Author Archives: Max Zaron

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11 Tips for Creating an Effective Email Signature

One of the most important things about your business email is signing it. An electronic correspondence is still a correspondence, and you need to sign it. Most email programs allow electronic signatures to be automatically placed at the end of each outgoing email. This makes life much easier for you by saving you the step of having to type your email signature and related information every time you send an email. Here are some tips for creating an effective email signature, because your signature says a tremendous amount about you and your business.

Email Signature Tips

1. Use the four-line standard rule when drafting your email signature. Include all the information your recipient needs within four lines of text. If you provide line after line of name and contact information, you recipient will most likely stop reading after about the third or fourth line.

2. Keep your email signature – just like your email – concise and to the point to meet the four-line standard. Your recipient does not need your life’s story in your email signature. Get to the point so your reader has access to your information quickly and easily.

3. Include your name – obviously – your title and your business name on lines one and two of your email signature.

4. Include your preferred contact method but don’t include too much. Multiple phone numbers and email addresses chew up space and confuse your recipient. Decide on the phone number and email address you want your recipient to use and only include those.

5. Don’t include your business’s mailing address; it’s just not necessary. If your recipient needs to know your exact location, he or she will request that information. Otherwise, including your physical address only takes up space and might instigate an unwarranted or unwanted visit.

6. Don’t include your IM address, Skype address, personal contact information, or anything else of that nature unless you absolutely want to be contacted that way. You don’t need people instant messaging you all day – you’ll never get anything done.

7. Include links to your business social media profiles. This keeps your recipients active on your social media network thus building your online presence. If you only have personal social media profiles, do not include those in your business email signature.

8. Avoid fancy-shmancy fonts, colors, and graphics in your signature. Simple text works best because you don’t know how your customer’s email client will convey the information. It does you no good if your recipient’s email client converts your signature and related information into gobbledygook. Think simple, plain text fonts.

9. Avoid unnecessary additions like quotes at the end of your email signature. I know you are expressing yourself by adding a little quote under your name and contact info; heck, if I had my way, my email signature would include something to the effect of “Boston Red Sox RULE” at the end of every email. But, guess what? It wastes space, your customer’s time, and you might actually offend someone. The best rule of thumb is to avoid quotes all together.

10. You can also avoid legal disclaimers and virus scan assurances at the end of every email. They should only be used when necessary. Your customers aren’t going to read them anyway.

11.
Set up different email signatures for your initial and reply correspondences. If you are replying to an email, your recipient already has your contact information and doesn’t need it a second time. You can set up multiple e-signatures to meet specific correspondence needs.

Email Signature Examples

Let’s take a quick look at what I’m talking about. First, here’s what NOT to do:

John Doe
President
Best Company USA
111 First Street
City, State, Zip Code
Phone: (555) 555-CALL
Cell: (555) 555-CELL
Fax: (555)555-1FAX
Email: JohnDoe@email.com
www.companyURL.com
Facebook: [Address]
LinkedIn: [Address]
Twitter: [Address]

Good grief! You stopped reading halfway down, didn’t you! And I even put the signature in plain text. Here’s what you should do:

John Doe
President | Best Company USA
(555) 555-CALL | JohnDoe@email.com | www.companyURL.com
Facebook: [Address] | LinkedIn: [Address] | Twitter: [Address]

You can see how clear and concise that is. It gives your recipient all the information he or she needs within four easily formatted lines. Overkill is not the best policy when it comes to your email signature. An effective email signature says what it needs to say in the fewest words possible. Keep that in mind and you’re certain to create a sign off both you and your customers will appreciate and benefit from.

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lookbadontwitter

7 Things That Make Your Business Look Bad on Twitter

Don’t over-tweet your followers!

A few posts back, I discussed 15 Things That Make Your Business Look Bad on LinkedIn . Twitter is another social media tool you should take advantage of to market your business, but beware! You can make yourself look bad on it, too. Social media has the capability to shoot your business into the stratosphere if you use it correctly. Because it began as a “social” tool for personal networking, however, it might be tempting to shed the professionalism when using Twitter, or any other social networking site for that matter. Don’t! Make certain your business looks good on Twitter.

Don’t Tweet Junk

For the love of all humankind, don’t sit at your laptop or mobile phone and tweet everybody that you’re sitting on your couch watching the latest episode of… who cares?! One mistake everyone in my opinion, not just businesses, makes is tweeting random junk that doesn’t really matter. I don’t care if you’re sitting on your couch watching TV, and neither will your potential customers. Make it count when you tweet. Provide important information about your business that your followers can sink their teeth into and retweet to others .

