Twitter Link Roundup #229 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | July 11th, 2014

morris-feature-messi-9

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The image above is from a very interesting deconstruction of the impact Argentinian soccer player Lionel Messi has on the teams for which he plays. Today, Messi is generally considered to be the top soccer player in the world. Amazingly, when one looks at the data, Messi’s impact on the game is even greater than people assume. More in the Other section below.

smallbusinessblog

The Perils of Founder Fighting – crowdspring.co/1qnNtlJ

The surprising secret of happier, more productive organizations: conflict – crowdspring.co/1qscUpx

The Importance of Understanding Your Best Users – crowdspring.co/1o21ZOj

How to Succeed in Business by Bundling – and Unbundling | Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1lphhyB

startupsblog

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Reid Hoffman | 25iq by Tren Griffin – crowdspring.co/1qz86yT

The Unintended Consequences of Startups | WSJ by Jason Nazar – crowdspring.co/1nYW6mN

The Hottest Startup Sectors – crowdspring.co/1lpiG8h

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Vinod Khosla | by Tren Griffin – crowdspring.co/TqevOg

The Perils of Founder Fighting – crowdspring.co/1qnNtlJ

The surprising secret of happier, more productive organizations: conflict – crowdspring.co/1qscUpx

The Other 1% – Ranking The Top 20 Angel Investors | 500 Startups – crowdspring.co/1is3Iiw

It’s getting harder to tell what’s a real Silicon Valley startup and what’s a parody – crowdspring.co/1k05eDQ

Candid insight (not what you typically hear) on women & leadership from PepsiCo CEO: Women Can’t Have It All – crowdspring.co/1s3aFa0

Everyone in SaaS Needs to Do Customer Support. At Least Until You Have 50 Employees. But Ideally, Forever crowdspring.co/TqngIa

Silicon’s Valley’s Brutal Ageism | New Republic – crowdspring.co/UDl8O9

Betting on the Ponies: non-Unicorn Investing – crowdspring.co/1jqLtKQ

My Top 10 Year One SaaS Mistakes. Save Yourself Some Pain & Just Don’t Make Them Yourself  – crowdspring.co/1qcQEwe

What fuels great design (and why most startups don’t do it) | Google Ventures – crowdspring.co/1rexlGI

Ten Things I Learned Researching Ten of the World’s Fastest Growing Startups – crowdspring.co/1xIm1mV

A Dozen Things I have Learned from Jeff Bezos | by Tren Griffin – crowdspring.co/1qPi3Z7

Can Better Acoustics Make Open Offices Suck Less? | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1z7WNzT

The secretive billionaire who built Silicon Valley – crowdspring.co/1qjKWZN

Why You’ll Want to Raise $100,000,000 for Your SaaS Start-Up: The Incremental Customer | saastr – crowdspring.co/1rSAVGF

The Importance of Understanding Your Best Users – crowdspring.co/1o21ZOj

The Importance of Hometown Investors for Startups – crowdspring.co/1z8kNTu

4 Mistakes New Product Managers Make – crowdspring.co/1rXNZrC

In Venture Capital, Birds of a Feather Lose Money Together (you want contrasting opinions) – crowdspring.co/1o1YA2b

How the ‘PayPal Mafia’ redefined success in Silicon Valley | by Conner Forrest, TechRepublic – crowdspring.co/1pQYY4B

How Fast-Growing Startups Can Fix Internal Communication Before It Breaks – crowdspring.co/VrHqmQ

Good insight on startups and product development in this AMA with Jason Fried – crowdspring.co/TmVP1

My startup failed, and this is what it feels like – crowdspring.co/1lO2Ipv

“A Minimum Viable Product doesn’t count in SaaS – it has to be a Minimum Sellable Product.” – crowdspring.co/1ls0X06

Google Ventures’ Bill Maris on Venture Capital in Silicon Valley | Re/code – crowdspring.co/1v00G51

