eBusiness Blog

What to be Aware of When Changing Your Niche Market

Are you thinking of changing your niche?

A couple of clients I’ve been working with lately have been established as leaders in their industry and they wanted to shift their niche a bit but are having a hard time with that.

Interestingly enough the challenges they are having are not necessarily how to change their niche but how to let go of their old niche.

From a marketer’s perspective, it’s something you really need to be clear on.

By changing your niche where, instead of focusing on one group of people that you want to attract into your business, we are now going to shift that focus and start attracting a different group. Or perhaps a narrowed down group… a sub niche of the larger niche.

It is important you try not to be everything to everyone so focusing on a sub-group of your niche could be a wise move.

Avoid being everything to everyone. Focusing on a sub-group of your niche could be a wise moveClick To Tweet

The larger group might have encompassed the smaller group of people but in order to really appeal to that target market, you want to be able to speak their language and say the right things that will have them feeling, “This person really understands what I’m going through and can provide me with solutions to the problems that I’m experiencing.”

There’s no reason why you can’t change or narrow down your niche, but you need to decide which niche you want to focus on. You can’t do both. It’s really tough to do both from a brand positioning perspective.

So if you are ready to change your niche or change focus a little bit or narrow down your existing niche, you need to be ready to let go of what you were doing before and allow that shift to happen so you can then focus on the people in this new group with their problems and solutions to what they are facing.

I want to encourage you to be crystal clear on who you want to work with and also make sure you are ready to let go of the old niche you were focusing on before.

I’d love to hear what you think – have you considered changing your niche market but don’t want to let go of your existing niche? Share your response below in the comments section or if you have a question, I’d be happy to answer.

To your success,
Susan Friesen

P.S. Are you needing guidance on how to define your niche market and how to position yourself in your industry?  Having a mentor to help you through this process can save you time and costly mistakes.

FIND OUT MORE HERE: www.evisionmedia.ca/solutions-seek/mentoring/

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

What it Takes to Create an Award-Winning Business

14 Strategies We Attribute to Our Recent Business Excellence Award

What it Takes to Create an Award-Winning Business

Out of the blue, I received an email from the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce one day notifying me that eVision Media was nominated for a 2016 Business Excellence award.

Say what?

Once I got past my shock and disbelief that they must have the wrong Susan… it began to sink in that someone out there thought we were worthy enough of this nomination. Wow, what an honour!

Part of the nomination process consisted of a 30-minute interview in front of a 3-judge panel. Imagine being forced to actually brag about yourself for a half an hour!

Talk about squirming in my seat!

winning Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce business excellence award 2016Fast forward to last week where the awards ceremony took place. Much to my relief, our category was  up first so I could relax the rest of the evening.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that anxious – I knew the odds of winning was only 1 in 7 so I waited patiently for the winner’s name to be announced, not at all expecting it to be us.

But it was! eVision Media was declared the winner!

SAY WHAT???

Shock and disbelief once again came over me as I took a moment to grasp what just happened. Walking to the stage was quite the blur but I managed to do it without tripping up the stairs to get our award. 🙂

In the aftermath of winning this wonderful recognition, I reflected some more about that judge’s interview and how they deemed us the winner from the other worthy nominees in our category.

With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the attributes I feel helped us win this prestigious award.  Without further ado, here’s what it took for us to create an award-winning business:

  1. Be Passionate About What You Do

    eVision Media is not the first business I’ve created; there’s been plenty others ranging from creating craft pieces to faux finish painting. But no matter what I did, I was very passionate about it.
     
    Don’t waste your time trying to run a business just to make money. You’re going to tire of it very quickly and it will be harder to make sales.
     
    But when you’re passionate about what you do, others will immediately see that and will be drawn to you like a magnet.

    When you’re passionate about what you do, others will see it and be drawn to you like a magnet.Click To Tweet
  2. Love Working With the People You Serve and Offer Exceptional Customer Service

    One of the truest joys I receive is the knowing how much we are able to help a new business owner get their online presence up and running. Being a part of their joy at seeing their dream materialize into something tangible gives me just as much joy.
     
    If you avoid answering the phone or responding to emails because you dread having to talk to a client, then you need to adjust your marketing so you attract the right people to work with.
     
    If you don’t love who you’re working with, then it’s hard to establish a successful business that needs to cater to your clients by making customer service a #1 priority. And that means answering the phone, responding to emails in a prompt manner, and treating every person as if they were your only client. And when you’re attracting your perfect ideal client, then this should be easy to do.
     
    Make your business about them, not you. Just remember, if you had no clients, then you’d have no business.

    Make your business about your clients, not you. If you have no clients, you have no business.Click To Tweet
  3. Know Your Stuff

    Before even thinking about starting a web development/digital marketing business, I ensured I got the education I needed first. I attended the Vancouver Film School in their Multi-Media program and then later earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Computer Information Systems (with an A+ GPA).
     
    Not to mention the countless online courses I’ve taken over the years to ensure my skills are kept up-to-date with this ever changing industry.
     
    Sadly, I see a lot of entrepreneurs wanting to start a business with not a lot of skills or experience under their belt and then they wonder why they’re struggling.
     
    Reading a book or taking one on-line course is probably not enough to reach award-winning status. But if you’re passionate about building a successful business, you’ll find a way to ensure you become as qualified as needed.

    Reading a book or taking one on-line course is probably not enough to reach award-winning status.Click To Tweet
  4. Be Committed

    Is working 15 hour days, 6-7 days a week committed enough? Yep, that’s what Daniel and I do every week. We have to in order to fulfil points 2 and 3 above.
     
    It takes a lot of time and effort to ensure your clients are taken care of properly. You also need a “do whatever it takes” level of commitment.
     
    You might not need to work such long hours as us and trust me, we’re continually working towards lessening that kind of volume but until then, we are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure our business is successful. Are you?

    Are you willing to do whatever it takes to ensure your business is successful?Click To Tweet
  5. Be Consistent

    Consistency shows up in many forms when running a successful business. For me, it’s being consistent with my message, my brand, my Social Media presence, my newsletters, my team management, and the level of quality we bring to our clients.
     
    Do I miss sometimes? Absolutely. But being consistent in these areas are very important to me, and I do what needs to be done in order to show up the best I can for my team and our clients.
     
    Without consistency, it’s hard to create brand ambassadors (such as the ones who nominate you for an award), loyal team members, and a steady flow of clients.
     
    Whatever you have decided to commit to, be consistent at it and you’ll be amazed at how things start to flow your way.

    Whatever you decide to commit to, be consistent and you’ll be amazed at how things flow your way.Click To Tweet
  6. Surround Yourself With a Dedicated and Knowledgeable Team

    I started off as a one-woman show. Because of my educational background, I was able to do the design, build and marketing of a website quite easily. I’m what you would call a “generalist”, someone who knows a lot of about a lot of things and is a specialist in a few areas.
     
