20 Ways to Jack Up Your Productivity

Even the slightest increase in productivity can have a very noticeable effect on a small business’ bottom line. Here’s where technology vendors have your best interests at heart — this category of software continues to explode, to the point that it can seem like there are too many of these tools to choose from.

You can narrow down your selection by checking out the infographic below, which lists 20 of the best applications for improving your organization and keeping you on task. Readers, please let us know what you think of this list by posting your opinions in the comments section below.


Turn Your Marketing Into a Profit Center

Small business marketers recognize that they need to change the structure of their marketing organizations over the next three to five years — taking on more responsibility for customer engagement and revenue generation. That’s the gist of a survey of 478 small business marketing executives conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, as commissioned by Marketo. More details appear in the infographic below — please let us know in the comments section whether these findings jibe with what you’re seeing.

Turn your small business marketing into a profit center -- email freeconsultation@ticular.co

 

 


5 Great Ways to Get More for Less

ticular can help you increase cost efficienciesStart-ups need fiscal discipline in order to survive. Simply spending less can backfire if it’s not coupled with maximizing value.

What at first appears to be the cheapest option can turn into the most costly from an opportunity standpoint. Frequent repairs or early replacements cannibalize the savings, often to the point of making the entire exercise more expensive than even the highest-priced option. You’re better off striving for the biggest return on investment — finding the perfect ratio of maximum value to minimum expenditure.

You don’t need to be a math genius to succeed at cutting costs without being cheap. Here are some easy ways to do exactly that.

Pay Now

It’s all too tempting to borrow up a storm when you’re staring out. But paying for anything on an installment plan or any form of payment that levies interest will quickly make something cost up to twice as much as the original amount, depending on how long you carry the balance. Vow to pay for things immediately, and you’ll save a bundle. Pay with cash or the equivalent — no-interest credit, debit cards, check, PayPal, Bitcoin, and the like — and you come out ahead.

Go Virtual

A big expense for many businesses is rent, but employees increasingly want to work from home. Let them do that, and get rid of the physical office. Even if you spring for them all to have videoconferencing software on their computers, and pay for an annual retreat that puts everyone in the same place for a few days, you’ll still come out ahead of what you would have paid for year-round real estate.

Join the Club

Join organizations that give members discounts on products and services your business uses — from office supplies to health insurance. The savings more than cover the cost of any dues you might have to pay to join the group — and it will give you an opportunity to network.

freeconsultation@ticular.comCompare Three Bids

Set a goal of comparing at least three competing bids for services, or three different brands of products, before deciding which one to buy. Make it more than three if you’re in the market for anything that is marketed with free trial periods. Don’t just opt for the lowest-priced choice, but rather look for the best value: the most for the least. When in doubt, postpone the purchase until you have certainty.

Don’t Buy

Look for opportunities to share or lease resources rather than buying them outright. Partnering with companies that have different resources than yours can give you a chance to use one another’s infrastructure without incurring any extra costs on either side. If you can’t find good partnerships, lease whatever you can. This frees you from having to worry about maintenance and depreciation of assets, while enabling you to upgrade to the latest and greatest. While you’re at it, consider selling things you are no longer using.

There is some truth to the adage “You get what you pay for.” If your penny pinching gets excessive, customers and business partners can tell and possibly be put off by it. Instead, strive to maximize value, and it’s a win-win for all.


Make YouTube Part of Your Growth Plan

YouTube has become more popular than cable television among U.S. adults between 18 and 34. That trend makes the video website a dramatically cheaper alternative to TV commercials. Actually, the site is cheap even if you’re trying to reach people in other demographics.

And here’s why it makes sense to incorporate YouTube into your company’s growth marketing plan: Posting content to the video site can boost your website’s ranking in Google search results and can also amplify the effectiveness of a Google AdWords campaign, should you choose to go that route.

