Fresh from the SPRING: 
ravitejabhukya Audree | October 29th, 2014

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for ravitejabhukya. Check out more great work on ravitejabhukya’s profile page.

Nicely done, ravitejabhukya, nicely done!

FFS-ravitejabhukya

Be of Good Cheer – Social Media for the Holidays! Mike | October 27th, 2014

The holidays are (huh?) fast upon us and it is time to think through your company’s approach to the season. I’m not just talking about office parties, decorations, and vacation time. I mean strategy, marketing, and tactics. And the most obvious of these tactics? Social Media!

That’s right, friends. There is no better opportunity to connect with your customers, entertain your followers, and create some buzz than there is in focusing your efforts ’round the old yule log. There is a reason that marketers start to salivate at holiday time, and it goes beyond the concept of Black Friday and 70% of earnings that many retailers see over the next 60 or so day.

The reason is customers are highly persuadable at this time of year and tend to be more receptive to your messaging as well as your generosity. It is no coincidence that advertising volume increases dramatically at this time of year – see those big cheery smiles on the faces of your local TV ad-traffic departments and magazine ad-sale folks? People (some of them your customers) are more willing to open their wallets, for everything from charitable donations to generous gifts to lavish purchases strictly for their own enjoyment. How can your social media strategy help you to better serve your existing customers, connect with new customers, and improve your bottom line? Here are 5 thoughts that you should bear in mind as you start your own brainstorming process:

1. Reach out! So many practitioners tend to forget this simple rule, but social media is not a soapbox, not a place for speeches, but rather (as we’ve been told countless times) a place for conversations. And the holidays provide a perfect time to chat it up with your followers, old and new. Talk to your customers and ask them what it is they’re doing for the holidays, what’s their happiest tradition, or even whether they’ve been naughty and/or nice. Engage your customers in social media and as the bonds grow, so too will the loyalty they feel towards you and your brand.

2. Be charitable. Just about every entrepreneur I know would give the coat off their back if someone was in need. This time of year is the perfect time to use your social voice to amplify all of the good that businesses and individuals can do. Coat drives are wonderful and the people helped say thanks every day of the polar vortex, but there are many other ways to give besides cleaning out your closet and getting rid of that old shmata you never wear anyhow. Talk to your team – see if anyone is participating in a charitable effort that needs support or is volunteering for an organization that deserves help. Then get onto your SM channels and bast it out to the world. Don’t just brag about the good things your company has done, but encourage others to do the needful, too.

3. Share the cheer. Social media best practices highly encourage sharing and tell stories and holiday time is the perfect time to do just that. It is the perfect opportunity and the best time of year to directly involve your customers and encourage sharing. How? Share with them and ask them to share with you, of course! What? How about asking them to upload photos of their own holiday decorations or post their own wish-lists for gifts they’d like to receive or share stories of their own charitable giving or volunteer experiences. People want to feel connected and this is why they use social media in the first place; a better time of year for connecting just does not exist.

4. Play up your company’s culture. Your brand is everything and your company culture helps to define it and social media helps to promote it. Your posts shoud always reflect your company’s voice and show off your company’s culture, especially at holiday time. Post those funny photos of the team outing, share the details of your holiday party, and let those horrific Christmas sweaters shine through at any opportunity. Take photos, share videos, and document for the world to see!

5. Be strategic. The message counts (especially at this time of year) as does the medium. Choose your tools and tactics with care and consider your audience; at holiday time, people tend to be a bit looser and have a little more free time on their hands, so let your posts ring lighter, your videos be a little sillier, and your sharing be a little more relaxed. As with all marketing efforts, let your goals drive your strategic approach, but make sure that your social media sharing reflects the festive time of year and that your engagement is about connecting and not just selling.

Illustration: Wikimedia, Christmas before digital

Twitter Link Roundup #240 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Mike | October 24th, 2014

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, we post links to posts or videos we 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 we’ve liked and shared this past week!

