security and keep your data safe. Here are a few tips.

1. Is [Your Password] Secret? Is it Safe?

Roaming half-hobbits might not be around to steal your passwords (or your rings of power), but cybercriminals might be. The first step in keeping any network secure is creating a strong password.

It’s the end of the second decade of the 21st century and people still use passwords like “123456” or even *gasp* “password.” Don’t be a 21st-century idiot. Create a strong password and be sure anyone with access to your cloud server does the same.



Use an encryption key and make your passwords extremely strong. If you need to remember your password, encrypt something you can remember well. Yes, it takes an extra minute to encrypt the password, but your cloud data will be more secure this way.

Multi-factor Authentication for Added Security

The second bastion of cybersecurity is multi-factor authentication. How does the network know you are you? By something you know and something, you would have on your person and sometimes something that’s a part of your person.

Companies like PayPal and Google and most online banking systems use multi-factor authentication. It’s becoming the bread and butter of cybersecurity.

Your password is the thing you know that you should not have on your person. Your phone is the thing on your person. And your fingerprint is the thing that’s a part of your person.



The most secure cybersecurity would involve all three. But to save time, companies like PayPal have gone to full biometrics thanks to advances in mobile versions of this technology. And be assured, no one is coming for your fingertips. They would need a living finger to unlock your PayPal account.

If your cloud service doesn’t use biometrics, that’s ok. Like most bank accounts, if your service does have two-factor authentication, you will give them your phone number. They will text you a code and you will enter the code to access the cloud.

Often, this happens randomly. Sometimes you will use a password, other times you will use the text system.

2. Backup! We Need Backup!

As my computer engineer friends tell me, there is no way to completely secure your data from catastrophe. Choosing the cloud over physical hard drives won’t save your data in the case of an asteroid strike or a massive solar flare from the sun.  But you can at least backup your cloud data and keep it accessible in case of a network blackout or a smaller disaster.

Backup your cloud data on several physical drives and keep in them in several secure locations. This will ensure that most of the time you’ll have access to your data as long as the world doesn’t end or the entire technological human infrastructure doesn’t collapse.

As you adopt cloud technology, stay wise. Do your research and keep abreast of cybersecurity trends.

 

Popular 80’s Brands That Are Gone (But Not Forgotten)





Are you wondering what happened to your favorite brands from the ’80s. From television to fashion, past decades always seem to come back in style, and the ’80s have been especially hot lately. As ’80s kids are fully entered adulthood and even having kids of their own, it’s the perfect time for a nostalgic look back.



Many brands are cashing in on the trend by making retro, ’80s-inspired content. However, very few of those brands were actually around in the ’80s. What happened to the ones that started it all?

In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best brands from the ’80s that may be gone, but live on in our memories. Keep reading to find out where these former cultural icons went.

1. Coleco

Never head of Coleco Industries? You’ve surely heard about their products, though. This was the brand behind one of the weirder toys from the decade: Cabbage Patch Kids. Coleco also made a number of the popular video game consoles of the ’80s.

However, Coleco Industries didn’t even make it to the end of the decade, in spite of these seeming successes. In 1988 the company was bankrupt, and by 1989 it had to sell its assets and product lines.

The flagship console from the company, Colecovision, was launched in 1982 and associated with such popular pastimes as Donkey Kong and Star Wars games. Today, some people hungry for nostalgia still buy the old consoles on eBay for up to $200.

2. Bally Fitness

In 1983, the Bally Manufacturing company bought a manufacturer of exercise equipment. By 1987, Bally had all but taken over: it was the biggest operator/owner of fitness centers in the world.



It wasn’t until 1995 that Bally named all of its centers “Bally Total Fitness,” but by then people were already well familiar with the brand. However, the heyday of Bally didn’t last. In 2011, the brand started to sell its fitness clubs, and the last one closed its doors in late 2016.

Although you may no longer see the Bally Fitness name in lights across America, you could argue that this company revolutionized the way we work out by pioneered the modern concept of the gym.

3. Prozac

That’s right, one of the most famous antidepressants is also a quintessential ’80s brand.

Prozac first started changing people’s lives when it hit the market in 1986. This was a revolutionary treatment for many people, and soon became part of many pop culture references.

Today, many people still use antidepressants, but Prozac is no longer the first choice. With cheaper generic versions of the brand-name drug, plus many different alternatives, Prozac stopped dominated the antidepressant market a long time ago.

4. Kodak

Kodak was actually founded in 1888, but the film company hit its peak popularity in the ’80s and early ’90s. However, with the advent of digital cameras and smartphones, a film company couldn’t possibly stay on top.

In 2012, the company filed for bankruptcy and continued with small-scale operations that have lasted to this day. This is a far cry from 1996, when the company was the fifth most valuable business worldwide.

5. Drexel Burnham Lambert

Although this wasn’t exactly a huge name in the pop culture world, Drexel Burnham Lambert was an investment banking firm that was integral to the financial world of the 1980s.

One thing the ’80s is known for is the cutthroat Wall Street culture of bankers and investors, and Drexel Burnham Lambert was one of the pioneers of this culture. The brand operated largely in junk bonds, which were high-risk but high-reward.

However, these risky bonds were the company’s downfall: in 1990, they were forced to file for bankruptcy because they’d been illegally involved with junk bonds.



6. Jordache

What happened to everyone’s favorite jeans of the ’80s?

Jordache rose to fame for its designer jeans throughout the late ’70s and the ’80s. People were still rocking Jordaches well into the ’90s. However, by the late ’90s, the brand’s popularity was over and their products could only be found heavily discounted at retailers like WalMart.

