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Friday
Jan252019

Must-Use Digital Marketing Trends for 2019

The new year is completely underway, which means that any plans that we have had for our business during 2019 should be in place. However, when it comes to digital marketing, it really is never too late to try and make some improvements.

There are so many different approaches that you can take to digital marketing. Not only does it depend on your end goal, but also your business type and size. But what are the best ones? To help you to make the most of the next few months, we have put together our must-use digital marketing trends for 2019.

Artificial Intelligence

Last year digital marketing came right into the modern age with the introduction of AI, and this trend seems to be carrying on for 2019. However, it seems that AI is having a much bigger impact then it did before. AI is helping with push notifications, click tracking and in some cases, AI is even writing content for you.

Chatbots

Similar to the above, it seems that chatbots are another key part of any digital marketing campaign. Whilst customers will always prefer to interact with a real person, even via text or web chat, it seems that chatbots are becoming a popular method to make that first contact. Chatbots are being improved, which means that they are now at a level which is almost as if they are holding a conversation with the customer, even if it is just to help with the most asked questions.

Content marketing

Content marketing has been an important part of digital marketing campaigns for some time and that doesn’t look like it will change. Content marketing fuels a number of digital channels, including search engines and social media marketing too. Both of which are important to make sure that your business stands out from the crowd. Blogs, social media and your website itself, all of these things are important for content marketing, so make sure that you are focusing on these parts of your business if you want to secure sales, leads, and interest.

Video marketing

Another part of digital marketing that is sticking around is video marketing. Much like last year, your target audience are going to want information presented to them in a way that is going to be easy to digest and video is the best approach for this. Not only can you focus on pre-recorded videos, but you can also take a look at live streams too. Both of which will really appeal to your customers and get them noticing what you have to say.

Think that time has come to try a new digital marketing strategy for your business? Why not take a look at local SEO services to see if you can find the help and advice that you need in order to make your efforts a complete success?

Friday
Jan252019

Computers: Essential Machines Which Seem Impossible To Master

Over the last few years, it’s become practically essential for businesses of all shapes and sizes to use computers for the bulk of their work. Whether you’re working on pushing out a customer’s order or you’re hiring someone new, a large amount of the tasks being done will be handled on these machines, but, in spite of their prominence, a lot of people still struggle with them. To give you a better understanding of what causes most common computer problems, this post will be exploring the elements which can cause them to be so tricky for your team to get to grips with.

Unnatural Options

When you’re filling out a paper form or going through a physical process, the options you have are usually very obvious. On a computer, though, you will have menus to deal with, and this isn’t something which most people are used to. There are very few pieces of software which have all of their functions available from a single page. It can take a long time using something for people to get used to its menu systems, making it worth giving you teams plenty of training, along with providing them with cheat sheets which will show them what they need.

Regular Changes

One of the benefits of a digital product over a physical one is that design issues can be fixed as time goes on, rather than customers having to spend more money. Companies never reserve their updates for simple fixes, though, often changing the look and feel of their tools to match new trends. While this keeps software looking modern, it makes it incredibly hard for inexperienced users to know what they’re doing. Overcoming this can be hard, often only being solved by further training whenever a tool goes through a new wave of changes.

No Interest

With the challenges which computers present to a lot of users, it can be easy for your team to lose interest in this side of their work. People won’t push themselves to learn more about their machines, instead looking to get help wherever they can, and this can cost a lot of time when you’re trying to get things done. A good way to get over this sort of problem is by giving your employees something to be interested in. For example, giving them some skills to use their computers in their personal life can be a great route to take.

Getting Support

As time goes on, more and more companies are having issues with their computer systems, and are finding it hard to manage this side of their company. While you can hire someone to help with this, using an IT service provider is usually a far more affordable option. When you have an issue, you can simply call for help, making it far easier to get through each day without having to stop working.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to take on the challenge of controlling your business’ computer systems. This should get easier as the years go by, with these machines improving all the time.

Friday
Jan252019

Your Door May Be Open, But Are You Listening To Your Employees Have To Say?

It’s no secret that the best leaders operate an open door policy to encourage open communication within their teams. The moment you draw boundaries between you and your employees is the moment that your business starts to suffer. Instead, you need to let every member of your team know that you’re there for them whenever they might need you.