Don’t Overdo it Either

Although you should avoid tweeting junk and stick to informative, useful, and helpful tweets, don’t be a know-it-all or tweet too much , either. You know your business, and that is where you should focus your tweets. Sure, you probably have some intelligent things to say about stuff outside of your business, and that is fine in the appropriate context. But if you begin to tweet about everything as if you’re an expert in everything, your followers are going to drop you like a hot potato. After all, none of us knows it all.

Don’t Tweet Your Problems

I did what I’m about to tell you not to do when I talked about tweeting junk, but man do I hate useless tweets… I did it again! Don’t use Twitter as your therapist and vent. That’s not what it’s there for. Sure, many people tweet about current events and have some pretty fiery things to say about them, but that’s only appropriate in certain circumstances. Twitter is not a good place to complain about anything, especially your business. Even if you’re upset because you own a transportation company and gas prices are killing you, you’re going to turn off a lot of people if you tweet complaining about it. Tweet solutions instead, and engage your followers to get them involved.

DON’T YELL

See how annoying that subhead was? This really should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people still, after all this time, type with their CAPS LOCK on. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20 years – and if you have, you’re about to learn something new–CAPS LOCK means yelling or screaming in online etiquette , and you should never use all caps, especially when you’re tweeting. Keep in mind that while you are trying to draw attention to your business via your tweets, you don’t want to draw the wrong attention. Don’t “yell,” even if it’s to express excitement or add emphasis to certain words in your tweet. Somebody will take it wrong.

Don’t Market Incessantly

Aside from yelling, your followers will also get annoyed if all of your tweets are marketing ones. Yes, Twitter is a great avenue to get the word out about specials and promotions your business is offering, but you need to think about “spamming” when you’re tweeting, too. Your followers want more than just marketing mumbo-jumbo; they’re following you to hear what you have to say. Yes, use Twitter as a marketing tool , but use it wisely. If you have a bunch of product to offload, use the marketing demographics to target your proper audience, and tweet about it to the right people at the right time. You shouldn’t tweet about the 100 Boston Red Sox Jerseys you have on sale to a bunch of New York Yankee fans… or should you?! [Wink, wink!]

Don’t Just Follow

Be a leader in tweeting and not a follower. Don’t randomly follow a bazillion people to try to get them to follow you. Again, think marketing demographics, which are the same online as they are offline. You are better suited to get involved and network with the peeps who are in your business, interested in your business, interested in hearing what you have to say, and have interesting things to say to you, rather than just follow, follow, follow. It’s useless to attempt to get a bazillion followers by following a bazillion tweeters if you have nothing in common. Numbers are not the name of the game here; networking strategically is.

Don’t Twitter Stalk

Part of what happens if you follow a ton of people just to try to get more people to follow you is you lose interest and you stop following them. Then, you realize that you don’t have a lot of followers, so you start following them again. Then you lost interest, and you stop following them… yeah. You’re a Twitter STALKER! Oops, sorry, yelling there. Constantly following and unfollowing someone is, one, annoying, and, two, might get you reported as an abuser. You need to connect with people who really have an interest in your business and stick with them. Again, it’s not about how many followers you have; it’s about the importance of those followers to your business.

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Email Subject Lines That Will Get You Noticed

Email Subjects Lines That Will Get You Noticed

You’re competing for inbox space. Craft a subject line that will get you noticed in the clutter!

Email Subjects Lines That Will Get You Noticed

If you’ve read my last couple of posts, you’ve figured out that I’m on a mission to share with you all that I know about email marketing. Since this is such an important part of any business’ marketing plan, let’s keep rolling with it. You know firsthand how an email subject line can attract attention. If you’ve been the victim of spam, you know exactly how the subject line can attract the wrong kind of attention. I won’t go into any gory details, but we’ve all received the “enhancement” email. You obviously wouldn’t use that subject line for a business email, but you can’t use anything else that might result in your email being slam-dunked into the cyberspace circular file either. You’ve written the perfect marketing email, now write a subject line to entice your recipients to actually open and read it.

Get to the Point

Although I started out by saying that the “enhancement” email subject line isn’t the way to go, and it isn’t unless that’s what your business sells, it does one thing right. It lets the reader know exactly what the email is about. This should be rule number one when crafting the perfect email subject line. Don’t try to be mysterious to pique your reader’s curiosity. Get to the point so you aren’t wasting your reader’s time. The title of this blog post is a prime example of what I’m talking about. What is the blog post about exactly? Email subject lines that will get you noticed. You knew what I was going to discuss when you opened this up. Use this same approach when giving your marketing email its subject line. What are you marketing? Tell your reader right off the bat.