No, *I’ll* tell you the answer! – crowdspring.co/VQyx6i

Proper labeling of axes is absolutely crucial – crowdspring.co/1mdPUZB

How to Succeed in Business by Bundling – and Unbundling | Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1lphhyB

SlideShare Best Practices: How to Turn Written Content Into a Winning Deck | Copyblogger – crowdspring.co/1njM91p

socialmediablog

Engagement is a Long-Term Process (some tips on drip marketing) – crowdspring.co/TiSCjz

Just Say No to Low CTR – crowdspring.co/1lpjlq8

Read the rest of this post »

Small Business and Problem-solving: Take a Walk Mike | July 7th, 2014

Sometimes I wake up in the night thinking about my company. On occasion it can be difficult to get back to sleep, especially when some recently wrestled-with and unresolved issue is nagging at me. My mind gets stuck on a problem or a question and sleep can be elusive from that point forward. I think this is a fairly common phenomenon for small business owners and many have  told me they experience the same problem.

I just returned from a 2-week vacation, which was greatly appreciated luxury. I visited places I had never been, experienced a culture that was brand-new to me, saw art and architecture that was eye-opening and inspirational, and walked for hours on end. I also thought a great deal about our company and our team.

Sometimes a break from routine is exactly what’s needed. Stepping back and allowing oneself the chance to look at a problem from a distance can be the best way to attack that problem. Routine can be the death of creative thinking; going to work, sitting at the same desk, and performing the same tasks simply does not allow for the time and perspective needed to tackle certain problems.

The process we use to develop ideas is different for every person and every manager and small business owner has their own way of approaching this, consciously or not. My vacation reminded me that my process stagnates without a change of scenery and without the space I need to think. It also led me to think about ways I might think more creatively in my everyday work life and talk to others about ways that they jumpstart their own creative thinking. Here’s a few that made sense to me:

  • Allow yourself and your team to make any and all crazy suggestions (as well as those that seem rational)
  • Don’t judge ideas too early in the process - let them develop and grow
  • Daydream more and spend time with your feet up just letting your mind ramble
  • Make mistakes and accept them
  • Go for a long walk and let yourself play with ideas
  • Draw or paint an idea
  • Change your habits and do things differently – try walking or driving a different route to work

 

I’d love to hear any ideas for your own creative thinking process, please share your thoughts!

Photo, Wikimedia: Dmitry Rozhkov

Twitter Link Roundup #228 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | June 20th, 2014

titanicpool

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The image was taken during the filming of the movie Titanic. Although much of the movie is set on the ocean, the “ocean” the actors jump into is just a giant, 3 feet deep pool. More strange and mind blowing movie facts in the Other section below.

smallbusinessblog

Why Your Website is Your Dumbest Salesperson – crowdspring.co/1iv6Kgp

Small Business and Leadership: Thinking About Dad – crowdspring.co/1i0PkgN

Start-Ups Need a Minimum Viable Brand | Denise Lee Yohn, Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1qkFicI

12 Collaborative Services for Success at Work | by Jeremiah Owyang – crowdspring.co/T4iNed

startupsblog

10 Things I Learned from Paul Graham at Y Combinator | Betabeat by Nathan Kontny – crowdspring.co/1lDqrbH

Why Your Website is Your Dumbest Salesperson – crowdspring.co/1iv6Kgp

Start-Ups Need a Minimum Viable Brand | Denise Lee Yohn, Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1qkFicI

After Failure, What’s Next? | by Brad Feld – crowdspring.co/1iMMtTI

Why Lead Velocity Rate (LVR) Is The Most Important Metric in SaaS | saastr – crowdspring.co/U3ZbaM

Good insights for entrepreneurs & investors – crowdspring.co/1nQhSc9

Entrepreneurs Turn to a New Source of Funds: Neighbors | WSJ – crowdspring.co/UNEYGO

How To Turn Good Ideas Into Great Products – crowdspring.co/T83uRB

The Optimal Seed Round Construction to Maximize Series A Success – crowdspring.co/1kHPwfA

