WORK-LIFE BALANCE

According to a 2012 Oxford University study, 50% of your potential happiness is based on genetics. Another 10% is influenced by your circumstances (like geography, family, health, etc.). That leaves you able to control 40% of your potential happiness. Today’s blog is about that 40% slice.

Having started my business nearly two months ago, I’m beginning to understand how critically important it is to have a healthy balance between my personal life and my career. I’ve noticed lately how my internal pendulum needs to swing between both pieces of my life, because each plays a major role in my senses of accomplishment, purpose and happiness.

Because we are human beings living in an imperfect world, it’s easy for us to forget how the slightest imbalance of our internal pendulum can impact our colleagues, family members, friends, and most importantly, ourselves! Burnout in one aspect of our lives means trouble in another. There’s no getting around it.

To maintain a sense of peace and happiness, we have to monitor our work-life balance constantly. For many reasons, it’s not always possible. But it doesn’t mean we can’t work at it.

Major corporations in the United States are starting to embrace this concept. Why? Because happy employees are productive employees.

Quick—what do you think of when you imagine people working at a Fortune 500 company? You see money. You see suits. You see long hours spent at a desk in front of a computer, torturous commutes and back-to-back meetings.

And yet: “The Fortune 500-dominated Corporate Executive Board ranks work-life balance as the second most important workplace attribute.” Come again?

According to a report by the Corporate Executive Board, which represents 80% of Fortune 500 companies, “employees who feel they have good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t.” These companies have begun offering employees opportunities towork from home during the week. They’ve started to cut hours on Friday afternoons. They’ve been offering catered lunches and team bonding exercises to improve morale and establish genuine camaraderie.

If Fortune 500 companies place such importance on work-life balance (and therefore on mental health), then why shouldn’t you?

I know what you’re thinking. I don’t run my own business, and I most certainly cannot ask for this kind of treatment in my own work place.

Forbes highlighted a recent study performed by Stanford where they address this stigma. Workers typically believe that if they ask for “special treatment,” it would harm their reputation and might even mean the end of their career. Employees think that giving in to this type of request would mean the end of productivity in the workplace.

I say to you and your workplace: RISE ABOVE THE STIGMAS! A healthy balance can be achieved between happiness and productivity. Equilibrium has to be maintained by closely evaluating and reevaluating the systems set in place between employee and employer, but it most certainly works when done correctly.

So what about happiness at home? Sources say we need to ditch technology when we finally make it through the front door. Apparently, 45% of the time we spend awake—15 hours and 45 minutes for the average adult—is wrapped up in using technology. That doesn’t leave much time for connecting with others (or yourself).

So find a thing. Your thing could be collapsing into a comfy couch and curling up with a good book. Or a loved one, furry or otherwise. It could be cooking a delicious meal for your family, or maybe going for a walk and using that time for reflection and meditation.

Whatever it is you do to unplug, make space for it in your life—at work if possible, and at home always. You own a body, mind and soul. When you take care of all three, you’re able to recognize the next exciting adventure or opportunity that lies ahead!

THE RIGHT CHANNELS

You know how websites have that little cluster of social media icons in the right-hand corner? When you browse, shop or research online, you may notice that one website links to a brand’s Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts. Another company might invite you to connect on Google + and LinkedIn. Yet another may encourage you to follow its Pinterest and Instagram accounts, while some brands have icons for all of these platforms.

As the owner or marketing manager of a small business, you may be asking yourself: Which social media channels will help us engage with our target audience successfully? It’s a good question.

When it comes to acing social media, start with these guidelines:

  1. Beware of overcommitting. The FOMO (fear of missing out) effect can mislead you. We’ve seen businesses under its influence create more social media accounts than they actually care to manage. Unless it’s your full-time focus, maintaining brand consistency across multiple channels is surprisingly demanding. Each platform has its own unique “personality” and is useful for different reasons. Don’t overcommit. When it comes to social media, it is worse to have a static social presence than a non-existent one. In other words, it’s better to manage one social media account very well than to poorly manage several of them.
  1. Figure out your goals. Seriously—take some time to think about your company’s goals and how a social media presence could help you reach them. Here are some wheel-turners:
  • Do I want potential customers to visit my website?
  • Do I want to increase awareness of my business?
  • Do I want to share my company’s unique culture?
  • Do I want to manage and invite people to upcoming events?
  • Do I want to advertise products/services to a specific market?
  • Do I want customers to be able to reach out with questions/concerns?
  • Do I want to be able to update a fan base with relevant information?

