Twitter Link Roundup #213 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | February 28th, 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 video above is a phenomenal cover version of Guns N’ Roses hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine” done New Orleans Style by Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox. I guarantee you’ve never heard this song covered like this.

smallbusinessblog

When Is Shoebox Accounting No Longer Enough? | Owner Magazine by Becky McCray – crowdspring.co/1em2eSI

Empower Your Small Business: the science of marketing, body language, motivating employees – crowdspring.co/1jApJZ7

Why You Should Not Ignore The Science Of Marketing – crowdspring.co/1exVnRr

Small business Congress-watch: Three Pending Bills and Why They Matter – crowdspring.co/Moh4wx

What Does It Mean To Design Websites Responsively? | Vanseo Design – crowdspring.co/1k4hVyi

Lazlo Bock talks about hiring at Google, and why the GPA is irrelevant | by Stowe Boyd – crowdspring.co/NpqF71

7 Dead-Simple A/B Tests You Should Run on Your Homepage – crowdspring.co/MYS6Vn

startupsblog

Fundraising Mistakes Founders Make | by @samacrowdspring.co/1f4L7Ak

Why You Should Not Ignore The Science Of Marketing – crowdspring.co/1exVnRr

Lazlo Bock talks about hiring at Google, and why the GPA is irrelevant | by Stowe Boyd – crowdspring.co/NpqF71

How to Get a Job at Google – crowdspring.co/1mBHZpw

Showcasing The Design Of Startup Websites – crowdspring.co/1eaRtT7

Hire a Winning Employee: 5 Tips | Inc – crowdspring.co/1fobkdl

Famous tech acquisitions, cost per user – crowdspring.co/1gAC3Wp

Serial Entrepreneurs Aren’t Any More Likely to Succeed | HBR – crowdspring.co/1mBKFn8

It’s Crazy How Much Money a Startup Can Waste on Bad Hires – crowdspring.co/1fnjAtX

7 Dead-Simple A/B Tests You Should Run on Your Homepage – crowdspring.co/MYS6Vn

Lots of insight in this value vs. price analysis on Facebook’s WhatsApp acquisition – crowdspring.co/NptepI

Facebook Massively Overpaid for WhatsApp | by Albert Wenger – crowdspring.co/1fCioHF

What Does It Mean To Design Websites Responsively? | Vanseo Design – crowdspring.co/1k4hVyi

Why low-fidelity prototyping kicks butt for customer-driven design | by Andrew Chen – crowdspring.co/MJ8WYr

socialmediablog

Why You Should Not Ignore The Science Of Marketing – crowdspring.co/1exVnRr

You Can Love Your Marketing Data, Just Don’t Fall Under Its Spell – crowdspring.co/1fshPvt

Six Tips to Creating the Perfect CTA – crowdspring.co/1k4fZpu

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Why You Should Not Ignore The Science Of Marketing Ross | February 26th, 2014

marketingscience

Supermarkets share a common layout. Many competitive products (toothpaste, for example), have similar packaging. Do supermarket and toothpaste companies lack imagination?

It’s possible, but a different explanation is more likely.

Smart businesses apply science to marketing. Relying on psychological research, these businesses adapt marketing strategies to maximize revenues and profits. When companies unlock the innermost secrets of how and why people buy things, interesting patterns begin to emerge.

For example, there’s good empirical data showing the best times and days to send marketing emails to maximize opens and click-through rates. However, as  people have grown to more heavily use portable/mobile devices, the science of email is gradually evolving. New research suggests, contrary to conventional wisdom, that many brands can benefit from sending email campaigns at night.

How can you apply scientific wisdom to improve marketing for your business? Let’s look at two approaches.

1. Let data drive your decisions.

Many marketers develop campaigns based on  intuition. Guerrilla marketing campaigns fit this mold. A marketer believes, based on experience or a “gut” feeling, that a stunt might work, and they invest time and money to execute it.

Similarly, landing pages are often designed based on aesthetic look and feel, not on their ability to optimize user conversions. Paradoxically, the best looking designs are not always best. Sometimes, aesthetically better designs simply don’t convert as well.

In contrast, marketing as a science looks to optimize campaigns and marketing tactics to maximize returns on investment. It’s become easier and more practical to apply science to marketing because marketing technology has exploded. For example, smart companies routinely A/B test landing pages in an effort to optimize conversions.