12 Collaborative Services for Success at Work | by Jeremiah Owyang – crowdspring.co/T4iNed

The Optimal Average Customer Value for SaaS Startups – crowdspring.co/1ib05xm

How many SaaS companies still have freemium products? | LaunchBit – LaunchBit crowdspring.co/1vtjWKi

Interesting SaaS data comparing Enterprise, Midmarket and SMB focused companies | by @ttunguzcrowdspring.co/T84wx4

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned From Marc Andreessen | by Tren Griffin – crowdspring.co/1vtlDaP

If SaaS Products Sell Themselves, Why Do We Need Sales? | Andreessen Horowitz – crowdspring.co/U3YU7R

Sand Hill Road’s Consiglieres: August Capital | TechCrunch by Leena Rao – crowdspring.co/1vtmNTH

How To Write A Startup Marketing Plan – crowdspring.co/1vtDkH3

Shit Entrepreneurs Say – crowdspring.co/1i5yb5Y

socialmediablog

How To Write A Startup Marketing Plan – crowdspring.co/1vtDkH3

If SaaS Products Sell Themselves, Why Do We Need Sales? | Andreessen Horowitz – crowdspring.co/U3YU7R

Start-Ups Need a Minimum Viable Brand | Denise Lee Yohn, Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1qkFicI

Why Your Website is Your Dumbest Salesperson – crowdspring.co/1iv6Kgp

10 gorgeous examples of social media creative for Twitter | Econsultancy – crowdspring.co/1ijz3nh

designblog

How Much Designers And Developers Make In Various Countries – crowdspring.co/1nj86xq

Science Explains The Enduring Appeal Of Bland, Symmetrical Layouts | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1u3e1Jx

Read the rest of this post »

Small Business and Leadership: Thinking About Dad Mike | June 16th, 2014

I spend a lot of time thinking about leadership and how to encourage the best  from the team. There are thousands of books on the topic, a quick google search on “business leadership” returns 971,000 results and I figure there must be a hundred million or more Tweets posted on the subject. But lately (especially with Father’s Day yesterday) my thoughts have been turning to my dad and the lessons I learned from him.

My dad was a complex guy who studied philosophy as an undergrad, went on to a fairly prosperous career in corporate sales with Kodak and eventually turned his creative impulses into a successful second career when he left the business world to pursue photojournalism. He read a great deal, he loved movies and art, he was an always intelligent presence and could quietly and effectively debate current events, politics, and the nature of people. As is common with the sons of immigrants, he tended to be stern with his 4 children, and was not stingy when it came to dispensing the spankings or other punishment. But he was also a loving and affectionate presence, always supportive and always willing to listen when his children needed him.

The lessons I learned from my father have carried through my life – he taught me a personal value system and (hopefully) instilled a strong sense of right and wrong. He taught me about parenting and the importance of being a better father then he was; the idea of generational improvement was a constant theme for him. But he also taught me about work ethic, communicating clearly, the importance of ideas in a person’s life, and the value of respect for others.

He taught nuts and bolts: the logistics of dealing with a family of six, the scheduling, the chores, the “quality control,” were all important to him and he passed that along to me. Not only were we required to clean the house every Saturday morning, but he  made sure we were cooperating with our siblings, and he closely inspect our work, making corrections (sometimes not so gently) and always praising us for quality. Feedback was a priority for him and he did not hesitate to give it, positive and negative. When we did a poor job, he would call us back to the house to have it done over and when we did a good job, he was there to let us know that too. My dad was also a master of the motivational incentive: if we wanted desert we had to finish dinner, or if we wanted to stay up an extra 30 minutes at bedtime we could, but only if we used the time to read. He was a great one for encouraging teamwork - chore time was inviolate, but swapping was fine and working together to get it done faster was celebrated.

