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Monthly Archives: September 2016

5 Ways to Ensure You’re Recruiti Best Talent

Money is important, but it’s not the only thing top talent wants. They want a work environment that challenges them, allows for innovation, makes work fun but also provides work-life balance. This could mean paid time off (PTO), the ability to work from home, time to volunteer in their communities or the ability to take unpaid leave to pursue interests, to name a few.

Personal finance writer Kevin Mulligan said your company needs to create an employee value proposition (EVP) to use as a selling point with candidates. This should describe what sets your organization apart and why people should want to work there.

“The more attractive your EVP is, the more likely you will be attracting the cream of the crop to your company,” Mulligan wrote in a BusinessDictionary article.

One of the best ways to draw candidates in is a mobile-friendly hiring process. Dr. John Sullivan, a Silicon Valley-based author and HR expert, said that more than 43 percent of job seekers use their mobile phones in their job searches.

“That number will continue to rise until the mobile phone is dominant in recruiting,” he wrote in an article on EREMedia.com.

To that end, your app or website should allow candidates to accept offers, hold live video interviews, complete referral tasks and self-schedule interviews. For retention purposes, you can also build in functions for new employees: an interactive employee handbook, benefit registration, access to PTO balances and more.

Even just a decade ago, it might have seemed like a distant dream to have full-time, off-site employees with the same exact technological capabilities as workers in the office. Today, advancements in cloud computing and videoconferencing have opened the doors to hiring remote staff members, so recruiters are no longer limited to candidates in close geographic proximity to the company’s headquarters.

“If your company is located in a competitive hiring market, you’d be better off searching for top talent in a less competitive area,” said Anthony Smith, founder and CEO of CRM software company Insightly. “Technology allows for smooth collaboration and communication no matter where employees are located, so you don’t need to lose out on experts in your field because of where your company is based.”

This goes back to the workforce’s “immediate” expectations. Top talent will move quickly, because it is in high demand. Be ahead of the curve by investigating ways to speed up your hiring process while still demanding high-quality candidates reach a high standard.

“Others may view your slow hiring as a mirror of the speed in which you make business decisions, and drop out because they expect faster decision making,” Sullivan wrote.

You can speed up hiring by prioritizing hires for revenue-generating or key positions, surveying past candidates for their perception of what worked and what didn’t, and identifying other unnecessary delays that seem to be common in each vacancy-fulfillment effort.

Sometimes the best way to attract a candidate to your organization is to show off the people he or she will join there. Taso Du Val, founder and CEO of global tech industry network Toptal, advised highlighting your company’s existing talent during the recruiting process.

“Talented individuals want to work with top talent, so showcasing the all-stars already on your team can help validate why other high-quality candidates should hop on board,” Du Val said.

You can also use your current employees as a recruiting tool by sharing their positive testimonials with prospective candidates.

“Ask employees why they like working for your company,” said Sandy Mazur, president of staffing firm Spherion. “When you’re vetting talent, share some of the feedback and anecdotes that your workers shared with you, as those may resonate with candidates and attract them to the job.”

This article was originally published in 2014 and was updated Feb. 12, 2016. Additional reporting by Marci Martin.

7 Business Ideas Poised for Success

Box subscription services

Box subscription services are popping up everywhere in the food, beauty and even pet product sectors, ready to deliver goods right to your door each month. One of the consumer perks is the idea that these subscription boxes are carefully curated just for them based on their likes and interests, and each month, the boxes’ contents are a surprise.

Find a unique product category that’s still untapped by the box subscription industry, or find a way to put a new spin on an existing service, and you could have a lucrative business on your hands. Keep it as inexpensive as possible — according to LearnVest, offering cheaper products will help you stand out from the competition.

Health clubs for millennials

Health and fitness services are being rebranded to become trendier and more sociable. Opening a health club or gym targeted specifically to millennials could be a great way to capitalize on the fitness trend, especially if you focus on creating a strong, fun and engaging social media presence to really connect with young members and potential customers.

