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  • Start Up Business - Should You Take the Plunge

    successful entrepreneurWhen we hear the terms ‘successful entrepreneurs’, we usually tend to think of names such as Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Paige, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Jack Ma. Regardless of who we think our ideal business leader or entrepreneur is, one thing is certain – they all possess the personality traits and skills of a successful entrepreneur that makes them leaders in their respective fields or industries. It is what makes them grace the front covers of business magazines and be the focus of news and events in their sectors.

    Undoubtedly, treading the entrepreneurship path will require you to acquire or hone some of these skills if you are intent on taking your start-up or small business to new heights. Some skills you will want to work on:

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  • Start Up Business - Starting Your Very First Startup Venture

    startup ventureFor many, starting a business to avoid the monotonous life of a 9-5 day job can stem purely from gut-instinct. However, such an approach makes one vulnerable to many obstacles and failures, limiting sustainable growth. Entrepreneurs are required to be thorough in their business decision making and ensure they make all the right preparations for getting their business off to a flying start. Of course, even the most successful entrepreneur will have their fair share of failures and hiccups.

    But, with the following pointers, you can have a much smoother means of turning your business idea into reality.

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  • The Best Offline Marketing Strategies for Your Next Campaign

    speaking at event

    Online marketing is a good choice for businesses, since the results are easily measurable and the digital format is less expensive than traditional marketing. Nonetheless, offline marketing is more effective when reaching targeted demographics and delivering specific messages. As a result, businesses are prudent to acknowledge both online and offline advertising as part of their campaigns.

    Seven effective offline marketing strategies that are relevant to most business niches are:

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  • What the Apple Keynote Presentation Taught All of Us

    On Sept. 12, people from all over the world eagerly waited to see what Apple would unveil at its latest keynote address. Missed all the action and felt left out as your tech-savvy friends shared the buzz on the big announcements? No worries. Keep reading to get a recap, plus a rundown of what we can all learn about how and why the tech giant made headlines with this event.

     keynote presentation

    Using a Keynote to Promote Multiple Products Can Be Effective

    Tech analysts had long suspected this Apple event would give insights about the availability of a new iPhone. They were partially correct, because the keynote revealed not one, but three, new models.

    People learned about the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, along with the verifiable star of the show, the iPhone X. Though the X in the name is meant to be read as the Roman numeral for “10,” some people say it may as well signify the letter X — for a shortened version of the word “exclusivity.”

    The gadget has a brand-new, bezel-free design, and the appearance of the phone itself is a strong indicator of Apple’s desired future direction. The iPhone X is also compatible with wireless charging devices and uses facial recognition to grant access to the phone’s interface.

    The iPhone X was the most impressive of the three phones discussed at the keynote, but the others generated interest, too. If you think focusing on only one product at a time during a promotional event is the way to go, Apple did something that might make you re-evaluate that stance.

    Enforcing Exclusivity Does Not Always Draw Criticism

    Navigating to the livestream of the Apple keynote presentation with a Safari browser allowed users to click a button to join the presentation automatically. However, viewers couldn’t watch the keynote on a different web browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Accessing the content through an option other than Safari was not possible.

    News outlets announced the specification in a matter-of-fact way, rather than bringing up how making the streaming content inaccessible to people on other browsers excludes a significant portion of the audience. It just goes to show brands as big as Apple can do things that force people to use certain platforms without being massively criticized.

    Granted, the majority of individuals who tuned in were significantly interested in Apple’s products. If they didn’t already have access to the Safari browser, they could find a way to download it or borrow a gadget with Apple’s browser installed before the keynote event.

    The Right Event Space Matters

    Normally, Apple’s keynote events are focused on new products. However, this most recent event was slightly different because it featured a new space, too. The 1,000-seat Steve Jobs Theater is a feat of design, with many people saying it’s exactly as its namesake would have wanted it.

    Interestingly, the underground theater is and not as sizeable as the other venues Apple has used for previous events. The latter reality has caused many tech people in the know to speculate the reduced capacity will make attendees feel more honored than ever to be in the building for highly anticipated happenings.

    Though the Steve Jobs Theater is comparatively smaller, any spacious event venue warrants consideration about how to dampen and enhance sounds. Acoustic designers often use special panels to ensure people can hear clearly, no matter where they are in the room. These components minimize echoing, too. Because events in this Apple-centric space occur live while millions watch, the engineers involved undoubtedly made acoustical quality a priority.

    Technical Glitches Don’t Always Signal Doom

    During all the positive buzz about the iPhone X, some people pointed out a minor, but still embarrassing, mishap with the phone’s facial recognition technology. Craig Federighi, one of Apple’s top team members, had all eyes on him while trying to demonstrate the facial recognition technology on the iPhone X. However, the feature failed to work twice, making him have to resort to using a backup gadget.

    The problem caused a momentary drop in Apple’s stock prices. However, it didn’t last long. Later, analysts reviewed the launch event and said it put the brand in an “extraordinarily strong” position. That’s probably because even though the feature failed to perform when in the spotlight, people know Apple characteristically puts significant investment into making high-tech capabilities as good as — or even better than — what competitors offer.