You won’t believe what your beloved jeans company has been doing since then. Today, the brand is involved in real estate ventures in the U.S. and even has some business ventures in Israel.

However, they haven’t stepped away from jeans entirely: they actually make private denim for still-popular brands like Levi’s and the Gap.

7. Compaq

If you lived through the ’80s, your first computer may very well have been a Compaq. Founded in 1982, this company made some of the earliest PC compatible computers for IBM.

The tech company didn’t exactly disappear: instead, it was bought by Hewlett-Packard in 2002 at a price of $24.2 billion.

8. Magnavox

In the 1980s, this portable video camera suddenly made it possible for people to record their lives like never before. Amateur filmmakers, proud parents, and more jumped on the chance to document their favorite moments.

Magnavox was one of the most popular VHS recorders, but JVC and RCA also offered alternatives.

All three of these companies actually still exist, but needless to say, their revenue doesn’t come from sales of VHS recorders. In the ’80s, Magnavox made everything from video cameras to the earliest video game console toy.

The brand was already owned by the company Philips, and was never exactly dismantled. But in the ’90s, the Magnavox name no longer held weight for consumers, so Philips stopped using it.

9. Pan Am

Pan American World Airways offered a popular way to globetrot in the ’70s and ’80s. Pan Am was actually the biggest international airline in the U.S. for decades: from its start in 1927 until 1991, when the company was bankrupt.

Branding issues and PR problems brought the company down, and rising oil prices didn’t help either. The company was revived by investors in 1996, but never achieved full success again.

What Can You Do With ’80s Brands?

Although most of these brands no longer exist in the same way they once did, the power of the ’80s brand is back thanks to today’s wave of cultural nostalgia.

For many, selling vintage ’80s products has become a great way to make money. If you have retro gear around the house, or find something special at a thrift store, you can often resell it on eBay for more than it originally cost.

Hoping to turn your passion for the ’80s into a full-blown side hustle? Check out our tips for successful side hustles here.

 

How to Keep Gmail’s Promotions Tab From Killing Your E-Mail Marketing





Google’s products aren’t really products. They’re portals. Just like a highway isn’t really a product even if it’s a toll road run by a private corporation. The real product is access. Google gives access to information. Gmail gives access to communication. How does Google make money from these things? Ads.



For a while, e-mail marketing was a free-for-all game. If you did it right, you could avoid spam filters and you were golden.

New Rules to Play By

Google changed the game. As a user, I’m thrilled. I get to choose when promotional e-mails pass before my eyeballs because Google automatically shuffles my e-mails into categories. But as a marketer, I’m not so thrilled.

Conventional e-mail marketing is 40 times more effective than social media at acquiring new customers. But will that be true in the age of the Gmail tabulation system?

You can circumnavigate this new system. Let’s look at how that’s possible.



1. Use List Segmentation To Get People’s Attention

It’s utterly tempting and easy to send out generic e-mails. You could capture a wide audience this way, right? Wrong.

If you send out the same e-mail to all your customers and leads, chances are you’ll minimize your impact. This is where segmentation comes in. You’re creating personalized lists for customers of various types and targeting each group.

Google will move your e-mails out of the promotions tab if your customers click on an e-mail and interact with a link. You’re more likely to get customers to do that if you’re using the list segmentation technique.

2. Avoid Promotional Language

In traditional marketing, words like “free” are old standbys. People gravitate toward things that are either free or will save them money. If you’re going to avoid the Gmail promotional tab, you’re going to disavow this habit.

Gmail’s filter uses similar technology to the Google search engine. It can determine context and it can “read” your e-mails. Starting with the subject line, eradicate any promotional language.



Make the subject line as personal as possible. Even if you weren’t avoiding the promotions tab, this is just good e-mail marketing.

3. Don’t Change Your Identity

If you’ve already registered with Google, they will know your e-mail address and know it’s connected to a business. Repeat after me: “That’s OK”

The promotional tab isn’t the only place business e-mails might end up. Social and Updates are two categories more likely to receive engagement than the promotional tab.

If you do change your name and e-mail address and attempt to re-register, you’re only doing harm. If Google figures out you’ve done this, kiss your e-mail marketing goodbye. You’ll be stuck in Spam bin hell forever and ever, amen.

4. Links in Moderation

E-mail marketing is the new SEO. You have to craft the perfect e-mail to get past Google’s sniffers. This means no more link stuffing in your e-mails.

One clear CTA with a link attached is all you need.

Also, be sure to avoid linking to your social media pages at the end of the e-mail. Nobody does that except marketers.

Conclusion: Less is More

Essentially, e-mail marketing hasn’t changed much since the promotions tab came into existence.  Less is always more and it always has been.

 

 

AdSense Alternatives to YouTube Monetization





In a move that even out-shadowed the whole demonetization controversy of 2017, YouTube announced significant changes to its partner program in early 2018. As a result, many smaller YouTubers got booted from the YouTube Partner Program because they no longer met the new requirements. As a refresher, the new requirements called for at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours watched in the last 12 months. And no one was grandfathered into the program either.



It’s through the YouTube Partner Program that video creators could monetize their videos using Google AdSense. This includes the pre-roll video ads and the banner ads shown in the video themselves, among other possible placements. Without this revenue source, many YouTubers felt distraught… but maybe they’re forgetting about all the other opportunities to make money on YouTube too. Here are a few that you may have left on the table (that you should now pick up if you haven’t already).

