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Shakespeare – love him, hate him or resent him for bringing down your grade in high school English – was right about one thing, at least.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” goes the opening lines of the monologue in the Bard’s play “As You Like It.”
We talk a lot about authentic business stories here at WordWrite. It’s at the very core of what we do. Perhaps the most important vehicle to telling those stories is identifying the characters behind them, the figures to anchor narratives and stand in the spotlight on the world’s stage.
When we hear the word “characters,” we often think of famous fictional figures: Mickey Mouse, Homer Simpson or Wonder Woman. They’re some of the most recognizable faces around and the perfect vehicles for telling stories in advertisements, movies, TV shows, theme parks, television shows and even business pitches. They’re also imaginary.
If we want to tell a truly authentic story, the best characters are real people.
Those figures aren’t necessarily easy to find. Not every business has identifiable characters, or they just might not seem significant at first. But a character doesn’t have to be a person. We project personalities and human characteristics on non-human things all the time.
After identifying the right ones, these characters are who – or what – will be the best vehicles for sharing a business’ story, just as they are in a novel, movie, comic book or any narrative. Let’s look at some successful, real characters and what makes them work.

Jay-Z: Aside from being an absurdly talented rapper, he has a rags-to-riches tale of going from drug-dealer in the Bronx to billionaire entrepreneur. Any business he begins or attaches his name to instantly gets a boost, simply because people know his story and admire his accomplishments. It’s the American dream with a thoroughly modern twist. People don’t know him personally, but elements of his story are relatable, and he projects an undeniable aura of “cool.

Oprah Winfrey: She’s such a powerful presence that she’s achieved that rarified spectrum of celebrity where the entire world knows her on a first-name basis. After getting her start as a barrier-breaking television news anchor, Oprah’s uber-popular talk show ran from 1986 to 2011, and in that timeframe, she became the undisputed “Queen of Media.” While she has her own successful ventures, Oprah’s endorsements of products, businesses and entertainers simply by hosting them on her show made her part of their own story. An author’s status and sales could explode with an appearance or being a part of Oprah’s Book Club. The wildly famous (some may say infamous) Dr. Oz even got his start by being a regular guest of Winfrey’s – her star power is that impactful on others’ stories.

Steve Jobs: The late co-founder of Apple had as big an impact on our world as anyone in the past half-century. As CEO of the ubiquitous tech company, he helped develop such hardware as the iMac, iPod and iPad. Imagine a world without them today and just how different it would be.

As the years have passed, we’ve learned more about Jobs’ volatile behind-the-scenes behavior in his business and personal life, but for millions, the only image they’ll have of him is as a slight, black turtleneck-garbed innovator who could command the stage and hypnotize an entire theater with the introduction of a new piece of tech. Apple didn’t (and still doesn’t) need a mascot with Jobs at the helm. Today in the world of tech, it’s still the CEOs and creators who are the biggest celebrities. Like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein, we still honor big thinkers.

Paul Furiga (yes, him): Closer to home, look at our own CEO here at WordWrite. Paul was a journalist for two decades, covering it all from Cincinnati’s city hall to the White House. He dropped it all to get into PR. Then he dropped it all again to create his own thriving agency with his wife, Brenda, in a pink-and-white-striped office. When we talk about our agency, how we dig deep to discover a company’s story, Paul’s tale plays a role in sharing our values and goals.

Pittsburgh: Places can be far more than the setting of your business’ story – they can have a starring role. Anyone who lives in Pittsburgh and most people who visit with open eyes will say the city has character, so much of it that it practically is a character. It’s the Steel City, filled with blue-collar people, champion sports teams, rolling hills, rivers and hundreds of bridges. It’s also the city that rebounded from a tremendous economic collapse in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, taking pride in a comeback that includes a strong base in the medical and tech industries. Pittsburgh’s dual personas coexist surprisingly well – yinzers are fiercely proud of their past, present and future. Depending on their industry, businesses can take advantage of either or both when using the city’s roots or renaissance as part of their own story.

Rich characters are everywhere around us. Look at your own life. Some people in your circle are probably smart, others funny and another might be the life of the party. These people absolutely exist in the workplace, too, and if they match your business’ values, they could be the perfect people to help tell your story in marketing materials, ads or internal communications.
Just remember: When stepping onto the world’s stage, don’t forget the players.

