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In this Interview, Marketing Guru Rachel R. Noall Shares Some Valuable Tips for Creatives and how Businesses Should look for Opportunities in these Tough Times

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Rachel R. Noall marketing guru interview

Rachel R. Noall is a Marketing Guru and the founder and CEO of RN Marketing Collective. The firm’s mission? To provide creative entrepreneurs with the digital marketing solutions they need to flourish.

I recently got a chance to interact with her. During my interaction with her, she talked about some of the biggest marketing blunders, areas where digital marketers can focus to get desired results and also about how the current pandemic has provided a plethora of opportunities for business owners.

Rachel, Thank you for having this Interaction. For the last few years, you have been helping businesses improve their digital footprint. For our readers, tell us how and where exactly your journey began?

I never sought out to be a business owner. That being said, to make money as a creative writer, one has to learn about how to run a business – there’s simply no way around it. As I was navigating how to market myself, I found that there were not many accessible options for everyday creatives, people pursuing passion projects, or even for small business owners. 

After diving headfirst into all things marketing, I can now say, that 4 years after my journey began, I’ve worked as a consultant for some of the most successful companies within their given sectors. 

With all of the knowledge and experience I’ve acquired, I want to bring the top digital marketing strategies to creatives. Creative entrepreneurs require out-of-the-box solutions, and these don’t have to come at a high price tag.


What inspired you to help entrepreneurs in their marketing pursuits? 

Honestly, the lack of options and misinformation.

Unless you’ve worked in marketing you don’t know “what’s a good deal.” You also don’t know what questions to ask and what strategies actually produce valuable results. 

I know so many people who are talented and they produce amazing products to their clients, but they don’t know where to begin when marketing is brought up. I want to help these entrepreneurs – those adding true value to their customers, tangible and affordable marketing options in a world that’s otherwise saturated with hefty invoices and false promises.


Being a marketing expert, tell us more about how marketing has evolved in the last couple of years? 

There are a few things that have shifted marketing practices over the last few years.

Algorithms on all platforms are updated constantly. Whereas businesses could be discovered easily 10 years ago on social platforms, they are all now more “pay-to-play” arenas.

SEO practices, and particularly local SEO, are more important than ever. Competition is so high for popular keywords. Businesses and bloggers can’t just leave SEO to the “Google gods” anymore; being deliberate, purposeful, and paying attention to detail is key.


Some people do not see the desired results for their social media campaigns. How can they optimize their campaign for better results?

Invest in a good survey. Get to know your audience, and not just want they like, but who they are, their age, where they live, and about any related interests.

Having all of this information can help you paint a more specific picture of your target audience. The thing is, each niche audience encounters their interests differently, and the survey can help you nix or add strategies that probably weren’t on your radar.


Do you believe LinkedIn is an underrated marketing space? 

Absolutely. All statistics show that LinkedIn is growing at an exponential rate. Additionally, the premium features offered on LinkedIn facilitate lead generation.

Every small business should be on LinkedIn. No exceptions.


How should businesses tune their marketing strategies during and after the Corona pandemic? 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled through Instagram and seen some cringe-worthy advertising during this crisis.

It happened so often, in fact, that RN Marketing Collective authored an article titled “Do’s and Don’ts: Marketing During COVID-19.”

Instead of asking anything from consumers, companies need to focus on what they can give – what value they can offer to make this unprecedented time feel less scary.

Right now, I suggest focusing on community-building and making offers instead asks.


Many businesses make a mistake in copying marketing strategies from other successful businesses. However, one size does not fit all and this holds true in the field of marketing too. Do you agree with this assertion? If yes, why? 

One size DOES NOT fit all. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t learn from others. 

Specifically, what businesses like yours, on a local level, are the most successful? 

There are ways to emulate this success without mimicking it of course. For example, if local SEO is driving clients to their website, you should probably have local SEO at the forefront of your marketing strategy too.

I would never recommend copying another business’ marketing strategy. This ignores the fact that your branding, employees, and clients are unique – don’t make that mistake; if you don’t think you’re extraordinary, why would clients choose you over a competitor?


What tip would you give to young entrepreneurs who are reading this Interview and are in the process of launching their marketing campaign? 

First of all, congratulations. This is an exciting time, and while all new business owners have some nerves to shake off, most of this journey should be thrilling.

Second, don’t feel like you have to do “everything” when it comes to marketing. Small spends and testing are your friends. Find what works for you, and that won’t always look like checking off all of the major marketing “boxes.” 

Experiment. Hone your message. Dive in.

At RN Marketing Collective, your dream is our priority. If you want to learn more about how we serve creative entrepreneurs, reach out to us. We’re happy to be your ally and teammate as you grow your business.

Interview

An Interview with Tech Entrepreneur and Founder of Continental Global Brian Colpak

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Brian Colpak interview

Brian Colpak is an experienced manager, tech entrepreneur, and founder of Continental Global. Previously, Brian has worked as a managing partner and the go-to person for project management in large companies. Before starting Continental Global, Brian had led several other companies—including Future Technologies, where he was President and CEO, that was recognized as one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in Massachusetts.