Once you’ve chosen a platform that fits your needs, study how that platform behaves. Watch how other companies engage with their audiences, and also note where they fall short so you don’t make the same mistakes. Apply, observe, adjust and repeat. If your efforts are deliberate and consistent, you’ll find success.

  1. Identify your target audience. Without this piece, the rest is moot. If you’re not marketing to your business’s demographic, you might as well be talking to a wall.Read this blog for insights about pinpointing your audience.

Once you’ve nailed down your business goals and identified your target audience, you’re ready to decide which social media platform is the best fit to reach your consumers where they live.

  1. Figure out where your audience is and meet them there. Identifying your target demographic allows you to reach them through the channels they use. Each social media channel has a somewhat distinct primary demographic.

For instance, Instagram is a social network tool that caters to a younger audience through imagery and hashtags. According to recent polls, there are over 77 million Instagram users in the U.S. alone, and more than half of them are under the age of 30. Though this platform continues to dramatically expand, sources predict it will hit its peak in the near future and younger audiences will gravitate toward newer social platforms, such as Snapchat and Vine. That’s right—even social media gets wrinkles.

Facebook, however, has a background all of its own. Born in 2004, it’s the oldest in its peer group. At first, it was only available to students at Harvard University (where it was invented). Then Facebook expanded to allow users from nearby universities, then most U.S. universities, and then to anyone over the age of 13 with a valid email address. Today, it’s the top choice for catering to a more mature market. Recent studies state that 58% of adults use Facebook. So rather than going stale and petering out, Facebook has reinvented itself by becoming a powerful tool for businesses that want to advertise and measure metrics (clicks, hits, conversions and so on).

  1. Engage expertly. Users follow business accounts that have relevant and interesting content. It might seem obvious, but this simple fact is often overlooked. If your page becomes saturated with self-promotions, your business will lose engagement.Luckily, there’s data to help you understand the impact of your posts. If you have a business page on Facebook, for example, you can check your metrics to keep an eye on the success of your posts and ads. When read correctly, the data helps you learn which posts get the most engagement so you can tweak your strategy accordingly.

For most industries, we recommend abiding by the 80/20 rule when it comes to your page posts. Roughly 80% of your content should be interesting, informative and industry-related while 20% of your content should promote and advertise your brand.

Know that the world of social media cannot be fully understood in one day. It takes time and effort to grasp the complexities of this growing, changing phenomenon. The goal is to make it work for you.

Would you like to know more about other platforms or how to engage YOUR audience through social media? Let us know! Drop us a line at info@profectamarketing.com.

Resources:

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/12-social-media-facts-statistics-know-2016/

https://www.marketingtechblog.com/social-media-demographic-infographic/

The History of SEO

In a world where search engine optimization (SEO) is becoming the pinnacle of web presence and brand awareness, fresh and evolving content is crucial for keeping brands afloat in a sea of competitors (it seems we really like our fish metaphors over here). Whether we like it or not, search engines impact our digital world and dictate how marketers work each and every day. Most businesses can’t afford to let their web content go stale. So where do you start?

With search engines.

A QUICK BACKGROUND

Where, oh where would we be without the web browsers we use for online searches—Yahoo, Bing, and the great giant, Google? Get this: Google alone has reported an average of 2.3 million searches per second, with 1.17 billion searches per month. Though our brains can barely comprehend numbers this staggering, they do paint a picture of the amount of time people are spending online.

In the early days of search engines, businesses could get noticed by going into the back end of their websites to “keyword pound,” or enter every conceivable keyword even remotely related to their business. When consumers typed one or more of those keywords into their search engine of choice, that business popped up. Easy.

It doesn’t work that way anymore.

What happened? What changed, and why? The short, very simple answer is “oversaturation.” At some point, everyone realized having a website was important. Considering there are currently over one billion websites on record, search engines could no longer operate efficiently based off the “keyword pound” principle. This method simply became inefficient at generating relevant and correct information for users, which to be fair, was frustrating for them. Now search engines actually penalize websites that contain a high volume of keywords per page. How? By shoving them way down the totem pole in organic rankings. Tricky.

“That’s when search engines did something unprecedented … they manipulated their algorithms to reflect how people interacted with websites.”

In 2015, there was a big push for “exact keywords” to nudge search rankings in the desired direction. This meant each unique page on a website included just one or two keywords that were very specific to each page’s content. As a result, every business owner, blogger and entrepreneur started changing their website’s SEO to avoid getting a slap on the wrist.

