Under30CEO » Finding Customers http://under30ceo.com Tue, 22 Apr 2014 17:00:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6 Under30CEO interviews successful young entrepreneurs to hear about their story and journey while starting their company. These young founders have over a million dollars a year in revenues and have been through many ups and downs to get there. These stories are meant to inspire, educate and motivate more young people to take a leap and do what they are passionate about. Under30CEO clean Under30CEO jared@under30ceo.com jared@under30ceo.com (Under30CEO) Under30CEO Interviews with Young Entrepreneurs on Starting Businesses entrepreneur, business, interview, young entrepreneur, business advice, startup advice, founder interview, ceo Under30CEO http://under30ceo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/u30logo300x250.png http://under30ceo.com/category/entrepreneurship-2/finding-customers/ 7 Steps to Creating a Profitable Newsletter http://under30ceo.com/7-steps-creating-profitable-newsletter/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=7-steps-creating-profitable-newsletter http://under30ceo.com/7-steps-creating-profitable-newsletter/#comments Sun, 13 Apr 2014 19:00:52 +0000 Under30CEO http://under30ceo.com/?p=38773 What’s the point? That’s the question I asked myself after another newsletter didn’t produce results. Sure, I was “keeping in touch” with my leads and prospects. I spent a couple of hours writing great content, optimizing for various devices, tweaking headlines and when I finally hit send, nothing happened. After months of getting no results […]

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email newsletter

What’s the point?

That’s the question I asked myself after another newsletter didn’t produce results.

Sure, I was “keeping in touch” with my leads and prospects.

I spent a couple of hours writing great content, optimizing for various devices, tweaking headlines and when I finally hit send, nothing happened.

After months of getting no results with my email newsletter, I finally found myself asking “what’s the point?”

The Problem with Most Email Newsletters…

Or at least the problem that I faced was I was afraid to use my newsletter as a sales tool.  I didn’t want to be one of THOSE companies.

You know, the companies that send spammy, over hyped, promotional garbage that you delete without opening or unsubscribe from altogether.

And I didn’t want to be one of those companies.

My emails were full of helpful information and tips that folks could apply to help with their business.

I told myself “If I just keep producing great content and build trust, people will eventually call me and want to do business with me.”

But that happened far too seldom.

I tested and tweaked my newsletters until I finally hit on a formula that would generate sales leads without being spammy, over-hyped, promotional junk.

It’s what I call the…

The Sales Bridge Newsletter

If you are like me and create content heavy email newsletters that are meant to build trust and relationships, then all is not lost.

According to the Neilson Trust in Advertising report, 84% of all consumers trust a recommendation from someone they know.

And more specifically, 56% of consumers trust an email newsletter they just signed up for.

The Sales Bridge Newsletter is a way to help bridge the gap between building trust with your email list and making a sale without being spammy.

Below is a 7 step process to create a Sales Bridge Newsletter

Step 1:  Eliminate Clutter

One Saturday, Sheena Iyengar, a researcher at Columbia University set up a free tasting booth to allow customers to try jam. She had 24 flavors available for tasting.

The next Saturday, she set up six flavors available for tasting.

According to her book The Art of Choosing, when she had 24 flavors, 60% of the customers stopped by to taste, but only 3% bought something. When she had six flavors, 40% of the customers stopped by, but 30% bought something. This turned out to be an increase in sales of 600%.

Unfortunately, most email newsletters have far too many distractions that take away from the ultimate goal of the newsletter.  Distractions like elaborate headers and multiple links to various pages take away from what you want the reader to do.

Make sure every image, video, and paragraph moves the reader closer to the one thing you want them to accomplish.

Step 2:  Create a Headline that Gets Opened

The easiest way to create a headline that gets opened is to promise to solve a problem that your market has.

The email that I’m going to break down was written for marketing consultants who are looking to generate more highly qualified sales leads.

After working with consultants for some time, and being one myself, I came to understand that their three biggest problems were standing out from their competitors, getting their potential customers to notice them, and closing deals.

For the title of this email, I promise to tackle all three of these problems.

“Positioning, Exposure, and Making the Sale”

Step 3:  Grab their Attention

Once the email is opened, you’ll need to get your audience’s attention so they keep reading.  The easiest way to do this is to reinforce what they’re going to learn by reading your email.  I like to use an “if… then…” statement.

For instance:

“If you’re a marketing consultant looking to generate more highly qualified leads, then I’d like to quickly share with you a brief marketing plan that can help you find more high paying customers who value your time.”

 

Step 4:  Brief Background

Now you need to give your email some credibility so your readers actually believe what you’re saying.   One way to do this is to introduce 3rd party data from a reputable source.  This will tell your readers that these aren’t just your ideas and theories, there’s actually science behind what you’re saying.

“According to a recent survey on Hubspot, the three biggest challenges consultants face are not generating enough leads, variable cash flow, and difficulty signing up new clients.

This simple three step marketing plan will help you with all three challenges.”

Step 5:  Useful Content

This is the meat of your email newsletter.  This is where you solve the promise you made in your title.  For this newsletter, this comes in the form of the first two steps of the marketing plan.

“Step 1:  Positioning

Actually, this is already complete.  I spent the past few months working on the positioning of the boot camp.  What started out as a product to show marketing agencies how to gain exposure, turned into a product that shows marketing agencies how to sign up higher paying customers.

It went from being a “marketing course for marketing agencies/social media consultants/etc.” to a “sales course for marketing agencies/social media consultants/etc.”

I did this simply by asking all of you what you wanted and made the changes.

I’m not naive enough to say it’s the ONLY one of its kind, but I’m not competing with all of the other “social media marketing” courses out there.

Step 2:  Exposure

Now that the positioning is set, I need to tell people about the course.  The two ways I’m going to do this at first are guest posting and Facebook ads. (I’m guessing you aren’t surprised…)

Some of the publications that I’m going to target are:

  • Blog 1
  • Blog 2
  • Blog 3
  • Blog 4
  • Blog 5

I’ll also target business blogs and freelancer blogs and I’ll write 2 posts a week.

As far as Facebook ads go, I’ll start with a budget of $100 a week.  That should translate into at least 300 clicks per week.”

Step 6:  The Bridge

This is where you transition from marketing collateral to the sales process.  One of the features of the product I was selling was giving consultants a step by step breakdown of how to enter a sales meeting and seal the deal.

The third tip of the email directly correlates to this feature.

“Step 3:  Make the Sale

We’ve created our unique selling position.

I know how I’m going to tell everyone about the product.

Now it’s time to make the sale.  For me, making the sale is all about identifying the pain and then showing you how to solve the problem.

After talking to customers this was relatively easy.

Here is the pain of my typical customer:

  • They want to work with companies who won’t weasel every last possible nickel out them
  • They want to work with companies who won’t demand their first born child
  • They want to work with companies who treat them with respect
  • And they are tired of writing proposals and then hearing nothing.”

Step 7:  Call to Action

The final part of the email newsletter is to get your reader to take some action.  This doesn’t have to be a hard sell.  Just a simple statement saying what you want the reader to do next.

“Click here if you’d like an even deeper breakdown of the sales process so you can find clients who will pay you what your worth, treat you like a business partner, and pay their bills on time.”

Your Turn

Creating an email newsletter is one of the most effective ways to generate leads for your business.

Unfortunately, too many companies are so afraid of selling to their list, that they never capitalize on the huge potential of customers that actually want to buy their products and services.

By following these seven steps, and creating the sales bridge newsletter you can create an email newsletter that will be profitable without annoying your subscribers.