My dad understood the concept of a company culture (in this case applied to the family). We had LOTS of activities together, regular family meetings were held when something needed to be discussed, and we had (and loved) our favorite meals and restaurants (though eating out was rare). He instilled the value of teamwork and encouraged his children to do things together. I’ll never forget the Halloween when he and mom had us all 4 dressed as a family of mummies for trick-or-treat. These were all things that created a strong bond among us, a bond that I still share with my siblings today.

Unfortunately, my dad died young and the lessons ended early, but I greatly value the things I learned from him. The lessons have stayed with me not only in my role as a father to two sons of my own, but as a leader and business manager for almost 30 years. As small business owners we can all look to our dads for inspiration, guidance, and modeling in how we lead our teams, how we interact with our customers, and how we lead our professional lives. So, a day after Father’s day, I hope you remembered to thank dad for everything he gave you that allows you to do a great job with your own business. Thanks, Dad!

Film still: Mufasa and Simba, The Walt Disney Company

Twitter Link Roundup #227 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | June 13th, 2014

fzIreVg

 

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

I’m sure you’ve noticed the proliferation of social click-bait media designed to get people to click the latest story on silly topics. Even The Onion has joined the game by launching a parody site – Clickhole – that on the one hand, pokes fun at click-bait, but ultimately, runs monetizes through advertising, just like every other click-bait site.

The image on the left is a fun look at how famous books would be renamed if the authors were optimizing for clicks, much like those who write online click-bait articles. More examples in the Other section below.

smallbusinessblog

Small Business and Startups: What Would You do Differently? – crowdspring.co/Uo7qiz

This Is Why Social Media Doesn’t Work For Your Business – crowdspring.co/1pWbP8R

10 amazing web tools to spy on your competition | Inspired Magazine – crowdspring.co/1q7MhFU

Content Marketing Will Fail Your Business If You Keep Doing This – bit.ly/1kX3Rui

startupsblog

How Airbnb Manages Not To Manage Engineers | ReadWrite – crowdspring.co/1kDg8nG

This map reveals exactly where Silicon Valley gets its talent | VentureBeat – crowdspring.co/1kLpblq

This Is Why Social Media Doesn’t Work For Your Business – crowdspring.co/1pWbP8R

Why Your Product Must Deliver More in Less – crowdspring.co/1ihQ8si

Gallup: The 10 Qualities Of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs | Forbes – crowdspring.co/1v4fSjE

No Silver Bullets: Etsy’s Randy Hunt on Product Design | The Art of Ass-Kicking – crowdspring.co/1nzzDMV

Entrepreneurs Need a Better Way to Cash Out | Kanyi Maqubela – Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/SKltNW

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Michael Moritz About Venture Capital – crowdspring.co/1kLoGb1

Don’t Become A Tech Company With Feet Of Clay | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1k0d8vG

New study suggests patent trolls really are killing startups | Ars Technica – crowdspring.co/TQ83Rj

10 Insider’s Lessons From Facebook’s Marketing Strategy | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1q1VT57

10 of the Most Counterintuitive Pieces of Advice From Famous Entrepreneurs – crowdspring.co/1q5fYaF

Small Business and Startups: What Would You do Differently? – crowdspring.co/Uo7qiz

I don’t know if accurate, but this is an interesting detailed look at economics of driving for UberX – crowdspring.co/1u9dE07

Good move by SendGrid to implement TLS for outgoing mail. Astonishing that so many email co’s still don’t support – crowdspring.co/1kDohs5

socialmediablog

This Is Why Social Media Doesn’t Work For Your Business – crowdspring.co/1pWbP8R

2014 Marketing Hiring Trends and Salary Guide – crowdspring.co/1ig97Dw

The Hidden Power of Nofollow Links | Moz – crowdspring.co/1v4gZ2G

10 Insider’s Lessons From Facebook’s Marketing Strategy | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1q1VT57

10 amazing web tools to spy on your competition | Inspired Magazine – crowdspring.co/1q7MhFU

