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

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.



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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


Should Your Business Have a Podcast?

Should Your Business Have a Podcast?

Should Your Business Have a Podcast?

Image credit: Shutterstock

Your business probably has a website, Twitter account and Facebook page, but does it need a podcast? Consumers enjoy podcasts because it gives them alternative and more convenient ways to consume content, says Deborah Shane, a Florida-based branding expert and podcast host.

She says that more professionals are using podcasts as a marketing tool to establish expertise and distinguish themselves from the competition. Shane’s Metropolis Radio business podcast has featured more than 350 guests and has been downloaded 245,000 times in the last four years. The 15 to 30 minute segments consist of interviews with expert guests on topics such as branding, social media, and entrepreneurship. “Podcasting has opened up more doors than just about any platform I’ve used,” Shane says. By inviting experts as guests on her show, she’s networking, building credibility, and making professional connections.

But podcasting is a time commitment. Shane suggests waiting a month before you start promoting your podcast. Use that time to create visual branding for your site, think about the content you’ll provide, the show’s format, how frequently you’ll record the podcast and which guests you’ll invite on the show, etc.

Shane recommends using BlogTalkRadio, which offers a free, turnkey solution to record your show and link it to iTunes, Facebook and Twitter. Once a show is scheduled through BlogTalkRadio, the host and their guest(s) call a special number and are patched through to a “studio” dashboard that the host controls on his or her computer where he or she can take calls live or interview through the switchboard.

The show is recorded live and archived as a podcast, where it’s made available on iTunes and can be shared on social networks or blogs. Editing is not available with the free version, but premium paid levels (which range from $39-$249 a month) allow users to edit their shows.

Here are six things to consider before starting a podcast:

1. Choose your format. Shane uses a late night talk show format and discusses talking points with her guests beforehand, but allows the conversation to evolve on the show. Another popular format is giving a tutorial or lecture on a topic relevant to your business that many people have questions about.

2. Record a podcast at least once a week. You want to listeners to know when to expect new content. While “live listeners” (people listening to the show as it airs) are great, Shane says the goal is to increase the number of downloads your podcast receives once it’s posted.

3. Find guests with energy. Your guest may be brilliant in their field, but you want someone who’s interesting and with whom you can have a good conversation. Shane suggests reaching out to experts in your field who have written a book or have a lot of Twitter followers, so they can promote their appearance on your show. The appearance is mutually beneficial, as they are gaining credibility as an expert, and you’re building an audience and area of expertise.

“Great guests are actively marketing on their own social media platforms. They have energy, articulate well and know how to tell their story,” Shane says.

4. Practice. Do two or three practice shows to get the feel for podcasting. Shane recommends recording a few test shows and posting them on your site to become comfortable with the process before promoting the podcast. You can set the show as “test” or “private” when scheduling your podcast.

5. Promote your podcast consistently. Use your other social media platforms, blog, website, etc. to promote your podcast before, during, and after the show has been recorded. BlogTalkRadio allows you to post updates automatically to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

6. Get ideas from the competition. Visit podcast.com or iTunes to see how other businesses are using podcasts to promote themselves.


How to Promote and Profit From Podcasts

How to Promote and Profit From Podcasts

How to Promote and Profit From Podcasts

Image credit: Retina Boys | Flickr

In his book Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars, Mitch Myerson introduces you to 22 innovators who have redefined the developing landscape of online marketing. Learn how to master proven strategies, avoid costly mistakes and grow your business. In this edited excerpt, contributing author Jason Van Orden offers tips on promoting your podcast in Apple’s iTunes store, measuring the size of your audience, and more.

While Apple didn’t invent podcasting, it certainly put it on the map, and the iTunes’ podcast directory is the primary place people go to find podcasts. This doesn’t mean that only Apple users can find and consume your podcast; listeners find and consume podcasts through any number of devices, mobile applications, and desktop web browsers. However, Apple’s iTunes is the first place to promote your podcast for maximum impact.

The iTunes store is essentially a search engine for content: Users go there on a daily basis to find music, movies, TV shows, books, apps, and podcasts that are relevant to their interests. As with any search engine, iTunes’ objective is to offer users the content they’re most likely to enjoy.

