Business is about the contacts and networks that you create around your products and services as well as those for support and advice. Networking has come to the fore in recent times and is now considered to be essential for both meeting customers and suppliers and stakeholders, alike.
Plan, plan, plan
An event for networking needs to be planned well in advance, to choose a theme, decide on the aim and provide professionals who are invited sufficient time to plan and diarize the event. Many note that planning should take place at least several weeks in advance. The only time you don’t need to inform guests so early is if it is a pop-up networking event. The event itself will still need pre-planning, but the invites can then be sent out at a little later and a little wider to ensure sufficient attendance.
You also need to plan as to what the aim of the event is, who will be invited and why and what the content or process of the event will be.
The meet and greet is essential
Depending on the number of people that you invite and the target audience, ensure that your meet and greet is appropriate. Customers want to feel valued and special and upon arrival they will need to feel welcome and at ease to appreciate the event and engage with any company or product messages. There should also be a formal process of brief introductions depending on the aim of the networking event.
Promote the brand and provide promotional material, freebies and gifts
Include a brand story, whether it’s on written promotional material or posters and yes, even PowerPoint can work. Telling your audience a memorable anecdote about the product is a must for a networking event. It’s stories like these that people remember and create the backstory to the product or business. There should also be some takeaways with all contact details of the host as well as a commitment to subsequently provide the contacts of others who have attended. This can be in the form of a fun branded item that has the contact details and there are some exciting developments in this sector at the moment. Good examples are made by anthembranding.com.
Have connectors on hand
The one thing that many businesses neglect to do at a networking or marketing event is to have a few connectors in the room and at the venue. They need to have been selected very carefully, generally from members of your own company or team. They need to know the brand, have a clear idea of what the event aims to achieve and then most of all they need to be personable. Their role is to make sure that there is interaction, talking to people and introducing those who have arrived, to others already in the room.
The end of the event is the start of your actual networking. It’s vital to then reflect on the event and determine exactly what the next steps are for sustainable networking and relationship building.
How to Develop a Killer Content Marketing Strategy for a Startup (with 5 Examples)
When it comes to running your own startup, the prospect of finding success can seem pretty grim. According to statistics, about 90% of startups fail, and that failure rate is about the same across all industries. There are many reasons why some startup companies might go belly up, including lack of managerial qualifications, inexperienced founders, and failure to reach the right people.
Another reason for startup failure is the lack of a clear content marketing strategy. And in 2022, there is no excuse for not having one.
Your startup, regardless of how skilled your employees are or how great your product or service is, is not going to get in front of the eyes of your target audience by itself. This is where content marketing comes in. Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, but it generates three times more leads.
To help you out, we have put together a list of things you need to do to develop a killer content marketing strategy. You’ll also find some useful examples, so read on.
Researching your target audience and creating a buyer persona will help you figure out who’s going to be buying your product. Obviously, demographic data is a good start, but you need to go beyond that and look at their biggest challenges, pain points, and their interests.
How do you find all of this?
Well, the simplest way would be to ask them using polls, surveys, and focus groups. You can also check out where they hang out online, check your competitors’ followers, and use the data gathered by analytics software.
One of the best examples of defining a buyer persona is Coca-Cola’s original “Share a Coke” campaign launched back in 2011 in Australia, which used personalized Coke bottles. The genius thing about this campaign is that it allowed the company to reach 42% of the population with just 150 different names on their bottles. Plus, they invited everyone to buy a Coke for someone else as well, not just themselves.
Image source: https://us.coca-cola.com/store/
Great content allows you to:
- engage your audience
- raise awareness about your brand
- boost your SEO
- establish your startup as a thought leader in the industry
Covering every single channel is almost impossible, so you need to decide at least on those that are relevant to your niche and your audience. As for content type, you can’t go wrong with blogs, images, videos, and infographics. Those are the top four formats leveraged by marketers.
For a great content marketing example, take a look at how Somnifix uses its blog not just to promote its products, which help stop snoring, but also to publish useful, actionable content that allows readers to improve the quality of their sleep through other methods, such as proper dieting and exercise. You will also find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the science of sleep, snoring, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders, as well as possible solutions for each.
