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A business without customers is like a grocery store without food; it just doesn’t work. In today’s competitive world, many entrepreneurs will have an idea of how much it costs to “acquire” customers based on their market and sales funnels.

But small business owners like you often don’t have this kind of budget — and yet you need customers just as much (if not more) than the larger competitors in your niche.

It’s possible to attract new customers without spending a dime. (Or spending very little.)

Here’s how you can leverage specific areas of your business to acquire customers with nothing more than good old-fashioned elbow grease!

1. Get Friendly With Your Neighbors 

Start with the organizations and businesses all around you. Obviously, you don’t want to work with your competitors, but complementary businesses and charities offer opportunities for both parties to benefit and acquire customers.

Start by looking for organizations in your area that have a similar audience to you. Try reaching out to these businesses and discussing a possible cross-promotion. You can do the same with local charities.

For example:

  • You could organize a fundraiser for a local charity and donate a percentage of your proceeds to them. Not only does this help a good cause, but it also presents an opportunity for the charity to promote your business as well, thus bringing more customers to your cause in turn.
2. Reel ‘Em in With Word of Mouth

Word-of-mouth marketing is still an incredibly effective form of advertising. It’s just a matter of getting the ball rolling before you see results.

A simple and cost-effective way to get things started with your business is to offer discounts for referring new customers.

You have an email list that you use to market new promotions or products to customers, right? Use these current customers to spread the word.

Here are some ways to get acquire customers by leveraging the ones you already have:

  • Include links to writing reviews in your emails
  • Give customers an incentive to refer people to your business (discounts or gift card to your online store)
  • Do a ‘give one, get one’ plan where current customers who refer others get some kind of incentive too, like a gift card to a coffee shop
  • Engage with customers who have already spoken out about your business online (Yelp, Google reviews, etc.)
3. Try Out New Social Trends

The rise of social media platforms has given birth to new opportunities that won’t cost your business a single cent.

From Instagram Stories to Facebook Live, you have the ability to promote your business live every day for free. For example, a local business we spoke with recently has a very small online presence, but was able to acquire new customers by live streaming previews before their major auction events.

In this case, just before each auction, they would film the employee showcasing items for the upcoming event. That was it!

The reach for these kinds of videos is huge, so the company immediately saw new customers watching their live videos (and liking their page) to check out their monthly events.

4. Keep a Scale-Focused Mindset

Sophisticated investors often talk about “positive unit economics.” It sounds like a difficult term, but it’s pretty simple: it means your customer lifetime value, or CLV (what an average customer is worth to your business over time) is greater than your customer acquisition cost, or CAC (how much it costs you to acquire one customer).

Once you’ve gained some customers for free using the methods above, you’ll have a solid understanding of how much your customer is worth to you.

Once you’re there (say it’s $1,000), you can scale your acquisition costs above “free.” If you can spend $200 to acquire a customer that’s worth $1,000, how often would you do that? All day long! That’s positive unit economics.

Note that once you have a real CAC, it’s important to track everything!  For instance, my company makes the accounting program Zipbooks, which make it easy to monitor exactly what your CLV and CAC are, and make sure you’re keeping your unit economics positive.

Either through free or paid acquisition methods, earning customers requires patience, skill, and a lot of creativity.

What other ways do you acquire customers for your business? Let us know in the comments!

The post How to Acquire Customers With Good Old-Fashioned Elbow Grease appeared first on The DRIVE.

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Are press releases still worth your time and money or are they an old-school tactic that needs to die hard?

Share your thoughts on if press releases are useful for small-business owners in our poll below!

On board with press releases? Check out these posts for tips on getting better results:

Have a tip for writing successful press releases? Share below!

The post Poll: Are Press Releases a Good Tool for Small Businesses? appeared first on The DRIVE.

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There are two types of small business owners in the world: those who put in the effort necessary to create eye-catching product photos and those who settle for crappy photos and actually expect them to sell.

Which one are you?

Well… let’s not dwell on that answer. You’re here because you want to improve and that’s all that matters!

Luckily, the CEO of PicMonkey (and lifelong photographer), Frits Habermann, recently answered a question on Quora about how to take better photos with an iPhone.

Check out his in-depth iPhone photography tips below and then try them out next time you’re taking product photos. 

On Lighting

Dark product photos are just sad. If shoppers can’t see the details, they’re not gonna give up the dollars.

Frits agrees:

One of the easiest ways to get better pictures is to light your subject well. With phones, this usually requires turning off the flash. Of course this isn’t always an option — sometimes the setting is just too dark to not use flash. But generally speaking, flash tends to be too harsh and results in blown out photos or bright spots on people’s faces.