 

Amazon Associates

It probably won’t surprise too many of you to learn that many of the people who watch YouTube are interested in what equipment goes into shooting YouTube videos. This is especially the case with vloggers and other channels that target creative professionals (and amateurs and prosumers too).



One of the simplest things to do is to leverage Amazon’s affiliate program and provide links in the video description to the gear that you use. Similarly, you should be including links to any products you mention in the video too, just as I did in the video where I compared different Amazon Kindle versions. If someone is watching a product video, they’re probably interested in buying it.

Patreon

You might remember when I wrote about Patreon in the context of YouTube monetization a few years ago and it’s arguably even more relevant today. The basic idea here is that instead of trying to get money out of sponsors and advertisers, you get money from the people who are watching your content in the first place. It’s a much more direct relationship and Patreon only takes a 5% fee for providing this platform.

Many of the top YouTube channels have taken this approach. Science video channel SciShow, as of this writing, brings in over $20,000 a month from over 5,000 patrons. That’s nothing to sneeze at and even if you have a smaller subscriber base, Patreon can provide a more consistent and predictable source of income that isn’t subject to fickle algorithms.

Affiliate Lead Generation

If you want to talk about the bigger bucks, this is definitely John Chow’s preferred method of making money from YouTub e. To put this all in perspective, his YouTube channel brings in about $1,000 a month in AdSense (as reported for May 2017). His MOBE earnings for the same month was nearly $250,000 and YouTube referrals accounted for almost a third of that. Put another way, the resulting MOBE affiliate earnings beat out his AdSense revenue by about a factor of 70-to-1.



When you position and target your YouTube videos accordingly and partner up with the right big ticket affiliate program, your earning potential can shoot through the roof.

Your Own Products and Services

You’ve got an online business, so why not leverage your YouTube channel to help build and promote that business even further? The natural tie-in would be if you have a specific product to promote. If you just published a new book or launched a new membership site, there’s no reason why you can’t spread the word on YouTube or include a “promotional message” (from yourself) at the beginning or end of your videos to coincide with the launch.

Collaborations and Sponsorships

Influencer marketing is bigger than ever before. It’s a common misconception that brands only want to work with online influencers who have millions of followers. That’s just not the case. Brands are oftentimes better off working with a larger number of influencers with smaller followings to get the most bang out of their marketing buck.

Speaking for myself, I worked with Subaru Canada on a video that showcased the new Impreza at a local event and that was a sponsored video. Similar partnerships, collaborations and sponsorships are available both through influencer networks and by working with brands (and their PR agencies) directly. Don’t be afraid to reach out. There’s no harm in asking.

Of course, there are innumerable other opportunities for making money on YouTube beyond the AdSense alternatives listed here. Do you have any favorites? Share your experiences and insights in the comments below!

Tips and Tricks to get you started with Social Media Marketing





Just when you’ve decided to build your social media presence, you face the dilemma “where do I begin”. You have so many platforms, so many users to connect with, a plethora of content you can explore from various angles! You should know that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for social media marketing. It all depends on the nature of your business, the products and services you offer, the audience you want to target, your budget and so on. It takes some time to learn what works for you and what doesn’t.



Having said that, let’s begin with the tips that can get you started.

Know the various social media channels

These are the places which can get you the right audience for your business. So a deeper understanding of these platforms can help you get the edge over your competitors. Start with the Big Four – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

It’s safe to start with one or two of the platforms rather than jumping on all 4 channels at once. Many marketers have tried this and failed miserably.

A simple way to find a suitable platform for your business is to follow the influencers in your niche. Analyze them closely and check their followers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and so on.

Survey your customers or clients to find out which platform they use and prefer the most.

Another way is to find the leading business in your niche and visit their social media profiles. Let’s say they have 10,000 followers on twitter and 1000 fans on facebook. This is a strong sign that twitter is a better platform for your business. But don’t stop there. Drill down to find their engagement level on these platforms. This will help you determine which one can produce better results.

Optimize your Profiles

Once you decide which platform you want to target, the second step is to optimize your profile. This is going to help you with your SEO and will also increase your followers/fans.

  • Update your profile and cover image

Use high-quality images which represent your business and your logo. Social media is all about connecting with people. Your profile picture will create the first impression of your business.

  • Keep your description catchy.

Your description should capture your expertise and Unique Selling Proposal. Try to keep it short. When you are writing your Twitter bio besides your main keywords, add relevant hashtags.



  • Include a link to your website.

Including a link will help your SEO. You can add it to the “About me” section of Facebook,“Website section” of Twitter and “Contributor section” of Google+.

  • Add your physical address and phone number.

Build Your Audience

 

Once you have set up your profile there are a few basic steps which you can take to build your audience. First, you can invite your friends, clients, partners, and employees to the page.

Make your Social Media Buttons omnipresent. Add social media widgets to your blog or website and social media buttons to your email signature. You should always link your social media accounts on your “About us”, “Contact Us” page, blogs, newsletter etc.  

Also, incorporate social media buttons to your website so when you add content to your blog, for example, readers can easily share it. There are various plugins which can help you do that. Always, make these buttons large in size so that they are easily visible and clickable.

Once you have connected with your current contacts try reaching a new audience. Target people with interests in your niche and potentially your product or service. Run social media ads which target the right audience for your business.

Now, let’s have a look at each platform and check some specific strategies:

Facebook:

  • Advertise – target under 50,000 people. Retarget your ads for people who have visited your blog/website once. Choose your “type of ad” based on your audience, budget, and product/service. 

