23
Feb

A Nice Apartment to Start Fresh

My daughter and I have been a really good team through the years. It has just been the two of us ever since her mother succumbed to cancer nearly ten years ago, and that has made the two of us extremely close. That is why when I had to go to Boston for work, I asked her if she wanted to look at Boston luxury apartment rentals for the two of us. I knew it was asking a lot of her to leave her school and friends, but she is mature enough to understand that this was not a choice that I willingly made on my own too.

I figured if she was in charge of finding us a new apartment to live in, then that would help her a bit with the temporary chaos. When she showed me the Ocean 650 apartments, I knew she had hit gold. It is only 15 minutes from my new work place, and it is in a great district for her to continue with her education. The location is just great for so many reasons, and the apartment that she thought would be perfect for us turned out to be just that. Continue reading

22
Feb

Moving to Arlington to a Town Home Not Far from Where I Work in Cambridge

I got a new job promotion and had to tell my wife and kids that my new boss wanted me to work in Cambridge. None of us wanted to move, but we really needed the upgrade in income that this job would provide if we were ever going to be able to send our kids to the colleges they wanted to go to. We looked for apartments for rent in Arlington MA that is only a few minutes away from Cambridge. We found the Arlington 360 apartments, and the kids were trying to give us an ultimatum that they would only move if we moved there. Well, my wife and I kind of liked the place too. Who are we kidding? We really liked the place. Continue reading

18
Feb

We Located Some Luxury Apartments for Rent in Arlington VA

We have always been ones to support our daughter in anything she tries to do. She has been very successful academically, yet she was very nervous about a new job offer over in Arlington, Massachusetts. It is not that far away from home, but she was concerned. There was the rent, being away from home and so much more. She went to school close to home, so she never had the dorm or college apartment experience. We helped her look for an apartment for rent in Arlington MA. We wanted her to have a nice place with secured building access. We fully planned on footing a portion of her rent costs for a nice place even though she never hinted at wanting any money.

We know she would have gotten a place to fit her current budget and just move a year from now when she got a promotion. We showed her the Arlington 360 apartments, but she told us how it was not in her budget. Continue reading

22
Dec

The Best Way to Lose Weight

I am definitely not the only person I know who has gained weight since my school years. Those were nearly 15 years ago, and life has gotten a lot more complicated. That was one of the factors in my weight gain. It seemed everyone I knew who had gained weight though was successful in losing some of it, at least. I had tried several different ways to lose weight, and it was just not happening. A friend of a friend told me she had used meal replacement shakes for weight loss, and it was the only thing that had helped her.

I had heard of weight loss shakes before, but I really did not know anything about them. Continue reading

20
Nov

Strengthen Weak Areas to Experience More Victories

Strengthen Weak Areas to Experience More Victories

Strengthen Weak Areas to Experience More Victories

Image credit: Shutterstock

Observation along with good and bad personal experiences shed light on what not to do as well as what to implement in our own style. Self-pity is a huge waste of time. Learn from every experience. They each have something to teach whether or not to repeat the same or to continue doing all of it the same.

Your best teacher is your clientele. They will let you know where expectations were not met as well as met. Deliberately ask what you can do better in the future to improve. When they see the earnestness in your desire to deliver outstanding customer care, they will take you under their wing. Over time, you will be the one to deliver the outstanding service and become the trusted adviser. It’s doesn’t happen over night but instead it’s a long learning process. The level of customer care from the initial moment of contact all the way through the entire sales cycle and after is what will determine your success.

“Pick yourself up after a mishap to learn from the lesson and you will be half-way to success.”

Customer care

If you are an employee or entrepreneur, it is essential that you continually strive to learn the better techniques for client service. It is what will keep your career or company alive and thriving. Larger companies should seriously consider semi annual or, at the very least, annual training for their employees. The company that suffers the most is the one that does not groom representatives to be well versed in sales and customer care. The reality is turnover costs much more than investment in proper development of employees.

