How to Turn Your Startup into a Business?

It’s one of the questions that keeps budding entrepreneurs awake at night. In fact, the same question, in one form or another, keeps most entrepreneurs and business owners awake at night. Some are navigating the challenges that come with growth, some the changes in the competitive landscape, and others the changes in the economic climate.
For a startup, the biggest and probably the most common challenge is uncovering a sustainable business model. A business model that removes the risk and uncertainty associated with a startup, replacing it with the stability and profitability of a business.
This week I had the opportunity to speak with Marta Cielecka, founder of MyCuddle, a startup in Milan, Italy. Marta is passionate about creating dolls that are eco-friendly and anallergic; safe for the environment and safe for children with allergies. Her passion radiates throughout her website, telling the story of how she brings each unique, handmade doll to life with love.
Marta has done an excellent job of transforming her idea into a startup. Now, her challenge is to take her startup to the next level, to transform it into a viable business.
During our latest call, I shared some of the observations I’ve made working with successful entrepreneurs; the tools they use and how these tools contribute to their success. Here are some of the tools I believe every startup will find invaluable:
Creating a Vision
I recently published a post entitled Expanding Your Business, in which I described how Zingerman’s owners, Ari and Paul, use a technique called visioning to create a vision of the future for their business.
In creating a vision, you clarify what your business looks and feels like at a point in the future – perhaps in 5 – 10 years. The process involves committing your vision to paper, sitting down for 40 minutes, writing from the heart, and creating a vision for something great.
Need help creating your vision, try this technique from Zingerman’s:
Step 1. Pick your topic (in this case your business).
Step 2. Pick your time frame.
Step 3. Put together a list of “Prouds” (3-5 things you are particularly proud of, that are guaranteed to put you in a positive frame of mind).
Step 4. Write the first draft of the vision:
– Go for something great
– Write it from the heart
– Go quickly
– Use the “Hot Pen” technique
– Get Personal
Step 5. Review and redraft.
Step 6. More drafts.
Step 7. Get input from ACES.
Your vision will help keep your business true to your passion and values. Its purpose is to steer you clear of opportunities, relationships, and decisions that may erode your brand or dilute your core values.
Create a plan
Having a vision and carrying it around in your back pocket is one thing, but it’s not going to help you achieve your goals. To achieve your goals, you must translate your vision into an actionable plan. A plan that will take you, step-by-step, toward your goals.
This isn’t a 20 page strategy document that you put together and never look at again, it’s a 2 page actionable plan, that you stick on the wall above your desk and that keeps you focused on the tasks you must achieve to give your startup the traction it needs in order to become a viable business.
The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is a set of 20 tools that help entrepreneurs follow through on their plan. It captures your core values, your marketing strategy, your core focus, and milestones for the year ahead.
Business Development
As a startup, defining your target market is essential. Segment your market, select a beachhead market (the market you will enter first), create buyer personas, identify first customers, and map the process of acquiring the first customer.
One of the challenges that every startup faces is a limit of resources. Luckily, we live in era where tools like the internet and social media make customer research, customer engagement, and brand development infinitely easier and less expensive than startups faced a decade ago. If you have a tight marketing budget, use digital channels to tell your story and promote your brand.
If your beachhead market is local, look for opportunities to display your brand at exhibitions, at markets, at industry events. Identify online and offline groups that potential resellers or customers might be involved in. Try contributing to groups or attending events.
Your objective is to build a tribe; to keep telling your story to people that are inspired by it and who will become evangelists.
“It’s easy to have an idea for a business, the hard part is figuring out where to start once you have one. This book finally gives a Step #1. Whether you are new or practiced entrepreneur, this book brings clarity to the questions to ask and the steps to take.” – Christina Chase
A Final Word – Accountability
The difference between a successful entrepreneur and a less than successful entrepreneur comes down to getting the job done. Days and hours can be poured into planning and strategy development sessions, time that is simply wasted unless you actually execute your plan.
When you are getting started, it helps to have a person that will hold you to account, an accountability partner. This is a person who is objective, a person who isn’t scared to call you out, a person that takes helping you seriously. Once you’ve found the right partner, work on establishing an accountability schedule – daily, weekly, or monthly, at minimum monthly.
A check-in might take the form of an email, a phone call, or a video call. It doesn’t have to be long. The objective of the call is to have you feel accountable for getting through a set of goals you need to achieve to move your business forward. Knowing that you have to account for your progress should should keep you on your toes.

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My Outrageously Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Blog Post

“I’m building a snowball the size of continents. The catch: it sometimes moves at a glacial pace.”
This quote from Tim Ferriss, who has to be one of the most influential people I’ve read, really hit home with me and how I go about preparing for writing content.
His point is that he isn’t interested in collecting a bunch of one-and-done users. He wants a readership that sticks around and absorbs his content, who trust and value his opinion and will continue to do so.
He’s rolling snow balls, not sifting through sand. He’s setting up his content so that the people who latch onto to his product are here to stay. While that tribe may build slowly, once it does there are few things capable of stopping a ‘glacier’.
Key Elements of Writing a Blog Post
In this post I want to go over some of the key elements of writing a blog post. There’s no simple solution to pumping out great content on a consistent basis, but I’ll share some frameworks which should help.
Quality takes time and practice (not to mention quite a bit of patience), but with the right first steps, I believe people can create content which not only promotes their brand, but builds a lasting and trusting readership.
In this post I’ll be going over my techniques and strategies for:
Blog Research
How to Know Which Topics are Popular
How to Research Topics
How to Write a Post Framework
How to Submit the Framework for Approval
How to Give Feedback

