Paul Greenberg of The 56 Group: Being Transformational in Business Goes Beyond Disruptive Technology

There was a lot of big news in the CRM space this week.  Zoho announced a major upgrade to their CRM platform, as did Zendesk.  But the biggest news came by way of SAP’s $8 billion acquisition of survey and analytics platform Qualtrics.  And rightfully so, because that’s some serious money.

It was obvious that SAP CEO Bill McDermott was enthusiastic about the purchase and referred to it as being a transformational moment for the company. Which got my buddy and CRM thought leader Paul Greenberg (aka the Godfather of CRM) fired up to discuss the topic for our CRM Playaz video podcast. But while we focused on whether we felt McDermott was right about the deal being transformational, we went beyond that and started thinking about what it really means to be transformational in business today, and what are good examples out there to follow.

Below is an edited transcript of a portion of our conversation.  To hear the full convo, check out the video or click on the embedded SoundCloud player below.

* * * * *

Paul Greenberg: It’s [The SAP-Qualtrics deal] not transformational. Look, it takes so much more than acquiring tech. For a transformation to come at a level that leads you into the marketplace.  To be honest, given the Salesforce is the obvious target of everybody in this.

Small Business Trends:  The Exact Target, huh?

Paul Greenberg:  Yeah. But I will tell you, and then I want to get your thoughts on this. But here is the thing, the power of Salesforce has never been in the amount of tech it provides. It’s been in the company that they are, and how they present themselves to the market, and how the market adopts and accepts them, right? Their externalization in the culture has been the critical factor of difference. When somebody says not “I want to buy your technology because I love your technology.” ‘Cause there are technologies that do compete with Salesforce just fine.

Small Business Trends:  Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:  And will beat them just as much as not. But, what they’ve got is when somebody gets involved with Salesforce they say “I wanna be part of that!” Right? “I want to be part of that.” And that’s transformational. Because the company becomes, as [Marc] Benioff actually publicly said, “a force for change.” The company itself becomes a force for change. That is where he is aimed at, and that’s how it’s worked that well.

You know, Qualtrics is an acquisition by a company that is on the rise that I’m cautiously still optimistic about. They haven’t made what I would call a bad acquisition for a long time. I think he’s [SAP CEO Bill McDermott] done really well with this. And Qualtrics is a good acquisition, it’s just not an acquisition that is changing everything. It’s just not that kinda thing. It’s a survey to a powerful analytics. I’m again, oversimplifying it.

Small Business Trends:  Right.Paul Greenberg:  But it is just that. So, good for SAP. Yes, congratulations, and yes this will fill a hole, and yes this is gonna improve your capabilities to fight it out in the marketplace.  And at the same time, fill out your ecosystem in a better way, but it doesn’t check every box you need to be truly transformational.

So what about your thinking on it?

Small Business Trends:  I’m like you. When I think of transformational or I think of game-changer, on its own I don’t see it as that. I think it’s like you said. SAP has made a lot of really good acquisitions of the last couple of years. They are all pieces to the puzzle, but I don’t think the puzzle is complete yet. I think it is a good, necessary piece.

When you think about, like you said, they have the analytical piece to go with the survey piece. That adds a certain kind of data to the operational data that SAP has in spades. So this adds another kind of data and a way to analyze it.  I think the thing that maybe still is something they have to figure on. In particular, when you’re looking at Salesforce and Adobe, I’ll put Adobe in there too. From a marketing and experience cloud, particularly Adobe, not only do they have the tools to analyze the data, but they have the tools to do something. Create the content, create the experiences that leverage the data in real-time fashion. More so than what I see right now that SAP has with the Qualtrics edition.

Especially when you talk about a B2C perspective, like you said, in B2B Callidus [Cloud] acquisition really helps out. And being able to bring this in, with what Callidus has and what some of the other pieces. I think from a B2B perspective? That really is a significant piece of the puzzle. But that other B2C, how do you take this data and create the experiences and content in real time and analyze it in real time, you know? I think there is still some work to be done on that end.

But like you said, I think it’s a good piece. Do I see it on its own as transformational? No. Maybe if they get a couple of other things in there, and stitch them together the right way, maybe it is. But I don’t see it as that as of today.

Paul Greenberg:  Well to your point actually, in terms of creating what I always call “consumable experiences”, Adobe is the only one who really do that well. Sales force doesn’t do it either, really. Nobody does, other than Adobe. I mean there are others who do it, I shouldn’t say that, but-

Small Business Trends:  At the scale of Adobe.

