What Problem Does Your Business Solve For You?

What Problem Does Your Business Solve For You? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Don’t misunderstand the title of this entry – I’m talking about you, the business owner, the start-up entrepreneur, the employee. What Problem Does Your Business Solve For You?

See, at its heart, every business exists to solve problems.

We may choose to communicate the features and benefits of our business and what it sells, but it’s a fact that buyers don’t care what we sell until they understand how doing business with us can solve their problems.

So what does that have to do with you and your problems?

I would like to propose an idea that’s not talked about enough; until you can fully understand the problems your business solves for you and how your business (your job) serves your, life you may struggle to understand how to best build the lasting customer relationships and internal culture you’ll need to grow a thriving business.

Now I know this seems a bit dramatic but ask yourself this question. What problem were you trying to solve when you started your business?

This is a harder question than it appears and this is not the same question as “what’s your purpose in life?”

Let me illustrate.

At first pass, many people would answer the “problem” question with things like, “it puts a roof over my head,” or “it gives me the freedom to make my own choices,” or even things like “it allows me to use my gifts.”

Nothing wrong with any of those answers, but they feel a little more like features and benefits, but nowhere near the truth.

So here’s where it gets tough.

I’ve come to realize that the problem I was trying to solve when I first started my business was low self-esteem.

I certainly didn’t know this at the time, but in many ways, in hindsight at least, it has and continues to color my decisions and daily actions.

See, I never really did that well in the traditional metric of school. I loved learning, had an insatiable curiosity, but “school” didn’t fit how I learned.

I got through high school but never quite finished college. I attended for four years and turned up about 30 hours short of any kind of degree.

I wanted to keep moving, keep pace with my peers, and at the time I was madly in love with a woman who has now tolerated me in marriage for over three decades.

I just took the next step in life, but lacking a degree I never quite felt worthy of or even capable of chasing the traditional career path. So I hid out for a while until I stumbled on the notion of starting my own business.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I did know I would never have to interview with anyone in order to land the job and that solved a problem for me. Just how long that element lived with me is hard to tell, but I can clearly point the finger at this dynamic in some of the ruts and stalls I’ve experienced in my business over the years.

Now, it’s funny but people often associate starting a business with a large dollop of confidence and self-esteem, but it’s probably one of the greatest misperceptions about entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs often use their business as a mask or a stage for some sort of lack.

That’s not really the point I’m trying to make, but hopefully, it helps illustrate the fact that once I realized that the real problem my business solved initially was to help me deal with my own issues, I could start to see a pattern of decisions that were based in feeding that solution rather than in my own personal or professional growth.

This is the kind of thing that leads us to take a client we know is wrong for us. This is what leads us to lower our prices and undermine our value. This is what keeps us doing what we’ve always done, even if it clearly no longer serves. (And by the way, this applies to any employee out there as surely as it does to a business owner.)

So let me ask you again – Why did you start your business, what problem were you really trying to solve? Does solving that problem feed your growth or keep you in a pattern of something akin to treading water?

Ever feel stuck? Then look for the clues to answer this question.

You cannot reframe the problem your business solves for you until you understand it and define it. Once you gain clarity around this idea you can reimagine your relationship with your business. You can take charge of the problem your business needs to solve for you and you can perhaps finally focus on uncovering and solving the problems that can bring your customers and everyone else who has a relationship with your business the greatest value.

You can do less and be more.

You can develop the confidence to say no, to narrow your focus to only those you are meant to serve, to create far greater impact than you ever imagined.

Original source: https://ducttapemarketing.com/your-business-problem/

What You Should Know About Google Adsense

Who would not want to make extra cash online? We keep searching for ways to increase our income and one of the easiest ways is through the internet. If you have a good connection and time to spare, you can use that to your benefit. You have definitely heard about gaining money through advertisements, especially through Adsense. If you have never heard of it, we are here to give you the proper knowledge to build up the courage and go for it. 

How Does It Work?

Adsense is a Google moderated way to earn money from the content you publish online. Basically, after creating your own website, Google will check it and post advertisements on it depending on the subject and kinds of visitors. When a certain number of people click on an ad generated on your website, you get paid. Furthermore, it is free to use and sign up for. 

Fortunately, you get to choose what kind of advertisements to be promoted and you can block future ones about topics that you don’t want to appear. Also, you can pick which area on your page they should be displayed. If you have more than one website, you don’t have to create multiple Adsense accounts, you can link the already existing one to all of them. 

Downsides

Unfortunately, everything has drawbacks because life isn’t ideal. If by mistake you violated their policies or clicked on one of the ads, your account will be terminated. In that case, you should be aware of different options to replace the one that you have been banned from. You can do your research and remind yourself that anything has a good alternative and you shouldn’t cry over the one you lost. 