Writing Blog Posts
Content Outline
Paragraph Structure
Bulleted Lists (like this one!)
Call to Action

Other Blog Post Considerations

Blog Research
Pulling Ideas Out of a Hat… Hopefully Only an Idiom for Content Writers.
The first step towards creating content people want to read is finding out what they are looking for.
Contrary to popular belief, successful bloggers and marketing experts don’t pull ideas out of a hat (wouldn’t that make it easier?).
People look to content for answers.
Success in content creation comes from knowing your audience and answering questions they are asking, perhaps even before they know who you are.
Research isn’t always as glamorous as writing a killer post or making a stellar landing page, but it is just as important. Proper research will make your content relevant and desirable, after which you can make the content worth reading.
How to Know Which Topics are Popular
So how do you go about finding what people are looking for? The key is to look where your audience is and observe what they are saying. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
Develop Your Buyer Persona
Who is your audience? What do they do? What are their interests? Their lifestyles?
You want to be specific with this. It isn’t beneficial to say “male, middle-aged.” You need to delve into who these people are and what they think – and how they feel. This is where creating a buyer persona comes in.
There are plenty of great resources for identifying who your buyer is, just check out co-founder, Trent Dyrsmid’s video on building a quality template below.

Top Shared Posts On Popular Blogs
Find popular blogs that serve your audience, and see what the authors are writing about. Find out which posts are popular and where people are sharing them in large numbers. These people will be your Influencers and they will important throughout the process.
Influencers draw a large audience and command the attention of that audience. If an Influencer has an audience who may be potential leads for your content or product, learn about these people and what they are saying.
I write for marketing agencies and business professionals looking to produce quality content. My Influencer list includes Copyblogger Founder and CEO Brian Clark, Leadership Guru Michael Hyatt and top online marketer and multi-company founder Neil Patel. These are the big guns, game-changers in their fields. Find the heavy-weights and watch what they do. Chances are you’ll learn a thing or two.
Once you find your Influencers, take a look at their most shared posts. Don’t just read the posts themselves – check out the comments section and shares. Find the people who are talking about the post. See what they’re saying and what questions they’re asking.
Gather a list of ideas from multiple followers and generate a few ideas for post topics. You can even just write down the questions and answer those questions in your posts.
Keyword Research
Once you have an idea of what questions your audience is asking, start forming some search terms they might be using.
For instance, if you are selling ad space and are looking for people who need online promotions, try starting with “best online ad buyers.” Look at the other terms related to that search.
Keyword Analysis From SECockpit
You want to focus on words with high searches and low competition. Some of the top searches may yield more traffic, but the competition is normally higher and harder to rank for.
The analysis above is from SECockpit, my favorite keyword search tool (I go into more detail about SECockpit – and why I like it so much better than anything else I’ve tried – in this post). There are other decent free options for keyword research as well, including Google Keyword Planner and WordStream’s Keyword Tool.
Try using longer terms in your search as well. These are called Long-Tail keywords and are more specific and easier to rank for. Instead of “shoes” you can try “discount women’s summer shoes”. Longer keywords can mean the difference between being on page 3 and being on page 1.
How to Research a Topic
Let’s go back to the Influencers we talked about earlier.
In the same way you used your Influencers to get ideas on what topics to write about, you can utilize their knowledge when researching the topic itself. Look at their previous posts and find relevant content. Chances are these people have addressed similar ideas before.
Specify the points you want to make by going back to the comments sections. A great post idea is simply taking a question from the comments and answering it in detail.
Be sure and answer a few of the comments that have gone unresponded to. If you have a point to make, give those questioning the information they’re looking for – they’ll begin to identify you as a resource for the future. This allows you to help the Influencer’s page as well as your own.
When including facts and ideas, link to everything. Not only will this give you more credibility, but it is a way to get backlinks to higher traffic blogs, which is a win for everyone.
What Kind of Framework Should I Use?
The first thing I do after picking a topic is to look at the idea and ask “why should I care?” Put yourself in the reader’s shoes: would they care about the rest of the article based on the material?
My Infamous Sticky Note

To keep myself on point, I actually have a sticky note plastered to my monitor to remind me what I need a post to do.
Using a quality framework, I can begin writing in a way that makes sense. You don’t have to use my exact framework or phrases, but you likely will want to include most of these concepts:
What is it I’m talking about?
Why is it important?
How should the reader get started?
What are common mistakes people run into?
What are the key take-aways from this post?
List of Resources
Use this guideline or create your own, just make sure you have a goal before you begin.
After a topic has been researched and links provided, write up an outline with brief talking points to include in the post. The format is usually:
Heading>Sub Heading(s)>Resources and Ideas.
Here’s an example:
Research>How To Find Popular Topics>Keyword Analysis, Influencer Posts, etc.
As you develop the framework, you’ll break the article up into sections. Each section will have questions, and each question will have solutions. The examples are short but descriptive. The framework should be straight-forward and give a clear picture of what material will be in the post.
How To Submit A Framework For Approval
When you have multiple writers submitting content, you’ll want to be sure their general outlines are reviewed before they spend a lot of time creating detailed content. I suggest an initial review of the framework.
Even if you are the only one writing content, it can be a good idea to get another pair of eyes on it when possible. If the structure makes sense to an outside reader, it will make sense to an audience.
Next, the framework is reviewed and adjustments are made depending on feedback.
How to Give Feedback
The ability to give good feedback not only makes the person receiving it less offended, but can resolve issues and let work get done faster and more efficiently. This can help yourself as much as it can help the person receiving the feedback.
This article from Forbes lists 5 steps to take when giving quality feedback:
Ask For Permission – Just asking the person ahead of time allows them to be mentally prepared and open, rather than startled and defensive.
Tell Them Exactly What You Saw – Give them your full viewpoint and why you felt that way. This allows them to understand your concerns better while addressing the specific areas you felt needed to be discussed.
Tell Them The Impact – Explain what happened as a result of their actions, be specific. Try using your observations like “I noticed” and “I felt that”. It lessens the chance for an open debate and gets the point across.
Let Them Make Comments – Stop. Let the explanation sink in and and give them a chance to understand the information. You had time to formulate your responses, they should be given ample time as well.
Give Specific Next Steps – After you notice an area of concern, it helps the recipient if you give them about one or two specific next steps to take to improve. No one likes to be told it isn’t working and then given no ways to fix the problem.
Writing a Blog Post