Paul Greenberg:  Nobody does it at that scale. In fact, even Adobe didn’t do it until fairly recently. They claimed it, but they do it.

The other side on transformation, it’s a company issue, not a technology issue. Companies are what’s transformed, not technology. Technology is a piec of transformation. The power of transformation comes when that kind of aspect…Transformation is..

You said something really interesting, Bill McDermott was really jazzed and excited, which is emotional right? And Bill McDermott has no problem being emotional about things. He is emotional about things all the time. But it’s emotional, that’s the point! The actual point! He’s excited about it.

Again, I don’t necessarily agree with him, that it being transformational. He is probably right to be somewhat offended about the equivalent, you know-

Small Business Trends: Oh yea, the Survey Monkey comparison thing, yeah.

Paul Greenberg: Yeah, because that meant that the CNBC reporter’s really not doing much homework.

But, everything … That’s part of your company. That’s part of who you are. It’s part of what I used to call it “a company like me”, right? There is literally a 65 page study done on “a company like me.” It wasn’t called exactly that, but it was literally close to those words. 65 page academic study done by, I can’t remember the name of the people. For that matter, I can’t remember where they did … Southern California, I think. But two people did a study on that, and they were finding on the different things that people do, and they anthropomorphize companies, right? How they attach their emotions and how they give companies human characteristics and things like that.

Again, it goes to the point that if you’re gonna be transformative, you have to reach a level where people’s emotions are being moved, are being changed. You can’t do that with just technology. You do that with the actual interaction of the company, the purpose of the company, the actions of the company, they way people perceive the company, the way they choose to act in conjunction with that company, et cetera, et cetera. There’s a million articles out on that one, a lot of it.

And Salesforce did that in Dreamforce, which it’s not actually. To some extent, to a large extent in the human eyes themselves, as a result. I thought it was one of the most important keynotes Marc Benioff ever gave.

Small Business Trends:  Yeah

Paul Greenberg:  That’s how you transform. And thats the battle that SAP has to wage. Microsoft was doing some great things. Microsoft just announced a non-profit accelerator. Right? I’m just digging in now, and I’m really excited about it. It really looks good. And it’s again, one of those things that’s not just technology. There’s a bit of an incubator involved, there’s social good involved, there’s a number of other things involved. But they’ve basically designed to get some good done, to do some good, and to humanize the company, and at the same time, build out things that will benefit Microsoft. ‘Cause that’s how familiar with the-

Small Business Trends:  Yeah. Well, they’re all still in business, even if they are able to do good and do business. That’s like a win-win. Why wouldn’t you want to do that? Like you said, Salesforce, I mean at Dreamforce, we were sitting right next to each other.  The first 10 to 15 minutes of Benioff’s keynote, I was like “Man, I feel like I’m in church!”. I thought the next step was “an I would like to announce my candidacy…” (Laughs)

Paul Greenberg:  (Laughs) 2020?

Small Business Trends:  But people were right there with him. I mean it was really a complete departure from his previous keynotes, at least that segment of it. But it was one that I think pretty much set the stage for the whole conference. And made the rest of the keynote in particular, people were focused on everything he said. Because like you said, he kinda captured their attention early on and was able to transfer it from his statements that had absolutely nothing to do with Salesforce. But he was actually able to take the connection he made with the audience and transition it back into the things that Salesforce was doing.


Paul Greenberg:  You know what, I will tell you one thing. It’s a small thing, but I think it was almost key to how that speech was so different from anything else.  In the past, and every other keynote ever, aside from the product announcements which were moved into their respective cloud keynotes.

With the exception of Philanthropy Cloud, which was very wise, you know. And then Einstein Voice, right? But what he did… in the past, what he did in every other keynote we’ve attended, there’s been a segment where he invites a chosen charity or non-profit.  He brings them up, and then he gets them to talk, and then gives money to them from a mobile app, and we’re all done. But it’s just a segment of the discussion. There was none of that this time. This time the whole discussion was Salesforce as an actual force for social good. Not “we are aligned with this force for social good, we ARE a force for social good.” Right? That aligns with his discussions on I think it was also CNBC. Might of been err…Who knows? Could of been Bloomberg, could of been Reuters, I don’t know.

Small Business Trends:  (Laughs)

Paul Greenberg:  But why he bought Time Magazine, where he said “Business is a force for change”. And somebody else asked him, “Are you gonna run for office?”, and he said “Why? I don’t need to run for office”.  Business is a force for change, right?