This was a good start, but it turned out it still wasn’t good enough for the end user. That’s when search engines did something unprecedented: They stopped defining a functioning website by how many clicks it gets. Instead, they manipulated their algorithms to reflect how people interacted with websites.

This is amazing, because now data can determine something previously intangible—user satisfaction. Now we know how long a user stays on a page and therefore whether or not that user found what s/he was looking for. Thanks to algorithms, Google knows how much time your target audience spends on your site and when and how often they return.

Other details the new algorithms measure to determine your site’s functionality:

  • How long does it take your site to load a page?
  • Have you compressed your image files?
  • Are there meta tags* ingrained in all of the pages of your website?
  • How much content is on each page?
  • How often is your content updated?

*Meta tag – the snippet of content in a page’s code that tells search engines what the page is about.

And this brings us to the present, where website functionality and content relevance have become the biggest factors to consider for search rankings.

HOW’S YOUR CONTENT?

If users leave your site because it takes too long for a page to load, or they find stale or outdated content, the fact that they clicked in the first place no longer matters. Even if your website functions seamlessly, your content still needs your love and attention. Think of it this way: Why would someone visit a website to see content that never changes? If a person wished to be informed, why would they return to your site if they always knew exactly what to expect?

Good organic content strikes a balance between being informative, engaging and helpful to users. And it should be generated often.

The most popular solution is blogs. When it comes to blogs,

  • Strive to be specific and informative.
    Don’t keyword pound. Don’t add fluff just to hit a certain word count. Search engines are too smart for that now!
  • Be thoughtful in your messaging.
    Think about YOUR users. What are they looking for when it comes to your industry? This is your opportunity to expand your business services or products in a new vein.
  • Feel free to use industry terminology—just explain.
    If someone is new to your product or service, s/he may not understand your lingo. Don’t talk over anyone’s head. Be user-friendly.
  • Be a source of information, even if means no immediate sale.
    A trusted business with high user return rates brings your organic search engine ranking up. And that’s good.

Was this topic useful to you? There’s more where this came from.

If you struggle with a specific marketing question or topic, let us know and we can 1. Write a blog about it and 2. Meet for coffee this week and see what we can do to help.

Resources:

Smith, C. (2016, May). 100 Amazing Google Statistics and Facts. Retrieved May 24, 2016, fromhttp://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-gigantic-list-of-google-stats-and-facts/

Who is my target audience?

It can be fairly cumbersome to tackle a marketing strategy and then maintain full attention while running a business. Today, in a world of thousands of resources there are so many facets and media channels to distribute your messaging through. The common questions we find ourselves asking is, “How do I reach the people who want my service or product and how do I know what works?”

Your target audience is a group of people made up of current and potential customers who may be interested in your product or service. It is important to identify your “niche audience”. Although we would like everyone to be interested in our product or service, that is a very large challenge to tackle and does not produce an immediate ROI (return on investment).

We suggest breaking the audiences into tiers. The first tier is the group of people who have received a product or service from your business (your current customer base). Don’t forget about the low hanging fruit. If someone has expressed interest or purchased a product or service from you before and were satisfied, they are much more likely to do business with you again or refer you to a friend.  If you have the resources available, pull a report of your clientele and create a list of customers who have communicated with your business that may be interested in doing business with you again. Based on your industry and the service or product you provide, it will determine the time frame that is appropriate to reconnect. Set time aside to call and/or email these contacts.

The second tier is people who are actively looking for your service or product right now and have not connected with you before. This is when it is important to understand who your “niche market” is and where they look for referrals. Does your business primarily appeal to an older market? Does your target audience gather most of their information from online or offline resources? Does your product or service cater more to male, female or both? Is there a household income associated with your target market? What kind of target radius have you identified for your business, 5, 10, 50+ miles? These questions will help you determine which marketing distribution channels are best for your business. Once you have identified this, create a strategy to distribute your messaging to them through these selected channels. Create promo codes, check your Google analytics (if you have it set-up), set vanity URL’s and phone numbers so you are able to track success of your efforts. There is nothing worse then being unsure which marketing efforts were successful.

Tier three is the people who have not done business with you before and may not be in the market today for your product or service. These people are one of the reasons having a strong brand awareness is imperative. I may not be in the market for auto repair, senior home living or a luxurious vacation spot today but I could be interested in the future. Building your brand awareness so people associate needs with your name allows your customer base to grow naturally with your marketing efforts.