Greg Digneo is on a mission to help B2B companies create email newsletters and email blasts that generate revenue without being spammy.  If this is you, then check out his new video series where he shows you how to Double Leads with Your Next Email Newsletter.

Image Credit: www.pinpointe.com

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The Narnia Effect: Invisible Tactics Marketers Use To Get Your Money http://under30ceo.com/narnia-effect-invisible-tactics-marketers-use-get-money/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=narnia-effect-invisible-tactics-marketers-use-get-money http://under30ceo.com/narnia-effect-invisible-tactics-marketers-use-get-money/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:00:52 +0000 danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/?p=39298 Let’s face it: Nobody likes to be “marketed” to. In fact, the word “marketer” has gained a slimy reputation from being batted around by unscrupulous salesmen for the last 20 years, and now the good ones are left trying to dig themselves out of the used car lot. As a result, companies have had to […]

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Let’s face it: Nobody likes to be “marketed” to.

In fact, the word “marketer” has gained a slimy reputation from being batted around by unscrupulous salesmen for the last 20 years, and now the good ones are left trying to dig themselves out of the used car lot.

As a result, companies have had to become much more creative to get your attention, keep it, and ultimately, guide you to follow through with their intended action.

But here’s the kicker: We don’t mind being sold something if we LIKE the message.

Companies like Old Spice have MASTERED the use of creative messaging to make us love their brand and buy into it over and over again. Practically every piece of content they’ve produced for the last 5 years has been Super Bowl worthy.

The Old Spice “Mom Song”… I can’t watch this without gasping for air.

The secret to why these commercials resonate so well is because they include all of the elements that make us feel trigger our “pleasure centers”:

  • Short, snappy formats that are easy to memorize (and go viral)
  • Super focused target audience (clearly for young men)
  • Comedy…I mean, come on. So funny.
  • Sexuality

Commercials like these are awesome, and they are very compelling.

But at the end of the day, it takes effort to watch a commercial, get in your car and go buy a deodorant stick.

Old Spice knows that, and they’re playing the “long game.” Just like Nike, Coca-Cola and Disney, they are in the business of brand ubiquity at this point. It’s in their best interests to be on your mind 24/7, regardless of whether you’re in buying mode — and if all their efforts result in you buying one product, one time, it was worth it. Their market is huge, and they want to be top dog.

But what about DIRECT sales? How do brands get you to take out your credit card and purchase something right now?

The process is a little different than slapping up a funny commercial and hoping the phone rings. It takes a much more nuanced approach.

To figure that out, I’ll have to bring you back to 4th grade.

Welcome to Narnia

I think we all know where this door leads

The coolest part about a sophisticated marketing campaign is that if it’s executed correctly, you won’t even know it’s happening. You may see an email or to pop in your inbox, but for all you know, they’re just random messages that happened to make it past your spam filter.

You couldn’t be more incorrect.

It’s all an illusion. I call this “The Narnia Effect”, because so much more is happening behind the door than you’d ever expect. It’s INVISIBLE.

Let me show you what I mean…

About a month ago, I bought tickets for my girlfriend and I to fly from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for a Skrillex concert. Super excited! It was our first time there!

I used Expedia. I’m sure you’ve heard of them.

Let’s be honest: I don’t have any particular affiliation to different airline ticket brokers. I’m pretty much a free agent, and at the end of the day, I’m looking for the cheapest price. Period.

Expedia knows that price is a big factor in my buying decision — although sometimes they won’t have the cheapest price. But they want my money.

So what are they willing to do to get my business over other (possibly cheaper) competitors.

They’re willing to hit me at home. It’s a little bit like a drive by shooting.

First, you should know what a basic sales funnel looks like.

I’ll cover what all of these levels are doing in a minute:

A simple sales funnel with 6 levels.

The concept here is pretty simple:

  • Run some sort of campaign

  • Get people interested in your cause/service/product

  • Show them the opportunity and benefit they’ll receive by buying

  • Give them the opportunity to buy

  • They become clients

  • Sell to them again and again with different offers

GOAL: To move the prospect as quickly as possible from one end of the funnel to the other and turn them from:

A prospect >> to a lead >> to a client as quickly as possible

Of course, all of this has to be part of a seamless, invisible process that coincides with what the customer wants already.

The absolute BEST place for Expedia to do this is to pop up in a place where my guard is down — preferably in a place where I’ve already purchased a product. That way, the feeling of trust is passed from the company I’m already doing business with to Expedia.

(Side note: You can also do this type of “piggybacking” to start a business RAPIDLY as a freelancer. I’ve outlined the entire concept in a framework I call The Marsupial Method.)

Expedia’s sophisticated funnel started completely off-site, and hit me right in my soft spot: Spotify.

I was in a great mood listening to my man Skrillex, so I pulled up his artist page on the app. Here’s what I found:

A seemingly innocuous notification that the Skrillex concert was coming up

Hmm…along with his albums and other song info, there was a notification of live events happening in my area.

GAME ON.

I’d just entered the funnel for several different companies, including Expedia, without even knowing it.

“Skrillex, on tour?!” I thought. Excellent.

Of course, I wanted to know more. Here’s the next step in the process:

Check out that juicy, green button for me to press. Notice that it says “tickets” and not “buy now.” Why? Because now wouldn’t be the right moment to present me with a sales offer.

There’s actually been quite a lot of research done on what makes certain button text convert better than others. Check out this case study by Lead Pages.

So now, I have to qualify myself by clicking “tickets.”

Here’s that that means: Essentially I’m saying, “Yes, tell me more about these tickets you’re offering.”

That’s akin to me raising my hand in class and asking to be called on. It’s a huge interest indicator disguised as an innocuous button.

Next, TWO important things happen:

  1. I’m transported OFF-SITE for the offer to begin

  2. I’m presented with a direct Call to Action, and I have a decision to make

The direct CTA to buy

I’m already several steps into the sales process, and now, I’m going to be presented with the offer.

I saw tickets were only $20-$50 and decided to buy. Awesome price, and I only ended up spending $70 for two tickets. I felt good about the purchase.

NOTE: I was ONLY presented with this information because I asked for it — so I didn’t feel sold-to, I didn’t feel marketed or schemed. I legitimately wanted to learn more about the Skrillex concert, I clicked through and the offer progressed in line with the natural order of my desires.

At this point, you may be wondering where Expedia came into play.

As it turns out, they were waiting in the wings to hit me with the good ol’ 1-2-3 (“wings…heh, no pun intended).

Suddenly, an inline popup appeared and asked, “Need a flight to Las Vegas?”

I’ll harp over and over again about presenting customers only with offers that you know they want, or that they specifically ask for. If someone says, “Man, I really love Thin Mints” and a freaking Girl Scout shows up at the door, they are buying at least 3 boxes.

Expedia is the Girl Scout in this scenario. Well played, friends. Well played.

Knock, knock. Your drug dealer is at the door.

 

The link in the popup transported me to the mobile version of Expedia.com and guess what I found?

The perfectly-timed offer from Expedia

Awww hell no!

Nope, you’re not hallucinating. That’s a perfectly curated selection for the exact flight I need to Las Vegas. Already sorted for best price and travel time. Holy shit.

Let me run that by you one more time…in case you missed it.

I listen to a song that I enjoy (emotional tie) in a trusted application, Spotify (established history) >> Spotify knows I like Skrillex, offers me tickets (logical) >> I buy, they know I need a flight (GPS) >> I’m offered a flight

I can’t be the only nerd on earth that’s completely fascinated by this. I can’t be the only one who realizes how brilliant

Obviously, I clicked through to learn more info about the flight, and I found the price was only $150 per flight.