And Salesforce is his mantra. And he’s getting people interested. That is what you’ve gotta do. Now, to SAP’s credit, even though they don’t highlight this much, well they did a bit in Barcelona. If you go back in the past, when they would talk … They do social good. SAP does a lot, actually. Their focus is more on sustainability, I’d say if I had to pick something.

Several years ago, they did a thing on carbon footprint reduction, and they had built an app around it, and it was a good one. This is good tech, and it actually helped reduce their carbon footprint, but the way they positioned it at the time, was around the benefit t your business, for profitability and blah, blah, blah, blah, right? Stupid!

Small Business Trends:  (Laughs)

Paul Greenberg:  Stupid, right? Because that is not what anyone wants to hear. Then it’s just another thing they’re doing to make money.  So this time, they talked about their adherence to the 17 U.N. Sustainability Goals, they put in terms of actual social good. Meaning they did the right thing. For them, the irony is that’s not just positioning. They do mean it, and I know that. In fact, the other thing, the carbon footprint, even though they meant it, they just were awkward in the way they did it, and it came out completely wrong. This came out right.

They are making progress in terms of thinking about it, but they… If they think Qualtrics is the transformative point, they are missing the point.

Small Business Trends:  Yeah. I think maybe the first step into being transformational is what you’re saying about Bill McDermott and his enthusiasm and passion. Right now, I’m just taking it for what I saw. The enthusiasm and passion is for the deal, and the potential that this deal has in terms of building out their platform. As opposed to, what you talked about with Marc Benioff. It’s not just about the platform, it’s about the ability to be a change agent. To look at… I hate to quote J-Z or anything, but …

Paul Greenberg:  (Laughs)

Small Business Trends:  He had that quote, “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man.” I think there is the emphasis on “We’re not a change agent.” We’re not just about change from a business perspective, we’re about change because we are a business that can make that change happen.

Paul Greenberg:  Right!

Small Business Trends:  I think that may be the first step of being transformational.  It’s seeing beyond “here’s what we’re looking to do, down here from a technology standpoint,” and saying that’s transformational.  Now, maybe that will help you to become transformational, if you are able to take the big picture view and apply it, and leverage your technology and platform to do it. But right now, like you said, SAP has made a lot of great acquisitions. Tying it together, and creating kind of a canvas that tells the story and…. creates that opportunity to be viewed as a transformational, is part of being transformational. Because you can’t transform people if they don’t see you as being an agent for transformation.

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it’s an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.

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Small Business Saturday Poised to be a Big One, According to Experts

It’s almost the big day!

No, not Thanksgiving. Or Black Friday. We’re talking about Small Business Saturday. It’s coming up soon — November 24!

The day that was created as a promotion by American Express has turned itself into somewhat of a household name, as it were.

And amid all the hooplah and madness of Thanksgiving travels and Black Friday shopping, it’s easy to get lost in that.

Don’t fret. There’s still time to prepare for this other big day next week. We’ve got resources and information you’ll need to get your business ready for Small Business Saturday this year.

For the rest of the small business headlines this week, check out our weekly news roundup below, including details on why some experts expect this to be one of the busiest holiday shopping seasons in recent memory and how to prepare your business for it.

Retail Trends

SCORE Tells Small Businesses to Prepare for Another Busy Holiday Shopping Season

The revenues for Thanksgiving week in 2017 was up by 33% from 2016. And according to SCORE, small businesses better be ready for another busy holiday shopping season in 2018. The organization, which mentors small business owners, is bullish on the 2018 season, predicting sales will remain strong.

These 3 Things are the Biggest Online Holiday Season Pains for Retailers

Speed, cost, and the seasonal increase in volume are the biggest holiday shopping season pain points for retailers. This according to a new survey by Simplr, which looked at the pulse of small-medium sized ecommerce retailers handling customer service inquiries to determine how businesses were getting ready for the holiday shopping season.


29% Prefer Communicating with Remote Employees by Phone, Survey Says

A new survey from Voxbone reveals the phone is still the preferred technology for staying in touch for remote workers. This might be somewhat surprising considering the popularity of text and IM, but a phone call is hard to beat to quickly get your point across; especially with complex subject matters.

Marketing Tips

Google Shares Tips for Attracting More Customers Online This Holiday Season

The holiday shopping season is responsible for generating a large percentage of the yearly profits for many businesses. A new infographic from Google wants to help you prepare your site and ads for the increased activity which will come your way as the season moves along. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the holiday sales during November and December 2017 was up 5.

