How Often Should You Publish Blog Posts?

Managing your own personal blog post, or a blog for your business, it a tough job. There are so many different variables that you have to take into consideration in order to ensure that your blog is successful.

Should I post today? What should I write about? Am I posting too much? Too little? Does anyone care about the things I’m writing about? How do I know if my blog is working?

While I don’t have the answers to every question, I can at least give a little insight into how often you should publish blog posts.

Have A Few Articles Already In There

First off, before we get into the actual frequency of your posts, we need to briefly go over your current blog situation. When you start promoting your blog to your customers, you want to come at them with a reasonable amount of articles already published on your blog. Why? It gives your blog a sense of credibility because you don’t have just one post in your blog. When people go to your blog, they often will browse around and look at other articles. If you don’t have other articles for them to look at, you’ll quickly lose their interest. Having at least 5 or 6 blog posts already in your blog when you launch it to the public is a good number to start off with.

Frequency of Posts

As for the frequency of your posts, it all depends on how you want to use your blog. Are you looking to be an informational resource for customers who are interested in topics related to your product/service, or are you simply keeping a blog to give people an inside look into your business, and keep them updated with news? This is an important distinction that you will base the number of posts you publish in a month, week, and even day.

For those using a blog as a resource for customers, posting at least once a day (if you have the time) is a good practice. This keeps your blog fresh with new articles, and it also lets customers know that you are active in your writing. This also gives you great content for your social media accounts, allowing you to also post at least once a day on those mediums as well. Once-a-day posts are great for their ability to keep you constantly in the public eye and are great for marketing yourself to potential customers.

Now, if you’re only using your blog for a news and “here’s what we’re doing at (insert business here)” you can probably limit your posts to once a week, biweekly, or even once a month.

Balance Is Key

The main thing you need to remember is that you can’t post too much or too little; you have to find a balanced sweet spot.

Post too much, and you run the risk of annoying your consumer base. Post too little and people will forget that you even exist.

For FGmarket, we try to post an article on our blog at least once a day, sometimes more. We assist hundreds of businesses all across the country through our online tradeshow, so we know they expect to see us active online, on our blogs and through social media.

Your blog is a crucial marketing tool that can either positively or negatively affect you.

Why Meetings Stink (And How You Can Fix Them)

Meetings are…not fun. Usually.

You know the scenario. You’re hard at work accomplishing your daily tasks, sipping your fresh cup of dark roast coffee with a hint of French vanilla creamer, and you’ve got some light instrumental music playing in your headphones. It’s 9 a.m., and you’ve brushed off the sleepiness of the morning and finally gotten into your work groove.

Then, all of a sudden, you get an email from the higher-ups saying that an impromptu meeting has been called for, you guessed it, RIGHT NOW.

You’re suddenly pulled out of your workflow and immediately have to shift your focus to whatever this meeting is about. And to make matters worse, by the end of the meeting you find out that it wasn’t even necessary for you to be in the meeting in the first place; it focused on someone’s else’s work responsibilities, not yours!

This, my friends, is why 9 out of 10 times, I hate meetings. I find them big time wasters, workflow interrupters, and oftentimes unproductive to the office environment.

If you don’t believe, just look at the statistics:

  • 33.4% of meeting time is considered unproductive by meeting participants
  • The most common complaint about meetings is they are inconclusive and result in no decisions being made.
  • The average meeting length is between 31-60 minutes, followed closely by 1 – 1.5 hours.

But, there are solutions to this problem. There are ways to make meetings suck less and be more productive. If you want to cut out meetings altogether, we’ve got tips for that, too. Keep reading to find out how to make the best of your boring meetings!

Keep Them Short

Sitting through a long meeting is a frustrating thing. 1. You don’t even want to be in this meeting anyway and 2. you already finished talking about the important stuff 10 minutes ago, and now people are just chatting! Long meetings are not only boring, they also keep employees from working on the tasks they need to complete for that day. It could potentially make their work day even longer than normal. Keep your meetings short, and don’t linger on unnecessary talking points. Keep it short, sweet and to the point!

Relax

Whether you’re the person who called the meeting, or the person on the other end having to sit through the meeting, being calm, cool and collected are three goals to remember. Chances are, no one else really wants to be at the meeting either, so why stress about it? If everyone in the meeting keeps their cool and relaxes, even when discussing important topics, the meeting will go a lot smoother.