A scary bonus that helped remove even more objections:

In the shopping cart field, Google Wallet had already filled in all my information, including my credit card info…(no idea how this happened). All I had to do was click “BUY.”

Literally, that’s it.

I just went ahead and bought the flights. It was a little impulsive, but since they had removed absolutely all barriers to me making the choice, I felt like I barely had a chance to reconsider.

This entire funnel from listening to music to buying concert and plane tickets happened in about 7 minutes or less, and I ended up spending about $400. But I didn’t feel “marketed” to, and I got exactly what I wanted.

Oh, ye of little faith. Many of you still may not see the totality of what’s happening here.

You may take this type of transaction for granted, but that’s only because you’re so USED to these things happening, you don’t even realize how advanced the psychology, technology and strategy is anymore.

What you’re saying in your head:

“Big deal, I was listening to Skrillex and decided to buy some concert/plane tix.”

The reality of what actually happened is far more complex. Remember, the Narnia Effect is invisible, when deployed correctly.

Here’s how you fall into the funnel without even knowing it (refer to funnel diagram in section 2):

  1. You begin on Spotify, innocently listening to music you like. Little do you know, companies are strategically placing offers in all the places you’re most likely to pay attention (Level #1: Campaign)

  2. You find a particular artist you like, and see they have a concert coming up (Level #2: Leads)

  3. You demonstrate interest by clicking “Tickets” to learn more about possible dates (Level: #3 Opportunities)

  4. You’re presented with an intelligent offer to buy the tickets you’ve already said you were interested in a second ago (Level #4: Sales)

  5. You purchase and become a client — and are primed to buy more things. It’s psychologically easier to make more purchases after you’ve already made one. Even if the first purchase is just $1

  6. You see an ad for the exact plane tickets you need. Since you’ve already been qualified, you skip steps 1-3 and head straight to Level #4 (Sales), but this time in Expedia’s funnel.

  7. You buy from Expedia because they present you exactly what you want with as little friction as possible. They even fill out all your information for you

  8. You’re now in the retention (Level #5) phase of 3 companies: Spotify, Flavorus (the concert ticket broker) and Expedia. They will continue to send you highly relevant opportunities to buy, like this:

The inevitable upsell

Will I end up getting a concierge service? Probably not this time. But somebody will. It doesn’t need to work every time for Expedia to make a ton of money.

Going Even Deeper

Finally, all of this goes even one level DEEPER… all the companies involved in this sale were getting a piece of the pie

Spotify

Spotify was getting my membership money and money from the concert ticket vendors for permission to advertise on their platform. They will continue to get money from me monthly, which will continually expose me to these offers.

The Ticket Vendor (Flavorus)

Flavorus was getting money from me for the concert ticket sales, and most likely paying Spotify some sort of small affiliate commission, like a little “kickback.” Since they pulled my contact info from Facebook at sign up, they’ll email me later with more concert info, and if I buy from them, they’ll keep 100% of that money.

Expedia

Expedia  gets money from me for the airline booking, but pays money to Flavorus for the opportunity to advertise on their site AND to the airlines they booked me with for providing the actual flight.

Airlines, Rental Car Companies and Hotels

Expedia will email me later with other offers (hotels, rental cars, etc), the profits from which they will share with other service providers. Remember, Expedia just books things, doesn’t actually fulfill the service.

Lots of money changing hands here, but to the consumer, all we see is one or two transactions and it’s over.

And this is the magic of a well-orchestrated, million-dollar funnel: It’s nearly invisible. But it’s extremely powerful.

Imagine that the exact same process that happened to me from Spotify>>to concert tickets>>to plane tickets, happened to just 0.005% of Spotify’s 24 million active users on a daily basis.

Even a very low conversion rate in a big sales funnel can mean HUGE profits

That’s 12,000 people per day. At $400 per person, that’s $4.8 million dollars per day.

That’s 144,000,000 per month.

That’s $1.72 BILLION PER YEAR spread across Spotify, Flavorus, Expedia and the airline.

And I’m probably being conservative.

I woke up that morning with no intent of buying concert tickets or plane tickets.

But these companies found me in a place where I was already hanging out (Spotify), then worked together to use well placed ads, advanced psychology, compelling design and fluid technology to create an experience that made me WANT to open my wallet and do their bidding…THEN, think that the entire transaction was my idea from the beginning.

Now are you beginning to understand what’s really going on here?

There’s so much more to explore in the areas of sales funnels, psychology and persuasion.

Does this type of stuff interest you guys?

Leave me a comment and tell me if you like this type of material :)

 

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Free for Under30CEO Readers: The Startup Series.

If you liked learning about The Narnia Effect, this is for you.

I love the Under30CEO community, so I wanted to give you something special as a “thank you” for reading this article — and also give you some useful tools to help you get started on your dream projects TODAY.

Grab my free Startup Series.

It’s a 3-part “mini-course” that will show you how to become more productive with your time, avoid the most common mistakes, and learn to launch a business/project in record time. It’s free, so just enter your email here and I’ll send it right away — completely free :)

Click to get the Startup Series for free

 

Parts of this post were originally published by Daniel DiPiazza at Rich20Something.com

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Your Guide To Retargeted Marketing http://under30ceo.com/guide-retargeted-marketing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=guide-retargeted-marketing http://under30ceo.com/guide-retargeted-marketing/#comments Sun, 30 Mar 2014 17:00:40 +0000 Under30CEO http://under30ceo.com/?p=38422 We’ve all seen ads follow us from the sites we visit. How did my favorite sports blog know I was in the market to purchase an easel for my daughter? The answer is retargeting. It’s a new(er) way to retain the customers who check out your site without actually checking out. Retargeting is more cost-effective […]

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what_is_retargeting

We’ve all seen ads follow us from the sites we visit. How did my favorite sports blog know I was in the market to purchase an easel for my daughter? The answer is retargeting.

It’s a new(er) way to retain the customers who check out your site without actually checking out. Retargeting is more cost-effective than Google Adwords. It’s also more focused, as it reaches the individuals who found your site for a specific need.

Keep in mind there are two different types of retargeting: search and site. Search retargeting is when a company collects data surrounding a user search and shows a potential consumer your ad based on the keyword searched. Site retargeting is focused solely on customers who’ve visited your site. This is what we’re discussing below.

Here are answers to the most common questions involved with integrating retargeting into your marketing plan.

HOW DOES RETARGETING WORK?

It’s pretty simple. You place a code (it may also be called a pixel) on your website that “follows” your visitors after they view your site in the form of ads. The code is not noticed by your visitors and doesn’t affect your website’s performance. It’s simply a means to target a specific type of customer – those visitors who went to your site looking to purchase what you offer.

WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER IT?

The average website conversion rate is a little over 2%. This means that 98% of customers, who visit a website where something can be purchased, choose NOT to pay your company money. In addition, nearly 3 out of 5 (60%) of U.S. online buyers say they notice ads for items they’ve searched for on another site.

Retargeting is a tool that takes these statistics into account. It’s also easy to set-up. Just simply place the pixel or code given to you from the retargeting vendor right before the end body tag </body> in your pages HTML code or on your websites HTML template.

Your SEO or online marketing manager should be able to assist with this. If you’re still unsure, the vendors typically offer online tutorials or customer service to help out.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Pricing is pretty transparent. Campaign costs are calculated by the vendor purchasing ad impressions (for your company) and adding in their margin.  With most services, you can start and stop whenever you’d like. You also set the daily budget.

Although you’re able to set the budget, you want to ensure your ROI is satisfactory. The more people you “target” the better percentage of a return you’ll collect. As long as you’re reading the weekly reports, you’ll be able to determine the best budget for your company.