Keep it Concise Yet Specific

Keep the subject line concise while getting to your email’s point. There’s a misnomer out there that you need to craft the shortest subject lines possible to ensure a “Read” click, and that is neither the case nor what I mean by concise. Being brief isn’t going to guarantee that your email will be read over another one that you send with a 25-word subject line. A good rule of thumb is to keep the subject line short enough so that all of it will appear in the inbox – usually around 50 characters. Say everything you need to without having the tail end of your subject automatically replaced with ellipsis. Remember, you want to get your reader’s attention by being direct and informative. It’s much better to craft a subject line that says “French, Columbian, Ethiopian Gourmet Coffee Beans,” than it is to say “Gourmet Coffee Beans.” If you take the latter approach, your reader will probably think, “Yeah, and…?” and hit “Trash.”

See What I Did There?

You see what I did there? I just tempted any lover of the three roasts mentioned in the email’s subject line to open and read the email. If your marketing campaign reaches readers who can’t live without their morning cup of Ethiopian brew, you’ve just given them extra incentive to read what you have to say. So add that informative verbiage. And, while we’re talking about specifics, reel your customers in with an added bonus in the subject line sure to get a click. How about: “French, Columbian, Ethiopian Coffee–Free Shipping.” Okay, now you’ve given your potential customers two reasons to open your email. One, you sell their favorite brew; two, you’ll ship it for free.

Use Demographics

If you’re thinking, “Okay, fine. Got it! But how the heck do I know what kind of coffee my potential customer likes?!” you’ve got a good point so let’s address that. Use the same demographics to craft your subject line that you used to develop your email-marketing mailing list in the first place. In keeping with our coffee roasting company example, use additional demographics to entice your customers even further. Say only 25 percent of your list prefers dark-roasted Ethiopian, but 75 percent prefer it light roasted. Add that to the subject line! “Gourmet Coffee” isn’t going to get you anywhere, but “Light-Roast Ethiopian Beans–75 Percent of You Prefer It” just might.

Obviously, not all of you are owners of a gourmet coffee roasting company, and you may not have the exact demographics I’m using in my examples here, but you get my gist. When deciding on the perfect email subject lines to get your marketing email – and company – noticed, you need to be direct, concise, and speak directly to the reader opening your email. Otherwise, your readers just might score a two-pointer as they slam-dunk the correspondence into the trash. Oh, and one more thing: Always, always, always make sure your recipients have agreed to receive your emails and their contact/demographic information is correct. You don’t want to send a French roast email to “Janet” who’s actually “Janette” and a tea drinker! Now, put your thinking cap on and write some email subject lines – and emails – that will get your company noticed!

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Email

Should I Be Using Images In My Emails?

Is a picture really worth a 1,000 words? Yes, it is. This is why I want to talk about using images in your emails. It does not matter how good of a descriptive writer you are, words alone will not grab your reader’s attention quite like words and images will. It’s a simple fact: In today’s world, people want to take all of 2.5 seconds to see what you have to say… you see what I did there? SEE, not read. So, when crafting the email marketing campaign for your next big blowout, think imagery alongside verbiage.

Make a Connection

You know how you “Ahhh…” when you see those first baby pictures of a newborn, or, if you’re like me, a tear forms in your eye when you view photos of the game four ending play to the 2004 World Series – 86 years, people! 86 years! The reason you get all warm and fuzzy at the picture of a puppy or kitten is because you make an immediate emotional connection to the image. Photos stir emotions, solicit reactions, and make connections. So when adding images to your emails, you are making a connection with your current and potential customers by stirring emotions and soliciting reactions.

Make the Right Connection

When soliciting a reaction, however, it is always important to ensure your images solicit the right one. We talked about email marketing mistakes in my last post and how you don’t want your marketing campaign to end up in everyone’s spam folder. Along with that, you don’t want to use images that will bring about a negative reaction. You’re using images to connect with your customers – create a bond, if you will. Don’t use images that will turn them off, offend them, or break that bond. You should definitely use images in your emails, but it’s even more important to choose the right ones.

Why? What Difference Does it Make?

Think about how often you hear in the news how so-and-so’s latest advertising campaign was controversial, offended people, was pulled, and the company apologized publicly. You hear this pretty much every day, and that is why your images should be well thought out and tasteful. Email marketing is no different from any other type of marketing and it can offend just as easy. Unless you’re a nonprofit soliciting donations for an atrocity, your images should send a positive message, not a negative one. If they don’t, you’ve lost a customer. Remember, using images in email gets people’s attention, so think about the attention you want your images to get.