The Importance of Great Blog Post Titles
How important are titles? Imagine a great post with tons of great content, but no one compelled to read it. Well, without a good title you have no click-thru, which means no readers and no exposure. You might as well be writing in your journal, because a lousy title means no eyeballs on your post and no new business generated from it.
Got your attention yet? Titles creates interest. Reading the subtitle above makes you think “how does this save my business?”, which may have compelled you to read further.
So how do you write good titles? Here are some ideas that will help.
The Opening
Before we get into writing a title, I want to point out another crucial step in writing a blog post that will get reader’s attention.
Did you see how this section was opened? It made you interested and gave you encouragement to read further right? This is one technique to writing an opening and getting people to read your work.
Tim Soulo, writing as a guest blogger on ProBlogger, shares ideas on an how to begin your blog post. He explains using the well known formula AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.
Attention – The first line in the section gets your attention. It asks a question to which you want an answer.
Interest – The next line explains why it is so important and why it can affect you.
Desire – After reading the first two lines you have a desire to write good titles. You know what it can do if they aren’t written well and you are looking for a way to make it better.
Action – The final line is me telling the reader to continue reading if they want solutions. This is the action I want them to take and the reason they will continue to read the post.
Title Ideas
All right, after all that I should keep to my word and give you some advice on writing titles. Here are four techniques I want to share with you:
1. Create a Working Title
Get something in place and keep it as a placeholder. Titles don’t always come to people instantly. Sometimes I even like to write my title last, after all the content is delivered and I have time to let my subconscious work on it. A placeholder as simple as “How To Write a Blog Post” is one way to keep your focus and gives you something to come back to.
Speaking of focus…
2. Keep The Title Focused
The content should not surprise the reader after they see the title. While it’s great to make a catchy title, if it doesn’t make sense with the content the reader will be turned off. Remember to always come back to the content.
3. Make it Flashy
This probably comes as no surprise. You want it to stand out and get people’s attention. Don’t be afraid to step-outside-the-box a little with your ideas. Here are some starting points to consider:
Alliteration, Amazingly, Attracts Awesome Attention – Even if it’s just a few words, “Content Creation”, it is eye-catching and can be subtly enjoyed.
A Good Pun is its Own Reword – Corny? Absolutely. Gets your attention? Of course it does. Don’t be afraid of throwing in a little humor, especially if that’s part of your style or brand.
Use Strong Language Damnit – Use need instead of want. Hate instead of dislike. Keep it interesting – but be careful not to use overly strong words every time, as it tends to get repetitive.
Value Proposition – Make it obvious what the reader will get from your post. Give them a strong reason to commit.
4. Keep it Short
Readers should be able to get the idea in as few words as possible. Make sure your title is as short as possible, while also long enough to give all the necessary description.
Want more title ideas? Check out these from Corey Eridon over at Hubspot.
Opening Ideas
Earlier I talked about how the AIDA format does well for an opening. AIDA as your standard opening is a great starting point. For some more tips on opening formats, Brian Clark of CopyBlogger has 5 ideas to get you going:
Ask a Question
Share a Story or Quote
Draw a Picture (with your words)
Use Creative Writing (Metaphors, Similes, or Analogies)
Use an Interesting Statistic
Typically it works to write a single sentence and get the reader thinking, followed with a short paragraph for context, and then into the main content. The point of the first line is to get them to read the second, the second prompts them to read the third, and so on.
All About Blog Post Images
Images are to blog posts what icing is to cake. In fact, images are the coconut-pecan frosting of German-Chocolate cakes, essential to the character. Use images to give readers a unique experience reading your blog.
Images look good when someone is scanning a post, and remember – you’re writing for scanners. Like headlines, images break up the content and give readers focal points to help hold their attention. So, what size to make your images? Here’s a great post from Dan Norris at WP Curve on image sizes.
Full-Sized Images
Since we’re on topic
These images highlight the main points in your article. You should have one at the beginning of the post (we refer to these as the ‘top image’) and a few in the article if need be. They should be the full width of the blog writing space.
People are naturally drawn to images and they will be a key component in retaining readers throughout the post. These will the most viewed portions of your article. We use images that are 580 wide.
Can’t Stop Now
Side Images
Normally 250 x 250 (size is more flexible)
These images should be used throughout the post and should highlight points made in the content. Use them to explain specific points or actions.
Avoid using cheap or generic looking images. They are easy to spot and make you seem lazy.
One great way to generate original images is to take screen shots and place them in the post. These are all unique and really illustrate your point.
Where are Images Placed?
As a general rule, don’t use left-aligned images. English speakers read left-to-right and when an image is placed first it disrupts the reading process. It also looks terrible next to lists. Just avoid it.
As for full-sized images, you can use them at main headlines to separate content. This is a good way for users to see how the content is structured and gives them a sort of “resting point” to prepare them for a new line of thinking. They can also be good for pointing out an important piece of information.
How to Write a Post Outline
Before I go about filling my posts with information, I like to make outlines of the material I want to cover and the questions I want to answer. Using this with the framework I made earlier, I can create content which is specific, because I know where I am going with my ideas.
Here are a couple great post outline guides to help you get started.

