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5 digital trends small businesses should take advantage of

(Business Marketing) Everyone knows they should have email and a website, but many small businesses are still not taking advantage of some very basic digital trends, discussed here today.

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digital trends

Digital trends you may be missing

You already know that you need to be on Twitter, and that you should have a modern website, but are there other general digital trends that you’re inadvertently neglecting?

Kabbage‘s Chief Marketing Officer, Victoria Treyger acknowledges that being a small business owner can be tough. “It takes a lot more work to get your business out there, to train good employees, to have the best customer service, and to have superior products than it does for big box organizations.”

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Treyger notes that “Staying on top of new technology and trends can be a huge help when it comes to running your small business effectively because it makes your business more convenient to use and allows you to keep in close contact with your customers. The Internet is always changing and technology is constantly becoming more advanced, but it is in the best interest of your small business to use trends so that you adapt with the changes. Being one of the first businesses in your city or town to be on top of cutting edge technology can generate its own publicity as well as open up a whole new marketplace. Being aware of social media techniques and platforms as well as retargeting and upgrading your mobile applications is helping small businesses grow.”

In order to grow your business, you must market yourself efficiently, and Treyger relays that digital trends can be an inexpensive and fast way to market, especially in the era of relationship building.

In her own words below, here are some digital trends for the coming year that you need to take advantage of as a small business owner:

1. Customer Relationship Management Web Tools

We live in a world where a vast majority of small businesses exist online, and with the advent of online shopping, customer relationships have become increasingly less personal. Many customers and merchants prefer to keep their relationship short, direct, and to the point. This year look into software such as SalesForce and Hubspot to digitalize your customer relationships and create automated systems to handle them.

These systems track, organize, improve, and manage your current customer base, making it easier for you to expand that base and to help your small business grow. Customer relationship management web tools give small business owners an easier, more effective way to improve their eCommerce Store. These online tools allow you to connect with your customers in a more direct way through feedback and account tracking. By using CRM tools, you can give your customer an online platform to troubleshoot, which makes their experience with your small business easier and more convenient.

2. Content Marketing

Market your small business effectively online by providing your consumer base with valuable information regarding your service or product through social media platforms. By doing this, your small business can attract new customers and earn their trust. Basically, content marketing is marketing by creating your own content surrounding your business and then promoting it on your website and social media platforms.

Content marketing helps your customer better understand your business, and it brings new attention to your business by divulging information that the consumer base might not have previously known. Content marketing allows you as a small business owner to tell your own story and get your product or service out there in exactly the manner you prefer. Content marketing is built upon a foundation of solid trust between merchant and consumer, and it helps build loyalty for your small business by creating a pathway of constant communication.

3. Website Content Management Systems

Website Content Management Systems make it easier for you to understand and control your small business website. These systems do not require extensive computer code knowledge, just basic computer skills. These systems make it quick and easy to update your website with current news, events, product information, and shipping information.

A CMS can save you time and money because you won’t have to hire a web developer, and you won’t have to constantly worry about updating your business’s online presence. WordPress is the current leader in providing CMS. These systems could mean all the difference for your eCommerce store and even for the online presence of your brick and mortar store. Using CMS allows you to keep your website content as up to date as possible, making it more searchable and easier to use online.

4. Online Payment Methods

PayPal opened the door to a conglomerate of new online payment methods. Customers can now pay for goods and services using their smartphone’s Bitcoin or Square Wallet application. Google has also come out with their own version of a wallet, which essentially allows the customers to load currency onto a mobile application and use this application as a payment method. Any system that makes the payment process faster, easier, and safer for consumers is seeing increased popularity this year and should continue to grow.

These types of online services for payment will continue to reduce consumer use of cash because it safeguards against a lost physical wallet and makes it easier to make purchases online without having to put in all your credit card information. Catching onto this trend can open your business’s doors to a whole new realm of tech-savvy consumers while also making your payment processes faster and easier. Many of these systems automatically integrate into your bookkeeping system, as well.

5. Image-based Content

A new type of online search is becoming available and increasingly popular. Image searches are now allowing for consumers to search using digital images in large databases. Systems like Google Images allow you to either describe an image and then search directly for it or upload an image to the system and it will describe the image for you. A variety of other marketplaces are making use of this technology by creating apps for their businesses. Walgreens allows you to take a picture of your prescription and upload it via app or website to order a refill. Other businesses allow you to use QR scanners and pictures of products to search their inventories.