Images That Work Best

Your emails are intended to reach out to your customers, but that won’t do you any good if your customers don’t know who you are. Using images of you and your employees where applicable should be your first rule of thumb. In fact, images of people are always a good route to go because, again, you’re soliciting a reaction. People seeing images of happy people benefiting from your product will want to buy your product so they will benefit, too. Can we say super models advertising beauty products? That is a classic example of how imagery impacts marketing.

Secondly, images applicable to the product or services that are the subject of your email are also important. If you are telling your customers about your latest and greatest food item, use colorful, artistic, vibrant pictures of the dish. You want people to see your creation, get hungry, and run out to try it. If it isn’t that cut and dry, say you are a roofer and, well, pictures of roofs aren’t that exciting (no offense to all the roofers out there), think a bit outside of the box and use images that will still get attention. Maybe pictures of the pictorial roofs of classic architecture would make a splash. Better yet, grab your camera, go out, see what inspires you, and snap it!

I’m Not a Photographer

Neither am I. Although I believe I am at times! Which is why using the innumerable resources available to you is important, because no matter what, you need images in your emails – no excuses! There are plenty of online websites that license, or allow you to use them free with proper attribution, a gazillion different photos of just about everything on earth. You are going to find something you can use in your emails on one of these sites.

If you’re not a photographer, but you know someone who is, have him or her take pictures for you. Or get permission, grab, and scan printed photos and graphics you already know and love. Whatever you do, understand this: Should I be using images in my emails? Yes, you should because pictures do speak 1,000 words. They connect with your audience, they solicit a reaction, and, thereby, the action you desire from your customers.

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spam

5 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

This is not what you want customers thinking about when they see your marketing email in their inbox.

I probably don’t have to write this blog. All I need to do is call upon you to think about how you feel when you receive spam email. You get angry. Don’t even open it up. Tag the sender as a spammer. Curse and swear. Report them to the FTC. Well, there you go. There’s five reactions all rolled into one email marketing mistake – the recipient’s perception of being spammed. But that’s not the only email marketing mistake to avoid, so I’m going to write this blog!

Permission, Permission, Permission

When the Internet first took off, businesses got the clever idea of adding anybody and everybody to email lists and then “blasting” people with marketing emails. Criminals also jumped on board, blasting victims with false advertising and phony sales tactics. As you can probably imagine, and most likely remember, people got pretty angry every time they checked their inbox and found it filled with unsolicited emails. Congress took note and enacted the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which made sending unsolicited emails illegal. So, the number one email marketing mistake to avoid is sending email marketing campaigns to customers who have not given you permission to do so. Before you do anything else, make certain that you have received the blessing of every customer on your email list to receive marketing emails from your business.

Professional, Professional, Professional

Aside from sending an email to every single customer you’ve ever had, another common marketing mistake is to make the assumption that email is less formal than other types of business marketing tools. Even though times have changed and we all have casual Fridays now, this does not mean that you should ever send out anything unprofessional from your office, including your email marketing materials. Keep it professional, and more importantly, clear and concise. Ensure your email is free from spelling and grammar errors, and make certain you don’t use text speak or instant messaging icons and abbreviations. This is still a professional campaign, even though you are sending it electronically.

Location, Location, Location

Okay, maybe not a physical location, but in the process of keeping everything professional, another critical email marketing mistake to avoid is sending the promotional campaign from an unprofessional or personal email address. This will not only confuse your customer, as they will recognize your company’s name but not necessarily John.Doe@PersonalEmail.com, but also tangle your personal and professional accounts, thereby causing further communication to your customers via your personal email address. Make certain that you are marketing from your business address. If you don’t have one, get one. And, by all means, make sure the email name is professional. Nobody is going to open an email from SuperSalesMan@YouKnowYouWannaBuyFromMe.com.

Computers and Smartphones and Tablets, Oh My

Our fourth mistake is thinking that every one of your customers is going to be reading your marketing email from their desktop or laptop computer. These days, nothing could be further from the truth. In the spirit of keeping things professional and concise, you must also consider that a majority of your clients are checking their emails throughout the day from their smartphones or tablets. Simply put, don’t create a graphic masterpiece that can only be viewed on a mega-sized computer screen. You need to format your email marketing campaigns to be compatible with all receiving devices, including the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets.

Accessibility, Accessibility, Accessibility

Okay, sorry, I’m probably driving you crazy with my repetitive subtitles, but I’m on a roll here, and when I speak of accessibility, I’m not just talking about the device your customer is going to read your email on. I am also talking about making the information you want your customer to notice immediately accessible within the body of your marketing email. Do not bury critical information, such as links to your company website or the specific sales page that you are promoting. Keep that information on top and quick and easy to find. Why? Because no matter how much your customers love you, they are not going to read through a 500-word email to find out exactly what it is you’re selling. Nope, they want to read a few lines and have an immediate clickable link to move forward, so make certain that happens.