    But my one-woman show was not going to create a successful business. Especially in this technologically-driven industry. It quickly became apparent my skillset was only going to get me so far.
     
    So my first hire was someone who could offset my biggest weakness. Warren was a student at UFV and applied for my part time programmer position. He was a perfect complement to eVision Media and the moment he came on board, I was relieved of having to do all the site builds myself. I could then take that time and focus on building the business instead.
     
    It’s tough to try and do everything yourself when it comes to running a business. Sure, there are expenses involved in hiring but if you hire smart, keep an eye on your bottom line, and know when to let go of those that aren’t serving you best, your business will escalate far quicker than if you try to struggle with everything yourself.
     
    This topic is worthy of a whole article itself so I encourage you to read How to Take a Solo-Entrepreneurship to the Next Level for more.

    It’s tough to try and do everything yourself when it comes to running a business.Click To Tweet
  7. Have Honesty, Authenticity and Gratitude be a Part of Your Daily Life

    It’s sad I even need to list this as an attribute but I’ve been in business long enough to know not everyone adheres to these principles.
     
    To me, this is a no-brainer – I’m not certain I could live any other way?
     
    But judging from the stories I hear from new clients about how they were treated by their previous web developer, it sounds like many people need to be reminded of this.
     
    No business will thrive without honesty and integrity. And a little secret: gratitude will not only make your business thrive, but your whole life too. Give it a try and see what I mean.

    No business will thrive without honesty and integrity. Plus the secret sauce: gratitudeClick To Tweet
  8. Persevere

    Every business, including ours, has its ups and downs. The key to success is to not let those “downs” overcome your enthusiasm. Pick yourself back up, learn from whatever lesson there was to be learned, and keep moving forward.
     
    If we had quit when we only had $20 credit left on our credit cards at Christmas time just a handful of years ago, we wouldn’t be award winners now!

    The key to business success is to not let your 'downs' overcome your enthusiasm.Click To Tweet
  9. Invest in Your Business

  10. Building eVision Media has been one investment after another. It never ends really.
     
    There’s always something that needs to be worked on. Here’s a short list of my recommendations on where you need to invest in your business:

    1. Branding & Website
    2. Marketing
    3. Education
    4. Building a Team
    Building your business means investing in it continuallyClick To Tweet
  11. Understand You’re Running a Business, Not a Hobby.

    I think this is an important distinction to make and one many entrepreneurs aren’t differentiating.
     
    I’ve always looked at eVision Media as a business and that’s mostly due to my business mind and having a business degree.
     
    But for those that simply are passionate about something and have a dream to make money off of it, it’s hard to know exactly HOW to turn that dream into a business.
     
    They end up blindly doing what they think they should be doing, all by themselves, in order to save money (or not spend money they don’t have) and hope for the best.
     
    If this sounds familiar, I’m adding another business investment to consider as your top priority: A business coach or mentor. ASAP. Otherwise, you’ll probably end up just running a hobby.

    Entrepreneurs: It's important to differentiate if you're running a business or a hobbyClick To Tweet
  12. Set up a Systemized Business Structure

    I’ve worked with a lot of clients over the years. Some amaze me at how organized and systemized they are. And others, well, not so much.
     
    Having a systemized business structure in place is the only reason I haven’t gone insane with my daily workload.
     
    Here’s the tools we use to be more organized, efficient and less stressed.

    Having a systemized business structure in place will keep you sane.Click To Tweet
  13. Get Comfortable With Sales

    Sales. It’s a dirty word for many entrepreneurs and business owners alike. Me too. I hate to think of myself as a “sales person” but at the end of the day, if we’re not selling our wares, we don’t have a business.
     
    Now that’s not to say you need to become a pushy, in-your-face predator. Far from it.
     
    Remember attribute #1 about being passionate? That’s what you need. People will trust your passion and will respond to it. But be careful, sometimes passion can be too intense and will turn people away.
     
    Find your sweet spot as to what resonates with your ideal clients and keep working at it. But do embrace the fact you’re selling your wares and learn some strategies that fit with your personality and comfort level that will work.

    When it comes to sales, people will trust your passion and respond to it.Click To Tweet
  14. Give Back

    Giving back is an imperative attribute to have when building a successful business. We give back in several ways, here’s some ideas to consider that we do:

    • Offer discounted prices for non-profits
    • Volunteer your services to community groups
    • Send cash donations to worthy charities you believe in
    • Make purchases that support worthy causes
    • Donate door prizes and/or silent auction items for fund raising activities
    • And support your own clients whenever you can

     

    Giving back is an imperative attribute to have when building a successful business.Click To Tweet
  15. Be Accessible

    When new clients approach me due to being disenchanted with their existing web developer or marketer, the most often complaint I hear is they can never get a hold of the person. Either they take forever to respond to an email or never answer their phone.
     
    I think I’m going to write a book on how NOT to run a successful business based on this alone. It boggles my mind when I consistently hear stories like this. How are these people keeping a business going with such poor service and accessibility?
     
    I have a policy to answer emails within a day of receipt. I often exceed that policy but sometimes the volume is too much and I get delayed in responding. Same thing with the phone. If we’re available to answer, we do so. If we’re not, we’ll call the person back right away.
     
    Being accessible provides peace of mind to our clients; they know we care enough about them to take care of their needs in a timely manner. ‘nuff said.

    Being accessible brings client peace of mind; it shows you care about them and their needs.Click To Tweet

There you have it. My honest take on what created eVision Media to be an award-winning business. Maybe I need to write a book about this because, honestly, I could have added more but, it’s coming into the 15th hour on this Sunday night of working so I’ll leave it at that.

What about you? What would you add to the list? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

To your success,

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

Here's What it Takes to Create an Award-Winning BusinessClick To Tweet

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

A ‘How-to’ Guide for Earning Small Business Media Exposure

A 'How-to' Guide for Earning Small Business Media Exposure

You have dreams of being a guest on Oprah Winfrey. The Today Show is calling your name (they just don’t know it yet!)… Even a short media appearance on the local breakfast show would be great.

Ok. Can I just have a few lines in the business section of the city newspaper? Anyone??

What does it take to get that traditional media exposure you are coveting? If they only knew about you, you’d be busier than all get out! You just need one big break… right?

Right?

Wrong. (unfortunately)

Building a media presence for your small business takes time, consistency and the know-how to get yourself noticed in front of media audiences who are interested in what you have to say.

And notice I am using the word “earning” media exposure instead of “getting” or “securing” media exposure.

Yes, you have to earn it.

Unless you are paying for it (which is called advertising, by the way) it is not up to you if you will get covered, how much you will covered, or even what the media might say about you. That, my friend, is all up to the media outlet who is telling your story for you.

That’s not to say you can’t exercise some influence, however. You can absolutely doll yourself up (meaning, your business) and make what you have to say attractive to the potential media outlet.