93% of Marketers Say Video Has Brought New Customers

How big is the impact of video in today’s digital environment? According to a new report by Animoto, 93% of marketers say video is responsible for landing them a new customer. When it comes to consumers and social media, video is first with everything else coming in second.


New  Report Shares Facts Small Business Owners MUST Know about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, unintentional carbon monoxide (CO), poisoning is responsible for hundreds of deaths each year. This is especially important to remember for small business owners who have employees on site.

Small Business Operations

Businesses  Prefer Regional Trade as Tariffs and Protectionism Threaten Global Prospects

Due to customer demand and favorable economic conditions, businesses worldwide have growing confidence. But however confident they may be, many companies are beginning to shift toward doing business within their own regions due to uncertainty surrounding global trade, according to a new HSBC survey of over 8,500 companies.

Technology Trends

FTC Launches New Cyber Security Tools for Small Business

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched a resource to raise awareness about the vital role cybersecurity plays for the 32+ million small businesses in the US. This effort was part of the National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) in October, which has been recognized every month since 2003. The NCSAM was established with the collaboration of the U.S.

New Apple iPad Pro Could Supplement Your Small Business PC

The new Apple iPad Pro is bigger, faster and more integrated with applications creatives like to use in two different models. The 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions have a new edge-to-edge display, upgraded specs, and they support the new Apple Pencil. If you are ready to shell out a starting price of $799 for 11-inch version and $999 for its 12.

Photo via Shutterstock

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33 Percent of Americans Say Fear of Failure Holds Them Back from Starting a Business

Entrepreneurs are a brave bunch because they have to put it all on the line when they go at it on their own. But are there countries where entrepreneurs are more fearless about taking the plunge — or more fearful to the point where they never get started on that great business idea?

Fear of Failure in Business

A new infographic from GraphicSprings provides insight with some surprising results, including Americans ending up in the middle of the pack when it comes to fear of failure when starting a business.

The data for the infographic comes from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), an organization dedicated to the study of entrepreneurship. According to GEM, not all entrepreneurs are alike and its Adult Population Survey (APS) looks at the different traits which lead individuals to start their own business.

In the US, where there are currently 30.2 million businesses in 2018, and entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged, we might expect to see fear of failure among potential business owners low. After all, local, state and national governments do all they can to provide a pro-business environment and make it much easier for startups to thrive.

However, there are some sobering statistics when it comes to small business failure rates in the US. Slightly more than 50% of small businesses fail in the first four years, with only three percent making it to the fifth year.

So, Who is Fearless?

If entrepreneurs in Ecuador weren’t first on your list, you probably aren’t the only one. But with 30% of those between the ages of 18 and 64 listed as new entrepreneurs, this South American country was number one when it came to fearless small business owners. But the country also had almost as many people who were fearful at 27%.

As for the country with the highest number of people who were fearful of starting a business, that position goes to the United Arab Emirates at 61%, with only 9% being described as fearless entrepreneurs.

When it comes to the US, which has the largest economy in the world, the fearless rate was 14% with an amazing 33% fearful of starting a business.

The other top five fearless countries were Guatemala and Peru tied  at 25%, followed by Lebanon at 24%, and Vietnam at 23%.

The top fearful countries after the UAE are Cyprus at 56%, Greece at 55%, Thailand and Morocco tied at 53%.

What Can You Learn from failure?

According to Sir James Dyson, the inventor, and founder of Dyson Ltd., quite a lot. Dyson once said “The key to success is failure… Success is made up of 99 percent failure.”

He should know! Creating the bagless, world famous vacuums now bearing his name cost Dyson his life savings and 5,127 prototypes. What would’ve happened if he gave up after the 10th, 100th, 1,000th, or even the 5,126th, attempt? Vacuums would still be inefficient and Dyson wouldn’t be a billionaire.

So, if you are afraid of trying your hand at starting a business, keep this quote by Jack Canfield, motivational speaker and author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, in mind.

“Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.”

Take a look at the interactive infographic from GraphicSprings below to see how different countries around the world compare when it comes to fearless entrepreneurs as opposed those who are too fearful to ever try.