It’s never too late to get started. And no matter where you are on the YouTube learning curve, ample guidance is available for free on the video site’s how-to section, linked here. In case you still need convincing, here are some highlights from YouTube’s own statistics page:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 80 percent of YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S.
  • YouTube is localized in 61 countries and across 61 languages
  • Mobile makes up almost 40 percent of YouTube’s global watch time
  • YouTube is available on hundreds of millions of devices

Hopefully those number have whetted your appetite for more information about YouTube, including pointers on how to use the video site to promote your business. Advice on how to do that appears in the graphicsbelow. Let us know what you think of them in the comments section beneath this post.freeconsultation@ticular.com


How Does Social Responsibility Boost Your Brand?

freeconsultation@ticular.comBefore, it was called corporate citizenship, but it confused people. It sounded like a contradiction, while also coming off as legalese, like a tax strategy or something that shareholders demand. Now that it’s called social responsibility, we can tell you that it’s good for your brand.

Find a logical way to connect your brand with some form of community service and you can attract customers who feel strongly about the issue in question. The practice has the added benefit of making your company look larger than it really is, which can actually help you grow. However, if you let on that your motive for social responsibility is in any way driven by capitalistic objectives, the whole thing could backfire.

That said, social media has made it easier than ever to associate your brand with social responsibility. An excellent tactic: raise money for a charity via your online profiles. And even if you are unable to contribute any of your own money to the cause, surely you and your staff could give some time instead.

The infographic below does a good job of explaining why people are so receptive to social responsibility on social media. Please let us know what you think of the topic in the comments section.

Advice on how to embrace corporate citizenship to appeal to customers -  freeconsultation@ticular.com


Marketing to People Who Don’t Go Online (Much)

freeconsultation@ticular.comWhile the Internet has made marketing so much more efficient and cost effective, it’s not the only game in town, and for some it might not even be an option: What do you do if your target market happens to be offline?

Offline might be your only option for marketing if your target market is over 65, as 44 percent of people in that age bracket don’t go online, according to Pew Internet Research.

Overall,15 percent of American adults don’t use the Internet and another 9 percent only access it outside their homes. About a third of those who aren’t online told Pew they don’t find the Internet easy to use, and another third simply don’t find it relevant to them.

Reaching these people requires old-fashioned face time. That means scheduling lots of appointments, ideally involving refreshments of some sort. But it also requires going to lots of events, including conferences and trade fairs. You could even organize your own social gatherings. It could be as simple as a wine and cheese party at your own place or a more elaborate reception in a hotel ballroom, depending on how many people you can invite and the size of your budget.

When talking face to face with people, learning their hobbies and interests will help you find ways to connect what you’re selling with things that appeal to them. Offering to help them find whatever they are looking for in any capacity can also create a bridge between your business offering and what they need.

Look for interests of theirs that would give you an opportunity to chat about what you provide. For instance, if you learn that someone’s hobbies include opera and golf, you might have more of an opportunity to talk between putting than you would in a theater.

Certainly, all of this requires more footwork — in the literal sense — than any kind of online marketing does. But you’d get to step outside and enjoy the world, which could make the exercise all the more fun.


Why You Should Never Cross-Post the Exact Same Thing Everywhere

freeconsultation@ticular.comEver feel tempted to save time on social media posts by simply cross-posting the same exact thing to multiple sites? It’s a mistake. Just because numerous social publishing tools like HootSuite make it easy to do doesn’t mean this tactic is truly beneficial.

Any kind of autoposting functionality might free up a few minutes for you to do other things, but in most cases it’s counterproductive.

If autoposting is counterproductive, does that mean advance scheduling posts is also bad? Nope. This tactic is ideal for promoting events that have a set time. Additionally, if you have identified a peak traffic window for your website or social media profiles, using the scheduling features can ensure that you feed the most content to your audience when their appetites are biggest.