Your story

As an employer, ask employees for feedback on the type of training they believe they need. Examine everything you have implemented to date in the form of training. Without the right training much business is being lost without you ever knowing about it.

As an employee or an entrepreneur, it is your business to seek out the training you most need. Most companies avoid the expense. If you are the one who desires to be successful, budget for training and research the best there is. Determine which will strengthen your weak areas the most. The point is to become excellent in every regard. In so doing, you will build a highly reputable personal brand.

  • Investigate the latest training on the market
  • Read tweets and posts regarding the latest success strategies
  • As an employee be fearless in meetings to make suggestions for needed training

Sales tips:

  1. Upon first meeting a prospective client ask for their budget
  2. Explain what you may and may not provide within that budget
  3. Ask if what you are able to provide will suffice; if not is other money available
  4. Provide a variety of examples of what may be provided
  5. Ask for preferences after all are presented
  6. Confirm the monetary investment and delivery timeline
  7. Ask for agreement that everything meets expectations
  8. Should an issue arise, confirm a date to deliver the answer and be certain to deliver it
  9. Again, ask for agreement and if everything is on track for service delivery
  10. Check in after everything is complete for level of satisfaction
20
Nov

7 Ways a Journal Can Help Your Career

7 Ways a Journal Can Help Your Career

Keeping a journal can be an invaluable way to organize your thoughts, keep track of your best ideas and help you advance in your career or your business.
7 Ways a Journal Can Help Your Career

Image credit: Gianni Diliberto | Getty Images

Keeping a journal might seem like a holdover from your bygone days of tea parties and sleepovers, but this remnant from childhood is anything but childish. Keeping a journal, even if you’re only jotting down a few words or sentences every day, can be an invaluable way to organize your thoughts, keep track of your best ideas and help you advance in your career or your business.

First — pick your journal. If you’re like most of us, the idea of buying a journal conjures up images of brightly colored Lisa Frank books with tiny locks and keys that would likely be lost before we had a chance to fill its pastel pages. Go ahead and toss that image in the trash bin where it belongs. For journaling, you need a high-quality notebook that can easily store all your ideas without falling apart. Moleskines, the favorite of authors and entrepreneurs alike, can make a great journal. They come in a variety of sizes, so you can pick up a small one to carry with you throughout the day or a larger one to keep on your desk or at your bedside.

Now that you have a journal to use, what purpose can it serve for you?

1. An idea storage facility

We all have those great ideas throughout the day — when we’re in the shower, when we’re mixing our morning coffee or while we’re driving through traffic. Sometimes our best ideas come to us right as we’re about to fall asleep, or right after we wake up. Having a journal handy to write down those ideas is the best way to keep them safe so you can review them at a later date.

Don’t fall into that trap of telling yourself that you’ll remember these ideas. You might think your memory is like a steel trap, but when it comes down to it, we take so much information in during the day that it’s easy to forget even the most important ideas. Studies have shown that writing things down using pen and paper helps memory retention as well, so by writing down your ideas, you can make them easier to remember even if you don’t have your journal handy.

If writing isn’t your thing, dictating into your phone or another digital recording device is a great way to keep all of those ideas in one place. It doesn’t help your memory retention quite as much as writing your ideas down, but it can be a useful alternative if pen and paper won’t cut it.

2. A lesson teacher

In theory, we’re supposed to learn from our mistakes so we don’t make them again, but in reality, that rarely happens. We’re quick to put our mistakes behind us but slow to learn what those mistakes can teach us if we ever do learn at all.

A journal can be a great place to write down your mistakes. Once you have them written down, you can analyze the situation, figure out where you went wrong and figure out the best steps to take to grow. You don’t need to double back and fix your mistake. Instead, you need to use it as a stepping stone to grow and develop as a person.

3. A soundproof room

Occasionally, we all have bad days and just want to walk outside and scream our frustrations at the sky. Unfortunately for most of us, that will end with someone calling the police and you having to worry about a disturbing the peace charge.

Keeping a journal provides you with a soundproof room where you can scream, rage and vent all you want without disturbing the neighbors. It’s a safe place where you can get your frustrations out in the open and process them, without worrying about bottling everything up and potentially snapping on the object of your frustrations.