US non-Internet media advertising outlook, 2013-2018. tl;dr: They all suck. pic.twitter.com/0JXrl9vfVR

Content Marketing Will Fail Your Business If You Keep Doing This – bit.ly/1kX3Rui

10 Dreadful Clichés The Ad Industry Should Euthanize – crowdspring.co/1hF1Hiq

Forget influencers on social networks. You just need some smart bots | MIT Technology Review – crowdspring.co/1hLIBY3

designblog

The ultimate guide to email design | Webdesigner Depot – crowdspring.co/1q1zgxv

Best 100 Free Fonts 2014 | 1stwebdesigner – crowdspring.co/1oJyweL

How to Use Warm Color in Design Projects | Design Shack – crowdspring.co/1nJ2Vff

Read the rest of this post »

Small Business and Startups: What Would You do Differently? Mike | June 9th, 2014

Mom told us to learn from our mistakes. The world’s great religions teach us that our transgressions will be forgiven. Redemption is all around us every wherever we look, whether as a plot-line in a movie or in the world of politics. Entrepreneurs make mistakes every single day, many of them completely unforced errors. Sometimes these mistakes have a negligible impact on the business, but other times can be profound. We all work hard to minimize the mistakes and mitigate the effects when they do happen, but what about afterwards? Crises come and crises go and there is often little that can be done to avoid them, but one of the characteristics of a great entrepreneur is in how they handle the aftermath of a mistake. How they analyze what occurred and what they learn from it can be more important that the mistake itself.

Since Ross and I launched crowdSPRING we have made numerous mistakes (just like everyone else) and we try hard to take time to look at the mistakes, consider their ultimate impact, discuss what we might have done differently, and (hopefully) learn enough such that we don’t repeat the mistake again. Here are a few specific tips on steps you might take to help figure out what you’d do differently!

1. Do a post-mortem. Wipe the whiteboard clean, get out the colored markers and start listing what went wrong, when it went wrong, and how it went wrong. The first step in understanding the mistake is to be clear on exactly what it was and how it happened. If the goal is to learn from mistakes and avoid them in the future, you have to look straight at it with eyes wide open and lay it out for yourself and your team.

2. Take it seriously. Sometimes we fall into the habit of simply moving past our mistakes without taking the time to reflect. We justify this by telling ourselves that this was just a little thing. or this was just a one-off. Well the truth is that we can learn from our small mistakes as readily as our large ones. Take your mistakes seriously and take the time to learn from all of them – major or minor, simple or complex. Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #226 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | June 6th, 2014

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The embedded presentation above is filled with valuable data on the state of the Internet and trends in technology around the world. Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers presented the data at the recent Code Conference.

smallbusinessblog

Listen Close: 5 Tips for Small Business and Startups – crowdspring.co/1oNwUSD

Content Marketing Will Fail Your Business If You Keep Doing This – crowdspring.co/S2Ivic

How to become a mentor | by @intentionallycrowdspring.co/RVMhdc

How to Outsource without the Headache | by Frank Gruber in Tech Cocktail – crowdspring.co/1hyLg7A

To Negotiate Effectively, First Shake Hands | Francesca Gino |Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1jQOCwN

[Customer] Retention is King (good insights on measurement) – crowdspring.co/1haiyJt

The Best Managers Aren’t Control Freaks | by Frank Gruber – crowdspring.co/1pRN2jq

Need a great name & URL for your new business? 5 Quick Tips for Buyers in Naming Projects – crowdspring.co/ThAKX4

startupsblog

How to Design a Billion Dollar Company – crowdspring.co/RXZyBZ

Content Marketing Will Fail Your Business If You Keep Doing This – crowdspring.co/S2Ivic

What we learned by abandoning the shackles of an office to become a remote company (from Customer.io) – crowdspring.co/SuNgBT

7 Habits of Highly Effective and Successful Entrepreneurs – crowdspring.co/S8CWPs

One-hit wonder – crowdspring.co/RMjYxU

MUST READ post on women & men in tech by @mariakatris on @BuiltInChicago and her experiences – crowdspring.co/1xftfiX