The podcast directory is just one section of the iTunes store. iTunes users can also use the application to subscribe to their favorite podcasts. That way, new episodes download automatically to their iTunes library. Within the podcast directory, there are two primary places that listeners look to find shows. You need to show up in both of these places.

First, users can search the iTunes Store for keywords that interest them. You need to show up at the top of the results for searches relating to your show’s topic.

Second, users browse the categories and subcategories of the podcast directory. Each of these categories has New and Noteworthy, What’s Hot, Top Podcasts, and Top Episodes lists. These lists are updated frequently based on the latest iTunes store activity.

How do you make sure your show is seen as relevant and authoritative? The secret lies in your podcast feed. If you don’t have a feed yet, set one up. The easiest way to do this is with blog software like WordPress. Then make your feed iTunes-ready using a service like FeedBlitz or a WordPress plugin like PowerPress.

An iTunes-ready feed contains key information (also called tags) about your podcast. The podcast directories, like iTunes, use these tags to create your show’s listing. These tags also greatly influence when and where you show up in the directories.

To establish your show’s relevancy, the podcast title, author, and description must contain the kind of keyword phrases that your target audience is likely to search for. This is how iTunes knows what topics your show is about.

The authority (or popularity) of your show is determined mainly by two factors:

1. The number of people who’ve recently clicked the subscribe button for your show inside the iTunes store

2. The number of new, written reviews that your show has in iTunes (especially reviews with five-star ratings)

When your show first appears in the iTunes directory, it’s important to leverage your network to get new subscribers and written, five-star reviews. It’s most effective if this occurs within a one- to two-week period. Turn to your family, friends, email list, social media following, and professional colleagues to help you out. The goal is to land in the New and Noteworthy list and possibly the What’s Hot list, too. This gives your show an initial boost of new listeners. Then continue to encourage your following to subscribe and review your show to maintain and grow your ranking.

How to Measure Audience Size and Growth

How many people listen to your show? It’s a question every podcaster wants to know. Unfortunately, the technology doesn’t exist yet to track if someone listens to an episode or how much they listened. The best approximation of your audience size is the average number of downloads that each episode gets. Your media host should provide an accurate download count for an individual episode (audio or video file) over a given period of time.

It’s important to note that a “download” isn’t limited to someone saving the audio or video file to their computer. When someone streams an episode through a media player on your site, on a mobile device, or in a directory like iTunes, it’s also counted as a download in your stats. Also keep in mind that a download doesn’t indicate a listen. Someone could download an episode and never press play. Even so, the numbers still give you a relative indication of your audience’s growth over time.

The Life of a Podcast Episode

When you first release a new episode, there’s typically an immediate spike in the number of downloads. This is a result of those who are subscribed and have set their podcasting application (on their computer or phone) to automatically download new episodes of your show. The rest of your audience will download or stream the show in the coming days and weeks. To get a real sense for the size of your audience, you need to look at the number of downloads for an episode after it’s reached its “plateau.”

For the purpose of measuring your audience size, the number of downloads in the first 30 days gives you the best indication of your currently active audience. To measure the growth of your audience, chart the average “30-day download number” of each episode over time.

Tracking sales that result from your podcast is similar to tracking the effectiveness of any direct-marketing ad or campaign. You can trace sales back to the podcast if you’re smart about how you set up the podcast’s call to action.

For instance, you can use a unique ULR in your podcasts and never use that address for any other source of traffic. Your site metrics can track how many email subscribers and buyers arrive from that URL so you’ll know that any sales tracing back to that URL came from the podcast. You can do similar tracking by using a unique phone number or coupon code in your calls to action from the podcast. By carefully tracking your calls to action in this way, you can compare the investment into your podcast against other sources of traffic.


11 Clever Ways to Promote Your Podcast to the World

11 Clever Ways to Promote Your Podcast to the World

If you’re used to sharing text and video, the world of podcasting can seem like a planet of its own, especially when it comes time to promoting a new show.

Don’t just wait for your target audience to find it through the search engines. You can’t rely on podcast directories either.

