If you were a consumer in the 90’s, you might ask your friends or family for a business referral or suggestions on where to dine before you spend your hard earned money. If someone made a positive suggestion about a specific restaurant, you may have felt more comfortable about trying it for the first time. Similarly, if you had a place in mind that but somebody told you about a bad experience they had there, you might decide not to try it. Nowadays, more people are turning to online reviews for suggestions instead of the “word on the street”. It’s important for business owners to recognize this. Your business’ online reputation can have a detrimental effect on its overall success.
So how do we manage our reputation on review sites such as Yelp once it’s been compromised?
- Stay calm. It’s important not to respond to a nasty review until you have cooled down and taken time to understand the review. Try not to be reactive and research the incident by communicating with your staff to hear their possible side of the story prior to replying to the review.
- Ensure that you respond to the customer with tact. It’s only natural to feel hurt or angry when someone posts a negative review about your business, but responding defensively will only make things worse. Never blame the customer. When communicating with them, keep it professional. Make sure to thank them for visiting your business and apologize for the negative experience. If possible, correct the problem. Sometimes you just need to improve a procedure, so ask the reviewer for their input. In other situations, you might offer some kind of compensation or a special invitation at a reduced cost, but don’t bribe.
- Stay consistent. Your response to negative reviews is a great opportunity to show customers that you take full responsibility for any concerns or dissatisfaction that your customers may have. When responding to negative online reviews, other potential customers will see that you are engaged and that you care about your customers. Responding and resolving a bad review can turn into a positive outlook for your business.
In the growing world of technology, consumers are relying more and more on the internet to provide them with the information they need to carry out their daily tasks. The most effective way to correct any negative online reviews is to prevent them from happening. Through exceptional customer service, you can ensure that your business’ online reputation isn’t something you’d have to defend.
WordPress is a powerful tool to create a blog or a website. A brand new business or e-commerce website can be created in no time with no necessary knowledge of HTML, CSS etc. But what makes it more exciting is the ability to use plugins to help the website to work and feel like it was developed with a lot of expert programmers. Some of the plugins that are really worth looking into will be reviewed here.
All in One SEO Pack
The All in One SEO Pack by Michael Torbert is one of the most used plugins out there. Adding a sitemap, google analytics, titles, descriptions and canonical tags are all a breeze with this. Most of these are generated on their own and there is little or no effort on the website creator’s part.
Contact Form 7
Every good website needs a good contact form that does just what it says. Contact Form 7 (Just another Contact Form) is a simple plugin to create an easy form on your website without having to deal with the HTML or programming. It has Akismet spam filtering and also supports CAPTCHA to keep your website safe.
Print Friendly and PDF Button
The Print Friendly & PDF button automatically creates printer friendly and PDF versions of your pages without the hassle of having to create a print CSS file. It also gives your user the ability to remove images and paragraphs of text, so they really only have to print exactly what they want.
Simple Pull Quote
Simple Pull Quote WordPress Plugin provides an easy way for you to insert pull quotes into your posts and pages. It adds an easy-to-use “Pullquote” button to both the HTML and TinyMCE editors.
JetPack is a pretty awesome plugin that brings a lot of functionalities all under one plugin. Some of the major ones are:
- WordPress Stats
- Contact Form
- Extra Sidebar Widgets
- Enhanced Distribution
WPtouch is a mobile plugin for WordPress that automatically enables a simple and elegant mobile theme for mobile visitors of your WordPress website. The theme also includes the ability for visitors to switch between the theme on your mobile WordPress website and your website’s regular theme.
This plugin used to make backups of your WordPress files and mysql DB with Google Drive. Google Drive for WordPress is a plugin that provides backup capabilities for WordPress. Backups are ‘zip’ archives created locally and uploaded to a folder of your choosing on Google Drive.
This plugin adds an attractive social bookmarking menu and related content widget to your posts, pages, index, or any combination of the three.
W3 Total Cache
Easy Web Performance Optimization (WPO) using caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support.
A theme that is gaining momentum in hiring is the shift from a laundry list of required skills and credentials a candidate must possess for a job, to emphasis placed on the personality and potential that a candidate can bring to your company at large. Skills can be taught – personality and potential cannot. This post builds upon an earlier post where Pamala Capistrano, our CEO, discussed hiring for someone’s passion.