A number of years ago, for example, major publishers were loosing print subscribers and wanted to find ways to convert print subscribers into digital subscribers. Many experimented with the decoy effect, also called the asymmetrical dominance effect. The decoy effect occurs when people tend to have a change in preference between two options when a third, asymmetrically dominated option is presented.

One of the best examples of the decoy effect was an old subscription page of The Economist.

decoyeconomist

The first option at $59 seemed reasonable. The second option at $125 seemed expensive. The third option offered options 1 and 2 (web and print) for the same price.

Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, tested this phenomenon with his MIT students. When presented with all three options, zero students chose option 2. Most chose option 3. When the second option was eliminated, most students chose option 1 (online subscription only).

Data can be very useful, as the above example, shows, but can have its own biases, as The Harvard Business Review cautions:

Data and data sets are not objective; they are creations of human design. We give numbers their voice, draw inferences from them, and define their meaning through our interpretations. Hidden biases in both the collection and analysis stages present considerable risks, and are as important to the big-data equation as the numbers themselves.

More importantly, as Albert Einstein famously said, “not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Tips: To optimize how you use data to help you make decisions, you must ask the right questions and focus on the relevant data. For example, if you’re wondering why or when your customers are leaving your site, consider what data you have that can help you answer those questions. You can look at customer complaints, payment history, the funnel customers follow when browsing your site, poor customer service experience, frequency of usage, etc.

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Small business Congress-watch: Three Pending Bills and Why They Matter Mike | February 24th, 2014

I have written occasionally about legislation in Congress and how it impacts small businesses and startups, and three proposed laws have recently caught my attention. Congress makes a lot of noise about the importance of small businesses to our society, but their track record over the past few years has been abysmal, at best. Proposals come, proposals go, the wind howls, Representatives and Senators shake their collective fists and, at the end of the day, small businesses have little or nothing to show for all of the sturm und drang.

I don’t have to tell you about how hard you work, or how you struggle to make your business sustainable. I can, however, tell you how little support you get from your elected representatives in spite of their statements to the contrary.

Right now there are numerous bills pending in congress, stuck in committees or whatever other purgatory our political system relegates them to, that could make a meaningful and positive impact on our economy, that could help us to grow our small businesses, and that could relieve us of the pressures we all face when it comes to employee welfare, labor markets, taxation issues, and fair competition. Three of these proposed laws are in Congress right now and waiting to approved and implemented. These laws have the potential to help your business and to help mend our economy. Maybe a quick call to your Representative with a simple message is due: Hey! What’s the holdup?

S. 511: EXCEL Act  (Introduced 3/11/2013)  The EXCEL (Expanding Access to Capital for Entrepreneurial Leaders) Act amends the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 and seeks to guarantee the payment of securities issued by small business investment companies (SBICs) of up to $4 billion annually. Designed to encourage the formation and growth of small businesses, the EXCEL Act will make more capital available to small businesses and startups, increase employment, and give investors an opportunity to promote technology and innovation.

S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (Introduced 4/16/2013) This legislation, is intended to speed the reform of our current immigration laws, provide a path to legalization for illegal immigrants, improve security at our borders, give employers a simplified system for verifying worker eligibility, permits the children of illegal immigrants to pursue education and employment opportunities, and increases the number of H-1B Visas available, thus making it easier for companies to hire highly educated workers from abroad. These changes are critical to small business and startups, and it is time for the politicians to make it happen.

S. 761: Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (Introduced 4/18/2013) Every day businesses, governments, and cultural institutions do damage to our economy through the wasteful practices. How so, you ask? Well, every poorly sealed window, energy-wasting piece of equipment,  inefficient furnace, and ancient light bulb they use drains our energy resources, increases costs, and speeds planetary climate change. This act seeks to empower states to set reasonable rules and regulations promoting energy-saving strategies and reducing energy waste. By compelling states and municipalities to update their building codes and assisting manufacturers to become more energy efficient, this law (once enacted) will go a long way towards reducing our dependance on foreign producers and on fossil-based fuels,generating savings for small companies, creating jobs, and saving our environment for our grandchildren (and our customers grandchildren, too!)