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Summer vacation season is here, and you may see in increase in travel ads and discounted trip while browsing social media or scrolling through your inbox. However, not all these offers are legitimate. Hotel scams alone cost American travelers more than $4 billion a year, according to the American Hotel and Booking Association.
Scammers are ramping up their activity to take advantage of people booking vacations and those hunting for last-minute travel deals. They are targeting your booking deposits and attempting to gain access to your personal information and financial accounts to commit further fraud.
Let’s review how you and your family can avoid becoming the next victim of a vacation booking scam — both online and offline.
Beware of the Signs of a Travel Scam
Preparing for your vacation should be as stress-free as your upcoming time away. Falling for a scam can easily extend beyond the planned trip, and could impact your financial and personal information, compromising your identity.
Consider the following red flags:

You find yourself in a high-pressure situation where you are asked to make a purchase right away on a rental without seeing a contract or meeting the property lister. This could be in person or through a number of email or text exchanges, or even via the phone.
You are asked to wire money or purchase gift cards as a form of payment or deposit on lodging, transportation, or excursions.
You are asked to share unnecessary Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as your Social Security, driver’s license, or passport number to secure your reservations.

Don’t Fall for Vacation Scam Calls
In 2019, nearly half of all unrecognized mobile phone calls are expected to be scams, according to research from First Orion. One particular caller could claim that you are a winner of an all-inclusive vacation. As exciting as the offer sounds, the fraudster orchestrating this scam is after your identity or your money in return for a nonexistent reservation. They will ask for personal information to book the reservation and your credit card information for a deposit fee.
Registering for the FTC National Do Not Call Registry or using a call blocker app can help reduce the number of unwanted scam and robocalls you receive, but it’s not foolproof. Caller ID Spoofing — where the caller is presenting false information on your caller ID to get you to answer the phone — is increasing as fraudsters look for ways to bypass the call blockers. Protect yourself by never divulging personal or financial information over the phone unless you are the one who has initiated the call to a trusted merchant or a known travel agent.
Look Before You Book
Conducting research around your vacation destination and hotels can reduce the opportunity for criminals to sabotage your summer plans. Keep the following information in mind when planning your hotel stay:

Ask family and friends for recommendations of hotels they have previously visited.
Google the name of the company and check for complaints or negative reviews before making a purchase, and review their profile with the Better Business Bureau too.
Book directly through the hotel’s website to avoid being misled by third-party sites.
Request to see a contract or cancelation policy before booking your vacation. Review any hidden charges such as excessive processing fees, peak travel charges, extra unidentifiable taxes, or any additional items you would not expect to see from a legitimate travel partner.

By using caution and front-loading your research, you can avoid the hassle of having to find last minute vacation plans and enjoy some rest and relaxation.
Tips to Protect Your Vacation Plans

Come to your vacation prepared with printed copies of all booking information. Should your reservation go missing in the hotel’s system or you are being asked to pay a higher price, having a record of your booking will help confirm what you paid for.
Resist clicking on suspicious bargain travel offers. Tempting offers are often a disguise for a phishing scam waiting to capture your information.
Always use a credit card when booking your vacation. You can dispute your fraudulent booking charges if you are a victim of a scam.

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The age-old debate—should you charge by the hour or per project? I’ve preached charging per project for the last several years because I started my career charging hourly and got severely underpaid. When charging per project, you can increase your fee based on value and your work isn’t tied to your time. There are, however, a few challenges with this form of billing as well. Here are some reasons you may want to charge and invoice by the hour instead:
Do you have problems setting boundaries?
When working for a project rate, you need to have clear boundaries. If the work is taking longer than expected, you need to be able to confront your client. This can be challenging if the client is used to you doing work that’s above and beyond your agreement. They’re already used to you making exceptions for them. If you have trouble setting boundaries, charging hourly can make sure that you’re getting paid for your time.
Do you regularly underestimate the work?
Let’s say you charge per project often and you’re noticing that each time you don’t charge enough. Think about the last project that you did and how much you got paid. Divide that number by the number of hours you worked. Are you getting paid the hourly rate you want to make? If not, you should think about making some adjustments.
Charge per hour for a while to see what it really costs you to do a project and then switch back to the project fee. Remember—you need to pay your own taxes and health insurance and you need to fund your own retirement. You need to be charging appropriately to make sure you can cover these costs and goals.
Do clients undervalue your work?
Value is a touchy topic in the creative world. A recent study reports that people feel comfortable underpaying people who are passionate about their job because they believe having the job is part of the reward. This is a frightening prospect because creatives and passionate workers also need to get paid appropriately. Having a job in a field they enjoy is no reason to expect they’ll be willing to do extra work or be underpaid. Charging hourly can help ensure that you’re getting paid appropriately for your time. A per project rate can lead to exploitation if you’re not careful.
Final Word
Charging per hour or per project is a personal choice. Currently, I’m going back and forth with which system I like better. For writing assignments, it’s usually easier to charge per project. You just need to make sure that you and your client are on the same page on what’s required for the project. Otherwise, scope creep can come into play and you may realize you’re doing more work than you’re getting paid for. It may be a good idea to invoice by the hour for tasks like virtual assisting or ongoing support where the amount of work is unclear.