This isn’t just good for your career — it’s good for your health. One study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that bottling up all your negative emotions can actually increase your risk of developing heart disease and some forms of cancer. Protect your career and your health — keep that journal handy and vent often.

4. An advanced to-do list

We all write our to-do lists, whether on post-it notes or the memo app on our phones. The lucky ones will remember where they put them and actually get them done. For the rest of us, they get forgotten, collect dust and eventually end up in the garbage. Keeping a journal can help you make sure those lists, work-related or otherwise, get done.

Creating a bullet journal or a hyper-organized to-do list can help you keep track of all the things you need to do throughout your day, week and even month. It’s essential if you work in a busy or fast-paced environment where deadlines are fast approaching or quotas have to be met.

Starting a bullet journal is easy. Some websites might try to convince you that you need a lot of fancy tools or toys, but all you need is a good pen, a journal and something you can use to draw straight lines. Take the time to spend 20 minutes setting up your journal, and if you keep up with it, you’ll never have to worry about missing a deadline or forgetting an important meeting again.

5. A dream board

We’ve all heard of dream boards. You plan out your next five or 10 years, write it up and put it on a bulletin board or somewhere you’ll see it every day. They’re designed to help turn your goals into something tangible and give you a way to keep you on the path toward them. They inspire you, but if wall or desk space is at a premium, they can also be a great source of clutter. That’s where a journal comes in.

Use your journal as a portable dream board. Reserve a few pages for things that inspire you — quotes, magazine clippings, pictures or anything else that makes you want to get up and work toward your goals. That way you can keep your inspirations with you no matter where you go.

6. A step builder

Everything we do has steps we have to follow. Wet, lather, rinse and repeat. Add water, then coffee and then turn the coffee maker on. It’s all a series of steps, and when we’re trying to progress in business, in life or in anything, we have to take the time to figure out how to build that next step.

Keeping a journal is a great way to keep your step building in one easy-to-access place. Don’t lose track of your progress by looking backward. Instead, look at the progress you’ve made and use that as a stepping stone to help you move up and forward.

7. An “out-of-the-box” thinker

You’ve probably been told to think outside the box your entire life. We’re all encouraged to sit in boxes and think outside of them, but when you spend so much time inside those four walls, it can be hard to get out of them again.

Keeping a journal is a great way to encourage your out of the box thinking. When you write down your ideas, you have to go over them again and again as you get them down on paper. This gives you a chance to see the ideas in a different light, effectively encouraging out-of-the-box thinking.

You don’t have to write your deepest, darkest secrets in a bright pink, locked journal, but keeping a journal, a notebook or a moleskine with all your ideas, advice and inspirations in it is one the best and easiest ways to help your career.

 

20
Nov

3 Ways to Turn Social Media Followers Into Promoters of Your Brand

3 Ways to Turn Social Media Followers Into Promoters of Your Brand

3 Ways to Turn Social Media Followers Into Promoters of Your Brand

Collecting Facebook likes and Twitter followers is important for building a social media fan base. But business owners who want tangible results from their social media efforts are looking deeper into how they can convert fans into advocates for their brands.

“The days of experimentation are over,” Michael Wrigley, chief marketing officer for U.K.-based social marketing platform EngageSciences, said yesterday during “You’ve Built a Fan Base, Now What?”, a panel discussion during the Social Media Week Conference in New York City. Your fan base is like any other database, he said, and if you don’t activate it, “the data will be pretty much worthless.”

Here are three strategies that you can use to turn your social media fans into advocates for your brand:

1. Listen to, then engage with fans.
On a day in early September last year, Aaron Hall drove for seven hours — 400 miles total — from Youngstown, Ohio to New York City to be first person in line for the unveiling of the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 smartphones. That’s how excited the 32-year-old systems administrator was to see them.

When Nokia learned of Hall’s journey, the company blogged about it. The immediate result: a devoted customer felt appreciated, and Nokia showed that it treats its customers as individuals.

