Fresh from the SPRING: IM3D Audree | June 22nd, 2017

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

The challenge of this project was to create a unique retro logo for a stable. They wanted a horse design that was more abstract and different from the norm. The solution was this sweet design.

Let us start the slow clap for IM3D. Check out more great work on IM3D’s profile page.

Nicely done, IM3D, nicely done!

How Emotional Intelligence Can Make You a Better Leader Katie Lundin | June 22nd, 2017

 

A leader has a difficult but important job: leading a team of unique individuals to follow a single vision and to motivate them to work collaboratively toward a common goal. Not all leaders can do this effectively.

Why do some leaders succeed while others fail?

Although there are some exceptions, most great leaders succeed because they have a high degree of emotional intelligence.

Mariah DeLeon, in her article “The Importance of Emotional Intelligence at Work” writes:

…it’s vital for managers and other business leaders to operate in emotionally intelligent ways to meet the needs of today’s workers.

Jeff Immelt, the widely respected CEO of General Electric, agrees:

Leadership is an intense journey into yourself. You can use your own style to get anything done. It’s about being self-aware. Every morning, I look in the mirror and say, ‘I could have done three things better yesterday.’

Emotional intelligence (sometimes also called EI or EQ) is the ability to identify and regulate your own feelings, and the feelings of people around you. Leadership coach Brent Gleeson describes it as:

The act of knowing, understanding, and responding to emotions, overcoming stress in the moment, and being aware of how your words and actions affect others…

EQ is incredibly important in the workplace – even more important than the traditional measure of intelligence – IQ. It turns out that people with a high EQ are better teammates and better leaders than people with a high IQ.

Emotional intelligence experts at TalentSmart tested a host of 33 variables to determine which had the greatest impact on workplace success. Emotional intelligence was the strongest predictor of performance, accounting for 58% of a person’s job performance.

TalentSmart president Travis Bradberry points out,

Your emotional intelligence is the foundation for a host of critical skills—it impacts most everything you do and say each day.

Contrary to conventional thinking, there’s not one common type of emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman, the author of the groundbreaking book Emotional Intelligence, breaks EQ down into 4 components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Empathy
  • Relationship management

Goleman also reveals that EQ (unlike IQ) is a skill that can be learned and improved.

Let’s take a deeper look into each of the four pillars of emotional intelligence to discover how you can become a better leader.

 

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the first pillar of emotional intelligence. Self-awareness refers to your ability to identify your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses and behavioral patterns. Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. In fact, the remaining 3 components of emotional intelligence all hinge upon the ability to be self-aware.

Laura Wilcox, former director of management programs at Harvard Extension School explains:

The core of high EI is self-awareness: if you don’t understand your own motivations and behaviors, it’s nearly impossible to develop an understanding of others.

Read the rest of this post »

5 Ways Your Business Can Improve Its Brand on Instagram Arielle Kimbarovsky | June 21st, 2017

Branding.

That buzzword has taken design, marketing, and startup blogs by storm and has put pressure on companies of all sizes to create the “perfect image”. In an increasingly competitive and noisy market, companies are more pressed than ever to carefully curate and create a recognizable identity – whether online or in the real world.

Branding is important. As we wrote previously:

People have a very short attention span. In fact, according to a Princeton University study, snap judgments count. The study found after seeing a face for only 1/10th of a second people formed opinions about that person. Judgments were made on attractiveness, likeability, and trustworthiness, and prolonged exposure to that face just reinforced the initial impression.

The same goes for websites. Three studies found that a mere 50 milliseconds were all people needed to form an opinion about a website. Google performed similar testing and found an even slimmer margin: a speedy 17 to 50 milliseconds were all people needed to decide how they felt about a website.

Social media platforms like Instagram have pushed companies to evolve their brands and extend their branding to digital channels. Big companies spend millions doing this but most companies simply don’t have big enough budgets or the people who can effectively optimize branding across different channels.

But even companies that lack people and money must find ways to showcase their brands if they are to compete. For most businesses, Instagram offers a good platform to attract and connect with customers.

The access to customers also comes with a cost: customers on Instagram, for example, can easily pinpoint a company’s brand identity, or aesthetic.

Even before social networks became popular, smart marketers already knew that branding was important. For example, we’ve known for a long time that a well-designed website targets people’s emotions and increases their chances of becoming a paying customer. We also know that people are starting to value aesthetics over bargains, making the visual and brand appeal of your business more important than ever. As we previously wrote,

Marketing studies show that the average American is exposed to around 5,000 advertisements and brands per day. Out of that veritable flood, they found only 12 made enough of an impact to leave an impression. You can help your business be one of those twelve through effective, attractive design.

Many brands have caught on, working on their emotional appeal through carefully thought out Instagram pages. But, as I wrote above, those brands often have huge amounts of resources.

What can smaller companies do to properly take advantages of platforms like Instagram?