Twitter:

  • Start following relevant accounts – mostly users follow you back when you follow them. So it can make a good strategy for those who are just starting on Twitter. Go through the list of followers of other influencers in your niche. Optimize this list and start following relevant users.
  • Use trending and relevant hashtags
  • Find interesting twitter chats to join. Contribute to the conversation and interact with other participants. People will follow you when they see your expertise and the interesting insights you have.

Google+:

  • Get involved in Google+ circles – find circles which are relevant to your niche, follow them and build a community.
  • Join and contribute value to relevant communities.

LinkedIn:

  • Ask all your employees to get involved
  • Always customize your invitation requests

Don’t rush into building your followers. If you are not already aware, let me tell you that twitter restricts the number of people you can follow per day. Also, on Google+ you can add/delete only a number of people from your circle.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and the same goes for your social presence. You need to have some patience to build thousands of followers. Do not rush into it at the cost of breaking the rules. You might end up getting your account suspended.

I would suggest you build real followers. Then, concentrate on creating amazing content that people would love. This will not only help your SEO efforts but will also help you become an authority in your niche.

Share content that people will love

Content will remain king forever, and I always say interactive content is the hand of the king. The same goes for social media. When you publish interesting, unique and eye-catching content, people are bound to share it. The more people share it, the more visitors and followers you get.



But what do you post? I have compiled a list of interesting content that you can publish:

  • News posts and articles which focus on a controversial topic in your niche.
  • Customize quotes to your niche. (I would recommend using Canva for those)
  • Posting about any new research or stats in your area (of course by giving proper citations). Alternatively, make your own research and present your findings.
  • Create your own infographics – or if you are using someone else’s, make sure you mention them
  • Post videos – a “how-to” video tutorial is a good option to start with.
  • Use memes, GIFs and other trends. Share a joke once in awhile.
  • Include relevant hashtags. They make your content more searchable.

If you are not able to achieve the right amount of engagement in the form of likes, shares or comments, then you need to change your strategy.

One tested way to boost the engagement levels is adding images to your posts. Images catch the attention of your followers easily and help them comprehend the content better.  Your message becomes more clear and memorable.

You can look for blank images and customize them (include text in them). For example. you can ask a question and let your followers answer in the comments.

 

Post Consistently but don’t go crazy

Just because you got a million likes on your previous post does not mean that your task is done. You need to post consistently but don’t go overboard with it. Create a schedule and allocate specific time to social media marketing daily.

You can also make use of scheduling apps like Hootsuite and Buffer or use an editorial calendar. This will ensure you are not skipping posts and spending more than the required time.

Now, the question is how much should you post on each social media platform daily?

For Facebook, try once or twice in a day. For twitter, the more you tweet, the more exposure your business gets. For LinkedIn, try once in a day (avoid weekends). For Google+, I would suggest you post twice a day.

Social Media Strategies for Each Platform

Each social media network has a different set of users. Therefore, you need a different strategy for each platform. What works for Twitter might not work for LinkedIn.

For example, Facebook has a more diverse user base. Therefore, it can be used to promote any kind of brand. LinkedIn is a great platform for B2B companies. They can use it to promote business related content to corporate influencers.

Spend some time researching what people are looking for on various social networks. Then, align your strategies with these channels.

Now let’s dig into strategies that you could use for the major players:

Facebook:

  • Post Videos. According to TechCrunch, Facebook gets 3 billion views per day.
  • Use High-definition images.
  • Come up with posts that capture the mood of the season or a holiday
  • Change your cover to promote an event
  • Keep your post brief and interesting
  • Post Questions – it’s one of the best ways to strike a conversation (For example, “Which burger do you like the most? Bomb or Devi’s’?
  • Add call-to-actions

Twitter:

  • Optimize your bio – include a link to your website, tell people exactly what you do and how you can help them. Be precise.
  • Use the advanced search feature to search by keywords and find your ideal potential customers.  Go through their profiles and try to learn more about them. Then, customize your content when you are engaging with your target customers.
  • Incorporate images in your twitter posts – tweets with images 313% more engagement.
  • Engage with your followers on a regular basis – retweet and reply to their tweets.
  • Find experts in your niche and interact with them often.
  • Tweet regularly.
  • Use relevant and trending hashtags

LinkedIn:

  • Pick a niche (topic) that connects to your business and keep posting consistent and interesting content.
  • Come up with great headlines – this element creates the first impression of your business.
  • Use Rich media to effectively convey your expertise to your prospects. (videos, slideshare presentations and other interactive tools).
  • Plan your publishing times in a way that gives your posts maximum exposure.
  • You can go for a sponsored ad if your budget permits.

Google+:

  • Make sure you have claimed authorship with your personal Google+ page.
  • Link your website with your Google+ page. Incorporate a Google+ badge on your website, this will enable your users to follow your business on Google+ without  having to leave your website.
  • Try to use hashtags with every post, this will give you an added exposure. But make sure that the hashtag you are using is in sync with your topic.
  • Use clear and illustrative cover photos. You can use this picture to display your new products or advertise any upcoming event.
  • If you find webinars expensive, you can host Google+ hangouts. Although it supports only 10 active participants, you can stream it online to unlimited viewers through youtube.
  • Join communities in your niche. If you can’t find one, you can create your own using your personal profile page.