The video above is an object lesson in how, sometimes, what looks like a dumb idea can actually work out pretty well… enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

10 Best Practices For Email Marketing For Small Business and Startups – crowdspring.co/1t8KeUm

Small Business and Startups: Number One Leadership Skill – crowdspring.co/1CKROUS

Even the Hummus Maker in Palo Alto Has an E-Commerce Startup – crowdspring.co/1sfrdsP

startupsblog

Design Is Changing How We Innovate | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1sChJN5

How to Ruin Your Company with One Bad Process | by @bhorowitz – crowdspring.co/11FYS9R

Benchmarking SaaS Startup Efficiency with Revenue per Employee Metrics | by @ttunguz – crowdspring.co/1sRVdjm

Why You Should Find Product-Market Fit Before Sniffing Around For Venture Money | Co.Labs – crowdspring.co/1sRVsv5

What is the Right Burn Rate at a Startup Company? | by @msuster – crowdspring.co/1qKWc0z

Why Google’s Reported CPC Declines Can’t Tell The Story Of “A Mobile Advertising Problem” – crowdspring.co/1wkmIU1

Candid & raw. All young entrepreneurs should read … My Last Day At PivotDesk | Kelly Taylor’s Blog – crowdspring.co/1sZar6P

C’mon Illinois … Interactive Map: Where The Venture Capital Dollars Are Going | WSJ – crowdspring.co/1wpmKKa

A Guide To Co-Leadership: Why It’s Hard, Why It’s Good, And How To Make It Work | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1DmUr1f

How The “Big Five” Personality Traits Can Create A More Effective team | Buffer Blog – crowdspring.co/ZEPPEI

Good data on US companies started each year & angle/VC investment in startups – crowdspring.co/1tL13FR

6 Lessons Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) Gives the Startups He Invests In | Inc – crowdspring.co/1sP6XCb

Read the rest of this post »

Fresh from the SPRING: bokomoslav Audree | October 22nd, 2014

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for bokomoslav. Check out more great work on bokomoslav’s profile page.

Nicely done, bokomoslav, nicely done!

 

FFS-bokomoslav

10 Best Practices For Email Marketing For Small Business and Startups Ross | October 21st, 2014

marketing-emails

Marketers are seeing an alarming trend. Although 122 billion emails are sent every hour, a large and growing percentage of emails are never read. This is not surprising – most marketing emails are simply pure spam without any creative or substantive value. Even worse, really bad marketing emails can easily destroy a company’s reputation and annoy even the most loyal customers.

How can you get your customers and prospects to open your email? What can you do to help ensure that your email campaigns don’t anger loyal customers?

We’ve previously written about Email Design Best Practices for Small Businesses and Startups and Small Business Marketing: Best Times and Days To Send Email For Opens and Click-Throughs.

We have another resource to share with you. MadisonLogic  created the following useful infographic, highlighting 10 email marketing best practices. How many of these best practices are you using today?

Read the rest of this post »

Small Business and Startups: Number One Leadership Skill Mike | October 20th, 2014

“Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Let’s see. Strength? Nah. Productivity? Nope. Ability to instill fear? No way. The number one skill any great leader needs is the ability to communicate clearly, effectively, and quickly. Great leaders do display strength and determination, that’s for sure; great leaders do lead by example and can get piles of work done in the time it takes to write this paragraph; great leaders can also be intimidating, no doubt (if in doubt about any of these characteristics read up on General Patton).

But, to my thinking the one leadership skill that rises above all others is the two-sided ability: to convey information clearly, quickly, and regularly to your team, your investors, your customers and to be able to simultaneously listen closely to what the other has to say and to discern their intent and understand their message. In other words, if you can’t string together an effective sentence, written or oral, and if you are unable to be attentive and hear what is being communicated in return, you are probably not cut out to take the lead.

Here are a few ways that strong communication will make you a better leader:

Motivate In order to deliver the highest quality work product and operate at a high level of productivity and efficiency, our team needs to feel motivated. How you communicate to them as well as how you listen to them can significantly impact their attitude towards their job, their team members, and your company.

Inspire It is your job to inspire people to greater things; how you communicate can have a remarkable effect on their overall attitude towards the company and your customers. People need to feel that they are art of something, that they are contributing to a greater whole and your communication abilities can kindle creativity, inventiveness, and ingenuity.

Debate The strongest leaders have the ability to persuade others to their way of thinking; they can frame an argument, express their viewpoint, and demonstrate the strength of their position. Debate does not always have to be a formal event; even lunch table conversations between you and your team can be lively and fun bonding experiences for all.

Listen Great communication ability must also come with an equal ability to listen and learn from what the other person is saying; without the capacity to attend to what others say to you, you will miss the opportunity to lead. Listening builds strong relationships, and models the most effective way to connect, whether with other members of the team or customers and clients.

Teach Strong communication skills can help people to learn from you and from each other. Each person you communicate with wants to achieve something, personally or professionally, and your ability to communicate well can help them accomplish those goals. Be a teacher, be a leader.

Photo, Wikipedia: Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Twitter Link Roundup #239 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Mike | October 17th, 2014

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, we post links to posts or videos we 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 we’ve liked and shared this past week!