HOW CUSTOMIZABLE ARE THE ADS?

Very. You can control font, color, size and logo. In addition, you can select how specific the ad is. For example, you can have a general ad that has your logo and URL. Or, you can specifically mention the collection or product type the customer was searching for on your site. It’s probably a good idea to not go too specific, this may scare people off.

WHAT DO THE ANALYTICS LOOK LIKE?

The analytics for the retargeting company we use are very simple to read and include all the basic metrics of a Google Adwords report, including impressions, clicks, CPC (cost per clicks), and total spend.

ARE THERE ANY DOWN SIDES?

Unlike Adwords, the vendor you choose must first collect visitor data from your site (a specific number of targets to follow once the ads go live). Depending on the traffic to your site, this may take a few days or a few weeks.

WHAT COMPANIES SHOULD I CONSIDER?

Adroll

  • “The most widely used retargeting platform in the world.”
  • Free two week trial.

Chango

  • “A programmatic advertising platform that connects marketers with their exact target audience in real time across Display, Social, Mobile, & Video.”
  • Offer numerous marketing management solutions.

Simpli.fi

  • “Directly access unstructured data to enable marketers to target, bid, optimize and report at the individual data element level.”
  • Offer numerous marketing management solutions.

HOW SHOULD I USE RETARGETING?

As we all know, there isn’t one sure-fire marketing method that will take your sales to the next level.

Retargeting is no different. While an interesting and effective tool, it works best when paired with inbound and outbound marketing efforts. Use retargeting as an adjunct to your online marketing plan.

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Ben Camerota is the President of MPV Visuals, suppliers of high-impact visuals and custom displays for trade shows, retail promotion and corporate events. Ben is passionate about delivering excellent customer service, building businesses, relationships and experiences. Find him at www.mvpvisuals.com and download their free eBook here.

Image Credit: retargeter.com 

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11 Ways to Cultivate and Maintain Important Contacts through Email http://under30ceo.com/11-ways-cultivate-maintain-important-contacts-email/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=11-ways-cultivate-maintain-important-contacts-email http://under30ceo.com/11-ways-cultivate-maintain-important-contacts-email/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 18:00:09 +0000 Under30CEO http://under30ceo.com/?p=38056 Did you know that roughly 91% of people log onto their email accounts on a daily basis? This significant figure explains why email marketing ranks so high (3rd place) when it comes to the best way to generate leads for marketers. They’re responsible for approximately 13% of leads generated. Clearly, if you want to succeed […]

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signup_form2

Did you know that roughly 91% of people log onto their email accounts on a daily basis? This significant figure explains why email marketing ranks so high (3rd place) when it comes to the best way to generate leads for marketers. They’re responsible for approximately 13% of leads generated.

Clearly, if you want to succeed in the business world, it’s essential that you accrue and maintain email contacts. Here are a few things you can do to get started:

1.    Take Advantage of Sign-up Forms

By putting a basic sign-up form on your business’s social media page, you can give your fans an easy way to become subscribers to your email list. Simply go to the upper right corner of your Facebook page and designate a tab that people can click to get to your sign-up form. Be sure to make this noticeable with a call to action and an image so viewers will be enticed to subscribe.

Several different apps are available to implement this form on your page, such as iContact’s Facebook app, Constant Contact Facebook app and MailChimp’s Facebook signup app.

2.    Use Social Pages to Offer Previews of Your Content

Entice people to sign up for your email lists by offering them access to exclusive content in exchange for signing up. Think about what your company has to offer in terms of infographics, white papers, content rich articles and eBooks, then put a gate around each piece of content with a landing page for your email sign-up form. This way, you can cultivate subscribers from the content you offer.

Start sharing, posting and tweeting your exclusive content on networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. You can raise awareness, promote interest and drive traffic to your landing pages. Be brief with your posts and updates, using copy that intrigues and informs your audience.

3.    Reward People Who Sign Up for Newsletters and Emails

Consider offering discounts to those who become your subscribers. Or, instead of a discount, you could also offer coupons, a free product sample or a sincere thank you- anything that will make your target audience want to become subscribers. Just make sure that the reward you’re offering is noticeable and attention grabbing with large bold font, colorful images and clear calls to action.

4.    Collect Subscribers Through Webinars

You can portray your business as down to earth and approachable by holding a webinar. A webinar will have someone from your company presents on a topic that’s relevant and interesting to your audience. If you’re using Google hangouts to host your webinar, you should provide links to content that has the sign-up page landing form. This will accrue email addresses from the webinar.

If you aren’t using Google hangouts and you’re instead relying on a program such as GoToWebinar, Any Meeting, Join.Me or Ready Talk to hold your webinar, you will probably find that viewers were required to provide their email address when they signed up to view the webinar.

5.    Use Sweepstakes, Contests or Giveaways to Collect Subscribers

If you really want a great way to quickly accrue subscribers for your email list, you should consider hosting a sweepstakes, contest or giveaway. A lot of people involved in marketing hold these contests to cultivate a following on social media, but you should always make building your subscriber list one of the primary priorities of having these contests. Because Facebook’s platform can easily be customized for promotional contests, it is the most widely used of all forms of social media.

There are several apps available that you can use to manage your contest on Facebook including: Rafflecopter, North Social, Votigo, Fanappz, Strutta and many more. Whatever app you choose, be sure that it has your participants entering the contest through a sign up form, that way you’ll have access to their email addresses.

6.    Maintaining Your Email Contacts

Once you have a solid collection of email contacts, the next step is to make sure you maintain them.  Here are some effective ways you can do that:

7.    Show Appreciation

Anytime someone in your group of email contacts performs a nice gesture, such as sharing or re-tweeting a post or tweet, you should show them you appreciate their thoughtfulness by sending an email to say thanks.

8.    Pay It Forward

You know that old saying that what goes around comes around? Well in the business world, it’s true. If you want to use the people in your business to help you generate business, look for any opportunity you have to send clients and referrals to them as well.

Also, instead of always thinking about what other people can do for you, spend some time thinking about ways you can help them out. Send them an article with useful information that you found online, a link to a blog post they might find interesting or help them network with someone you know who would be a worthwhile connection for them. Do good and you’ll feel good. It’s that simple.

9.    Remember to Reconnect

If you haven’t reached out to your contacts in a while, take a little time to reconnect with them. Find out how they’re doing and what’s happening in their lives.  Showing people that you care goes a long way in maintaining a relationship with them.

10. Get Feedback

Ask your contacts for feedback on products and services you offer. What’s useful to them? What isn’t?  What do they like? What could be improved? Asking these questions will not only make them feel appreciated, but it will also provide you with the valuable insight you need to make your products and services even better.

11. Be Personal

Everyone likes to feel special and unique, and that includes your email contacts. Customize your messages so that they’re tailored to each person’s individual needs. Use their name as much as you can.  Obviously, this isn’t possible in every situation, but if you do it when opportunities arise, it can be a very effective way to maintain a relationship with your contacts.

Building and maintaining email contact lists might sound like a daunting task, but it’s really not.Put the aforementioned steps into action today. You’ll have a set of contacts that will make all the other companies jealous.

Courtney Gordner is a passionate blogger, freelance writer and career driven young woman. Follow her on Google+, Twitter and TalkViral.com to read more of her latest posts.