Photo via Shutterstock

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The Social Media Wrap – 16th November 2018

This week on media news, Facebook launches an exciting new piece of tech, you’ll soon be able to unsend Facebook messages, and Twitter is thinking about letting you edit your tweets

Will you be implementing any of these into your digital marketing strategy? Anything we missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts, post in the comments below:


Facebook Launches Facebook Portal

  • Portal is a range of iPad like displays which connect you to people via video chat
  • Facebook portal comes with a range of features:
  • Built in Alexa
  • Ability to connect through messenger
  • Display FB photos and notifications
  • Smart camera and smart sound that follows you as you move
  • Powerful hi-fi sound system

Source: Facebook

Study analysing fifteen thousand Instagram stories reveals best practices and performance standards

  • The study, which looked at 15,000 stories from the world’s top 200 brands showed that stories are most viewed outside of office hours, and that 7 frames is ideal
  • The Guardian also found that simple static images and quick explanatory videos performed professionally produced videos
  • The study was performed by teams at Buffer and Delmondo

Source: Buffer App

Twitter is contemplating an ‘edit’ button for Tweets

  • Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey has revealed a potential use of the button could be for typos only
  • The company has said they are considering this feature carefully, fearing its misuse to edit controversial Tweets

Source: The Verge

Amazon has launched an Alexa App for Windows 10 PCs

  • The app will enable users to ask Alexa to create lists, set timers and reminders, play music, control the smart home and more
  • It is currently only available in the US, UK, and Germany with more locations to come in 2019

Source: Tech Crunch

You can now follow businesses via Google Maps

  • Once users ‘follow’ a business, they will receive news like events and offers from the store
  • Google has been releasing a slew of features that support businesses to remain competitive with Facebook’s business services

Source: Social Media Today

Facebook is slowly rolling out an ‘unsend’ option for messenger

  • Users will be able to unsend a message within 10 minutes of sending, reportedly to correct mistakes
  • Facebook has also reported that they will keep deleted messages for a short period of time in case the messages are reported
  • The feature will be made available to users in Poland, Bolivia, Colombia, and Lithuania first

Source: Social Media Today

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The LinkedIn Profile Photo: What an Analysis of 2,000 Images Found

Do people tend to smile or not smile in their LinkedIn profile photos? Is attire usually formal, business casual, or casual? How do profile photos differ among industries and by gender?

JDP analyzed 2,000 LinkedIn profile photos for workers in 11 industries: education, finance/banking, government, health/wellness/fitness, healthcare, HR/recruiting, IT/computer science, marketing/advertising/PR, real estate, retail, and sales/business development.

Just over three-quarters (76%) of the people in the photos examined had a full smile, some 12% had a tight-lipped smile, and another 12% had no smile.

Some 42% of the people in the photos examined were wearing business-casual clothing.

Check out the infographic for more insights from the study:

About the research: The report was based on an analysis of 2,000 LinkedIn profile photos for workers in 11 industries.

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New Report Shares Facts Small Business Owners MUST Know about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, unintentional carbon monoxide (CO), poisoning is responsible for hundreds of deaths each year. This is especially important to remember for small business owners who have employees on site.

A new report from Safewise looks at the safest and most dangerous states when it comes to CO poisoning with the goal of identifying the risks and finding solutions. The report contains some important facts you will need to keep your employees safe.

Being able to identify and mitigate the causes of CO poisoning is especially important because this is an odorless and colorless gas with deadly consequences. Often times people are only aware of CO poisoning because of the symptoms, which also highlight the critical importance of knowing what the symptoms are.

As the temperature dips and small businesses across the country start firing up their heaters, this is a good time to make sure they are in perfect working condition.

Rebecca Edwards, who wrote the report for Safewise, emphasized the need to be more aware of CO poisoning.

Edwards goes on to say, “This is one of the most preventable tragedies there is. Regardless of your state’s track record for CO poisoning incidents, there is plenty you can do to minimize (if not eliminate) your chances of falling victim to this covert killer. Know the signs and symptoms, and follow good practices to keep you and yours out of harm’s way. And, for goodness’ sake, run out and get a CO detector if you don’t already have one.”

SafeWise used CDC data from 1999 to 2016 for both accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and accidental poisoning from vapors and gases. The rankings were based on state laws that require residential CO detectors and local CO poisoning tracking programs.

The researchers were able to determine which states had the lowest and highest CO poisoning-related deaths per 1,000 people. Because of unreliable data, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Washington DC were not included in the rankings.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Statistics: State Rankings

According to the report, death from CO poisoning was high in states with a combination of high altitude and northern latitude. The top five states had a mean elevation of 1,900 feet or higher.

Wyoming was first with 0.401 deaths per 100,000 followed by Alaska at 0.37, Montana at 0.356, North Dakota at 0.321, and Nebraska at 0.309.

The states with fewest deaths were led by California at 0.058 per 100,000. This was followed by Massachusetts with 0.058, Virginia at 0.083, New Jersey at 0.085, and New York rounding the top five with 0.096.