As this type of search becomes more common, think of creative ways your small business could use this technology to improve sales and marketability. Also consider what Internet video could do for your small business. Video as a medium for marketing is highly useful because it has high content availability and it engages viewers. Videos are also now being ranked on search engine pages, which add another platform for your business to engage with its customer base on. Image-based content is a great way to market an eCommerce business.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business Marketing

The neuroscience of respectful leadership – preventing professional disrespect

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Offices with toxic work environments are harmful to the employees, but where does that toxicity come from? A large percentage is disrespect

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disrespect in the workplace

If you have ever felt yourself being disrespected at work, or at least not getting the respect you feel you deserve, you are not alone. These actions can create a toxic work environment that don’t help anyone, but why does it happen and how can it be curbed? Well Gregg Ward has studied the subject and has an interesting take that we would like to share.

Gregg Ward is the Executive Director of the Center for Respectful Leadership, and the CEO of Gregg Ward Group. Gregg has been helping leaders develop their respectful leadership, emotional intelligence, and executive presence skills for over 25 years; working with Fortune 100 and 500 organizations around the world to inspire respect and leadership, emphasizing the measurable, bottom-line benefits they bring to leaders and their organizations. Gregg is the author of the best-selling, award-winning business book The Respectful Leader, as well as the Human Resources and Management handbook Bad Behavior, People Problems, and Sticky Situations.

By Gregg Ward – Executive Director of The Center for Respectful Leadership

Starting in the late 1990’s and for the next 20 years, researchers at Georgetown University and Arizona State University surveyed American employees to determine the amount of incivility, disrespect and rudeness they were experiencing at work. Shockingly, 98% of those surveyed said they had experienced it, and 99% said they had witnessed it. What’s even more troubling is the lasting impact of disrespect on individuals and organizational cultures.

Most of us assume that respect and disrespect are things we think about rationally. Rational thought occurs in the cognitive areas of our brains, within what scientists refer to as “the neocortex.” But recent findings in neuroscience indicate that our responses to rudeness, incivility and disrespect are much more emotional than rational, and are rooted in the primitive parts of the brain, called the “reptilian brain.”

Imagine you’re in a meeting and your boss continuously interrupts you (a not uncommon experience for many), dismissing your ideas as unworkable. Even though you “think” you shouldn’t be bothered by this behavior, you actually experience it anyway on a basic emotional level, regardless of what you tell yourself. This is because your brain perceives these interruptions and dismissals as threats, and almost instantly sends a threat alert to your Amygdala (the center of the Limbic system) which in turn triggers the release of stress hormones into your system including Adrenaline and Cortisol (aka “the stress hormone”).

These hormones are part of the fight-flight-freeze response that all of us experience to some degree when we’re under threat. Researchers have found that increased levels of these hormones resulting from constant exposure in the workplace to even small micro-threats (like being constantly interrupted) can have significantly negative impacts on our health, well-being, productivity and even our ability to think creatively.

Research also shows that respect and disrespect are contagious. You’ll know this to be true if you’ve ever walked into a meeting after it’s started and immediately felt a sense of energetic enthusiasm or chilly iciness between the participants. You can sense that something’s up even though they haven’t said anything to you about what’s actually going on. This awareness is driven by our unconscious brains constantly seeking information to determine if we’re under threat, or not. This is simply the human condition and has nothing to do with us being too sensitive or politically correct. It is simply how we are.

Organizational leaders ignore our fundamental humanity at their peril. A “toxic” work culture, wherein many are experiencing disrespect, rudeness and incivility on a regular basis, can seriously impact performance, productivity and partnership.

In 2016 researchers published a scholarly paper that clearly highlights the negative impacts that disrespect and incivility can have on entire organizations including increased complaints, absenteeism, turnover, mistakes and bottom line performance metrics. If you’ve ever worked (or currently work) in such a toxic culture, you know how uncomfortable this is, and how much of a detriment it can be to your well being.