    For example, many Android phones have long had facial recognition abilities, but they can be hacked into if someone merely produces a photo of the phone’s owner. To combat that spoofing problem, Apple reportedly worked with Hollywood mask makers and makeup artists while tweaking the phone’s technology so it would only recognize rightful owners. It even works when people change their hairstyles or wear glasses or hats.

    Premature News Leaks Don’t Spoil Things Too Much, Either

    Much to the dismay of Apple’s executives, the keynote event wasn’t as surprising as it could have been. Major leaks occurred beforehand, reducing the desired “wow” factor. However, tech experts gave their opinions after the event’s conclusion, and most agreed that despite the leaks, Apple still reasserted itself as a brand leader in numerous product categories.

    Apple’s latest keynote reminded us that well-respected mega-brands can easily defy norms and emerge unscathed. That’s even true when things don’t go as planned and the stock market briefly reflects the blunder.

    Lexie Lu

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has a cup in close proximity. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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  • What Your B2B Website Says About Your Company

    People often say first impressions are everything. That reality extends to individuals, situations and experiences that are encountered in everyday life. If a person goes to an upscale restaurant for a business meal with a client and deals with slow service and bad-tasting food, they probably won’t be very willing to return there.

    Similarly, if a potential client comes to your B2B website, you can be assured he or she will consciously and unconsciously start judging everything associated with the website, whether it’s the layout, content, color scheme or something else. That’s why it’s so important for your B2B website to say the right things about your company, such as the aspects mentioned below.

    You Have Paid Enough Attention to Design

    A great-looking website quickly inspires confidence in clients because they believe if you have spent an adequate amount of time building a beautiful web presence, it’s likely you have exercised a similar amount of care with the other parts of your business. Take a look at the screenshot below from Social Karma, a French company that offers an audience-profiling platform that gives businesses useful insights.

    B2B1

    As you scroll through the landing page of the site, you’ll see clear descriptions of the product’s unique selling points, plus a video and screenshots. By the time you get through all that, you’ll almost certainly want to learn more about how the company can help you specifically and have an overall favorable impression before you make contact with representatives there.

    However, even before you start scrolling, several strategic design elements are already apparent, such as the pleasing turquoise-and-white color scheme and the easy-to-read font. If you can’t read French, don’t worry, because there is a language selector in the top right corner of the site.

    Good design matters because it makes websites highly functional. Beyond that, well-designed websites look great so they stick in visitors’ memories and make them say, “Wow!”

    Whether or Not You Have a Defined Purpose

    Business clients could quickly become confused if they go to your website and can’t figure out what your company does. That’s why it’s important to immediately draw attention to associated content that explains what purpose your company has and why people should care. If site visitors are confused about what you do, they’ll also be confused about why it’s worthwhile to do business with you.

    Ideally, the first text or graphic that people see when they come to your B2B website should be related to your company’s purpose. Also, make sure the “About” page is very prominent so people can click on it to learn more. If the “About” page mostly talks about how your company came to be, it may also be advantageous to have a second page titled “What We Do” or something similar.

    If You Are Aiming to Be a Credible Industry Leader

    It takes longer to build B2B relationships than B2C relationships because you have to win over an entire company instead of just one consumer. However, one of the ways you can gain momentum is to show how you want to lead and not just follow what successful B2B companies have done before. B2B clients want to know that by working with your company, they’ll be able to tap into something they couldn’t have otherwise.

    Usually, they’re depending on you because you have intelligence or abilities they need. You can show them particular expertise by mentioning how your company has been profiled by major news sources like the BBC or CNN or talk about how representatives from your company have been invited to speak at notable conferences.

    You could even have a section on your homepage that profiles why the people working at your company have measurable expertise, like the Creaform Engineering site. Look at how the first top link is solely dedicated to expertise.

    B2B2

    After putting your mouse over it, you’ll get a drop-down section dedicated to engineering, simulation and design. After choosing one of those themes, you can look through a significant amount of information that describes why Creaform Engineering is a company of choice and has shown its expertise in numerous ways.

    Your Ability to Demonstrate Consistency

    Consistency is something that can be highlighted on a website in several ways, from the navigation elements to the tone of the content. It’s also a good idea to make sure any images you use on the site support the text and vice versa.

    B2B3

    The website for LOOP Juice does that in a smart way by using text that describes how the company creates cold-pressed juices using “the outcasts of the food industry”. That concept is intriguing in itself, especially since the public’s desire for produce that looks as good as it tastes often means fruits and veggies get wasted.

    The main image on the website displays the juices in an enticing way by showing how colorful they are. However, the graffiti-filled backdrop fits with the idea that the fruits really were cast aside before they were used to make juice. This is a clever way to show consistency while promoting the product and the brand’s story.

    You Care About Making the Site Accessible for Mobile Devices

    If you decide not to include elements of responsive design in your B2B website, that’s a risk that could lead to several bad assumptions about your website. People may think you’re out of touch with modern society since so many individuals use their phones constantly. They may also get the idea you don’t care about which devices your visitors prefer because you’re blatantly bypassing mobile device compatibility by ignoring responsive design.

