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4 Simple Ways to Empower Your Employees

It’s no secret that one of the keys to running a successful business is recruiting and retaining stellar employees. So what can you do to keep your team happy and loyal? Simple: empower them. Studies have shown that when employees feel empowered, they have a much stronger commitment to the company they work for because they feel like they are truly part of it, and not just a number. That said, here are 4 simple ways you can give your team the autonomy they deserve.

Include them in decision making. Planning on changing a policy or procedure? Why not ask your employees to weigh in? After all, the decisions you’re making will likely impact them directly, right? Who better to ask for input than the very people who are doing the work, day in and day out? By including your team in your decision making activities, you will show them that you value their opinion and they will repay you with loyalty and respect.

Allow more flexibility. Break away from that 40-hour-a-week mentality and embrace a more flexible idea of working. With today’s technology, businesses can be run successfully from anywhere – whether it’s an office, a home or even on the road, in your car. Employ cloud technology such as web-based software and a virtual phone system to give your team the freedom and flexibility to do their work wherever they happen to be and show them that you trust them to get the job done.

Establish solid teams. Create hard-working teams that are designed to nurture and highlight each person’s strengths, and clearly communicating that each team member plays an integral role in the overall success of the business as a whole. This places a level of importance on every employee and shows them that even though they are a part of a group, they are individually important to you.

Provide opportunities for choice. Even choices that seems insignificant, such as where to hold a business meeting or where to order lunch from, can have a strong positive impact on your employees. Wherever possible, offer as many choices as you can and gather opinion from your workforce. More importantly, honor their requests and suggestions fairly and thank them for their valuable feedback.

Want a loyal, stable team? Empower them by putting these simple tips into action for your business. You’ll be amazed by the results.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 9:59 AM

4 Video Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

With hundreds of millions of registered users logging on and viewing YouTube every single day, it’s no surprise that more and more businesses are tapping into this powerful resource as part of their online marketing strategy. But as with anything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle video marketing and if you’re doing it wrong, you may very well be wasting valuable time and resources. Here are 4 common video marketing mistakes and tips on how you can avoid them for your business.

Failing to See the Value of Video Marketing – First and foremost, the biggest mistake a business can make when it comes to video marketing is not using it at all, or treating it as an afterthought. Given the fact that the need for fancy equipment and editing work no longer exists, and the massive worldwide audience of video sites like YouTube, there is really no excuse to not participate in video marketing. 

Assuming Every Video Will Automatically Go Viral – Virality is the goal of any social campaign, but it’s something that rarely happens all on its own. The “if you build it, they will come” concept doesn’t apply with video, especially with some 72 hours of video footage being uploaded to YouTube every minute. If you want your videos to be seen, you have to do some legwork. Promote them on your other social media channels, add them to your website and include them in your email newsletters. The more you get the word out, the better results you’ll get.

Not Paying Attention to the Metrics that Really Matter – Many businesses that embark on a video marketing campaign make the mistake of focusing only on the number of views when they’re assessing their results. The more important thing to consider is the social aspect. It’s more important that you get people talking and sharing your video than simply viewing it. That’s why it’s so important to create dynamic content – because that’s what will ultimately get you the results you want.

Not Approaching it as a Long-Term Endeavor – Just producing one or two videos isn’t going to do anything for your business in terms of successful marketing. Just like any other type of marketing tool, video marketing should be approached as a long-term endeavor that you continuously develop and build upon. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it and it’s something that takes time and patience. 

Video marketing is no longer an option for businesses – it’s becoming a necessity. But if you don’t do your homework and approach it from the right direction, you could find yourself wasting valuable time and resources. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can incorporate video into your overall web marketing strategy to make it much more robust and successful.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 10:21 AM

Is Your Business Losing Money? Here are 4 Ways it Might Be

As a small business owner, you know that being successful is all about cutting costs and reducing overhead wherever possible. But sometimes business owners find themselves scratching their heads, trying to figure out where the money is going and why it seems to keep mysteriously slipping away. It’s not a mystery – in fact, there are several common ways that a business may be losing money without even realizing it. Here are 4 such ways, and how you can correct it if you’re one of the victims.