These are just five things every business owner must keep in mind when preparing an email marketing campaign. There are more, and I’m including links below if you want further information. I cannot understate the importance of everything I’ve discussed in here, but perhaps the most important gauge in avoiding email marketing mistakes is you. Before doing anything, think about how you would receive your email if you sent it to you. If you’d get mad and tag it as spam, you’ve just made the biggest email marketing mistake of all.

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What You Need to Know About Facebook for Business

Facebook business pages should a part of all marketing plans.

A couple of blog posts ago, I talked about the importance of making sure your business looks good on LinkedIn, the business social network. Now let’s talk a little bit about using Facebook for your business as well. Social networking is one of the best ways to market your business these days, and businesses should network on all avenues possible. Sure, Facebook was initially created to be a personal social networking website, but it’s opened itself up for business pages too, and there are a few things you need to know to keep your business on top with Facebook.

Networking Reach

According to Facebook’s website, “Over one billion people Like and comment an average of 3.2 billion times every day.” You can’t buy that kind of publicity. Well, you can, but imagine the cost! Think about it, if that many people are on Facebook every day, interacting between pages, liking, and commenting, your business has access to that many potential clients… but only if you have a Facebook page.

Build Your Page

So, get that page built and up and running. Facebook makes this step easy by guiding their business members through the page building process once they’ve signed up, and the same rules apply as the ones I talked about in my LinkedIn post previously. You need to build a page that is engaging, exciting, and enticing to people. Build a page that tells people a lot about your business, and include plenty of multimedia to keep your visitors on your page.

Keep it Fresh

Once you get potential clients on the page, you have to keep them coming back. You can’t expect anyone to return to your page if all you have on there the same information about your business that you started with. Potential customers won’t come back and they probably won’t Like your page, which is key to keeping your Facebook business page on top. Stay active on your own Facebook business page, constantly adding comments, posts, and multimedia to keep your visitors engaged. If you don’t have to time to do this, hire someone. This type of marketing is truly worth the investment.

Promote, Promote, Promote!

Facebook business page users have known all along that you can promote your business on the website and app by housing contests and promotions. It used to be, however, that you couldn’t house the promotion directly on your Facebook page. This made it difficult for some users who didn’t want to route their promotion through a third-party app, such as another website. In August of this year, Facebook announced that business pages can now run promotions directly on their Facebook pages, which is great if you have a Facebook page and not an actual website.

Stay on Top of the Rules

If you do decide to use Facebook for your business, and, better yet, you decide to use it to run contests and promotions, make certain you know Facebook’s rules; otherwise, you might find your page blocked. For example, if you’re running a contest and asking your Facebook followers to name a new dish your chef has created, it’s okay to have them submit their ideas for the entrée’s name using the proper mechanism, such as Liking the product’s post page; it’s not okay to have them tag their picture in association with the entrée.

Be a Social Butterfly

The key to any Facebook page success is interacting with other Facebook users, so don’t just sit there and wait for people to visit and Like your page. Don’t just sit there and wait for them to enter your contests, either. Get “out there” yourself, and promote your Facebook page and visit other Facebook pages relevant to your own. Be active and Like and interact with other Facebook users. Remember, this is social “networking,” so get out there and network as much as possible.

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LeadershipSkills

The Most Important Leadership Skills You’ll Ever Learn

Leaders must encourage their employees much like coaches must encourage their players.

The Most Important Leadership Skills You’ll Ever Learn

I’m a Boston Red Sox fan living in New York City, and that’s a tricky thing to navigate! I bleed Boston red amongst Yankee blue. Oh, yeah! I live on the edge! Even though I live in “enemy territory” (and actually love it), there are few things more challenging than leadership. A business relies upon its leader, and more often than not, the leader is the one who makes or breaks the company. Successful leaders encourage successful employees, and there are some leadership skills that every businessperson should learn that create a positive and profitable business environment.

One of the most important leadership skills that all leaders should embrace is communication. Now you’re probably saying “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” but bear with me for just a second. I don’t simply mean communication as in talking to your employees and being clear with respect to what’s expected of them. I mean communication as in encouragement, honesty, and inspiration, all mixed in with a little bit of engaging humor. “Good morning, Fred. Get me those accounting reports by 10 a.m.” is not what I’m talking about!

Dull, dry, demanding communication discourages your employees and disables them instead of empowering them; yet you don’t need to be all sickly-sweet either. You need to be honest. Fred is going to be more inclined to do as you request if you let him know exactly why you need the numbers by 10. You’re not being a power-hungry jerk and making demands before he’s had his first cup of coffee for kicks. You have a board meeting at 11, the shareholders want to see the quarterly figures, and you want to review them first so you know what you’re talking about if they have questions. Fred will get it, and most likely happily comply.