I have shared the above diagram from Social Triggers before, but it really is a great representation of how a blog should look and engage the audience.
Here is another great post from ProBlogger Founder and Editor Darren Rowes. His basic rules are:
Titles are important
Short, punchy paragraphs
Use images frequently
Break up posts with Headings and Sub Headings
Lists are reader friendly
Format important sections to stand out
Use a Call to Action (which we will go over later)
Nearly all of these “rules” follow the same idea: the reader will scan.
It’s just the way we read things on the internet. We gloss over the material and take in the information we need. When you provide your content in a format which allows readers to scan, you get better responses from your readership.
How Many Headings Should I Use? What Typeface?
This kind of depends on the content you are writing. Are you creating a list of “5 Best Resources for Online Marketing”? Obviously five headlines would make sense in this case. No matter how many headlines you use, you want to break up the content into relevant and independent points.
The number of headings generally depends on the length of the blog post. Make the headings break up natural talking points, like chapters in a book. Unlike book chapters, make the sections between headings relatively brief.
The typeface (font) depends a lot on the type of content you’re writing.
Typically, the body should be legible and straight-forward, as people get tired of reading embellished script for long periods of time. Consider using something more flashy for the headlines, depending on the message you want to send with your content.
Ginny Soskey at HubSpot Blog has created a nice list of possible typefaces that help make your content pop.
Sentences per Paragraph
Two to Three
Remember, your audience is scanning your content. Paragraphs should normally sit around 2-3 lines, and no more than 3-4.
Look for natural breaks in the sentences and if necessary, break up longer paragraphs. You won’t lost points (or readers) for too many short paragraphs, but you will for too many long ones.
Number of Words in the Post
This is a little tricky for blog writers, and there seem to be as many experts who prefer short posts as those who prefer longer posts.
On the one hand, most readers like to consume information quickly, and many of the third party posts I’ve cited earlier are short and sweet.
These contain great content and are written for quick access to information. They work well for their intended purpose.
For an argument on the side of longer posts, look no further than master blogger Neil Patel. Curious about how his front page would convert if shortened, he ran an A/B Test with his original 1700 word page, compared to a new 500 word page. Turned out, his original page converted 7.6% better and with better quality leads.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but other studies show similar results.
Average Word Count For Top Keywords
The graph on the right from serpIQ shows an analysis run on the top 20,000 keywords.
The graph tells us that the average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words.
At first you might think this is because Google values higher word-count content in its searches, but the fact is, people tend to like longer content – SEOmoz found a positive correlation between the length of the post, and the amount of links to that post.
So what does this mean?
Truth is there is no “best” way to do it. Find out what your audience likes and write for them.
While shorter content tends to be easy to read and easy to digest, longer content tends to link better and rank higher in searches. It is probably a safe bet to stay in the ~2500 word range for your posts.
If that seems like a lot, write a long post every 2 weeks or so while submitting shorter ones once or twice a week. Make sure the content is consistent and high quality and you should see positive results from both worlds.
How Many Influencers Should I Mention?
That Megaphone Comes In Handy When It Talks About You
You want your content to be read, and you know Influencers can help get the word out.
This is one of the best ways to promote your content and make solid business connections. However, you don’t want to milk your resources dry.
We normally mention one or two influencers in our posts.
Longer posts (such as this one) tend to have more, but it shouldn’t feel excessive and should give the Influencers you do mention some really good praise – if you have 15 people you link to in bullet point form at the end of your post, chances are you won’t turn a lot of heads.
Keep the sources credible, relevant, and highlighted. Give your Influencers a good shout-out next to your links, and chances are some of them may help promote your post.
For ideas on how to get started on an Influencer strategy, read this post by Joe Pulizzi. Joe gives great ideas on how to get noticed with Influencers, and steps to take to stay on their radar.
What’s With Bulleted Lists?
With the amount of information people consume on the internet each day, they need a way to organize the data. They will look for ways to quickly absorb the most important information.
Bullet points are a great way for people to scan and access information. They act as sort of mini-headlines, focusing on relevant information and giving the reader an idea of what they are about to read.
Numbered lists and bullet points are great ways to compartmentalize information for readers and highlight key points of interest. Here is a great post on CopyBlogger on why bullet points are important and how to use them effectively.
Why Use Quotes?
Quotes can be one of the greatest forms of flattery on the internet.
Quoting others (Influencers!) will help gain their appreciation, and if they are an authority in their field, their quotes tend to have a much greater impact on your readers.
You can also quote yourself, especially if you have (or would like to) establish yourself as an authority. Either way, use quotes to highlight important points.
What Kind of Links Should I Include in My Content?
When it comes to linking to other sites on the internet, there are a few personal rules I like to follow:
Is it relevant?
Is this the original source? Is it a reliable source?
Is the information I’m citing easy to find from my link?
Am I using information from an Influencer? (if possible)
Don’t just use links for the sake of seeming credible, make sure the information is relevant and makes sense with the content. When citing statistics, go to the original source of the information instead of linking to other articles that cite the stats.
Obviously, you’ll want to link to a post versus the main page of a blog. If you’re referencing something that is tucked away halfway through an article, consider whether it’s really a necessary link.
And lastly, use those Influencers. Link to their sites to help them get more backlinks and get more page authority. It’s possible they’ll return the kind favor with a link or shout-out.
Always Use a Call To Action
Every. Single. Post.
What good is spending the time to develop useful content to drive traffic if you don’t do anything with that traffic? You got the attention of your audience and kept them engaged so they continued reading, now they want to know the next step. That’s what a good call to action (CTA) does, it gives a definitive next step.
Make the language actionable and the prompt timely. People should feel compelled to do it now. Give people a value proposition as well, to let the reader know your product or service can solve their needs.
If you need some more ideas on writing convincing CTAs, take a look at Ginny Soskey’s CTA Checklist on HubSpot’s blog; it’s quite comprehensive and will be helpful.
Other Considerations