Taking extra time to promote your show can be well worth it because the audience for podcasts has been growing steadily during the last decade.

Edison Research, which studies consumer adoption of digital media, reported this year that three-quarters of Americans 12 to 24 and half of those 25 to 54, say they have listened to online radio or streamed audio content available only on the Internet in the last month.

Podcasting isn’t exactly cutting edge. So why the rise in popularity?

Because the old model of creating news for the masses isn’t working anymore. New media channels such as Internet radio are competing against traditional media companies for advertising revenue and audiences. Also many Internet shows give listeners information on topics that they might not find anywhere else, like how to create a self-sufficient homestead.

Videos require your attention in front of a screen. But you can listen to Internet radio while walking the dog, working out or driving.

If you’re podcasting, you’re probably already communicating with your target audience on a variety of other sites. That’s the best place to start. Here are 11 ideas on how to promote your new show.

1. Submit it to iTunes.

iTunes has eclipsed 1 billion podcast subscriptions. People can search the iTunes podcast directory and then opt to listen to your show.

If you’re just starting a podcast, create several episodes, an RSS feed for your show, tags and album artwork. Then go to FeedValidator.org and make sure it says “Your feed is valid” before submitting to iTunes.

2. Include the podcast in a Google profile.

This often overlooked resource, the Google profile, is available on all Google properties. While you’re busy creating content in various formats, it’s easy to forget that your Google profile is the perfect container for links to all that content.

3. Include show notes on Pinterest.

Show notes provide a quick summary of what a specific podcast episode includes. They should have a captivating title and copy that compels visitors to listen to the show. A simple image like this from the DollarsAndSenseShow.com can be pinned with the description harboring show notes and relevant keywords.

4. Put a link on other social media profiles.

LinkedIn lets you insert media links in your profile: The summary and project sections are ideal for featuring a podcast. On Facebook, link to your podcast and include show notes in a status update or a note. Don’t forget to share the podcast with your Facebook groups.

5. Interview a celebrity about a new book.

Authors look under every rock for ways to promote their new books. Ask for a celebrity or influencer for an interview and the person might opt to use your podcast interview promote the book. Many of these big names have huge followings and share every video, podcast, article and blog post that features them, especially during book launches.

6. Post a YouTube video showing a recording of your podcast.

Create a two-minute video as you record a segment of your show in front of the microphone. Shoot several segments from the same podcast and assign those videos to a YouTube playlist. Why bother? Because each video can have its own description and keywords that will pull in more traffic.

Your current fans will love this “behind the scenes” look at how your show is produced. Be sure to lead your podcast subscribers to the videos.

Use Spreaker, a podcasting service that can be connected to your YouTube account. Spreaker will turn an audio podcast into a static image video for your YouTube channel.

7. Tap Amazon’s Author Central account for promotion.

Include a link to your podcast on your Amazon profile. Author Central lets you import tweets and recent blog posts. Those, too, can be promote your show. Readers who love your books might be excited to find your content available in formats other than text.

8. Trade promotion favors with other podcasters.

Find a podcaster who targets an audience similar to yours. Agree to promote each other’s shows. You can even interview each other.

9. Create a collage of photos.

Craft a collage of photos that explain quickly who you are, your guest and what the show is about.

Jim Palmer’s Stick Like Glue radio show created a collage for an interview with social media expert Amy Porterfield. This communicates quickly and far better than just one photo could exactly what listeners will learn. This image is perfect for social sharing.

10. Market a top 10 list of the best podcasts.

Let’s say your show features interviews with startup founders. Compile a list of the top 10 podcasts featuring startups and include your show. Pitch it to bloggers who write about startups and to the other podcasters on your list.

11. Pitch a story on earning money from podcasting.

Many hobbyists, regardless of how passionate they are about their topics, can’t turn their shows into revenue. If you can, that’s a business story you can invite a financial publication to cover.

More than a dozen people who subscribe to receive my twice-a-week email tips on publicity have asked me to start a podcast so they don’t have to be in front of their computers to read them. I’ve added podcasting to the top of my to-do list for 2015.

If you create podcasts, how do you promote your shows and which ideas have been the most successful?