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It’s crystal clear that your partner channel is an asset to your company’s overall business revenue number. What’s murkier is the operational process to actually put those dollars in your pocket.
Probably the first word that comes to mind when you talk strategy in growing revenue through the channel is upsell. But not all of your partners are ready to tackle an upsell strategy. By partnering with Gainsight, we’ll walk you through the upsell lifecycle for your partner channel in just two steps:

Identify your strongest partners.
Help them distinguish optimal customers to upsell.

1. How to identify strong partners
All of your partners and resellers play an integral role in your company’s overall revenue. However, identifying which partners are consistently driving success for your business could lead you to prime candidates for upselling opportunities.
Which metrics should you consider for choosing strong partners?
Goal Setting: Your first step should be setting goals for your program. Each partner will bring a different skillset to your channel program, but what matters is which partners are most aligned to helping you achieve your primary business goal. Understand your company’s vision for the year and create goals in your channel program that will make you look like a rockstar to the rest of your organization. Once your goals are set, it will be easier to identify which partners help your channel drive business.
Content Engagement: A simple way to measure partner engagement is through content. If your marketing team provides product collateral or sales techniques in your partner portal you can easily see which partners are most engaged. You can also see which partners take advantage of co-branding. Some engagement metrics to consider: clicks and average time on pages.
Sales Certification: Providing training courses or certifications to your partner teams is a good way to get your channel up-to-speed on your product. If the sales reps become familiar with your brand and understand key value props, they’re in a better position to sell on your behalf. Create certification programs in your partner portal and then view which partners are certified and how many reps achieved certification.
Consistently Producing ROI: All partners will bring a different strength to your overall partner program, but a strong indicator of a likely successful upsell strategy is a partner who consistently generates ROI for your business. Use the revenue goals you set earlier in Step 1 to distinguish which partners help you accelerate ROI.
Once you set goals for your partner channel, analyze content engagement from your partners, identify which partner sales teams are staying up-to-date with certifications, and understand which partners consistently produce ROI, you’re ready to pinpoint who’s most equipped to upsell your products.
2. How to identify upsell opportunities
Now that you’ve identified your strongest partners that are most likely to succeed in an upsell strategy, work with them to create a playbook on identifying which customers are strong indicators to buy. Having a defined strategy based on customer usage data will help you succeed and keep you from guessing.
Capitalize on Expansion Opportunities: Work with your strongest partners from Step 1 and analyze metrics like utilization, stage, product adoption or survey responses. These metrics indicate that your partner’s customers find value in the tool and therefore tells you they could be a good candidate for upsell opportunities.
Create a Success Plan: Collaborate to develop a success plan and playbook that will help upsell. Tip: Meet with your organization’s sales team to understand their upselling techniques. This will provide a consistent experience for your partner channel.
Show Value: Create a compelling case as to why customers should buy from you. Show value with user adoption and engagement metrics. If your partner’s customers set goals during the beginning of the relationship, work to identify if they’ve achieved those goals with the help of your product.
Sometimes you need more than an excel spreadsheet with “green = good” and “red = bad.” Understanding your partner engagement data will help you identify which partners are more likely to upsell. Then, analyzing metrics like product usage and user engagement will equip your partners with the right data for an efficient upsell strategy. These techniques will take the guesswork and heavy lifting out of your day and will ultimately help your channel program look like an asset and revenue driver for your overall business.

