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Article of the Week: 15 St. Patrick’s Day Marketing Ideas PDF Print E-mail
By Annie Pilon: SmallBusinessTrends.com

With St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching, your business has an opportunity to capitalize on some festive holiday marketing. Whether it’s promoting St. Patty’s Day facts on social media or hosting an event at your bar or restaurant, there are plenty of different ways you can market your business on or around St. Patrick’s Day.

1. Ask your Subscribers St. Patty’s Day Trivia Questions

There’s a lot of history and tradition surrounding St. Patrick’s Day. So send out some questions or challenges to your email list to encourage them to engage with you.

2. Share Information

Share St. Patrick’s Day traditions, recipes or other helpful or interesting tidbits. Customers love when you provide valuable tips they can use. And if you can integrate your own products or services into the information in some way, that’s all the better.

3. Integrate Green into your Message

Of course, the color green is a big part of St. Patty’s Day. But even if you don’t have any green products, you can at least use the word green in some way. For example, if you’re a marketing consultant, tell customers you can help them earn more “green” through one of your new services. Or if you’re a health coach, offer your clients a way to make others “green” with envy.

4. Suggest Unique St. Patrick’s Day Gift Ideas

Use your signage to point out some unique products or services that you offer that could make great gifts for St. Patrick’s Day. Tie them to the holiday or Irish traditions in some way to explain why customers should purchase them.

5. Advertise your Holiday Specials or Events

If you’re hosting a special event or sale for St. Patty’s Day, put up signage leading up to it explaining when it is, what the cost is and what all is involved.

6. Remind Customers to be Safe

If your St. Patrick’s Day specials involve alcohol in any way, use your signage to remind people not to drink and drive. Include numbers to local cab companies, or even include a discount code for Uber or Lyft users.

7. Add some Green to your Social Media Profiles

Take a photo of your team wearing green. Add a shamrock. Or otherwise change up your profile and cover images for St. Patty’s Day. You can even change your name to a festive play on words that still utilizes all or part of your actual business name.

8. Start a Themed Hashtag Challenge

Ask customers to share their St. Patrick’s Day stories, traditions or other content with you through a designated hashtag on Twitter or Instagram.

9. Create a St. Patrick’s Day Themed Pinterest Board

Pin images of holiday themed recipes, cartoons, party ideas and more leading up to and on St. Patty’s Day.

10. Develop a Custom Menu for your St. Patrick’s Day Customers

For example, add green food coloring to certain foods or even add a few traditional Irish elements to your dishes. Alternatively, you could simply change the names of a few of your regular menu items to make them more festive for the holiday.

11. Set up a Photobooth

Customers can get their photos taken in a St. Patrick’s Day setting, such as at the end of a rainbow or in a field of four-leafed clovers. You can even have an employee dress up as a Leprechaun so people can take photos with them. Then have customers sign up for your email list to get their photos via email.

12. Create a Festive Atmosphere with Music

Have traditional Irish musicians or even dancers visit your space on St. Patrick’s Day to get everyone even more into the holiday spirit.

13. Offer Gift Certificates

People can purchase them from your business ahead of time. Call these gift certificates a “pot of gold” or something else festive, and make sure they look the part as well.

14. Host a One-day Sale

Offer customers a discount on all green or otherwise St. Patty’s Day themed items. Or you could offer discounts to people wearing green or other festive garb.

15. Host a Contest

Customers can enter to win some kind of prize that fits into the theme of St. Patty’s Day. For instance, you could refer to the prize as a “pot of gold” or “lucky charm.”

 
Article of the Week: How Diversity Can Drive Innovation PDF Print E-mail
By: Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall and Laura Sherbin; Harvard Business Reivew

Most managers accept that employers benefit from a diverse workforce, but the notion can be hard to prove or quantify, especially when it comes to measuring how diversity affects a firm’s ability to innovate.

But new research provides compelling evidence that diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth—a finding that should intensify efforts to ensure that executive ranks both embody and embrace the power of differences.

In this research, which rests on a nationally representative survey of 1,800 professionals, 40 case studies, and numerous focus groups and interviews, we scrutinized two kinds of diversity: inherent and acquired. 

Inherent diversity involves traits you are born with, such as gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Acquired diversity involves traits you gain from experience: Working in another country can help you appreciate cultural differences, for example, while selling to female consumers can give you gender smarts. We refer to companies whose leaders exhibit at least three inherent and three acquired diversity traits as having two-dimensional diversity.

By correlating diversity in leadership with market outcomes as reported by respondents, we learned that companies with 2-D diversity out-innovate and out-perform others. Employees at these companies are 45% likelier to report that their firm’s market share grew over the previous year and 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.

2-D diversity unlocks innovation by creating an environment where “outside the box” ideas are heard. When minorities form a critical mass and leaders value differences, all employees can find senior people to go to bat for compelling ideas and can persuade those in charge of budgets to deploy resources to develop those ideas.

