How Writing an Ebook Automatically Boosts Your Microbusiness Success

We are doing an exciting new challenge for our meetup group this month! Many of us are small business owners or nonprofit leaders and writing for planning, marketing, or sales is something that we will always do.  So inspired by NaNoWriMo we are spending time writing an ebook, which roughly half the word count of a nonfiction novel.

Some of us are still participating in the novel challenge as well because honestly, we are a really flexible group! Write what you want as long as you write is what I say!

Why? Well, there is something very powerful about writing AND even a  good rough draft it helps improve your business.

Here are some good reasons to write:

Long-term marketing tool:

Where do your customers get to delve deep into your business or organization? If you are a micro-business, like I am right now, a lot of the delving deep comes from one-on-one meetings. Imagine giving your community a review of what you do by giving them a book that explains their problem and/or how to solve it. Having a place to point clients, customers and investors so they get to know your brand better and saves hour long meetings for priority initiatives.

Long-term strategy tool: 

When you write, as a focus on your purpose, you have to think it through. The act of writing allows you to actively reflect on the deeper connections that you know exist in your business. Writing allows you to realize your subconscious guide in a safe way. Have a mapped out philosophy behind the product or service you offer is a safe step towards playing out your business before taking a bigger risk.

Teach others 

Sometimes people are not fully prepared to use your product or services. By organizing an ebook you give yourself and your community a logical path to the solution you provide. Use your ebook to educate others so they are prepared to work with or buy from you.

Save Time

Break down the ebook (25000 words) into 25 (1000 word articles) An article for every week for over 6 months or an article a month for two years!! While fresh content is useful, having a backup reservoir of posts in the form of a past ebook can save you a lot of content production time.

There are four good reasons, although I am sure there is plenty more! If you’ve written an ebook for your business before drop a link to it in the comment section and share how writing it has benefitted you. 

Starting an International Food Business With Founder & CEO of Micah Specialty Foods [Video]

Being an entrepreneur can be exciting for people who are comfortable risks. Starting Career Champs has been a major learning curve, but it is inspiring hearing from other entrepreneurs building their visions into realities. Nana and Natasha, are the respectively the founder and CEO team that runs Micah Specialty Foods

Nana and Natasha, are the respectively the founder and CEO team that runs Micah Specialty Foods. Their signature dish the Supreme Sauce has been appetizing pallets across Northeast Ohio with its international Ghanian flare.

Hear all about how they take risks in their business, work together across international lines, and use their past experiences to get their business right.

Thanks for viewing! If you are interested in being on career champs, email me at zingahart@gmail.com

 

strive to build trust with social media at zingahart.com for ohio women leader group

Strive to Build Trust With Social Media

I joined the Kent Young Professionals leadership council’s marketing committee recently. Of course, having the chance to lend my expertise to building something from start-up phase is an experience I hold dear. What do you jump at the chance to experience?

Knowing what I’ve acquired after many years of promoting, managing, and strategizing for social media growth, I would strongly advise, anyone travelling into the social media marketing journey to put building trust at the center of the strategy.

Social media is like the force, while powerful, when it is used for good it is good, but when it is used for devious purposes it can cast a shadowy, ugly spirit-crushing light for anyone who dared to trust an appealing link or headline. Customers are aware of the stalker-like practices of ads and the false promises of online shopping and services. The quantity available to them is like a tidal wave, and many of us are cutting off our engagement to keep from drowning. On the business end, our potential audience reach is too as rich as the ocean with cohorts of diverse people, personalities, and personas that we can try to attract. Like two waves, a general strategy will only cause a crash of chaos.

So how do you build an online relationship, especially when you are starting from the bottom?

Start with trust.

 

build trust quotes zingahart - if people like you they will listen to you but if they trust you they will do business with you

Like any relationship, we open ourselves up to be vulnerable by relying on someone or something else to provide the value we need. On both the client and business end, we need to be able to identify the value, while validating reliability. Social media benefits when you focus on providing those two metrics.

