3 Lessons for Modern and Tenacious Leaders

3 Lessons for Modern and Tenacious Leaders

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The lines begin to blur

In 2015, when Ukrainian writer Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature, she was a genre buster. While other writers have captured political turmoil in gripping works of fiction, her work is devoted to real people’s stories. Her art isn’t literature, per se. It’s journalism.

Last year, another genre buster won the Nobel Prize for Literature: Bob Dylan. His win was a big surprise around the world. Not because his lyrics aren’t poetic, or even poetry for that matter, but because Nobel laureates are thought to be the ultimate leaders in their field, each one a divining rod for cultural transformation. So literature lovers everywhere were left wondering where these two nontraditional, non-literary choices might be leading us.

The answer? To uncharted territory. And whenever I find myself somewhere new without a map, I ask myself …

What’s the lesson?

That leadership can no longer embody the status quo.

Whether or not song lyrics and journalism qualify as literature isn’t the point. The point is that leadership is about embracing change. Constantly.

Whether you’re an artist, a scientist, a politician or a corporate executive, being a leader in today’s 24/7 culture requires flexibility, tenacity and a willingness to explore the unknown. This means that what got you where you are today won’t get you where you want to go.

Speaking of where you are today, chances are you’re a leader due to one of two scenarios:

  1. You were a superstar individual contributor, so, to engage you, you were promoted to manager. But you haven’t had much formal leadership training.
  2. You set out to be a leader and you’ve been managing people for years. The leadership development courses you’ve taken have been instrumental in your success.

But regardless of which leader you are – and even if you’re a senior executive – you have one thing in common: Your employees rely on you for coaching.

And as management trends move from command-and-control to servant leadership, from “telling” to coaching, tackling tough situations with aplomb is now more dynamic than static.

Here are three ways you can keep pace with change as you coach your team.

1. Feedback: The good, the bad and the ugly

A former boss of mine used to say that feedback was a gift – as long as she was the one giving it.

Kidding aside, effective feedback is essential to coaching like a pro, but it can be the trickiest aspect of the game.

Communicating negative messages toward a positive outcome takes practice and preparation. Remember to be timely with your feedback, but resist the temptation to lash out in the moment or to criticize in front of others. When you do coach on weak areas, heading out of the office for a change of scene can defuse some of the personal emotion.

Unsure about whether to involve HR in a sticky performance conversation? Ask. A good HR business partner will know from experience when they need to step in, and they can roleplay with you as part of your prep work.

On the flip side, be just as mindful of how you deliver positive strokes. If you decide to praise one employee verbally in front of others, make sure it isn’t creating another performance problem for you by alienating a different team member. If you’re praising an employee in writing, make sure you have all your facts straight.

Positive or negative, don’t put it off. Strike while the iron’s hot.

2. Growth: What goes around comes around

According to Gallup, the global employee engagement statistic is hovering at a shockingly low 13 percent. Providing career growth options to your team can hugely impact how much skin they have in the game. But it’s also hard work. So, why aren’t you spending more time, money and energy providing growth opportunities for your team?

These are the most common excuses:

  • I really want to, but my team is too busy with their day-to-day work.
  • Our training budget was sucked up by operational costs.
  • Oh, and did I mention how busy I am?

Lack of time is the worst excuse imaginable when your employees are looking to grow. Not defending your training budget to the leaders above you is a close second. Consider that there will be much less time to spend on employee development when people start leaving for other opportunities. Take their development seriously now or regret it later.

Finding growth opportunities for your people doesn’t have to be costly, and the outcomes can be of tremendous value to your business. But remember, your employees are unique. Developing their skills can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.

Word to the wise: as their coach, keep your needs out of it. Their growth should not be about making you look good (more on that later). Take the time to learn about their strengths, weaknesses, dreams, desires and passions.

The simple truth about coaching is that it doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be consistent. If you’re not already, incorporate career growth discussions into your regular one-on-one meetings with your direct reports. Once you know what makes them tick, you can sync up their aspirations with projects that will give them a chance to shine.

Side benefit? Even though you did it for them, it’s good for you. Your reputation as a leader will soar, as will your team’s.