Instagram:

  • Optimize your profile – include a link, have a consistent name and an eye-catching bio.
  • Use a mix of short videos, graphics, images to know what type of content people react to the most
  • Comment on other people’s content – use industry-related and brand-related hashtags
  • Use fun images from your business – your office or your employees
  • Follow your followers and also, reward them sometimes
  • Keep a flexible posting schedule – use trending hashtags
  • Carefully choose your filters
  • Hold photo contests

Pinterest:

  • Make a business page (and not a profile). Thus, you can get access to analytics and advertising features which is not possible on a Pinterest profile.
  • Take some time out and comment on other pins – relevant pins in your niche where people commenting can be your potential leads.
  • Optimize your pins with a high definition images and classy text templates.
  • Add videos to your pinboard.
  • Organize all your client testimonials on a separate testimonial board.
  • Go for Rich pins – it will add extra details to your pins.

Youtube:

  • Use your keywords in your channel description and make sure you include a link back to your website.
  • Post simple yet unique videos.
  • Interact with your fans and subscribers – thank them for their support and always reply to their comments
  • Have a call-to-action at the end of every video
  • Link to related videos at the end of the video
  • Optimize your video description with important keywords and give a brief and precise information about the video content. Also, don’t forget to add a link your website.   

Now over to you.

What strategies would you recommend when taking your first steps in social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

5 Ultimate Webmaster Tricks to Deal with Unhappy Customers on Social Media (2018)





“You can’t make everyone happy!” Cliché but true! No matter how good your products are, or how awesome your services may be, there will be some customers who will be unhappy with you and will show their displeasure on different channels including social media. In fact as a business owner, you will be receiving negative comments on social media at some point or the other.



Yes, it is unpleasant and even uncalled for but the big question is – What should you do?

Should you simply ignore such comments?

Or should you choose to respond?

The answer is ‘Yes’! Of course, you should respond. Ignoring such comments won’t make them disappear from your social media accounts. Remember, running away from complaints or negative customer reviews would only show how ignorant are you towards your customers and business.

So, the next time you find one of your customers jabbing about your products or services on Facebook or Twitter, make sure that you or your team responds quickly.

Do You Know?



  • 45% of customers share negative reviews on social media. (Source: TruConversion.com)
  • Over 1 million people view tweets about customer service every week. Roughly 80% of those tweets are negative or critical in nature. (Source: Adweek)
  • For every 1 customer complaint online, there are 26 other customers who share same feelings but don’t say anything. (Source: Groovehq.com)
  • 65% customers are frustrated by inconsistent experiences across channels. (Source: TruConversion.com)
  • Churn rate can increase by 15% if organizations fail to respond to customers on social media. (Source: Gartner)

With these stats in hand, it’s easy to understand how responding in a timely manner can help you convert them into loyal ones.

If you’re confused on how to turn your angry customers into happy ones, here are 5 ultimate tricks that will help you turn unhappy customers into brand loyalists.

  1. Stay Updated on Conversations – As a marketer, you should have knowledge of what people think and talk about your brand. It is important that you be social and participate in all conversations about your brand. Remember, being a great listener will help you offer better response to your customers.

Here’s an example:

Check out how this yoga-wear retailer Lululemon Athletica witnessed a massive decline in its revenue  because they did not pay heed to what customers are saying about their product on social media on time and respond to them.

You will find that a lot of people took to social media to talk about the brand. However, there was no response from the company on the social media platform or on their website that made the matter worse.

  1. Respond Quickly – According to an article published in Thunderhead.com, 25% customers migrate to competitors just after one bad experience. Therefore, you need to respond as quickly as possible and pacify your customers. It takes some micro seconds for an issue to get viral on social media platforms. Therefore, it’s better to take control of the situation before it gets worse. Don’t forget, 65% Twitter users expect a response within 2 hours, states an article published in Truconversion.com

Yeah, true! You may not provide them with a solution at that very moment, but it’s essential to address their concerns and let them know when their issue will be resolved and the reason for your taking so much time.

This will assure your angry customer that you are looking into the matter and that they are of prime importance to the company. According to Hubspot, if you respond quickly, 34% are likely to buy from you, and 43% are likely to encourage friends and family to do so as well.

Here’s an example:

Maker’s Mark reversed their decision of reducing alcohol content in their product after getting negative response from their customers. They quickly reverted to all the comments by issuing a social statement regarding their taking their decision back.  

 



  1. Deliver Authentic Apology – Cyberalert.com states that public apologies on social media and review websites significantly impact brand reputation and customer perception. Craft your apology in a way that looks genuine and earns respect. Remember, apologize and do not make an excuse, there is a difference between the two.

While a strong apology can turn your angry customers into loyal ones, a flimsy one can aggravate them further. Also, there is no harm in making your apologies public as this will only help in building your image of a responsible company.

Here’s an example:

A representative of FedEx was caught throwing a package over a customer’s fence, the company accepted its mistake by posting a blog “Absolutely, positively unacceptable” on social media. They also included a video from company’s senior vice-president Matthew Thornton in the post to make the apology more authentic.

  1. Behave like Friends – While handling unhappy customers, make sure that you talk to them as friends. According to Huffington Post, nurturing a friendly relationship with your customers is vital to growing a successful business. Don’t ever use fake names or pictures while talking with your customers as it gives a bad image. Similarly, you can address your customers by their names like their friends do.

Calm them down by offering them something that will make things alright. Just aim at bringing that smile back on their face.

Here’s an example:

See how Zappos deals with its unhappy customers in the friendliest way possible. Check out the way Zappos interact with its customers on social media sites, it’s as if two friends are talking. This is perhaps the reason for Zappos getting 75% of its purchases come from repeat customers!

  1. Show Your Efforts – Like we said earlier, apologize publicly so that people know what all you are doing to resolve a particular issue. Though there is nothing wrong in sending a personal email to the customer, people who must have read the negative post about your company will never get to know the efforts you made to fix the issue and retain the customer. In fact, there are chances that people think that your company is too careless to respond if you send a private message.