Most Common Causes of CO Poisoning

In the US, the most common causes of CO poisoning come from engine driven tools at 42%. Heating systems were next with 34% followed by consumer products at 19% and other multiple products at seven percent.

Additional CO poisoning stats:

  • There is an average of 439 deaths per year from accidental, non-fire-related CO poisoning.
  • Poison control centers get more than 680 calls per year about CO poisoning on average.
  • Fire departments responded to an average of 72,000 CO poisoning incidents each year between 2006 and 2010.
  • No one is immune to the dangers of CO poisoning.

Signs and Symptoms

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. If you don’t have a detector in place, the only way to know might be recognizing the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning.

They are:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Upset stomach
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

If you and any of your co-workers in your place of business or family members in your home start experiencing these symptoms, quickly get outside to get some fresh air and call 911 or emergency medical help.

Preventing CO Poisoning

According to Safewise, the best way to prevent accidental CO poisoning is by installing a CO detector in every level of your home or place of business.

A CO detector works just like a smoke alarm. When it senses CO, it will sound an alarm. And just like a smoke alarm make sure it is powered properly. This means checking the batteries every year like you would your smoke detector.

Safewise also recommends the following measures to lower your risks of CO poisoning:

  • Give heating systems an annual check-up from a certified technician.
  • Hire a chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney once a year.
  • Prohibit use of portable, flameless heaters inside your house.
  • Only buy gas appliances that come with a seal from a national testing agency (like Underwriters Laboratories).
  • Vent gas appliances properly.
  • Don’t use your gas stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Never use portable gas appliances (like a camp stove) inside the house.
  • Remember that generators are outdoors-only. Keep them outside and at least twenty feet away from all windows, doors, and vents (that includes the garage!).
  • Don’t run your vehicle inside an attached garage—even if the door is open. And always open the door of a detached garage before running your car.

You can read the full report on Safewise here, and the CDC has an FAQ page about CO poisoning here.

Image: Safewise

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13 Common Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Despite the growth of digital tactics, such as social media and blogging, email marketing continues to rank as an indispensable channel for any successful content strategy.

In fact, studies show that 72% of consumers prefer email as the primary way to communicate with brands, and marketers report email delivers the highest ROI among marketing tactics.

But how can you make sure you’re running an email marketing campaign effectively?

Unfortunately, many brands—even those managed by experienced marketers—are guilty of making these 13 common mistakes.

1. Lack of personalization

Fully 62% of North American consumers respond favorably to emails with personalized content, research shows; the numbers are even higher in Europe and Asia. By providing more detailed promotions and discounts, along with well-tailored recommendations that help subscribers discover new products, personalization can make a big difference in a company’s sales.

Take the time to learn about the contacts on your email list. When they subscribe, ask for details, such as where they live, their age, job title, etc. Include polls in your emails and track which subscribers and what so you can deliver better-personalized content to them each time you send out an email.

2. Not taking time to segment lists

Marketers who segmented their lists achieve 39% higher open rates, 28% lower unsubscribe rates, 24% better deliverability, and greater revenue overall, according to studies. In addition, segmented campaigns receive nearly 15% more opens and 60% more clicks than nonsegmented campaigns.

So separate subscribers based on your target audience’s variables that will best serve your business:

  • Geographic area
  • Basic demographics (e.g., gender, age, job title)
  • Email engagement (e.g., opens and clickthroughs)
  • Website behavior
  • Past purchases

3. Not using automated emails to your advantage

Although automation can save time and increase revenue, marketers tend to use automation at only a basic level (28%) or not at all (19%).

Depending on the industry and brand goals, you can set up automated emails to remind online shoppers about the items left in their abandoned carts, reach out to subscribers who haven’t purchased recently, or even simply welcome email recipients who just joined your list.

Take the time to think through how your brand could best use email marketing automation to its greatest benefit, then follow through and set up your emails.

4. Forgetting to review analytics

How often do you review analytics and provide reports about opens, clickthroughs, etc.? Regardless of when you need to provide an update, look at the data after each email send. Review how many opens it received, which links were clicked on, whether it was forwarded to someone, etc.

Compare the results with previous distributions to look for trends. Which subject lines perform better? Is there a day of the week or time of day that leads to better results? What about the content itself—do certain topics or formats resonate better with subscribers?

By being proactive with your analytics review, you’ll be able to revise your strategy more quickly—and, ideally, get improved results even faster.