Illustration: Cross-section drawing by Thomas U. Walter for the dome of the United States Capitol building, circa, 1859

Twitter Link Roundup #212 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | February 21st, 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 video above shows a devilishly evil and creative campaign by delivery company DHL. Can you imagine getting your competitors to advertise for you? Well done, DHL!

smallbusinessblog

Body Language, Non-Verbal Cues, and Small Business - crowdspring.co/1oHulQl

5 Smart Ways To Do A Better Job In 2014 - crowdspring.co/N6uLkm

The Right Way to Grant Equity to Your Employees - crowdspring.co/1bCrvce

startupsblog

5 Smart Ways To Do A Better Job In 2014 - crowdspring.co/N6uLkm

How to hire and keep good women technologists | LinkedIn - crowdspring.co/1harsCi

Body Language, Non-Verbal Cues, and Small Business - crowdspring.co/1oHulQl

Solve existing problems - crowdspring.co/1oI7svX

Keith Rabois on the Role of a COO, How to Hire and Why Transparency Matters - crowdspring.co/1bCtGfO

Tech hubs have better inequality performance since 2007 than other large cities. PPI analysis of Brookings data – progressivepolicy.org/?p=34822

The open office: Friend or foe to startup success? | The Next Web – crowdspring.co/OeIdnu

6 Ways To Achieve Maximum Online Exposure On A Startup Budget – crowdspring.co/1giAIDo

The Right Way to Grant Equity to Your Employees – crowdspring.co/1bCrvce

WhatsApp: The inside story | Wired UK - crowdspring.co/Mexzv0

“The deal values WhatsApp users at $35 each but the current market cap of Facebook values its MAUs at $140 or so.” - crowdspring.co/1fjSpog

Facebook and WhatsApp: The Nineteen-Billion-Dollar App – crowdspring.co/1jOdRlK

The Rags-To-Riches Tale Of How Jan Koum Built WhatsApp Into Facebook’s New $19 Billion Baby | Forbes – crowdspring.co/MeyWd3

How You Get Slaughtered in a Down Round: When Taking Venture Capital Doesn’t Go as Planned – crowdspring.co/MvF29W

socialmediablog

DHL Pranked UPS Into Advertising For Them – crowdspring.co/1jOeA6v

“We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading,” – crowdspring.co/1oIluxA

“If you want to sell ads, sell ads. Own it. Don’t coat it with a layer of frosting & tell me it’s a fucking cupcake.” – crowdspring.co/1oIRbXG

10 Best Practices for Creating Infographics that Rock - crowdspring.co/1nHgOF8

6 Ways To Achieve Maximum Online Exposure On A Startup Budget – crowdspring.co/1giAIDo

The new creative team and the new creative individual | Creativity Unbound by Edward Boches – crowdspring.co/MvEctH

designblog

5 Smart Ways To Do A Better Job In 2014 - crowdspring.co/N6uLkm

80 Free Vector Graphics Every Designer Should Have - crowdspring.co/1nHfbr0

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5 Smart Ways To Do A Better Job In 2014 Ross | February 18th, 2014

head-on-fire

Doing great work in a job you love increases your happiness and personal satisfaction. I’ve written previously on this topic, including Seven Habits of Highly Effective Employees.

Many people, especially after their annual reviews, resolve to do a better job “next year”. But a broad resolution to do better rarely helps unless you take specific steps to improve how you work.

Here are five specific things you can do now to do a better job in 2014.

1. Invest time daily to deliberate about the bigger picture. Before you jump into your daily tasks, spend a few minutes considering how your work will be used and by whom. Until you understand the scope of what you’re doing, it’s impossible for you to be creative in your work.

Sure, you can connect the dots and perform the assigned tasks, but the end product of your efforts will be far less valuable than if you took a few minutes to consider why you’re doing what you’re doing.

As I wrote earlier this year:

When you know how to do something, you have a skill that you can replicate to do the same thing again and again. But when you understand how and why something works, you not only have a skill, but you also can adapt your skill to changing situations.

2. Plan wisely before you execute. Some people spend a great deal of time planning but never execute anything worthwhile. Others jump right in without planning and often hit roadblocks.

The best and most successful employees think daily about the bigger picture, not just about the tasks they have to execute that day. They create a plan, execute, measure progress and obstacles, tweak their plan, and continue executing. Careful planning helps you succeed and your successes help you grow and become even more successful.

3. Find ways to help your colleagues succeed. Smart employees share credit for successes because they realize that nearly every project, even if it’s ultimately done by a single person, is  a team effort. The best teams in the world share a common trait: they embrace a collective vision and want to do something great together. They want to leave a dent in the universe. Great leaders promote these traits; poor leaders micro-manage.