The image above is a from a very special luncheon. A group of second graders was treated to lunch at one of New York’s finest restaurants, Daniel. Have fun watching Jeffrey Blitz’s video for The New York Times

smallbusinessblog

Helpful Tips to Improve Your Checkout Conversions | Designmodo – crowdspring.co/1sajjUZ

Today in Small Business: Hiring Picks Up | by @genemarkscrowdspring.co/1w5hoSn

Small Business and Startups: Best Boss Ever? | crowdSPRING Blog – crowdspring.co/1o6IY2w

30 small business themes for WordPress | Webdesigner Depot – crowdspring.co/1nky3Sr

12 Ways to Quickly Acquire Your First 1,000 Users | Techli – crowdspring.co/1w8fRLp

Alternatives to paid health care benefits, and GE’s public cloud plans – Today in Small Business -crowdspring.co/1pd4XzQ (via @genemarks)

Why You Should Adopt Google’s Nested Approach To Office Layouts | Forbes – crowdspring.co/1z7TSd8

startupsblog

Your 5 Procrastination Excuses, Debunked | Fast Company | Business + Innovation crowdspring.co/1qnKxEK

How To Be Efficient: Dan Ariely’s 6 New Secrets To Managing Your Time – crowdspring.co/1z4kz2e

A Deep Dive Into Today’s Advertising Landscape crowdspring.co/1z7nHKJ

30 Founders Share Why Their Startups Failed | Tech Cocktail – crowdspring.co/1ssh53n

The Four Key Trends of the Startup Acquisition Market | by @ttunguzcrowdspring.co/1w8sgz2

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Entrepreneurial Needs | by @DanMartellcrowdspring.co/1nmowtZ

Always Wrong, Never In Doubt: A 7 Step Framework For Starting a Company | by @DanMartell -crowdspring.co/1sTawss

Entrepreneurs Who Cash Out Look for Meaningful Second Acts | NYT – crowdspring.co/ZZsRch

Good & valuable insight … Postmortem of a Venture-backed Startup – crowdspring.co/1qTm4pU

Why Startups Fail, According to Their Founders – crowdspring.co/1CdmkGz

50 Best Websites for Entrepreneurs – crowdspring.co/1qTiEna

You Should Run Your Startup Like a Cult. Here’s How | WIRED – crowdspring.co/1yXDg7L

Read the rest of this post »

Fresh from the SPRING: anci Audree | October 15th, 2014

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for anci. Check out more great work on anci’s profile page.

Nicely done, anci, nicely done!

 

Anci-for-FFS

Small Business and Startups: Best Boss Ever? Mike | October 13th, 2014

“Remember the difference between a boss and a leader; a boss says “Go!” – a leader says “Let’s go!”” – E.M. Kelly

There are plenty of ways to skin a cat. This applies not only to winning arguments and basketball strategy, but to business management as well. The idea in business, as with so many things, is to set specific, well-designed goals and design strategy to achieve those goals. Same goes with managing people. As a manager, define for yourself your goals with your subordinates and devise specific strategy and tactics to achieve them. Right?

But managing people is very different from managing marketing budgets or web design projects. Managing people is different because, well, people are people. They come with their own unique attitudes, problems, biases, preferences, and skills. And, in order to respect those differences, each and every one of them has to be managed differently. Having said that, they also need to be managed in exactly the same way; as the boss you have to make yourself available, make yourself known, and make yourself indispensable. So, being a great boss means being aware of the fact that each member of your team is uniquely different and that each of them needs you to treat them exactly the way you treat the others.

Contradictory? Perhaps a bit, but great bosses are consistent in their approach to managing individuals, while also making constant adjustments for each depending on circumstance, context, and the person’s needs. Great bosses are great leaders; overall the greatest of bosses pay close attention to the people around them and make sure to always give what that person needs. Here are a few thoughts on how to be that great boss…

Be available First and foremost, great bosses have to be accessible and present. This doesn’t necessarily mean a 24/7/365 policy of open door office and personal cell phone contact around the clock. Rather, it means that you should be available when team members have concerns they’d like to voice, ideas they’d like to share, or complaints they’d like to make. Being present means that you need to show face; your people need to know that you are in the trenches (however that is defined at your company) and working as hard or harder than everyone else to build the company and execute vision. An open office or lots of glass goes a long way towards achieving this goal, as does a consistent presence in group chats, at meetings, and in more informal settings such as lunchtime chats and after-work refreshments.