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Customer support can be a challenge. Especially in the B2B (business-to-business) industry, the quick decisions your support team makes can have a profound impact on a customer relationship. Whether or not they make the right decision on the phone can be the difference between calming an upset customer or making them even more angry.
One method businesses are utilizing to improve the number of positive customer interactions that happen every day is to leverage customer support systems. Here are five reasons why these systems are essential to great businesses and why they are now a core component of many support operations…
1) Customer information storage – With so many information sources now capturing customer information, your team needs a system to store all this data. Jumping between several systems is time consuming and inefficient. Instead, leverage a centralized customer support system that houses all customer information and utilizes support integrations to share this data with other systems and the greater team.
2) Improved communication – If you aren’t working within a customer support system, it can offer many ways to improve how you work together with colleagues. It’s time to retire swapping spreadsheets and email! Instead, a customer support system provides sophisticated ticket management features including both public and private ticket actions. This lets you have internal conversations directly within a ticket without the customer ever seeing it.
3) Detailed customer insights – Another negative of the spreadsheets and email combination is that they don’t provide actionable data for your business. in contrast, a customer support system is built to track inquiries at both the customer and contact level. This enables powerful reporting capabilities so you can determine the happiness of your customers as well as how much effort your team puts into each customer relationship.
4) Additional communication channels – Email and phone support, should you offer both, is now considered to be a bare minimum for a functioning support team. Adding in live chat and self-service channels via your customer support system will not only increase customer happiness (more ways to contact you) but also reduce ticket volume. Although some channels like self-service take time to create and set up, they enable you to provide a form of 24/7 support without breaking the bank.
5) Increased employee morale – The nature of support professionals is that they enjoy helping customers solve their problems. Providing a great resolution to a customer issue isn’t just a win for your business, it’s a win for them personally and for your support culture. Make these moments more frequent and reduce employee frustration by implementing a customer service system. You’ll notice employees will be happier when they spend less time hunting for the right information and more time solving problems.
In short, customer support systems are essential to great businesses because they completely change internal and external processes. Customers are happier because they have more ways to contact you and get better responses. Employees enjoy the systems because they make work easier and they can focus more on customer relationships. Simply put, these systems are the backbone of any great business!

Allow me to make something crystal clear. My definition of “word-of-mouth marketing” refers to one-on-one conversations—and nothing else. Individual people, in real life, having conversations, together.
Beyond face-to-face conversations, I may occasionally be thinking of text conversations or the various online interactions that require two people speaking to each other.
I never mean social media, however.
Although many people erroneously believe social media and word-of-mouth marketing are synonymous, the two are actually quite different. Word of mouth is a conversation between two people—whereas social media is a bullhorn. Social media makes it possible for an individual to make pronouncements, shout into the void, offer unprovoked declamations to a presumed online audience (one that is very likely not there at all). Yet who gives a hoot whether anyone is even listening? What matters is that a person has the opportunity to holler or comment his or her heart out on a nominally public platform. Whether anyone hears them is hardly the point. (Please read any of my previous blogs to learn more.)
But does that sound like word-of-mouth marketing to you? In order for word of mouth to actually work, brands need to create real relationships between and among real people. They can do this with influencers (defined as people who are driven to share stories with their friends and family) who, if they believe in the brand story, will integrate it into their own personal story library. These sorts of people who believe in something—a product, a cause—will authentically share the info with their friends and colleagues. People are then moved to share and consume based on the authenticity of that sentiment. In other words, they are influenced to act in the marketplace.
Long story short: word-of-mouth means influence, and influence usually happens offline.
And now we come to the Millennial.
Millennials are damn savvy. They know when you and your ad campaign are full of it. They just do. They can spot nonsense and hard selling a mile away. There has been a ton of research on this (why is nobody reading the research?). But still I see marketers trying to interest Millennials with YouTube ads and archaic marketing tactics that have been proven time and again to not work with the Millennial cohort.
Perhaps I’m mainly speaking to the older generations here, the Boomers and the Gen Xers, who seem to keep moving past this point without really getting it. And I do understand what they want: they want to dump money into digital and/or traditional ads and have them work like a charm, as it has done with past generations. But it’s not going to happen.
Millennials and Gen Z really are different from the rest of us. When they don’t outright despise it, they view marketing and advertising with extreme suspicion. Does that mean you can’t market to them? Of course not! It means you have to be smart and sly, more thoughtful, more insightful, and more authentic than you were before. You have to use word-of-mouth marketing.
Basically, Millennials don’t want to hang out with you. Sorry, gramps, but it’s true. You’re classic branding tricks don’t work on them. What else do you expect from such a younger generation as this, the first in human history to grow up in the marketing age bombarded from all sides with TV, internet, social media, digital everything, and ads of all kinds? They’re tired of it all, which explains the tendency toward authenticity and their desire to return to quiet, more traditional hobbies, like knitting, gardening, calligraphy, and letter writing. It’s true.
So I leave you with this advice: figure out a way to be authentic, to make meaningful contact with young consumers, or just get out of the way. When it comes to young people, the old method of doing things is dead. They want experiences, genuineness, truth.
If you disagree, I want to hear from you. Do you think Millennials should be marketed to no differently than former generations? If so, why? Or do you believe brands are trying too hard and becoming too interruptive? What can they do differently?