Another downside is that when a visitor opens an ad, they will be directed away from your website so if there was any chance for them to buy what you offer, they will forget about it. So, sometimes it feels bad that after building your traffic, they leave yours for another link.

Boosting Traffic to Your Website

To have a proper number of clicks, you should have enough traffic on your website. So, you need to focus on your content’s growth to attract more people to check what you offer and on their way, they will view the ads. 

  • Stay Authentic

Your website could be about a product you are selling, reviews, or content writing. It doesn’t matter as long as you are being original and unique. Also, your website design reflects who you are as a person, so you should be picky while decorating it. 

  • Make It Mobile-Friendly

After a long day at work, we tend to be lazy and unable to look at any more laptops’ screens. So, your website should be light and can be opened on mobile phones without lagging or being too slow. That will help you as well because you will be able to check your numbers regularly and post remotely too! 

  • Easy To Navigate

For starters, there should be a clear search bar on the top of the page so visitors would easily type their targeted keyword and reach it. Also, don’t expose all of your content on the first page because that way, visitors won’t dig deeper so they won’t reach the available ads on the rest of the pages. Moreover, squeeze in links here and there so people can jump from one page to another if they got bored of the topic they are reading about. 

  • Notification Features

You need to constantly remind your visitors that you exist and that you post new content weekly or monthly. That can be done through notifications or emails if people decide to agree to be reminded every time you post. That will give them a second chance to click on the ads regularly.

Types of Advertisements 

They come in different kinds and forms, so you can choose the ones that best fit your website. Here are the most common ones.

  • Text

It appears with an underlined title and a short description. They can be in the form of one unit or multiple units.

  • Rich Media

They are videos or a collection of photos displayed together to be eye-catching regardless of what they are offering.

  • Display Ads

They are graphics-based and come in different forms. For example, they can be horizontal, vertical, or in the form of a banner. 

It is easy and almost effort-free to sign up for Adsense. You are one click away from building a community and some more away from starting to make money online. You just need to stick to the rules and regulations of Google and if by any chance you violated one, there are always substitutes. 

The post What You Should Know About Google Adsense appeared first on Social Media Explorer.

Original source: https://socialmediaexplorer.com/content-sections/tools-and-tips/what-you-should-know-about-google-adsense/

PR People: Don’t Do This #5

It should be painfully obvious by now, but if you’re pitching someone, for the love of God – make sure you’re pitching the right person. For example, if the journalist you are trying to pitch has this name: Katherine Riley, make sure you’re pitching the right Katherine Riley and not Katherine E. Riley. It’s confusing, I know, but if you could do that, this Katherine would really appreciate it. 

A little background 

With the holiday season coming up, droves upon droves of PR people (including this chump) are on the hunt for journalists and bloggers on the gift guide beat. It’s a yearly thing, and it’s one of those things about the job that needs to get done. Unfortunately for journalists and bloggers, their inboxes get flooded with unwanted and usually irrelevant pitches.

Take Katherine E. Riley, for instance. She’s a data journalist over at Flourish. Guessing from the tweet above, she’s getting spammed with a ton of pitches that I hope are intended for E! News’ gift guide writer, Katherine Riley. I mean, that’s the only logical answer here. 

I can see how people could get this confused, but cmon, this is pitching 101. Do your homework. It literally took me a couple of minutes to find the right email address for the other Katherine Riley over at E! News. It takes work, but again, we know how some PR people can struggle with this.

Either way, with the holiday gift guide season here in full swing, be sure you’re pitching the right people. People like Katherine E. Riley get enough email, let’s help them a bit with one less plopping in their inbox. 

If you enjoyed this post, check out the rest of our “PR People: Don’t Do This” series, be sure to check out some of the previous entries here, here, and here. Feel free to share them on Facebook or Twitter, we’ll appreciate the love.

This a regular series on The Future Buzz, so if you ever come across any gems like this, feel free to drop them in our contact page here or Twitter. For a quicker response, I’m always here too.

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How to Be Ready for What’s Next

How to Be Ready for What’s Next written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Chuck Swoboda

InnovationIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Chuck Swoboda, author, speaker, podcast host, and the Innovator-in-Residence at Marquette University.

He served as Chairman and CEO of Cree for 16 years where his team successfully led the LED lighting revolution not just by creating new products, but by focusing on solving old problems in completely new ways. He has seen what it takes to make the impossible, possible. Under his leadership, the company grew from just over $6 million in annual revenue in 1993 to over $1.6 billion as they transformed Cree from a start-up into a global market leader with 6,500 employees worldwide. Cree was recognized as MIT Technology Review’s 50 Smartest Companies for 2014 and as one of Fast Companies World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2015.

Chuck is the author of The Innovator’s Spirt, hosts the Innovators on Tap podcast, and has been a speaker on leading innovation for both corporate clients as well as a number of universities including; Harvard Business School, Marquette University, University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State University.