You might not come across passionate customers like Hall every day, but the trick is to listen to what your fans and followers are saying about you over social media, then engage with them and highlight their passion for your brand. These people are your biggest advocates, said Brad Spikes, Nokia’s head of social media marketing for North America.

2. Concentrate on your ‘soul mates.’
The Humane Society of the United States has 1.6 million Facebook fans and more than 180,000 Twitter followers. Its challenge is to sift through all those people to find the few who will be ambassadors for the Human Society’s mission, says Michael Hutney, director of emerging media and strategic accounts for The Stelter Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based marketing firm for nonprofits.

Hutney suggests launching fun social campaigns as one way to separate out your most engaged fans. For example, the Humane Society created a Facebook campaign around “cruelty-free” products, including a quiz that encouraged users to “Test your cruelty-free IQ.” From there, it was possible to see which users had shared the quiz, how many referrals they had made and how many of their friends had subsequently taken the quiz.

With this method, “I can identify invisible people in the crowd and find out who cares about [my brand],” says Hutney. Once these top advocates had been identified, Humane Society communications officers were able to follow up with them to get them further involved.

3. Make new fans with multi-platform campaigns.
Last November, Kellogg’s cereal and a U.K.-based television network teamed up to promote the company’s new Krave cereal to viewers aged 16 years and older. For a week, TV ads that ran during Channel 4 shows popular with this demographic posed trivia questions related to material in the show and directed viewers to Krave’s Facebook page to enter their answers. Kellogg’s created this cross-platform promotion based on the knowledge that 72 percent of people 25 years old and younger use Facebook or Twitter to comment on TV shows.

The result: 50,000 interactions with Krave’s Facebook page, of which 13,000 were referrals — meaning people shared the promotion with their friends, increasing Kellogg’s marketing reach and potentially creating new customers.

After a campaign like this, it’s important for brands to examine how well they’re reengaging their existing fans, said Richard Jones, CEO of EngageSciences. Go beyond treating your fan base as just an undifferentiated set of numbers.

20
Nov

4 Things You Need to be Doing on Social Media — Now

4 Things You Need to be Doing on Social Media — Now

4 Things You Need to be Doing on Social Media -- Now

Image credit: Shutterstock

By now, if social media isn’t a critical element in your online marketing strategy, it should be. Having a presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can add value to your product, to customer service and ultimately to your brand.

But simply having an account and broadcasting company news isn’t enough. To attract and keep customers — and to build a strong brand online — business owners need to be active on social media. They have to provide valuable information and engage with their followers.

Here are four things businesses should be doing on social media in order to grow the brand online:

1. Engage with followers and provide customer service.
Your customers are engaging with your brand wherever they are — including over social media. Don’t miss this opportunity to listen to what they’re saying to and about you, and to provide the best customer service.

Why is this so important? Responding to customer questions and resolving issues over social media shows everyone who’s following you — and potentially anyone who is online — that your company cares about its customers, potential customers and goes the extra mile for people.

Tools like Hootsuite and Tweedeck can be handy for monitoring mentions of your brand over social media. As for when and who you respond to, set the tone early. If you reply often, people will expect it. If you don’t reply a lot, people will see that as well and might stop engaging with you as often.

2. Crowdsource ideas.
Use social media as a marketing research tool. Just as people can reach out to you, follow you and stay connected with you, business owners can do the same with their customers. Social media is a two-way street.

Say, for instance, you’re getting ready to launch a new product. You can ask your fans and followers what they think about specific details like which colors they prefer or what types of features they want. Not only can you get real, valuable market research at no cost, you’re involving the consumer in decisions. Asking customers for their opinions can help show that they matter, and when they see their ideas become a reality, ideally you create brand and product champions.

3. Keep an eye on the competition.
Remember the old saying: Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.

When it comes to business, it’s good to know what your competitors and other companies in your market niche are doing. By keeping an eye on their social media feeds, you can learn a lot about a company — what it is doing differently, what it’s good at and what it’s bad it. Use this information to implement things in your strategy that you might be missing such as contests, giveaways or forms of content that their followers respond to most.

