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Scan it!

In case you are unfamiliar with the term QR code, it is basically the short form of Quick Response code. These codes contain information about a product or a thing, similar to a barcode. In order to reveal the information, all one has to do is to get his or her hand to a camera phone and focus on the code. The camera will automatically reveal the hidden information, be it text, message, or music. This is already widely used in countries like Japan. However, in the US, it is a relatively new technology. QR codes can also be quite useful for small business owners. Read on to learn how.

Real World-Web World Combination: Thanks to QR codes, you can help buyers and potential customers visiting your factory outlets learn and browse your company website. All you will have to do is to embed the website information in the QR Code and place them on the products available in your factory. When the buyer scans the code with their camera phone, they will immediately be redirected to your website, and can easily access the information provided there. Thus, you can make a combination of both the real and the web worlds. It will also increase your web traffic.

Promotion: QR codes are a great way to promote your brand and get customer attention in a new and innovative way. You can create a game or contest around it. If you are organizing a contest, place the code in various places, and ask participants to find out clues as they scan as many codes as possible. The person getting the highest number of codes with varied information will win. The codes can contain information and pictures related to specific products.

Double Way Advertisement: Through QR codes, you can do a double advertisement of sorts. This will be a combination of print advertisement and online ones. In a print ad, you can include the QR code in the advertisement. Just make sure that it gets the attention of the readers. You can put the link to some of your online video ads inside that code. Once the reader scans the code, they will be taken to that page. Thus, you will get dual chance to advertise your brand and products.

Simplicity: The functionality of QR codes may lead you to think it is a complex technology, but in reality, it is based on very simple technical rules. You will not have to buy high end hardware to use this code. Despite its simplicity, it is one of the most efficient weapons in your business arsenal.

Cost Effective: Making QR codes doesn't have to involve any financial investment. You can use several of the online QR Code generators like Kaywa , Zxing, Delivr or GoQR.me. Then insert the QR code file onto your material to be printed or promote the HTML code link. All that the buyers will now have to do now is download a code reader like any of these listed, many of which are free. Try one out and while sitting in front of the screen, scan my QR code above to find out how it can be used.

READ: Ideas for Utilizing QR Codes in Marketing and Advertising

Though many businesses use Facebook for marketing and advertising purposes, they fail to utilize the platform to the optimum because of some common mistakes, which are as follows:

Absence of a separate business page: Many business owners use their personal page as a business page. This way, they lose out on using the business-specific features of Facebook to the optimum and struggle to get noted, and garner Likes/triggering interesting discussions and comments.

Incomplete business page: Many people ignore filling out their store’s address, url, business hours, contact info, etc, which make it difficult for visitors to understand what the business is all about, or to buy should anything catch their attention.

Using an irrelevant cover photo for Facebook Brand Page: Your cover photo should use something that captures the spirit of your brand and displays your products/services. But many businesses forget this core rule and post irrelevant images or photos that don’t abide by the Facebook guidelines.  While the close-up of a delicious food is apt for restaurants, a shot of cute babies for a real estate company is definitely a no-no. Further optimize your cover photo by including business info in the description of the photo (phone, location or at least a URL back to your website) to encourage sales and traffic to your website and/or business.

Struggling to manage multiple business pages: Some businesses choose to create separate brand pages for their different locations/branches/entities. However, the problem arises when they struggle to manage and promote all equally well, and yet refrain from deleting old/incorrect pages.

Keeping the account inactive for a long period: The key to having a successful Facebook business page is to stay active with posts, images, videos, and quick response to feedback/comments etc. So, if you stop investing considerable hours to your business page and there’s no activity on it, your visitors would eventually drift away and it would be quite difficult to bring them back.

Being too preachy and adhering to too much of self promotion: There’s nothing bad or wrong with using your business page for sales/promotional events. However, when every post of yours screams about why visitors should buy from you, bank on too much of self promotion, or be full of lectures, you will start alienating your audience. The trick is to keep a balance amongst all. So, you may comment on the local events, weather, important news, along with your business and any special offers/discounts that you may be running/plan to run. 

Not giving enough time for managing the business page: Many small business owners keep the task of managing their business page in their hands but with so many things to plan and act upon, they often don’t get enough time to manage the page well, which results in declining viewership. Hiring a person who isn’t familiar with your business objectives and strategy, or doesn’t know about social media policies could also be detrimental to your Facebook business page.

Poor handling of messages/negative comments: Many businesses choose to either ignore or respond aggressively to negative comments. Some even end up deleting such comments. But the key is to address such issues adeptly and with your answers, you may even turn an unhappy customer into a loyal brand advocate. Responding to your private messages is equally important as it shows that you respect people’s opinions/feedback, who choose to send you private messages via your business page’s inbox rather than voicing their concern publicly.

Lack of engagement: Many businesses take Facebook business page to be a one-way channel just like advertisements. But you should remember that Facebook is all about two-way communication with your existing and potential clients. So, you should listen to them, offer immediate solutions to their queries/problems, know about their tastes and preferences, and get them involved in your brand.

Therefore, steer clear of the mistakes as mentioned above to make the most of your Facebook business page.

content-marketing-300x249The role of content is no longer limited to holding reader attention. Even search engine spiders are looking for fresh, updated and unique content online. Most online business owners are aware of the importance of website content. That’s exactly why content should not be an after thought while you develop a website. It is just as important as SEO and marketing your website online. Seasoned pros in website content development services will help give your business a boost. It is necessary to make your website content interesting and the first step in writing good website content is to understand the concept of readability.