Often, smaller companies try to use uniform filters and common colors. But these basic attempts are largely ineffective. Representing and creating your brand visually requires much more than a uniform filter and common color.

Luckily, there are many great brands on Instagram, providing lots of great examples and lessons to help you create the ultimate Instagram aesthetic.

We’ve taken a look at some of our favorite Instagram accounts. Here are five insights to help you create a great Instagram brand, even if you don’t have a dedicated 30 person Instagram marketing team.

Read the rest of this post »

Reliable Strategies To Help Your Business Handle a PR Crisis Amanda Bowman | June 19th, 2017

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. – Winston Churchill

If you run a business – even a small one – you are regularly communicating with the public. Most of the time, the communications are positive and simple. But there are times when pretty much every business owner runs into a communications problem.

Sometimes, an angry customer decides to take their anger online and shares their frustrations on social networks. At other times, a negative story in the newspaper or on television might paint you or your business in a bad light.

Although many business owners don’t refer to their communications as PR (public relations), their communications effectively serve as just that.

PR is the way organizations, companies and individuals communicate with the public and media. Having good PR can bring your brand adoration, esteem, and loyalty. Smart PR can take a potential trainwreck of a situation and turn it into something advantageous for your company.

Bad PR?

It can quickly impact your revenues or the trust your customers have in your brand.

Last year, many of you will recall the negative stories about the EpiPen after Mylan, the company that manufactured the EpiPen substantially increased the price by 400 percent. The public outcry and negative publicity damaged Mylan in many ways. Mylan tried to recover by offering a generic product, but the damage was already done. The government started an anti-trust investigation, Mylan was sued, the stock fell by more than 70%, and the company had to layoff thousands of employees.

Even large, well-established companies make many mistakes when faced with a publicity crisis. Many of you probably recall a short while ago when United Airlines got raked over the Internet coals for dragging a passenger off an overbooked plane after he refused to give up his seat. United dug their pit even deeper with series of poorly thought out apologies.

Apologizing for “re-accommodating” customers by physically dragging them off the plane sounds ridiculous, but this was just the start of a long and very poorly handled PR disaster. In an email to staff, CEO Oscar Munoz refused to take responsibility for what happened, saying that the passenger was “disruptive and belligerent” and that “employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this.”

This negative, poorly thought out response to a PR crisis violated every guide to achieving customer satisfaction after complaints are voiced. Engaging in such behavior is sure to result in a poor experience for your consumers, and will likely result in the loss of their loyalty.

RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report details these vital statistics:

  • 89 percent of consumers do business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.
  • 50 percent of consumers allow a one week response time to any query, after which they cease doing business with that brand.

To be sure that your business is ready to deal with a PR crisis, make sure you understand what you’ll need to do if you face one. Here are five tips that can help you deal with angry customers or negative publicity.

Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #297 – Terrific Reads For Small Business, Entrepreneurs, Marketers and Designers! Amanda Bowman | June 16th, 2017

As graduation season comes to a close, I like to reflect on Michael Lewis’ Princeton Baccalaureate speech from 2012. I know that I have been handed plenty of cookies, and sharing them has never been more important as we become increasingly connected to one another.

Now, we hope you enjoy another great set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our crowdSPRING Twitter account (and on Ross’s Twitter account). We regularly share our favorite posts on entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, logo design, web design, startups, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

startupsblog

socialmediablog

designblog

logodesignblog

mobiledesignblog

otherblog

For more about creating a successful business, check out our latest ebook written by CEO and founder Ross Kimbarovsky entitled Stand Out: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting, Growing, and Managing a Successful Business.

Fresh from the SPRING: tititemprit Audree | June 15th, 2017

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we recognize a gem submitted in this clothing project:

The challenge of this project was to create a Hawaiian hippie T-shirt design. They were encouraged to get creative and make it look like a a “real” university logo, but one with a hippie theme. We imagine the hippies will totally dig this shirt, man.

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

Nicely done, tititemprit, nicely done!

Give Your New Business a Jump Start with an Effective Landing Page Katie Lundin | June 15th, 2017

 

Every new business hopes to launch to immediate accolades and tons of sales.

But, the truth is that most businesses start slowly. And, if they’re lucky, they last long enough to survive and grow.

But, what if I told you there’s a simple way to create momentum before your new business even sets its feet on the ground? Not to mention build credibility and generate sales leads?

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

I’m not talking about a myth or a fantasy. I’m talking about a real and actionable marketing tool – the landing page.

A landing page is a simple, targeted web page that steers your visitors to one specific goal. Landing pages can collect leads, motivate downloads and/or generate sales. For a new business, landing pages can establish credibility, create excitement for your new product or service, and collect leads for future customers – all before you officially launch.

Kickoff Labs, a viral marketing company, points out:

A great coming soon landing page, focuses on one primary objective: getting people to sign up before launch. Do this right and you can build enough initial brand momentum to sustain an enormous amount of sign ups pre-launch.