To get better lighting, try framing your photo with your iPhone and then tapping the area where your subject appears. This will cause your phone to figure out the lighting around your subject. If this doesn’t do a good enough job, tap the yellow square that appears and then the light bulb icon.

Move it up or down to adjust the lighting until the subject is well lit and not blown out. Note that you’ll need to do this quickly, since manual lighting adjustments don’t last long — make sure you’re ready to snap your photo when you start tinkering with the lighting.

Use Natural Lighting When Possible

One more thing about lighting — natural is usually the best way to go. If you’re shooting people, place them next to something naturally reflective like a wall in sunlight. If your subject is not in direct sunlight, but the wall is, then the reflection off the wall will light your subject in a much more appealing way than a flash or direct sunlight.

If you don’t have that option, you can use an adjustment like Levels in PicMonkey and other apps to replicate the look without blowing out your photo.

Try Out Portrait Mode

The following iPhone photography tips regarding portrait mode won’t apply to every iPhone unfortunately. Currently, portrait mode is only available on recent “Plus” models of its iPhones — iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

If that applies to you, Frits has some great tips to offer:

I also recommend experimenting with the iPhone’s different modes. Portrait mode is great because it puts the focus on a specific area and lightly blurs everything else, thereby drawing attention to your subject.

If you’re using portrait mode on an iPhone, you’ll probably want to back up a bit since this mode automatically crops closer to your subject. If you’re lucky enough to have an IPhone X, play with all the new portrait modes to get a much more interesting lighting effect directly from the camera.

Composition Matters

With a camera in our pockets or purses at all times, it’s no surprise we all think we take pretty good photos. (But do we really?)

There’s no denying, though, that getting great at anything takes practice. (And the inevitable trial and error.)

That’s why following Frits’ iPhone photography tips for understanding composition will help you improve your product photos immensely:

The biggest way to improve your photos is to be clear on what your subject is, and use composition to tell that story. Getting familiar with composition rules — like the rule of thirds — can be very helpful.

Ultimately, what matters is the relationship between your subject and the other elements of your photo. For example, using odd numbers in a picture makes for more engaging photos. If you have some rocks as your subject, ensure there are three or five in the frame, not four. If you can create a leading line out of those five rocks (i.e. line them up so they point through the frame), all the better.

Also, don’t forget about negative space (the area surrounding the main subject of your photo) and use it to give your subject some breathing room.

Put Things in Perspective

You might be a straight shooter normally, but Frits says it’s time to try something new:

Experimenting with perspective also leads to better photos. Many people walk up to something, hold their phones out straight in front of them, and take a photo. If you want to get more interesting shots, mix it up!

Try standing above your subject and looking down, crouching low, moving closer, standing further away, moving to the right or left, and see how that changes your photo.

Take a lot of different pictures and then evaluate. You’ll be surprised at how the same subject can look vastly different just by playing with perspective.

Multiples Matter

Whether it’s trying out a new recipe, writing a blog post, or taking product photos, our first drafts are rarely perfection.

That’s why Frits’ iPhone photography tips involve avoiding the ‘one and done’ mistake at all costs:

Don’t be afraid to take lots of pictures! Many people take 1 or 2 pictures of a scene and move on. When I’m shooting a landscape with my iPhone, I typically shoot 3-5 pictures right after another.

Maybe there’s a breeze that moves some leaves, so the more photos I take, the more likely I get one where the leaves aren’t moving.

With people, I take even more. If I have a group shot, I typically take 10-20 photos, just hitting the button one after another. Most of them will have someone looking away from the camera, or in mid blink. By taking more pictures, I have a higher chance of that one shot where everyone is looking at the camera, smiling and with eyes open.

Practice Makes Perfect

Editing your product photos is a big part of turning them into money-makers. PicMonkey is a great tool for improving your photos and creating graphics.

A huge thanks to Frits Habermann for sharing so many helpful iPhone photography tips. Hopefully you’ve found some advice here that you can apply to your product photos.

Just remember that practicing is necessary in order to get better at anything — and in order to know what types of photos will encourage shoppers to buy.

If you haven’t checked out PicMonkey, it’s an awesome and affordable tool (I use it nearly every day!) for editing your product photos, creating social-media graphics, product collages, and much more.

For a little more help with product photography, check out these posts:

Which of these iPhone photography tips will you try? 

The post iPhone Photography Tips: How to Take Money-Making Product Photos appeared first on The DRIVE.

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An example from Scott’s Marketplace’s past Fourth-of-July marketing campaign.

Nearly nine in 10 American adults celebrate the Fourth of July. That’s 219-million credit card-carryin’ consumers eating BBQ, watching baseball, and honoring the red, white, and blue.

You don’t have to sell fireworks or powdered wigs to enjoy an Independence Day sales spike. You just need a Fourth of July marketing strategy that appeals to seasonal shoppers (and impulse buyers!).