It is important that you have something to say that people want to hear.

Here are nine steps to earning traditional media exposure for your small business:

  1. Know What You’re Selling

    This may seem obvious to you, but often this is the first stumbling block for my   clients. They know what they are selling, and what their services are, but can they explain it in a way that people will clearly understand?
     
    If you were called for that appearance on The Today Show, for example, what would you say? What is your story? Is it compelling?
     
    It is important to develop your key messages and be able to deliver them clearly, concisely, and with impact.

  2. Know Who You’re Selling To

    Who is your key audience or ideal customer? Who do you think would most benefit from what you are selling?
     
    Another way to think of it is why do you want people to know about you? What do you want them to do with the information?
     
    Once you know your ideal customer, you can better tailor your message and marketing and communications strategy to reach them.

  3. Know Where Your Customers Hang Out

    Now that you know what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to, where do they hang out? What online media do they use? What traditional media do they use?
     
    How can you reach them? What television shows do they watch? What do they read? Where do they consume their media?
     
    All these factors must be considered as you are developing your media relations strategy.

  4. Make a Media Outlet List of Contacts

    Now that you know what media you would like to appear in, who do you need to reach to earn that appearance? Do you have a relationship with them already?
     
    If not, depending on how big your media ambitions are, you would be wise to hire someone to help you who does know who to talk to and who has a relationship with the media, or you can introduce yourself and go from there.

  5. What Would Interest Them About Your Product/Business?

    Once you know who you want to reach, get familiar with their media outlet. What kind of stories do they like to tell? And how?
     
    Do they do on-camera interviews? Do they do 30-second clips at the end of a new cast? Do they publish in-depth interviews?
     
    How the message will appear can help you frame what and how you share your story with them.

  6. How Can You Tell An Effective Story?

    For example, if you are a sporting equipment company and you want to cover your new product line, there are a number of ways you could go about gaining interest in your product.
     
    You can simply share the factors that make your product great. Or, you could promote the person behind the idea who created the product.
     
    Another way could be to host an event that promotes your product and invite media to the event so they can see your product in action.
     
    There are many different ways to tell the same story.

  7. Pitch Your Idea

    Now that you have your plan together, it’s time to pitch your idea.
     
    Most news outlets prefer email. Make sure your email subject line is to the point and attention-getting. And be sure to include information about your story idea in the body of the email.
     
    You can attach it in a document as well, but the fewer “clicks” a media contact has to take to review what you have to say, the better the chance they will actually read it.
     
    And that’s the first step. You can follow up with another direct message or even a phone call to ensure they received your email, but it’s best not to start there.

  8. Tell The Story

    Once you are successful in gaining the attention of your media contact, it’s time for you to tell your story.
     
    The story may have already been in the body of the email; however, you may also have the opportunity for a media interview or to meet your media contact at a live event that you are appearing at.
     
    Be sure you are ready to answer those questions from the media and if you only have 30 seconds to tell your story, make sure those 30 seconds count!

  9. Repeat

    Whew! That was a lot of work. Great! You earned some media attention and scored a few interviews and some media coverage. Fantastic! Pat yourself on the back and be open for more opportunities to do that again.
     
    Depending on your product, you may have opportunity to develop relationships with key media and pitch ideas monthly. Other businesses may just go out twice a year or even annually. Still others may not go out at all. It’s up to you to decide what you can manage and how often media exposure would benefit your business.

About the Author, Susan Elford

Kathryn Wilking

Susan Elford, PR Strategist & Leadership Coach, works with start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs to help them get real about their strengths and celebrate them so they get more of what they want; clients, exposure and success, while living a life of balance.

Visit Susan at www.elfordcommunications.com for traditional PR support and www.susanelford.com for a look into how she works with her coaching clients.


How to Hire the Right Web Developer for Your Business

I was speaking to a potential client this morning, and she was expressing concern over having had somebody on her team who was a “techie geek”.

Yes, he built her a website but he didn’t have all the qualities that she needed in that kind of a resource in order to help her build and expand her business.

What I mean by that is there are a lot of people who have a vast array of skillsets in the online marketing world such as programmers, graphic designers, digital marketers, and SEO specialists.

There are a lot of different components that come into play when we talk about having a website.

The trap many people fall into is that their next door neighbor, a friend or even their son has learned how to figure out how to build a website.

They go, “yay I’ve found somebody who can build me a website!” and go for it but end up being disappointed with the results. The reason isn’t because of this particular person they hired, it’s because this person didn’t have all the skills they needed in order to put all of those different considerations into place when it comes to building a proper website.

Branding Considerations

One of those factors is branding; you have to have the right brand design. How you are visually presented to your audience is extremely important. If the wrong colours, font choices and layout display (the way you are being presented) is wrong and is turning off your ideal client, then it doesn’t matter what kind of website you have.

You are going to be turning away more clients than you are attracting.

If your website is not branded properly, you will turn away more clients than you are attractingClick To Tweet

Technical Considerations

The other part is on the technical side; the programming. There’s a big difference between somebody who has learned how to download and install a WordPress theme that’s already been built and a qualified web programmer.

A programmer understands the back-end of how a website functions and can build a proper website. Like what we do here at eVision Media where we don’t use pre-made themes.

We custom design a template or theme for our clients so they get exactly what they need and exactly what their potential clients are looking for when they come to the site and so we don’t have to work within the constraints of those prepackaged themes. Yes, they are cheaper but they are often not working on your behalf.

You are going to end up losing more money in the long run than gained. A programmer would be able to take a custom design and create a website that looks exactly like that design and understands all the functionality that’s going on behind the scenes so that if anything goes wrong they can immediately fix it.

Marketing Considerations

And then there’s the marketing component which is the copywriting and visuals. How is your site being presented? What kind of text is on there? What kinds of images are being used that are going to attract your ideal client to want to hire you?

SEO Considerations

The final part is SEO. Just because you have a website doesn’t mean that miraculously all kinds of people are going to come to it and start buying from you.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. How a website is built directly affects the search engine optimization which affects how Google and other search engines can easily find your website.

So the better your website is built, the more SEO optimized it is, the easier Google and other search engines are going to find you by being higher up in the search engine rankings. Of course there’s more to it than that. There are other SEO techniques that you should be doing regardless of how your website was built.

If your website was built properly with SEO in mind right from the beginning, you are going to be off to the races quite a bit faster than if you use one of the templated websites.

Programmers are Not Marketers and Graphic Designers

Going back to what I was talking about hiring programmer: programmers are often not a marketer nor a graphic designer.

Yes, they can technically put together your website and make it function but they have may have missed those other areas; the graphic design, the brand presentation, and the marketing.

Most programmers aren't graphic designers or marketers; hire the right people for your websiteClick To Tweet

And that is going to break your site. It’s not going to be as effective as it could be.