Don’t Call Them Out Of Nowhere, Unless It’s An Emergency

Have you ever had a meeting sprung on you out of nowhere, right when you’re in the middle of completing an important work task? It’s the worse feeling in the world. Not only do you have to stop everything and go to the meeting, you also run the risk of losing your train of thought. When you come back after the meeting, your work groove could be completely squashed! If you’re going to call a meeting, it’s best to give everyone at least 30 minutes notice. That way, they can find a stopping point, and won’t come to the meeting in a flustered state. Emergencies happen, and sometimes you can’t help but call an impromptu meeting, but try to think of others in non-life threating situations.

Allow Everyone To Have A Say

In every meeting I’ve been in, it never fails that there will be one person in the meeting who does most or all of the talking. If they have a lot of great info to present, it’s a good thing. But what if they’re taking up someone else’s talking time? You can’t let one person dominate a conversation to the point that everyone else feels like their opinion doesn’t matter and their voices aren’t being heard. If you called the meeting, know when to call on others to speak up. If you’re the person trying to get your voice heard, don’t be afraid to take ownership of the meeting and speak up!

Explore Other Ways Of Communicating

Meetings aren’t always the best solution for discussing ideas. You can also make use of different tech to accomplish your brainstorming sessions and project progress reports without having everyone leave their workspace! Software like Slack, a messaging app for groups, and Google Hangouts, another messaging app that has video chat functionality, make it easy for ideas to be passed around without everyone having to take time out of their busy days to go to a meeting. Even email can be helpful (although, getting tons of emails a day is also rather annoying. But that’s an issue to be discussed on another day). There are plenty of alternative ways to communicate, you just have to go out and explore.

Meetings aren’t all bad. Sometimes, they are actually productive, and not huge time wasters. Find out if meetings are worth it for your company and your employees, and develop a strategy that works for everyone!

Earn More Referrals In 5 Easy Steps

Getting referrals from customers is one of the key components of growing your business. After all, you can’t reach every potential customer by traditional advertising means; sometimes, you have to rely on word-of-mouth marketing and brand evangelists.

When you get more referrals from happy customers, you get more business. That’s how it works. More people talking about your business to their friends, family, and people they meet on the street increases your business’s reach and gets your name swirling around in the heads of potential customers.

But how do you get more referrals? Do you ask people to tell others about your business? Do you wait for them to do it themselves? Turns out, there’s no solid answer to getting more referrals, and reaching more people comes from a mix of telling people yourself and waiting for others to do the referring for you.

If you need some tips on how to get more business referrals, we’ve got a great list of a few things that you could be doing better in order to get high-quality referrals!

It’s Okay To Ask

You might think that it’s a bit weird to ask people to brag about your company to others, but it’s actually not as awkward and unprofessional as you might think. I’m sure you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter before and seen a business say “Like and Share our post!” They aren’t holding a gun to your head, forcing you to do what they request; they’re suggesting it. You have complete control over whether you share the post with your followers or not.

Similarly, when you tell a satisfied customer to “let your friends know about us!” you’re not being pushy. The customer has complete control over their decisions, and if they like you and what you have to offer enough, they’ll be more than willing to refer others to you! This type of self-promotion is advantageous to your business. But remember to never cross the line between self-promotion and self-indulgence.

Know When To Ask

I think there’s an old Kenny Rogers song that goes “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”… anyway, this strategy rings true for referrals as well. If you’re going to ask a customer to tell others about your business and help spread the word, you have to wait until the right moment. Did you recently help a customer find exactly what they were looking for, or just got a positive review from someone? Then it’s the perfect time to ask. Did you accidentally overcharge them for a product, gave them bad customer service, or something else that would upset a customer? DO NOT ask them to refer you to others. The only thing you’ll get is an even more upset customer.

Listen To Feedback

Do you listen to feedback? I mean, do you REALLY listen to feedback? If you do, then you’ll know that people have very strong opinions about your business, both positive and negative.

The best way to gauge how people feel about you, and if they’re likely to be a good referral partner, is to do online surveys. Whether that’s through Google Forms, SurveyMonkey or some other survey tool, it’s important to gather, and pay attention to, feedback. These surveys let you know if you’re meeting customers’ expectations, and if you’re on the right path to getting more referrals.

Go Above and Beyond

Customers don’t want you to just do the minimum amount necessary to earn their approval; they want you to “Wow” them. If you “Wow” your customers, you’re more likely to increase your word-of-mouth marketing, that is, people telling other people about your business. And isn’t that basically what a referral is in the first place?