Mr. Colpak has always had a passion for technology and is currently devoted to securing part of an upcoming project in Dubai where he will be heading up an eleven-member team of seasoned technology executives and former state department personnel. This opportunity is a testament to his commitment and work ethic at Continental Global.

Brian is a devoted family man. He and his wife Christine were blessed with a baby boy – Dereck – who was diagnosed with Autism at 18 months old. From that day forward, his goal was to help these special children and create a platform to support their needs.

Mr. Colpak served on the Board of Advisors at his son’s school, the New England Center for Children. For five years he supported the school with his time and donations.

Brian sat on the school’s Executive Event Committee to raise awareness and drive donations for children with autism. Events he organized included the 6th Annual “Night of Music,” where he worked alongside Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

Brian, Thank you so much for talking with me. For an entrepreneur, every day is challenging. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.

My best days at work are the ones where everything comes together. As a leader and entrepreneur, I specialize in leading my team to get things done, and it takes a lot to be able to bring together a group of people to create solid work. My worst days are when that doesn’t happen.

Who are the clients/what are the projects that you most enjoy working on?

Everyone enjoys a challenge. When you get projects that are not interesting or challenging, it can be a real drain on your motivation. Unfortunately, when you work in IT, it is best practice to avoid any problems that are a significant challenge — you never want to be puzzled. You want to deliver quick solutions to your clients. That’s why, as a team leader, I strive to keep people interested in their work without creating a problem for clients. We are constantly updating and innovating to make our systems more efficient, which helps maintain a spirited work environment, while also keeping things simple for the people we work with.

What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?

My biggest ‘a-ha’ moment: I discovered just how important it is to remain consistent in the workplace. In order to succeed, you have to have a degree of consistency so people know what to expect from you. And that’s not only about clients but also employees. Your organization as a whole will work 10x better if you learn how to approach everything while maintaining consistency.

What has been the most important part of your professional journey?

The most important part of my professional journey has been in bridging the gap between being a businessman/entrepreneur and being a leader. They are not the same thing. Unfortunately, so many businesses out there fail because the leadership is incapable of leading. Management is an art.

What risks is your company facing? Also, since you are in the tech sphere, what is the importance of Innovation in this industry?

To be honest: There aren’t many risks at the moment. I’ll say this, however: The biggest threat to any company in the tech sphere is not innovating enough. This is an industry that is constantly on the move, and you really need to keep pace with your competitors if you want to succeed.

Let me ask you a hypothetical question. With unlimited financial resources, what would you do apart from investing some of it for business growth?

With unlimited resources, I would fund autism research and awareness campaigns. You can do quite well using just limited resources in the business sphere. Send unlimited resources to a cause that deserves it.

When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

This is an everyday occurrence for me. I truly believe that when you do something you love, you end up getting lost in it. And I love the work that I do.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

I love to spend time with my family and friends. I cherish my lovely wife and son, and they are something I focus on every single day of my life. I also have two wonderful parents, Claire and Donald, who are 89- and 88-years-old. We go out to dinner once a week, and I greatly enjoy spending time with them.

How do you feel you make a difference in the world?

The things I have done for my son, Dereck, are the most important things in my world. Simply making his life a better one is something I believe has made a huge difference in the world. The same can be said for my wife. There is nothing more important than family.

On the business front, I make a difference by leading a team of specialists and experts in the IT sphere.

 

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Interview

An Interview with Medicare Expert Matthew Bussard

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Matthew Bussard - Medicare Expert

Matthew Bussard graduated from Colby-Sawyer College in 2017 and is the go-to financial service broker for Medicare users across Rhode Island. He volunteers at clinics to help clients enroll in Medicare, alleviate any unnecessary medical expenses, and answer healthcare benefits questions. He is passionate about making a difference in his clients’ lives. Mr. Bussard understands the importance of proper healthcare, especially among the older population. He works hard to address his clients’ issues as quickly and efficiently as possible and is always available to guide them through the enrollment process.

Matthew handles initial Medicare enrollment, upgrading to better healthcare plans, billing, finding a new service center, and anything in between. As a broker, he cares the most about establishing trusting relationships and serving people in the long-term.

Mr. Bussard enjoys giving back to the community. He participates in local cleanups around his hometown of Providence, coaches little league, and donates to The Hunger Project. Mr. Bussard is also a proud member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), known for demonstrating exceptional professional knowledge, strict ethical conduct, and outstanding client service.

Matthew, Thank you so much for talking with us. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.

Thanks for having me. My best days at work are when I leave a meeting knowing I put the client in a better position financially than they were in before they met me. The worst days are days when I’m working really hard and still leave quite a bit for me to accomplish the next day.

People from different age groups go on medicare. Which age group do you like the most and why?

I love helping people going on Medicare for the first time at 65. Oftentimes, I’m able to answer a ton of healthcare questions they have which makes them feel relieved and satisfied.