In a perfect world you would want to hire a team of people where there’s somebody who understands the brand design, programming and technical part of it, the copywriting, marketing and SEO. And that’s what eVision Media is.

We are a team of people who are experts in all those different areas so if you hire us to build your website for you, you are getting all of those under one roof. That’s standard operating procedure for us when we build a website for a client. The site is customized and optimized and is going to get you presented way better than if you just had those pre-built themes or had a ‘techie geek’ put it together.

I say that very fondly because we have techie geeks on our staff but I would never ask one of my programmers to design something because that’s not in their realm of skill and expertise. I’m asking somebody who doesn’t know that skill to do something and that’s the kind of thing you are wanting to have happen if you hire a programmer to build you a website.

You are hoping and anticipating them to also know graphic design, marketing and SEO and the chances are really good they don’t. You need to ask because there are some generalists who can do that and know all of those areas but there’s not that many of them out there.

Do your due diligence and when you are ready to hire somebody to build you a website make sure you are asking them the right questions, do they know all of those other areas? If they don’t, give us a call and we’ll help you out with that.

I’d love to hear what you think – Have you resisted in starting or continuing to blog? Share your response below in the comments section or if you have a question, I’d be happy to answer.

To your success,

P.S. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Our “All Under One Roof” boutique web development and digital marketing firm can help you make your vision a reality.
CLICK HERE: www.eVisionMedia.ca

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

4 Content Marketing Trends for Business Owners in 2017

4 Content Marketing Trends for Business Owners in 2017

As we approach 2017, it’s interesting to think about where we’re headed in the coming year when it comes to marketing our business.

All business owners want to stay on top of their game by being prepared for what’s ahead but in today’s fast-changing world, what does that look like?

To stay on top of your content marketing game in 2017, plan ahead nowClick To Tweet

Below are some content marketing trends you’ll want to prepare for when marketing your business in the coming year:

  1. Incorporate More Social Media Graphics, Infographics, Visuals and Videos.  Since your followers are 80 percent more likely to read your content if you use coloured visuals, this area needs to be built up more across your social media channels.
     
    The popularity of visual content will only increase, so you must be prepared. Using Facebook live is still a hot commodity so be sure to dive into that opportunity too!
  2. Build a Team.  60 percent of marketers in one survey said content creation was their biggest challenge last year.
     
    To overcome this obstacle, get a team of people to help make content development and publishing easy. This includes having a good writer and social media specialist.
  3. Tap Into Influencers.  90% of consumers trust peer recommendations where only 33% trust ads.
     
    Consumers have begun to tune out traditional ads and increasingly connect to their social networks to guide their buying decisions. That’s why connecting with influencers is so important.
     
    What is an influencer? “Influencers are people with significant networks (followers, readers, etc.) who can speak to a broad range of products and services with the ability to sway opinions in their favor.”  –  Jess Estrada.
     
    Identify influencers to reach out to in your industry. Follow them on social media and see where you can strike up a conversation.
  4. Drive Content Marketing Leads into a Funnel. High value content is one thing, but if you don’t build in a strategy that continues building rapport with prospects in the right way, you are leaving money on the table.
     
    Content Marketing is a highly effective way to segment your audience and send them targeted follow-ups and offers, instead of adding them to your main email list.

Creating an Effective Content Marketing Plan for 2017

One of the biggest mistakes I have seen businesses make is they jump into content marketing without a strategy.  While trying to appeal to their target market, they slap together a couple of eBooks and free offerings and hope it will be enough to drive sales.

The first step to making content marketing really work for you is to have a solid, smart content marketing plan in place.

Make sure you outline the following essentials in your content marketing plan: 

  • Understand Who You Are Marketing to. Before starting any kind of marketing strategy, it’s vital you understand who your ideal target market is. There’s no point in investing your time and money into marketing when you don’t have a clear understanding of who you want to buy from you.
  • A Comprehensive Review of Past Efforts.  Review your past content marketing efforts and results from 2016. This helps you to see what was most effective, what wasn’t, and develop a plan to improve for next year.
  • Set Goals and Benchmarks to Determine Future Campaign Success. Having a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish and what that will look like is important.
     
    Do you want to develop awareness? Are you working to build brand loyalty? Are you educating prospects? Want to increase engagement with your tribe? Are you increasing sales and profitability?
  • Develop Content Ideas that Align with Sales Goals.  Here’s some example sales goals:
    • Boost sales of Mega Fit Bootcamp by 25%.
    • Get 50 new leads a month into our sales funnel.
    • Create an eBook on Sales Tips for People Who Hate to Sell to drive leads to the funnel.
  • Plan a Content Marketing Calendar with Dates and Deadlines. Create an editorial calendar that clearly lays out your dates and deadlines so you can easily prioritize your efforts. This eliminates the “what do I write” problem.
     
    It also makes it much easier to work ahead on content and delegate to team members.

I hope you’d enjoyed these highlights, stats, and facts to help you prepare for content marketing in the coming year.

If you’re feeling this topic is a bit overwhelming, I invite you to join my Social Blast monthly membership program where I cover content marketing tactics and strategies. Click here for details.

I’m curious: What changes do you plan to make to your social media strategy in 2017?

To your success,

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

Here's 4 Content Marketing Trends for Business Owners in 2017Click To Tweet

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

How to Manage Stress from the Inside Out

How to Manage Stress from the Inside Out

It’s just another normal day, right?

You awaken one morning and discover that someone drank the last of the milk and the cereal you were planning for breakfast has now been switched to a quick piece of toast – and you’re all out of your favorite jelly.

Muttering, you head to your car, but not before your partner reminds you that you agreed to pick up the kids today from soccer practice. She/he must work overtime to make up for the missed ½ day last week when the dog had an emergency and had to go to the vet.

Stressed WomanYou grudgingly agree, knowing that in the process your answer was a little harsher than you intended.

Just as you get into your car, you remember you had planned to leave earlier today to buy gas. As you pull into the gas station, you realize that gas prices have jumped 10¢ a gallon. Frustrated, you fill up and head to work, only to sit in stop and go traffic with about another million drivers headed in the same direction.

You reach for your car radio switch, when suddenly the car in front of you brakes, causing you to come within 1-inch of a rear end collision. Your purse, once on the front seat, is now under the pile of papers that you had taken home to work on. You tell yourself to stay calm, but you’re feeling a little unsteady from the near miss.

You arrive at work and are immediately told to report to your manager. Your best customer has phoned in with a complaint and the deal you thought was a sure thing is in jeopardy. And somehow you get the feeling that your job is at risk, too.

You promise to address the issue immediately, but when you sit down at your computer an alert message appears stating that the system is being checked for a virus and won’t be available for another hour. You head begins to hurt and that nagging pain in your back won’t go away. On your way to get some water so that you can take a pain reliever, you run into your good friend, Elizabeth who is obviously on the verge of tears.