Remember, organization is the key to great apology email. Do well to ensure that vital branding elements such as your custom logo design and company name, etc. pop out. In addition, make sure that your contact details are easily spottable. Don’t forget to add social share buttons to make it easy for customers to share feedback about your brand on social media.

Here’s an example:

Graco’s transparent use of its Twitter account helped it get valuable information about serial number and repair kits out much more quickly and economically. Apart from this, majority of its customers were delighted with how the company kept them updated during its product recall.

Over to You

An article published in TruConversion.com states that a dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. Therefore, building a healthy relationship with your customers by giving them a quick response is vital to the growth of your business.

No matter how angry a customer is with your product or service, you can make things better by interacting with them.

We are sure that these 5 strategies will work wonders in your efforts of dealing with unhappy customers.

All the best!

 

Five Companies You Didn’t Know Started Small (For Entrepreneurs Only) 2018





Bet you didn’t know that 69% of entrepreneurs started their business out of their home. Most people, even entrepreneurs, don’t have the startup capital to build an empire overnight. If you’ve seen Shark Tank, you know that those who hold all the money aren’t going to give it up unless they know you’re a good investment If you can’t prove it, and this doesn’t mean you’re not worth it, you’ve got to start small. And plenty of major corporations were once garage operations. Microsoft is one of the most well known of these operations. It’s so well known that it’s cliche to talk about tech companies that started in a garage. And yet the stories about other corporations remain untold.



So, let’s get to it. Here are five stories about those who dared to dream big and actually achieved something.

1. Coors Brewing Company

Adolph Coors himself was a poor immigrant from Prussia (now Germany). And he was only 21 when he stowed away on a ship to the United States.

After landing in the United States, Adolf made his way west working odd jobs. Back in Prussia, he had been a brewer. And when he met another German immigrant in Golden, Co, he decided it was time to take his savings and invest in his own beer recipe.

While Coors entered the United States poor, he had a decent amount of capital when he began his brewing company. $2000 in 1972 is $33,000 after inflation.

While that’s a decent amount of startup capital, Coors didn’t attribute his company’s success to money alone. It was the water he used to brew his beer: fresh water from the Rocky Mountains.



2.  Subway Sandwiches

To open a sub shop today, you’d need more than $1000. Even accounting for inflation between 1965 and now, the amount Dr. Peter Buck and Fred Deluca put into their first sub shop wasn’t much.

But they stretched it to fit, even setting a goal of having 32 stores opened in ten years.

Dr. Buck was a Ph.D. and Fred Deluca hoped to go to medical school. Neither dreamed they would be billionaires int he year 2018. Today they boast more than 44,000 locations all over the world.

3. LuLaRoe

“There is something to be said about the fact that grown women are swearing, crying and threatening people over leggings with cats on them.” Today, if you know about LuLaRoe, you’re either obsessed or you know someone who is obsessed.

Today the company is worth over $2 billion and they achieved this in only 4 years. That’s a lot of money for a clothing company that opened on old-fashioned modesty principles.

In 2012 a grandmother created a maxi skirt for her daughter. Her daughter posted the skirt on Instagram and suddenly 44 of her friends wanted an exact copy.

The grandmother’s name is DeAnne Stidham and she began her company with next to no capital. Within the first three days after selling the 44 skirts, she sold 300 skirts she had made by professionals. Her husband wisely suggested she turn this into a business.

The company now runs a consumer marketed, multi-level scheme. LuLaRoe Consultants must put up a sizeable amount of cash to even get started and they won’t get that money back if they don’t sell their merchandise.



It’s the story of a small company that rode a fad and pivoted to continue to make billions after the fad faded.

3. Wrigley Gum

In 1891 William Wrigley somehow thought that what the world needed was a good scrubbing. So when he moved to Chicago, he took $32 in change and turned it into a soap and baking powder company.

Now, he did have to borrow $5,000 from his rich uncle, but it’s still impressive that he eventually built one of the most popular chewing gum companies from pocket change.

4. Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson is over 100 years old. And the company wasn’ always into hogs.

Back in 1903, cars weren’t particularly popular. But bicycles were. And Arthur and Walter Davidson dreamed of making bicycles go much faster than human legs could propel them.

So, with very little money on hand, the brothers took a bicycle and strapped a motor on it. They had so little that they had to borrow a shed from a family member.

They sold three motorized bicycles in their first year. Now they’re the most iconic motorcycle in the world.

5. Maglite

Maglites are now known as one of the most dependable flashlights. And if you get one of their larger options, it’s heavy enough to use in self-defense.

All Tony Maglica saved up to build his flashlight empire was $125. Ever since he had left the shores of Croatia, he’d always dreamed of leaving behind his days of working for others and become his own boss.

He used the $125 on a down-payment for machinery. He used that machinery to do precision work on US missiles and satellites under contract with the Government.

He won several clients from his excellent work. While doing this, he eventually began making improvements on designs for various private companies. One of these companies was a flashlight parts manufacturer.

Maglica was dissatisfied with the current state of flashlights that he designed a better one for himself. This re-designed flashlight eventually became the Maglite.