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Body Language, Non-Verbal Cues, and Small Business Mike | February 17th, 2014

In high-stakes poker games it is not uncommon for the players to wear dark shades to hide their eyes from the others at the table. Players at the highest level of the game are skilled at reading the competition’s “tell” and using this to their advantage. The very best poker players rely on their skills and instinct at calculating the odds that another player has a better hand, but they are also practiced at interpreting non-verbal cues and using that ability to great advantage.

In business, fluency in non-verbal communication can also be a great advantage. After all, good communication skills are at the heart of how we do business. We use our verbal and written abilities every day to communicate our product’s value to potential customers, to communicate our expectations to the team,  to communicate our plans and objectives to investors and to negotiate the best deal with vendors and strategic partners.  

But, sophisticated communicators understand that it is not just the spoken or written word that can be effective in communicating. The best communicators are also adept at transmitting as well as reading non-verbal cues. Why is this important?  Body posture, facial expressions, gestures, and eye movement can express both intentional and unintentional messages and a business manager who is skilled at reading this can understand a great deal about about a person’s mood, intentions, or level of engagement. When we can effectively read other people’s body language the conversation becomes about so much more than the words that are being used. Here are 9 examples that may come in handy at that next negotiation!

1. Eye contact. When someone is responding positively to what you have to say chances are very good that they will be maintaining strong and consistent eye contact with you. Conversely, when your conversation partner or audience is looking away, or making infrequent eye contact, it is a pretty good sign that they are not sympathetic to your message. You can watch closely for this sign as you speak and you can also be aware of your own eye contact when you are listening. Even if you do not agree with what the speaker may be communicating, you can maintain eye contact and avoid giving the impression that you are not feeling positive about their message. Be wary though; boredom can be signaled when they eyes are directed at the speaker but are slightly unfocused.

2. Crossed arms and other barriers. This is often an indicator of resistance and can be interpreted as your listener putting up a physical barrier between you; when the other person moves an object between you, or shifts their body to partially “hide” behind something, you may have trouble. A memo pad subtly shifted at the conference table. A purse or backpack moved in front of their body to provide separation, or any other physical object can be an indicator that the person is protecting their personal space and may signal that you need to switch your message or how you are communicating it.

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Twitter Link Roundup #211 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | February 14th, 2014

VCs

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 shows the investment activity of U.S. based venture capital investors, by deal stage.

smallbusinessblog

Advertising On Facebook For Likes Is A Waste Of Money - crowdspring.co/1fYVhou

Word Science: How To Influence Others To Share More Of Your Content - crowdspring.co/1eQNknc

Empower Your Small Business: Facebook ads are a waste of money, content marketing science, more -crowdspring.co/NCHjAW

Great Bosses Don’t Give Up When an Employee Needs Help - crowdspring.co/NeJf2t

startupsblog

Silicon Valley Needs to Lose the Arrogance or Risk Destruction | Wired Opinion - crowdspring.co/1g2t41F

Want to know what life is like as a @techstars associate? Read Ryan’s take from last year ->medium.com/p/c8ff4a1f9683

5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Slopestyle - crowdspring.co/NteRRZ

The Optimal Average Customer Value for SaaS Startups - crowdspring.co/NrGI59

Giving less advice | by Jason Fried - crowdspring.co/1dL2dmq

The Incredible Importance of Sleep for Habits & Motivation | zenhabits - crowdspring.co/1creH2Q

Firing myself, again - crowdspring.co/1lGD1Y6

Are Experienced Founders Better? | MODE Blog - crowdspring.co/Nv3KYE

Dana Stalder: Why $1.5 Million Seed Rounds No Longer Work - crowdspring.co/1aZZZov

How does the Collaborative Economy Weed out the Jerks? | by Jeremiah Owyang - crowdspring.co/1dCpve7

Our Love Affair With the Tablet Is Over | Re/code - crowdspring.co/Nv1PDw

Most active venture capital investors of 2013 in the US by stage – pic.twitter.com/cfCFXWmpbH

Say no to SaaS vanity metrics - crowdspring.co/NzqJ53

Interesting behind-the-scenes post (some tech info) about how the Secret app is designed to work – crowdspring.co/1fUt41V

How I learned to stop giving advice - crowdspring.co/1fZqSZb

Flappy Bird is proof that no one knows what the audience wants | Polygon - crowdspring.co/Ntt8Or