Sound scary? In many ways, yes it is. However, it can also be liberating in the right culture and company. Certainly there are roles upon which rely heavily on expertise. You certainly wouldn’t want to hire a Controller who is a strategic thinker, entrepreneurial, and heavy on initiative, but has no accounting expertise whatsoever. Some skills may be a core requirement.
However, take another example: an account manager or project manager. Do they need to have hands-on expertise in your exact field? In many cases the answer is no. You may come across a candidate who has a wealth of secondary/soft skills, is a perfect cultural match, and also has account management or project management experience in a related field – enough for you to know that the base skill set is transferable. Now you’ve got an addition to your team who is a perfect fit, has all the signs for potential personal growth, and will be adaptable as needed.
At Status Not Quo we’ve enjoyed enormous success following this strategy. At SNQ, we place the importance of our culture at the top of our list. To this end, we have built an amazing culture of diverse individuals who are experts … period. Notice I didn’t say “experts in so and so field or skill”. We have individuals who are just outstanding achievers who not only fit and add to our corporate culture, but also are adaptable. As we dynamically change on our entrepreneurial roller coaster ride, they adapt and change as needed.
This also makes for a group of likeminded individuals who all contribute to moving the company’s culture forward together for the long run, while also striving for success – all as naturally as breathing.
Business planning (aka budgeting or forecasting) can be compared to a road trip. For a road trip, you identify a destination (sales target for example), the correct fuel and sources to re-fuel (materials and labor resources available), maps and directions (planning, reviewing results, and re-planning), and road and weather conditions (external factors such as materials shortages). You may need to break up the drive, so restroom locations, accommodations and food sources also need to be identified (internal limiting factors). Unfortunately, a typical business planning cycle often proceeds as follows:
1) Create a budget for the coming year based on the previous year’s results
2) As the budgeted year progresses, shift to a forecast with actual results and updated forecasts, using the budget as the basis for the forecasts
3) Compare actual results to both the budget and forecast figures, analyze the variances (hopefully – it’s scary how infrequently this occurs!)
4) Repeat for the new year
Too often, the last month of the year is used as the base for the new budget, with some growth factor(s) applied – and that’s it. However, the devil, as they say so often, is in the details. It all comes down to assumptions. What is the growth factor applied based on? Does it apply equally to revenue and cost of goods? What about general and administrative expenses? The reality is that these three areas are seldom in lock-step, and they often have very different drivers. And they can differ from industry to industry, and even between companies within the same industry! And that leads to the key point:
What are the key drivers for your business?
Or in other words, what factors impact results the most? Which of those factors are within your control, and which factors are you subject to? Have you built these drivers into your budget and forecast? Are you missing any key drivers?
Let’s look at a company that modifies commercial trucks into petroleum tanker trucks. Assume they have an order backlog for trucks to be delivered as soon as possible. They can obtain the truck chasses, and can add additional staff to manage the associated production. So wouldn’t it be reasonable to plan the coming year on that basis, with some additional new order projections layered in? If these were the only factors, of course. There are just two minor details… first, the customizations require certain metals. If cost were the only factor, increases could be passed along to the customers, and it could be managed. However, what if there’s a production shortage, and they can only obtain so much metal in the coming year and not however much they could use? And second, speaking of production shortages, as it turns out, there’s a shortage of commercial vehicle tires – and a truck with no tires doesn’t get too far! So for this company, their budget is going to have limiting factors based on the available metal and tires – that’s the maximum output they can achieve this year unless they can manage to find workarounds for these two issues. But having identified these issues, they can realistically project the coming year, and they know where they need to focus in order to drive change. But without identifying the key factors, they’ll be driving blind (can you say road kill?).[i]
[i] BTW, these are real market shortages that occurred (and continue). 2004 – 2005 saw a shortage in commercial tire availability, which continues through today. https://www.google.com/search?q=commercial+tire+shortage+2005&rlz=1C1YBKB_enUS507US569&oq=commercial+tir&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0l4.3674j0j8&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8
And that same period saw a shortage in the availability of chrome, which is used in the production of stainless steel and chrome. https://www.google.com/search?q=chrome+shortage+2005&rlz=1C1YBKB_enUS507US569&oq=chrome+shortage+2005&aqs=chrome..69i57.8367j0j8&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8
Creativity, that elusive bird… it’s a wonder it hasn’t smothered under the weight of all life’s pressures and constraints. I am certain it hasn’t though – I see it all the time. I feel it creeping up on me when I watch the everyday flutterings of people in my life. We are all designed to be creative, but sometimes we feel like we come up empty when put on the spot. I want to share with you what I consider to be the most reliable way to summon that creative monster crouching inside.