There’s every chance that an open door policy was the first thing you implemented when you employed a team. And, with a bit of luck, plenty of them take advantage of it. But, do you pay attention to them when they do? Too often, policies like these are something we merely pay lip service to. You may have one in place because you heard you should. Still, you could feel too busy actually to address the concerns your team bring to you. That can lead to more ruptures than you could imagine, and it’s a mistake you need to stop making. Luckily, we have some pointers which could help you do just that.

Stop working when someone comes to see you

Irrelevant of how busy you are, you need to stop working the moment an employee comes to you. If you keep working, there’s a risk they won’t feel they can tell you what they came to say. Even if they do go ahead and explain their problem, there’s a risk you’ll mishear or fail to take note of it. That’s never good. If they’re bringing you a work problem, it means that you’ll be no help. If they’re coming to you about something like discrimination, you could even find yourself on the wrong side of lawyers like those found at wmlawyers.com due to your failure to address the issue. Don’t let it happen. Stop working the moment a team member walks through that supposedly open door.

Take notes

It’s also essential that you take notes if a team member opens up to you. As can be seen from sites like https://getlighthouse.com, this is essential to ensure that you have a record. That’s important to help you address the issue, and also to cover yourself down the line. Again, these can be of use during discrimination cases or even problems with an employee’s health. Getting into the note-taking habit also has the benefit of ensuring you pay full attention to the matter in hand.

Don’t let them leave until you develop a plan of action

If you usually say something like ‘leave it with me,’ you aren’t helping your employees. If they’re coming to you, it’s because they’re in need of a solution. While you may not be able to give them that straight away, you should at least attempt to provide some plan of action. Instead of getting them out of your office as soon as possible, then, take your time. Talk things through in detail. Together, make some plan as to how you can improve their situation moving forward. Only then can you ensure they leave your office satisfied.

Thursday
Jan242019

Feeling Professional When You Work From Home

What's the first image that pops through your mind when you think of people who work from home?

If it is somebody wearing casual pajamas and lying in bed with their laptop, you’re one of many to have fallen into the trap of the working-shirking from home cliché. In fact, the idea of office-based productivity is so deeply anchored in the collective mindset that it is increasingly difficult for most home-based workers to feel positive about their performance. It doesn’t mean you can’t tackle challenging projects and heavy workload in your home office. On the contrary, home-based employees and freelancers are more likely to maximize their productivity and creativity. Indeed, removing most office-related interruptions and disturbances – from commuting stress to co-workers’ disruptions – can improve not only your mental focus but also the quality of your input. In other words, people who work from home work more and better. However, they tend to be worse about their contribution, doubting their professionalism and compensation with prolonged working hours.

How do you create a professional feeling – for yourself and your clients – when you can’t rely on the office to give your business skills the structure the universal conscience expects? How do you convince others to take you seriously and see beyond the PJs cliché?

It’s the question that keeps countless solo entrepreneurs and freelancers awake at night. Injecting professionalism in an environment that is not commonly associated with high-quality work is challenging, but it’s not impossible! Here are a few ideas to get started:  

Dedicate a room at home just for your work

To keep the PJs cliché at bay, you need to pay close attention to your working environment. You may not need to commute to the workplace, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have an office. On the contrary, creating a home office enables you to keep your work and your home separate. If you’re still trying to complete projects on the corner of your breakfast table, it’s time to plan some much-needed improvements. Designing your home office is crucial, not only to your productivity but also to your perception of your work. You’re more likely to take your work seriously if you’ve got a space for it. Organizing your home office is the secret to making a small room feel just as competent and professional as the typical business workplace. Consequently, you need to focus your attention on establishing a clear storage system. You can’t afford to keep loose sheets and stationery in random piles on the desk. Knowing where everything is is the administrative baseline of your office. Keeping everything tidy and clean is the foundation of office management. And finally, keeping track of your budget through the organization replaces the work accountant. In short, you’ve got yourself a functional office place at home.

Getting the right equipment is fundamental

You can’t cut costs on your work equipment. At the top of the list, you want to make sure you’ve got the office devices you need. You can’t achieve anything without a reliable laptop or computer and a broadband connection. Your home office also needs a printer – nobody can go entirely paperless –, work software tools and a phone – whether mobile or second landline. Additionally, as each business is different, you will need to explore your equipment requirements in depth. If you need to meet clients regularly, you might be interested in finding out more about leasing a car for your independent business, for instance. A car lease would give you access to a new vehicle, which encourages a positive first impression when you visit clients.