Office Rental and Equipment – If you currently rent office space, it may be time to take a step back and examine a couple of things. First, do you really need that space, is its size appropriate, or could you downsize, and would something like sharing an office with another business be a more affordable option for you? In terms of equipment, you should also be sure that what you have is only what you need, otherwise you are probably wasting money. Consider such cost-effective alternatives such as cloud computing and virtual phone systems (we happen to know someone who can help you with this one!). 

Insurance – Ever heard of the term “insurance poor”? It basically means that you’re spending way too much on a “what if”. Of course insurance is important, especially for a business, but it’s also important to conduct an audit from time to time to make sure you’ve got the right amount and type of coverage, and whether there’s a chance you could be saving money, either by combining multiple policies or switching providers. Just be sure to check any potential new insurance companies out to make sure they are financially sound before switching.

Marketing Activities – You need to market your business, but are you really sure the money you’re spending is getting the type of return it should? Marketing is a funny thing – what works for one business may be a disappointing failure for another, and there are so many different methods and techniques. That’s why it’s so important to consistently measure and analyze your results. This will help you to quickly learn what’s working and what isn’t so you can stay on top of your marketing spend.

Networking or Trade Events – It may seem like a great idea to attend these types of things to learn about your industry, how to become more successful and to network with other influential people. Before you do, however, make sure the costs associated make the outcome worthwhile. Often when you add up expenses such as registration fees, airfare, hotel stays and food, what you end up getting out of these events isn’t worth what you spent to attend them. 

If you’re going to make it in business, especially given today’s economy, you have to find ways to cut costs. More importantly, you have to make sure that the activities and investments you’re currently involved in are not costing you more money than they’re worth. These are just four such things to watch for. As long as you are diligent and ever-aware, you’ll be able to stay on top of your expenditure and manage it in a way that is always profitable.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 6:48 PM

Helpful Tips to Steer Clear of False Advertising

False advertising is more than just something that can lose you potential customers – it’s something that can actually land you and your business in hot water legally. But it’s so tempting to just tweak that ad copy to make your product or service seem that much better – to really catch your prospects’ eye and draw them in. Well, as tempting as it is, it’s definitely not worth it and you should take the appropriate precautions to ensure that all of your advertising is always on the up and up. Here’s how.

Always Keep a Good Inventory – If there’s a particular item you’re advertising, do your best to have enough on hand to accommodate customers as they come in to claim the offer. Otherwise, it may be perceived as a clever yet sneaky ploy just to draw people into your store. What’s worse, if you try to up-sell a customer when that product runs out, you’re toeing the line of the law. Instead, consider offering a raincheck – it’s a much better gesture of customer service.

Don’t Pull a “Bait and Switch” – This type of scheme involves advertising a certain product or service for a very attractive price, but not selling that same product or service when someone comes in to claim the offer. Blatant upselling makes this practice unlawful and could get you in a lot of trouble. A good way to determine if a business is involved in this type of advertising is when their sales representatives are actively discouraged from selling the advertised item, or would be compensated significantly more if they sell something more expensive.

Make Sure the Small Print Matches the Big – Posting an offer in big, bold letters but offering something totally different in teensy weensy print at the bottom right hand corner is also a big no-no. Reserve the small print for things like legitimate disclaimers or further explanation of exclusions. Otherwise you may end up with more trouble than you bargained for. 

Be Cautious with “Green” Claims – Over the past few decades, more and more businesses began shifting toward better practices to help reduce their carbon footprint, but be careful when using the terms “green” or “eco-friendly” in your advertising. The FTC has set forth specific guidelines in order to prevent the false claims or exaggerations of environmentally friendly business practices. Unless you specifically meet these guidelines, avoid using these terms in your advertising.

Stay Away from “Going Out of Business” Type Sales – Unless, of course, you are going out of business. Most states enforce a strict timeframe on liquidation sales (for instance, in Washington you can’t host a going out of business sale unless you will be closing or relocating within 14 days of the posted advertisement). Be sure that you understand and comply with the laws in your state to avoid hefty penalties.

Advertising for your business plays a critical role in your success, but there’s a fine line that you have to be careful not to cross when it comes to what might be considered false advertising. Before you draft up that print ad or put together a script for your on-air promotion, make sure you keep the things listed above in mind and do your due diligence to ensure that your claims are clear and accurate. Not only is it just better business practice overall, but it will also keep you from running into any costly legal snags along the way.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 8:22 AM