Image Credit: www.benchmarkemail.com 

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10 Tips for Maximizing Your Customer Survey’s Effectiveness http://under30ceo.com/10-tips-maximizing-customer-surveys-effectiveness/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=10-tips-maximizing-customer-surveys-effectiveness http://under30ceo.com/10-tips-maximizing-customer-surveys-effectiveness/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 18:00:45 +0000 theyec http://under30ceo.com/?p=37922 Q. What’s one tip for maximizing the effectiveness of customer surveys on your website? The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs […]

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Q. What’s one tip for maximizing the effectiveness of customer surveys on your website?

customer survey

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Offer an Incentive

Your customers will be way more likely to fill out a customer survey if they are incentivized to do so. The data has value, so it is worth giving your customers an incentive to help you out because you will get significantly more data by doing so.
- Josh Weiss, Bluegala

2. Keep It Simple

So many companies seem to ask endless questions on surveys. I think it’s much more effective to ask a few questions that will be incredibly insightful for your business. The survey takers will give you better answers, and you’ll get more responses.
- Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

3. Make It Beautiful

We use Typeform to create beautiful and easy-to-use surveys. Since we started using these attractive and mobile-friendly surveys, our completion rate has almost doubled. I highly recommend spending time to make sure your surveys look and feel beautiful. Design matters!
- Adam Lieb, Duxter

4. Try Google Surveys

Google offers a free, easy-to-implement survey tool that takes only minutes to set up. Every website should add it today. The tool aggregates responses on a monthly basis with all the graphs and word clouds you could want. Its simplicity allows you to enact any necessary changes for your website and business.
- Brendon Schenecker, Travel Vegas

5. Make the Survey Personable

One of the problems with surveys is that they are not very personable. When you have an automated voice asking if you have the time to complete an automated survey after a phone call, the results are not very good. Instead, the secret is to explain why you are asking each question, what it will do for your business by getting better data and how you are going to use the responses.
- Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

6. Use a Recommendation Scale

If you’re gauging customer satisfaction, be sure to ask, “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” Use a scale from 1-10. Make it easy and based on behavioral triggers, such as customers who have logged in multiple times, with a widget. Qualaroo is a good pick.
- Andrew Fayad, eLearning Mind

7. Ask Actionable Questions

I can’t believe how often I see survey questions that don’t really help the company take action or lead it to a decision. What exactly is the difference between rating a shopping experience as a six versus a seven? Gather information that is actionable and focused, so you can improve your service by removing barriers and annoyances without guessing what the results really mean.
- Seth Talbott, AtomOrbit

8. Use FluidSurveys

I’ve found FluidSurveys to produce some of the most beautiful survey software I’ve ever seen. The interface is clean and easy to understand. I find that most user survey software looks like it was built in the ’90s, and the opposite is true with FluidSurveys. We’ve seen fantastic engagement while using them.
- Liam Martin, Staff.com

9. Choose Words Carefully

Market research surveys have a reputation for being dry and stuffy. Instead of using verbiage that is drab, make your customer surveys engaging by choosing words that are fun and playful. When you speak to the customer in a familiar and friendly tone, you’re more likely to get an increased response rate to the survey. That will give you a better view of your customers’ sentiments and preferences.
- Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

10. Start Simple

Some surveys dive right in with tough questions that get to the heart its purpose. Try kicking off the survey experience with questions that are easy and fulfilling to answer (e.g. male/female, age, years in business). You’ll get more buy-in throughout the rest of the survey and can even tailor it based on their responses. Focus on your survey-taker first.
- Matt Hunckler, Verge

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

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A Document and 5 Questions That Will Transform How You Grow Your Company http://under30ceo.com/document-5-questions-will-transform-grow-company/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=document-5-questions-will-transform-grow-company http://under30ceo.com/document-5-questions-will-transform-grow-company/#comments Thu, 09 Jan 2014 18:00:30 +0000 GuestAuthor http://under30ceo.com/?p=37269 Hiring new people can be a daunting process for small companies. Just one new hire can affect a startup’s culture and success, yet many don’t realize this process should begin long before you even post a job opening. I’ve spent a long time developing the best way to identify whether a candidate is a good […]

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hiring

Hiring new people can be a daunting process for small companies. Just one new hire can affect a startup’s culture and success, yet many don’t realize this process should begin long before you even post a job opening.

I’ve spent a long time developing the best way to identify whether a candidate is a good fit for our company and ultimately realized one thing: To identify the right fit for your company, you have to know who you are and be able to clearly express this to an applicant.

To do this, our team created a “painted picture” — a roadmap for our clients, vendors, employees, and potential hires describing our goals, values, and future. We then developed five questions based on our painted picture document that we ask every applicant.

Building Our Painted Picture

We created a painted picture by envisioning what our company will look like in three years. This three-page document dictates our day-to-day activities, long-term planning, and decision-making process. Our staff then works backward from the painted picture, using it as a guide for achieving our three-year goals.

A painted picture isn’t a mission statement or a five-year plan; it’s a vision put forth by the founder explaining what a company could become in the near future. The concept, developed by our mentor, Cameron Herold, uses visualization to realize goals and achieve success. Unless everyone in your company has a clear idea of where the company is headed, there’s no way you’ll ever get there. Three years is the golden number for our painted picture — it’s just enough time to accomplish big changes without looking too far into the future.

To get started on a painted picture, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do you see in your company’s future?
  2. What do you want to see there?
  3. What’s the epitome of success for your business?

Focus on the “what” of success — instead of the “how” — by visualizing every aspect of your company’s future, from what your job will be like to who your future customers will be. A full explanation of this idea can be found here.

Why Our Painted Picture Guides Our Hiring

I show my company’s painted picture document to every person we interview so she knows from the get-go what we’re about. It helps the interviewee see whether she’s a good fit for our company and vice versa. After that, I ask the interviewee these five questions:

1. What was your key takeaway from the painted picture?

Our picture is chock-full of details that emulate the heart of who we are and what we do, so an interviewee’s response to this question can be very telling. An insightful, like-minded response to our plan means we have a candidate worth pursuing.

2. Why do you want to work for us?

A viable candidate will refer to values in the painted picture as reasons to work for us. We’re looking for people who fit with our core values and are excited about our vision.

3. What are your core values?

The better you know your candidate’s personal values, the easier it will be to see if she aligns with your company. We seek a true alignment of ideals that make our company and the candidate a good match.

4. What are your long- and short-term goals?

Is this job a stepping stone on an ambitious career track, or is this candidate committed to making our company the best in the field? We’re looking for candidates who see working with us as their best choice.

5. Tell us something interesting about yourself.

This part of the conversation not only gives me the chance to get to know a candidate better, but it also shows how willing the person is to be open. A genuine response will garner more respect than a brush-off answer meant to steer the conversation back to the job. Through this question, I get the chance to engage in some real conversation with a candidate, which can give me hints about her true personality.

Building Momentum

Using the painted picture has guided us toward our vision and, as our company grows, has helped us find new employees who share that vision. If you want to improve your hiring process, simply take a step back, look at your company’s goals, and set aside time to create your own painted picture. Using that document as a hiring guide means you’re transforming your company from the inside out, ensuring your company is filled with people whose dreams and personality align with it.

Ben Kirshner is the CEO of Elite SEM, an award-winning, fast-growing online marketing agency with a passion for building a team of elite industry experts. Elite SEM was recently named Crain’s New York Business #1 Best Place To Work 2013. Ben is an entrepreneurial thought leader, a SEM expert, and can be found on Twitter or Google+.