Side effect? You may realize that your manager needs to give your career aspirations some love and attention. A new Gallup poll shows that only 35 percent of managers are engaged. Ask for what you need. You deserve it.

3. Motivate your stars – and your understudies

Keeping your lead players passionate used to entail putting them in the “upper L” of your nine-box grid at year’s end for the 6 percent raise versus the 4 percent everyone else is getting. (I’m bored just thinking about it.) With many HR departments trending away from traditional performance evaluations, it’s time to start looking for creative ways to reward key talent.

What about a high-potential program, you ask? Not all are created equally. Proceed with caution.

Shoehorning your stars into a program that rests upon a narrow or vague definition of potential is nearly played out. Just as HIPO programs are walking hand in hand into the sunset with annual evaluations, the Harvard Business Review is marching in like the cavalry with a cover story titled “Let Your Workers Rebel.” The premise: encourage your best people to break the rules and watch their potential transform. Francesca Gino, Harvard professor and author of the story, asks us to look deeply at our inner rebel. These innovative approaches are the future of star talent retention.

And finally, what about your low performers? Is it really all their fault? If you haven’t already exhausted their development possibilities, consider applying steps one and two as an experiment before you throw in the towel.

Above all, don’t ignore the problem. Great coaches don’t allow issues to fester. And they always take accountability.

While we’re on the topic, I’ll leave you with this insight on coaching from Yogi Berra: “It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”

 

 

SignEasy Releases Small Business Features to Reduce Reliance on Paper

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New SignEasy Features Include Small Business Suite

New features announced by SignEasy are designed to boost the productivity level of small businesses by reducing dependence on paper.

According to SignEasy, the new features have been tailored to benefit businesses as more of them migrate to the cloud. With more of the resources small businesses use in the cloud, signing documents from anywhere on a phone, tablet and computer is crucial.

For small businesses, eSignature solutions have multiple benefits. They save on paperwork cost, allow employees to finalize deals from anywhere, speed up processes, and drive paperless initiatives. SignEasy says even a business with a monthly roster of 10 customers can expect the cost of traditional paperwork to be as much as $3,800 per month to process. Which is why the new features have been optimized to address the needs of small businesses.

Small businesses need the tools, technologies, products and services they choose to be simple yet effective. Sunil Patro, CEO and Founder of SignEasy, explained his company’s approach in this effort in the press release, “I firmly believe that the quality of a company’s products is a direct reflection of the time spent understanding the challenges faced by their customers … Applying what we’ve learned  to serve the SMB segment is a natural next step for us.”

The New SignEasy Features

SignEasy has a platform to easily and securely sign or get documents signed on a phone, tablet or computer. The new features have improved the workflow of the signing process with improved Templates, Document Fields, Customer Branding, Team Dashboard, and Seamless Integration.

With these new features, documents can be saved as Templates so they can be accessed and signed faster. And Document Fields will ensure the accuracy of each document by getting signatures and other data in the appropriate field.

When the documents are being signed, you will want to keep the continuity of your company’s brand. You can use the Custom Branding feature to have your logo across all customer and partner facing touchpoints. And as your team signs new customers, the Team Dashboard will let you track usage, add or remove users, and invite team members.

The last feature is a more Seamless Integration with some of the most widely-used business suite applications, including GSuite, Office 365, Zoho CRM, and Zoho Writer.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2J-aqUt4AQ?rel=0]

SignEasy has plans for businesses of all sizes, starting with a free trial for its Standard, Plus, and Premium tiers for $10, $15, and $80 per month respectively.

Image: SignEasy

This article, “SignEasy Releases Small Business Features to Reduce Reliance on Paper” was first published on Small Business Trends

7 Quick Ways to Make Money Investing $1000

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A thousand bucks is not a lot of money but it is enough, if you’re shrewd, to make a lot of money.

3 Understanding Major Social Media Internet Marketing Channels

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Tai Lopez gives some insight on Social Media marketing. source

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WARNING! Make Money Online From Home 2016 2017 (Experience Not Needed)

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SBA Hosts Twitter Chat for Veteran Owned Small Businesses

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SBA Hosts Twitter Chat for Veteran Owned Small Businesses

As part of National Veterans Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration hosted a Twitter chat to share tips and insights specifically for veteran entrepreneurs.