You know something is wrong, but have an intense desire to run the other way. You can’t deal with another catastrophe right this minute.

Does this sound like a variation of more days than you’d like to admit? Whether you realize it or not, you have dealt with stress all morning long, and if you do not do something to re-group, you are at risk for something far worse.

Stress 101

For an easy-to-understand primer on the stress crisis afflicting the modern man, modern woman, and yes, even the modern child, let’s begin with a brief lesson called Stress 101.

Everyone has a level of energy that is “normal” for them. The energy level of healthy people can range from rather low to rather high. If it is too low, a medical condition such as low blood pressure, low thyroid, or depression may be culprit.

If your energy level is excessively high, you could be experiencing hyper-activity or some other physical or behavioral disorder. But let’s agree that for most of us, we move through life with a rather stable energy level.

Here’s how it is intended to work

  1. When an event happens that causes you to expend more energy you experience stress.
  2. A certain level of stress is good for you. This is called eustress or productive tension. At this stage, hormones are released into the body to give you an energy boost.
  3. These hormones enable your “fight” or “flight” reaction.
  4. After you have expended the energy, you need to move below your normal stress level so that your nervous system can return to normal and the “energy” hormones can dissipate and not be stored in the body. Your body is then able to return to a normal energy level and ready for the next stressor in life.

But, here’s what happens in the real world:

  1. An event occurs that causes your energy level to go up.
  2. Your hormones kick in and you respond to the stressor (eustress or productive tension).
  3. After the response, your body wants to go to a calming place. However, before you can ever get to the place of normal energy, you probably experience another stressor.
  4. Your body responds by another release of energy (more hormones kick in)
  5. You react to that event.
  6. And again, there is a desire to return to a lower level of energy.
  7. And before that happens, you have another stressor.
  8. Before you know it, you are operating above the productive tension line and operating at a distress level

As you can see, your energy level (and hormonal level) remains escalated. And although your energy level will slow down (often resulting in exhaustion), your hormonal production continues. This results in distress and disease.

Acute and Chronic Stress
Two of the most common types of stress are acute (sudden) or chronic (on-going).

 Acute stress is a reaction to an immediate, unexpected stressor, like:

  • Seeing a child run into a busy street
  • Hearing a loud noise behind you (or even in front of you)
  • A phone call telling you of an emergency
  • Being unexpectedly called on to speak
  • Your child throwing a temper tantrum in front of others
  • A very verbal, highly irritated customer
  • Being pulled out of the airport security line for extensive screening
  • Learning that you have no credit left on your credit card
  • A new romantic interest walking into a party unexpected
  • Winning the lottery
  • Waiting for the final free throw of a basketball game when the score is tied

During acute stress, the unexpected event occurs, you have the appropriate hormonal response, you respond at a higher energy level, and then when the crisis is over, you seek out the first chance you can to relax.

The body can deal with acute stress in small doses. Prolonged bouts of acute stress are very taxing and wearing on the body, rational thinking often becomes distorted thinking, and the rate of accidents and mistakes increases.

Chronic Stress is prolonged stress. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t feel any hope for the future and feel that you have no power over the situation.  And feeling powerless to impact the situation resonates deeply. Some situations that produce chronic stress are:

  • Being homeless
  • No perceived power in relationships or job
  • Dysfunctional families
  • Trapped in a despised job or career

For most people, though, chronic stress is more often a product of:

  • Too much to do, too many commitments
  • Working in a job we don’t like
  • Working longer hours on the job with little or no reward
  • Too little sleep
  • Disorganization in our living and work environments
  • Financial problems without a solution in sight
  • Fear of losing a job
  • Prolonged illness (yours or a family member’s)

Stress Management Techniques

This background information is intended to raise your awareness about the costly effects of stress. Costs to your health, your relationships, and your personal well-being. It is more important now than ever that individuals do whatever it takes to carve out time to engage in stress reducing activities.

The best way to manage stress is to make time every single day to relax, refresh and re-energize. Although you might join a class to help you learn some relaxation techniques, chances are that making it to class will add even more stress.

The following techniques will help reduce stress, help your body (and mind) find calm and restore your energy. When practiced on a regular basis, you give your body a rest as your hormonal levels return to normal. You, in turn, will be better equipped for managing the

day-to- day stressors that are bound to come your way.

Breathing Technique: The great thing about this exercise is that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime. In fact, some clients tell us that this technique is one they practice prior to starting their day and/or as a bedtime ritual.

It is also beneficial for the transitional times – before going into your home after a day of work, before entering a meeting that may be controversial, before heading out to the golf course or meeting friends for dinner.

Breathing deeply can require conscious attention since we tend to breathe shallowly most of the time. Here is a simple way to practice.

Pretend that your breath is a long ribbon. Give it a color. Imagine that you have a reel in your belly and with each inhale through your nose; you are winding your breath (ribbon) around the reel. Take in the breath slowly and consciously, as your belly expands. When you have inhaled as much breath as possible, let it sit for just a second (Eastern practitioners call this ‘packing chi” or energy). Slowly release the breath, concentrating on the slow rhythmic release of the ribbon. Practice this kind of breathing for about 5-7 minutes. Caution, you may find yourself slightly dizzy when you first try this exercise, especially if you have a tendency for shallow breathing or holding your breath during stress. This process helps the body relax, the buildup of stress-induced hormones to dissipate, and your energy to restore.

Mindfulness: If you have ever arrived somewhere and not remembered the trip or after an event, you can’t even remember who was there (or what they were wearing, or what they talked about), you will benefit from practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a technique where give full attention to your feelings, thoughts, and sensations. You literally live in the moment and experience the sensations of the moment. This exercise takes very little time, but the benefits are tremendous.

To practice mindfulness, you must be willing not to let other things distract you. If your cell phone rings, you simply acknowledge to yourself that your cell phone is ringing, but don’t let your mind wonder who’s calling and for what. During this exercise, look around. Notice the variations of color in the room. Listen intently for any sounds. Notice the feel of the air on your body. Be still, as if you are becoming a part of your surroundings. Be aware of your breathing. Hear the clock tick or the birds chirp. Notice how light reflects, distorts, or illuminates. See what you haven’t seen before. Appreciate your surroundings and feel peace.

Studies have shown that people who practice mindfulness have less pain and more quickly recover from injuries and illness than people who do not.

Self-Talk:  Self talk is exactly what the term implies. It is the thousands of messages that we tell ourselves every day. Self-talk is about judgment. Judging ourselves and judging others.

Make a commitment to pay attention to your self-talk. Be conscious of what words you use to describe yourself and the situation you are in. Shift your negative thinking to positive thinking. When you hear yourself say, “I should be working on that report,” say instead, “I’m glad that I have the opportunity to spend time with my family right now.” Instead of, “a good daughter would phone her mother every day,” say “I’m glad I’m able to check in on my mother and respond when she really needs me.” When we start shifting our perspective to a more positive one, we become energetic instead of stressed or depleted.