Back to the topic of why it’s a bad idea to cross-post identical content to multiple sites, we should clarify that we are not advocating that every single thing you publish be 100 percent unique. We wholeheartedly recommend repurposing content. In other words, start with the same material and reword or reformat it to take advantage of different networks’ features and user demographics.

Let’s use the article you’re reading right now as an example. We wrote the paragraphs above it on Tuesday afternoon and scheduled it to publish at 8 am Wednesday. After the blog post went up, we promoted it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest, using different formats for each. We used HootSuite for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ but posted directly on Facebook and Pinterest.

freeconsultation@ticular.com

As you can see above, we actually Tweeted the post twice, using different formatting but spacing the two posts just an hour apart. We may well do another Tweet later on. Twitter is the only social network where repeating yourself works to your advantage, helping you get noticed. Notice that the second tweet links to our Pinterest pin of the lead photo in the blog post, which includes a link to the blog post.

On Facebook, we asked a question — which is ideal for that site but usually doesn’t work on the other social networks, albeit for different reasons. Additionally, we used a full-length web address because people regard them as more genuine. Since this does not apply to other social networks, we shortened the URL everywhere else we posted (and used different shorteners too). Then we switched from using Facebook as a page to a personal profile and shared the page post to the profile, a tactic intended to get subscribers to the profile to like the page.

freeconsultation@ticular.com

 

The only cross-posting in this whole exercise occurred on LinkedIn and Google+. Yes, we used HootSuite to send the same exact post to two different social networks, but they were the only identical postings, and actually differed from all the other posts we’d put up. While both LinkedIn and Google+ both have hundreds of millions of users, they don’t remain on the respective sites anywhere near as long as people do on the other social networks. Cross-posting to just these two covers our bases. In fact, all we did was post a shortened URL to both of them. Doing this aims for search engine optimization more than anything else.

All of this might sound like more work than you want to do. If you would like help managing multiple social media accounts, consider outsourcing this work to a company like ticular.


How To Get What You Want And Make People Like It

The following post is an excerpt from the forthcoming book The Cowbell Principle: Career Advice On How To Get Your Dream Job And Make More Money, by Brian Carter and Garrison Wynn. The authors will give away a limited number of digital copies at launch time. To get notified when they’re available, sign up here.

Have you seen the “More Cowbell” sketch from Saturday Night Live? It’s more than just funny. Believe it or not, it’s a powerful metaphor for a successful work life. And it provides insight into the kind of people you need on your team, and what makes an effective team.

Everyone has at least one cowbell — it’s your unique, profitable talent people pay you for or your company’s unique offering. It’s something people have a fever for. When you
discover it and give those people a ton of it, you gain success and happiness for both yourself and others. It’s a win-win.

A cowbell is simultaneously something you love doing and something other people really want as well (although, as we’ll see, you still will have detractors and critics). A cowbell creates joy for you and other people. It makes them yell for more. They can’t
get enough.

Can Your Cowbell Make You Rich?

Can your cowbell make you rich? In some cases, yes. In the “More Cowbell” sketch, Bruce Dickinson says, “Babies, before we’re done here, [the cowbell will have you] wearin’ gold-plated diapers.” What does that even mean? I’ll tell you what it means. If you’re really good at something and you apply that in a direction where money exists, you get some of that money. Bruce Dickinson knows what customers want and where that money is. What he directs you to do is going to give you a shot at that success.

Sharon Osbourne is a money-making machine. She organizes Ozzfest with no-name bands and signs them to contracts. Three or four of those bands do well each year, and she gets a percentage. Her approach combines profits and testing: She tests a lot of bands and takes a percentage from them for the opportunity. She promotes them a little (not too much) and
doesn’t risk too much. And she was uniquely positioned with the power to do it because she could say, “Ozzy really likes you and we want to sign you.” If you’re a metal band, Ozzy Osbourne is iconic.