Image source: https://somnifix.com/blogs/snews
Audiences are tired of being pitched to, which is why so many startups are turning to influencers for collaboration. This can be very effective because your audience gets to hear about your product from someone who is relatable to them rather than some corporate entity.
However, an even better option would be to share success stories featuring your customers. This not only provides social proof but also makes your startup come off as genuine.
BaseLang, an online platform for teaching Spanish, used social proof to its advantage by sharing actual customer testimonials. The platform even came up with a branded hashtag, #BaseLangStories, to spread the word across its social media accounts, which is quite similar to what Coca-Cola did with the #shareacoke campaign.
Image source: https://baselang.com/blog/success-stories/adam/
The best approach to executing your content marketing strategy would be to create a calendar that contains all there is to know about:
- the type of content you will be producing
- frequency of publishing
- publishing dates
- relevant links and keywords
- promotional plans that include distribution channels and budget
How often should you publish? HubSpot has done a fair bit of research on this, and they suggest 3-4 content pieces per week for smaller businesses looking to boost organic traffic, while larger ones should publish 4-5 times weekly.
As for boosting brand awareness, shoot for 1-2 times a week if you’re running a smaller startup, or 3-4 times a week if you’ve got a bigger organization. Of course, feel free to adjust your content calendar based on the specifics of your business and your target audience. Just try and remain consistent in terms of quality and quantity.
Image source: https://www.hubspot.com/
After doing all of the above, your startup will reap the benefits, but you’ll have very little use of them in the long run if you aren’t tracking your KPIs. Sure, it’s great that you have awesome content, but you need to determine what is and what isn’t working and why. Using the information gathered through analytics, you can eliminate parts of your content marketing strategy that aren’t working and focus on those that are bringing real results.
Five9 was able to build a campaign around its eBook and drive four times as many leads and three times as many deals as they did in their previous campaign. Instead of focusing on their product and its features, they created a buyer-centric eBook called “Practical/Tactical: A Guide to Maximizing Agent Efficiency.” It drove so many new leads that their head of marketing had to turn off the notifications. By tracking the performance of their content before and after they published the eBook, they were able to use those numbers for their future campaigns.
Image source: https://content.marketingsherpa.com/heap/cs/five9/3.htm
Although content marketing involves a lot of work, your startup will definitely benefit from it as long as you have a solid strategy to lean on. We hope that you will find the advice presented in this article helpful and that you will implement it while building your own content marketing strategy. Good luck!
How to Encourage and Reward Strong Employee Performance
As a business owner, attracting top talent, increasing retention, and motivating your employees to remain productive and efficient are likely among your top priorities, and for good reason. This can help to improve loyalty and devotion, boost employee happiness and morale, and result in an increased output of your company. Motivation and encouragement are vital to the success of a business, and there’s no better way to achieve this than by rewarding your employees for a job well done. With that in mind, here is how you can encourage and reward strong employee performance:
Align awards with goals
Aligning rewards with important company goals and recognizing strong performers is a great way to demonstrate to employees how their efficiency and productivity help the business. If you need to reach specific sales targets, for example, a rewards program can be created to incentivize workers according to how they meet or surpass these targets. The rewards programs can include salary increments, bonuses, reimbursements, stock options, remote work opportunities, etc. Digital HR tools can also be leveraged for monitoring employee performance, enabling you to track the metrics needed for determining who has earned the rewards.
Reward all achievements
While celebrating great accomplishments and successful projects and goals is imperative, it may also be helpful to recognize even the smaller milestones that have led employees to those important achievements. This can motivate employees and encourage them to stay focused on reaching all the necessary objectives. To achieve this, you can celebrate employees whenever they get promoted within the company, or even offer gifts and special recognition for work anniversaries and milestones such as completing five, ten, or more years at work.
Recognizing and awarding teamwork is another great way to inspire employees to improve communication and collaboration, which can boost the overall productivity and innovation in the company as a result. Since this tends to be a more skilled, elaborate, and time-consuming process, rewards for teams should be a bit more substantial than rewards for individuals, while still managing to honor the whole team. For example, you could plan a special outing for the team or even arrange a fine dining experience once the team has managed to reach a major milestone for your business.