With so much to gain, how can you create an effective landing page for your business?

Let’s take a look at some content and design best practices so you can put a high-performing landing page to work for your new business.

 

Content Tips for an Effective Landing Page

Cameron Chapman of Kissmetrics reminds us that:

Landing pages, like any other part of your online marketing arsenal, need goals. Without concrete, specific goals, there’s no way to create an effective page.

So start by defining the goal for your landing page – one goal. The entire purpose of a landing page is to propel viewers to take action toward that single goal. In this example, Zendesk wants you to sign up.

 

 

Every new business should start with one, important goal: generating sales leads. The folks at Kickoff Labs recommend,

The sooner you start collecting emails the better.

Read the rest of this post »

5 Key Traits That Make Women Successful Entrepreneurs Arielle Kimbarovsky | June 14th, 2017

Despite talk of a level playing field for women and men, the facts suggest that we still have a long way to go. Women comprise only a small percentage of executives at Fortune 500 companies, are less likely to start a venture capital funded company, and continue to trail men when it comes to compensation across most industries.

But despite societal norms that continue to chip away at opportunities and success for women business owners, women are changing industries and finding ways to succeed with their businesses.

As we wrote a few months ago,

There has never been a better time for a woman to become an entrepreneur … What makes this time so ripe for female entrepreneurs? There are a number of factors in your favor. You have more support than ever before.

People are taking notice. Over the past several decades, psychologists and business experts have intensified their research focusing on the differences between male and female entrepreneurs and business owners.

For example, despite receiving 80% less funding on average (compared to men), women are scaling their businesses and profiting in greater numbers.

What key traits help women to overcome societal and business biases?

Read the rest of this post »

Important Lessons Your Startup Or Small Business Can Learn From The World’s Best Brands Ross Kimbarovsky | June 13th, 2017

Brand building at-scale can be different than brand building for a startup or small business. Nevertheless, smart entrepreneurs and small business owners pay careful attention to important market forces and trends that shape some of the world’s best brands.

WPP and Kantar Millward Brown just released their latest BrandZ report on the most valuable global brands. The 2017 Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report offers important branding lessons for startups and small business.

Before we get to the lessons from the 2017 report, we want to be sure that there’s no confusion about the term “brand.” Some entrepreneurs and business owners believe that a brand is merely their company’s name and logo.

This is only partially true. The name of your company and your logo are two important elements of your brand, but your brand is more than the company name and logo. As I wrote previously,

A brand is the sum total of the experience your prospects and customers have with your company. A strong brand communicates what your company does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility with your prospects and customers. Your company’s brand is, in many ways, its personality. Your brand lives in everyday interactions your company has with its prospects and customers, including the images you share, the messages you post on your website, the content of your marketing materials, your presentations and booths at conferences, and your posts on social networks.

Here are the five key highlights from the 2017 report, containing important branding and marketing lessons for small businesses and startups.

1. Plan For The Future While Focusing On Today.

The most successful brands in the world spend a substantial amount of time planning future products and services. This is important because successful, lasting brands help to anticipate and help to create the future.

Read the rest of this post »

How to Effectively Market Your Small Business to Millennials Amanda Bowman | June 12th, 2017

What group in the US numbers more than 80 million, has an annual buying power of $200 billion, and makes up nearly half of the US workforce?

Millennials.

Sometimes called “Gen Y”, millennials are the much sought after generation born between 1980 and 2000.

This generation carries impressive buying power, so it’s no surprise that marketers are focusing on understanding and speaking to this lucrative demographic. Millennials are 1.75x more likely than baby boomers (born between 1946-1964) to say they’d like to be brand-loyal, so earning their trust is likely to yield a years-long relationship with your brand.

In fact, millennials will be the recipients of “the largest wealth transfer in history” as baby boomers transfer over 30 trillion dollars of their wealth to their children.

Every generation brings its own set of values, priorities, and cultural touchpoints, and millennials are no exception.

The West Midland Family Center recently created a generation comparison table highlighting the differences between four distinct demographic groups. Below is a sample of the information they compiled. To view the entire table check out the WMFC’s full report.

When you categorize a large group of people with a narrow set of descriptive labels, you risk homogenizing the messaging meant for them. Delivered poorly or without nuance, brand messages geared toward millennials will devolve into self-parody, or even worse, ham-fisted caricature. Forbes magazine expounds on this idea, writing:

This is the number one thing you need to know about millennials. They are not like other generations in that they are a simple demographic. You have to drill down deep into the millennial generation to come up with the right marketing campaign for you.

There are, however, some striking, fundamental similarities amongst millennials. Understanding and leveraging those similarities to reach millennials in meaningful, authentic ways is the first step to connect you to the Social Generation (as they’re sometimes called).

Since they represent an increasingly powerful group of consumers, nearly every business owner must figure out how to effectively market their business to millennials.
Read the rest of this post »

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