That kind of honesty goes a long way because your employees will feel more on your level, something that is important to everyone. Infusing that honest communication with a smile on your face, some encouraging words, and even a bit of humor is even better. “Morning Fred. I have the board meeting at 11 and I need you to work your magic, please. The shareholders want to see the quarterly figures and I need to know what the heck I’m talking about when they quiz me. If you could please get me quarterly reports by 10, I’d be indebted. Thanks!”… or something like that. Fred’s going to be a lot happier with this request than “get me the bleeping numbers!”

Let’s infuse some attitude while we’re talking communication. Your attitude as the leader of your organization or group of employees is critical to everyone’s success. You, as the leader, must always possess a positive attitude that motivates your employees to excel, even when things look grim. It doesn’t matter that you just received teeth marks in your behind from your boss first thing in the morning. It doesn’t matter that the quarterly figures Fred got you look really, really bad – I mean REALLY bad. You have to exude confidence in everyone and their commitment to the overall goals and keep your crew up instead of down. Positive attitude, confidence in your team, and commitment to your goals through thick or thin goes a very long way with employees.

Finally, there are times when leaders have to do things they’d rather not, such as disciplining employees or delegating work to ensure the job gets done. Nobody wants to discipline or fire anybody, unless you’re a sadist! And leadership tasks such as delegating assignments can be such a pain because they are often met with resistance and resentment. You’re the boss, and sometimes you have to do what the boss has to do. How you perform these leadership tasks says a tremendous amount about your leadership skills. Communicating honestly with troubled employees and fully explaining why delegating work is necessary will instill a sense of confidence and camaraderie in your staff, and that’s the best thing a leader can ask for.

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The Best Summer Tips for Small Business Owners

Take advantage of your community’s summer activities and get your business’s name at the finish line.

Ah, summer! Summer equals vacation. Summer equals hot weather, which, in turn, equals lazy days. You know, “the dog days of summer,” or, as Nat King Cole sang, “Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…”! It’s so easy to slow down during these months, and you should take a well-deserved break at some point; however, summer shouldn’t be an excuse to slow the business workings down to a crawl; you should still utilize your summer months productively.

For example, take the snail time to reassess your company’s website and social networking pages. Why not do some upgrading or redesigning to freshen up your company’s online presence. Give your website and social network pages a summer feel by “warming” things up with appropriate summer themes and photos of you and your employees engaged in summer activities. Most people equate summer with fun, including potential clients, and playing along will pique their curiosity and keep them on your pages.

Summer Marketing Tips & Secrets

If you haven’t built an online presence, summer’s the perfect time to do it. I dare say there is not a potential client out there, who isn’t going to run a search on your business, first, before ever considering hiring you. It doesn’t matter if your business is B2B or B2C, people research before they hire or buy, and they want to see you online. If you don’t have a website or social networking pages, put down the cold one and barbecued ribs and get cracking!

Speaking of good food and drink, summer is the perfect time to capitalize on your company’s community presence. Summer time is event time, and events need sponsors, food, and drink. Sponsor your community’s 5K run or the local surfing contest – whatever the big thing in your area may be, get involved. Sponsoring a community event is a perfect way to get your small business’s name out to the masses – not only in signage, but also in goodies such as munchies, water bottles with your company’s logo, t-shirts, posters, buttons, and other event-related memorabilia; and never, ever, forget about the publicity! Every time the event is advertised, so should be your company’s name!

You should also network face-to-face no matter the social situation. Having a neighborhood get together to welcome a new family into your neck of the woods? Take your business cards! Does your community have a Saturday night movie in the park or an annual July 4 bash? Go! Make sure to meet and mingle. You never know who or where your next client will be. Summer is very much a social season, so take advantage of this and network, network, network with the peeps in your hometown!

Once you’ve met potential clients, take them out! If your business slows down during the summer – and even if it doesn’t – schmooze potential clientele with a cool, refreshing lunch at a local café or an afternoon break at the ice cream parlor. Don’t be afraid to make it fun and lighthearted. This will ensure the potential client remembers you. While I cannot stress enough the importance of an online presence, during the summer months when everyone is out and about, there is no excuse not to pump up your business’s community presence, as well.

Finally, network with your employees. Summer slow can be well spent sitting down individually with each member of your “crew.” Discuss goals – both yours and theirs – and address any concerns or needs your employees might have. Cross-train, too. If it’s a particularly slow day in the office or shop, have the employees teach each other their jobs. You never know when someone might need to know exactly what John or Susie does.

