Wednesday, September 17, 2014

3 Reasons to Supplement Your Existing Staff with Outsourced Expertise

Statistics published by US Small Business Administration showed that 56% of US small businesses have fewer than 5 employees. For really small businesses, this might be enough. But what if your employees cannot handle all the work that comes in? You can easily hire more people, but if you’re a small business, this may not be the best option for you. So what can you do to bridge the divide between work and human resources and earn more revenue? One solution is to get outsourced expertise. Here are 3 benefits to supplementing your existing staff with outsourced expertise.

Access to an Ocean of Knowledge
In this age of the Internet, outsourcing expertise means you have the whole world to look for help even if you’re just a small business. This actually levels the playing field and allows your company to be competitive against the big ones. You can get access to many niches of knowledge without having to hire a dozen people locally. This is but one of the many reasons why 43% of IT companies in the US outsource expertise offshore.

Accelerate Output Turnover Time
If your small business is here in the US, then you can hire someone for a specific project on the other side of the globe who’s ahead 12 hours or more in the calendar. This means you can, in principle, give the instructions today, say for an SEO-friendly article, and get the output on the next day. This work time is equivalent to having a full-time employee working overtime (overnight) without the loss of productivity due to fatigue.  Output turnover time for projects is reduced.

Cost Reduction
Let’s face it, professional work rates in the US can dampen the expansion hopes of small businesses and limit growth. This is a primary driving factor why the outsourcing of workers and experts offshore has grown so fast. For less than the minimum wage in the US, you can hire someone in India or The Philippines (both English-speaking countries) to work on company projects that would otherwise cost you five times as much or more if you hire a local expert. Paying fees lower than US standards to such workers and experts is possible because the price of the dollar in these countries is still high.

Given that the total number of US jobs outsourced offshore is 2,637,239 in 2013, you could be missing out on the advantages of outsourcing expertise offshore if you’ve not made it a part of your business planning. With outsourced workers doing the critical customer- or product-based output for you, you can focus on company management which is essential for you to grow your small business. 

Don’t Leave Your Google Ranking Up to Luck: Top 4 SEO Strategies

Effective SEO uses tried and tested strategies to optimize your chances to come out on top of search engine results. Don’t leave your Google ranking up to luck. Employ these 4 basic strategies to direct the organic searches of your target market to your site.

Place the Right Keywords in Your Content. Keywords enable your target market to find your site. So basically these are the words your prospective customer would type into a search box that the search engine should be able to match to your website, blog article, Facebook page, and other sites, to land you a good spot on its search results list. But it takes more than just good guesswork, second guessing, or even logic, to choose the right keywords so you get picked up. Every search engine has rules concerning keyword usage, such as relevance to content and number of mentions, and if you deliberately break these, you could end up not found, marked as spam, or blocked by the search engine.

Place the Right Keywords in Your Metadata. Well-placed keywords in your metadata (the text elements describing your document that are part of the page but not of the actual content), act pretty much the same way as keywords in the text of your web page. These are just as important to your content getting picked up and are also subject to the same search engine rules.

Build Links that Go Back to You. Link building to up your Google ranking is basic SEO practice. It works if you can get backlinks to your site inserted in other relevant sites—let’s say your published comment with your URL in someone else’s popular blog—that is do follow.

SEO through Rich Content. This is the best strategy in the online battle for rank supremacy. By using rich content that gives to your audiences and keeps on giving (useful information and sought-after content), you can build your business online. Google has said it time and again… Content is king. If they say so, it must really matter.

Don’t forget to keep monitoring changes in search engine rules, because these are bound to affect even the tried and tested SEO strategies such as relevant keyword use and backlinking.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Marketing with Google+ Hangout: 3 Reasons It's a Must

Hangouts have become hot with online marketers these days, with Google+ hangouts being one of the preferred choices to market businesses online. Are you missing out? If you want to do marketing with online hangouts, then you need to know 3 things to get ahead.

Encourages Engagement
There are many ways to get people to engage with you online, and one of the best ways is to use a hangout like Google's. A hangout can encourage your customers to be social on a platform where you get real-time customer views of your products. Research stats from EXPO show that reviews from consumers are 12 times more trusted than descriptions from manufacturers.

You can increase engagement tarting with the title for your hangout which should be interesting enough to be clicked on by your audience. Once you catch their attention, then you can give them a reason to stay or keep coming back. One good way is to schedule regular weekly hangout events such as interviews that revolve around your business.