    If you cannot afford a site that’s built with responsive design so it looks equally fabulous on mobile devices or computers, at least think about building a mobile-friendly version of the site that people will get redirected to if they visit your site on their phones or tablets. Then, at least you’re doing what you can to reduce frustration and cater to a larger segment of potential clients.

    These are just some of the things your site reveals when people visit it. Now, you should feel much more informed about what’s in your power to make your B2B company and its website stand out for all the right reasons.

    Lexie Lu

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has a cup in close proximity. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

     

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  • Why Your Employees Are Your Best Form of PR

    Figuring out how to get the word out about your business isn't easy or inexpensive. Advertising, even online, is notoriously difficult to track. You may never fully realize how successful a campaign was.

    In today's highly competitive marketplace, just keeping up with your nearest competition may be expensive. Across all industries, small businesses spend about 1.08 percent of their revenue on advertising. If you're just getting started or fighting against a competitor nipping at your heels, then your marketing costs may be higher. Your employees are a great source of word-of-mouth PR both to help bring in new customers and new hires. Here are six reasons why that is.

    1. Consumers Trust Their Recommendation

    One resource you may not have tapped into is your employees' ability to share what they love about your brand. Studies show that consumers are 92 percent more likely to trust a recommendation from someone they know rather than from the brand itself. Get your employees involved in talking about your brand. Encourage them to refer family and friends by implementing a reward program.

    Direct sales companies figured out referral structures to perfection. Young Living is just one example of a direct sales company that rewards its distributors for bringing other customers on board by giving them free products and a percentage of sales.

    2. Employees Best Understand Your Product

    Your employees understand your product better than a third-party advertising firm. They work intimately with it day in and day out. It's also a smart move to provide samples to your employees. If you sell clothing, give each employee the latest shirt or a budget to order a certain amount of pieces for their personal use. Encourage them to tell others about what they're wearing. If you offer a service, have your employees test it.

    One thing top restaurants do that all businesses can learn from is let people test out their dishes so they know how they taste, how they're made and what is unique about each of them. Then, when a customer has a question, the employee is ready to answer from a personal standpoint.

    3. Develop a Culture

    Do you want your employees to feel highly satisfied in their work, so they strive to do their best, feel like part of something bigger and are more likely to stay long-term? Developing a company culture all leads to employees who are happier.

    You can create a strong company culture in several ways. Make sure everyone feels valued and free to add their input, spend time together doing fun things outside of work and show appreciation when someone does something exemplary.

    macallister machinery company puts safety first to build a strong company culture

    MacAllister Machinery Company offers an excellent model to study if you want to learn how to build a strong company culture. Anyone thinking about working there will notice they put the safety of their employees first, something that isn't always a priority in the industry. They also point to other elements, such as using a balanced scorecard to run their business and looking at innovative ways to solve common problems.

    4. Offer Profit Sharing

    If you want to encourage employees to help you advertise your products, offer a profit sharing program. The incentive is simply to get the product in the hands of more people and increase company profits. Employees then receive a percentage of those profits, giving them a strong incentive to promote your brand. No matter how much an employee loves their job, when the work day is over, it's not likely they will continue to promote your brand unless they have the incentive to do so.

    Profit sharing helps everyone feel that are part of the big picture and their effort is valued. When you offer incentives, you will begin to see employees go above and beyond to get results.

    5. Attract Top Candidates

    Attracting some of the top candidates in your field isn't easy. You're competing against giant companies that might have more funds to offer. However, you can stand out from them with an amazing company culture and lots of incentives. Not everyone wants to work for a Fortune 500 company or get lost in the shuffle of a big corporation. Focus on your strengths, then figure out how to encourage your employees to share those strengths with people they know who would be a good fit for your company.

    pure insurance offers a referral program and culture that translates to a referral rate between 40 and 60 percent

    Start an employee referral program so those who bring in new hires receive rewards for helping you find the best people possible to fill open positions. Pure Insurance offers a referral program and culture that translates to a referral rate between 40 and 60 percent. The majority of their employees come via referral from another employee, which is unusual. The way they achieve this is simply asking if their workers know anyone else who would be a good fit for the company.

    6. Empower Employees to Be Vocal

    Invest time and resources into training your employees to be a mouthpiece for your company. Training should include everyone from the manager of a department to the evening cleaning crew. Train employees about your company philosophy, how best to represent your brand and how to tell others about where they work.

    Training should include a full array of elements, including how to present yourself on social media. The last thing you want is someone giving your brand a bad name. However, with a little training, most people are capable of sharing info about your brand positively.

    Encourage Employees to Help With PR

    Most of your employees are probably quite happy to help spread the word about your brand, as it creates job security for them if you do well. They just need the encouragement and training to do so and know they won't get in trouble for mentioning the company. Use these six tips to start encouraging them to recommend your company to everyone they know.

    Lexie 1

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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- Before and After- chesterfieldinsurers.com