Most respondents, however—78%—work at companies that lack 2-D diversity in leadership. Without diverse leadership, women are 20% less likely than straight white men to win endorsement for their ideas; people of color are 24% less likely; and LGBTs are 21% less likely. This costs their companies crucial market opportunities, because inherently diverse contributors understand the unmet needs in under-leveraged markets. We’ve found that when at least one member of a team has traits in common with the end user, the entire team better understands that user. A team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152% likelier than another team to understand that client.

Inherent diversity, however, is only half of the equation. Leaders also need acquired diversity to establish a culture in which all employees feel free to contribute ideas. Six behaviors, we have found, unlock innovation across the board: ensuring that everyone is heard; making it safe to propose novel ideas; giving team members decision-making authority; sharing credit for success; giving actionable feedback; and implementing feedback from the team. Leaders who give diverse voices equal airtime are nearly twice as likely as others to unleash value-driving insights, and employees in a “speak up” culture are 3.5 times as likely to contribute their full innovative potential.

These findings constitute a powerful new dimension of the business case for diversity.

 
Article of the Week: To-Do List Tips that Boost Productivity PDF Print E-mail

To-Do List Tips that Boost Productivity

By Anita Murphy, SmallBizTrends.com

 

There are times when everyone wishes that there were more hours in a day. Instead of wasting energy on wishing, it’s time to get proactive in learning how to create an efficient schedule. These easy to-do list tips will boost workplace productivity so that business owners and professionals are able to get the most out of every single moment of each day.

Productivity Jumps with a Detailed 90-Day To-Do List

The first task is to get organized. Write out a detailed to-do list for everything that needs to get accomplished within the next 90 days even if the projects are unrelated. Putting these ideas down on paper helps clarify the necessary steps of a project, frees up clutter in the brain and reinforces the commitment to the goal.

The next step is to identify broad categories based on clients, projects or looming deadlines. Move on to breaking the categories up into more manageable tasks that support the overall goal. The more detailed the list, the less likely important steps will be overlooked.

Finally, assign each action a priority rank, such as A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3 and so on. Each week, focus on crossing off the items listed under the Priority A column. On a daily basis, attack each assignment in the exact order that it appears on the list. This should ideally be three to five actions per day.

Stay on Task with Regular Updates

Maintaining the list with regular updates prevents frequent mental interruptions since the brain no longer has to struggle to remember everything that needs to get accomplished. Every Monday morning, review the overall plan and weekly goals, reordering the priority list as assignment are completed and new tasks pop up.

If low-priority projects continue to roll over each week, then set aside a specific time to tackle these issues. On the first day of each month, update the to-do list with the upcoming 90 days worth of projects.

Utilize To-Do List Tools

If you learn to schedule every minute in your day you will have more control over your time and increase your productivity dramatically. Creating a detailed outline of which tasks should be completed by a set time helps keep a tight schedule and decreases stress.

Different to-do list systems cater to various personalities and working styles. An app works well for people who are always on the go. A simple spreadsheet is best for people who are usually at their desks. Colored sticky notes on a whiteboard help a visual person to see how all the small pieces achieve the big picture. Make sure the system is able to be easily reordered and reprioritized as projects evolve.

Staying on task also means preparing for the unexpected. Build time into the daily schedule for last-minute assignments that are high priority. If nothing pops up, then allocate this time to checking off some of those low-priority projects that have been hanging around for a while.

Once an effective system is identified, after 90 days of making to-do lists and completing the tasks, productivity will increase dramatically.

 
Article of the Week: Land Potential Clients With Your Personal Brand PDF Print E-mail
By: Lee Heyward, Huffingtonpost.com

According to the University of Illinois Extension Statistics, first impressions comprise 55% of your appearance and body language. So if you don't dress the part, you're 55% less likely to make a sale.

You often hear the words personal branding thrown around in business as if it's something you need to go out and get, or achieve. But really, everyone has a personal brand--whether you've purposefully created it or not.

In essence, a personal brand is how you position yourself to potential clients. And much of that positioning comes from the way you present yourself. Therefore, your image becomes an integral part of creating a personal brand that you can easily profit from.

Even if you don't work with clients face-to-face, your image affects your personal brand (aka. how you're positioned in the mind of your target audience). Your photos on social media, a headshot on a blog post, or the way you look when you meet someone on an airplane are personal branding tools that help a potential customer decide if you are someone they want to hire.

Everyone knows you have to dress professionally for business, but it's not enough to simply look professional. In order to increase your bottom line you need an image strategy.

Having an image strategy means you present yourself in a way that helps you reach your financial goals. I teach my clients, you must dress for your vision, not just for where you are today.

If your vision is to sell a $100,000 client, then you need to look as if you've already landed many of them. So you start here and work backwards to discover how to present yourself in an authentic way that will help you effortlessly close sales.

There is amazing power in what you wear. It takes the same amount of time to create a boring "professional" outfit that makes people question what you do, as it does to put on clothes that give you instant credibility and wealth.