Software training

If you’re proficient in a highly specialized software, you can get paid to pass your knowledge on to amateurs and professionals looking to expand their skill sets. Technical manuals are available for programs like QuickBooks and Final Cut Pro, but these are often expensive and difficult for the average user to get through. Schedule small group workshops or private sessions, and charge by the hour for a full tutorial of the program. The best part about this gig is that it can be done part time.

Health care consulting

As an independent healthcare consultant, you can offer management and data analysis for organizations like hospitals, labs and therapist offices to help implement solutions to improve efficiency and save money. If you have a marketing or economics degree, this is a great opportunity to put it to use.

Freelancing

Companies are increasingly turning to freelance and contract workers to fill the skill gaps in their staff. It’s not hard to imagine that you could build a whole company around providing freelance services of one sort or another. Some freelance gigs pay by the project and others pay hourly, and the rates can vary greatly. But as you gain more experience, your earning potential will soar.

Translation services

There’s no denying the global marketplace is growing. All that cross-cultural communication is creating an increasing need for translators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the hiring of interpreters and translators is projected to grow by 46 percent by 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. This means it’s a big business opportunity for entrepreneurs who can bring foreign-language speakers together with businesses in need.

Healthy vending machines

More and more health-conscious and time-strapped Americans are looking for quick food on the go that is healthier than the soda and chips you usually find in vending machines. This has spawned a whole new industry of wellness-oriented, specialized vending companies likeFresh Healthy Vending that offer franchisees the chance to own and service vending machines with better foods and beverages.

Interested entrepreneurs can either open a franchise from an existing vending machine business or sell vending-machine friendly products to help stock up schools and offices with healthier, affordable snacks.

4 Strategies to Build and Track Audience Engagement

Audience engagement is a key part of marketing, and with any advertising campaign, you need to understand your target audience. Who follows your brand? Who would you like to follow your brand?

“Sometimes your current audience is different from the group you originally wanted to communicate with,” explains Chevon Drew, senior communications manager at Race Forward and Color Lines.

“A business can manufacture and market baby wipes to parents for five years, experience an increase in sales and attribute it to parents wanting more wipes when it truly could have meant their audience changed from solely parents to parents and the limitless numbers of people now using wipes to remove makeup in the era of Instagram,” she added. “That’s an example I fabricated, but it illustrates the thinking behind doing less assuming and more surveying.”

Depending on how big a business is, the marketing and communication departments can be completely separate. However, they should always meet when discussing revenue generation.

“It’s important to make sure that your audience engagement initiatives align with your company’s overall goals,” explained Elizabeth Riley Boyer, director of marketing and communications at ThinkCERCA.

She recommends following the OKR framework, which is an acronym used by Google, Intel and other major corporations. OKR stands for company “Objectives” and measurable “Key Results.” Each objective should align with a company’s mission and values, and each key result identifies a way employees can work together to reach an objective.

“For nearly all businesses, you probably have some sort of revenue metric that you’re tracking,” Riley Boyer added. “At ThinkCERCA, we have some great data on platform usage leading to great student achievement results, which, in turn, leads to increased customer renewals and expansions. So my team is currently looking at launching and growing engagement initiatives that support increased platform usage among teachers and students.”

An average day for Drew involves tracking which links receive the most retweets from Twitter and shares on Facebook and analyzing open rates for their organization’s email marketing lists.

That’s why Christina Ochoa, social media strategist and founder of The Social Butterfly Gal, recommends hiring a tailored professional, well versed in the online realm. To best serve her clients, she uses analytics and powerful visuals to market on Instagram.

“Digital strategy can be time consuming and overwhelming,” she said. “Small business owners should hire someone who knows the digital world, can respond in a timely matter and [be] one [who] isn’t afraid to try new things when it comes to strategy or content.”

However, since social media is accessible to the public, an experienced professional doesn’t have to already work in the industry. Their own following and content can show how well (or not) they grab an audience.

Digital media is constantly changing. It was only last year that Instagram offered the analytics feature to any business account. Fortunately, it’s easy to carry out experiments, because posting a tweet takes a matter of seconds.

“Our audience engagement editor is constantly testing subject lines and [the] best times of day to send a tweet,” Riley Boyer said.