Marketing automation is a next-generation, CRM-related tool for increasing lead conversions and improving forecasting and customer segmentation. It is said to be the most transformative advancement in sales and marketing since the emergence of CRM. It not only gives us the opportunity to send personalized communication to every user but also saves time of sending manual messages. Recent studies have shown that marketing automation brings up to 14.5% increase in sales productivity and 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead. This holds true even for email marketing.
Automation in email marketing has facilitated the email marketers to send timely and relevant emails to the subscribers based on their activity without the need to do it manually. However, your automated emails should have a human touch so that they do not seem bot-generated emails.
Here are some simple and actionable tips to humanize your automated emails.
Decide a credible sender name
The sender name of automated emails should build credibility and be trustworthy for the subscriber. Noreply From name should be strictly avoided.
Take a look at the example by Social Media Examiner. It makes the subscriber feel that the founder of the company has personally taken the time to email them.

Use language similar to a one-to-one email
Your email copy should reflect that it is written by an individual who understands the subscriber’s needs. It should be written in a language that the subscriber can most relate to. More often than not, automated emails are written in a formal or salesy language that fails to appeal to the readers. Ultimately, it ends up being an ineffective sales pitch that yields no results. To make sure that your automated emails are as effective as manually sent emails, you should draft emails that sound like a conversation rather than a “Buy our product” speech.
Harvard Business Review shares valuable insights into the kind of language that should be used.

Never forget to add context to the email
Many a time, marketers miss out on including context to the automated emails. Such emails come off as a vague communication that the prospect is not expecting. Obviously, the email recipient will avoid taking action on an email that does not have a clear purpose.
Take a look at the example below. The word “this” in the follow-up email gives the impression that the email is sent by a bot. The email is not able to establish a link with the previous communication.

Source: Yesware
As an implication, you must always create relevance in all your emails and follow up on the same thread as the initial message. Try to recapitulate the previous interaction in brief so that the subscriber is able to connect with the email.
Personalize the emails in the right way
Go beyond first-name personalization and draft tailormade emails in line with the subscriber’s activity. You can carry out customer profiling to figure out how they prefer to be addressed.
Take a look at the example below. It is strongly recommended that the marketer takes time to research and personalize with the right name.

Source: Yesware
Personalized automated emails usually mean that you have set custom fields in the ESP and these details are automatically fetched in individual emails. You should see to it that the correct information is fetched.
Look at the example below.

Source: Yesware
It is an email marketing blunder that makes it quite evident that it is an automated email sent by a bot. Such mistakes can be easily prevented by being extra careful and testing the automation workflow once it is set. These emails would mitigate the conversion rate as the prospects will not be compliant enough to take action or respond to them.
Send appropriate follow-up emails
Many a time, it is observed that you get multiple salesy emails from different people working at the same company. Obviously, it is not a pleasant experience for the recipient. For example, if you keep receiving reminder emails for the payment of your phone bills, it would get quite annoying.
Here’s another example.