What About SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is the practice of constructing your content to become more visible to search engines on the web, and therefore to your audience.I’m not going to get into too much detail in this post, but SEO should be considered an important part of your online strategy.
Use this for keyword optimization (WPSEO)
I use WordPress SEO from Yoast to optimize my title and meta description. This, along with the initial keyword research, gives me a pretty good idea of how likely my keyword is to compete against similar sites against organic (search engine) traffic. SEO is an important consideration if you want your content to be seen.
How To Get More Comments
Nothing is better confirmation for me than seeing someone take the time to comment on my posts. It’s reaffirming.
Comments also serve to validate my content; they’re one way others can tell that the content is worth the read. There’s strength in numbers.
Here are some things I use to encourage people to comment on my content:
Pre-Publish For Linked Sources
When I include Influencers or previous guests in my posts, I like to give them an early sneak-peek into what I’m writing. This gives them a chance to review the work as well as a chance to comment on things they like or think should be changed.
Great! Not only do I get feedback but I get an initial round of comments from some of the industry leaders. They may link to their own sites in their comments, which gives them recognition from those who end up reading the article. A win-win.
Comment Contests
On some blogs we have managed in the past we ran contests at the bottom of each post where we gave away a copy of a paid information product for the best comments. I like to encourage engagement, and a great way to do that is to incentivize the process.
You can offer similar offerings, discounts, or at a minimum, a response to each comment.
Just Ask
It seems so obvious, but you’d be surprised the number of sites who seem to skip this step. If you talk with your audience and simply ask them to contribute, you’ll get a much better response than if you don’t interact with them.
What have you found to be beneficial in your writing process? What strategies do you use? I look forward to your comments.

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Matt Damon interrupts only black person in the room, Effie Brown, to lecture on diversity

During the season 4 premiere of HBO’s Project Greenlight, the production team gathered round the camera to have a group debate on which lucky contestant(s) would get to film this year’s project: a comedy entitled Not Another Pretty Woman. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, and Jennifer Todd were present with producer Effie Brown, […]

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Casino’s Set Odds On Presidential Race For Both Parties

Do you think Donald Trump will be nominated to run for President of the United States by the Republican party? Casino’s in Las Vegas have begun to set odds for each candidate in the current primaries.
On the Republican roster Donald Trump moved from a 25:1 shot on August 5, to a 7:1 winner as of August 25. Trailing Behind Trump is Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 3.75:1, down from 3.5:1, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Senator Marco Rubio who both fell to 14:1 odds, down from 10:1 and 12:1 respectively.
Other Republican candidates include John Kasich who rocketed from 40:1 to 25:1 odds, and Ted Cruz and retired Detroit neurosurgeon Ben Carson who are now tied at 33:1 after rising from 40:1 and 45:1 respectively. Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina are tied at 50:1.
Rand Paul has plummeted to 100:1 from a recent 25:1 rating. While Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Senator Rick Santorum are at 150:1, and Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas has fallen even lower.
For the Democrats former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is basically even money on all books. Clinton did slip from 11/10 to 10/11. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders dropped a bit from 12:1 to 14:1. Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to announce his presidential run fell move from 20:1 to 18:1.
The next cloesst Democrat is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has repeatedly said she is not running in 2016, at 66:1.
With a long season of campaign still ahead of us these numbers will surely change in the coming weeks and months ahead.

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How Singularity Kills Customer Experience Management