4. Establish yourself as an industry expert.
Nobody can know what you know unless you share your knowledge. By sharing information like tips, advice and answering questions about your industry, you can position yourself as a valuable resource.

Develop a content-sharing strategy where you respond to questions daily, provide unsolicited tips and share your perspective on industry news. Over sites like Twitter and reddit, also consider scheduling events such as question and answer sessions. Let your followers know that you’ll be hosting the session, set the date and time, and determine the theme or topic you’d like to discuss. Then let your followers know that you’ll try to answer everything they ask.

20
Nov

6 Key Shifts in Thinking About Social Media

6 Key Shifts in Thinking About Social Media

Do you ever wonder how your fellow marketers and business owners are using social media to grow their business? Whether they are concerned about declining Facebook reach? What platforms and strategies they intend to invest their time in?

Wonder no more. Social Media Examiner has just released its annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report after surveying more than 2,800 marketers.

The one undeniable message from the report is that marketers continue to place high value on social media with 92 percent of marketers (up from 86 percent last year) indicating that social media was important for their business.

The report also revealed a number of shifts in focus, as marketers try to stand out from all the noise to get noticed and get results online.

Here are six key shifts in thinking that are highlighted by this year’s industry report:

1. A return to blogging: When asked how they will change their future social-media activities, blogging topped the charts with 68 percent of marketers planning to increase their efforts. Not since 2010 has blogging been the focus for increased activity for marketers, according to the report.

2. Facebook is losing its shine: The report indicates that we’re seeing the beginning of a decline in the use of Facebook by marketers, despite it remaining the most important social network overall. Seven percent of marketers plan to decrease their use of Facebook in 2014, and only 43 percent think their Facebook efforts are effective.

3. B2B vs. B2C requires a shift in focus: The report reveals interesting differences in the focus of B2B and B2C marketers. When it comes to B2C, Facebook dominates (with 68 percent of marketers choosing Facebook as their No. 1 choice of social platform) followed by YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. For B2B marketers, LinkedIn surpassed Facebook as the platform of choice, with blogging and Twitter also playing a more prominent role.

4. A greater fascination with Google+: Marketers want to learn most about Google+. “While 54 percent of marketers are using Google+, 65 percent want to learn more about it and 61 percent plan on increasing Google+ activities in 2014,” the report states.

5. Podcasting is on a growth trajectory: Although only 6 percent of marketers are involved with podcasting, 21 percent plan to increase their podcasting activities this year. This is more than a three-fold increase.

With 28 percent of marketers wanting to learn more about podcasting, this is a major shift in priorities and, according to Social Media Examiner is likely fuelled by:

  • the global adoption of smartphones
  • the introduction of Apple’s CarPlay (an in-car system to allow the playing of podcasts via car dashboards)
  • major auto manufacturers integrating dashboards with 3rd party apps.

6. Eyes are now on visual content: When it comes to content, visual assets top the list of content forms that marketers want to learn more about. Sixty-eight percent of marketers want to know about how to create original images and infographics, followed closely by an interest in learning how to produce original videos.

It is becoming harder to reach your ideal audience while they filter out the noise. As indicated in the report, clever marketers are considering a shift in their approach to reach consumers.

Whether this shift is to be flexible in the platforms you focus on, to include more visual content, or to embrace emerging mediums like podcasting, the end result is to provide quality content that catches the attention of consumers and provides them with value.

20
Nov

Why You Should Use Blogs and Podcasts to Market Your Business

Why You Should Use Blogs and Podcasts to Market Your Business

In Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days, marketing expert Al Lautenslager offers a dynamic marketing blueprint to help business owners attract more customers and maximize profits. In this edited excerpt, the author describes the benefits your business can get from blogging and podcasting.