You want to impress your customers to the point that they’re willing to go out and tell others about your business.

You can also add incentives, such as discounts and prizes, for current customers who refer your business to someone they know. It’s the simple things that lets customers know you really care about making them happy.

If Asking Isn’t The Answer, Let Your Business Speak for Itself

If you feel like there’s no need to tell your customers to spread the word about your company, then congratulations, you’re already succeeding at earning more referrals! You’re on the right path to success.

You see, when people really, truly believe in your business, they are more than willing to brag about you and let others in on what they might consider “their little secret.” It makes it seem like they’re getting insider information on a hot new company that’s destined to skyrocket in popularity in the future.

This is where you get what’s know as Brand Evangelists (no, I’m not talking about Joel Osteen here). A Brand Evangelist is a super loyal customer, who enthusiastically tells others about your business without you ever having to suggest it. They’re your most powerful referral tools because they do the work of spreading the word about your business with no incentive other than they love what you do!

Getting more referrals is essential to flourishing as a business owner. Make sure you’re always listening to your customers and learning what’s important to their needs. Before you know it, you’ll have a whole army of loyal customers who take pride in being able to tell others about you!

How To Use Content Marketing To Grow Your Business

Content marketing.

You may have heard this term once or twice before, and wondered: what is that?

Hootsuite defines content marketing as this:

A marketing strategy based on attracting and retaining customers through the creation and distribution of valuable content, such as videos, white papers, guides, and infographics. Content marketers look to earn customer loyalty and influence decisions by providing useful, entertaining, or educational media.

You can also add to this list things like a blog, or newsletter. Content marketing is everywhere you look, and you might not have even realized before now. Heck, even this blog post that you’re reading right now is a form of content marketing!

But you might be asking, “why would I want to give away free stuff? How does that help me grow my business?”

Luckily, we’ve got a quick guide for you showing all the ways content marketing can be advantageous to your company.

It’s Carefully Catered To Consumer’s Needs

Advertising’s success rate is pretty much right on target or miss completely. There’s usually no middle ground. You spend months and months planning a big advertising campaign, only to watch it fail completely because you catered to a small audience, instead of the much larger one you should’ve been aiming to hit. With content marketing, you’re able to hit your audience right on target most of the time because you’re making content that caters to their needs and wants. A blog is a great way to hit all of your targets at once. Whether you have someone that’s looking to learn more about social media, or someone who needs some general office health advice, a blog can cover all of this, and it stays on your website forever.

This is also important for getting your website found on search engines through what’s called Search Engine Optimization. When people Google “where can I find wholesale handmade soap?” you want your website to be the first one that pops up in the search results. Having a blog that’s full of engaging, helpful information for consumers is a good way to increase your rankings.

It’s Engaging

People like to feel like they’re being engaged with in a meaningful way when they visit a business’s website, social media profile, or YouTube channel. That’s exactly what content marketing is intended to do. It engages your customers, whether that be through an awesome branded video or an informative blog post. And when you engage with your customers they’re more likely to trust you and come back to use your service, or buy your products.

It’s Fun

Content marketing needs to be informative, but it also needs to be fun! When you write your next blog post about customer service tips, don’t write it in a way that’s boring, flat, stale and stiff. Pep up your blog with some fun and descriptive language! Make the reader want to keep coming back to your blog, where they know they can learn something new AND enjoy it at the same time. Oftentimes businesses focus on the informative part of content marketing, and really miss out on all the fun they could be having with it as well.

It’s Real

Do you think that the auto sales advertisement you see on a billboard as you’re driving to work REALLY has your best interest at heart when they’re selling you a car, or are they just trying to make some money off of you? I’d go with the second option. But that’s only because I don’t know that auto sales company, and their advertisement (the one with the attractive buyer smiling big because they just bought a new car) just screams inauthentic to me. To let your customers know that you’re a real company, with real goals of satisfying the customer’s needs, you need to focus on connecting with customers on a geniune level rather than thinking only about the sale. That’s why social media is such a successful marketing tool. It lets businesses interact with their customers in ways they were never able to do with a phone call or email. Market your content out to customers in a way that truly connect with what they are interested in, and be honest about yourself. You’ll find that customers appreciate this, and will keep coming back to you (they might even reccomend you to a friend!)