Culturally we are conditioned to look for a SINGLE reason, element or root cause to solve any problem. Remember Curly’s “One Thing” in the City Slickers movie? Well, this concept of singularity does not work in customer experience management by definition because of the complexity of customers perceptions’ “management”. Yes, how do you manage someone else’s perceptions? I have addressed this question before, but the answers did not offer a single step path to CX heaven. The answers call for a review of the existing business processes and practices, and that costs money. Money to pay for analysis and improvement of these processes, money to pay for technology to automate these improvements, money for change and adoption management, etc. These is the money that would surely increase quarterly earnings per share and management bonuses, but instead will possibly increase “what and when”?
US Nobel-laureate economist Herbert Simon, in his 1982 book “Models Of Bounded Rationality” introduced the term satisficing:
“Examining alternatives until a practical (most obvious, attainable, and reasonable) solution with adequate level of acceptability is found, and stopping the search there instead of looking for the best-possible (optimum) solution.”
Satisficing is a valuable survival skill for decision making practitioners, who deal with endless uncertainties, but a liability for strategy/vision developers who are suppose to navigate the course to the best future destinations. That explains why visionary leaders have a better grasp of customer experience concepts than functional managers and corporate executives, who came from their ranks.
Until the advent of Customer Experience rising to prominence, corporate management was very busy minimizing the cost of everything associated with customer support and services, which is a part of the domain. For years they enjoyed the blissful illusion that the technology investments, they have made, allowed them to increase profitability without reduction in customer satisfaction. Is it really that surprising the same technology vendors re-name their products to pitch “new” solutions to the same buyers? The pitch may have changed, but the singular focus on cost reduction did not. And that will turn CEM into another fad like it did turn CRM into more efficient, i.e. inexpensive way to provide sales management reporting and low cost customer support infrastructure.
We preach that long-term growth cannot continue without an adequate improvement of customer experience, but a short-term reality check shows our managers that customers, both consumers and business, are still focused on the price more than the experience. There is strong evidence of trends that make our case more persuasive, but we need to spend less time on playing with “tools” and work more on re-framing the concept of customer experience management as an engine of growth, before it becomes a domain of corporate IT.

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What You Need to Learn About Influencer Marketing From Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian has lessons for your brand’s influencer relationships
Though she’s no longer the most followed person on Instagram, it’s safe to say that Kim Kardashian is pretty influential. Recently however, that influence and a particular post she made has brought some unwanted pressure onto the reality star. You won’t typically find celebrity news on this blog but the post that was shared and the reactions to it has a resounding impact on your brand’s relationship with influencers and social media marketing.
We’ll discuss the overall impact and the lessons your brand can learn from this. But first, let’s recap what happened. Kim Kardashian posted about morning-sickness pill, Diclegis, on Instagram in a glowing endorsement. The issues with this post were that she didn’t state the risks along with the benefits of the drug, as required by the FDA, and Kardashian didn’t make it clear what her relationship with Duchesnay (the maker of Diclegis) was. Which, as we’ve written before, is something that the FTC is heavily prioritizing when it comes to Instagram influencers. The complaints from both the FDA and the FTC are good examples of the importance of knowing the rules of surrounding influencer marketing on Instagram before you launch your next campaign.
Issues from the FDA
The FDA has stated that both the benefits and the risks need to be clearly presented together in any ad in order to fully inform consumers. The FDA clearly acknowledges Instagram as an advertising channel with the enforcement of those rules on her post. And since it reached over 45 million Instagrammers, they certainly took this post seriously. The photo resulted in Kim & Duchesnay, Inc. receiving a formal warning letter from the FDA stating the issues and asking her to remove or revise the post in order to be compliant. In this case, the FDA’s issues were mostly focused on the brand but the same wasn’t true for the FTC.
Issues from the FTC
The FTC’s issue revolved around the misrepresentation of Kardashian’s relationship with Duchesnay, Inc. She stated that she was “excited and happy to partner” with the brand but the FTC didn’t view this as a clear enough statement of whether or not this post was for hire. Though the FTC hasn’t gone after individual influencer yet, some people like advertising attorney, Linda Goldstein, thought there was a chance she could be pursued for the violation if she didn’t revise the post.
Both of these issues show the legitimacy of Instagram as a promotional channel and the seriousness that is being placed on following the proper rules in all campaigns. There are lessons to be learned to make sure that when you run an influencer campaign on Instagram you know that you’re in the clear and following all of the right rules for a safe and effective campaign.
Lessons to be learned
Have influencers post according to FTC guidelines
We’ve covered these guidelines before. As evidenced by Kim Kardashian, these are important to understand in order to be confident that your influencers are constantly following them.
Don’t misrepresent the product
One of the biggest issues with Kim Kardashian’s post was that the FDA felt she misrepresented the product. This is especially important when dealing with food and drug products but applies to any form of social media promotion. Always be clear in the description of the product and don’t misrepresent any claims that your influencers make. This is where the influencer guidelines are important to make sure that your influencers are up to speed with the product. Authenticity is key. If they are familiar with the product, know and love it then they’ll be able to properly represent it. You want to spell out what the influencers should be posting because after all, this is an ad and should be treated with the same responsibility as any other form of advertising.
Disclose the relationship
Kim Kardashian certainly isn’t unfamiliar with social media promotions, having spoken at Cannes this year about the very subject. But in that very speech, she claimed that she avoids all promotions on her Instagram leaving the channel for personal posts. So, if Kim Kardashian says that her Instagram is just for own personal work and not paid promotions, what do we make of that post and how does it effect your brand’s work? The issue comes down to whether or not the photo was paid for and the need for Kim to clearly disclose that. Lord and Taylor earlier this year showed the importance of this. If you’re going to be posting ads on any social media, especially Instagram, that needs to be clearly disclosed. In Kardashian’s case, if she’s posting about products on Instagram, she needs to make it clear when those are ads and when they aren’t.
Don’t be afraid to correct mistakes
One lesson that shouldn’t be overlooked is that when you make a mistake with your promotion you need to be prepared to correct it. In this case, Kim and Duchesnay, edited the post and revised it with the proper language about her relationship and both the benefits and side affects of the drug. When you follow the FTC guidelines and you educate your influencers on how to properly post about your brand in a safe and effective way, then you’ll be in the clear. But be on the alert of potential slip-ups and be prepared to revise them to not bring on any unwanted pressure.