5. Forgetting about mobile users

Do you check your email marketing campaigns on mobile devices? Fully 69% of emails that aren’t optimized for mobile are deleted—so, clearly, it’s important!

Ensure messages are easy to read, images load correctly, and any videos are compatible so mobile users can quickly and easily digest and respond to your messaging.

6. Lacking consistency

Do you have an email marketing schedule that you stick to? You should! Regularly sending out emails increases chances of recipients’ remembering they originally subscribed to your emails. In addition, make sure your content is consistent, too. When they know what to expect, readers will be interested in opening your email to find your latest coupon, advice, or news.

7. Overcommunicating

Yes, your subscribers chose to follow you for a reason; but, if you send emails too frequently, they’re likely to either unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam. When you develop your email marketing schedule, think about why your readers are likely interested in receiving your messages, and be careful not to overload that schedule with too many distributions that go out too frequently.

8. Inconsistent branding

While many email marketing platforms offer templates you can use, it’s important to at least partially customize the design to fit your brand. In addition to adding your logo, select colors and fonts that match the rest of your branding. Think about ways to infuse the company’s personality to stand out in subscribers’ inboxes.

9. Dull subject lines

How much time do you spend on your email subject lines? The headline needs to be compelling, intriguing, and relevant if it’s going to grab attention. Add personality and pizazz, but avoid clickbait that is likely to get you marked as spam.

10. Ignoring the preview text

When subscribers see your email in their inbox, what snippet will they see next to the subject line? Some email platforms fill that area in automatically, but you’ll want to customize it if you can. Simply auto-populating is a missed opportunity to attract additional attention and entice the recipient into opening your message.

11. Including too much information

What is the point of your email? Before you even begin putting the message together, have a clear goal in mind—and stick to it. Be careful to avoid creating an email that is so long the recipient needs to scroll on and on and on. Keep text short (3-4 lines at a time), and make it easy to scan. Break up the text with compelling and relevant images or videos to support your main message, too.

12. Reinventing the wheel

When you create an email for your subscribers, are you creating new content every time? Instead, use your email marketing campaign as an avenue to repurpose other content you’ve already created. Share your latest blog post or that new video you created. Promote a social media contest.

The more you can cross-promote your messages in multiple ways, the better. Make your emails a natural component of your overall content marketing strategy.

13. Sounding too sales-y

Yes, you want to increase revenue and sales, but sounding like a used car salesperson in your company emails isn’t the way to do it. Infuse your brand’s personality into the email, add a little humor or a few fun facts, and be as genuinely authentic as possible in each message you send.

* * *

Email marketing is a fantastic way to reach consumers. But to be as effective as possible your messages, should be carefully crafted. Can you think of common email mistakes I’ve missed? Let me know.

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Small Business Trends Recognized in Case Study by AI Platform Ezoic

Small Business Trends Media Group, the parent publishing group of and, is honored to be the subject of a case study by its technology partner, Ezoic.

The case study highlights Small Business Trends’ use of Ezoic’s artificial intelligence and machine learning platform. The platform dynamically optimizes user experience and ad revenues for publisher websites.

Advertising Case Study

Ezoic solved real challenges facing Small Business Trends.

Facing changing ad policies as well as the shift to programmatic advertising instead of direct ad sales, it became harder to scale ad revenues. “We knew we had to change. We even considered dramatically altering our business model by eliminating ads altogether,”  said Leland McFarland, CTO of Small Business Trends.

With a site the size of Small Business Trends, it had become impossible to do testing manually. “We used to keep a tedious log by hand to track site changes, ad combinations, revenues, and results of A/B testing. It was a nightmare,” McFarland added.

Then McFarland, along with Small Business Trends founder and CEO Anita Campbell, attended a Pubtelligence conference put on by Ezoic. “After that we decided to go all in with Ezoic. And it paid off in improved results. Those results are outlined in the case study,” he added.

Ezoic helps with revenues, but does so much more. As an artificial intelligence platform which includes its proprietary Big Data Analytics reporting, Ezoic delivers invaluable insights about user experience. For example, it identifies which articles are most engaging. The site is then able to build on past successes and deliver improved content for readers to enjoy.

“This is the first time we have been the subject of a case study.  Ezoic has been a fabulous technology partner and we’re thrilled to work with them. This case study comes on the heels of our 15-year anniversary as a website and company. It validates all the hard work put in by the team,” said Campbell.

Small Business Trends Media Group provides targeted, custom content reaching small businesses. Through its multiple digital media outlets, it features advice, news and resources for small businesses of up to 100 employees.

