Startup & Small Business
Written by Michael Dickens II
Monday, August 18th, 2014
This is perhaps the “selfie” generation. Never before have so many horns been tooted by their very owners. Frankly, that’s a lot of noise with which to compete. What is a self-appreciating, well-meaning artist to do? Blow harder? Louder?
In college I was ever-fascinated by the marching bands. The organization of those harmonies and the concerted effort displayed amid the open roofed, fan crazed, frenzy that ensued in the stands was nothing less than spectacular to me.
Through the playful back and forth between various sections of instrumentation, there seemed to reign a constant (perhaps even arrogant) dominance of the trumpeters. Who, after moments of being connivingly coy, pierced through and blurted out their superiority as though the keep all else in check and ensure their prowess was well recognized.
I eventually grew to appreciate a particular instrument more than all the rest; it was not the trumpet. It was the Piccolo, the miniature flute. It seemed to simply float up in the atmosphere, ever present. It could be easily missed, yet once you have grasped its unique pitch and tone, it is undeniable and somewhat addictive.
Stay with me…I assure you I’m going somewhere with this.
You want nothing more than to be heard. To develop a fan base large enough to support your music habit full-time, or at least take your career to that elusive next step.
Many musical artists, signed and unsigned, independents and traditionals, hardcore and “sell-outs” alike, all make use of mainstream distribution channels. iTunes, and GooglePlay accounts promoted by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages. So many people all playing the trumpet… but what about the piccolo?
I would encourage you to try a different route; be the piccolo. After you have partnered with your web-host and launched an easily navigable site that best expresses your essence, promote it. You have spent substantial time and a good amount of money on developing your brand (You have considered branding-haven’t you?). Time for a return on that investment. Develop your fan base directly.
Use the other channels and tools, of course, but consider them to be supplementary. Instead, aim to drive direct traffic to your very own site and drive sales through your very own site as well. There are two main benefits of this on which I want to focus:
1. Visibility. Promoting your site more than your YouTube, MySpace, or any other pages will help you acquire SEO visibility. When people Google you…YOUR site will come up, not just your YouTube and other social media accounts.
2. Analytics. Proving your worth as an indie artist is hard enough, don’t add fuel to the fire by not being able to highlight numbers! You may be an artist, but you are also in the BUSINESS of music. There is no wise business mind that would forsake the mighty metrics. Numbers don’t lie.
If you have 10,000 fans with whom you maintain direct contact and are able to prove they visit your website regularly, THAT’S A BIG DEAL! Those 10,000 fans equal a “market place.” Sponsors will pay you for access to that “market place” and it may only require something simple like wearing their logo or including their business name and link on your site. Don’t block your blessed income because you can’t show and tell.
Stay tuned for the part 2 of this article: Maximizing Your Reach; Monetizing Your BrandImage Source: http://biedermanblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Digital-Music.jpg
Written by Natalie Lehrer
Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
Have you ever wondered how some of those more popular web sites manage to deliver their content to you so quickly and so reliably – no matter where the company is located and no matter where you happen to be connected? In many cases, the answer is not one gigantic server with huge Internet bandwidth. It’s more likely to be the use of a content delivery network (CDN). If your own web presence is starting to generate serious interest and traffic, especially from different parts of the world, it may be a solution that makes sense for you in order to supply your content to a growing number of fans or customers.
Like Web Hosting but Multiplied Up
A CDN works in a similar way to a single web hosting installation, but replicates your website data on multiple servers. These servers are distributed geographically to increase proximity with visitors to your website. Some CDNs focus on certain regions. Others claim worldwide coverage – the biggest CDNs can have thousands of servers, all automatically configured to serve the end-users that are the physically closest to them. Smaller distances mean fewer hops, less latency and faster overall transmission. Higher numbers of servers mean that end-users are less likely to see delays when trying to access a very popular site, because the load is shared out between the replicating hosts.
What do CDNs Do Best?
CDNs can work well with static web content, including text and images. However, their effect is often most noticeable in video transmission. When videos are streamed from a local CDN server to a user, latency can be minimized and good video replay quality can be achieved, with the stop/start or jitter that occurs when large numbers of remote users all access the same central server. Other benefits include resilience of content delivery in case part of the Internet experiences problems, and robustness against attacks such as denial of service. For example, if you think you’d like to be the new YouTube or Vimeo on the net, a CDN could be a useful or even essential part of your plan.