Control vs. No Control: Let’s face it, you have control over two things: Your own thoughts and your own behavior. Understanding where you clearly have control can be strengthening. Here’s an example:

You are in the office and someone approaches you with a bit of gossip about a co-worker, Michelle. The gossip includes some rather harsh remarks about something you are passionate about. Michelle has decided that she will not support the annual United Way drive because her time and money are devoted to juvenile diabetes. You might become defensive, antagonistic toward her, and begin forming alliances with others who share your conviction. The truth of the matter is that you have no control over what Michelle values. What you can do is enthusiastically support your cause and have respect for Michelle and her cause.

Another example of control awareness might go something like this. You arrive home from work and realize that the sanitation department did not pick up your overflowing trash container that morning as planned. You can either: 1) fuss and fume, call the city, leave a scathing message, and threaten to leave your trash curbside until someone picks it up. Or 2) you can recognize that the trash was overlooked, call and ask what your next steps should be. Should you leave the trash curbside, or should you roll the container back into your garage? You have no control over the fact that the trash was not collected. What you can control is your response.

The question to ask yourself is this? Do I have any control over this situation? If I do, what are the rational steps I can take to resolve it? If not, am I willing to let it go? This practice in and of itself will reduce most people’s stress level by half.

Lifestyle Changes: Let’s be honest. Much of the stress we experience is a result of choices we make and lifestyles that we lead. The following ideas are beneficial to all people who want to reduce the amount of stress in their life and live healthier:

  1. Organize your living and work space – by doing this, you spend less time searching for things. An organized space is more calming than clutter.
  2. Organize your time. You only have so much time. By organizing your time, you will be able to spend it on things that are of greatest importance to you.
  3. Cultivate a supportive social circle. Research tells us that surrounding ourselves with people who support us and whom we support leads to healthier – and even longer lives.
  4. Take care of your body. Day-to-day stress and day-to-day living take a toll on your body. By engaging in regular exercise, your body is stronger, your stress is lessened and your health increases.
  5. Renew your spirit. The old saying that “attitude is everything” has validity. Reading, vacation, creative activities, journaling, meditating, praying, and experiencing a higher source of power are all ways to renew your spirit.

These techniques are lifestyle changes that create a more calming environment. Instead of depleting you of energy, these choices restore your energy.

Closing Thoughts

Cari Harness once said, “Give your stress wings and let it fly away.” Let’s face it – that is easier said than done. Maybe a more realistic approach is to look at the situations in your life that you can control and can’t control. Give wings to the ones you can’t control and let them go. Just.let.them.go!

What you can control is your long-term response to the stressful events. You also control whether you practice calming techniques. And there are plenty of lifestyle choices that you control.

Perhaps you could start right now by breathing slowly, being mindful of the things around you, creating positive self-talk and watch your stress fly away.

About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

Kathryn Wilking

Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.


Overcoming Your Resistance to Blog Writing

Do you have a resistance to blog writing or don’t have a blog because you’re resisting starting one?

I realize I talk a lot about the importance of adding a blog to your website, being consistent about writing articles and bringing new material into your blog.

However, the biggest resistance I hear from clients is they feel they are not qualified enough to be able to write an article. It wouldn’t be professional enough. Not polished enough, they are not a copywriter or a reporter, or they don’t have an English major.

I wanted to reassure you that you don’t need any of that.

The biggest way you can attract loyal followers and people who will feel like they are engaged with you is for you to be yourself. Speak and write in your own authentic voice. Don’t try to be somebody else or expect to be somebody else.

When you are face-to-face, on the phone or chatting with a potential customer on social media, you are being your authentic self during those conversations. You want the same thing to happen when you write a blog article.

You want to feel like you are having a conversation with somebody.

Effective blog and article writing is akin to having a conversation with someone.Click To Tweet

When you write your article, think about having a conversation with a potential client or with one of your existing clients where you are sharing with them some of your knowledge.
Focus on that one topic and write an article about it.

Yes, grammar and spelling is definitely a factor. If that’s a problem then write out the article and hire a copywriter, a VA, somebody who can edit your article and polish it up in that regard to make sure the grammar and spelling is correct.

You don’t want to come across amateurish and unprofessional if you have bad spelling, grammar or if your sentences don’t make sense.

My point is that it’s still in your voice and then you can have somebody help you with fixing it up. We do this a lot with our clients. They’ll send us a rough copy of what they want to have written for their blog and we fix it up for them. We also add in our marketing expertise such as making sure there’s a call to action at the bottom.

So partner up with somebody who can help you if you are unsure. Especially if this is the reason why you have stopped, or prevented yourself from even beginning, writing articles because article writing is an extremely important part of your business.

The worst case scenario, which really isn’t a worst case scenario, is not having a blog at all.

You can always hire somebody to write for you and then you review what they’ve written. Make sure it’s in your voice and it’s something you would say. We do that a lot of that too where we have clients who are way too busy to be writing their own articles.

We submit the articles to them, ask them what they think and they’ll come back to us with some changes or adjustments as needed. We fix them up and publish them as well as send out to their newsletter subscribers.

My point is not to let that kind of a fear prevent you from getting yourself out there.
It’s preventing you from a lot of brand exposure and SEO where people will come to your website from search engines.

Give it a try! Think about how you can talk in your authentic voice, find somebody to help you who can take what you’ve written, polish it up a little bit and make it available to put on your website and into your blog and whatever else that you want to do with it.

I’d love to hear what you think – Have you resisted in starting or continuing to blog? Share your response below in the comments section or if you have a question, I’d be happy to answer.

To your success,

P.S. New to online marketing or you find it overwhelming and confusing? Check out Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs. It’s a monthly group coaching program for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts.

CLICK HERE: www.socialblastcoaching.com

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

How to Take a Solo-Entrepreneurship to the Next Level

How to Take a Solo-Entrepreneurship to the Next Level

5 Members Every Growing Business Needs on Their Team

Many businesses begin as a solo-entrepreneurship. With one person who has a vision, passion and skill that compels them embark on a journey so they can make a difference in the world and build a successful business along the way.

But the truth of the matter is, no one can build a successful, thriving business singlehandedly.

No one can build a successful, thriving business singlehandedlyClick To Tweet

One person can’t possibly possess all of the skills needed to carry out day-to-day business and marketing operations. Not well anyway.

As solo-entrepreneurs build their business, it’s a natural progression to surround themselves with a support team in order to avoid becoming stagnant and making costly mistakes.

After all, they simply don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to charting new territory in the business world.

When I began building my team years ago, I started by hiring people who offset my weaknesses.

Being a generalist in the web development/online marketing field made that a bit tricky because there was a lot that I could do myself. But as technology evolved and I got busier, it became clear in order to expand my business, I needed to bring in qualified resources so I could provide more value to my clients.