Source: Yesware
The subscriber has received this automated email asking to schedule a call after already having one. Moreover, the email opens with an unnecessary company introduction. It does not talk about the last call that the company had, which makes the email totally in vain.
Have appropriate time interval between the automated emails
Quite often, marketers overwhelm the subscribers with too many automated emails at one go. This is not a good practice as it can lead to unsubscribes and getting your emails marked as spam. Maintain an appropriate time interval between the automated emails and make sure that they bear relevance with each other and the subscriber’s activity.
Allow room for human intervention at the right time
Automation does not replace human intervention. Although bots have made things easy for the email marketer, it is highly recommended that you make way for human intervention at the right time and facilitate more effective communication. Not everything can be conveyed in the right way through automated emails.
Wrapping Up
Keep humanity alive in your email automation and create a better email experience for the subscribers. Instead of sending generic emails targeted to a wide range of population, use humanized automation to deliver value with personalized messages.

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No matter what type of business you run, accepting credit card payments is strongly recommended. When I was 18, I used to work at a minimum wage telemarketing job where I’d call small business owners to persuade them to buy our company’s credit card processing machine/system.
I knew very little about what I was selling at the time but now that I’m an entrepreneur, I completely understand the importance of accepting credit cards. Sure, there may be some fees involved but it’s still worth it. Plus depending on who you work with, the fees can be very minimal compared to your overall profit.
Here are a few key reasons why you should accept credit card payments despite any processing fees.
Increased Sales
It’s no secret that most businesses accept card payments. In fact, customers expect you to accept their debit and credit cards. This is why 83% of businesses that accept credit card payments see increased sales. When I went to New York a few weeks ago, my husband I were really hungry after a tour and started to look for a place to eat.
To our surprise, most of the restaurants in the area only accepted cash as a form of payment. We didn’t have enough cash on us and didn’t want to pay the high ATM fee so we passed on most of the restaurants. The places that didn’t accept cards missed out on our business and I’m sure they missed out on a lot of other business too.
Easier to Sell and Offer Payment Plans
Could your business benefit from offering payment plans? If you have some high ticket products or a subscription program, accepting credit card payments will be much more convenient for your customers.
No one wants to mail checks or time out of their day to hand you cash anymore. You can accept regular payments online via a quick and easy payment processor.
If you’re getting recurring income from payment plans and subscriptions, it will likely be worth the small fee required to accept payments.
Factor Fees Into Your Pricing
Don’t forget, you can always factor the fees to accept credit card payments into your pricing. I work with a contractor who didn’t realize that PayPal charged a transaction fee which meant that whenever I paid one of her invoices, a small amount was deducted from the payment.
After realizing that the fee was cutting into her payment, she asked if she could bill me a slightly higher amount with the fee in mind. That way, she could earn closer to the amount that we agreed upon and I had no problem doing this.
Depending on how you run your business, you may or may not feel like letting customers and clients know that you’ve increased your prices to factor in credit card processing fees. Some banks do charge high fees but Due’s rates start at just 2.8% per transaction with no hidden or monthly fees.
Summary
Being equipt to accept credit card payments is a must if you want to increase sales and outshine competitors. Even if you have the best products that provide tons of value, people won’t buy if it’s too difficult for them to do so.
Consider choosing an affordable payment processing solution that meets the needs of your business and has reasonable fees. That way, your profit will definitely outweigh any of the costs.

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Digital disruption has created a lot of buzz across industries in the last few years, along with a lot of anxiety in boardrooms across the world as leaders seek to protect their companies.
But from what?
Disruption is so broad and can affect so many parts of a business, it’s difficult to define. This means it’s also difficult to plan to mitigate.
So, what is digital disruption? Digital disruption is the transformation that occurs when new digital technologies or ways of doing business fundamentally change the value proposition typically expected in that industry.
Are you with me so far?
Digital disruption isn’t really a ‘thing’ that companies must do. It’s what happens when a company identifies a better way of doing business using new digital technologies, exploits a market or opportunity and answers a need among customers.
This in turn has a significant effect on the companies in that space who are maintaining a traditional course. This won’t be a sudden change, but shifts in market share, revenue and profitability as a result of disruption will take place, causing ‘traditional’ businesses to atrophy on an exponential scale through lack of investment and inability to compete with the disruptor.
Digital disruption isn’t new, but it’s happening more and much faster as technology advances and catches up with business needs. Just some examples of companies that have disrupted their industries are Netflix in entertainment (remember Blockbuster?), Apple with the iPhone back in 2007, Amazon in the retail space, and Tesla in automotive.
“We want to be ready when video-on-demand happens. That’s why the company is called Netflix, not DVD-by-Mail.” – Reed Hastings, Founder, Netflix, 2005
Think about it. Apple and Amazon are often vying for the top spot as the world’s most valuable company, Netflix streams 100mn hours of content every day, and Tesla outsold Mercedes in the US late last year, after just eight years in the market.
So, the take away is be the disruptor, rather than let your business be disrupted. Great, so now you should be building digital disruption into your business plan, right? Not quite.
Don’t disrupt or ‘do digital’ for the sake of it. It must serve a purpose, such as meeting customer demand, improving operational efficiency or lowering cost of doing business. All too often, we hear from clients that they need to be launching a digital campaign or digitally transforming themselves. This is true, because digital opens up so many opportunities to deliver better business performance and customer satisfaction. But it needs to be done with a strategic objective (or indeed, the customer) in mind, rather than it being an objective in itself.
New technologies and digital advancements are already disrupting the marketing space, from big data, AI and machine learning, through to voice assistants and the Internet of Things (IoT).
By taking a holistic view of your business, looking ahead at trends in the industry and customer behaviour, and thinking about how new technologies can be applied to create a more efficient business that improves the customer’s experience, this will form the first steps in digitally transforming your business.
Of course, I’m not saying that by taking this approach you’ll disrupt your industry, but you might make the incremental changes need to adapt, evolve and survive in an increasingly changing business environment.
This article was originally posted on the Novacom blog. To view the original article, please click here.