Great Bosses Don’t Give Up When an Employee Needs Help - crowdspring.co/NeJf2t

The Optimal Average Customer Value for SaaS Startups - crowdspring.co/NrGI59

Failure report: Dissecting the biggest flameouts in venture history | PandoDaily - crowdspring.co/NrH5fY

socialmediablog

Word Science: How To Influence Others To Share More Of Your Content - crowdspring.co/1eQNknc

Advertising On Facebook For Likes Is A Waste Of Money - crowdspring.co/1fYVhou

Old School SEO Tests In Action (A 2014 SEO Experiment) - crowdspring.co/1dB0QGP

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12 Questions: Meet Catherine Feeman-Fick (Wisconsin – USA) Audree | February 13th, 2014

In our 12 Questions blog series, we feature interviews with someone from the crowdSPRING community. For these interviews, we pick people who add value to our community – in the blog, in the forums, in the projects. Plainly – activities that make crowdSPRING a better community. Be professional, treat others with respect, help us build something very special, and we’ll take notice.

We’re very proud to feature Catherine Feeman-Fick (crowdSPRING username: catherinef3) today. Catherine lives and works in Wisconsin.

Catherine-E-Feeman-Fick

1. Please tell us about yourself.
I am a visual communicator that broke the mold coming from a family of teachers. I love to help companies discover their business personality! It is a passion, and quirky as it may be, I am able to pull out information or see things others cannot.

All I wanted for my 9th birthday was oil paints… I wanted to be an artist. Thankfully my parents embraced the idea and set out to support me any way they could… I received the gift I so longed for, painted my little heart out, and entered my work in a 4-H contest. The result: a first place win and the good fortune of meeting my art teacher/mentor for the next nine years.”

So the story begins – Kendal College of Art and Designs and the “real world” have been my best teachers. Yes, I admit it; I came from a generation with out cell phones or computers. I can honestly say I am grateful for not having all of the distractions technology can bring.
I still prefer starting any project with a pencil and paper to this day. Technology has given me the ability to take my concepts and easily present them to non-visual clients. Back in the day, we had to do it all by hand or key lining which was a long and tedious process…no command Z’s!

cf3_insanecolors

2. How did you become interested in design?
It has always been part of me ever since I could draw, create, act, speak… and of course my 9th birthday wish.

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Advertising On Facebook For Likes Is A Waste Of Money Ross | February 12th, 2014

We’ve experimented with many advertising and marketing channels over the years, including Facebook. A few years ago we tested whether promoting our posts on the crowdSPRING Facebook Fan page could expose us to more potential customers. We received more likes and fans, but discovered that our new fans were not engaging with us.

During our experiments, we varied our targeting – sometimes our targeting was broad and at other times, specific. We tested custom audiences. We repeated our experiments and confirmed our results: advertising on Facebook for likes is a waste of money.

In fact, the problem is even worse than it initially seems. In addition to wasting your money, you also negatively impact your ability to engage your real customers and fans.

Remember that your advertising dollars ensure that your posts would appear on News Feeds of your fans, their friends, and perhaps other targeted customers. If more people engage with your posts, your posts would be more prominently displayed. In fact, Facebook’s algorithm is built to reward posts that have strong engagement. However, many of your advertising dollars are spent to display your promoted posts in the News Feeds of phony accounts that never engage or interact with the promotions.  More importantly, when you later post non-promoted content, that content is also shown to phony accounts that never interact/engage with your content. As a consequence, your overall ability to reach your fans and customers suffers.

Here’s a terrific video from Veritasium discussing their own experiments and their similar conclusion that advertising on Facebook for likes is wasteful.

Has your experienced differed? Have you run successful Facebook campaigns and discovered new, engaging fans?

Word Science: How To Influence Others To Share More Of Your Content Ross | February 11th, 2014

word science

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve read hundreds of posts and articles about content marketing. That’s not a coincidence. Content marketing can be a powerful tool to help grow your business.

But even the best marketers sometimes struggle to come up with consistently good content for their blog posts, whitepapers, social media posts, and emails. The secret to content marketing success is good storytelling, but is there anything you can do beyond telling stories to influence others to share more of your content?

Socially Stacked produced a helpful infographic detailing commonly used popular phrases and buzzwords that tend to increase the likelihood that others will share your content.

sociallystacked-infographic

Do you agree with the words and phrases in the infographic? Have you found some others that have worked well for you?