Assess your business, as well. Take a moment to look at your company’s annual goals and see where you’re at. If you work via a traditional calendar, summer means you’re halfway through the year. Are you on target or, pardon me, up a creek? If you’re up the proverbial creek, what should you do to get back on track? Talk with your partners and employees during the summer slow-mo, and come up with a game plan to get the business back on track and achieving its year-end goals.

See? Summer is such a slow time! You have absolutely NOTHING to do! Now, take advantage of these “lazy, hazy, crazy days” and get to work!

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LinkedIn

15 Things That Make Your Business Look Bad on LinkedIn

Social networking is such a phenomenon that some businesses are bypassing an actual company website and only advertising via networking sites. I cannot say that I support this approach 100 percent – customers like to see an actual company Web page – but social networking is certainly a critical component in your business’s overall marketing strategy. LinkedIn was designed strictly for business users, and it is a wonderful resource to promote your business when used properly. If your LinkedIn page is not used properly, however, you might be spelling D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R by inadvertently making your business look bad.

  1. Your Mug – Everybody loves a good party now and then, but LinkedIn is not the place to advertise your party-going tendencies. Your business’s LinkedIn photo should be professional, not a shot of you and your employees doing shots at last year’s holiday party. Your photo should be a head shot, with you properly dressed and neatly coiffed. If you prefer, you can also use your company logo as your LinkedIn photo. Keep in mind, however, that people identify better with other people, so a photo of a person is best.
  2. Photo Quality – While we’re talking about photos, let’s talk quality. Aside from avoiding using an informal snapshot of yourself, don’t use a photo that’s the wrong size, either. LinkedIn photo specifications are a square image of 200 by 200 pixels up to 500 by 500 pixels. Don’t try to squeeze a 500 by 700-pixel image of yourself. You’ll end up looking warped and distorted. And while your friends might describe you as such occasionally, it’s not the image you want portrayed on your professional social networking page.
  3. Logo Quality – You’ve got size restrictions when adding your company’s logo to your LinkedIn page, as well. You company logo must be sized to 100 by 60 pixels in order fit properly. If you try and make something fit, your logo won’t look right, and this screams “unprofessional” to the potential clients viewing your page. Along with the size restrictions, your logo must also be saved as a .PNG, .JPEG, or .GIF file and no more than 2MB in size.
  4. Web Page Links – LinkedIn means more than just “linking” with other professionals on the social networking website. LinkedIn pages are designed to give users easy access to the professional they are viewing. You have the opportunity to link your viewers to your company’s Web page, so make sure the link works. Otherwise, when potential clients click the link to your company page and end up in limbo land, they will lose faith in your company and move on.
  5. Social Networking Links – The same holds true for any other links you add to your LinkedIn profile. If you’ve got it all, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on, and you’ve get them interlinked, make sure those links are working at all times. You don’t want a potential client to click from your LinkedIn page to your Google+ page and end up in the tangles of a broken URL that doesn’t work.
  6. Speaking of Links – I promise I’m not beating a dead horse here, but while I’m talking about links, it’s important to make sure that you have the links to your company website and other social networking pages in the appropriate fields. For example, should you accidentally link your Google+ in the company website field, it will be very confusing to your potential clients to end up on Google+ when they were expecting to land on your company’s website. Make sure all fields are filled in with the proper URL – no linking Twitter in the Facebook field!
  7. Email Addresses – Aside from links to your company’s website and social network presence, LinkedIn also gives you the opportunity to include contact information in your profile that anyone can access, including non-LinkedIn members. Make sure you have your correct email address – and other information for that matter – in the contact fields. Once your potential client clicks on the email link to send you an email, you need it to come to you.
  8. Utilize Everything – Make sure you set up and use LinkedIn’s company page dynamics instead of just setting up a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn’s company page gives you the option to outline your business’s product and services, giving potential clients information about your company right away, instead of having to click over to your company’s website. This opens the door to greater interest in your company and what it has to offer.
  9. Don’t Be a Bore – While you are setting up your LinkedIn company page, don’t be boring about it. Engage your reader when you set up your company’s information and products and services. No potential client wants to read, “I am a Marketing Manager who blogs to help people maximize their sales and marketing strategies…” Yeah, me and how many others? Rather, get some attention by having fun when describing what you do. Just make sure to keep it professional, or you risk offending your future clients as well as boring them.
  10. Keep it Real – There’s a fine line, however, to making things interesting and embellishing the details too much. Be honest about you and what your company does. Don’t get carried away and represent yourself as a Fortune 500 company if you aren’t. Honesty goes a long way, and clients will not hire you if they think you are full of – well – you know.
  11. Keep it Client Focused – Your LinkedIn presence is there to present you to potential clientele, but it isn’t necessarily ALL about YOU. You need to think about your client when you are setting up your LinkedIn profiles. Your future clients want to learn what you can do for them, and while they will be interested in your credentials, graduating Cum Laude from university should not be the primary focus of your profile. Think about the questions your client is asking when they looked you up and make sure you’re answering them.
  12. Be Proactive – LinkedIn, much like other social networking pages, is meant to link you to others, so make sure you connect with as many people as possible. Your LinkedIn pages show your connections, and a client is going to be far more impressed with a proactive business connected to hundreds of other professionals, than a business with five whopping connections.
  13. Get Recommended – LinkedIn allows other professionals in the LinkedIn network to recommend you, and the more recommendations the better. Ask your colleagues to recommend your services, and offer to do the same in return. Again, you need to make a positive impression on your LinkedIn pages, and if you’re highly recommended by other professionals, potential clients will take notice. If you’re not recommended at all, they’ll note of that, too!
  14. Get Feedback – LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to include customer testimonials on your pages and you’d be foolish to ignore that. Written and video testimonials go a long way when earning the trust of new clientele, so go get ‘em! Don’t wait for your customer to send you the appreciative email. Follow up with your customers and get as many written and video kudos as you can to place on your LinkedIn page.
  15. Keep it Updated – You’ve gone to all this trouble to make sure you’ve addressed everything I’ve discussed in this blog post. Your picture is professional, your logo looks sharp, every URL link is perfect, and you’ve got more connections and testimonials than you can count. None of this will do you any good if you don’t keep your LinkedIn pages fresh and updated. Keep active on your profiles. Potential clients can see if your pages are stagnant and will assume that your business is stagnant, too!