Kim Kardashian is one of the top social media influencers and there is a lot that she can teach your business about how to build a brand on social media and how to work with influencers. Take these lessons and apply them to your next Instagram campaign so that you can be on the right side of the FTC’s rules.

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Mobile is the Purple Squirrel Magnet

We’ve all read best practices about attracting top talent; there are about 4,987 blog posts dedicated to finding these coveted few. A recent Jobvite study has highlighted one major element of attraction in their “Job Seeker Nation: Mobility in the Workforce Study”.
High mobility workers are defined as the portion of the labor market that has the opportunity and experience to switch jobs more frequently. They are considered the in-demand workers who have advancement opportunities within the labor market. Simply put, these are the folks you probably want working for you. Not to be confused with job-hoppers.
What does the high mobility worker look like?
They make up a surprisingly small portion of the workforce. Here’s the math: 36% of job seekers have a college or post-graduate degree. Of those job seekers, 80% are full-time employed. To get more detailed, the in-demand fields of these highly mobile job seekers are technology, manufacturing, and retail. Again, the people you’re trying to attract.
The magnet part…
Back to how “mobile is the purple squirrel magnet”. This highly mobile sector of the workforce has been proven to prefer the emerging, non-traditional methods in their job searches. In fact, twice as many of them used recruiters or social networks to find their current job. Their social site of choice is LinkedIn, while the majority of low-mobility workers (those in career fields with less advancement opportunities), turn to Facebook for their SoMe job hunt. While 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to scout out candidates, only 34% of job seekers are – but it looks like it’s the right 36%.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of highly mobile job seekers find the ability to apply for jobs on mobile important, and 21% find an optimized, mobile website to be important during the job search. For some, these might seem like “no-duh” statistics, but a recent LinkedIn study revealed that only 13% of employers are adequately investing in mobile recruiting.
What are they looking for?
Well we know that LinkedIn is their job search social media platform of choice, so who better to look to for the answer?! The same LI study defines exactly what job candidates are looking for when they reach your mobile career site.
94% of candidates want to see current job openings on the mobile career site.
72% of visitors to a mobile career site expect to find a description of the company culture.
61% of candidates want to learn about the company history.
56% of mobile job seekers expect to find benefits information.
45% want to explore profiles of employees.
Aren’t they taken?
Social job seekers are wealthier, more highly educated and more likely to be employed full-time. So in all reality, these sought after, highly mobile workers are spoken for job-wise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t willing to consider other opportunities. In fact, the Jobvite Jobseeker National Study revealed that 51% of employed workers are either actively seeking, or open to a new job. For highly mobile jobseekers that number is even higher at 56% and 31% of them change jobs every 1-5 years.
I know that recruiters have preached enough about getting their efforts mobile, but the fact still remains that a mere 13% of employers are adequately investing in mobile recruiting. Yeah, I used that one again, because it’s pretty surprising. As the battle for top talent heats up, employers are going to lose out big on the opportunity to effortlessly get in front of the right audience with mobile career sites and mobile job application platforms. How does your mobile strategy look?

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Co-Marketing Is The Best Online Marketing Tool You Never Knew About Until Now

One of the best-kept secrets for gaining valuable new audiences is Co-Marketing. Co-Marketing lets you share and obtain content that will stand out amongst the competition while expanding your businesses reach.
Now that you’re thinking about Co-Marketing it is time to understand how you’ve been part of this complex machine all along.
Co-Marketing has existed for so long that it has silently integrated itself into mainstream marketing without reaching its full potential or gaining the attention it deserves. Co-Marketing is the open door for two brands to collaborate on promotional endeavors with co-branded offerings that include content and experience sharing. In Co-Marketing partnerships, both organizations expand their audience by sharing content and advertising between their respective audiences.
When it comes to Co-Marketing, you should probably know a few things…
It’s Not Too Good To Be True, But It Is Too Good To Ignore.
Your time is valuable, and when you’re stretched thin, all the work you produce echoes that fatigue. Knowing that Co-Marketing can give you access to an expanded audience for your business isn’t enough. You need to go and share your content sooner rather than later.
Educate and advertise for your company to like-minded consumers that are more likely to buy your service or product? Who passes up an opportunity like that?
As you start to integrate Co-Marketing into your marketing arsenal, your mind is awake and rejuvenated, thus allowing you to focus more clearly on your goals. One of the great things about this Co-Marketing team is that as you start to share new content received by your partner, your partner is also sharing your content and exposing their audience to your busines.
Two Audiences Are Better Than One
Through Co-Marketing, you’re ready to receive a fresh new crowd, and one you might not have possessed the capacity to associate and connect with otherwise. Consider every one of the advantages two organizations boasting your content and growing your readership offers.
So, how are those benefits measured and put to use?
With Co-Marketing, the turnaround time for results is simple when starting with the necessary tools. Enter the relationship with:
Concrete and reasonable objectives
Mutually valuable content marketing plans
Sharp eye for discovering the right company alliances
Meeting these criteria will allow you to form the right partnerships, align the right co-strategy, and help predict how each business can use Co-Marketing to scale. The aftereffects of this partnership are often measurable not only in page views but ROI as well.
If You Scale Mine, I’ll Scale Yours
How is a Co-Marketing tool in any way measurable?
For starters, a lot of Co-Marketing facilitation sites offer Google Analytics integration as well as different types of accountability metrics you can use to track your results.
Out of these metrics, you can start to construct a formula that works best for you and your partner. Once you’ve begun to build this algorithm it will be easier to:
More accurately predict the type of outcome a particular campaign might yield for both parties
Immediately identify less desirable trends that may not have been apparent before the campaign
Use the analytics to measure accurately which markets produce the most value and construct campaigns around those metrics
Now that you’re ready to begin Co-Marketing…
Remember, success rears its head in many different ways. Before you start any new marketing endeavor, Co-Marketing or other, make sure you set clear objectives and validate the goals within your campaign. Co-Marketing can present its value in the form of a new lead, a sale, a procured user, or a converted customer.
Now go out and find someone who wants to join forces, conquer objectives, and take over the world with the solution that was hiding in plain sight the whole time. Co-Marketing!

