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5 Essential Marketing Hacks For Startups And Small Businesses

5 Essential Marketing Hacks For Startups And Small Businesses

Feel as if you’re on the waterfront with your commercial aspirations and dreams? Lacking the bucks to help put your business or startup on the map? Fortunately for prospective business owners and entrepreneurs, the environment we live in is becoming more and more digitally intertwined, thanks to our good pal, the internet. How can this help your desired trade? The internet and the ensuing digital transformation has made the ability to employ effective and influential marketing tactics significantly easier and more enjoyable than ever before. Our understanding of conventional media is changing, being replaced by new media trends. The once traditional power of television is shifting to the power of search engines and social media.

So, how can your business exploit the power this contemporary age affords? Check out the list below to see what tools you can easily and readily utilize to get your brand or startup in the eyes and minds of customers.

1. Use Social Media To Your Advantage

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Social Media

    Whether your usual digital interactions involve sharing on Facebook, hashtagging on Instagram, or stalking your competitors on Linkedin, get on all forms of Social Media. Work to integrate all of the different channels and outlets. These networks are where millions of people spend large portions of their day, scrolling the abyss of feeds and posts. Why not get in front of them? Get your business social. Connect with friends. Comment on things and strike up conversations. Just because you might be a concrete company, doesn’t mean you don’t have condolences for a national tragedy or passion about a big sporting event. The key here is to be different. No doubt your competitors are on there too, but if you stand out in a unique sense, your brand’s image will hold more value. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Social media is an experimental field. As budding businesspeople and entrepreneurs, you should know there’s no reward without risk. Investing time or money in a social media campaign is not an option, but a necessity, so get liking.

    To Do:

    • Join the big networks.
    • Like, share, connect.
    • Comment on things, be cheeky (in good taste).
    • Post content. Keep active (this is vital!).
    • Target specific audiences at first and build.
    • Don’t hesitate on using emojis — it helps make your image personal and human. Stats released by Adweek showed that 92% of people use emojis as they feel it expresses better than words do.
    • Most importantly, don’t pester — engage with users strategically

    A tool like buffer gives you control across multiple social channels and makes it considerably easier to execute campaigns and share content.

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    2. Create And Publish Compelling Content

    Your business or startup needs content, and even more importantly, it needs high quality and stimulating content. You can publish things like articles, videos, or infographics on your own personal blog or on your social media channels. If your new venture is a revolutionary dog washing business, it’s no doubt that day-to-day operations involve some compromising and hilarious images of canines — snap, crop, write, and share, then let the vortex of the web and social media do its thing.

    Wet Dog

      Alternatively, if your business trades in finance, produce a video on groundbreaking things your industry does, something that everyday people wouldn’t know or that is potentially lucrative — something share-worthy that offers value to people traversing the web or social media. It doesn’t matter if you think your business or its industry lacks glamour, every trade has a unique story or details. The key when it comes to content is personality and creativity. We all possess those things, the challenge is how you decide to channel it. The rewards can be viral!

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      3. Try Creative Branding

      Having a logo or insignia is a no brainer when it comes to starting your own business or entrepreneurial venture. If you’re short on cash, you can capitalize on cheap alternatives online. Check out services like Fiverr or Zeerk and take advantage of the cheap options they provide in generating logos or graphic designs for businesses. These can help sort your logo and image challenges.

      But how can you market that brand to stand out aside from using social media or publishing content? Never ignore the power of word of mouth. Don’t resort to the usual tactics of branding your logo on USB’s or bottle openers. Actually invest into memorable products. Know a friend going to a big party? Purchase some locally brewed beer, design your own company label, slap it on the front of the bottles, and send him or her with a free six-pack produced by your business. This isn’t a hard thing to do. It’s employing tactics like this that help your business become memorable and stand out. Jump on the trending bandwagon of crazy donuts and design your own company ones and send them to your audience. Creatively marketing your small business or startup brand is a perfect way to get your name out in the open in a unique way.

      4. Use Hacks For SEO

      Unless you having been living under a rock, or your business ambitions only extend as far as setting up shop in a local market, it’s a known fact that SEO is a vital component for businesses. Visibility online, especially in search engines, is key to business development and exposure. Optimizing your company’s webpage to correspond with Google’s algorithm is a must to help put your business ahead of competitors and up the top in search rankings. If you’re not employing an SEO strategy, whether you’re learning the ropes yourself or have invested in an SEO company, you’re more than likely losing out on business or investors to competitors.

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      What simple things can you do to implement SEO?

      1. Make your webpage fast. Compress images and videos using sites like tinypng.com. Google ranks domain speed and usability — an element of their algorithm.
      2. Link your company’s social pages. Google recognizes social business pages as authoritative — higher authority means higher rankings.
      3. Create a Google My Business page. This increases your sites trustworthiness, a component of Google’s search algorithm.

      If you truly recognize the importance of SEO, it is best to outsource it to professionals who trade in the craft. A digital marketing agency can creatively boost the rankings of your business or startup, which can lead to substantial conversions and business exposure. Do your research on a few different SEO agencies and educate yourself on the practice, reading articles and forums, so you know what to look for and who you believe can help increase your visibility. SEO is not a short game, it’s a long-term investment, but the wait is worthwhile.

      5. Be Part Of The Community

      Nothing is more warming than a sense of community. As a local business or startup, get on board helping communal events and festivities. If your company provides a service, how could it help the community in a not-for-profit sense? If it can, it’s a great way to showcase the personality and social heart of your business. Whether it be providing blankets to homeless people or piling up sandbags in the event of a flood, if done in a tasteful manner, helping the community through the resources of your business is a great way to connect with prospective customers within a local community. Companies that engage and help the community distinguish themselves from their competitors. Helping out locally or providing for events elicits opportunities to generate content for social media as well. Help them, help you.

      Successfully marketing your small business or startup will always involve challenges. Old methods can be ineffective and new trends change constantly, making it hard to know where to best channel your time and money. All in all, there are plenty of tactics available at your disposal and the internet, creative branding, social media, the practice of SEO, and community involvement afford endless opportunities to start the conversation about your small business or startup.

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      Last Updated on December 3, 2019

      7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

      7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

      I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

      It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

      A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

      1. Define Career Success for Yourself

      Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

      What does career success mean to you?

      This is about defining your career success:

      • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
      • Not what people may think of you
      • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
      • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

      “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

      When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

      There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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      • Work-life balance
      • Opportunities for growth and advancement
      • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

      Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

      • What do you mean by work-life balance?
      • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
      • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

      Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

      • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
      • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
      • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

      Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

      • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
      • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
      • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

      Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

      Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

      What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

      2. Know Your Values

      Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

      There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

      Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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      • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
      • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
      • Put the words on your fridge
      • Add the words on your vision board

      Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

      3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

      When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

      How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

      Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

      • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
      • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
      • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
      • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
      • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
      • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

      Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

      • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
      • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
      • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
      • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

      Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

      By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

      4. Determine Your Top Talents

      What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

      What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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      What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

      What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

      What do you notice?

      5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

      Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

      I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

      Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

      Keep these words visible too!

      Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

      6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

      Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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      Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

      “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

      7. Manage Your Own Career

      Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

      Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

      Summing Up

      For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

      Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

      Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

      1. Define Career Success for Yourself
      2. Know Your Values
      3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
      4. Determine Your Top Talents
      5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
      6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
      7. Manage Your Own Career

      “When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

      Good luck and best wishes always!

      More Tips on Advancing Your Career

      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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