Offer unique rewards
Along with conventional incentives, there are a number of unique rewards you can offer your employees based on your company culture. For instance, you can pay an affordable annual fee for a David Jones American Express platinum card and provide your employees with exclusive perks such as reward points, deferred payment options, and free delivery when shopping. You can also surprise them with some additional time off, a personal lunch with the CEO, tickets to a live performance event, a sponsored getaway, or any other interesting reward that agrees with your budget and overall culture.
Provide specific recognition
When employees complete some major individual achievements, it may be best to offer more specific and personalized recognition. This can make your employees feel valued and appreciated, as it highlights the impact of their individual contributions to the business. It will also help to demonstrate that you truly care about your staff. To provide personal recognition, you could feature employee interviews in your internal communications platform, present certificates of achievement, provide recognition notes from the CEO, create an “Employee of the Day” program, provide enhanced office equipment, and use other similar tactics.
Focus on development
Another method that could be quite advantageous to the company includes providing personal and professional development opportunities to employees. Not only is investing in the future of employees a great incentive for them to remain with your company, but highly skilled workers can also bring more value to the business overall. To invest in the development of your employees, you can reimburse fees and tuitions for different educational programs, sponsor seminars held by motivational speakers, pay for masterclasses and hobby classes, arrange mentoring sessions, provide gym and library memberships, and utilize similar solutions that promote personal and professional improvement.
Try some fun surprises
In addition to more common and traditional rewards, employees could also be encouraged to reward one another. For instance, peers and managers can treat each other for their milestones and support in fun ways that boost morale and strengthen employee relationships. This could include sending care packages and gift baskets, giving gift cards and vouchers, giving decorative plants, ordering takeout and reimbursing the bill, gifting charming memorabilia that remind employees of the company, and any other small token of appreciation to increase employee happiness and satisfaction.
Evidently, encouraging and rewarding your employees for their performance can have a number of benefits for the overall growth and success of your business. Use the tips mentioned above to find ideas for rewards that are bound to satisfy and motivate your staff.
How to Prevent Human Error in a Startup
Even in the most established businesses, human error is a common occurrence. In a startup company, these mistakes are even more frequent. Managing all the complex ins and outs of a rapidly changing environment is difficult, especially without clear guidelines and standards for important tasks.
Startups have a difficult enough time succeeding without throwing human error into the mix. But, if you take the right steps, you can prevent these mistakes from impacting your growth. Below, we explore the most common causes of human error in a startup and what to do about it.
Human error might be inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to help prevent it. Exploring what causes human error in a startup is critical to preventing it.
The nature of a startup means that rapid and unexpected changes will happen frequently. A startup doesn’t have the same luxury of sitting comfortably on a straightforward path that a more established business does. This means that as you grow more and see success or failure, things will need to adapt. Some practices will work and be implemented more, and others will fail and need to be changed.
This rapid change is both necessary and helpful to discover the best practices for your business. However, it also creates an environment where human error flourishes. Rapid change means that people will fall behind, or be confused by new processes, creating human error.
This disorientation can be mitigated by taking a few preventative steps. First, communicate well with your team. Keeping them informed of any changes or updates in your practices or business environment will help them adapt their work to what’s newly necessary. This also makes them feel more included in the process, which can reduce stress and further reduce human error.
Secondly, it’s important to not make too many changes at once. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, try to allow your team to settle into one change before you implement another. This allows them to focus on adapting to the first change for a time before more is put on their plate, which will help prevent them from being overwhelmed.
Being overwhelmed is a leading cause of human error in all businesses, but especially startups. Fast scaling and a lack of standard operating procedures for certain tasks, in addition to the rapid change mentioned above all contributes to an environment that can become overwhelming quickly.
To prevent this, it’s important to use tools that lessen the weight of menial tasks. By implementing certain software technologies, a lot of work can be done without human intervention, saving a lot of time that could be better spent on other work. Whatever sort of paperwork automation that can be employed will go a long way to preventing human error in the future, and keeping your startup on the track to success.
Humans make mistakes, but with the right steps, they don’t have to hurt your company. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to a thriving business.
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