The Best Managers Aren’t Control Freaks – crowdspring.co/1pRN2jq

How Greylock Partners Finds the Next Facebook – crowdspring.co/Ud9VE5

Listen Close: 5 Tips for Small Business and Startups – crowdspring.co/1oNwUSD

The Tech Talent Wars: Homegrown Heroes or Pricey Free Agents? – crowdspring.co/RMhLCw

Does Team Size Impact Code Quality? | Code Climate Blog – crowdspring.co/1nJ3Mwt

“Are there changes happening in your world that will make [your company's] capabilities obsolete or insufficient?” – crowdspring.co/1oDXgXm

The Common Characteristics of Successful Freemium Companies – crowdspring.co/1pNrjcn

The Right Way To Do A Software ROI Analysis | Feld Thoughts – crowdspring.co/1jQOLR4

Need a great name & URL for your new business? 5 Quick Tips for Buyers in Naming Projects – crowdspring.co/ThAKX4

To Negotiate Effectively, First Shake Hands | Francesca Gino – Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1jQOCwN

How to Outsource without the Headache | Tech Cocktail – crowdspring.co/1hyLg7A

[Customer] Retention is King (good insights on measurement) – crowdspring.co/1haiyJt

Jessica Livingston: Why Startups Need to Focus on Sales, Not Marketing | WSJ – crowdspring.co/1h6bKMW

5 Mistakes Every Startup Founder SHOULD Make – crowdspring.co/1pNJ2R1

Avoiding the Unintended Consequences of Casual Feedback – crowdspring.co/1kGHa7C

How to Transform Innovation ROI by Using the Science of Certainty to Accelerate Results – crowdspring.co/1haRQ3n

The Most Important Thing to Do Before Building Your Startup – crowdspring.co/1nLq54G

How to become a mentor – crowdspring.co/RVMhdc

Crowdsourcing for startup success | Guardian – crowdspring.co/1nOxTCy

Why you should care about Price/Market Fit early on (a.k.a. Customer Development 101) – crowdspring.co/1pNIOcD

Walter Isaacson: 5 Traits of True Geniuses – crowdspring.co/T8OYcL

Crowdsourcing Your Way To What Customers Really Want | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1oNJIZp

Redesigning Mary Meeker’s Ugly Internet Slideshow | Businessweek – crowdspring.co/RY0FBD

Before & After: 6 Lessons From Mary Meeker’s Presentation Makeover – crowdspring.co/1pNIVVI

socialmediablog

Bottom line on Facebook’s explanation for reduced organic reach in news feed: fuck you, pay us! – crowdspring.co/1uncW1c

Content Marketing Will Fail Your Business If You Keep Doing This – crowdspring.co/S2Ivic

[Customer] Retention is King (good insights on measurement) – crowdspring.co/1haiyJt

Jessica Livingston: Why Startups Need to Focus on Sales, Not Marketing | WSJ – crowdspring.co/1h6bKMW

Why you should care about Price/Market Fit early on (a.k.a. Customer Development 101) – crowdspring.co/1pNIOcD

designblog

An Oral History Of Apple Design: 1992–2013 | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1nJ2Ms0

Some of the world’s top designers critique Google’s car – crowdspring.co/1ovDU38

Read the rest of this post »

5 Quick Tips for Buyers in Naming Projects Audree | June 5th, 2014

Finding the perfect name is a very important step in your business. Once your brief has been written and your project is posted here on crowdSPRING, we have 5 quick tips to get you on the road to success!

1. The Creatives are limited to 10 entries each unless YOU give them a score of 3, 4  or 5 stars.

Want to see more entries from the ones who are on the right track and giving you some great ideas? They will be limited to 10 entries unless you get in there and give them a score of 3 or more stars. We added the limit to prevent “flooding” and to help encourage Creatives to only submit their very best ideas.