Image Credit: blog.atrinternational.com 

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How to Get Potential Customers Without a Product and on Zero Marketing Budget http://under30ceo.com/get-potential-customers-without-product-zero-marketing-budget/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=get-potential-customers-without-product-zero-marketing-budget http://under30ceo.com/get-potential-customers-without-product-zero-marketing-budget/#comments Mon, 23 Dec 2013 14:00:33 +0000 Under30CEO http://under30ceo.com/?p=36631 “Your product SUCKS.” He said it to my face. Cold, objective, but straight to the point. Yeap, thats exactly what my 13th potential customer told me in 2007. It was an EDE – ego destruction event. It was a harsh reality check and I was down for the count. Having spent 18 months of my […]

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“Your product SUCKS.”

He said it to my face.

Cold, objective, but straight to the point.

Yeap, thats exactly what my 13th potential customer told me in 2007.

It was an EDE – ego destruction event. It was a harsh reality check and I was down for the count. Having spent 18 months of my life with my partner building up this prototype for my 1st startup and having pitched to endless people (even social networks in Ireland), I was burnt out.

I was living on top of my friend’s garage (a game room) in Santa Clara, CA with my girlfriend who at the time was full time college student. I was living on barely $1200 a month, eating mostly conference food wherever I can, and of course, stressing 24×7.

Money was running low and my landlord friend wanted me out because he wanted to raise the rent. I was low on money and on patience.. and i was genuinely scared. So i gave up on this startup idea.

I developed a Zynga Farmville like game where people would “build” up their virtual homes and we would monetize with premium virtual goods, or have advertiser sponsored products that we’d give away for free.

This was prior to Facebook platform…prior to Zynga.. prior to OpenSocial…prior to App Store. The only way to get in to their real estate was by asking.

And of course, I didn’t have some insane backings from people with connections, so it was close to impossible for get in as an outsider.

Maybe this was too ahead of its time, maybe I saw too far ahead into the future, or maybe I sucked at convincing people. Maybe I just gave up too easily.

Whatever the reason was.. I just couldn’t make this work. So I had to part ways with the startup.

Does this sound familiar to some of you?

I’m no stats guru, but i’m guessing if you are reading this, you are either going through this right now, or have gone through it.

“Build it and they will come.”

Right. The biggest disservice those Silicon Valley people do to entrepreneurs…tell them this myth.

The only thing that will come is your bills and people trying to sell you outsourced SEO in some country you didn’t know existed till you Googled it.

If you are like the most of us, you have to learn to do online marketing. (And there are quite a few marketing guys who share great stuff on their online marketing & growth hacking blog) Part of that marketing?

Idea validation.

Wouldn’t it be better if you actually got some feedback for your stuff BEFORE you made anything?

If you are reading this blog, I’m guessing you are familiar with the lean startup movement. Then I am sure, the thing you must first build is the MVP, or the minimum viable product.

If you read the actual book “The Lean Startup”, you know that DropBox had a simple squeeze page built with a video explaining what its startup is all about. They ran some traffic to it, and voila! Their initial beta user! (In fact, Ash has a great post about MVP and Landing Pages.)

Yeah, videos are great…and squeeze pages are great, but there’s even a quicker (and dirtier) way to get initial beta users AND some more market data… without having to spend even a dime.

How?

3 steps.

1) Build a survey

2) “Build” a contact list

3) Send the survey to the list

Build a survey

Ok this is the easy step.

No need to pay for those crazy form builders that charge your monthly to build forms (seriously how do those people go to sleep at night charge for HTML forms.. ugh).

Google docs (now called Google drive) has a thing called “Forms”.

It’s free and they give you pretty charts once you collect the results, they give you pretty chart like this

Here are the TRICKS to creating surveys

1) Use PAGES – If you’ve ever taken surveys online, usually they have multiple pages (with each page having a couple of questions)… and every time you complete a page, they give you a percentage complete progress bar on top.

Two reasons – a) You can ask a WHOLE lot more and get more information  b) People are more engaged with this sense accomplishment (i.e. gamification)

2) You pitch your idea in the last page of your survey.. you ask them “if this sounds interesting to you, please enter your email and I will let you know when we launch”.

TA-DA!

Market feedback AND initial beta users. Two birds, one stone.

Shameless self plug: Actually, i’m working on a MVP of my own right now. If you’re a startup founder, marketer, or small business  owner, I’d appreciate a feedback on my mobile marketing automation product idea.

“Build” a contact list

Ok, this part is tricky so pay attention.

Case A: You have NO list of potential customers.

Here, you will need to invest time or money

- Money

Quite simply.. you gotta advertise.

Facebook ads.. Google display network ads…  BuySellAds… linkedin ads.. .there’s a billion network options.

Remember to TARGET your ads based on job profile (if you’re B2B) or by demographics (if you’re B2C or C2C).

Yes, this WILL cost you but you can get much faster responses.

- Time

Look for websites with large following of people that YOU want to target by checking their Twitter follower and Facebook fan count.

ASK them to send out the survey, hoping that they will send it out on your behalf. Obviously, if you know the website owner through a friend (this is where linkedin comes in handy)… but if you don’t, you have to go the shotgun approach and ask 100, and maybe 2 will say yes.

When you do approach them, you gotta ask why are they going to do it for you?

Here’s two things I would recommend:

a) Be honest and tell them you need market feedback

b) Give something in return – If you have a budget, tell them that you’re willing to donate $X dollars to a charity of their choice if they do this for them.

Be creative here. That’s all.

Case B: You have some potential customers from your contacts.

This is the ideal case because now, you have their emails! And this is about 400% more effective (based on clicks to finished survey response ratio).

- Build a spreadsheet with their name and email (so we can do mail merge on Gmail)

- Build a template email like this:

Hey $%FIRST_NAME%.

I was wondering if I can ask you for your honest feedback on a mobile marketing product idea that I had.

It’s just in conceptual phase and i wanted to reach out to all the business leaders I personally knew.

A quick 30 second survey, I promise. And you get to enter to win $100 Amazon gift certificate card from me.. or if you want, you can choose to donate that to the kids of Syria if you want (assuming you’re keeping up to date with Syria)..

==> http://www.freshsupercool.com/mobile-marketing-automation

Now, let’s break down the body of this email

1) Who / Why / What

You must answer – Who are you? Why are you writing me? What do you want?

If you know them, you obviously don’t need to explain who you are.

Why – I need a feedback from you.

What – Please fill out this survey

In other words, what is your quick 30 second story pitch?

Remember, if you can’t tell a story, you might as well not be a marketer or an entrepreneur.

This is step #1 – LEARN & MASTER the art of telling a story. (Short and long)

2) Reciprocity

If they give you their time, give them a reward.

People like winning.. but helping kids in Syria is even better.

3) Short & Sweet

People are busy. You are busy. Don’t make me think. Get to the point.

Note: No matter WHAT you do, everything in online marketing (email marketing, PPC, SEO, social media marketing, etc.) WILL be affected by your copywriting. So please, take the time to invest in learning about copywriting. Hell, if you do online dating, you can even use it to improve your dating profile.

IF BOTH FAIL…

Ok, I’m not gonna lie. It’s not like I succeed every time I do this…and sometimes I resort to this last method.

I basically go on forums and online communities and ask.

But remember, you gotta be nice (don’t be douchey) and be relevant… otherwise, you WILL get ignored.

How? Believe it or not.. Google alerts can help you that.

Send the survey to the list

Send. That’s it.

BUT… remember, timing is of the essence.

If you are targeting busy people who receive 500 emails per day, the LAST thing you wanna be is to be pushed to “not important answer sometime in next century” folder.

If you’re new to email marketing, this is called A/B testing with time.

Since you do not have the luxury here, use common sense.

Try to get them when they’re MOST receptive to your emails. For example, here are some patterns I see:

  • People get flooded with emails when they come into work. From 9 to 10 AM.. it’s nothing but emails. If your stuff isn’t important, it won’t get read.