My philosophy is, up-level your wardrobe and you'll up-level your life. But instead every day I see entrepreneurs dressing how they think they should. They put on clothing that seems professional and call it a day, accidentally forming their personal brand.

No matter what you sell, whether it's a product, a widget, or a service, people are buying YOU. Presenting yourself in a unique and confident way can put you leaps ahead in the mind of a potential customer.

Take a moment to consider what makes you unique. Why should someone do business with you? Then dress in a way that portrays that to your target audience. If you provide an edgy, out-of-the-box service or product, then it doesn't make sense to wear a boring suit to a business meeting.

One of the best things about your image is that you control every aspect of it, making you a very powerful marketing tool.

The first step is making the decision that you're ready to achieve the success you want. Then look at the logistics of how to create an image to do that.

Once you've made the decision to up-level your image, the first step is to ask yourself two questions:

  • In order to achieve the success I want, how do I want to feel?
  • How do I want others to perceive my business?

Then get dressed and look in the mirror to discover if your reflection matches the answers to those two questions. If there's a mismatch, it's time to discover what type of clothing will help you create the image you want.

 
Article of the Week: 6 Ways Successful People Make a Good First Impression PDF Print E-mail
By: Jeremy Goldman, inc.com

Think you have ten minutes to make a first impression? Think again.

The first seven seconds in which you meet somebody, according to science, is when you'll make a "first impression." So, whether it's for an event, a business development meeting, or any other professional setting, you have to act very quickly in order to make the proper first impression. In order to have a great meeting and be remembered in the right way--while cementing your reputation--here are some important tips:

1. Smile

Facial expressions are very important when it comes to making a good first impression. Who doesn't want their personal brand to be associated with positivity?

Smiling's at the start of this list for a good reason. 48 percent of all Americans feel that a smile is the most memorable feature after first meeting someone. While smiling is important, you probably don't want to have a cheesy and inauthentic grin plastered across your face. Smile too widely and it's going to look like you're covering up nervousness. Or you might come across as arrogant. Even a small grin can go a long way.

Not only does smiling make others feel more comfortable around you, but it also decreases stress hormones that can negatively impact your health. This isn't according to just one or two studies; smiling is highly correlated with longevity. Since the need to make a positive first impression can increase your stress level, smiling is a way to take the edge off.

2. The Right Handshake

The handshake is accepted internationally as a professional sign of politeness. A proper handshake can convey confidence. You might be rolling your eyes at this, but the handshake is a fine art. You want to walk the line between a squeeze that comes across as incredibly tight and the dreaded limp fish. When you're meeting with people whom you trust and have known for years, ask them how they feel after shaking hands, and how your handshake feels in relation to others they've experienced.

3. Introductions

You want your first seven seconds with somebody to be productive, so it's great to throw in a verbal introduction as you meet with people. Even something as basic as "great to meet you" after they greet you can break the tension, and stop you from getting off into a tangent. If you have a hard time remembering names, the intro is a great place to reinforce the name of the person you just met. It doesn't have to be too involved: when your contact says, "Hi, I'm Amelia," reply with a simple, "Great to meet you, Amelia. I'm Jonah," instead of just saying, "Hi, I'm Jonah," in response.

4. Speak Clearly

Many people have wonderful things to say but don't speak with any confidence. Unfortunately, that's a great way to wind up getting overlooked. You want to be able to portray yourself in a positive light and give whomever you're meeting a reason to listen to you. Don't overcorrect and get too loud, either: studies have indicated that those who talk in a deeper voice, and more calmly, are taken more seriously.

5. Make Eye Contact

Looking someone in the eye conveys that you are confident and interested in what they have to say.

In Western countries like the U.S., eye contact shows respect to the person you're meeting with. It also conveys a sense of interest in the conversation; likewise, looking away too much will make you appear distracted. Like with most things, it's a good idea to not overdo it; if you don't take breaks now and again, your eye contact could be viewed as staring, which has negative connotations.

6. Use Body Language

One interesting thing about human psychology: most of us instinctively mirror each other's body language. Think about how infectious a yawn is in a group of people. A smile between friends is contagious, too. In fact, there's a neuron that affects the part of the brain responsible for recognizing faces and reading facial expressions. This neuron causes the "mirroring" reaction. So when another person sees you smiling, the neuron fires and causes them to smile in response. Mirroring goes both ways; if you pick up on and reflect back the non-verbal cues of the person you're speaking with, it sends a non-verbal message that you feel what they feel. Research shows that people who experience the same emotions are likely to experience mutual trust, connection and understanding.

Mirroring body language is a non-verbal way of saying "we have something in common." When people say that someone gives off good energy, they're not just indulging in some New Age beliefs; they're describing mirroring and other synchronous behaviors they're not consciously aware of.

How many of the above habits are you engaging in? Are there any you're in the process of improving?

 
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