So, how do you build a great Fourth of July marketing plan? We’ll get there real soon.

But, first, there’s no time like Independence Day to promote the fact that your products are made in America. Just make sure that your products meet the legal requirements for doing so. Here’s everything you need to know about Made in America claims.

And, now, onto the Fourth of July marketing tips! (Hat tip to the National Retail Federation for the stats.)

Get Creative With Themed Party Supplies, Home Decor, & Food

Fairytale Brownies doesn’t need to create a new product just for Fourth of July — they use patriotic-themed packaging instead!

Full disclosure: The vast majority of money spent on Fourth of July is spent on food. Two-thirds of Americans attend Independence Day cookouts or picnics and spend on average $73.42 to do so. That adds up to $7.1 billion in hot dogs and potato salad.

Not too shabby… if you sell hot dogs and potato salad.

The rest of us can cash in on Fourth of July parties by stocking up on and selling out of patriotic party supplies like dishware and decorations.

Trust me. Americans will buy it. Nearly two-thirds of American consumers own U.S. flags and 40% own other patriotic decorations. (Which means you can also whip up some themed decor items for this holiday.)

  • Sizzling Tip: If you get creative, you may not even have to go all in creating new products for Fourth of July. My friends at Fairytale Brownies simply wrap their packages in special seasonal gift bands to goose sales leading up to major events like Fourth of July. (Here’s more on Fairytale’s Hallmark Holiday marketing strategy.)
Focus on Patriotic Apparel & Accessories 

2 Great examples of Fourth of July marketing from Scott’s Marketplace sellers: Kneedles Knots n Bows (l) created an adorable patriotic-themed romper and Big T Ranch (r) created a red nail polish with holographic red, blue, and silver glitter to boost seasonal sales.

Independence Day isn’t a sit-around-the-house kind of holiday. Another tip of the hat to the National Retail Federation for reporting that 43.6% of consumers attend fireworks displays, 13.5% watch a parade, and 13.3% travel.

That’s a whole lot of opportunity to sell patriotic apparel and accessories.

I know what you’re thinking. C’mon, Matt. Just because people are going to a parade doesn’t mean they’re going to buy an American flag T-shirt from me.

Well, I say they will – if you have the right Fourth of July marketing plan in place – because they already own a bunch of American flag stuff.

That’s right.

Just over half of American consumers own patriotic T-shirts, bathing suits, shoes, socks, underwear, jewelry, etc. Here’s a quick refresher on how to sell apparel online.

Appeal to Last-Minute and Undecided Shoppers

Don’t have any Fourth-of-July-themed products? Use patriotic packaging instead, like these cute mailers from wrappingmeup on Scott’s Marketplace.

One of the most interesting things about Fourth of July shopping data is just how casual folks are about Fourth of July shopping.

Less than a month before the holiday last year, only 28% said they planned to buy patriotic merchandise for the Fourth of July. However, a whopping 34% said they were unsure.

Can you imagine if one in three Americans said they weren’t sure whether or not they’d shop for Halloween in October or Mother’s Day in late April? There’s just no way.

In other words, unlike other second-tier retail holidays, Fourth of July celebrants aren’t committed to becoming Fourth of July shoppers… and that opens up all kinds of opportunities to push consumers toward impulse buys.

  • Sizzling Tip: Get unsure shoppers to open their wallets with Fourth of July marketing campaigns (email and social) that promote creative, clever, or cute patriotic products. And don’t forget to stock cool red, white, and blue items near your cash register if you have a brick-and-mortar store.

Your customers will look great at their Fourth of July cookout and that revenue will look great in your bank account. Happy Fourth of July!

What’s your Fourth of July marketing strategy?

The post Sizzling Fourth of July Marketing Tips That’ll Spark Up More Sales 🎇 appeared first on The DRIVE.

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If you’re looking for Facebook ad tips because you’re disillusioned with your results, welcome to the club. 62% of small business owners are fed up with ad failure according to Small Biz Trends.

But that’s not a good reason to throw in the towel.

Why? Because guess where the majority of your customers, future customers, and fans still hang out every day? That’s right, they’re all on Facebook.

As a matter of fact, The Verge reported that ¼ of the world’s population is on Facebook.

So, it doesn’t make sense to stop running Facebook ads at the first sign of trouble. Because more likely than not, the problem isn’t Facebook. The problem is the way you’re creating ads. And that’s totally fixable.

How do I know?

I had a chat with these two to get some actionable Facebook ad tips:

  • Brian Meert, author of The Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising and founder of AdvertiseMint — a Facebook advertising company that helps clients like Coca-Cola and NewEgg rock their ad campaigns.
  • Sarah Sal, a Facebook ads specialist who has helped companies like BetterBack and Strategyzer rise above some serious Facebook ad fails.