As a move to incorporate into your trust into your social media success strategy, reflect on these questions:

  • How is building trust a part of your social media strategy?
  • What ways are you ensuring people can learn to rely on you (or your business)?
  • What guarantee can you commit to providing?

Have you ever been burned or betrayed by an online promise? What could they have done to make the exchange go right? (Comment below 🙂 

 

Simple Moves for Personal Brand Consistency

Who’s focusing on their personal brand this year?

I definitely am!

Hanging out with women’s empowerment groups, a new network of fabulous friends and potential partnerships, as well as facing anything that feels like fear head on and with gusto!  The energy of my personal brand building focus contagious and like I discussed at my recent workshop, From Passion to Process, where your passion is your energy! It is a colorful word for describing the feeling that arises when we are doing something delightfully desirable.

passion is energy feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you oprah

 

One part of facing my fears was doing starting my YouTube channel! Cheers to all the vloggers out there, creating video content is an intensive activity!  Although, I create content and help small businesses’ build their brand strategy, putting myself right in the center of of building my personal brand still comes with an edge of awkwardness. Yet, I know confidence comes with time, and I look forward to learning and growing by following this new avenue in my life.

How are you growing your personal goals?

If building your brand means incorporating a new strategy, tactic, or method, how do you ensure that you stay authentic to your core values and vision, while treading across new lines?

Tying your vision to your brand means taking control and ownership of every bit of it. From your colors to your fonts, from your values to your guarantee, you need to ensure that you consistently apply your brand across your communication channels, so that you are easily recognized and familiar to your ideal audience.


So what are the major components of your brand that you need to think about? This awesome slide show by  Jarkko Sjöman covers some basic features of a personal brand with the sage advice of Will Ferrell. 

 

Below are some free or low cost moves you can take to improve and align your personal brand today!

Google Yourself (Or Your Business) 

I just did it! Wow, one year ago it my LinkedIn popped up and that’s about it. Now my content, websites, and many other streams of how I want to represent myself on the web comes to the top of the list. How is your Search Engine presence?  Is Google linking you to the content that you are most passionate about? If you are not showing up in the ranks you may want to consider if it’s time to focus on your online brand. Offline method: Do a personal SWOT analysis. 

Update your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is the place to be if you want to have a voice in the professional sphere of our economy. Since I enjoy working with small businesses, start-up entrepreneurs, and non-profit directors, I make it my mission to meet, connect, and learn with the best that LinkedIn can offer. Updating your LinkedIn profile to include your personal vision or mission statement and the specific values you bring to employers, gives your general audience an anchor to who you are.

Create a piece of content (write a blog post, share a video, make a flyer for you local bulletin board) 

Notice I didn’t say start a blog. You no longer have to have a blog to post articles. LinkedIn Pulse is a great platform for sharing content articles, while aligning to your personal and professional brand at the same time. Is this advice to not start a blog, far from it, but if you are not ready to dig into building your own blog yet then a small step forward would be to post there. That goes for other content as well, find ways to collaborate if running the entire content marketing enterprise is too much to manage right now. You should always strive towards having your own platform for hosting and controlling your content, but not having one is no excuse for not participating.

These small steps are only a beginning! If you checked out the SlideShare above you will see your business card, resume, website, and everything you create or is associated with you is a part of your personal brand. Checking on your brand’s bits and pieces means spending time combing through who you are and how you come across to your audience. Building your brand is about ensuring you are authentically projecting your core value, purpose, and passion with the world, which is no small feat!  Keep striving because your end vision is definitely worth it. 

One More Move: Automate Some Emails

One more move: On the journey of building a successful enterprise, as leaders we must be a consistent presence behind our brand and organization. Automation provides that presence and your brand develops its authenticity. Connect the two and draw out your abundance.