 

What is the Future of Blogging? Exploring Some Ideas





With blogging being such a vast industry, it’s important that you stay ahead of the curve. This means to think about the future and start making the tweaks right now instead of later. This is how some of the MOST successful people in the world started because they visualized the world now and where they think it’s heading. With that said,



You have to explore and understand what direction blogging is going toward. For example, if many of us would have visualized mobile usage then we would have made mobile-friendly tweaks earlier on instead of waiting last minute…right? I’ve worked with many bloggers over the years, all with several different years of experience. Here’s what I noticed happening and what you can do to better equip yourself going forward. Let’s look at blogging and where it is heading…



Brand Awareness

Have you noticed many of the top bloggers are focusing more on brand, which is mainly their personal names? Here are some of the MOST popular blogs I can think of from the top of my head: JohnChow.com, ZacJohnson.com, NeilPatel.com and MatthewWoodward.co.uk. It’s not as valuable as to use a keyword as your domain like SEO.com, etc., because people still find it hard to identify with the author. However, by building your brand around your personal name, it means more when people throw around your name in forums, content, and other communities.

In the future, more focus will be given to your brand equalling your personal name because it’s this aspect that will build your credibility as someone valuable within your niche.

SEO

Over the years, we have seen enormous changes within Google and this has been catered toward the user experience. Search engines are all about the user experience and making sure people find what they are looking for. However, this is not enough because searchers have to find valuable content and one that provides a complete solution so it’s up to search engines to provide this. Google has already announced changes like LSI keywords, valuable content, freshness, “target” keywords, and mobile-optimized. What’s next?



Keep focusing on SEO and make sure you add a combination of different keywords within your content. For example, long-tail keywords, LSI keywords, and those that are highly targeted. Next, make sure you use a combination of different anchors to build links to cover all the different keywords you have within your content. This will help your page rank for different more “targeted” keywords, increasing the user experience.

Content = Value

It’s all about value because something has to separate the best from the mediocre…right? Google has invested a lot of resources into finding out which sites and content is providing the best value. For example, they look at things like activity, bounce rate, links, DA, and PA to establish some sort of value bar. Going forward, you should be focusing on writing the best content for your readers even if this means cutting down the frequency at which you’re posting. Nothing can replace value, no matter what niche you’re in, so follow these steps before you write:

  • Research
  • Outline
  • Write
  • Edit
  • Share
  • Tweak

This will allow you to have enough information to find out when you have created something special or simply mediocre.

Relevance

How do you stop websites from manipulative link building? You can give people control over links pointing to their website like the introduction of Disavow. You can also strategically make sure it’s difficult for them to build unnatural links by focusing on things that really matter. Google has put enormous value on relevance because this shows the right intent. For example, websites will only link to relevant websites when the value is there…right? Why else would anyone link unless they are trying to manipulate the search engines? Going forward, relevance matters and will continue to grow in importance, but there is a great way to make sure you find value in this. How? Write the best content because then people have no choice but to link to you.

Choose Wisely: Your Logo’s Color Could Change How They Perceive You





People perceive power when they see the color black. Researchers once surveyed the stats for 52,000 professional hockey games. They found that teams who wore black jerseys received more penalties for aggression than teams that didn’t. While color doesn’t technically exist (without our eyes to interpret, color would merely be light waves), it has a profound effect upon our minds. It can change how hungry we are, whether we find someone attractive, and it can even make us nauseous. It follows that color in company logos could either attract or deter customers. Ask yourself, why are some logos more attractive than others? Most likely, it has a lot to do with the colors used.



Here’s what your company logo’s color tells your customers.

1. Your Logo Says You Smell Musty

A group of researchers asked 6 different cultural groups what odors they associated with different colors and vice versa. Across all six cultural groups, the answers were strikingly similar.

The group of researchers used smell markers and computer images. None of the colors or smells were labeled. This ensured that no semantic associations arose.

They found that color associations like brown for musty or pink for sweet were fairly universal.

If your business deals in food-based goods, you might want to be careful what colors you choose for marketing and logos.



2. Your Logo Screams GO!

When you take a look at the color orange, how do you feel? Colors often instill a sense that you should or should not do something. Researchers got curious about this kind of arousal and did a study on what kinds of emotions colors could incite.

They found that colors like yellow, red or orange incite feelings of action and arousal. These warm colors create associations in the brain with particular actions.

But the opposite is true of cool colors. If you’re looking to impune a sense of calm choose blue or a similar color. If you’re a psychiatrist who treats anxiety, you probably don’t want to use orange for your logo.

3. Is Your Logo Positive or Negative?

We’re all pretty much done with the Gap, I’m sure. But when you think of the gap, you see bright and airy. Their commercials always underlined this thought with white backgrounds and young people in pastels dancing around like life was nothing but cherry pie.

While their logo could have used a facelift, their general marketing color scheme shouted happy fun times. If you want to do the same with your logo, toss in bright colors.

Another group of researchers studied college students. They asked for associations with either dark or light colors.

The light colors elicited positive responses: happy, relaxed, excited. The dark colors elicited negative responses: anxious, bored, sad.



Unless you’re Hot Topic or a metal band, go for bright colors.

4. Double Up With Color and Letter in Your Logo

A weird and fascinating study found that we associate various letters with colors. They conducted this study on only English-speaking people, but it might have wider application.

We associate some letters with colors due to education. For example, if you’ve read The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne, you probably associate the letter A with red.

We associate some colors with letters without any education. The researchers found that illiterate children associated X with black. They also found that children associated any nonsensical shape with white.

Illiterate children associate shape with color. This is how we naturally make associations. But once we’ve learned a new association, we re-map our brains and overwrite the natural associations.

If you’re a blogger, you’re targeting a more literate audience. Consider letter and color associations when picking your logo colors. A little bit of research could turn up a host of useful associations.