Whether your business is small or large, looking for B2B or B2C clientele, social networking is a crucial piece of your overall marketing pie. Other websites might be more popular in the social networking “food chain,” but LinkedIn should never be ignored. This social networking site was designed specifically for professionals, and offers networking opportunities far beyond personal networking websites. Get those LinkedIn pages up and running, and make sure they make your business look good, not bad.

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max_2

Introducing Max Zaron

Hey everybody! My name is Max Zaron, and I am really excited to be blogging on SpecialDatabases.com. I’ve got so much to share with you in terms of advertising and sales and marketing strategies designed to drive your business into the stratosphere. I’m an expert in business branding and sales force motivation, but before I get carried away and my inner “marketing manager” takes over, let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I really am a Marketing Manager, and I have been in the marketing industry for over a decade. I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing in 2000, but being the glutton for punishment that I am, my bachelor’s wasn’t enough, so I immediately dove into my Master’s studies. I earned that, too, moved to New York City, and quickly began my career. I am currently working with SpecialDatabases.com, sharing my advertising and business expertise.

Although I live in the Big Apple and truly love it, I’m a Boston boy at heart. I was born in Boston in 1979, and I have two younger siblings. Being the oldest had its advantages. I learned to take charge at an early age, and I learned the importance of setting a good example. Both of these qualities really help in advertising and sales and marketing, and I have embraced my “take charge” mentality and used it to help my clients throughout my career.

Another quality I learned in my youth was the value of creative thinking. My dad was an entrepreneur in the promotional product industry, and he taught me to always think outside of the box. It is no wonder I have found myself in marketing, as I was always surrounded by marketing, and I learned how to best utilize it at an early age. And for the record, creative thinking comes in very handy when you live in New York City, yet remain a BoSox fan – you can take the boy out of Boston, but you can’t take the Boston out of the boy!

Even though I remain a Boston Red Sox fan, I have completely embraced New York City, and I love living here. NYC is definitely the most remarkable city in the world, and you want for nothing… except maybe some space! No matter the food, sport, or entertainment, you’ll find it in New York City, and it’ll be bigger and better than anywhere else. My wife, Rebecca, and my daughter, Addison, truly love it here; so much so, my wife and I plan to retire in NYC… and still root for the Sox!

As you can probably tell, marketing is my passion, but I’m not an all-work-no-play kind of guy. During my “me” time, I enjoy sports, such as pretending to be my favorite Red Sox and playing baseball or taking a run through Central Park. I also craft my own beer – of course I do, I’m from Boston! – and it’s pretty darn good if I do say so myself!

So, that’s pretty much all there is to say about me, except that I truly am looking forward to blogging and passing on all I know about advertising and sales and marketing to you. Our goal here at SpecialDatabases.com is to provide you with the best tools possible to engage and empower your sales force. Now, please comment and tell me about yourself. I look forward to “meeting” you all!

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