Some CDNs are smarter still. Not only do they recognize which users should be served from which local node when they type in the domain name of the website in question, but they also intelligently compress and pre-load data. The compression techniques can be high-performance yet without loss (important for transferring many large data files). The pre-loading relies on a statistical analysis of which website content is the most popular or most frequently downloaded in a given sequence. The CDN node will send the next webpages in the sequence at the same time as the first webpage requested by the user. If the user then navigates to the next page in the sequence (which has a good probability of happening), the content is already present on the user’s computer and ‘flashes up’ immediately.
When Would You Start Using a CDN?
If you currently attract so many users to your site that performance and/or network bandwidth are becoming bottlenecks, CDNs may be worth investigating. They may be a less expensive yet more effective option compared to trying to beef up your central web hosting. A ‘CDN aggregator’ company may be able to help by modeling your traffic and your requirements, and identifying the best deal among the CDNs available. Such aggregators may even offer a dynamic ‘mix and match’ service, continually selecting the most favorable CDN for your requirements. This often assumes of course that you accept to sign up with the aggregator as the intermediary for providing this service.
Author Bio: Natalie Lehrer is a senior contributor for CloudWedge. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys exploring all things cloud and is a music enthusiast. Follow Natalie’s daily posts on Twitter: @Cloudwedge, or on Facebook.
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ttdesign/343167590/in/photolist-wjPLA-7Be85n-rbCWW-aQf21D-7KjZjr-7zDWzv-6aw5Lh-8MDbrZ-5KpNhE-7XMuAD-6cGrgu-89Tw5Q-6nt5X1-5LVP4E-84s4zk-hQ5CiF-7BS33u-ELx7g-9zVHaR-7YQdNq-fqcg29-gRu2rU-ht66k-6HPouy-6z8pej-jkgYmp-7H54Kk-8ZVktv-6B3s58-8MtWqu-dbvTz6-fD4Ngx-8fPKrA-7WBuA2-89TsG5-4RDokh-cjL6F5-bccJFK-6whmkD-nqmnkC-7znbaU-5y9Lmn-8WgR9s-eVRB9u-3XBxv-dN9oWd-cnJHKG-7Rb4Yp-9mg1XN-cjKJeu
Written by Michael Dickens II
Monday, August 4th, 2014
Sales is a numbers game. However, while it is certainly necessary to have a well thought out expansion strategy, sometimes simply pausing for a moment can likewise be good for profitability.
As a child, I began taking music lessons. After a short while, I quit. Many of the lessons I felt were somewhat rudimentary in nature and lacked the pizzaz I desired. Needless to say, quitting was a BIG mistake. Rather than tough out the monotony and appreciate the small things, I sought to chase dreams of grandeur and magnificence. Fast forward to today and I’m writing this blog instead of performing at Carnegie Hall. If only I’d stuck it out, learned the basics and improved my musical skills… not that I don’t love writing as well!
The primary difference is simply embracing the initial steps (practicing those monotonous musical scales, as it were), the beginnings: the “Essential Elements” necessary to succeed.
How does this relate to your business? Often entrepreneurs have visions of grandeur and can not only see the success on the horizon, but also can touch, taste, and feel it. Sometimes it becomes difficult to remain “in the moment” especially with the way technology rapidly advances. However, one must not discount the value of building strong relationships with customers. Loyalty does matter, especially in the infancy years when you need to develop a solid base. Be sure to generate a DIALOGUE with your customers and do not settle for anything less in this monologue-driven society. At the end of the day, the tortoise wins the race.
How does this look in actuality though? What are real goals you can set?
- 1. Gather feedback. Instead of developing marketing terminology that focuses on raising awareness of your brand, focus on reconnecting with those customers who have already purchased something from you. Get their feedback and sincerely concern yourself with their post-purchase satisfaction.
- 2. Offer VIP experiences. If you have a sale or service discount you plan to roll out, select a few of your most loyal customers to present them with an “insiders” option first. Unless you are in the business of investing/trading…Martha Stewart.
- 3. Breed an environment of caring. Do you sell maternity items? If so, collect information from your mothers-to-be and send a well wishes email. Are you a mechanic? Check up on your clients about 60 to 90 days after repair to see how well the car is holding up. Do you perform B2B transactions? Help out a smaller business with a free give away of something useful. Pay it forward and it will pay off!