Content marketing is one of the most powerful tools you have as a business owner. You might think you’re just giving away free content, but in reality, you’re building lasting relationships with the customers you serve.

 

6 Ways To Keep Your Cool and Handle Workplace Conflict

We’re not always going to get along with everyone we work with. Everyone has different opinions, ways of doing work, handling strategies, and even common annoyances that make conflict with a coworker inevitable.

Have a coworker that chews loudly at their desk during lunch or while they’re taking a snack break? What about one is a fundamentally different person than you personality wise, which causes you to butt heads constantly during meetings?

We all know someone who gets on our last nerves at work, and who we try to avoid at all costs during the typical 8-hour workday.

But what if I told you that by avoiding conflict with that particular coworker you’re doing more harm than good?

If you have a workplace conflict, and you sincerely want to see it resolved so you can move on with your job and your life, here are a few tips.

Have A Conversation

Conflict almost always start with miscommunication. When you’re in the heat of the moment, and you feel really passionately about your ideas, you might not always be communicating your ideas efficiently. If you feel like a conflict was caused by an inadequate conversation, then it’s always best to schedule a time to talk with that person again. Let them know through an email or quick phone call that you didn’t feel like you explained yourself well enough during the last meeting, and that you’d like to set up a new meeting to resolve any wrong information. Chances are, they were thinking the same thing, and would like to talk with you again as well.

Listen

Conversation arguably involves two skills: talking and listening, with listening being the most important of the two for avoiding conflict. Let’s say you’re having a heated discussion with a coworker about the best way to use your extra marketing funds for an advertising campaign. You say you should go the more progressive way and advertise online only, but your coworker argues that traditional ads, such as billboards, magazines, and newspaper ads, are the more efficient way. Neither one of you is necessarily wrong, but it doesn’t matter because at this point you’re both talking over each other and failing to listen to what the other person has to say. You don’t even know if their ideas make sense because you haven’t heard them yet! Listening solves many of the most common workplace conflicts.

Admit When You’re Wrong

Have a pride issue? We all do when it comes to an idea that we’re proud of. But one of the more virtuous stances to take is the one of humbleness. Have you ever realized you were wrong about a stance you were taking halfway through an argument with someone? Yeah, it’s embarrassing. But if you simply admit to someone that you were wrong, then they’re more likely to respect you because, at that point, they’ll realize you’re a level-headed and logical thinking person. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes when you’ve made a bad decision.

Forgive

What if someone makes a choice that negatively affects you, or causes you distress? At that point, the ball is in your court to handle the situation. Sure, you could blow up on them and call them out on everything they’ve done to wrong you, but that only makes the conflict worse. The best approach is to take a forgiving stance. If they were courageous and humble enough to admit that they were wrong, then they deserve your forgiveness.

Pick Your Battles

Ever heard the saying “won the battle but lost the war”? How about the other way around, “lost the battle but won the war”? It’s important to learn the difference between the two. If you win the current conflict, but lose the overall workplace war, then what have you accomplished? Answer: a lifetime of recurring battles. What about losing the battle and winning the war? You don’t always have to come out of an argument on the winning side of the skirmish. No war was ever won without losing some battles along the way (just look at the Unites States’ own Revolutionary War if you don’t believe me). It’s much more important to peacefully resolve an ongoing war, rather than ensure that you win every argument.

Look At It From Their Perspective

If you really want to understand the “why” and “how” of a conflict, learn to put yourself in their shoes. Can you understand where they’re coming from on their side of the argument? Is that a side that you could inevitably find yourself on one day? It’s easy to say in the moment, “No, you’re wrong because you don’t understand what I’m saying!” But do we really even understand what the other person is saying? If you learn to look at things from their perspective, you’ll learn to resolve conflicts quicker, and might even learn about the other person on a deeper level through the process.

When people learn to put their pride aside and listen, workplace conflicts will quickly resolve themselves. All it takes is a little compassion, humbleness, and good communication skills.

Don’t Be Stale: Why Thinking Outside Of The Box Is A Good Business Strategy

Do you often feel you’re trapped in the same old boring routine? Like you’re always going in circles when it comes to making big decisions on projects, such as how implement your newest social marketing strategy, or how to attract more customers to your business?

This is usually a result of being trapped inside of the metaphorically famous “Box.” This is a space where you can’t seem to venture outside of the six imaginary sides that surround you, and where you always get trapped in the same thought pattern.