You can find suggestions on cultivating ideas all over the place, but for my money, the best way to get inspiration is to start doing the thing you need to do. All too often, people sit and stare at a blank page, or spend an eternity devising just the right strategy – and then get stuck. That’s because nothing has room to grow when locked in your mind with a slew of other ideas for competition. Start doing – write something, draw something, put your hands in it, knock it down – just DO something.
If you are writing, talk to yourself. People want to read something that sounds like a person wrote it, not like it came from a guidebook. So talk, and once you get going, maybe you will want to write down what you are saying. But even just random internal conversations have merit in sparking creativity; have a conversation with your toothbrush. Tell your lawn that you find its straggly appearance offensive. Pledge to avenge the mailman for your neighbor’s inconsistency at collecting their letters (don’t actually tell the mailman this, just imagine!). The point is to be unafraid to use your voice – not your actual speaking voice, necessarily, but your VOICE – the way you express yourself. Expose yourself this way, and you can’t help but generate something original. I begin just about everything I write in this manner, and it becomes a habit that you can access quickly after some practice.
The point is really just to begin. In the same way you should begin talking if you want to write, you can begin just about anything without really knowing where you want to end up. Start pulling in elements, create things that remind you of the client or subject matter, and discard things when they don’t work. In this way, you can get closer to your goal without becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.
You may be saying to yourself, “this woman is a crazy person! Talk to my toothbrush? Preposterous!” Well, congratulations – you have just begun!
A buzzword that is becoming widely popular in the digital marketing world is personal branding. Personal branding is the process of people marketing themselves as a brand. The goal of this is to increase online presence in specific areas of expertise so that you are distinguishable or well-known.
So why should you build your personal brand? We live in a world where people search for everything online. People no longer thumb through phonebooks to find a business or service. Whether it’s on a mobile device or a desktop, without a strong online presence and branding, you will have a difficult time competing in your market.
Here are five tips to improve your personal branding:
1. Publish Quality Content
“Quality over quantity.” Don’t you love old clichés? Even if you don’t, this one still holds particularly true. Publish a blog post weekly or create additional pages for your existing site using a CMS like WordPress. Remember quality content is shared, linked to, quoted, used to answer questions and provide entertainment – not mindless words on a page talking about your dog Miffles or toast.
2. Share, Like, Link, Engage!
Engagement is a great way to become known. Get your name out there by joining conversations on social media that are relevant to you. Remind communities and forums about your expertise through posts, sharing articles you like, or even retweeting your favorite blog post.
3. Build Your Fans
Easier said than done, right? The best way to increase your fan base is by attracting subscribers and followers. To do this, you need consistent quality content that keeps people wanting more and engaged. Create a so-called “Social Voice” that portrays your expertise and interests. Once you’ve gained your following, it is amazing how easy it is to spread your message.
4. Nurture your Garden of Fans
“Friendship is a plant we must often water.” Great quote that was the topic of discussion at our last SNQ + 1 meeting. In order to keep your fans, you must maintain the relationship. Your fans want to be noticed and acknowledged. Provide insightful feedback to their responses or push them to think about an idea from a different point of view. Don’t just thank them for the comment, hold a conversation and treat them with respect.
5. Perform SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Google receives approximately 88 billion searches every month; two million every minute. However, 16% only look at the first few search results, while 32% will read through to the bottom of the first page. Search engine optimization is a must for developing personal branding. It does you no good if no one can discover you through search engines. Perform some simple white hat SEO techniques such as creating pages on the major social media sites, publishing a weekly blog that links back to your website and developing authority by joining high page ranking websites.
Developing your own personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes consistent time and effort. By following these tips, you too can enhance your personal branding in this digital world.
Posted by Nate Cusick
Status Not Quo
Not Your Ordinary Consulting Firm