Plus, it’s easy to get wrapped up in what a brand should sound like and lose your unique voice. Sounding overly promotional makes content feel less relatable. Especially when a company first starts out, you’ll need to develop your voice over time.
“Too many feel social media needs to be so straightforward,” Ochoa added. “Don’t be afraid to be real. That’s how people will feel connected to you and want to follow you!”

7 Mobile Marketing Solutions for Small Businesses

Yelp is more than just a reviews site and go-to app for finding local businesses and deciding where to eat. It’s also a great place to incentivize customers via the Yelp mobile app. For instance, a restaurant can offer free drinks or appetizers, and a medical clinic can offer special discounts on select treatments — all customers have to do is check-in from their phones. The Yelp app also makes it easier for customers to contact you using call-to-action buttons, such the ability to call your business, visit your website or place a mobile order with just one tap. Yelp also lets you create and publish local ads, making it easier for nearby customers to discover your business while searching for ones just like yours. For more information on how to use Yelp for business check out our primer, Yelp: A Small Business Guide.

The easiest way to reach customers on their mobile phones is by texting them. Mozeo aims to make texting customers a breeze with its easy to use dashboard and text messaging management system. To connect with your business and agree to receive communication, all customers have to do is text a keyword followed by a unique short code. For instance, Denny’s restaurants had customers text the word “Dennys” to 24587 to receive special deals, and Heineken used the word “USOPEN” to run a national text-2-win contest. In addition to deals and contests, Mozeo can also be used to send text notifications, reminders, verification codes and account alerts (such as when a password has been changed), as well as hold two-way conversations to provide customer support.

Automation can help you save tons of time, while reaching tons of customers.Urban Airship is a mobile messaging platform that aims to take the leg work out of sending push notifications and in-app messages to your customers. It uses rule-based triggers and customer behaviors to automatically send the right messages at the right time, and it can send up to 300,000 messages per second. Features include unlimited push notifications and in-app messages with real-time automation, social sharing, landing pages, deep linking, analytics and more.

AT&T offers more than business phone and Internet services. AT&T’s mobile marketing solutions lets businesses launch targeted mobile campaigns to local and national customers via text messages, instant messaging, email, social networks and other communication channels. Features include mobile coupons, mobile voting, text-to-screen, picture and video messaging, keyword and short code combinations, mobile eCards, text reminders and more. AT&T also offers solutions that cater to a wide range of industries, such as advertising agencies, brand manufacturers, entertainment and media, financial services, hospitality and retailers.

Managing mobile relationships isn’t easy. Vibes can help with a wide range of mobile marketing services. Catapult, its cloud-based mobile marketing platform, lets you manage text messages, push notifications, Apple Wallet, Android Pay, mobile Web and other mobile communications all in one place. Vibe also offers a wide range of materials to help businesses run successful mobile campaigns, such as downloadable mobile messaging guides, industry reports, news stories, webinars and other resources.

Another popular form of mobile marketing is using mobile devices to find out more information about a product simply by scanning a bar code or quick-response (QR) code. ScanLife’s Mobile Engagement Platform goes the extra mile by letting customers scan everything from UPC and QR codes to NFC, images, print ads and even actual objects. After scanning, customers are taken directly to websites, videos and other interactive sources. Such technology was once only available to large companies with generous marketing budgets, but ScanLife gives small businesses access to the same high-tech consumer mobile engagement solution on a small business budget.

Figuring out marketing budgets and gauging returns on investment (ROI) can be challenging for small businesses, particularly when it comes to mobile marketing. Convertro eliminates the guesswork by delivering key insights into mobile ad performance, allowing small business owners to make well-informed mobile marketing decisions. This platform can track all mobile elements on the path to purchase by creating customer profiles, no matter what devices they use to engage with your business. For example, if a prospective customer sees a mobile ad on his or her tablet, sees an ad for the same product on her smartphone two days later and then finally makes the purchase on his or her laptop, Convertro’s cross-device attribution technology accurately determines the impact of the mobile activities toward the final purchase. If small business owners have this information, they can make data-driven decisions on how to shift their ad spending toward the most efficient and profitable channels with the greatest ROI.