We all know that “thinking outside of the box,” as the saying goes, is an effective strategy in our day-to-day lives. So, it wouldn’t be that big of a stretch to believe that thinking outside of the box on a business level is crucial as well, would it?

When you’re constantly thinking with the same mindset, your creativity suffers. You don’t progress, you don’t grow, and you don’t attract new business. These are just simple facts of life.

Need a firsthand account of why thinking outside of the box is an excellent strategy to practice? Matthew Swyers, founder of The Trademark Company, recalls a story from his past where he was hit with a trademark lawsuit, but thanks to some creative thinking, overcame having to pay a hefty fine. 

But why is thinking outside of the box intrinsically important to your business? Consider these points:

Things Change

Oftentimes, those who don’t think outside of the box are people who are stuck in their ways. They’ve gotten so used to doing something one way for years and years, that they completely block out any new ideas from others. This is a bad way of doing business not only because it hurts your relationship with your coworkers and employees, but it also gets you stuck in a pattern while the rest of the world moves on without you.

Our world is constantly changing, at a more rapid pace than it ever has before. New tech is been invented every day, marketing strategies are evolving, and even the ways people think and interact with businesses are changing in a huge way. If you stick with what you’ve always known, rather than what you have yet to discover, you’ll find yourself losing customers, and being left in the dust while newer, younger startups take over your industry and steal away your customers.

The Box Gets Stale

Like a 6-month-expired bag of tortilla chips that you find in the back of your pantry, the Box will eventually get stale. And no one likes a stale Box. A stale box is unappealing. It’s boring. And it’s not worth your time.

Fresh, new ideas will inspire others to pay attention to you. Your employees will feel re-energized, and new customers will want to come over to check out what you have to offer. Getting rid of your stale image can manifest in a number of different ways, such as coming up with a new product, or rebranding yourself. Whatever your fresh idea is, explore it, and use it to attract new business!

Creative Juices Are Good Juices

Have you ever heard the phrase, “get your creative juices flowing”? It’s a weird — and personally, kind of physically upsetting — way to describe thinking outside of the box. You need to be creative in order to survive in the business world.

Take, for example, Super Bowl commercials. These are widely regarded as some of the funniest, most creative commercials of the year and brands know that people expect great things out of them when the Super Bowl rolls around each every February. That’s why they go all-in on their commercials, employing sometimes outrageous stunts in order to get their message across.

Remember the weird Mt. Dew Kickstart commercial from Super Bowl 50? You know, #puppymonkeybaby? This was one of the weirdest commercials of the Super Bowl, and it makes almost no sense at all. But…it got your attention, didn’t it? Countless articles popped up soon after the commercials appeared, both criticizing it and praising it. Either way, Mt. Dew accomplished what they set out to do in the first place; make a very creative, albeit absolutely bonkers, commercial and get people talking about Mt. Dew Kickstart. It was effective because it was creative.

If you want to be successful in this ever-changing business world, you have to learn to think outside of the box. If not, you’ll be left behind in the shadow of companies who have embraced creativity, and tried out new ways of running their business. Don’t be afraid to think differently.

Strengthen Your Network In 4 Easy Steps

Do you ever feel like you don’t know enough people? That’s a weird question (especially me) because I tend to think that the fewer people I know and have to interact with, the better. Not because I’m antisocial or rude, but because I find that having a small group of friends and acquaintances makes it easier to balance my social life, rather than juggle interactions between a large group of people.

But that’s not always the best practice in the business world. You kind of need to be social, meet new people and grow your network. It’s called networking, and even though I hate that word with the fury of a thousand suns (along with many, many other marketing terms) it’s a necessary part of having a successful business.

So how do you strengthen your network, making new connections along the way that will get your more business, more profit, and more opportunities in the future? It all starts with the amount of effort you want to put into it.

Start Local

If you want to build your network, start at the very basic level: the people around you. If you don’t have a good connection with the businesses around you, it’s going to be a long and difficult climb to branch out into other areas of the world in building your network. There are almost 30 million small businesses around America, accounting for 54% of all U.S. sales. That’s a huge market that’s waiting to be tapped into! Join your local community outreach programs, get involved in the Chamber of Commerce and local government meetings, and grow your network locally!