We all have strengths and weaknesses and if we want our business to be successful, it’s important to have others on our team who are more capable at certain tasks than we are.

The challenge is to be honest enough to be able to admit where our skills fall short and where we could use help in offsetting them.

Be honest enough to admit where your skills fall short & where you need help in your businessClick To Tweet

I had a conversation with a visionary client the other day after he realized his business was in a state of disarray due to him trying to manage it all himself (or hiring the wrong people for the wrong reasons to help him). He was asking who he needed on his team so he could better focus on what he was good at. So below is a resulting list of what I shared with him.

Here’s 5 essential team members and resources every solo business person needs when they are ready to grow to the next level:

  1. Financial Person

    Someone to take care of the bookkeeping, tax filings, payroll etc. This person doesn’t need to be on the payroll, just have someone available that you can outsource this work to so they can free up your valuable time and let them do what they do best.

  2. Legal Representative

    It’s always good to have access to legal advice, especially when it comes to creating contracts and even for debt collection.

  3. Administrative Assistant

    This type of person can end up being a hugely valuable resource on your team that will free up a ton of your time so you can focus on your business instead of all of the little details.
     
    Here’s a brief list of what this type of assistant can help you with:

    1. Calendar management. Have your assistant set up your appointments for you (or use an automated service like Acuity.)
    2. Team or project management where they are responsible for ensuring delegated tasks are done accurately and on time.
    3. Customer service liaison where they take care of all client questions and concerns.
    4. Email management where they can manage your inbox for you and delegate to appropriate team members instead of you being the middleman.
    5. Affiliate management. If your business includes selling online programs where affiliates and other partnerships are involved, an affiliate manager can keep everything organized and running smoothly.

    Depending on your type of  business, you can probably think of many other areas that an assistant could help you with including doing personal errands if they are local.

  4. Social Media Manager

    Let’s face it, social media is a big time drainer. But in today’s marketing world, it’s a necessity for every business to have a social media presence.
     
    Even though you do not want to delegate all social media activities to others, a social media manager can help by creating and scheduling daily posts, being a customer service representative, posting news and updates, sharing blog articles, uploading YouTube videos and much more.
     
    Qualified social media managers can also take on the marketing tasks of creating and fulfilling promotional campaigns including Facebook ads.

  5. Website & Marketing Team

    Notice I didn’t say a “website guy or gal” as in a single person. There are many different components that make up a website and it’s rare one single person can be really good at them all.
     
    So having a website team as a resource will ensure all of the areas that are needed to create, manage and promote an effective website are in place such as:

Every business is different and these roles are the essentials for new entrepreneurs but can easily be added to depending on the industry you are in and the type of business you want to create.

It also doesn’t hurt to have a business mentor or coach to help guide you through all the different areas that you might not be thinking of too.

So if you are a solo-entrepreneur and are getting overwhelmed or too busy at trying to learn and do everything yourself, perhaps it’s time to consider the benefits of having someone on your team who can support further growth and sustainability for your business.

If you're overwhelmed or too busy, consider the benefits of a team to help grow your businessClick To Tweet

The first step is determining your weaknesses and finding suitable people to offset those.

The second step is to take action. And if you’re wanting a web and marketing team who will be your trustworthy champion every step of the way, consider eVision Media as that valuable resource you’ve been needing.

I’d love to hear from you: have you started to surround yourself with a team yet?

To your success,

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

Here's How to Take a Solo-Entrepreneurship to the Next LevelClick To Tweet

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

10 Marketing & Social Media Tactics to Boost Holiday Sales

10 Marketing & Social Media Tactics to Boost Holiday Sales

Tis the season for holiday sales!

Shoppers are flocking online in search of gift giving ideas. According to Mashable, “65% of shoppers tap social media looking for the perfect gift… and two out of three shoppers purchased a gift they found via social media.”

'65% of shoppers tap social media looking for the perfect gift' @mashableClick To Tweet

So what are the best ways to cash in on seasonal sales with your business?

Whether you are a service-based business or sell products, here’s some suggestions to get in the spirit with holiday sales.

  1. Learn from the Ghost of Christmas Past
     
    Look at metrics from last year’s holiday sales.  What products were bestsellers?  Which promotions created the biggest lift in sales? What special offers were a total bomb?
     
    Discover what worked and didn’t so you can capitalize on it when you plan this year’s promotions.
  2. Make a Holiday Social Media Cover Image
     
    Decorate your social media business pages with a specially designed cover image. It’s the perfect place to announce special holidays promotions and deals.
     
    Be sure to create one for all of your social media accounts.
  3. Use Holiday Hashtags
     
    Twitter shoppers may use hashtags to find their next purchase. So take advantage of hashtags to get discovered.
     
    #blackFriday, #diy, #holidayssavings, #stockingstuffers, #holidays, #Christmas, #Hannukah, #Kwanzaa, #NewYears
     
    Need ideas? Here’s 106 Hashtags for the Holiday Season
  4. Create Social Media Graphics for Promos and Deals
     
    Everyone loves getting a great deal when holiday shopping. Make festive graphics promoting special promotions that make purchasing the perfect item irresistible.

    Deals can include:

    • one day only,
    • limited quantity sales,
    • buy-one-get-one free,
    • special discounts or holiday coupons.

    Consider offering a “12 days of Christmas” promotion with a special deal each day!  Canva makes it easy to make custom holiday social media graphics.

  5. Boost Sales with Free Shipping
     
    Consider offering free shipping for holidays gifts. Create highly visible buttons or banners promoting it on your website.
     
    Or you can boost the order size by offering free shipping on orders over a bigger dollar amount such as $100.
     
    Studies show that shipping costs are one of the biggest deterrents to making a purchase online so this one tactic could result in big returns for you.
  6. Offer Gift Ideas
     
    Holiday shopping can be frustrating when you don’t know what to buy for the person who has everything. You’ll want to promote your bestselling gifts.
     
    Make gift buying easy by sharing gift suggestions like:

    • 5 gifts for mom,
    • 10 gifts grandparents love,
    • 5 gift ideas for tech savvy teens etc.

    Then offer links to purchase each of the items you mention on your blog and on social media.
     
    Better yet, if you have a blog, write articles based on these topics and refer to your products within the article with links back to the purchase page.

  7. Write Reviews
     
    If you offer one of the hot new products of the season, consider writing and posting a review about it on your blog. In this review you could mention your own offerings that would be a great gift accompaniment.  
     
    As an example, do a review of the top three smart phone accessories for Mom this Christmas and share pictures of them with a red bow on them along with a side-by-side features comparison. Then mention how your offerings go great with these gift ideas while including links to purchase.
     
    You could also incorporate your Amazon affiliate link for those products
  8. Suggest Stocking Stuffer Ideas
     
    Help idea stumped shoppers by offering suggestions for small items for everyone on their shopping list!
     