We can glean a cowbell lesson from Ozzy himself, through statements he has made in interviews over the years. About the origins of Black Sabbath, the metal band he fronted, he professes they were an average band with nothing significant about them, other than their idea to play scary rock after seeing the movie Black Sabbath. No one was doing that kind of music at the time. With “good enough” talent, they became novel by playing up a unique brand that no one else had. Heavy metal took off.

So you can have a cowbell and do well; but if you can find some unique differentiator, it potentiates your cowbell. In other words, it makes your cowbell more powerful and next thing you know you’re eating bats. And no one who eats bats is not successful. Being a little bit weird usually helps.

In short, you can take a cowbell that’s not terribly original and add something else not original, and there you have a creative cowbell. Ozzy also said he changed things up some with the times but never really deviated from the brand.

J.K. Rowling, who as of April 2014 has a net worth of $1 billion, struggled as a single mom who felt like a big failure as she sat down to pen the Harry Potter series. She had already been writing for 19 years and had the idea for Harry three years before, but a miscarriage and divorce left her contemplating suicide. She survived on state benefits while writing the novel. Motivation can come from surprising depths.

Hunger. Drive. Ambition. Passion. Some of it’s already in you.
Sometimes it comes from circumstances. Sometimes it’s like a switch is
flipped and you can’t stand your life anymore and you’re finally motivated.


7 Easy Tricks to Boost Productivity

Want to make more money right away? Becoming more productive is the fastest way to increase your earnings. You actually need to do that in order to keep up with the rest of the economy: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says productivity is growing 3 percent annually.Learn how to become more productive -- contact us for a free consultation: freeconsultation@ticular.com

You can boost your own productivity by getting more organized. Even if neatness seems totally against your nature, taking small steps toward decluttering your work environment will do wonders for your output. Ditto for making better use of personal planning tools that are already at your fingertips.

Here’s a very simple list of things that will help you get started on the path toward improved productivity.

Make a List

Start keeping a to-do list if you don’t already. Maintain it in the calendar feature within your smartphone or email software, for use as a springboard to manage your time. Set up automated alerts to consult your to-do list, and whenever you consult it afresh, try to consolidate tasks. Ultimately work toward scheduling tasks on your list, and you’ll start to get more done in less time.

Schedule It

Schedule time on your calendar for organizing, and stick to the schedule. Make it a regular occurrence and each time focus on a different aspect of organization.

Contain Everything

The more you designate locations for things, the easier they become to find and the more time you save as a result. So whenever possible, put things in files or containers, and create labels for them that legibly list the contents. Start by marking three boxes with the labels “keep,” “toss,” “sort” to begin the process of putting things in files and containers. Then work on going through each of the three boxes during your scheduled organization time. Try to group things logically, putting similar items together.

Consolidate Your Work Space

Apply consolidation logic to your desk and work space. Toss out anything that is broken or doesn’t work properly. If you find duplicates of anything you have more than one of, either get rid of the extra or put it in a box with other duplicates that you can turn to in the event something breaks.

freeconsultation@ticular.comReplace, Don’t Add

Anytime you have to add anything to your desk or work area, try to eliminate something. You will probably need to consciously remind yourself to do this — most likely you’ll catch yourself in the act of augmenting and have to force yourself to do the necessary subtraction — for a while before it becomes a habit.

Don’t Just Move Things Around

Don’t let consolidation devolve into simply transferring clutter from one location to another: This can lead to a complacent delusion that you’ve done more organizational work than you actually have. Rather than move something from one place to another, tackle it in its original location.

Cultivate Free Space

Completely clear out one space in your work environment — it will ultimately become the location where you put something that previously did not have anywhere to go, preventing clutter from beginning again. Once you find you no longer have an empty space, find another area to clear out so that you can avert the next clutter situation the next time you need to add something to your work environment.

These tips only scratch the surface, and in fact may inspire other good organizational habits once you get going. The more you practice them, the more your productivity will increase. Speaking of which, what tactics have helped you become more productive, readers?