The company also publishes a digital magazine and special publications such as ebooks, templates and tools like the Headline Generator. Through all of its channels, the Small Business Trends Media Group reaches a highly targeted audience of over 2,000,000 small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs each month.

The company has been publishing continuously since 2003 and is one of the largest independently-owned news sites dedicated to small business.

The company’s mission is “small business success … delivered daily.”

Image: Ezoic

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How your consciousness affects what you do

Let’s talk about levels of consciousness, and the iceberg effect. When we see an iceberg we see 1 per cent of the iceberg and the other 99 per cent is unseen. Psychology is a lot about the unseen 99 per cent.

The dangerous part of the iceberg is not the 1 per cent we see, it’s the 99 per cent we don’t see.

When we look at mindset, the chances are, most of what you see isn’t the dangerous part of your psychology. It isn’t part of the psychology that’s preventing you – although it has an impact – it’s the 99 per cent of your psychology that you’re not seeing that affects you the most because it is on autoplay, or auto informing, all our habit behaviours.

Look at the brain.

We’ve got this incredible consciousness that processes 16 trillion bits of information every one second. That’s enormous processing power.

But here’s the part that’ll freak you out.

The average human being is only conscious of 2,000 bits of that information, which means the remaining 15,800 trillion bits of information is unconscious.

The goal with psychology is to bring that massive chunk of unconsciousness into the conscious so that we can make some significant shifts.

The goal of psychology is to develop a consciousness greater than what you had the day before so you can become aware of the stuff that’s playing up in your head, both consciously and unconsciously.

The songs, the routines that you play in that 1 per cent conscious space has created the playlist that’s on repeat and playing in the 99 per cent unconscious space.

We program consciously for our subconscious to work. There are certain aspects of our subconscious that are just automated.

Automation is a great thing, in business and also in biology. It’d really suck if you had to tell your heart to beat (heart beat, heart beat), and your lungs to breathe (lungs expand, lungs contract). There are certain functions that thankfully just run.

There are certain psychological functions that were programmed very consciously. They were programmed thru what you observed, they were programmed thru what you were told, they were programmed thru what you interpreted as right or wrong on a regular and frequent basis.

Now, if you take this information that you’re seeing and you have it demonstrated and repeated on a repaticious basis it starts to seep into the unconscious, and the unconscious puts it onto autopilot so you can free up the conscious brain.

The conscious brain is a cognitive miser, it wants to conserve as much energy as humanly possible. It hates expending energy, and sees anything that requires extended expenditure of energy as a threat. That’s why many people don’t want to change because change requires a lot of thought. You start thinking about it, and go, ‘F*ck too hard. I’ll do it tomorrow.’

We have two biological responses, to either move forward towards, or to move away.

To pursue opportunity to survive, or to run away from threat that could potentially end us.

11-16-Your levels of consciousness affect what you do2

The brain looks at the expenditure of energy as a threat, and as a result it moves a lot of process that are up in the 1 per cent, tip of the iceberg area, down into the subconscious area so it doesn’t have to think about them. We call these – habits.

All of us have psychological habits that are deeply unconscious, which are what we refer to as your behaviour that you see on an everyday basis.

Do you observe yourself during or after a behaviour and ask yourself, ‘Why the f*ck do I do that?’

The cool part is we are a bio-supercomputer.

You get a computer to do what you want it to do by programming it.

Every single person has been programmed to produce behaviors but we forget along the way, when and where that programming was done.

At what point do you want to turn the lights on, and I suggest we turn the lights on what’s going on in the 1 per cent conscious, tip of the iceberg space, as well as what’s going on in the 99 per cent subconscious space.

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Kerwin Rae

Kerwin Rae

Kerwin Rae is a businessman, investor, strategic advisor, author and international speaker. He has studied and observed the psychology of influence for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on influencing human behaviour and how it relates to sales, marketing, fast growth business principles, leadership and personal transformation.
Snapchat: @KerwinRae
Kerwin Rae

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Never Miss a Step in Your Social Media Marketing Schedule [Checklist]

It’s easy to get carried away and overwhelmed with the strategy, ideas, KPIs, schedules, ads, listening, influencers, and all the other pieces that combine to form a social media program.


Take a deep breath.

Today we’ll simplify with this checklist from marketing analytics company SEMrush.

In those moments when there is just too much to do, you want to make sure that at least the basics are covered.

The checklist breaks down the tasks that need to be addressed on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.

Making these items part of your routine will help ensure you never miss a post, you stay up-to-date on current trends, and you are on your way to your target goals.

Check out the checklist here:

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