How to Calculate Gross Profit

How to Calculate Gross Profit

One of the most important financial concepts you will need to learn in running your new business is the computation of gross profit. And the tool that you use to maintain gross profit is markup.

The gross profit on a product is computed as:

Sales – Cost of Goods Sold = Gross Profit

To understand gross profit, it is important to know the distinction between variable and fixed costs.

Variable costs are those things that change based on the amount of product being made and are incurred as a direct result of producing the product.

Variable costs include:

  1. Materials used
  2. Direct labor
  3. Packaging
  4. Freight
  5. Plant supervisor salaries
  6. Utilities for a plant or a warehouse
  7. Depreciation expense on production equipment
  8. Machinery

Fixed costs generally are more static in nature. They include:

  1. Office expenses such as supplies, utilities, a telephone for the office, etc.
  2. Salaries and wages of office staff, salespeople, officers and owners
  3. Payroll taxes and employee benefits
  4. Advertising, promotional and other sales expenses
  5. Insurance
  6. Auto expenses for salespeople
  7. Professional fees
  8. Rent.

Variable expenses are recorded as cost of goods sold. Fixed expenses are counted as operating expenses (sometimes called selling and general administrative expenses.

While the gross profit is a dollar amount, the gross profit margin is expressed as a percentage. It’s equally important to track since it allows you to keep an eye on profitability trends.

This is critical, because many businesses have gotten into financial trouble with an increasing gross profit that coincides with a declining gross profit margin.

The gross profit margin is computed as follows:

Gross Profit / Sales = Gross Profit Margin

There are two key ways for you to improve your gross margin. First, you can increase your prices. Second, you can decrease the costs to produce your goods. Of course, both are easier said than done.

An increase in prices can cause sales to drop. If sales drop too far, you may not generate enough gross profit dollars to cover operating expenses. Price increases require a very careful reading of inflationary rates, competitive factors, and basic supply and demand for the product you are producing.

The second method of increasing gross profit margin is to lower the variable costs to produce your product. This can be accomplished by decreasing material costs or making the product more efficiently.

Volume discounts are a good way to reduce material costs. The more material you buy from a supplier, the more likely they are to offer you discounts.

Another way to reduce material costs is to find a less costly supplier. However, you might sacrifice quality if the goods purchased are not made as well.

Whether you are starting a manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing or service business, you should always be on the lookout for ways to deliver your product or service more efficiently.

However, you also must balance efficiency and quality issues to ensure that they do not get out of balance.

Let’s look at the gross profit of ABC Clothing Inc. as an example of the computation of gross profit margin. In Year 1, the sales were $1 million and the gross profit was $250,000, resulting in a gross profit margin of 25 percent ($250,000/$1 million). In Year 2, sales were $1.5 million and the gross profit was $450,000, resulting in a gross profit margin of 30 percent ($450,000/$1.5 million).

It is apparent that ABC Clothing earned not only more gross profit dollars in Year 2, but also a higher gross profit margin. The company either raised prices, lowered variable material costs from suppliers or found a way to produce its clothing more efficiently (which usually means fewer labor hours per product produced).

ABC Clothing did a better job in Year 2 of managing its markup on the clothing products that they manufactured.

Many business owners often get confused when relating markup to gross profit margin. They are first cousins in that both computations deal with the same variables. The difference is that gross profit margin is figured as a percentage of the selling price, while markup is figured as a percentage of the seller’s cost.

Markup is computed as follows:

(Selling Price – Cost to Produce) / Cost to Produce = Markup Percentage

Let’s compute the markup for ABC Clothing for Year 1:

($1 million – $750,000) / $750,000 = 33.3%

Now, let’s compute markup for ABC Clothing for Year 2:

($1.5 million – $1.05 million) / $1.05 million = 42.9%

While computing markup for an entire year for a business is very simple, using this valuable markup tool daily to work up price quotes is more complicated. However, it is even more vital.

Computing markup on last year’s numbers helps you understand where you’ve been and gives you a benchmark for success. But computing the markup on individual jobs will affect your business going forward and can often make the difference in running a profitable operation.