The chat took place on November 2. The official SBA Twitter account (@SBAgov) asked questions and moderated the chat, which featured discussions on several topics related to veterans who currently own businesses or are looking to break into the world of business ownership.

The chat started out with a discussion about the best qualities that veterans bring to the business world.

Chat participants also shared advice for others looking to expand or grow their businesses.

From there, participants turned their focus to marketing and shared their top things to include in a marketing plan.

Then the chat moved onto the topic of leadership. Participants offered some best practices for motivating team members.

They also discussed some of the potential challenges that go along with starting a business as a veteran. And some participants shared resources that could help people overcome those challenges.

You can see the full chat transcript and more discussion about veteran owned small businesses by checking out the #MyVetBiz hashtag on Twitter.

Veteran Homecoming Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “SBA Hosts Twitter Chat for Veteran Owned Small Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends

Marilyn Manson Calls Gun Stunt an 'Act of Theater'

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Marilyn Manson was simply creating artwork when he pointed a police-permitted pretend gun into the gang at his San Bernardino live performance. Manson defended the stunt, which got here virtually …

The post Marilyn Manson Calls Gun Stunt an 'Act of Theater' appeared first on Newline Marketing.

HOW TO START AN ONLINE BUSINESS WITH AFFILIATE MARKETING IN 6 EASY STEPS

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Know These 4 Unconventional Ways to Help Your Small Business Grow Online

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4 Totally Unconventional Uses of the Internet for Small Businesses

Lack of investing capital is a problem that’s tough to overcome. So, small firms are always at a disadvantage. Luckily, the internet dominates the business landscape in 2017. And it brings along opportunities for small businesses.

Beneficial Uses of the Internet for Small Businesses

If you are a small business owner reading this, here’s my hand-picked collection of tips to help small companies profit off of internet:

Custom Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are awfully cliched. Customers are so used to them that they don’t feel excited anymore upon receiving a discounted travel offer because they know how to calculate out of pocket costs, or maybe because they have already been to that place. Some customers even complain those programs are intrusive.

Customized loyalty programs, on the other hand, are designed to suit individual needs of customers. Automation and innovation are two of its key components. Automation helps businesses hollow out customer insights. This is where the internet comes into the equation.

Internet applications help small businesses collect customer insights. These insights include what interests customers and how they engage. And these insights play a contributory role in creating custom rewards. Relevant apps include Belly, Square, ShoutEm and SpotOn. I am a bit biased to Square because its customization options are pretty impressive. The dashboard lets you create and manage rewards based on:

  • Number of repeat visits.
  • Number of repeat purchases.
  • Amount spent.

Other apps highlight demographic factors. Belly and SpotOn are both swipe card apps designed for people whose lives don’t revolve around apps. ShoutEm is a downloadable app for people who stay online 24/7. As they scan the QR-code, redeemable points get added in the store’s PoS.

Small businesses typically offer rewards in the form of gift cards or products and services at discounted rates. With demographic details of customers being available, small businesses can take customization to another level. How about rewarding a millennial tech enthusiast a free pass to join a gadget show? Or how about giving away an armchair for free to an aged customer with high loyalty score?

This sounds a bit far-fetched, especially for companies operating with shoestring budgets. Because individual small businesses have limited outreach, this is possible only if small businesses can forge coalitions joining forces with other businesses for marketing.

Small Businesses Merge Platforms

If small businesses forge a coalition, the above scenarios could be a lot more possible. However, a retail conglomeration seems unrealistic at this moment, more so because small firms stay overly busy with their day-to-day operations. They don’t have time for this kind of strategy.

A more realistic scenario is one small business website sending its incoming traffic to another site. It’s a symbiosis that can help both parties and it’s only possible online. For this to happen, below-listed conditions would need to be met.

  • The two companies must be operating in different lines of business. Or else, they would be each other’s competitors.
  • The product/service of one business must be supplementary to another’s.

Online traffic referral can bolster reward programs. Imagine a small pottery business partnering with a rookie digital art photographer. When people scrolling through digital art pieces on his site view a clickable banner of designer ceramic tiles, they click on the banner and land on the pottery business website. When such partnerships expand across the small business spectrum, loyalty programs become highly customized.