If you take it seriously, others will

Your behavior can influence the way you feel about your business. There’s no denying that working in casual pajamas can be a comfortable option, but that’s precisely what gives an unprofessional impression. Indeed, your brain instinctively becomes more relaxed when you wear your night clothes, meaning that you won’t be as productive. Instead, if you make the conscious decision to dress up for work, you create a mental barrier between home life and professional life. It’s all it takes to build a professional attitude at home. For your family and friends, seeing you getting dressed for work and staying consistent with your schedule encourage them to take you seriously. As a result, relatives are less likely to disturb you when you’re at home because they know you’re working.

Practice your conversational skills with clients

People who work from home tend to have fewer professional interactions during the day. Consequently, conversations with clients can feel a little awkward or forced at times. There’s no secret. You need to prepare for all questions so that you can shine with expertise and professionalism. Ultimately, you’re an independent, so your clients need to ask you questions they wouldn’t ask a company. Be honest and open about your career. If you’re new to the freelancing world, let them know where you come from. A carefully crafted portfolio is crucial during these interviews, but it doesn’t replace your personality.

Keep your skills up-to-date

You can’t expect clients to trust you with their projects if they fear your skills aren’t suited for the current market. As an independent professional, you can’t afford not to keep up with the latest business trends. You should make sure to take business classes on everyday business requirements as well, from business writing to entrepreneurship. There’s nothing worse than an expert who lacks business know-how. You can boost your professional profile with free classes as well as paid for online studies.

Make time for a real break

Last, but not least, when you work from home, you tend to skip breaks. As a result, clients can get in the habit of contacting you at any time, which can affect your professional interactions. You need to establish healthy breaks throughout the day, for yourself and to encourage clients to think of your services as a business. Take the time to eat at lunchtime or to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. Applying an office break policy to your home business is a game-changer.

Professionalism is the complex mixture of how you act, how you think and how you feel. For home-based workers, it’s about creating an environment that is suitable for the business mindset, from what you wear to the equipment you purchase.

Thursday
Jan242019

Warning! These Mistakes Could Ruin Your Business Reputation

In business, your reputation is everything!

Make a mistake, be that consciously or unconsciously, and you might damage your good reputation within minutes. Your customers might start avoiding you, your investors might stop giving you money, and your business might crumble.

While it is possible to salvage your reputation, it's in your best interests to take preemptive measures before disaster strikes. Take a look at the following reputation-slaying mistakes, and guard yourself against them.

Mistake #1: Fail to safeguard your computer systems

It doesn't matter how large or small your business is, you are still vulnerable to a cyber attack. if your customers discover their sensitive information has been leaked and/or used for nefarious purposes, you will not only lose your valuable customers as a consequence, but you might also be liable for compensation claims.

Tip: The answer is obvious. Ensure your computer systems are watertight. Either manage your systems yourself, installing the latest anti-virus software and firewalls to minimize risk or outsource to companies such as IT Security Solution to protect your computers (and your business) for you.

Mistake #2: Infringe copyright

You wouldn't want another company stealing your brand logo, blog posts, or any other aspect of your business, so you shouldn't do it to another. While we are assuming you wouldn't do this purposefully, you might still make a simple mistake by not researching what others have done before you, or by using a picture from Google Images that isn't copyright-free.

Tip: We aren't going to go into detail here as we have already provided you with some advice on the matter. Read our article and take those steps necessary to avoid copyright infringement. If you are later found guilty of stealing somebody else's property, your story may very well end up in the media, along with any details of your case should it go to court. Your reputation as a business owner will then plummet!

Mistake #3: Give bad customer service

In most cases, you only have yourself to blame here. If you are short-tempered with a customer on the phone or don't respond in a timely manner to a complaint or a request, then you are going to face the customer's wrath. They will take to social media and broadcast your failings, and might even use review sites to tell the world about your terrible customer service. Get ready for a one-star reputation!

Tip: It shouldn't need to be said, but if you want to stay on the right side of your customers, you do need to focus on giving excellent customer service. By staying on their right side, you will garner good word of mouth instead, with positive social media sharing and hopeful five-star reviews to favor your business.

Finally

So, think about your business today. Are you putting your reputation in danger? If so, take the steps necessary to protect yourself. Disaster might strike if you don't, and your good name, as well as the name of your business, will be dragged through the proverbial mud as a consequence.

 

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