All-in Presentation Venue
By creating a hangout, you create a place where you can invite an audience to listen to you talk about your business and whatever you have to offer. A hangout can be like a conference where everybody has a chance to speak, or if they choose to, they can simply listen to you deliver a presentation.

You can live-stream a video to YouTube publicly in the Google+ Hangout. This shows how you are not limited by location when you use an online hangout. You can record your hangout session and make it available to be played online. Since studies show that meetings with potential customers contribute to increased sales, then using a hangout can be a goldmine of conversions.

Free Tools to Use
Perhaps the best feature of online social media hangouts is that they are free to use and come with free apps that can help you make the most out of your hangout experience. A good example is the Google Hangout Toolbox app, where you can have part of your screen to display visuals relevant to the topic at hand.

Another free tool in the Google Toolbox is Comment Tracker which allows you to extract comments from social media sites like Twitter. This comes in pretty handy for instant feedback from around the Web.

If you find that creating and using a hangout can be helpful to your marketing, then these three things can help you get ahead in your business. But be sure to test things first and be familiar with the hangout platform you intend to use so you minimize the chances for errors.

4 Tips to Build Online Reputation and Not Break Social Media Rules

Are social media compliance rules getting in the way of your building an online reputation? We all know how social media sites warn us about the posting of certain content that are controversial or sensitive. It’s all well and good, but what if you unknowingly go below the belt? Here are 4 tips to build your online reputation without breaking social media compliance rules.

Common Sense Rules
If you know right from wrong and are guided by common sense, then you would have little or no problem in making sure that your social media posts are not the kind that would bring trouble to your reputation. If you have an unpopular opinion about someone popular, it’s best to keep it to yourself or risk getting flak from those reacting online. Before you type a social media update about someone, think of how the comment will make you react. If your reaction isn’t good, then don’t make the post, because it’s also likely going to be the reaction of other people.

Read the Fine Print
Admit it, you have not really read all there is to read about the terms and privacy issues of social media sites like Facebook Google+ or Twitter. It’s a hassle, but you really need to read those things because you might do something wrong which is visible to everybody and which may reflect negatively on your reputation. There are sites, forums in particular, which prefer to keep promotions out of the conversation, for example, so if you post about your company’s new Mark 2 Iron Man suit replica, you will get into trouble for that one post.

Think about Your Audience
As marketers, we get too eager sometimes to get our message across and we tweet and post to our heart’s content about how great our company is etc. You might believe that there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing, but the thinking is really self-oriented and too much of posts that promote your business or company may get you labelled as a spammer, especially if you post quite a number of times in one day. Spam posts are always unwelcome in social sites. In marketing, speak to your audience. Your messages must address their needs or expectations and should not seem methodical or forced on them.

Engage Communities
Outsourced marketing company Blue Tree Digital's clients, Loudoun Insurance Group (LIG) and Capital Fiduciary Advisors (CFA) have enjoyed success in building their reputation online without breaking social media compliance rules. One tip is to keep tweets and other information posted online focused on the community involvement of clients and not solely on content that you think will be consumed or followed by your audience to the advantage of the business. “Scheduling of tweets and Facebook updates doesn't really help as much in terms of building an audience. It definitely keeps content rolling, but it's not for growing an audience,” says Nicole Skuba of Blue Tree Digital Marketing. So don't just give content. Engage, as Captain Picard would say in Star Trek.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

5 Pawn Stars Tips for the Entrepreneur

The "Pawn Stars" shop in 2010. Photo by Mike Salvucci

Chumlee. Pic by Kristina
Pawn Stars. Who would have guessed that a television show about people haggling in a pawnshop would be the recipe for a huge hit? Envisioned by the History Channel as a vehicle to feature historical tidbits behind pawned items, the show also teaches us lessons on entrepreneurship. Here are five tips for the entrepreneur inspired by Pawn Stars.

Tell a Story
Everyone loves a good story. For some primal reason, a story can engage and captivate your audience and gives credence to the product or service you're selling. In Pawn Stars, every item brought in to be sold or pawned has a history, which audiences always look forward to.

As an entrepreneur, storytelling can be an ally in dealing with customers. Based on a survey by the Internet Advertising Bureau, 90% of customers are more inclined to recommend a brand if it's socially engages them. If you tell the kind of story that captures the attention of your customers and engages them with your brand, then they're as good as sold.