Internet-based automation could aid in small business collaboration. Standard collaboration software lets businesses share information internally and with customers. Up and coming software solutions allow small businesses to collaborate via web conferencing, live webinars and various cloud-based tools, whether they be WiFi or shared workspace. Small enterprises can collaborate with each other on manufacturing, distribution and logistical areas, ultimately directing the whole small business vertical to a synergistic destination.

Accessing hitherto inaccessible markets and building presence in the target market are two major advantages of collaboration between small businesses. And as long as such a collaboration is informal and not legally governed, the parties involved don’t have any legal obligation and tax compliance.

Online Reward Cards

A small business can operate as an affiliate partner of a reward card company. The reward card industry is booming due to reasons cited below:

  • Premiere reward cards eliminate the need for debit or credit cards issued by banks.
  • The card issuers offer several perks. A case in point is Chase Sapphire Reserve. They offer a $300 travel credit, whereas only $200 travel credits are offered by American Express Platinum.
  • Discounts and redeem options touch on almost every leisurely and even some professional affairs.

For small businesses, especially the ones operating in the B2C sector, entering into a business partnership with an online reward card provider can be advantageous as the lure of sign-up bonus and redeemable points will fetch hordes of customers and increase repeat purchases by them.

Likewise, the reward card issuer will benefit from the partnership as the small business will do the marketing for them. Every business — regardless of its scale and size — can be counted upon to do self-promotion. For the card issuer, getting a mention via its partner’s promotional chest-thumping translates to extended outreach for zero cost.

Allowing Purchase in Cryptocurrency

This one is the most salient out of all the tips shared here in this article. Cryptocurrencies are here to stay and change the economy as we know it. The pressing question is how small businesses can benefit from them.

Bitcoin, the trendsetting cryptocurrency, was worth only pennies in 2008. Now, it’s worth $3800 and growing. And yet, cryptocurrency adoption is unimaginably low at this point in time. If a small business accepts payment in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it will get new customers from across the globe. Very few merchants allow payment in cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrency exchanges don’t mind their APIs being used. This allows small businesses to find the best rate after comparing different exchange rates. In fact, they can set up their own exchanges and profit from in-store purchases using cryptos.

And the above listed benefits are the tip of the iceberg. Small companies can also benefit from the following too:

  • Create a blockchain. They are already connected to customers and partners. So they can expect a decent sale of tokens in the ICO phase. When cryptocurrency finally releases, whatever progress the market cap makes, the developers will be the largest beneficiaries, provided they have the largest holdings.
  • Install data security and other cloud services that are traded in crypto exchanges. One such service is Siacoin. Although the currency is mineable, its price depends on mass adoption. When a group of small businssses pay for Siacoin storage and encourage their customers to store their personal data in the said storage, the adoption rate increases tenfold. Imagine how much money the small business will make then if they have previously invested in Siacoin.

There are so many other ways cryptocurrency can benefit small businesses. The bottom line is cryptocurrency is the embodiment of internet innovation, and waiting to be harnessed by small businesses.

The tips discussed here are not typical copybook type. They are borne out of experience and talking to several experts in the respective fields. I suggest you start following them today onward to grow your small business.

Creative Group Discussion Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Know These 4 Unconventional Ways to Help Your Small Business Grow Online” was first published on Small Business Trends

You're Crazy-Busy Scaling Your Company's Growth, Right? Are You Also Scaling Its Culture?

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“The best companies are deliberate about culture,” the head of HubSpot wrote. “They design it and defend it.”

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വീട്ടിൽ ഇരുന്ന് സമ്പാദിക്കാം ഓൺലൈനിലുടെ | Make Money Online Work @ Home | Tech Talks By Subin Yoosuf We all have heard about we can make money with the help of …

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The Ultimate Guide to Using Instagram Story to Promote Your Business

Your company needs to be active on Instagram.

Establishing a social media presence is essential for businesses to thrive in today’s day and age.

But posting pictures isn’t enough.

You need to take your Instagram strategy one step further and take advantage of posting stories to your profile.

What’s an Instagram story?