Every B2B and B2C wants to see insane growth from their marketing efforts. There are many different avenues you can go down if you wish to market your product or brand to a broader audience. However, cross-promotion is one of the best ways to boost sales and bolster your existing plan for generating leads.
Mainly, cross-promotion involves diving into other markets and customer personas to spread brand awareness and stimulate growth throughout your business. We want to analyze how you can use cross-promotion tactics to improve your current business model. These tips range from researching your audience to working with partners for mutual growth.
Expand Your Customer Personas
When you first launched your product, there’s a good chance that you thought long and hard about your ideal customer. You spent time thinking about their pain points, their desires, their education, and much more.
Since cross-promotion involves marketing your product to a broader audience, you’re going to have to take the time to think about what these new potential customers want, and how you can build a product that intrigues and helps them live a better life.
Here’s what a typical customer person sheet looks like:

Source
Instead of expanding your existing customer persona, consider making multiple variations depending on the circumstances surrounding each customer. For example, if you were a pet store growing your business to birdhouses, you would want to create two separate personas, one for your pet supply shoppers and one for those who may be interested in buying birdhouses.
Use All Relevant Social Media Platforms
Next, you should think about the social media platforms you’re currently using, and decide if you’re missing any social accounts based on your target audience across all products. One study revealed that 87 percent of business owners see enhanced exposure through social media.
If you want to cross-promote to a wider audience, you may have to make new accounts on social media platforms where your audience tend to spend their time. You could miss out on a fantastic opportunity, and a significant chunk of leads, by skipping updates on a social media account.
Besides being able to market your products to a wider audience, you’ll be able to expand your customer service efforts to other platforms so consumers can get answers to their questions and assistance after making a purchase.
Partner with Complementary Brands
Our last tip for using cross-promotion involves working with other brands to expose your company to a larger audience. Complementary brands should align with your brand in a way that makes sense for consumers. For instance, if you wanted to partner with an influencer, you would want to target someone who regularly uses your product or similar products.
Here’s a great example from Instagram influencer Stassiebaby.

She primarily reviews and discusses beauty products on her social media profiles. It would only make sense that Sugar Bear Hair, a beauty vitamin, would work with her because her audience is looking for new beauty products.
Similarly, you could partner with actual companies who work in the same niche but perhaps have a different goal for their audience. Think of an email marketing company working with an analytics company on a partner product for increased exposure across both brands. Sure, email marketing and analytics are in the same boat, but the goal of each product is different.
You could partner up on more than just products. Many businesses create joint podcasts that allow experts from both companies to discuss changes in the industry, new products, and advancements in technology.
Conclusion
Marketing is a massive part of every businesses model for success. When you want to see explosive growth from your company, you have to be willing to experiment with new products, partner with reputable companies and fine-tune your target audience for a personalized and engaging experience that keeps customers coming back. It’s important to remember that not every cross-promotion will be a hit, but you have to keep tinkering with your formula if you want to get past a sales slump and expand the reach of your business.

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