How do I catch the reader’s attention?
A strong headline
- The first thing that any browser reads is the headline and it is definitely the key to your entire copy/content. “If you cannot be motivated to write the article based on the headline, how is the reader going to be motivated to read it based on the headline?”

To ensure that your headline is catchy and tempts the reader to read on, make sure that you:

  • Capitalize all the words in your headline - The thumb rule is to capitalize all the beginning of words with the exception of articles and conjunctions. Exclude short prepositions in headings and in case of lectures, plays or book titles.
  • Use seduction - As mentioned before, it is your headline that should tempt the reader to read on.
  • Avoid periods in titles - The idea is to ensure that your reader moves ahead from the heading to the body of the article. Don’t create a pause with a period in your headline. Allow the natural flow of reading.

Enhance readability
If you have ensured that the reader is ‘hooked’ by your title and is reading the content/article, the next step is to keep them interested. Information chunking and Scannability are two important concepts you need to keep in mind if you want to enhance readability of your website.

  • Information chunking: by separating information into small chunks, which will improve a reader's ability to read and understand it. How do you ‘chunk’ your information?
    • Put a bullet in it: By inserting bulleted points, shortening your sub heads and condensing your paragraphs into short yet comprehensive and effective paragraphs.
    • Shorten your subheading, creating organization and telling your reader what comes next.
    • Keep it short and sweet and remember that web readers tend to skim, so keep their interest with one or two ideas per sentence.
    • Condense! Paragraphs should be short with only 5-7 minutes of reading involved. Even one sentence paragraphs can be effective.
    • Use scannable text, by bolding key phrases and words. Use inline graphics that guide the reader’s eyes or illustrate points that require description.
    • A picture is worth a thousand words Apart from great content, images will help convey your ideas too. In fact when used right, they can convey a story! So choose an appropriate image for your website.
      Laying it on the line!

Content is King
While using your words correctly is important, providing your reader with good information is the pre-requisite to build credibility.

  • Give them what they need: Remember they were searching for something. What prompted that search? Help them find out how they can benefit by using your product/service
  • Credibility is Key: Adding external links enhances the credibility of the sites content.
  • Be keyword savvy: If your site is targeting the wrong keywords, the search engines, and your customers may never find you, resulting in low rankings and money as well.
  • Answer likely questions: with answers to the questions that he/she is likely to ask. Add FAQs, guides, how-to’s, client Q&A's and critiques to your website.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words: Images convey ideas in ways that words can't. Use images to tell your story. Visitors like seeing images; they break up all those lines of text and help convey a mood or support what you're saying.

LinkedIn has emerged as the most popular and beneficial social networking site for professionals and job seekers. Whether you are already on LinkedIn or planning to create a profile on this platform, you should stick to some basic etiquette on LinkedIn to benefit the most from your networking efforts on this site. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Ask for recommendations only from people whom you know well
LinkedIn recommendations can be extremely beneficial, especially when you get one from your supervisors, clients or some famous professionals. So, you shouldn’t waste your time by putting forward an unclear or weak request for recommendation. Rather, be clear in what you seek, and request people in your network (who could be present/former boss, supervisors, or any other person with whom you had done business) to recommend you. Things that you need to include in your request for recommendation are:  

  • What exactly are you seeking?
  • Where will you use the recommendation?
  • Will you ask the person to provide his working experience with you?

Before sending a recommendation request, you can also send a personal email to the individual, especially if you have not been in touch with that person for long. This way, the person won’t feel surprised, or annoyed, and will be most likely to recommend your work on LinkedIn.    

Lastly, you should steer clear of asking recommendation from people whom you hardly know.

Always send a personalized note to unknown people whenever you invite them
Before inviting someone on LinkedIn whom you don’t know, you must send them a personalized note. And in your note, you must include who you, are and what your intention and objective is for sending them the invitation. There are some professionals who receive thousands of LinkedIn requests every day, most of which are generic ones that don’t deserve a proper read. So, if you send a generic request to such people, they will ignore it for sure. Hence, whenever you want to send an invitation to a professional contact, make sure to send them a personalized note to increase the chances of being accepted.

Stay away from the default text
You will get a number of default text and nifty templates on LinkedIn, which will make it easier for you to communicate with a contact. But whenever you want to communicate with a professional contact, avoid the default text. Instead, you should make it specific and personal. Avoid being lazy and express yourself in your own words, which will reflect your ability to communicate well with others. So, whether you want them to respond to a questionnaire that would help your career evaluation, want their feedback on a new project/design, or anything else, make sure to craft well-planned content that encourages them to respond positively.  

Proofread the grammar and spelling of your content
Whether you are asking for a recommendation, writing a recommendation, introducing yourself, or communicating with someone, make sure to check the spelling, and correct grammatical errors as well as typos, if any, in your writing. If a request or recommendation contains a lot of spelling and grammatical errors, it will create a bad impression on others. So, take care to show the world that you are impeccable, articulate and a meticulous person from the very beginning. 

Keep these basic etiquettes in mind and soon you will see your LinkedIn network soaring with the right connections.

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