Success! limit lifted

2. The best Creatives take time to explain their entries.

If you want to quickly review the entries that have comments, go to the Activity tab of your project and scroll down. You will see all the comments listed here next to their entry  number. If you want to get a quick look at the entry, click on the center of the entry thumbnail.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 2.17.05 PM
Read the rest of this post »

Content Marketing Will Fail Your Business If You Keep Doing This Ross | June 3rd, 2014

Content marketing can be a valuable marketing strategy for just about any type of business. By giving your customers and prospects actionable content through great storytelling, you can help your brand increase trust, credibility and ultimately, sales.

But there’s an important caveat: the moment a brand tries to push a direct sale through its content marketing, customer trust in the content marketing plummets. This was the finding in a recent survey by CMS software company Kentico.

Q3Kentico

Kentico found that 74% of the general public trusts educational content from businesses. But even a simple product pitch at the end of the blog post or newsletter reduces the perceived credibility of the content by nearly half. In fact, as Contently reports:

The risk of falling off the credibility cliff doesn’t end there. Forty-nine percent of consumers will check a brand’s facts with other sources. If they can’t corroborate the content with non-company sources, 46% of consumers start losing trust in the content. Not addressing multiple perspectives, talking down to readers, and not clearly stating that the content is coming from a particular brand also impede consumer trust.

Interestingly, although a majority (60%) of survey respondents believed that a company’s size has no effect on the credibility of its content marketing, nearly a third of respondents believed that educational content from smaller businesses is more trustworthy than that of larger businesses.

Read the rest of this post »

Listen Close: 5 Tips for Small Business and Startups Mike | June 2nd, 2014

People who run businesses tend to talk. A lot. We chair meetings, we advance our opinion, we write memos, we give marching orders, we articulate strategy, and we manage tactics. We are excellent at communicating our thoughts and wishes. What we don’t do quite as well is listen. As important as it is to be able to express our thoughts, it is equally important to be able to listen to those around us.

Managers are, by our very nature, in control. We control the situation, we control events, we control the people who work for us. We control our businesses. And, when we are speaking we are in control, but when we are listening to others that control is necessarily relinquished. For many managers, that yielding of control through the act of listening can be not just difficult, but can seem In conflict with our training.

And there’s the rub. Listening is a letting go of control. It does not come easy, and it requires practice and discipline. In order to understand someone we have to stop controlling and focus on the other half of the communication formula: listening. Listening is about respect; managers must understand that success is not to be attained unless they can seek out and act on information from the talented people around them. Your team needs to understand that their input is valuable, that you respect their ideas, and their contributions are unique.

Here are 5 things you can do to improve your listening skills and create an environment that encourages the healthy flow of fresh ideas and innovation.

Focus. Checking your phone, semi-listening, multi-tasking are all behaviors that constrain your ability to listen when someone else has the floor. You need to be fully present when another person is speaking or you are likely to miss something.

Learn. We have a tendency to focus on things we already know and are biased in particular towards ideas that we already believe in. But by forcing ourselves to listen for new and disconfirming ideas, we can gather information that we might otherwise miss. Be prepared to change your mind – if we listen hard, we can often find ourselves gaining knowledge we would not otherwise have obtained.

Challenge. Listening is an active pursuit and it is important that we not simply accept what is being said, but that we challenge the underlying assumptions at its core.

Ask. Always try to talk less than you listen. If you can apply a version of the 80-20 rule, and work hard to speak 20% of the time while listening 80% you are well on your way. And if you can use your 20% allotment to ask questions instead of offering your own ideas, you will learn more and better encourage others in the room to offer their own ideas.

Position. Body language means a great deal in your ability to listen to others. Maintain eye contact, lean in towards the other person, avoid unintended nonverbal communications such as fidgeting and eye-rolling. By disciplining your own physical interactions you can listen more effectively and communicate to the other person that you care about what they have to say.

Photo: Alexander Torrenegra