Over the course of a year, I handle hundreds of emails helping adult learners who are beginning or ending their graduate degree careers. Fresh from school myself, I realize it is important to deliver quick, user-friendly responses to help them continue their paths with one less roadblock. Anyone who has to consistently answer familiar questions will find relief in e-mail automation. Taking time to direct anyone who approaches directly to valuable links on the website helps students while boosting your brand as a service leader.

Here’s how:

  1. Think of common links you share with others.
  2. Group them around frequent questions you get on a daily or weekly basis
  3. Use your email service provider to create link snippets:
  4. Take time to write a 1-2 sentence response and provide helpful links in your message for each and every person.

This blend of human response and helpful links elevates your email customer service, while shaving time for high order activities.

Do you automate your emails

What are your favorite tools?

Another simple step to take this week. Check out more moves on the site or send an email to weigh in on being an authentic leader in a branded world.

Take 1 Hour To Automate Your Social Media

I manage the social media as a part of my role. It is a small percentage of my day so to stay consistent with my schedule I set aside 2 hours a month to plan and organize posts I like on HootsuitetEREUy1vSfuSu8LzTop3_IMG_2538With the ups and downs of working in higher education, it can be easy to forget to reach out on a daily basis. Using a social media management system can help you to share your own content and build your brand by displaying what interests you value. Here’s how I would split up the time.

10:00  Review my annual social media plan – Make any adjustments and add in any new creative ideas around the events happening in my local area.

10:05 Scan through Feedly and look for articles that match the month’s theme and my brand’s values. I right click through the ones I like and write relevant reviews with a short link going back to the original post. Read through the articles, write a short summary, and find a relevant picture to represent it. Sometimes there will not be a picture that represents well enough, so I will often find a better article or create the picture myself using Canva  or find one on Photopin.

10:35 It averages about a minute per post to get the month scheduled for one post per day. Doing this grew the social media page by 300% over the past three years. It’s small, but steady, growth, and engagement averages around 27% percent of organic views, where organic reach for a page my size benchmarks at around 11%. So once I’m done I check to make sure every day is posted and review for typos.

10:40 For the rest of my time, I scan my social media feeds on Hootsuite and share relevant content from my community, specifically from other social media contributors within our organization, such as what’s happening in the Facebook groups, on our Listservs, or other events emailed to me.

10:50 Finally, I will add in a few posts supporting initiatives I have in my department.

When it comes to social media marketing, what you share from others should balance to four times of what you self-promote. Linking together is key to building a strong voice and vision with your social media brand.Finding time to consistently post is a matter of scheduling and automation. There are plenty of tools to use but Hootsuite is definitely tech I pay to have.

What are your biggest social media management challenges?

3 Ways to Attract Your Audience Online

Do you own a shop in a local town? Where I’m from in Northeast Ohio there are a ton of local shops popping up in mid-size towns around me. I am happy to see small business owners serving and providing the community with a diverse set of offerings. The shops all have their own unique style, yet the ones that see the most action are the ones inviting to the customer to linger and offering a quality product. Like shops, our websites play an important role in inviting our customers, clients, or members to seek more from us.

3 Ways to Attract Customers Online

Attract Customers With Open Doors

photo credit: Sainsbury’s – High Street, Longbridge Town Centre – entrance via photopin (license)

How do customers feel when they approach your website? Are they turned off by the design? Your competitors are using better strategies to ensure the user experience is as exceptional as would be in real life. Here are three ways to keep your site on par.

Improve your display

Your website is a window to your products or services. Like in local business marketing all parts of your business- from a menu to a bar of soap- must be displayed as if it is in a Macy’s window in the middle of New York. Keep your aesthetics clean and related to your brand. Make your colors appealing to the eye, yet let them represent the values of your brand.

Here’s Inspiration
95 Inspiring Websites of Web Design Agencies

Form, Function and Beauty on Brand Websites

Simplify your navigation

Your site might be too complicated If a customer has to ask: how do I make a reservation or get to the checkout? Users are used to making their next move quickly. If your customers can not simply find what they are looking for then they will leave for a site that is easier to navigate.  While designing navigation avoid having the level of navigation go beyond three. If you are having trouble getting rid of levels, consider: What can be consolidated or removed? Links help connect people to infinite amounts of content, rely on proper linking over a cluttered navigation menu.