If you are unfamiliar, they aren’t complicated to figure out.

Users have the opportunity to upload videos and photos that expire after 24 hours.

Some people think Instagram copied Snapchat with this concept, which to an extent is true.

But regardlesss, I think it’s an efficient and professional way to market your business.

Here are some statistics on what can help you increase engagement:

image9 6

What can you take away from this?

Use these tips when you’re adding something to your Instagram story.

  • Use images with faces
  • Include multiple hashtags
  • Tag your location
  • Use images with people’s faces (yours or someone else’s)
  • Be mindful of the time of day you’re posting

Keep this information in mind as we continue to go through different ways to promote your business with Instagram stories.

How to post a story on Instagram

For those of you who haven’t done this before, I’ll give you a step-by-step guide to adding stories to your profile.

Step #1: Click on the photo icon in the top left corner:

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From your homepage, you’ll see this small camera.

Tap it to proceed.

Step #2: Take a picture, or select one from your camera roll:

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From this screen, you’ll have some options.

  1. Take a photo
  2. Record a video
  3. Upload an image from your camera roll
  4. Select a video from your camera roll

After you tap on the icon from the previous step, Instagram will access your phone’s camera.

To take a picture, tap on the circle located on the bottom of the screen.

If you want to take a video, hold the button down to record.

You can add a video up to 15 seconds in length.

Furthermore, you can upload previously recorded videos or pictures from your phone’s camera roll by tapping on the small square in the bottom left corner of this screen.

Step #3: Select a format:

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You’ve got some options here as well.

  • Normal
  • Boomerang
  • Rewind
  • Hands-free

Normal is self-explanatory.

Boomerang creates an image similar to a GIF. Hold down the button for a few seconds, and the clip will play forward and backward continuously.

Rewind plays your video in reverse.

The hands-free option gives you a chance to put your phone down to record a video.

That’s a great option if you’re doing a demonstration requiring both hands.

Step #4: Add a location:

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Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access these features.

You can tag a location or add other cool effects like the time, temperature, or other stickers.

Step #5: Include some text:

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If you want to write on your picture or video, simply tap anywhere on the screen to access the keyboard.

From here, you can change the color of your text as well as the size, angle, and location of it on the screen.

Step #6: Choose a filter, and add it to your story

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The filter is optional.

If you want to add certain effects to your photo, swipe left or right on the screen.

Once you’re happy with the way everything looks, simply tap the “Your Story” button at the bottom left corner.

You can continue adding multiple pictures and videos to your story by repeating the process.

Each part of the story will play in the order it’s uploaded.

See how easy that was?

Now, I’ll give you some tips for what to include in your story.

Offer discounts and other promotions

Consumers love to get something at a good price.

Give the people what they want.

It may be the reason why they are following your profile in the first place.

Since stories are posted only for 24 hours, it’s a great opportunity for you to run a flash sale for your followers.

Here’s a great example from Paleo Passion Foods:

image18

This sale can be exclusive to your Instagram followers. Or you can use Instagram as just another channel to advertise an existing promotion.

Try both methods to see what kind of response you’ll get.

You can try using different promo codes to see where your customers are coming from.

Looking at the above example, this company could use a code “LD20” for their email subscribers.

Then, they can compare the metrics from this promotion with those of their Instagram story to see which campaign was more successful.

Take over another account

Reach out to other Instagram accounts related to your brand.

See if they will let you take over their profile for a few hours.

It will give you a chance to reach a wider audience than just your existing followers.

But why would someone let you do this?

You might have to give them an incentive.

If they usually let companies take over their account to promote their personal profile, you can explain why your business is the perfect candidate for their next one.

However, if that’s not something they normally do, you may need to return the favor.

Let them take over your account as well so they can get the same benefit.

Just make sure everything is screened and appropriate before you post it.

You can use other platforms to promote an Instagram takeover as well.

image17 1

Buffer Social promoted this Instagram takeover on their Twitter page.

It’s a great opportunity for you to get followers from other channels to start interacting with you on Instagram.

Celebrity social proof

Let’s take the profile takeover strategy one step further.

Instead of just posting on another brand’s account or letting them advertise on your profile, you can get a celebrity to take over your account.