Questions I ask Chuck Swoboda:

  • What do you mean by innovation should solve a problem?
  • Which route should you take innovation or invention?
  • How do you convince people innovation is a good thing when it means change and they resist naturally?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How products that solve problems are marketing and sales success stories
  • The opportunity and challenge innovation creates
  • Why it’s so hard for people to change
  • What types of challenges are going to come from current innovation

More about Chuck Swoboda:

  • To learn more about Chuck Swoboda

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Site domainsThis episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by .site.

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In fact, I got myself www.selfreliance.site where I talk about my book ‘The Self Reliant Entrepreneur’ and share content to help people become self-reliant in their entrepreneurial journey.

You too can get your very own .site domain for as low as $1.99. Visit www.get.site. Search for your unique .site domain and use code ‘selfreliance’ to get 50% off on your domain purchase.

Original source: https://ducttapemarketing.com/how-to-be-ready-for-whats-next/

Why is the music industry bad at digital marketing?

In the early days of the Internet, it could be argued that the music industry was one of the best at digital. One of the first online open communities was Iron Maiden’s early site. MySpace was a massive success in no small part due to the musical presence there, launching careers like OneRepublic and eventually selling to Justin Timberlake. Of course, MySpace is now a footnote to Facebook’s history. So what happened?

Let’s start by looking at a couple of not so random musical websites.

There’s no denying that Taylor Swift is one of the biggest pop stars going right now. Her site features four options in the menu. Events, Video, Merchandise and Newsletter. Half of the links end up further down the page, leaving only Events and Merch with their own pages. So other than merch, there’s only two pages. The leading image is her album cover, and a close up of her album cover.

This makes for really bad SEO. If you search Taylor Swift Albums, for example, her own site is nowhere to be found. Roughly 30,000 people in the US do that search every month. Add in variants (discography) and it’s more like 150K a month. There’s no self controlled news, or anything else for fans for content unless you signup for that news letter. At least it’s kind of pretty.

Let’s look at the site that unseated her a the top of the charts. Tool.

This at least features a few more user paths and content to consume. The top of the site is dominated by a very extensive video loop, and there are links to more than just the latest video they’ve produced. But it’s virtually unreadable. If you can’t see it in the screen cap, it wouldn’t be surprising. Sure it captures the dark and brooding rock star thing, but doesn’t exactly make it usable.

Further down the page you’d find this article:

If you actually click on the read more you’ll see the cover of the magazine, but on the home page only the link can be seen. The link they posted is only a bare link with the facebook tracking parameter. In addition to looking quite ugly, it’s throwing off the metrics from where ever they took the link. It’s 2019, it’s not that hard to build a link with anchor text.

So bands don’t care about product sales or websites?

Somewhere in time, Napster came along and broke the industry. But it wasn’t really Napster, it was actually iTunes. And Pandora and Spotify Broke it further. Digital downloads and physical sales are only around 25% of music revenue any more. The remaining 75% is streaming. Rather than potentially thousands of retailers for sales, the bulk is now on a few platforms. Musicians care about SEO. It’s just that that S stands for Spotify rather than search. They’ve ceded control to the big streaming platforms and they know it.

The same might be said of ticket sales for concerts. It’s pretty much ticketmaster or secondary market places. The marketplace tacks on plenty of “convenience fees” which help the company but not the musician. Somewhere upwards of 20% on average for the convenience of buying a ticket in the only place you can get one.

That means the sites are left for superfans, not acquisition. It’s made opportunities for sites that specialize in lyrics or setlists, so you can find out which artist sings that song with a single line you remember. Google’s recognized this and is pretty good at matching the entity of a single line from a song to the actual song

What should a budding artist do?

We’ve looked at big artists, and poked holes in the work they’ve done. For every superstar, there’s thousands of struggling bands trying to make a go at music for a living. What should they do to get noticed?

We’d recommend some of the classic tactics for marketing and PR. Getting noticed in an industry like music is hard, but there are pros that expressly exist to help with this. People have to hear a song somewhere to start the interest cycle. The era of self made artists isn’t over, it’s just shifted to getting noticed on platforms like YouTube and Spotify from traditional radio and record shops. Social media can help too, as long as you’re making your music easy to share and find. Social media influencers are as real in this space as the recommendation engines. If anything the splintered landscape of digital has made the possibility to get discovered from anywhere, instead of just music towns.

And of course if you like this, don’t forget to check out my soundcloud.

The post Why is the music industry bad at digital marketing? appeared first on The Future Buzz.

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The Post Black Friday World

We’re a few days from the actual Black Friday, but by now you’ve no doubt had roughly 500 emails announcing various Black Friday deals. Has this annual sale jumped the shark?

Black Friday Historically Speaking

There was a time that Black Friday was the most important shopping day of the year. Most professionals have the day after Thanksgiving off, and have spent the day with their families the day before. The 2 inch thick newspaper full of ads was the perfect escape from actually talking to our relatives. Throw in a few absurdly low priced items to get you to come in early, and you have a consumerist tradition in the making

Things are different now. Sure, we still want to avoid our relatives, but now we’re doing it on social media with the five inch computer in our pocket we call a smartphone. One reaction was to create Cyber Monday, but the vast majority of purchases still happen in person. Plus the black friday ads were often leaked well ahead of time, limiting the effect of the physical ad.

Black Friday becomes Novemeber

Reporters are all too happy to report on the leaked ads. It’s great for the attention that the deal gets, but it might actually hurt sales in the short term. After all, if you knew the TV you’d been eyeballing was going to be much cheaper if you waited, there’s no reason to buy it now.

Retailers did the obvious thing. They started selling at Black Friday prices well ahead of the actual day. It leaves the actual day for some deals that encourage odd, but newsworthy, behavior like camping out in front of the store. It’s still great for PR.

I’m left to wonder if the notion will lose its newsy appeal sooner than later. As news rooms suffer with dwindling resources, do they really want to send a crew on a holiday to interview a crazed consumer, just like they did last year, about the unbeatable laptop offer that’s worth spending the night in the cold to acquire? It comes across as an unpaid ad in so many ways. Online only outlets seem to rarely cover these sorts of events, and we suspect their traditional counterparts will do the same eventually.

It might go without saying that calling it a day doesn’t make sense any more, but the word Black Friday has taken on a life well beyond it’s literal 24 hour period. Any SEO worth their salt would tell you that people actually search that term way more than anything else you might try and call it. You can’t make people search they way you want them to, you have to use the terms they use.

Black Friday Backlash

At least one retailer has tried to set themselves apart from the rest. In a move reminiscent of Chick-Fil-A’s closed on Sunday policy, REI has decided to close on Black Friday. They’ve done it in a very on-brand way, encouraging people to use the day to actually get outside instead of shopping anywhere. It makes sense for them, and generated some positive coverage.

The truth is many more retailers should do the same, even if they aren’t associated with the outdoors. If your store isn’t about discounts, the sale seekers are just going to pass by.

Expanding the concept

Plenty of other days around Black Friday have been declared, some with very serious implications. Small Business Saturday is an encouragement (sponsored by American Express) to shop local. Decent idea, but honestly something that most do either do all the time or never. Sunday gets skipped, and then we get to Cyber Monday when the online outlets do their best version of DoorBusters.

Then we come to Giving Tuesday. This single day has been responsible for almost $250M in charitable donations in 2017 alone. With thousands of charities becoming part of this day, it’s now difficult to get individual coverage, but obviously worth the effort. It’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the billions spent on black friday and cyber Monday, but this day is showing explosive growth.

PR for Black Friday

If you’re reading this in 2019 you’re already far too late. Getting attention from news outlets on a day as well known as this takes a plan set in motion months ahead of the actual date. At this point a $99 laptop isn’t enough anymore. Doing these consumer days well requires a combination of creativity and strategy. The best strategy should leave a lasting impression, not just a loss leader item that’s soon forgotten.

Here’s a few ideas:

  • Combine the whole event into one. If you’re a small business, use your small business Saturday proceeds to make a donation on giving Tuesday, for example. Nothing’s really a day anymore.
  • Find Partners in the community. Work with some local restaurants for a “No Leftovers” Black Friday. Give a discount card with purchases that’s co-branded. I
  • nvite a personality to the event. I still recall a sports store that had Picabo Street on Black Friday to sign autographs for a bit. You don’t need to book Britney Spears to get attention in most cases.

Don’t forget the tactical items either. Update your website with relevant information. Use a google post on your local listing as well. Consider getting influencers to promote your ideas around this. Even “micro influencers” make sense if they’re targeted well enough. It’s a big few days. Or a month. Or a season. Make the most of it.

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PR People: It Is Time To Become The Joker

Hello PR people. You are now deep into a quarantine. You can no longer go to an office and look busy. You can no longer. 

Your lives have changed a lot – mine has not. You were born to go to offices and talk about television shows that everybody else is watching. You were built to make phone calls where your manager could see, and nod as you as a reporter says “please don’t call me.” You do not know how to do social media other than #using #hashtags, but you do know how to be a bright and breezy person that people think “is really nice.” You know how to do an agenda. You know how to seem, at a glance, like the busiest person alive. 

But now you’re digital. Everything you do has to be something someone can actually look at. The amount of time something takes is no longer balanced against how much consternation you have. You can no longer tut at someone for leaving at 6pm, and stay until 9pm doing something and get told you’re working hard. 

You forgot to go digital. You didn’t think you should actually learn to function as a normal human on Twitter. You created a generic persona that you thought was pleasant – an undefined person #who #uses #hashtags. Now you’re defined only by words. By posts. 

You never really learned how to be a normal human online. You never adapted to being a normal person – or an interesting one-  in real life, but that’s never been an issue. But when you’re a gestalt of your posts, being a boring automaton isn’t gonna work out well. 

You are just learning to post.  My friend, I have been posting my entire life. You posted carefully like you were dipping your toe in the water. I have been online this entire time, waiting for the day that a great equalisation would force you online. You cannot escape. 

Welcome to my nightmare. 

What’s Happening

You see, this entire time – your entire career – you’ve leaned upon people remembering you as nice, or “strategic,” or other vague terms. You could say things like “our team got” when you mean someone else did work that you took credit for. Your approach to media relations – bolstered by years of the PR industry trying to tell you it’s okay to not be able to make relationships with reporters – has been mostly glancing, sterile and faked – a patchwork of communication that still worked because you had all these other things to point to.

You are now sat at a computer, at home, without the ability to look busy by taking phone calls all day, or typing very loudly, or looking at documents with deep consternation. If you’re a manager, you can no longer stroll over to your underlings and ask them the status on something – nobody sees you doing it, thus you’re not managing. Suddenly you’re going to be reduced to a sum of actual work you’ve actually done, such as documents, or emails sent. And guess what? Clients are gonna notice too. You can’t set that all-hands in-person meeting to salvage a client with a deck of stuff that you and I both know isn’t actually impressive, but god damn are you passionate, and god damn will the client understand when they see you do an approximation of Donald Draper. Except they won’t. You’re staying home. You’re reduced to a voice.

A voice without definition. A generic, bright, breezy voice with professional language, stuff that sounded great and got you high grades in college but on its own, without human contact, is boring as shit. You’ve buffed off any actual personality that may be out of the norm, hoping desperately to fit in with your industry or your colleagues or your clients. You have been led to believe that the right thing in a crowd of people that all look and sound the same is to look and sound exactly like that.

Me? I spent the last 23 years online. I’ve been working on how to not be boring in text form for a long time, and I have never had the ability or luxury of being able to fit in. When I started in PR, I didn’t want to call people, I didn’t want to talk to my colleagues, I didn’t want to email 500 words to people – I wanted to die! And so I chose the lifelines I had – talking to reporters in general because my industry was so insufferable. I spent years online talking to them, growing a following and never being afraid to be me, which means that reporters actually know me, and speak to me online.

Sure, I ignored going to events because I never saw the point at them, sure, I didn’t go to PRSA events, sure, I didn’t go out of the house that much at all, seeing more of a point in growing an actual digital presence that resembled me.

And now look at you. You’re lost. You’re afraid. You are scared. You are still saying that media relations doesn’t work.

No, it does. Join me. I shall lead you.

You Can Become The Joker

The reason that I succeed despite my many faults is because I am able to communicate cleanly in the written form. It’s time for you to throw off the shackles of the PR industry – it’s time for you to, as the Joker once said, introduce a little anarchy. upset the established order, and everything [will] become chaos. And, yes, I’m an agent of chaos. It’s time for you to realize that all of the things the PRSA and your agency CEOs told you are lies, lies to keep their jobs and keep you down.

It’s time to:

  • Write pitches under 120 words.
  • Actually read reporters’ stuff, and objectively understand subjects.
  • Read around subjects.
  • It’s time to get rid of 90% of the bullshit language you use in pitches. That means any and all stupid words like “exciting” or “revolutionary,” all insane roundabout ways of describing something, go out the window. Write like a normal person, directly, succinctly, get what you need to say out there and let it stand on its own merits.
  • Not form pitch. Send 7 emails a day. Who cares. Make them good.
  • Follow reporters and talk to them like an actual human being. Log onto Twitter, post whatever you feel like, have a good time out there, stop worrying that you don’t sound professional. Nobody who matters actually cares.
  • Say “fuck” and “shit.” You can do it.
  • Post normally, or abnormally. Be you.
  • Focus on what actually matters in your job – like getting hits for your client – and stop lying to yourself that LinkedIn content strategy is a thing.
  • Laugh in your manager’s face if they say to you that you need to ‘make a pitch more robust.
  • It’s time for you to stop worrying about whether PR people like you. Seriously, a lot of this industry has been built upon people assuming that if PR people don’t like you, you’ll fail. Guess what, nobody has liked me my entire career, and I’ve done just fine.
  • It’s time for you to rethink that PRSA membership. What have they done for you lately? Nothing, that’s what. They’re gonna do even less with your dues soon.
  • It’s time to do things that actually matter. If you see your agency pushing some obscene content strategy because they can’t pitch, tell them to find a way to pitch instead. This entire virus thing isn’t a blocker to everything – it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge of your ability to communicate and your relationship development skills.

You can do this entire job without being in an office, and you can excel at it if you learn to be an actual human.

If you don’t, this COVID-19 situation, and any future emergencies, are going to steamroll you and your agency. Your ass will be grass. The world does not need bright and breezy. It does not need nice. It needs communicators. It needs posters. It needs Jokers.

So say it with me:

Image result for i am going to become the joker

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Visual Best Practices: 3 Things You Can Learn from Sales Software Products

Customer-facing aspects of sales software solutions are what the designers’ hell is made of. The product should be intuitive and easy to navigate without reading a laundry list of instructions. So you use the industry-standard layout with traditional grids. This makes the solution look boring, thus you introduce clever elements and menus to stand out from the competition. These innovations confuse users, and you get stuck in a vicious cycle of balancing usability and beauty. More importantly, you forget about the page load time or application response speed and have to start from scratch. 

One way to solve this last issue is by using an image uploader, a part of a content delivery system (CDN) designed to make websites and apps faster. Let’s take a look at three ways a CDN can make your life easier by implementing the best practices of dealing with visuals.

  1. Optimized Images for Shorter Load Times

When it comes to business proposals or closing deals, paperwork is still king, even if it’s digital. While you could use any word processor to draft the copy, making it look good is a painful process, unless you use specialized software like PandaDoc. Its intuitive drag-and-drop interface helps craft clean and stylish documents in no time.

One of the key features of PandaDoc is the ability to upload and use proprietary images, including signatures. Without an ability to optimize users’ visuals on the fly, the system would be slow and cumbersome. To ensure top performance, the product relies on Uploadcare’s CDN that takes care of storing, processing, and delivering images to users without lags and crashes. The media delivery system ensures that images are uploaded and downloaded at speed, while automatic cropping and format conversions ensure error-free operation of the web app.

Another huge benefit of using CDN for PandaDoc and similar sales products is eliminating user-side connection speed requirements. Since there is no need to log huge amounts of visual data across the worldwide web, clients can create and edit documents in real-time even if their broadband capacity leaves much to be desired. Image CDN is a worthwhile investment for any sales solution looking to lower page load time.

  1. Adaptive Media Design for Every Display Size

The connected world we live in makes public relationship management a must for international companies, entrepreneurs, non-profits, and individuals. Prezly is an all-in-one PR product that promises to eliminate the fuss and ensure faster and better communication between PR managers and their audiences. 

Unsurprisingly, regardless of the chosen plan, all Prezly users get access to a media gallery. PR is impossible without visuals, be it a news post or an announcement. While tackling publications via a laptop or a desktop is a breeze with most software solutions, PR managers can never afford to be caught unawares, even if the only Internet-connected device they have is a smartphone. For this reason, image and video handling must be dealt with the same ease and comfort on a screen of any size. 

Using a visual CDN is the easiest and most efficient way to ensure images are displayed correctly on mobile devices. Instead of using one file for all interfaces, the system automatically returns a version of the image already cropped and scaled to fit a smaller screen without messing with the mobile interface layout. Shorter load time is another invaluable benefit that’s crucial for mobile Internet users who haven’t had the pleasure of switching to 5G yet.

  1. Custom Animated Images to Grab Attention

Despite the growing number of software developers and web designers, many businesses cannot afford to hire an outsourcing team or a dedicated coder. Webflow comes to the rescue and breaks the code barrier, allowing anyone to create beautiful, responsive websites, launch, and scale them without any technical knowledge.

Webflow boasts a user-friendly web interface that can turn anyone into a designer in no time. Users can create pages, build forms, manage accounts, and open online stores. However, none of these is possible without visuals, and adding a bit of animation is always a sure way to catch the eye and direct the customer towards the desired action. Instead of building an infrastructure to handle user media, Webflow relies on a CDN to host and deliver images as necessary. Unlike centralized hosting, edge servers of media delivery systems ensure faster response time and enable real-time web design via an online interface. Load time is especially important for animated media, as file sizes increase.

One look at the Webflow homepage and product pages is enough to see how the company embraces the power of animated visuals. Short demonstrations of the interface and its elements provide a much-needed understanding for non-technical specialists. Without these animated blocks, it would have taken pages of text and dozens of slides to familiarize potential clients with the Webflow toolset.

B2B software solutions, such as PandaDoc, Prezly, and Webflow, rely heavily on visual content to entice new clients and make their products user-friendly, fast, and efficient. Although using an image CDN, such as Uploadcare, is not a necessity, it brings multiple benefits to sales products. Among them are optimizing images on the fly, incorporating animated visuals, and making them equally beautiful across a variety of display sizes. Other CDN advantages may include computer vision to identify objects and people, as well as automatic tagging for easier media gallery management, and even color-coordination based on the images’ palette. These features are less obvious on the client-side of business apps, but they could be crucial for admins.

The post Visual Best Practices: 3 Things You Can Learn from Sales Software Products appeared first on Social Media Explorer.

Original source: https://socialmediaexplorer.com/content-marketing-2/visual-best-practices-3-things-you-can-learn-from-sales-software-products/

Weekend Favs July 18

Weekend Favs July 18 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • Pabbly Connect – Automate all your integrations and tasks
  • Morning Brew – Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.
  • Slack Connect – Organizations can now work securely with multiple partners and vendors in Slack, driving stronger relationships and faster results

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

Original source: https://ducttapemarketing.com/weekend-favs-july-18/

IT Outsourcing Guide: How to Choose an Social Engagement Model

Entrepreneurs who are considering software development outsourcing have plenty of choices to make: which zone to choose, which particular country, and lastly — which engagement model to use as a basis for upcoming collaboration. All of these decisions will define your outsourcing experience, so it’s vital to examine all the important aspects in advance. This article is aimed at exploring engagement models that are currently prevailing on the IT outsourcing market.

What is an engagement model and why is it important for business?

Engagement model is the contracting basis that defines how a client cooperates with a vendor of software development services. In a nutshell, it is a set of rules that all the parties involved in the collaboration have to follow. Basically, an engagement model in IT outsourcing is just as important as a business model for the enterprise. Imagine starting a business with no plan, defined objectives, sources of revenue, intended client base, and financial details. Sounds like a secure way to burn out, doesn’t it? Successful entrepreneurs realized the value of a comprehensive business plan years ago, and folks from the IT industry have followed their example. Take a look at our overview of the three engagement models that have already became an outsourcing classic and conquered the market with their ease of use, efficiency, and coherence.

How to Choose IT Outsourcing Engagement Model

Overview of classic engagement models

1. Time & Material Model

1. Time & Material Model

Pros

  • Flexible
  • Easy to control
  • Low-risky

Cons

  • Client has to manage the workflow himself
  • The developers team is not dedicated to a single project at once
  • Suitable only for people skilled in software development

Time & Material is probably the most transparent outsourcing model for client-developers relations, as the clients can track the working progress and access the results almost immediately. Not only does this add to quicker fixing of bugs and any kinds of inaccuracies, but also eliminates the risk of dissatisfaction with the end result (product or service delivered). This engagement model is constructed around an hourly rate that is predefined before the work even starts. Then, the client provides weekly or monthly payments depending on how much of the developers’ time was spent. Traditionally, T&M is viewed as a model for projects with a dynamic scope, regardless of the duration.

Before even thinking about choosing the Time & Material model, you have to objectively evaluate the level of your technical skills. Why? Simply because you are the only person to assure the quality of the work done by the outsourcing team. If you are new to the software development or your expertise in this area is too weak to perform regular code reviews, than we wouldn’t recommend adopting this model.

We also have to draw your attention to such aspects of the Time & Material model as project management and planning. With T&M model, the client actually takes the project manager’s role and oversees the development process himself. The only other way is to hire a person who would take the responsibility for planning activities and progress tracking.

This person has to be hired by client himself, as the team of developers is in charge for nothing but technical issues. You have to be able to identify project goals, objectives, time frames, resources, and budget. Without strong project management skills work organized by T&M risks to turn into a troublesome mess.

Another peculiarity of T&M is the fact that a team of developers hired is not limited to your project only, meaning developers can work on multiple projects simultaneously. This brings the issue of prioritization, as you can’t expect your project always to be of the highest importance. The need to jump from one projects to another oftentimes results in unprecise deadlines and some tech inaccuracies in the finished product.

Do not jump to the conclusion that Time & Material is good for nothing; it’s not the case. This is actually a very useful cooperation framework for people who have IT expertise, but lacking time for a certain tasks and need a “helping hand” that would complete them. Meaning, this particular model was developed for a type of collaboration, where both parties have a decent level of technological expertise. If your reasons for outsourcing software development are far from technical illiteracy, then the chances are you’ll get exactly what you’ve paid for promptly.

Adopt Time & Material model if:

  • You have a decent level of expertise in software development.
  • You can act a project manager and technical leader for the outsourcing team.
  • You are not committed to strict deadline.
  • You want the development process to be transparent.
  • The budget for the project has no strict limits.
2. Dedicated Team Model

2. Dedicated Team Model

Pros

  • Perfect for non-IT people
  • Full-service team at your disposal
  • Ability to have third-party company gather a team that would perfectly fit your requirements
  • Flexible
  • Ability to fully delegate project management and planning to the outsourcing vendor
  • Low-risky

Cons

  • Not suitable for short-term projects
  • The client has to follow up the recruiting process

Dedicated Team (DT) is a model of collaboration when a client reaches for the IT outsourcing company that would act as a middleman between the client and the workforce. The one crucial difference between the Time & Material and the Dedicated Team is the fact that with a DT model a client does not carry out duties of a project manager nor a technical leader. Meaning, the IT services vendor takes full responsibility for the organization of the working process, from the technology-related issues to the salary release and paid vacations. To put it briefly, the DT model is a solution for non-technical people who have a valuable idea but lack skills for making it come true. For adopting this model, you do not need any kind of IT expertise except for the vision of how your project should function. The outsourcing company takes full responsibility for managing the software development workflow, while the client can focus on other aspects: client relations, marketing, sales, etc. Oftentimes, the Dedicated Team provides way more than just developers, but also QA engineers, designers, content managers, and other professionals that are needed to cover the project scope.

When it comes to client involvement in the working process, the DT allows to arrange the collaboration in a way that would suit both parties. Although the outsourcing company basically can deliver the turnkey project according to your requirements, this does not mean that the client should not or cannot be involved in the development. Clients carrying out personal interviews is the common practice at the vast majority of outsourcing companies, so that they could be sure about the skills of every person working on their projects in future.

The client can also easily track how the work is progressing, however this duty also could be delegated to the project manager hired by vendor, or limited to monthly (or even less frequent) reports.

To get the work started, the client has to negotiate budgetary issues with the outsourcing company of his choice. Usually, the project owner comes up with an approximate monthly rate he is ready to pay to each member of the team. Later this rate and its correlation with the requirements will define the allocation process. After the team is gathered, they start to work on the project scope and organize their work depending on the software development methodology chosen. When it comes to working overtime, the coverage of extra hours spent at workplace (if any) might be included in the budget as well, although it also depends on company’s corporate policy and should be discussed in advance.

Adopting the Dedicated Team model assures comprehensive working process that involves a lot of people whose competence was proven during the multi-level recruiting process. This contracting basis has such unbeatable advantages as autonomous team of professionals dedicated solely to your project and no need to take care of the hardware, working conditions, career development of the staff, tech leading, etc. As for disadvantages, this model is not suitable for short-term projects (less than one year) due to the fact that the outsourcing company hires new staff basing on the customer requirements, and these people expect the long-term employment with the company.

Adopt Dedicated Team model if:

  • You have a great project idea but lack the skills for its development.
  • The approximate duration of your project is a year or more.
  • You do not want to follow up every step during the development process.
  • You have the vision of your completed project, but can’t define the requirements once for all.
  • You want to know exactly who you work with and decide whether the person is worth hiring.
  • You want to save on some costs without compromising quality.
Fixed Price Model

3. Fixed Price Model

Pros

  • Single-payment contract
  • Perfect for short deadlines
  • Simple and straightforward

Cons

  • Suits only the simplest projects
  • High-risk
  • Inflexible

The Fixed Price is the model of collaboration that seems to be very attractive for newcomers to IT outsourcing. It looks as simple as one-two-three: you think through project requirements, pass them to developer(s), and wait for the work done. Add to this a strictly estimated budget and you’ll get why most clients initially seek this model to be the basis of their collaboration with developers — it looks like a perfect price-quality ratio. Well, it does so only until you start digging deeper.

Although this model has such a great advantages as ease of use, clear budget estimation, and fast delivery, its cons might outweigh all the pros. The thing is, Fixed Price suits only the most simple projects with no room for making a mistake or forgetting about a tiny detail you’d like to include in the feature set. The core of this model lies in predefined instructions — if you are dead certain that you have steady and not at all dynamic requirements for your project, that you might be happy with the outcome after adopting the Fixed Price model.

Note, that the predefined instructions can be considered as actually predefined only after you’ve discussed them with contractors, as in practice, it turns out that even a simple discussion can reveal tons of potential pitfalls. The client also has to realize that initial requirements delimit the architecture of the future project; it might be technically impossible to add something after work is done, regardless of your desire. The IT sector has a tiny share of projects that do not depend on constantly evolving market needs, and if you are sure your project is one of them — the Fixed Price might be the right choice for you. Otherwise, if you want to leave the room for possible amendments and do not want to risk your budget, opt for Dedicated Team or Time & Material contracting basis.

Adopt Fixed Price model if:

  • You have a very small project with the most straightforward instructions.
  • You are 100% sure about the project scope.
  • Your budget is firmly fixed and you don’t want to pay any extra charges.

Summary

There are no good or bad outsourcing engagement models, these are only suitable or unsuitable ones. To thoughtfully evaluate the project and then choose the right model for its completion are two actions a business owner should take on his way to positive IT outsourcing experience. A well tailored engagement model can turn a simple delegation of a technical task to a third-party into a fruitful strategic partnership.

The post IT Outsourcing Guide: How to Choose an Social Engagement Model appeared first on Social Media Explorer.

Original source: https://socialmediaexplorer.com/mobile-2/it-outsourcing-guide-how-to-choose-an-social-engagement-model/