  • Monday mornings and mornings after long weekends are the worst b/c they’re inundated with emails

  • Some people are idle right before lunch…some during lunch.

  • Lots of food coma right after work

  • People are in meetings 1 to 4ish, then basically goof off around the time they get off

  • Their inboxes are relatively empty by the time they’re home

  • People tend to play games and do entertainment-y things if they ride public bus/trains home

So use your common sense when pressing send.

What do you guys think?

Have you tried other methods that were more successful in terms of getting idea feedback?

Leave your thoughts in the comment box

=======================================

TaeWoo Kim is a growth hacker, online marketer,entrepreneur, and blogger. With over 10 years of experience, he’s helped achieve multi million revenues for various companies. You can follow him on his blog, Twitter, and Google+

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Ten Online Tools to Boost Your Marketing Strategy http://under30ceo.com/ten-online-tools-boost-marketing-strategy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ten-online-tools-boost-marketing-strategy http://under30ceo.com/ten-online-tools-boost-marketing-strategy/#comments Sat, 14 Dec 2013 16:00:30 +0000 Under30CEO http://under30ceo.com/?p=36285 When we first launched our company, we were tracking everything in Excel. We were making hundreds of calls every day, sending emails out by the thousands, and marking notes on every interaction we had in painful detail. In short, we were wasting way too much time trying to keep our data organized. We needed to […]

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Online Marketing Tools

When we first launched our company, we were tracking everything in Excel. We were making hundreds of calls every day, sending emails out by the thousands, and marking notes on every interaction we had in painful detail. In short, we were wasting way too much time trying to keep our data organized. We needed to find tools that would improve our efficiency and enable us to properly scale our business.

In trying to find the best tools for our business, we looked for products based on the following parameters: fantastic customer service (we like to ask questions), competitive pricing (we like to save our money), data analysis (we like to know what we are doing right…and wrong), and functionality (we like products that are adaptable and useful in more than just one context). 

Below is our list for the top ten products that saved us from deathly monotonous tasks and helped our marketing team elevate our company from just another wannabe start-up to a lean, mean, profit-earning machine.

1.      MailChimp

Why you should use it: MailChimp is a cloud-based third-party email service provider. It is a must-have for building and managing your email list and avoiding the dreaded Spam filter.

Why we love it: Mailchimp gives us the ability to create beautiful email templates, segment our lists for better targeting and easily track the engagement of our email subscribers. Additionally they make it very easy to run A/B tests, setup auto-responders, and export reports. Bonus points: MailChimp has fantastic customer service (they even respond to our emails!).

 2.      MOZ

Why you should use it: Moz is the leading industry darling for SEO (search engine optimization). They provide tools and applications that analyze the quality and authority of websites and keyword rankings. They also offer free resources that are extremely helpful for those learning about SEO (they have a fantastic blog!).

Why we love it: No other SEO tool is more influential in understanding the intricacies of organic traffic, keyword rankings, domain authority, link profiles, and competitor SEO tactics. This foundational understanding enabled us to increase our rankings on the major search engines and ultimately grow the organic traffic to our site. If you are seeking to boost your website visibility, do your marketing team a solid and sign up for Moz.

3.      SEM Rush

Why you should use it: SEM Rush offers amazing specialized tools for SEM (search engine marketing). They are a great service to use for keyword research and competitor analysis in the PPC (pay-per-click) marketplace. Bonus points: SEM Rush allows you to edge out your competitors by getting a first-hand view of their current campaigns, ad copy, and keywords.

Why we love it: SEM Rush is constantly adapting to changing algorithms and SEO trends – their processes are always up-to-date. We rely on their metrics to better understand keyword search volume, competitiveness, search trends, and market prices. 

4.      HootSuite

Why you should use it: Hootsuite is a social media management tool that links all of your social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Instead of visiting each site individually, Hootsuite enables you to manage and update all of your social accounts from one site. Moreover, their tools and customizable reports software provide valuable data to understand the effectiveness of your social media strategy.

Why we love it: Hootsuite has streamlined our social media campaigns, enabling us to automatically post our recent blog articles directly to our social media accounts. We can even schedule messages and tweets when we’re out of the office.

5.      Google Analytics

Why you should use it: This free service powered by Google is a must-have tool for any company seeking to understand their customers and maximize online marketing opportunities. Google analytics provides critical information about web traffic and visitor behavior, including where your traffic is coming from (thanks, Dad!), the content being viewed, and how visitors engage on your site. Furthermore, the ability to manipulate the data on a granular level makes this platform especially powerful. 

Why we love it: Google Analytics greatly impacts the direction of our digital marketing strategy. We analyze the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns and make statistically confident decisions by setting goals, tracking conversion funnels, and gathering demographic information.

6.      Webflow

Why you should use it: Webflow offers an easy-to-use platform for web design. It is a must-have tool for quickly and easily publishing webpages. Bonus points: never worry about website format again! Webflow’s templates are mobile responsive, meaning that they are automatically optimized to respond gracefully to different screen sizes.

Why we love it: Webflow makes all of our website design dreams come true. We love the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) graphical interface in place of code and the fact that the layout is very similar to that of Adobe Photoshop. Our marketing team is now completely self-sufficient, creating landing pages without consulting our design and development teams. Webpages are created by simply dragging and dropping elements and hitting ‘publish’ – without any worry about hosting, FTP servers, HTML code, or maintenance. Amazing!

7.      Salesforce

Why you should use it: Salesforce is the ultimate service for cloud-based CRM (customer relationship management). It essentially streamlines every aspect of the sales funnel, from tracking customer interactions and sales opportunities to simplifying internal communications. Your sales team will stun you with efficiency.

Why we love it: Salesforce keeps our company incredibly organized and up-to-date and is highly utilized by both our sales and marketing team. Salesforce catalogs the full story of the customer journey, from acquisition to closing. Additionally, it integrates seamlessly with our marketing tools, allowing us to align our email marketing, SEO, and SEM efforts within Salesforce.

8.     WordPress

Why you should use it: WordPress is more than just a blogging platform. It is a CMS (content management system) that is highly customizable with an endless array of plug-ins.

Why we love it: WordPress is extremely user-friendly. Our marketing team easily creates and edits blog posts without any help from our developers. We use an SEO plug-in to ensure proper on-page optimization for all of our blog posts. We also use a nifty plug-in called Yoast, which helps us to automatically generate relevant meta-descriptions for all of our blog posts. These are just a few of the plug-ins we use every day that allow us to enhance our marketing efforts.

9.      Optimizely

Why you should use it: Optimizely provides website optimization software that enables you to easily run A/B testing to measure and track how visitors engage with your site.

Why we love it: Optimizely is unlike any other A/B testing tool. It is incredibly easy to use and doesn’t require any knowledge of HTML. Users can easily drag and drop elements directly on their screen – no coding required!  We use Optimizely to constantly run tests on our landing pages and conversion funnels to ensure an enjoyable user experience.

10.  Google Drive

Why you should use it: Google’s cloud-based file storage and synchronization service simplifies the process of creating, saving, editing, sharing, and collaborating on projects. Thanks to Google, all of your shared documents are always accessible!

Why we love it: Google Drive is incredibly versatile. It has simplified our day-to-day efforts. We use it to create documents and spreadsheets, edit blog articles and case studies, and store photos and images. We love the ability to access all of our internal documents and data from just our Google account. 