Product First. Price Second
In Pawn Stars, haggling is a given. Both sides want to get the best deal and try to justify their asking price. In marketing, this is akin to identifying a unique selling point or proposition (USP) that supports the given price. Pawnshop owner, Rick Harrison sometimes argues, "Well, I still have to earn a profit from it," and it can work in his favor as it’s a fact, but from the customer’s point of view, it's all about you and money, when what they really want to hear is something about the product that they can weigh in and then stick a price tag to that.

It's the Customer's Good Deal
The dynamics of the deal means one or the other gains control over the deal-making. The winner is the one who makes the other pause and say, "All right. It's a deal." As the seller, you tend to want to be in control (since there's the word "profit" flashing in the back of your head). But even so, you must always think of what the customer wants. Ask yourself, “How can the customer enter your store, feeling that he will be getting the best deal of his life?” A good start is to ask the customer about their needs and work to give it. The customer who always gets a good deal is the one who will keep coming back for more.

Customers Are Your Spokespeople
To promote Pawn Stars, father and son team, Rick and Corey Harrison, went on tour as far as Asia in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. They went out of their way to meet and greet fans and curious onlookers alike. By reaching out to the people, Pawn Stars was able to create word of mouth hype which quickly spread on the Internet. Suddenly, everybody was talking and blogging about how friendly and smart the Harrisons were, and then tune in to the History Channel to watch the show. “I’ve met them and they’re great,” they’d say, and the word spreads.

Show You Deserve Attention
Pawn Stars had this idea of telling tidbits of history around old items, but it’s still about a pawnshop business and the people who run it. In the show's introduction, Rick Harrison says something like, "You never know what's coming through that door," yet everyone expects him to know something about an item or he finds a way to find out. His customers rely on him to know his stuff. As a business person, you must also know your stuff. If you prove your worth, they will come.

Anecdote: When Rick Harrison was in the Philippines promoting the show's new season in 2013, he said the reason the show was so successful was because of Chumlee. The crowd cheered.

Monday, February 11, 2013

How to Make Blogging a Habit

Make blogging a habit.
Have you been neglecting your blogs? Have you been procrastinating about posting? For many bloggers, blogging can be a very satisfying activity, especially if you're a writer at heart or if you blog to earn income. But blogging it's not an easy thing to do if you have other important things to attend to, such as a day job or family. Thankfully, you can always do time management. You simply need to schedule time for you to blog. It seems easy to do, but if you've other activities not related to blogging, then you need to change and work your way to making blogging your new habit.

Now the question is: How do you get rid of a habit you don't want anymore and replace it with another, in this case, blogging? Well, first you must want to change. Then you must start doing what you need to do for it to become a habit. Do yo follow? If you keep doing an activity long enough, it will grow into your lifestyle and it becomes a habit. For example, if you haven't been blogging for months, then you can start with one blog post and work your way to two, then on to three or maybe even four a week. The idea is to make blogging a part of your lifestyle.

How long does it take to replace an old habit with a new one? Well the best answer comes from Kundalini Yoga teacher Gurutej Khalsa, who's based in LA. She's written about breaking bad habits in her books and practices what she preaches. According to what she had been taught by Yogi Bhajan, it takes 40 days to break an old habit and 90 days to create a new one. In 120 days, the habit becomes part of you. After that, you can work towards becoming a master of the new habit.

So, if you apply this process to getting into the habit of blogging, then you can technically get into posting regularly in just 4 months. Keep that in mind. I know I need to.

Here's a video by Gurutej Khalsa talking about breaking old habits and creating new patterns (habits) that will be beneficial to you.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vendor Barks: Have Pity, Buy from Me

Market in Manila
Street markets almost always give a surprise, pleasant or otherwise. While going through a very crowded street market, where people can almost exchange faces, I heard one vendor barking, "Have pity! Buy from me!" Now I've heard all sorts of things barked by street vendors but that one is something which I just had to write about.

It made me wonder if the selling statement of the vendor is effective or not. It was not about what the vendor could do for the customer, but rather what the customer can do for the vendor. It was counter intuitive,  In a way, it was almost as if the vendor was begging, instead of selling. It was like he's saying, I am poor and in need, so you can help me by buying from me. He was selling socks, if I remember correctly, and he had lots of them to sell. The other vendors next to him didn't seem to mind his selling technique. Would this begging method also work online? Maybe not, but persuasion, or giving a good reason for customers to buy can make a difference, which could land you that sale.