Optimize for Mobile

Web sites must be mobile friendly. 50% percent of shoppers are browsing on their phones. Google, the most-used search engine so far, also rewards websites in search engines if they are optimized for mobile viewing. Test your website today using google’s mobile-friendly test. In addition, to the design of your site being optimized for mobile, your content should also offer users quick and easily scannable information. Here’s results from my mobile friendly test!

zingahart.com teaching abundance as the value of education ZIngahart.com abundance is the value of education

How does your site measure up on the mobile-friendly test?

Entrepreneur! You Need to Know Inbound Marketing.

inbound balance represented with a pea balancing on a rock. the quote says instead of interrupting work on attracting by dharma shahDo you want to attract more customers online?

Do you need to attract more customers in real life?

Marketing is a business fundamental you need to know as an entrepreneur. Technology is constantly improving and enhancing how we communicate with our community. Ignoring new trends, technologies, and strategies could cause the next generation of your product or service user to turn blind to your presence. Shine your neon lights online and in real life by discovering what inbound marketing has to offer.

Inbound Marketing is a group of strategies and tactics that helps serve your customers better while boosting your brand to the top of the list as delivering quality service and products. Typically an internet marketing strategy Inbound Marketing includes creating content (blog articles, white papers, webinars) to attract your customer and help them consider which of your products or services you offer that can help them. Inbound marketing is about bringing the customer that already wants your product or service to your doorstep.You earn your customer’s attention by simply capturing it with the information they can honestly use. As well all strive to conduct good business, we all turn to the internet to help improve our offerings. When you establish yourself as a person who offers quality, your target audience will trust your brand’s link in the search engine results. Being easy to be found locally and on the web while drawing customers in with your value offers will keep you competitive and distinguish you from the crowds. Here are five questions to consider when moving towards an inbound marketing strategy.

Who’s my target audience?

Defining the person most likely to be looking for your services is necessary so you can better communicate to their wants, needs, and desires. This is called defining your persona in the inbound marketing strategy. One quick way to build your persona is to find one person that fits the match and then exploring them fully. How did they grow up? Where did they go to college? What are their hopes? What are their hobbies? The more you know, the more your relationship with your customer can grow.

How am I represented on the web?

There are a plethora ways to announce your existence on the world wide web. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, SnapChat, etc. where do we start? Well, first with your website. Your website is like your living room, and it is your chunk of the internet that contributes and represents you and only you. Next, it is up to you to choose what social media platforms will best share your message. Usually, you would start with where your persona may surf the web. Then expand from there. If it all sounds like too much to manage, choose a platform like Hootsuite to pre-schedule your posts.

What do I consistently offer my customers?

Next what will you share with your customers? Share their interests, especially ones tied to your industry, product, or service. Make sure what you share represents your values and to properly promote the content of others by linking back to them or citing their work. Staying consistent will help your customers recall your brand, name, product, and service at the right moment and right time. They will remember you for what you offer and seek to turn to you first.

What can I teach my customers?

Developing your content and providing quality offerings to your customers is key to developing your inbound marketing strategy. While sharing content keeps you involved and fresh in the social media world, developing content is what keeps your customers coming back to you. What can you share the world? Are you developing a cookbook? Share recipes that didn’t make it in or cooking techniques to help build their skills.

HubSpot.com  offers incredible information on improving your Inbound Marketing Strategy. The also deliver a plethora of content from blogs to courses to help you explore deeply. Check out a YouTube video below for information. For more free information and relevant content be sure to sign up for next August’s newsletter where we discuss finding your buyer’s journey.

Here’s some great books to read around Inbound Marketing

photo credit: Zen of Pea Gravel via photopin (license)