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The Write Response: Email Marketing Cheat Sheet

Using email as a customer service platform is becoming more and more common across all industries. While it may seem like an impersonal line of communication, it is one that many prefer. Especially since it is a quick and easy avenue for most customers to access.
No matter the size of your business, email marketing is an important element to consider. Email is a crucial tool in the customer experience. Not only can you use it for marketing purposes, but it’s an easy line of contact with your clients and a popular avenue to handle customer service.
Handling customer service issues through email allows you to gather the needed information and craft a clear message to send to a client. It also provides you the upper hand over your competition.
The top three things to consider when formatting your email strategy are:
Response time: 41% of customers expect an email response within six hours. Only 36% of companies respond that quickly.
Accuracy: Restate the problem or question to show that you understand. This lets clients know they’re in good hands. Provide realistic expectations and after the issue is resolved, be sure to follow-up.
Tone: You’re not a robot so don’t write like one! Concentrate on being conversational, clear and informative. Always have someone else edit your emails to make sure you’re coming off in a personable tone.
Mastering the perfect email strategy can tricky for some. This email writing checklist will help make it a bit easier:
Click here to get this Email Writing Checklist.
How do you ensure your customer service stays ahead of your competitors?
This article was originally posted here.

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On-Site Factors That Matter In 2015

Photo Credit: Search Influence (cc)
The world of SEO is forever changing.
Google, Bing, Yandex— every year, they all add new features and functionalities to their indexing algorithms and their guidelines.
And alas, much of what used to work in the past is now surefire way to get your website in pretty poor conditions in the search index.
However, most of what worked on-page is there to stay— it only changed a bit, in the better.
In this post is a list of these old (but upgraded for 2015) on-site SEO techniques and my advice on how to implement them.
Your Page Title
Google reduced word count for titles to 70 characters.
Bing supports up to 58-60 characters.
That means you have to play it smart with your headlines— at least for search engines (your users may appreciate longer titles).
Keywords Matter… Always
Keyword research is an evergreen SEO practice.
Keep proximity in mind, don’t use keywords verbatim— they won’t make sense for the reader and search engines don’t like them either.
Neil Patel from QuickSprout wrote an interesting post on 5 keyword research methods to uncover hidden gems for your content. I recommend you read it and put it to use right away.
Long Content is Better than Short Content
It’s proven that the longer the content, the more time users will spend on your website, which will not just lower your bounce rate, but also help your readers create a relationship with you and your website.
There is not much room to convey who you are and give others a reason to interact with you when you only post short write-ups, right?
And longer content is link bait, too! Nothing attracts good backlinks like detailed, helpful guides and tutorials.
Don’t Ignore Your Images Alt Text
Your images alt tags is not just helpful for SEO, but especially for UX, as visually impaired users rely on alt text to know what the image contains (through their text-to-speech readers).
So don’t stop to keywords in the alt tags, describe your images for users!
Mind your site speed and design
Use PingDom’s Site Speed Test to find out about your site loading speed.
Ideally, your website should load within 3 seconds or it means there are scripts and images slowing down the loading process.
The tool will show you a grid of your site elements and their loading speeds, so you wil know exactly where to put your hands to optimize your site speed.
Also, keep your website design clean and uncluttered. Of all search engines, Google is the most sensitive to the quality of your design for its manual reviews.
In addition to that, users love websites where they know how to move around and not websites where they wind up feeling more confused than when they clicked on your link.
Mobile Optimization
The number of mobile users has grown considerably in 2015, so optimizing your website for mobile is almost a must (I say ‘almost’ because, as always, there are exceptions and your user experience should always come before SEO).
HREF Lang Helps
If you run a multi-language website, the HREF Lang tag will come to your rescue and help with indexing the correct language in each country-specific version of Google.
I wrote about this tag in detail recently here at Bosmol, so refer to that post for tag implementation details.
Link Out to Trusted Webmasters
Linking out is what websites are made for— you link to others, others link back to you. It’s the one action that gets fruitful relationships started.
And your traffic flowing, as well as giving signals that you are an active element of the Web community.
From a SEO point of view, linking out to trusted webmasters is a sign that you make optimal editorial decisions and search engines will trust both you and your neighborhood.
Keep Your Homepage OBL Low
While linking out is good, to clutter your homepage with links to other website is a bad idea.
It’s bad for the users, who should be able to focus only on navigating your website and not to undergo continuous visual stimulus that will distract them from their goal.
It’s bad for your SEO because it makes search engines suspicious that you might be selling links or run a spammy, low quality website.
Controversial: HTTPS or Not?
The truth is: it’s your choice, even though Google pushes for it. Use it of you have at least a shopping cart on your site, don’t use it if you run a simple blog or forum-based website.
The ranking boost from Google for HTTPS websites is not relevant enough to justify the time and money switching to HTTPS requires, but you can still switch if you believe it will benefit you and your users in the long run.
There is an interesting post at about this controversy.

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