If they promote the takeover on their personal account, you can get their followers to check out your profile as well when they view the story.

Plus, this strategy generates social proof.

Here’s an example of how Shopify did this on their story:

image11 6

Amber Mac is a Canadian television personality.

She has nearly 25,000 followers on Instagram.

By getting her to take over their story, Shopify potentially increased brand awareness with 25,000 new prospective customers.

It’s a great idea.

People will take advice from people they know.

Even though they may not know Amber Mac personally, if she stands behind something, it must be good, right?

That’s the power of celebrity social proof.

Create mini versions of your website content

You can use an Instagram story to promote other pieces of content on your website.

Let’s say you have a blog and you’re trying to get more readers.

Put snippets of the content in your story.

Here’s an example of how Real Simple approached this strategy:

image7 6

This story shows a sample of what their followers will see if they read the blog.

It teases the viewers and piques their interest.

But they don’t give it all away in the story.

It’s a great technique for increasing click rates and conversions.

Go live

Instagram lets you stream a live video story as well.

Consumers respond well to live content.

It gives you a chance to have a more authentic interaction with your followers.

image5 6

When you’re live, the viewers have a chance to comment in real time.

Respond directly to those comments, and call out users by name.

It’s a great way for you to increase user engagement.

Do a Q&A segment to encourage lots of comments on your live video.

Once you finish, Instagram gives you the option to keep your video posted as a story for the next 24 hours.

Take them behind the scenes

Show your followers what your business is up to on a daily basis.

Taking people behind the scenes will make them feel as if they have access to exclusive content.

Look at how Happy Socks incorporated this method into their Instagram story:

image8 6

Viewers got a chance to meet some of the employees.

It shows you’re human.

Nobody wants to support some nameless and faceless brand.

Adding a human element to your marketing campaigns can help customers feel more connected to your brand.

Earlier, I talked about how faces can impact how people feel about an image.

Happy Socks definitely achieves this by showcasing real people in the office.

Encourage user-generated content

UGC can grow your business without you having to put in too much work.

It’s one of my favorite forms of social media marketing.

The key is to get your customers to promote your business for you.

But how do you accomplish that?

Use your story to run a contest.

Create a hashtag, and encourage users to post photos to win a prize.

Look at how Starbucks does this in their Instagram story:

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This post will get users to share a photo that has the Starbucks logo on it.

When these posts pop up on the newsfeeds of their followers, they could give someone the urge to buy a coffee from one of Starbucks’ locations.

Overall, it’s a great way to promote brand awareness.

It gets your name and image out there without costing you any money.

Use your story to promote UGC.

Launch a new product

Use Instagram story to reveal a new product to your customers.

You should obviously promote the release on other channels as well, but don’t forget about Instagram.

It will encourage your followers to stay connected and engaged with your brand.

They’ll know that if they continue to follow your profile, they will get instant access to new products.

Look at how Instagram has surpassed Twitter for marketing:

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Marketing experts have recognized how powerful Instagram’s platform is.

They are using it to generate profits.

Make sure you’re using all the features to your advantage, and don’t forget to mention new products in your story.

Run a sponsored story

If you’re willing to spend some money on social media advertising, you can create a sponsored story.

The story will appear in your target audience’s feeds.

In 2012, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion dollars.

If you want to advertise on Instagram, you go through Facebook’s platform.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to running a sponsored story.

Step #1: Select a primary marketing objective:

image16 3

What’s the goal of your marketing campaign?

I think some of the best options are:

  • engagement
  • lead generation
  • conversions

Consider those choices if you’re having trouble coming up with an objective.

Step #2: Create an advertising account:

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Before you can proceed, you’ll need to provide some more information.

Your personal profile may not be the same as your advertising account, so you’ll set it all up here.

Step #3: Focus efforts on your target market:

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From here, you can start to narrow down some general information about the consumers you plan to target:

  • age
  • location
  • gender

Narrow your focus based on your brand’s audience.

If your company sells dresses and skirts customized for college sorority girls, you shouldn’t be including men over the age of 65 in this advertisement.

Be specific.