The Expert Institute is a New York-based company that connects organizations to subject matter experts. The Expert Institute is a young, innovative company focused on utilizing the latest technologies to streamline operations and enhance the customer experience. If you would like to connect with The Expert Institute, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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How to Get Startup Ideas by Interviewing Customers http://under30ceo.com/get-startup-ideas-interviewing-customers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=get-startup-ideas-interviewing-customers http://under30ceo.com/get-startup-ideas-interviewing-customers/#comments Wed, 11 Dec 2013 16:00:46 +0000 Under30CEO http://under30ceo.com/?p=36567 “By far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has.” – Paul Graham The first step in building a product people love is to identify a problem that some group of people have. Solutions to clearly defined customer pain points make for the most compelling value propositions. You don’t need […]

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Interviewing Customers“By far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has.” – Paul Graham

The first step in building a product people love is to identify a problem that some group of people have. Solutions to clearly defined customer pain points make for the most compelling value propositions. You don’t need to start with a “startup idea.” By learning what problems people have you can begin to formulate solutions.

“Why do so many founders build things no one wants? Because they begin by trying to think of startup ideas.” – Paul Graham

This post outlines a process for identifying problems and getting your customers to give you startup ideas.

Start with a customer segment

Starting with a customer segment you want to serve, as opposed to a specific product idea, has both strategic and personal advantages. Here’s how starting with a customer segment can be helpful:

1.  Building relationships to test startup ideas can be as hard as generating ideas.

Cycling through solutions ideas is faster than finding customers and meeting new people. Your time will not be wasted if you focus on figuring out how you can help a given customer segment rather because. When you do customer development focused on a certain customer segment, you increase your chances of eventually being able to find something that works.

2. Customer development takes a long time and building a successful business can take a really long time.

In growing a company, you will inevitably be spending a lot of time with your customers. If you don’t like the customers that you’re spending a lot of time with, you’re probably not going to be very happy. Conversely, if you enjoy the time spent with your customers, you will probably feel more impassioned and energized. Being more impassioned and energized can lead to higher productivity and effectiveness.

Below is some advice on how to decide on a customer segment you want to serve.

How to choose a customer segment

There are a few factors to consider when deciding which customer segment you want to serve.

1. Relationships and access.

If you you have existing relationships, or at least access, to your customers, finding people for customer development interviews will be a lot easier. When the time is right, customer acquisition will also be a lot easier. If you don’t have access to the customer segment you want to serve, starting and building your business will take longer, and potentially more money, because you’re going to have to get access first.

2. Passion.

The more you enjoy spending time with your customer segment, the more enjoyable your business will be. I also believe having more passion will make you more successful.

3. Propensity to buy.

Some customer segments are less likely to adopt new technologies than others. For a business to business product, some industries are more likely than others to adopt new technologies. Some customer segments have higher budgets than others. Some customer segments take longer to decide and actually purchase than others which can mean longer sales cycles.

4. Market opportunity.

If you goal is to build a massive company, you’ll want to be in a large market. Consider what your growth goals are to help decide which market to serve.

Identify a problem: Ask the right questions

By asking the right questions and listening effectively, you can learn about customer pain points and generate startup ideas to solve those problems. Focus on asking open-ended questions that get the customers talking about their problems as much as possible.

Examples of questions you can ask to get customers to tell you about their problem include:

  • What are the top 3 challenges you face in your job?

  • What are some unmet needs you have?

  • What’s the hardest part about being a [demographic you’re serving]?

  • What tasks take up the most time during your day?

  • What product or service do you wish you had that doesn’t exist yet?

  • What could be done to improve your experience as a [demographic you’re serving]?

One way to learn about problems worth solving, is simply to be observant to what people complain about. Wiley Cerilli, Founder of SinglePlatform used this technique to get the startup idea for SinglePlatform. Be observant of your own behaviors and processes and be conscious of what’s hard or time-consuming. You can also look for solutions that people are “hacking together” themselves. If they’ve taken the effort to make something themselves, such as a spreadsheet, it’s a sign that it’s an important problem for them.

Conclusion

You don’t need to start with an idea to start a business. With the right customer development tactics, you can learn what problems people have and how you can solve them. Starting a customer segment can be highly effective way to start a business. Customer development is commonly used to test startup ideas, but it can also be used to generate startup ideas.

Mike Fishbein helps startups through mid-size companies with capital raising, mergers and acquisitions and strategy. He also teaches a Skillshare class on capital raising and can be reached at twitter.com/mfishbein.

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4 Reasons to Consider Short-Term Client Contracts http://under30ceo.com/5-reasons-consider-short-term-client-contracts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-reasons-consider-short-term-client-contracts http://under30ceo.com/5-reasons-consider-short-term-client-contracts/#comments Thu, 05 Dec 2013 18:00:20 +0000 GuestAuthor http://under30ceo.com/?p=36394 Many CEOs of small- or mid-sized businesses view long-term contracts as a sort of arrival. If your young company can acquire a big, long-term client, you’ve “made it.” You can relax a little, resting easy now that you have an ongoing source of revenue. But while longer contracts may give you a (sometimes false) sense […]

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Contracts

Many CEOs of small- or mid-sized businesses view long-term contracts as a sort of arrival. If your young company can acquire a big, long-term client, you’ve “made it.” You can relax a little, resting easy now that you have an ongoing source of revenue.

But while longer contracts may give you a (sometimes false) sense of security, short-term contracts offer many benefits that are often overlooked:

1. Demonstrate Your Value

Short-term contracts allow you to cut your teeth and show what sort of value you can offer clients. If your work yields tangible results, these seemingly minor accomplishments can easily lead to bigger projects. Clients can see how well your efforts “stick” after you’re gone — a true marker of success.

It’s true that the shorter your contracts are, the more you’ll have. Some people are deterred by the thought of juggling clients, but casting a wider net provides more opportunity than focusing primarily on one or two clients at a time. Instead of developing tunnel vision, you’ll see the broader picture and find otherwise hidden strategies to offer your clientele.

2. Build Key Relationships

Working with a greater number of individuals gives you the ability to expand your network exponentially. We’ve had many clients who left their organizations and hired us when they joined new companies.

Our individual employees develop relationships with people in various industries, which helps them see how to generalize their skillsets and use their abilities to serve different sectors. This makes both our employees and the entire company more valuable to work with.

3. Grow Client Testimonials

As you work with a larger range and number of people, you gain a bigger supply of testimonials. Potential clients want to know about your previous work. By taking on smaller, short-term client engagements and doing quality work, we’ve built a small army of advocates who are happy to talk to others about their experiences with us. You can pitch all you want, but it’s much more powerful to have an objective source praise your work.

4. Diversify Your Revenue Stream

I’m not suggesting you completely do away with long-term contracts. But it’s beneficial to diversify your revenue stream. The trick is to be in a position to quickly adjust to changes in the market and mitigate risk.

Having a good mix of smaller and larger contracts prevents you from being overly dependent on a few clients. This strategy creates stability for your employees because there’s a lower risk of layoffs when a contract ends. It also provides a diversity of clientele and experience in a much shorter timeframe, allowing smaller companies to scale with more knowledge and experience.

Some business leaders believe that simultaneously managing the competing timelines, needs, and expectations of multiple clients is a small staff’s nightmare. While it can be a challenge to support multiple efforts at the same time, the experience gained, relationships built, and opportunities to show your value are worthwhile outcomes for any entrepreneur.

Chris Cancialosi, Ph.D. is Managing Partner and Founder at gothamCulture. The team at gothamCulture focuses on identifying the underlying causes of organizational obstacles and assisting leaders in developing and executing breakthrough strategies to elevate performance. The team provides critical, thought-provoking insights to leaders who desire to use organizational culture and leadership as key drivers of performance.

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