In the old days (five to 10 years ago in Internet years), a common question asked of small-business owners was if they had or planned to have a website in their marketing arsenal. Now having a website is almost a prerequisite to being in business. The updated question is now, “Do you have a blog or plan to have one?” A blog is important as you continue to strive for those guerrilla relationships that motivate prospects and customers to take action and/or buy.

Blogging requires the discipline of creating, writing and/or contributing information of value to an interested segment of your target market. If you don’t have the discipline, enlist the help of a writer to continually update and make postings of valuable information that prospects and customers are interested in reading.

A blog offers many benefits:

  • A blog can position you even more as an expert. Blogs typically focus on niche areas of a business or specific topics of interest.
  • In the spirit of guerrilla marketing, blogs are low- or no-cost. A small investment in a domain name and a website hosting service will more than put you well on your blogging way.
  • Blogs communicate news and make announcements instantly. Your prospects and customers are interested in the news you make, the news you share and the news you announce.
  • Blogs allow for the building of communities. The whole concept of “community” is a recent trend in the dynamics of marketing and targeting. Popular blogs become profitable blogs. Blogs become more popular the same way websites become popular: by marketing them.
  • An extension of the community is developing one-on-one relationships. Talk to your audience as if you are having a one-on-one conversation.
  • Blogs have value. Customers and prospects want, need, like and buy value. Information can be very valuable. Don’t lose sight of your value proposition along your blogging way. Value also prompts your readers to return for more value. Make your audience hungry or find them hungry, feed them, make them happy again, feed them again, continuously, all with your blog.

Announce your expertise, contribute your knowledge, have conversations and enjoy your relationships with your blog. Guerrilla relationships build guerrilla profits.

Happy blogging!

Podcasting

Distributing audio or video files over the Internet has taken hold. It actually has done more than taken hold — it’s taken off! Podcasting allows for the distribution of information in the form of audio and video to an audience when they want it, where they want it and how they want it.

Podcasting can be described as “push” audio content. The “push” is to a targeted audience or an “on-demand” audience; those who want it. Another way to describe podcasting is that it is essentially downloaded audio files intended for listening on the move. Podcasts show up (pushed) when new content is produced. If you’re a subscriber, you get the podcast right then. All you need is an iPod (or MP3 player of any kind) for listening, thus the word podcasting.

It was considered revolutionary when listeners were able to take their music to the beach or the park or in their car, but that typically meant listening to whatever the radio stations were playing. Now, with podcasting, listeners can choose the programs they want to download from the Internet and listen whenever they want.

People are adding podcasts to blogs and websites daily. Businesses are using them for general communication and training. They can be listened to in a car, in an airport, in the park or wherever it’s convenient for the listener.

Just like written communication of any type, or even electronic communication, content is king in podcasts. In the business world, no one really wants to hear their boss preach to them for 20 minutes a week in a podcast. Straight presentation can be long, monotonous and an inconvenience to a listener, regardless of corporate directives.

Content has to be crafted with the listener in mind — not only their interests but their listening habits. It’s a known fact that a listener’s patience is less with recorded content than it is with live content.

To create valuable podcast content, think like a radio producer. Radio producers are always aware that a listener can switch stations at any moment for many reasons. That’s why they concentrate on the entertainment value of programming, instantly and frequently. Listeners are usually alone when listening and can change stations or turn the program off when not fulfilled, entertained, or informed. The radio producer has to provide value. Value is what the audience will listen to, re-listen to and listen to with a desire for more or the next program (podcast).

Here are a few podcasting pointers:

Provide information of value. Value can come in the form of education, information, inspiration, motivation and entertainment. Don’t just broadcast commercials.

Conversations work. This can be accomplished by having someone interview you or by participating in a panel discussion. One-person podcasts are less dynamic by definition. Dynamic content sells.

Remember the 3 Ps of podcasting: promote, promote, promote. Encourage subscribers, sign-ups and raving fans with automatic and periodic updates. Post your podcast availability on your website (with a live link), mention it in your email signature and enlist in podcast directories, including iTunes and podcast.net.

Podcasting is another marketing weapon in your guerrilla arsenal. Market it, just like a product, a person, a service, a company, etc.