They were cool enough to talk with me about the four common mistakes they see — ones you might be making — and give advice on how to fix them.

1. You Don’t Understand How People Use Facebook

All social media platforms have similarities. But they also have subtle differences. And it’s those differences that dictate how people use them.

Here’s a great example of how the same subject takes a different angle on each social media channel:

Source: Elixir Media Company

Notice that people are just chilling on Facebook chatting about things they like (and giving them a virtual thumbs-up). They’re sharing comments and emojis and way too much about what they ate for breakfast.

And they do all this because it’s blissfully self-gratifying.

Here’s why that’s so important:

“A lot of companies start their ads with ‘Here’s who I am. Here’s why I’m great,” says Meert. “But they don’t focus on the person on the other side of the ad. They don’t think about what the Facebook user wants.”

“No one gets on Facebook to search for products. People get on Facebook to connect with friends and family, read news, and see funny videos. When you show ads in the middle of that, people often think, ‘I don’t care about this.'”

Especially if your ad acts like a rude stranger. You know, like the jerk who hijacks a conversation between friends just to talk about himself.

Blech! Right?

But your ad doesn’t have to be an abrasive outsider.

Think about it. We’ve all been standing somewhere in a long line and had a person we didn’t know join our convo. And they weren’t rude at all. They were entertaining and fun to interact with.

That should be the goal of your Facebook ads.

Sarah Sal puts it like this:

“If you interrupt people in a coffee shop, what type of conversation would make them put their coffee down and listen to you? That’s what you want to put into a Facebook ad.”

A Good vs Bad Ad Example:

Sarah used this tactic to transform a costly ad flop from Strategyzer into a low-cost conversion machine.

Can you tell from this side-by-side comparison which ad outperformed the other?

Source: AdEspresso

The successful ad is on the left. Yes, the long one.

Here’s why:

  • No exclamation points
  • Zero mentions of the presenter — or his offer — until the fourth paragraph
  • A focus on the Facebook user — and not just any Facebook user, but one that’s been thoughtfully targeted

Which brings us to our next Facebook ad tip from our experts.

2. You Don’t Narrow Your Target Audience

Generally, when someone says, ‘Facebook ads didn’t work for me,’ they’ve created a single ad and targeted it toward everyone. — Brian Meert

That’s like a small-town diner advertising on billboards in every state in America. The audience is too broad. The cost is too high. And the results are poor.

So, Meert recommends targeting people at the bottom of your sales funnel first. Those are the people who already know you or have bought from you before.

Because stats show that previously satisfied customers will buy from you again and again.

“This small audience is more likely to be interested in your products, and it could cost you only 20 bucks a day to run successful ads to them,” Meert says.

“The power of Facebook lies in re-marketing. You can show your ads to past and current customers, people who have visited your website, and people on your email list.”

Sal also uses this strategy, and she’s had great success by retargeting email lists.

  • For example, if she has a high-performing email with a 20% open rate, she repurposes that email content as a Facebook ad. Then she targets it to the 80% of her list that didn’t open the email.

“Facebook is great at amplifying high-converting content and getting extra out of it,” says Sal.

But you can’t set one great ad and think it will perform well forever.

3. You Don’t Consistently Update Your Ads

You can’t set ads and say, ‘I’m done.’ Then walk away. — Brian Meert

Historically, that’s how advertising worked. You’d create a good TV commercial, newspaper ad, or radio spot and keep it going and going. But Facebook is very different.

Facebook cares about content that’s fresh, and they reward you with lower prices when people comment, like, share, and engage.

But you’ll be charged more if people lose interest.

“If people see your ad four times, it’s old. And they scroll quickly past it,” says Meert. “Then Facebook penalizes you and charges you more. The solution is to always update your creatives.”

Here are Meert’s Facebook ad tips for keeping your content fresh:

  • Small businesses should update at least once a month
  • Larger companies should have something new every 1-2 weeks
  • Watch your reports closely to figure out what the best timeframe for content updates
4. You Don’t Watch Your Reports

If you aren’t watching your reports, you’re spending money unnecessarily. If something isn’t working, hit the pause button. Reanalyze and try another campaign. — Brian Meert

Sal ads a bonus Facebook ad tip to that point:

“Too many people make ads too similar to the ones that need changing. The pink picture doesn’t work, so they try a yellow one. Or they want to use the word ‘speed’ instead of ‘hurry.’ But you need to give someone a dramatically different reason to convert.”

Because if you know you’re targeting the right audience, the problem lies in not knowing what that audience wants from you.

Here are a few Facebook ad tips that’ll help you find out what users want from you:

  • