GoDaddy Sends Small Business WordPress Developers Back to School — Sort Of

Stumped by WordPress? Need some extra help fine-tuning your site? The new GoDaddy WordPress educational content offers small business users some help.

GoDaddy (NYSE:GDDY), a leading web host and domain name registrar, has entered into partnerships with OSTraining.com and WP Elevation to offer web developers and designers free WordPress educational content.

OSTraining.com provides online and live training for open source Content Management Systems (CMS) worldwide while WP Elevation claims to be the world’s biggest business community for WordPress consultants.

Free GoDaddy WordPress Educational Content

GoDaddy’s says it hopes the partnership with WP Elevation provides WordPress developers with free training on business communication, practices and workflow. The companies will provide that training through monthly webinars, videos and content.

GoDaddy and OSTraining are also rolling out a jointly-sponsored 40-episode series of WordPress Training videos for beginner WordPress developers. Topics range from creating a staging site for development and testing to navigating the WordPress dashboard.

“One of the biggest challenges for web pros servicing multiple clients is the time and money spent on administrative tasks,” GoDaddy’s SVP of Hosting Raghu Murthi said in a press release. “These educational resources help web pros work smarter and provide outstanding service and support to their clients.”

GoDaddy says other resources will complement GoDaddy’s Pro Program. Pro Program members get immediate access to the content made available by the partnership as well as additional tools that can help them manage client’s accounts, the company says.

“We’re very proud to be partnering with GoDaddy to help web pros better serve their clients,” said WP Elevation co-founder Troy Dean in a prepared statement. “I’ve been very impressed with the improvements GoDaddy continue to make to the Pro Program and the whole team at WP Elevation is excited to be bringing some of our best training and education to the GoDaddy community.”

Other enticements GoDaddy is offering with the deal include WordPress site management tools to assist with ongoing maintenance, access to 24/7 expert technical support, access to rewards programs, expert level support, and more.

Image: GoDaddy

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Wendy’s Automates the Food Ordering Process (Watch)

Wendy’s is the latest fast food chain to automate the ordering process. The restaurant announced this week that it will add self-order kiosks to about 1,000 of its restaurants by the end of the year. McDonald’s and Panera Bread also have similar features.

This move, of course, makes some workers nervous about job loss in the fast food industry. But the restaurant claims that it should improve productivity by allowing more workers to focus on actually making the food.

In addition, a consulting firm that does research in the foodservice industry has found that younger consumers actually prefer automated ordering over dealing with an actual cashier. So this may just be the way that all restaurants are headed eventually anyway.

Sometimes It’s Adapt or Die…

It’s important for restaurants and all different types of businesses to keep an eye on trends like this. It’s possible that automation and different tech innovations could make restaurants like Wendy’s and McDonald’s stand out. And those that don’t adapt may be left behind.

…But Not Always

This doesn’t mean, however, that businesses should jump on every single trend right away. Kiosks that don’t work properly or that customers don’t actually want could hurt these early adopters. But if they’ve done the research and come up with a system that will actually work for their specific customers, it’s likely to be a move in the right direction.

Wendy’s Photo via Shutterstock

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Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

According to the Insights Team at Bing Ads “Search is literally breaking out of the box” as marketing is no longer just about the 4Ps anymore: Price, Product, Promotion and Placement. To explain this, the team put together an infographic (PDF) that highlights Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) vision for the future of search, the new 3Ps of marketing and how you can prepare your business for the change.

The Future of Search

According to the infographic, “search” will become more personal and predictive since people prefer personalized experiences. The team states that about 145 million people actively use the intelligent virtual assistant Cortana to store personal information, reminders and contacts among other things and as of now, the personal assistant has been asked over 17 billion plus questions since its launch.

The infographic further states that 75 percent of online customers get frustrated when content appears that has nothing to do with their experiences. And this simply means that accurate personal and predictive searches will get more popular in days to come. As a business, you should, therefore, start investing more in learning your customers’ needs other than reacting to their requests.

You should also consider investing in chatbots since 50 percent of customers would like to make a purchase via message.

Essentially, to be a successful business in the future you need to think of “search” throughout a customer’s journey, use the power of search data outside your campaigns as well as create personal experiences by leveraging targeting features such as demographic targeting and remarketing.

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Image: Bing

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47 Percent of Small Business Owners Approve of Trump, Survey Says

47 Percent of Small Business Owners Approve of Trump, Survey Says

It’s only been a little over a month since Donald Trump was sworn in as President and a new survey by BizBuySell, one of the largest online business-for-sale marketplaces, reveals that almost half of the small business community approves the Trump presidency.

Almost Half of Small Business Owners Approve of Trump

According to the BizBuySell survey, which polled more than 650 small business owners and prospective buyers to determine the approval of Trump’s presidency since he took office in January, 47 percent of business owners said they approve how the president is handling his job as president thus far. However, 30 percent of the business owners said they disapprove, while 23 percent had no opinion.

The top three issues small business owners said they would like President Trump to address were tax reform (44 percent), Healthcare (43 percent) and jobs (30 percent). In calling for tax reforms, 78 percent of small business owners said there are currently too many regulations on small businesses. Other reports actually indicate that business leaders were thrilled with the President’s recent signing of an Executive Order directing that for every small-business regulation promulgated, two shall be identified for elimination.

Small Business Owners Favor Obamacare Repeal

When it comes to healthcare, 60 percent of business owners said they are in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, which they feel places undue “economic burden” on them. However, on this issue of repealing Obamacare, it is emerging that small businesses may have to wait a little while longer as the technicalities of repealing the ACA are smoothed out.

On jobs, a whopping 67 percent of small business owners said they are in favor of the President renegotiating trade deals (i.e. NAFTA), but surprisingly 48 percent also said they are in favor of a federal minimum wage increase despite business leaders in general opposing the idea. Additionally, 49 percent of business owners said they approval dismantling of the contentious Dodd-Frank Act that places regulation of the financial industry in the hands of the government, claiming it limits lending.

Small Business Buyers Favor Minimum Wage Raise

On the other hand, 41 percent of perspective small business buyers said they approve President Trump, and 60 percent of them added they approve repealing Obamacare. However, the small business buyers differed with business owners in that the majority said they want the President to prioritize healthcare above tax reform. And surprisingly 58 percent of the buyers are also in favor of raising the federal minimum wage.

Donald Trump Photo via Shutterstock

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If Switching Energy Suppliers Is So Easy, Why Don’t More Small Businesses Do It?

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If Switching Energy Suppliers Is So Easy, Why Don’t More Small Businesses Do It?

The next time you get an offer to choose an energy supplier, don’t be so quick to toss it. Throwing these offers away without taking a close look at them may be like receiving an envelope of money and tossing it because you don’t feel like going to the bank to make a deposit.

Sure. You’re busy growing your business. But don’t forget. Profit isn’t just increasing the money coming into your business. It’s reducing the money you shell out. But millions of small business owners don’t take advantage of this low-risk budgeting strategy.

This article will discuss the most common reasons small business owners don’t change energy suppliers. It will also share some tips on how to start exploring how you can reduce your energy budget to help decrease your overall monthly business expenses.

Fears That Keep Small Business Owners Stuck Paying Too Much for Energy

“I didn’t know I had a choice of energy suppliers.”

Not every state has the option for choosing an energy supplier. The electricity market started opening to competition in the late 1990s when the Federal Regulatory Commission issued order 888. That required utilities to provide open access nondiscriminatory transmission services to independent producers. There are 17 states (as of this writing) that offer a competitive energy market. So residents have a choice of gas and electricity suppliers for consumers and small businesses. That means that even if you’re a home-based business, you can take advantage by choosing an energy supplier and plan that best fits your needs.

The first thing to do is to see if your state is open to competition and what energy choices are available to you. The American Coalition of Competitive Energy Suppliers has an updated list of states and energy options.

If Switching Energy Suppliers Is So Easy, Why Don’t More Small Businesses Do It?

(Source: Constellation Energy)

“I don’t want to give up what’s familiar and get hit with hidden charges to make up for the lower cost.”

There is a misconception that if you switch energy suppliers you are somehow giving up what you know for something that is unfamiliar and uncertain. In reality, the fact that you can choose an energy supplier gives you control by allowing you to compare rates.

Here are a couple of tips to help you avoid any minefields in the process:

  • To avoid any hidden charges, do your due diligence. Review the contract terms for any energy supplier before choosing. Here’s a helpful tip.
  • Make sure that the supplier can offer the term you desire to lock in the rates to avoid any surprises.

“Switching isn’t worth the hassle or the uncertainty.”

Assuming that you’re now open to the idea of switching, your next obstacle is wondering if it will be worth the effort. But you can see it at the end of each month. A plan that is a few pennies less may seem like small change, but when your monthly usage increases, you’ll notice a difference.

“If I switch and the power goes out, I’ll get no power and no customer service support.”

In short, this is a myth. Regardless of the supplier you select, your energy is delivered by your existing utility via the same established infrastructure; gas pipes, electrical lines, etc. When you switch, no one is going to come to your office and dig up one set of lines and replace it with another. When the power goes out, the utility handles getting it turned back on. If you have a question about the rate you’re paying or your enrollment, the supplier, like Constellation, would help you.

Your utility is responsible for providing the same level of service for all of their energy customers. Your local utilities maintain the delivery infrastructure, including wires, poles, transformers, and pipes regardless of which energy supplier you buy your energy supply from.  And the energy supplier is responsible for the energy cost portion of your bill.

Like any company, some suppliers offer better customer support than others. When you shop around for a new energy supplier, look for things like the ability to reach them by phone, email and online chat, and bilingual support for Spanish-speaking customers.

Are You Ready to See if You Can Lower Your Energy Costs Now?

As a small business owner, the name of the game is to increase cash flow. Sure, you can increase revenues by getting more customers, but there’s something else you can do right away that’s 100 percent under your control. You can look for an energy plan that fits your business’ needs. In the past, the only way you could control your utility costs was to change your behavior and upgrade your equipment. Today, you also have the option of switching your energy supplier.

Switching your energy supplier offers a slew of benefits to your small business:

  1. Control Your Costs. Energy competition increases choice and that means that suppliers have to compete for your business. This motivates them to keep costs competitive and the level of service high.
  2. Predictable Budget. Today, energy suppliers offer a variety of plans designed to help small businesses manage and hold their costs in check using fixed-rate plans where you can lock in the rate for a set period of time.
  3. Access to renewable energy options. If your business has made a commitment to explore renewable energy options, you’ll find that competing energy suppliers will have those options available, where your local utility may not.
  4. Control. Of course, the biggest benefit is control. Now you can control your energy experience. The best way for energy suppliers to compete for your business is by increasing their quality of service, support and attention to their customers. This puts you in the driver’s seat like never before.

If you like the idea of increasing your cash flow by controlling your monthly energy costs but are still feeling overwhelmed by the alternatives, reach out to Constellation and open up the conversation. Remember, we want your business, and you’ll find that we have as much to gain as you do by helping you. For example, with Constellation you can check out the solutions for small business. And if you have questions, just click on the “Chat with Us” option in the menu, and we will walk you through the process.

Building a successful business isn’t just about home runs. It’s about small incremental improvements implemented on a regular basis. If growing the top line of your P&L has been slow and frustrating, maybe it’s time to put some focus on your bottom line.

Power Meter Photo via Shutterstock

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How to Get Started on Whatsapp

How to Get Started on Whatsapp

Whatsapp is on the move again. The platform recently followed Instagram in cloning one of rival Snapchat’s more popular features.

WhatsApp is a social messaging service that was acquired by Facebook for a whopping $19 billion in 2014. As of April 2016, more than a billion people were already using the instant messaging service around the world. And over 70 percent of them use the app to communicate on a daily basis.

In August 2016, Facebook changed its privacy policies to allow businesses to send messages to WhatsApp users, and this, of course, opened up a new marketing platform for small businesses as well. So, how can you tap into this marketing opportunity?

How to Get Started on Whatsapp

Download the App

You first have to download the app. You can search for the app on Google or Apple store or if you would like to use it on your Mac or Windows PC just head to Whatsapp.com and click the Download tab.

How to Get Started on Whatsapp - Download the App

Scan the QR Code

Once it has finished installing, the app will open in a separate window. You will then be prompted to use WhatsApp on your phone to scan this QR code.

How to Get Started on Whatsapp - Scan the QR Code

Open WhatsApp on your phone, go to Chats and then click the three dots on the right-hand side of your screen. Click “WhatsApp Web” and you will be taken to this Window:

How to Get Started on Whatsapp - Signing In

Click the + sign on the top right and scan the code on your PC. You will immediately be signed into your WhatsApp account.

However, you can also still access WhatsApp on your PC without downloading the app by going to web.whatsapp.com and follow the same procedure as above.

With a striking resemblance to Snapchat’s Stories feature, WhatsApp’s recent update allows you to post videos, photos and GIF images that are only visible to your contacts for 24 hours.

The recent update coupled with the number of users already on the app provide small businesses with an opportunity to engage with their customers in a fast, efficient and cost effective manner.

You could also use the app for internal team communication, to offer customer support and for marketing and promotion of products.

WhatsApp Photo via Shutterstock

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79 Percent of Small Business Owners Remain Confident, Xero Report Says

The Make or Break 2017 report from Xero shows that both small business owners and accountants feel more confident about 2017 than 2016.

With unprecedented economic uncertainty in the US and UK, you would expect small businesses would be more pessimistic about the future. Yet, according to the second annual Make or Break 2017 report from Xero (NZE:XRO), small business owners are irrepressibly optimistic going into 2017. Both small business owners (79 percent) and accountants (84 percent) feel more confident about 2017 than 2016.

Make or Break 2017 Report from Xero: Highlights

The optimism was especially true for young businesses with 94 percent of one-year-old and 84 percent of two-year-old businesses saying that they felt more confident going into 2017 than they did in 2016. Over three quarters (79 percent) of small business owners professed confidence in their businesses’ survival in 2017. While nearly a fifth of businesses going through a tougher time said they expected 2017 to be a turnaround year for their business.

“I am encouraged that the second annual Make or Break report revealed that business owners are more optimistic than ever. Even when their key concern is potential economic uncertainty, the entrepreneurial spirit is one like I’ve never seen — it’s wonderful that this hasn’t been tempered but strengthened despite changes ahead.” Xero Americas president Keri Gohman said in a release introducing the report.

Even major regulatory issues seem not to dampen this optimism. For example, only 39 percent of small business owners in the U.S. believe that the Affordable Care Act will affect their business, according to the report.

What’s more, 29 percent of small business owners don’t believe that regulatory changes (ranging from employment regulations to wage compliance and immigration reform) will affect their businesses in any way.

On the other hand, U.S. accountants seem to be a lot more concerned with 60 percent believing that the Affordable Care Act will impact small businesses.

Xero took an online survey of 817 small business owners and accountants at companies with 20 employees or less in early 2017 in the U.S.  and U.K. to compile its second annual Make or Break report.

Image: Xero

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50 Killer Tools You Need for Your Business Blogging

50 Killer Blogging Tools You Need for Your Business Blog

Want to blog for your business? Or maybe you’d like to build an entire business around blogging? You’re going to need some help.

Even if you have the greatest tech know-how and a natural talent for writing, you can’t hope to build a successful blog without utilizing some blogging tools. Luckily, there are tons for you to choose from. Here are 50 killer tools you can use to build a better blog today.

Killer Business Blogging Tools

WordPress

The number one blogging platform out there, you can set up a basic blog site using WordPress.com or create a more professional looking site using self-hosted WordPress at WordPress.org.

GoDaddy

Again, GoDaddy is one of the most popular destinations online for people who want to buy domains for blogs or other websites. The company also offers other services like hosting and email.

Bluehost

But GoDaddy isn’t the only web host in town. Others like Bluehost, which is especially popular among WordPress users, offer quality hosting service as well.

Laughing Squid

Laughing Squid is another hosting provider that’s popular with WordPress bloggers. It also has some options for more speciality sites.

Google Keyword Planner

If you want to blog, then you need to have specific topics and keywords in mind. The Google Keyword Planner is an online tool that helps you research and refine the best keywords for your focus and audience.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is a portal you can use to find assistance and support for a number of different website related areas, including SEO, site testing and online courses.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing also offers a similar portal for people who want to ensure their sites run properly and rank highly in Bing searches.

Google Analytics

If you want to create a successful blog, then you need to keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Google Analytics gives you access to data about site traffic, popular content and more.

Jetpack

Jetpack is a popular plugin series for WordPress sites. Features include analytics, security and more.

Yoast SEO

Yoast is another popular plugin that focuses specifically on SEO. You can use it to update keywords, analyze your content and more.

BuzzSumo

In order to research your content ideas and monitor your content, BuzzSumo offers an online platform that lets you find trending topics and more related to your blog.

Photoshop

Most blog posts should include some type of photos or visuals. And if you want those images to look as professional as possible, you might find it useful to invest in some kind of photo editing program like Photoshop.

Canva

But you don’t necessarily need to make a huge investment in order to share great visuals on your blog. Canva is a free online photo editing and graphic design tool you can use right in your web browser.

GIMP

GIMP is another free image manipulation tool that you can download and use to edit photos and create works of art.

Flickr

Whether you want to share photos or find some Creative Commons images to include in your blog posts, Flickr can be a great resource for any visually oriented bloggers.

Shutterstock

You can also find stock photos to include with your posts using sites like Shutterstock if you don’t want to create your own images.

Death to the Stock Photo

For more stylish photos and videos straight to your inbox, you could also consider a resource like Death to the Stock Photo.

Piktochart

Infographics can also be powerful visuals to include with blog posts. And Piktochart gives you an easy way to create your own.

YouTube

Or you could create more in-depth visuals like videos to include with your posts. And YouTube is the top resource for hosting and sharing those videos.

MailChimp

To grow a successful business around your blog, it’s also a good idea to maintain some kind of email list. MailChimp is a tool with both free and paid options for managing those lists.

LeadPages

You can also use LeadPages as a way to gather leads online and to set up landing pages for promotions related to your blog or business.

Sprout Social

If you’re going to have a successful blog, chances are you’re going to use social media to promote it. Sprout Social is an online tool you can use to create marketing campaigns across various social channels.

Buffer

You can also use Buffer to schedule social content across different platforms as well as find inspiration for new content to share.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is another option for social media scheduling and management.

Quora

When you’re looking for inspiration for new blog posts, it can help to consider what questions people might have about your particular niche. Quora is a question and answer website that can give you lots of insights about the questions that people might need answered.

Quick Sprout

Looking at your blog analytics is essential to growing your traffic — but it can also be confusing. Quick Sprout is a tool you can connect to your Google Analytics and then use it to get actionable insights and tips for improving your website and blog.

Google Trends

Trending topics, or topics that are especially popular online, can also make for great blog content. And Google Trends is a great resource for finding topics that people are currently searching for.

Twitter Trending Topics

You can also turn to Twitter and look at the platform’s Trending Topics as a source of inspiration for new blog posts.

LinkedIn Pulse

For more professionally focused blogs, you can also turn to LinkedIn Pulse for a way to discover content and influencers that can help you determine new subjects to explore in posts.

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator

Just don’t know what to blog about this week? Hubspot offers a Blog Topic Generator that you can use by filling in a few quick fields and then receive a custom post suggestion.

Evernote

Blogging requires you to constantly think of new ideas and even refine posts on the go. And Evernote can be a great tool for keeping all of your thoughts and notes on upcoming posts organized.

Trello

Trello is another great productivity tool that you can use to organize your thoughts or even work with a team around your blog.

Google Calendar

For organizing your post schedule and other tasks, Google Calendar is a free online tool that can help you stay on track.

Editorial Calendar

You can also use a WordPress plugin like Editorial Calendar to manage your upcoming post schedule right from your blog dashboard.

Dropbox

Need to share or store large files for your blog? Dropbox is the go-to online service for this function.

Click to Tweet

When you’re trying to promote your blog online, it can help if you get your readers to do some promotion for you as well. Click to Tweet is an online tool that you can use to create snippets of your blog posts that are easily tweetable.

Post Planner

Post Planner is another socially focused app. You can use it to manage and discover content on Facebook and more.

Grammarly

The last thing you want to find on your blog after publishing a post is a myriad of grammar errors. Grammarly offers a browser extension and online tool that you can use to check for grammar and spelling errors before posting.

Hemingway

Hemingway is a more sophisticated online editor that you can use to identify areas where you can improve your writing style.

PayPal

If you plan on accepting any payments on your blog or website, PayPal is an easy way for you to get those payments.

Dribbble

Your blog design is an important part of the overall reader experience. If you want to find a professional designer or some design inspiration, take a look at Dribbble.

Behance

Behance is another online portfolio site where you can find designers and other creative professionals.

Upwork

If you want to outsource any of your content or other aspects of building your blog, Upwork offers a marketplace for professional freelancers.

Gmail

It’s also essential that you have a simple way to reach out to blog sources and collaborators, and for people to reach out to you as well. Gmail offers free email service as well as reasonably priced custom domain addresses.

Skype

Skype is another great way to stay in touch with people. You can use it to video chat with your team or even call people for blog interviews.

Disqus

If you want a more sophisticated or customized commenting system than what automatically comes with your blog, consider using a comment plugin like Disqus.

Feedly

To run a successful blog, it’s a good idea to stay in tune with what others in your niche are covering. Feedly is an online reader that makes it easy for you to follow lots of different blogs.

Bloglovin

Bloglovin is another online reader that you can use to follow blogs and promote your own.

Desk

If you get distracted easily while writing blog post, consider Desk. It’s an app for WordPress and MacOS that eliminates outside distractions on your screen while you write.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

Headlines are hugely important to successful blog content. And the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer can give you an idea of how strong your headlines really are.

Blogger Photo via Shutterstock

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Why a Prospect You Want Chooses Your Competitor

"No one cares about how good you are until after they know they can trust you." – Stefanie Flaxman

You had trouble sleeping again last night.

Up until the time you got into bed, you were looking at their Twitter feed, their Facebook page, and their website.

It’s your competitor.

You’re completely preoccupied with everything they do … and for a seemingly good reason. Their customer base seems to keep growing and they keep expanding their offerings, while you’re just trying to keep your head above water.

You constantly ask yourself:

“What will it take for my business to be viewed like theirs?”

While it’s natural for that question to arise in your mind, it may stifle your progress if you’re thinking in terms of duplicating their marketing efforts.

Prospects don’t want to see a carbon copy of another business and you don’t want to obsess about competitors anymore, so I’m going to show you how you can immediately become energized about and sharply focused on your own marketing ideas instead.

The heavy lifting content marketing can do for you

Brian’s recent post about how to build trust and Sonia’s post about how to stop being boring are two sides of the same content marketing strategy coin.

The benefits of creating not boring content are essentially everything you wish to achieve with content marketing.

It allows you to build an audience of interested prospects who trust you to solve their problems.

They trust you because they know your personality. They know your sense of humor. They know your favorite analogies. Your word-choice preferences. What irritates you. What warms your heart.

They want to hear from you. You’re their go-to resource.

So, if a prospect chooses a competitor over your business, it’s likely because your competitor has revealed themselves to their audience in ways that you haven’t … yet.

What’s editing got to do with it?

The example we’re going to look at today comes from the service business world — specifically an editor who offers his services to clients — but you’ll be able to see how these ideas can be applied to any niche or product.

There can be a difference between what you think your prospect needs to hear and what your prospect actually needs to hear.

In order to explain why he is qualified to edit a prospect’s writing, an editor might write on his website that:

  • He pays fierce attention to detail.
  • He is a “grammar nerd,” with extensive training and experience.
  • He loves working with writers.

And in order to explain the benefits that prospect will receive from hiring him, the editor might state:

  • Your draft will be flawless when it’s returned to you.
  • It will be returned to you on time.
  • You’ll get feedback about common mistakes you make.

All of those statements sound informative and professional, but here’s a secret about writers:

Every writer thinks their final draft is perfect. Most only have someone else edit and proofread their work for good measure.

If a writer is your prospect, you have to do something else to win her business.

No one cares about how good you are until after they know they can trust you

Those bullet points above don’t impress the prospect, and even if they did, the majority of other editors offering their services on the web make the exact same claims.

When selecting an editor, the prospect is actually concerned about the intimate act of another person — a stranger — reviewing and revising her writing.

She wants to know if she can trust the editor with her draft and if she’d like working with him. She’s less concerned about whether or not the editor knows the difference between “compliment” and “complement.”

How do you get someone to trust you?

Even though you may superficially provide the same product or service as your competitor, you choose to attract the exact right prospects for your business.

When you decide to not be boring, you step into your power as a creative content marketer — an artist who reveals himself to his audience and builds trust.

Like your favorite painter or musician.

This is the fun part.

When you create a variety of content that helps your prospects with the issues they struggle with, the most important thing to remember is:

Information does not equal content.

If someone could find what you create on Wikipedia or your competitor’s blog, your content will not be the type that builds trust over time.

The type that builds trust produces a valuable, entertaining experience for your audience member and has a clear, unique payoff.

Your content is an opportunity for you to take knowledge you’ve acquired and supercharge it with your perspective. Then you’ll share your creations to reach the people who are attracted to your communication style.

The complete package

Now, you do have to provide an outstanding product or service once a prospect accepts your offer.

That’s why an editor should know the difference between “compliment” and “complement.”

All that trust you’ve built won’t help if you don’t fulfill your promise.

But think about the powerhouse force that is in motion when you’ve built enough trust to make a sale — and then meet (or even exceed) your customer’s expectations?

You’ve become the only reasonable choice for that person and made the competition irrelevant.

And when you nurture your existing customer base, you’ll get testimonials to display on your website that further demonstrate your trustworthiness. Those happy customers will also recommend you by word of mouth if someone they know needs a product or service like yours.

It all starts with smart content.

Consider that question from earlier again:

“What will it take for my business to be viewed like theirs?”

If your competitor’s business seems less interesting now … good. You’ll have a lot more free time to get to work.

Image source: Gwen Weustink via Unsplash.

The post Why a Prospect You Want Chooses Your Competitor appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Does Performance-Based Pay Really Work?

Is Performance Based Pay Effective?

Small business owners who don’t want to give employees permanent pay increases may be using performance-based pay — such as bonuses or profit-sharing arrangements — to reward employees without putting too much stress on their business finances. But it turns out this type of pay arrangement may have unintended negative consequences for employees and the business as a whole, a new study reports.

Is Performance Based Pay Effective?

Trends in Performance-Based Pay

During and right after the Great Recession, many business owners couldn’t afford to give employees raises. Even if they could afford it, the downturn had lots of entrepreneurs shell-shocked and fearful of committing to additional monthly payroll expenses. So many businesses turned to pay arrangements based on either the employee’s performance (such as bonuses) or the company’s performance (such as profit-sharing or employee stock ownership).

While this arrangement does have many benefits, there are also some downsides, according to a study published in Human Resource Management Journal. The study looked at three different types of “contingent pay” — performance-related, profit-related and employee stock ownership — and how they affected employee attitudes such as job satisfaction, commitment to the company, and trust in management.

Here’s what they found:

Only performance-related pay (in other words, pay based solely on the individual employee’s performance) positively affected all three of these employee attitudes. Pay arrangements related to company profit, or employee stock ownership, either didn’t affect employee attitudes or affected them negatively.

But even performance-related pay isn’t all good. The study reports that although performance-related pay positively influenced workers’ attitudes, it also tended to stress them out to a degree that might negate the beneficial effects. Employees in this type of arrangement are more likely to feel they’re being encouraged to work too hard, which decreases their job satisfaction. Ultimately, the stress can lower their productivity — giving performance-based pay the exact opposite effect that was intended.

Making Performance-Based Pay Work

This doesn’t mean you should write off the idea of performance-based pay altogether — but you do need to take some precautions to make it work for your business. Try these tips:

  • Strike a balance. Try setting “stretch goals” — performance goals that aren’t easy to achieve, yet aren’t so difficult that employees feel defeated before they even start. You could also set different bonus levels for different levels of performance so that not everyone feels they have to aim for the highest possible level.
  • Make it proportionate. Don’t make employees work incredibly hard for a small reward. It’s important to ensure a balance between employee job demands and the reward, the study says.
  • Pay attention. Regularly check in with employees and managers to see how your performance-based pay system is working. Do employees seem stressed and overloaded? Perhaps the bar is set too high.

If you do use a pay structure that is tied into company profits rather than individual effort, be sure that the opportunity to earn profit-related pay is distributed across the entire company. If only a small percentage of employees are eligible to receive this type of incentive, the study found that the business as a whole suffers from lower job satisfaction, decreased commitment to the company and less trust in company management.

As for employee share ownership, if you’re not already doing this, the study suggests it’s not worth trying: It negatively affected job satisfaction and had no effect on employee commitment or trust.

What has your experience with performance-based pay been? Does it work for your business?

Performance Review Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Does Performance-Based Pay Really Work?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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