Be known Many bosses remain ciphers to the team year in and year out. Team members may have no concept whatsoever about the person they work for on a personal, professional, or social level. It’s critical that your employees know who you are, understand what drives you, and can recognize your own unique set of skills, personality, and traits. Consistency and predictability in your behavior and in your physical presence go a very long way in employee satisfaction as well as in overall productivity. Don’t be afraid to let them know who you are and what makes you tick, and once they know you, do not go changing with the winds.

Be indispensable Not only do you need to be there for the team and not only do you need to be predictable in your behaviors and attitudes, but you also have to be important to the work. Your team should certainly be able to carry on if, please no, something were to happen to you tomorrow, but today you should be an active leader, guide, collaborator, and parter to your people. By being present and consistent, you will become the person they seek out when they need help and the person they are comfortable following loyally as well as debating with vigorously.

Photo: 6 planets orbiting the star Kepler-11, by NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Twitter Link Roundup #238 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | October 10th, 2014

stubborness

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 a public service billboard that apparently failed to strike a chord with its intended audience. You’ll find other funny examples in the Other section below.

smallbusinessblog

Review. Rethink. React – crowdspring.co/1yHa1WB

12 free email marketing templates for small businesses | Econsultancy – crowdspring.co/1nSfwgB

Everything You Need to Know About the Psychology of the Call to Action | KISSmetrics – crowdspring.co/YTP0rm

Confused by cloud computing price comparisons? Here they are in one easy-peasy chart – crowdspring.co/1r9oYXz

The ROI of Blogging: What the Groove Blog is Worth to Our Startup – crowdspring.co/YUXa2r

Passion Alone is Not Enough to Open a Business – crowdspring.co/YVlAZA

startupsblog

10 Massively Successful Minimum Viable Products – crowdspring.co/1mVcFD5

The Ultimate Startup Marketing Strategy | by Venture Harbour –

Why entrepreneurs should learn to say “I don’t know” more often – crowdspring.co/1pGXXeF

“the people you fire are more important to your [company’s] culture than the people you hire.” – crowdspring.co/1slKVZ2

Stock option questions startup employees should ask | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1n8lUje

Review. Rethink. React – crowdspring.co/1yHa1WB

Refocusing the Startup Burn Rate Debate | OpenView Blog – crowdspring.co/1n8paLq

The Most Innovative Companies Don’t Worry About Consensus | by Maxwell Elliot, HBR – crowdspring.co/Z7pWNt

Everything You Need to Know About the Psychology of the Call to Action | KISSmetrics – crowdspring.co/YTP0rm

Confused by cloud computing price comparisons? Here they are in one easy-peasy chart – crowdspring.co/1r9oYXz

On ‘Dark Talent’, MOOCs, Universities, & Startups: An Interview with Our 1st Prof.-In-Residence – crowdspring.co/Zmo0kD

44 engineering management lessons – crowdspring.co/1x7TVkf

5 Things I Learned Analyzing Buffer’s Revenue Dashboard | Ivan Kreimer – crowdspring.co/1xfTwMG

By The Time You Give Them a Raise, They’re Already Out The Door | saastr – crowdspring.co/1vyIl0B

Passion Alone is Not Enough to Open a Business – crowdspring.co/YVlAZA

5 Ways to Hire the Best Talent for Your Startup Team – crowdspring.co/1ptyfds

The ROI of Blogging: What the Groove Blog is Worth to Our Startup – crowdspring.co/YUXa2r

The One, Life-Saving Change Workplaces Can Make For Their Employees – crowdspring.co/1r4ba0i

Scratching my head over this analysis. How does Twitter buying a messaging app help Twitter grow? – crowdspring.co/1px5L2s

socialmediablog

The Ultimate Startup Marketing Strategy by Venture Harbour –

New Google Eye Tracking Study Shows The Downfall Of The Golden Triangle – crowdspring.co/ZgzgPc

Myth Busting: The Truth About Long-Tail Keywords | WordStream – crowdspring.co/1xuRZT9

Everything You Need to Know About the Psychology of the Call to Action | KISSmetrics – crowdspring.co/YTP0rm

5 Guidelines For Setting Up A Usability Study – Startup Style | Usability Geek – crowdspring.co/1vxQS3T

Best Practices for Mobile SEO | Mobile Marketing – crowdspring.co/ZvOJfc

Are Bots Hijacking Your Marketing Budget? | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1vkAsLP

designblog

A Rare Look at Apple’s Design Genius Jony Ive | Vogue – crowdspring.co/Zvu8b0

20 Real Client Feedbacks Turned into Funny Posters – crowdspring.co/1mVc2t6

Read the rest of this post »