    Write a blog post with the hottest stocking stuffers for the season. Share daily stocking stuffer ideas on social media using hashtags like: #beststockingstuffers2016, #cheapstockingstuffers, #stockingstuffersforwomen
  9. Reward Loyal Customers
     
    Offer to give a $100 Gift Card to a randomly selected customer caught posting a picture or video with your product on social media. Set up a campaign having them use a special hash tag like #christmascountdown.
     
    This can help your promotional campaigns to go viral as customers share on their timeline and family/friends see their post.
  10. Share Holiday Spirit
     
    Connect to the spirit of the holidays in your customer’s hearts. Engage your customers by asking them their favorite holiday tradition.
     
    Get people to interact with your brand by asking them to share:

    • Their most-loved family recipes from Thanksgiving or another holiday event.
    • What their most loved Christmas song is.
    • DYI Christmas decorating tips.
    • Easy gift wrapping suggestions.

Grow your holiday business with help from eVisionMedia.

We are Santa’s helpers and can make your season bright with Google and Facebook ads, email marketing, social media, and website promotion support.

Click here to make your business holiday sales merry with help from eVision Media!

To your success,

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

Here's 10 Marketing & Social Media Tactics to Boost Holiday SalesClick To Tweet

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Why Criticism Feels So Scary and How to Handle it

Why Criticism Feels So Scary and How to Handle it

We usually get our first experience of criticism from our parents. 

With few exceptions, harried parents are not present or conscious enough to separate out, our behavior from who we are.

Telling children that they are bad or wicked for misbehaving sets up a defense pattern against criticism that can undermine us in both our personal and professional life.

Other comments, such as, “You’ll be the death of me!” or, “What is wrong with you?” are equally lethal.

As a result, most of us develop low self-worth or insecurity early in life.

Noticing that we seem to be unable to get our parents’ undivided attention, a steady source of unconditional love, or that our parents are at odds with each other, worried about money or distracted with their own issues, causes us to worry that there really is something wrong with us.

Without the verbal skills of inquiry, we tend to stuff this fear and look for what does get attention and/or love.  We innately know that we need attention in order to survive.

On some levels, it doesn’t matter if the attention is negative or positive – attention is attention, and it feeds us the energy.

As a child, I saw that not being a bother, having no needs, being perfect, and smiling all the time did the trick.  This then became my “act.”  Does the act work to get the love and/or attention you need to survive?

You bet it does!

But, the problem is that the love and/or attention goes to the act and not to the part of you that has low self-worth or is insecure.

Eventually, you become resentful of the act; after all, you feel that you have to keep it going, can’t rest on your laurels, and it becomes a burden.

The act is also a defense against intimacy.  If someone gets too close to you, you have to push them away in case they were to penetrate your act and discover “the real truth about you.”

Also, if someone criticizes either an aspect of your act or calls it into question, it can trigger your unhealed survival issues.

Unprocessed fear is usually inappropriate in its intensity to the nature of the situation at hand.  So, you can find yourself lashing out, at complete strangers or even at those you love.

Another response is to shut down, slamming the door on any possibility of re-connection – at least in that moment and for as long as it takes to come around (sometimes never).

Any unhealed childhood issues are bound to arise in the workplace as well as in our client and personal relationships.  That’s because relationships are designed to bring up anything unhealed in childhood.

There’s no escaping from that core truth. So, what to do?

You can start by getting in touch with your defense patterns and as you diffuse them, you will find it easier to accept constructive criticism in the spirit it was intended:

  1. Look at what you judge or make wrong in others:

    This is perhaps the easiest way to find your stuff, although not so easy or comfortable when you are not willing to own it in your own behavior! Everyone is a reflection of you: what you like and don’t like about yourself.

  2. Unpack the group/family/office patterns:

    This one builds on the first one, as groups tend to gather together to work through karma together and grow together. Family patterns are easiest to spot and perhaps the hardest to overcome as many families never try to fix dysfunctional patterns.

    Instead they are tolerated or worked around.

    Group or office patterns can be harder to spot because we tend to play the blame game, pointing fingers at others instead of taking responsibility for our own part. The most senior players and those with most longevity set the tone and attract others of a similar vibration.

    That is why even as group members or staff members leave, others will arrive who either consciously or unconsciously see the patterns at work and seek to fit in rather than make waves and risk being shunned.

  3. Ask someone you trust and respect about your blind spot:

    Now, the operative words in this sentence are trust and respect; since your blind spot can be an area of vulnerability that you have deeply buried, developed coping strategies around and pray no one will ever call you out on it.

    Often a trusted friend, colleague, or a professional can help you to get in touch with a blind spot.

    Once you’ve identified it, stay present with it, look at all the ramifications of it and imagine what life would be like without it. What could you do differently to be more effective?

  4. Play the awareness game, Resistance has many faces:

    We addressed one of them (blame) above and another is sublimation. We pretend that it really isn’t a problem, or that we can’t do anything about it, we might even argue for our limitation!

    Playing the awareness game gives us a chance to be present with what is happening, to notice the impact we have on other people when we criticize them and the impact on us when we are criticized.

    There is a distinct change in the energy when people shut down and if you try to gloss over it, as in a meeting, without addressing it – nothing authentic occurs after that moment.

    This can be particularly deadly in staff or client meetings. You might even be aware that there is “an elephant in the room” but be too fearful to address it.

  5. Clean up your messes:

    This is truly time-sensitive. The longer you wait, the greater the potential for damage. However, your best chance for success is to get in touch with and express your feelings in privacy and safety first.

    Underneath your feelings of anger and sadness is key information, an a-ha, so to speak.  This helps you understand why you got triggered and helps you to get in touch with what you need.

    Once you have processed your feelings, the charge in your voice tone is eliminated. You are able to ask clarifying questions, take responsibility for your part in the upset, and ask for what you need calmly and rationally.

    Women, especially, find it difficult to talk in the moment of an upset without crying, which can infuriate others, especially men, who feel manipulated by the tears.

    Taking a time out to process your feelings and then to make a time to talk is a very powerful strategy for navigating through difficulties in communication.

  6. Pay the “Haters” no mind:

    Don’t let your detractors steal your energy; by interacting with them you merge with their energy.

  7. Look for the kernel of value:

    Eventually, as you identify your triggers, you might even find yourself welcoming constructive criticism in the spirit it was intended: to help you be the best you can be.  

As always, life is a journey and learning how to handle criticism positively is a rite of passage.  I’d love to hear from you if you found this article helpful, and I think I can now handle constructive criticism too!

Aimée Lyndon Adams

About the Author, Aimée Lyndon-Adams

Aimée Lyndon-Adams is both a seasoned corporate executive and a metaphysician practicing spiritual energy healing. She has provided coaching and healing sessions to individuals, couples and groups and has offered an energy management curriculum of training classes for many years. She is an articulate and charismatic speaker and facilitator.

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