Branch Out

Once you’ve got your local level covered, start branching out and searching for networking opportunities outside of your area. It’s easy to build relationships on the local level because those businesses are ones that you see every day. Heck, you might even be distant cousins with another shop owner in your town! The best way to branch out is to use the Internet, because, duh, the Internet is a part of everything we do now. Get active in some online communities, such as chat rooms, Facebook groups, and things like that for entrepreneurs and new business owners. When you start to build your network outside of your local community, you’ll notice more and more opportunities open up for you. You’ll build up partnerships, get more sales, and maybe even learn a few things from someone else along the way.

Have A Strong Social Media Presence

Along with the Internet, social media is a big part of connecting with people in a way that was never possible before the invention of Facebook, or its precursor, MySpace. Social media is a great way to connect with other business owners who are probably in the same boat as you are a.k.a. those who are looking to build up their network as well. Have a connection on Facebook who’s an expert in SEO strategy and content marketing? Send them a Facebook message and see if they can help out! It never hurts to reach out to your new business friends on Facebook and see what their input is.

Attend Conferences/Conventions When Possible

But you can’t do everything online only, right? (well, you can, but that’s not a very happy life to live). The best way to meet new people and strengthen your network is to attend conferences where you’ll be seeing new people everywhere you turn. At many of these marketing and small business conventions, businesses will set up booths to show off what they have to offer. This is a prime time to get contact information and make strong connections. Sometimes, they’ll even have networking parties where you attend a gathering with many other business owners in a casual environment. Attending one of these parties helps make connections by easing the tension. I always feel like forced interactions are always awkward, and never truly succeed in making good impressions and lasting relationships.

Networking can be hard, but with all the new ways to connect out there these days, it doesn’t have to be impossible. Make good connections, earn more business, and help your business succeed with your sweet new networking skills!

What Is The Buying Cycle? A Quick Overview

The buying cycle is a step-by-step journey your customer will make before they finally buy your product. Your job as a company is to deliver the right information, at the right place, and at the right time, to make the process easier for customers. One excellent and effective way to do so is through your website.

The buying cycle is made of 5 steps:

Awareness – In the first step, possible customers become aware of an unfulfilled need.

Research – Your audience’s attention is captured. They conduct research about available options to fulfill their need.

Alleviation of Risks – Be aware that prospects perceive a certain level of risk when considering to buy a new product. Thus, within the third step prospects are looking for risk alleviating factors. They gather evidence on why it is “safer” to buy the product from you and not from your competitor.

Decision – In stage four, the actual decision to make a purchase happens. Now you have a new customer – congratulations! But, the work isn’t finished yet.

Achievement of Results – The goal of the fifth stage is to make the new client a happy client! This ensures that they will repeat their purchase, and in the best case they will promote your products to others! Customer satisfaction is crucial!

And the best news? Your website helps already with all of those steps. You are not the only seller in the market. To set your company apart from your competition, use your website to talk about why you are different.

For more on the buying cycle, visit Kissmetrics blog, and their article on the buying cycle.

When To Speak Up and When To Stay Silent

Striking a balance between speaking your mind and staying quiet can be tricky. Speak up too much and too loudly and you can be viewed as arrogant and too sure of yourself. Don’t speak up enough and people will assume that you don’t have any good ideas to contribute to a discussion, and don’t know enough.

But you should never be afraid to speak up, and let people know your thoughts. And don’t be afraid to keep your thoughts to yourself when the situation doesn’t require your input. If you’re having trouble trying to decide what you should try to do in your everyday work situation, check out the pros of both!

Speaking Up

When you stay silent in a meeting or during important parts of a conversation, people tend to think that means you approve of whatever they’re presenting. Of course, about 50% of the time that’s not the case. In a situation where someone is saying ideas that you don’t agree with, it’s best to speak up and voice your reservations or disapproval.

What keeps most of us from speaking up when we should is a fear that what we say will sound dumb, or won’t add to the conversation in any viable way. But that kind of thinking prevents new ideas from being brought to the table. You could be holding back an idea that no one has thought about yet. And chances are, there’s going to be someone else that agrees with what you’re saying, and will back you up so you aren’t alone in your idea.

People that are in supervising positions over you also tend to view speaking up as a positive skill to have. I know on some of my past reviews at jobs I’ve been told that speaking up at meetings is something that I should try to do more often, because managers like to hear what their employees have to say (or at least a GOOD manager likes that). Speaking up more often could lead to more opportunities being opened up for you in the future.