In closing, take your time to reach the peak of your success. Enjoy the small beginnings and maximize your execution of the fundamentals. Build, into the culture of your business, those essential details that create the quality, long lasting experience for your customers and separate you from your competition. Develop and fortify your relationships and those customers will thank you, both verbally and financially!
Image source: http://www.uncommongoods.com/images/product/20954_zoom1.jpg
Written by Jeremy Jensen
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
When an influential mentor speaks to you, chances are you’re going to remember what they say. For me, it was a lecture early on in college where one of my Professors attempted to demonstrate the importance of social sciences in relation to real world business practices. The gist of what he said was, “Business is all about working with people. The more you understand what people want and how they operate, the more successful you’re going to be across any career path.”
Essentially signifying the role and value our emotional quotient fulfills in an environment where humans attempt to cooperate with one another on mutual tasks. Quite frequently, though, we’re begrudged by disrespectful and demanding supervisors who have skills in every aspect to a managerial position, except interpersonal relations.
Whether you’re struggling to develop a better relationship with your employees, or are simply lacking directional leadership skills, here are three ways you can improve the general happiness within your company.
Show Your Appreciation Appropriately
There are many ways to motivate employees, but nothing can can quite replace the empowerment of expressing gratitude towards their efforts. By taking the time to examine what we appreciate from our team, we’re also encouraging others to do the same.
The appropriateness comes into play in measures of frequency and the selective times in which we choose to show our appreciation. Not every routine action is in need of being remarked upon; rather, when an employee or co-worker seems to extend themselves beyond expectations be sure to reward their efforts by complimenting their work ethic.
Successful managers may even take extra steps every week, or month to send individual e-mails pointing out times when the employee made an invaluable contribution. No one wants to feel like their work is going unnoticed. Giving someone a feeling of purpose is an excellent tool for building the strength of your business.
Don’t Stifle Creativity
Officially classified as the ‘Technological Era’, our current trends of employment rely heavily on both sides of the brain. For the longest time we were seeing left-brained analytical work forces that didn’t allow for individuals to express their creativity within a company. Many careers during the informational era (Engineers, Doctors, Computer Programmers) were task oriented and routine, not allowing for an individuals personality to really impact their day to day.
But the world has changed.
While many, if not all careers, are still maximizing the linear and analytical portion of our brain (Left-half), we’re seeing a tremendous shift towards those who utilize the ‘big picture’ modules to steer business towards a more sustainable future. Automation has allowed for many careers to focus on the artistry and emotion of what makes our products/services human; therefore, right-brained individuals are thriving thanks to the opportunities presented in creative industries.
Not everyone lands a position in a creative sector, however, and try as we might our ideas are often stifled due to the lack of open-mindedness in a given company’s upper management. Best recommendation: listen to what your employees have to suggest.
Just like it’s become common place to have customer surveys, understanding and adapting to your employee’s needs will allow for your company to retain employees longer, while also providing a channel for their ideas to blossom.
Drop The Intimidation and Focus On Happiness
I think we’ve finally realized that ruling by fear is not the most effective approach to increasing productivity from our employees. In today’s economic climate there is already enough uncertainty pertaining to the security of our jobs. This has led to notable increases in documented health issues directly correlated to stress from our jobs.
Many reports have begun to emphasis the importance of ‘positive psychology’ in the workplace, disregarding prior methods of holding low job availability over employees heads as a means to generate pressure and fear. Positive psychology is all about the happiness of employees which has been shown to increase productivity, stimulate creativity, and create a better overall environment in which better candidates will apply to work for.
Some great ways to reduce stress and increase happiness, include:
- Providing access to physical fitness – For some companies this means helping purchase gym memberships as a part of the benefits package.
- Incorporate mentoring programs for new employees – Feeling like your company has invested in your position is a great way to feel secure and learn how to start working at a higher level
- Engage a happiness trainer – While this can be expensive, the results could last much longer than employees constantly leaving in search of a better position.
Creating a better working environment doesn’t require a complete overhaul of resources. Often it’s the small gestures, and genuine demeanor we exchange with those we’re closest with at the office that will spread throughout the entire company. By starting to prioritize your company’s positive reputation today, you’ll have an even better team in the days of tomorrow.