Facebook allows you to include more filters such as:

  • demographics
  • interests
  • behaviors

It gives you a chance to narrow down your audience so that it’s directly related to your brand.

Step #4: Come up with a budget and schedule:

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Your budget will determine how often your story gets run as an advertisement.

You can let it run continuously or select certain days to start and stop.

Make sure you compare these figures to your company’s marketing budget before you lock in a rate.

You get charged per impression or by post engagement, depending on what you select.

Step #5: Create your ad:

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Select “Ad” from the bottom left corner of your navigation menu to access this screen.

From here, you can choose the format of your story.

For this example, I’ve selected a single video.

Single videos account for 25% of Instagram ads.

That’s it.

Those of you who have some money to spare in your marketing budget can take advantage of sponsored stories on Instagram.

While it’s not completely necessary for all businesses, it’s an option.

Conclusion

If you’re not using Instagram to promote your business, that needs to change right away.

But make sure you’re taking advantage of everything this platform has to offer.

Instagram stories are a great way to promote your brand and generate leads.

There are over 700 million people active on this platform each month.

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This number continues to rise each year.

Use your Instagram story to offer exclusive discounts or promotions to your followers.

To increase brand awareness, see if another company will let you take over their account and post.

You can generate celebrity social proof by letting someone with a large following to take over your account as well.

Go live.

It’s one of the best ways to increase user engagement through Instagram story.

Give your followers a behind the scenes look at your organization. This will generate a more personal connection with your brand.

If you want to promote a feature on your website, e.g., a blog, give a preview of that content in your story.

You can also use Instagram story to promote user-generated content or launch a new product.

If you’re willing to spend some money, try running a sponsored story as well.

Do you think you’ll use more photos or videos to promote your brand through Instagram Story?

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Should Your Restaurant Accept Bitcoin?

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As a restaurant owner, you’ve probably never encountered a patron who insisted on paying their bill in bitcoin. But cryptocurrency’s popularity is on the rise. Some 46,000 merchants currently accept bitcoin, and in June 2017, the user base for bitcoin grew by at least one million, according to Coinbase. That said, it may or may not make sense for your restaurant to accept bitcoin, depending on your goals and knowledge. 

What is it?

Cryptocurrency is an all-digital currency that relies on peer-to-peer technology for tracking and trading. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency. There is no centralized system, bank or government that backs it. Nonetheless, it has gained in popularity since its debut, and a single bitcoin can be valued at thousands of dollars. The currency is mainly used for online commerce and long-term investment; however, it is possible to use bitcoin for physical transactions.

How does it work?

Getting into bitcoin isn’t as complicated as it sounds. To accept bitcoin, you’ll need to sign up for a merchant bitcoin wallet account. You can do so on such websites as BitcoinPayBitPay or CoinGate. Many of these merchant wallets integrate with most major point-of-sale (POS), shopping carts and commerce systems such as MagentoShopify or SoftTouch.

Payments through these applications are usually made through a QR code that the payer scans to send bitcoin (or bits) to your account. Depending on the POS or bookkeeping software you use, it can automatically convert the bitcoin payment into U.S. dollars for easy accounting and tax keeping.

Once you set up the ability to accept bitcoin payments, you’ll want to let your current clientele and potential customers know that you’re ready to accept bitcoin. This can be done with physical signage that you post in your restaurant or on your website. There are websites that track businesses that accept bitcoin, including Coinmap.org and SpendBitcoins, so it’s advisable to get your restaurant on those maps.

Should you accept bitcoin?

There are a few benefits to accepting bitcoin at your restaurant or cafe. It’s a given benefit to accept bitcoin if you’re a supporter of the cryptocurrency and want to see its usage grow. It could also attract like-minded clientele. Also, it gives your customers more choices of payment. Even if they don’t own or haven’t ever heard of bitcoin, they may appreciate the many payment options.

Businesses getting into bitcoin may not see any significant financial benefits but may do it for a spin, according to Ian Khan, a technology futurist and podcast host. “For marketing-savvy businesses, it is definitely a differentiator to be able to accept bitcoins, and if you are trying to attract an audience that uses bitcoin, you may be perceived as a techno-savvy restaurant or establishment,” he said.