What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?

Learning the importance of A+ customer service. Medicare is something you receive at 65 and keep for the rest of your life, so you really need to be there every step of the way if you want to make a true impact on someone.

What has been the most important part of your professional journey?

Building strong habits from the professionals I look up to. Some of the most successful people I’ve met are willing to show you everything they know if you only ask.

What are some of the risks Medicare is facing right now?

Not too many. Medicare has been around since the 1960s so until that ever becomes replaced, there will always be a need for helping seniors with healthcare.

What would you do with unlimited resources?

Get more things done much faster. I’m my own boss, and I don’t have any employees, so every single task I need to do gets completed by me only.

When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

Organizational tasks at the office. When you’re rearranging files, checking your book of business, housekeeping, things like that can make time fly by.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

I love staying active and getting time to spend with my friends and family. I love my business, but hard resets are always important. You have to have a life outside of your career, and it’s hard for me sometimes to put the laptop and phone away late at night or on the weekend.

How do you feel you make a difference in the world?

I make a difference in the world by providing an incredibly unique yet important service to my community. When you reach retirement, there’s nothing more important than your healthcare, and I’m thankful to be in a position where I can solve some crucial problems people have. It could be lowering their monthly healthcare costs. Maybe signing up for benefits like dental, vision, hearing, and others that they currently do not have. Whatever the case may be, I’m able to make a positive impact in their lives, and I’m very proud of that.

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Interview

An Interview with Yasmin Bashirova around Strategic Finance Management for Start-ups

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Yasmin Bashirova

Yasmin Bashirova is the Chief of Staff at an e-commerce start-up on a mission to bring trust and simplicity to the peer-to-peer used car market.

She graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. and M.S. in Energy Resource Engineering. After graduation, Bashirova worked as an Investment Banking Analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York City, where she provided data-driven financial analyses for capital decisions such as M&A deals, IPOs, and LBOs.

Combining her engineering and finance background, she delivers data-driven results for projects in the finance, product development, and marketing sectors. Bashirova’s top skills include research, data analysis, economics, and strategic leadership. She also speaks four languages, including Azerbaijani, French, Russian, and English.

We recently got a chance to Interview Yasmin Bashirova about strategic finance management for start-ups.

How did you get started in strategic finance management for start-ups?

Starting out as a Chief of Staff at Shift, I had to wear many hats and found strategic finance to be most aligned with my background. In a growth stage company, the strategic finance arm is crucial for scaling the company in a sustainable fashion, so it’s been exciting to be a part of an impactful team.

In your experience, what does strategic finance look like at a start-up as opposed to a big business?

I never worked in a strategic finance arm of a big company, but a guess would be that the experience is most likely more focused / niche vs. broad. When you’re in a small company, as the team is still small, you have an opportunity to work with more business partners and capture more business management and decision-making than you would in a big company FP&A role.

What was the biggest takeaway for start-ups during Covid?

Managing your runway early on is crucial. As we saw during COVID, start-ups that weren’t well-positioned for the recession and couldn’t pivot in time ended up not making it through the difficult macro environment. 

How do you think your background in engineering has prepared you for success in the field of data-driven finance? And more specifically, would you say your background has any perks when it comes to finance for start-ups?

I think studying engineering in school prepares you for any kind of job, even if your role doesn’t end up being super technical in scope. Engineering teaches you how to become a structured thinker. In computer science, for instance, I learned how to decompose large tasks into smaller manageable steps. This type of mindset is something I encounter every single day in my work in strategic finance. If a business has a problem, the answer is rarely a binary decision dependent on one variable, so isolating for different components that drive the issue is an engineering approach that I use in strategic finance on a day-to-day basis.

When it comes to finance, how do start-ups strike a balance between short-term growth and long-term resilience?

It’s tough to summarize this question in a quick interview, as this is the billion-dollar question that many companies are dealing with every day. From my perspective, the business model needs to have a profitability path in sight as the business scales. The heaviest costs from the unit economics components need to decrease as the network effect becomes more prevalent. When operational or corporate expenses are growing linearly with the company’s topline, that’s when issues start to arise because the business model will never become profitable unless there’s a sudden change in the profitability profile.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while coming up with a financial strategy for a start-up? And how did you overcome it?

Start-ups are resource constrained relative to big companies, so the biggest challenge I faced was building out tools and dashboards from scratch. In order to come up with a strategy, you need to understand the state of affairs for key drivers and challenges for the business, and getting clarity is not the easiest thing in start-ups as the data is not perfect. I overcame this challenge by partnering with operational and technical leaders and letting their expertise drive the analysis from the bottom-up vs. judging based on my assumptions.

What are some tools that are essential to your craft? If you have a problem related to strategic finance, what kind of things can you rely on to help you find an answer?

Most of my work is done in Excel/Google sheets. The majority of my analysis relies on pivot tables and excel formulas like index match, as well as scenario planning using what-if analysis. It’s tough to point to one tool as the panacea for the problem; usually, the combination of all is what you need.

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