Staying Silent

I’m an introvert by nature, which doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me when I don’t speak up. I just prefer to think about an idea and digest it more before I speak, in most cases. So, that makes it really hard for me to speak up sometimes, but I’ve really nailed the whole “keeping silent” thing in meetings. But, keeping silent shouldn’t be viewed as a negative trait.

Sometimes, it really does benefit you to not speak up during a meeting, and to instead, listen and digest the info more cohesively.

In no job is it more important to keep quiet and listen then in a customer service position, where listening to a customer’s complaints and helping them is literally in the job description. You don’t want to talk over the customer, and you definitely don’t want them to view you as arrogant or off-putting for not listening to their complaints, and working to fix the problem. Less is more, as the saying goes.

But what if you’re in the middle of a big meeting, where you’re expected to throw ideas around with your other coworkers? In these situations, I usually take notes and write down some thoughts that I could possibly bring up later if someone calls on me to tell me what they think. Don’t ever say “I don’t know,” because, in reality, you do know, you just don’t feel comfortable expressing it in front of big groups of people. Always be prepared to have an answer when someone asks you to speak, and if you still don’t feel comfortable bringing something up in front of a larger group, you can always ask to have a discussion with someone one-on-one. I always find one-on-one conversations easier than bigger ones.

There’s no right or wrong way to handle conversations; both speaking up and keeping silent both have their merits. You just have to work to find the right balance between them, and when you finally do, you’ll have no problem effectively communicating with colleagues, customers, and your manager!

Is My Website Outdated? 4 Ways To Spruce Up Your Site

Technology changes very rapidly these days. That brand new iPhone or Samsung Galaxy you own right now? Just wait for a year or two and a better, faster, more advanced version will have already come out, and you’ll be looking at your already amazing piece of smartphone tech like it’s a sack of dirty gym socks.

So, shouldn’t it stand to reason that with new technology being developed at alarming rates, one of the oldest and most useful tech developments– the website — should keep up with these developments as well?

Our vote is a resounding YES.

So what are the tell-tale signs that you should consider redesigning your website?

Mobile Responsiveness

Remember those smartphones I mentioned earlier? According to eMarketer, mobile traffic made up about 30% of all Internet activity in 2015, and according to Mediative, mobile data usage went up by 1,525% between 2010 and 2015. That’s a massive increase in only a few short years. Mobile responsive websites are so important these days that Google now ranks mobile-friendly sites higher than those that aren’t mobile-friendly. According to Google Research, 72% of consumers want mobile-friendly sites.

What does that mean? It means if you want your website to succeed in the modern Internet age, it needs to be optimized for mobile devices.

If you have questions about your current website, and whether it meets Google’s standards for mobile-friendliness, check out this easy-to-use test from Google. 

Outdated Design

How’s your website looking these days? Does it look like it jumped straight out of the late ’90s Dot-com bubble? In other words, does it look like any of these cringe-inducing, eye-raking websites? If so, then it might be time for a massive website redesign (no, scratch that, it’s DEFINITELY time for a redesign).

When you design a website, you need to make it as easy to understand to the consumer as possible. That means when a visitor comes to your website, can they tell what your website or brand is about just from the design? If they can’t, then your website is failing at accomplishing even its most basic function. Make sure you’re using strong visuals and organizing the info in a way that’s easy to navigate.

Results Are Below Expectations

A beautifully designed, mobile responsive website is a great start to updating it, but what if it’s still not getting you the results that you want? You may have all the bells and whistles necessary to attract people, but if the data shows people aren’t interested in it, then it might be time to rethink things like content, navigation, call-to-action buttons and links, how text-heavy your site is, your branding, and more. Your conversion rates will give you a good understanding of whether your website is working.

Functionality

Nothing is worse than navigating to a website, and then being bombarded with ugly pop-up ads, broken links, videos that autoplay without a clear way to stop them, pages that scroll down forever, etc. Not only should your website look good, respond well, and give you the results you need, but it also needs to function easily.

If people become frustrated with your website trying to do simple tasks like finding your Contact page or how to add a product to their shopping cart, then you’re going to see a steep drop-off in your conversion rates and your profit. Make sure you’re designing a website that functions as intended, for everyone that comes to your site!

Designing, redesigning, and updating websites is no easy task, but if you want to grow your business in this ever-evolving tech-driven business world, you need to have a beautiful website. Don’t be afraid to start the process of updating your website; you’ll be glad you did!