Editor’s Note: Considering a POS system? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

 

It makes more sense to accept bitcoin if your establishment is geographically located in a place that’s tech savvy and is likely to have equally tech-savvy customers where bitcoin acceptance will be appreciated.

Most experts concur that in its current state, bitcoin is still not widely used enough to be considered mainstream and a competitor to cash and credit, but that possibility may still be on the horizon.

“There are only a small number of businesses around the world that currently offer bitcoin as a viable payment option, with most of those being in Asia. In its current form, bitcoin just isn’t ready to go mainstream as an accepted form of payment, but that time is getting closer,” said Investing.com senior analyst Jesse Cohen. “It won’t be long before governments around the world start to regulate bitcoin, which could lead to taxation and less anonymity. Only then would conditions be ripe for it to become an acceptable form of payment used on Main Street.”

The other problem with bitcoin is that it is volatile and constantly changing values. In September 2016, a bitcoin was worth about $600; one year later it skyrocketed to nearly $5,000, according to bitcoin value tracker CoinDesk, hence why more people are choosing to invest in bitcoin for the long term and not likely to spend it on coffee. 

That same upward momentum could also swing the other way, rendering bitcoins to a fraction of what they were worth a day ago – meaning a payment you received for lunch could be worth less once it’s processed, depending on the market. Plus, you’ll likely need to pay a fee to a payment processor just to accept and convert people’s payments, but it’s possible those fees may be less than what you pay the credit card companies. For instance, Coinbase offers conversions for free on your first $1 million in transactions, and after that it’s 1 percent per conversion. 

There’s the question of security as well. Of course, your bitcoins are safe from physical bank robbers since they live online, but they and your digital wallet aren’t completely safe from cyberattacks. Then again, nothing ever is.

Bottom line

Bitcoin has come a long way since being introduced in 2008, and plenty of companies and enthusiasts have made it easier to include the cryptocurrency in everyday transactions. However, it still has a way to go before it’s convenient and stable enough to be commonplace on Main Street. It doesn’t take much effort to accept bitcoin and doesn’t hurt to announce that you do, but it may be a while before you get that customer who pays for his steak with his cryptocurrency.

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Web.com Acquires Acquisio to Bolster Online Small Business Marketing with AI

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Web.com Acquires Acquisio and Its AI Technology to Bolster Online Marketing for Small Businesses

Internet services and online marketing solutions provider Web.com Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:WEB) recently announced it has acquired Acquisio, an online marketing Artificial Intelligence (AI) company. The acquisition bolsters Web.com’s existing suite of online marketing tools for small businesses with AI technology.

Web.com Acquires Acquisio

Web.com says small businesses will now be able to get even greater value at a much faster pace, as both companies pioneer innovation in online marketing AI solutions for small businesses.

“Acquisio makes available to small and midsized businesses the same powerful machine-learning technology that was once available only to the largest corporations and online marketing agencies,” said David L. Brown, Web.com’s chairman, CEO and president, in a release announcing the acquisition. “By applying Acquisio’s award-winning artificial intelligence technology to Web.com’s existing suite of online marketing tools and its hands-on, consultative approach, we will be able to provide even greater value to customers at a much faster pace.”

Web.com’s range of subscription-based solutions for small businesses include domains, hosting, website design and management, search engine optimization, online marketing campaigns, local sales leads, social media, mobile products and eCommerce. These will now benefit from Acquisio’s advanced data science tools that automate, optimize, and scale many of the processes involved in acquiring new customers online, such as using ad platforms like Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, and Bing Ads.

Online Marketing Artificial Intelligence Trend Growing

Today the frontier of technology is big data and artificial intelligence. More small businesses are leveraging AI to boost their sales and marketing efforts. As more businesses deploy artificial intelligence for online marketing, jumping on this bandwagon early can help your business become more competitive. The big brands are already using AI to stake out huge territory, and small businesses will likely seek to do the same by choosing vendors that incorporate AI into products.

“We are proud to leverage our artificial intelligence for small businesses around the world,” says Marc Poirier, Acquisio’s CEO and co-founder.

Image: Web.com

This article, “Web.com Acquires Acquisio to Bolster Online Small Business Marketing with AI” was first published on Small Business Trends