What can leaders do to ensure their organizational cultures are respectful and civil? First, leaders can set the tone themselves by consistently treating people with decency and respect. Practicing what is often referred to as “common courtesy” is a great way to start, by saying “please” and “thank you,” regularly; greeting people cordially; using “reflective or active” listening, and never raising a voice in anger or upset.

Another effective “respectful leadership” practice is to quickly “nip disrespect in the bud” whenever it arises; demonstrating to the rest of the team that being disrespectful won’t be allowed. At The Center for Respectful Leadership, we refer to these and other related practices as the “RespectfulDo’s,” and they are part of the global movement we call Embrace Respect.

Recent neuroscience is teaching us valuable lessons about our working selves – especially in regard to the power of respect and civility. The question is, will we listen to the research and deliberately act upon it, or stay unconscious and risk the fallout from a toxic culture?

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Business Marketing

How to make sure your newly remote team stays productive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) The tide of change is rolling in and may never recede again, so managers should know how to handle the new normal, here’s some advice.

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The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people work. Working from home is the new normal. It’s not only employees who have to think about how they perform, but managers have to learn new skills to keep their team engaged and efficient. I’ve worked on remote teams for over 6 years. Here are some things that have helped me.

Ask “What can I do to help you?”

I’ve worked with some great managers and some awful ones. The best ones had a collaborative attitude when discussing problems. Instead of laying blame, the question was “what can we do to correct this?” It takes a little longer to think in those terms if you’re not used to it, but it reduces stress. If you’re communicating through email or message apps, it pays to reread before hitting send. We’re all learning new skills in this new normal.

Make sure your employees have the technology they need

One of the companies I work for has specific programs they use and technology requirements. Before I was allowed to proceed through their final onboarding, they made sure that I could access their technology. If your team is working from home, they need to have the resources to be productive. It’s not just computers and software, but access to internet. One of my friends said that it took them over an hour to upload a 5-minute video to Facebook.

Define success; don’t micro-manage

As I’m writing this, Ask a Manager’s Alison Green posted a question about “what’s reasonable to expect from parents who are working from home. Just a reminder that managers may have to lower expectations from their team, not only for parents, but for everyone. I don’t have kids at home, but there are many distractions out of the ordinary. Managers have to accept that people aren’t going to be as productive in these not-so-normal-times. Identify priorities. Check in when you’re on a deadline. Find a balance between managing and micro-managing.

We’re all just trying to do the best we can

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you work, I think it’s safe to say that we’re all adapting to these crazy times. How managers handle their teams will set the tone for years to come. If you want to keep those employees who have been hard workers, you’re going to have to adjust to give them the benefit of the doubt.

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Business Marketing

Easy email signature builder quickly updates your info

(BUSINESS MARKETING) When’s the last time you updated your email signature? That long? You might want to look at just sign, a new, quick, and easy, email signature generator.

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just sign email

The last thing any of us are thinking about right now is email. While we’re all staying safer at home, though, it’s a good time to think about all the little things that need our attention, but typically get neglected: clearing out the email inbox, unsubscribing from things no longer relevant, and updating our email signatures. Why the email signature?

Oftentimes, we change emails when we change jobs and forget to change our signatures to reflect our new address. The same is true with social media; if we happen to change jobs, due to our own choice or by necessity thanks to the virus, we may need to update our social media profiles accordingly, especially if the new job suddenly makes this a requirement.

One of the fastest ways to update your email signature is with a generator. An email signature generator can help you quickly make a professional looking signature in about half the time it would take you to manually add each individual component.

Just Sign is one of the quickest options I’ve seen. This email signature generator is ultra simple, ultra easy, and ultra effective. It allows you to add clickable social links, a profile picture or logo, and all relevant contact information. It also allows you to choose a color scheme and tailor the formatting a bit to your preferences. As you begin to add options to your signature, you can see a preview of what the final product will look like in the right-hand panel.

Just Sign welcome

This allows you to make any necessary changes before downloading the finished product. When you have your signature perfected, simply click the purple “generate signature” button and you’re ready to go.

Just Sign is an easy, quick way to check another thing off your to-do list while we’re all at home. If you have already updated your signature, you might save this link for later use as it’s a good idea to revisit your signature a few times a year. Oftentimes, I revise mine simply to keep the attached picture updated. Have you updated your signature lately? Do you plan to? Let us know what you think of Just Sign.

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