5.  Strength Vs. Weakness in Your Logo

A study done in 1973 showed a correlation between color and perception of strength. Red and Black are strong colors and they give people a sense of strength. But white, yellow, and grey are weak colors.

If you’re putting on a tough trail race, go ahead and put red and black in your logo. People will feel strong and want to participate.

6. Put Red in Your Logo If You’re Looking to Attract

Researchers have conducted a ton of studies on the color red. They universally agree that it creates a feeling of attraction and desire or at least enhances this effect.

One team showed images of women to men and men to women. They would show the same woman to several men but change the background color alternating between red and white. They did the same with women.

They found that people rated the same person more attractive in the photos with the red background than they did with the white. They tried the same thing with clothing, alternating white shirts and red shirts. Same effect.

Do Your Research

Putting the science of color behind your logos will greatly enhance your brand image. Do your research and be careful how you choose your colors. What works from some regions may not work for others.

 

9 Things Soloprenuers Should (and Shouldn’t) Emulate from ‘Entourage’





 

Did you know that HBO made a show loosely based on Mark Whalberg’s possy of friends? It’s called Entourage and the cast (the Chase Men) are a lot prettier than their real-life counterparts. Perhaps this was a Walbergian fantasy.



In fact, HBO considered making the show into a direct documentary. But Walberg’s violent past was too much for the early aughts audience. They instead chose a satirical approach which was probably a good idea.

Walberg is executive producer and he had a say in almost everything that went into Entourage. Walberg is an entrepreneur as well as a successful Hollywood actor. And the satirical comedy Entourage gives a glimpse into some of what you should (or maybe shouldn’t) do to get to the top.

1. Have a Loyal Crew Like Vincent

Many of us start out as solopreneurs. It can be a lonely business. Sure, we have friends we see on occasion, but they aren’t going in the same direction as we are.

Just like the President of the United States, Vincent was nothing without his friends and those with whom he surrounded himself.

Ari gold, Turtle, Johnny Drama, and Eric Murphy each contributed something to Vincent’s life. Eric or “E.” is an honest Abe who helps Vincent make decisions. He’s not afraid to speak his mind especially when Vincent refers to the area around his crotch as his “airspace”.

We all need an E. in our lives to balance out our impulses.



Ari Gold is his business manager. He doesn’t get along with “E.” at first. Ari supplies Vincent with opportunities.

This is the holy trinity of Entourage. If we cut the rest of Vincent’s crew, the show would go on just fine.

Have a holy trinity. People you trust with your life. One to push you to your limits and another to temper your passion.

2. Don’t Let Success Get to Your Head

The decision to forget about Walberg’s past is an unfortunate decision. Walberg (Vincent) did not grow up rich. He was the youngest of 9 kids.

He grew up in Boston and his parents divorced when he was 11. At 14, he dropped out of school and became a criminal. He stole, sold drugs, and did side hustles (the illegal kind). He eventually hit the bottom of the barrel when he beat a Vietnamese man bloody and went to jail.

After jail, he vowed to turn his life around and put his energy toward more constructive pursuits. His luck really turned when his brother Donnie from the then popular band New Kids on the Block.

When Reality Still Sneaks In

Instead of his journey from rough and criminal to stardom, the producers decided a sugar-coated version of Walberg was needed. Where do we begin Entourage? In a mansion.

Walberg is already rich. And that seems to the whole point. We’re supposed to glory and dream of the high life where we can get away with almost anything in Hollywood because “money”.

It’s why some successful people fail. They take their success for granted and let important things slide.

Vincent was the only one (ironically) not chasing the dollar in the show. But even Ari would get caught up in the dollar amount sometimes. And it was E. who would bring Vincent back in those moments.



Vincent got it right when he said, “I came from nothing. And as much as I love all the toys, I really don’t need them.”

This should be your mindset. Chase only things that add value to your life and are in line with your personal goals and standards. The money will never be enough.

3. Fail Often

Kilian Jornet climbed mount Everest twice…in two weeks. He holds the record for the fastest climb. His motto? Fail often.

You see this time and again in Entourage. Vince takes a gig like Medellin, it fails, nobody wants to work with him, and he keeps trying.

The biggest ballers in history are the people who failed the most. J.K Rowling got rejected over and over, persisted (while living on food stamps), and is now one of the richest women in the world. Henry Ford failed at five businesses before succeeding with automobiles.

Rowling even says, “It’s impossible to live without failing at something. Unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.”

Taking calculated risks is a major part of any business. You take out a loan hoping to make enough to pay it back and then some. You hire people hoping they are productive and make you more money than you pay them.

Nothing you do in this life is without risk. And when you do fail (and you will), you must have the will to get back up and keep trying even if it means doing something completely different.

9. Diversify: Don’t Keep All Them Eggs in One Basket

Yeah, brand consistency is great. And each “egg” should be uniform and pretty and well painted. But everyone who gambles knows you shouldn’t put all your chips on one square.

If things go sideways on one gig, you should have other gigs going to hold you up. This is what makes Vince’s life interesting for a while. He tries things like singing at birthday parties or tried his luck in fashion.

If one industry gives up the ghost, then you’ll know that the others will prop you up until you find a replacement.

Perhaps you go into app development and you also do web development on the side. Your apps fail, then you’ll end up with a great job in web development.

Keep Your Friends Close

Whatever you do as a soloprenuer, always value those closest to you. Vince would be nothing without his friends and family. Literally.

Look around you. Who in your life gives you the most value. Stick by them and they’ll stick by you.

Check out more awesome marketing lessons.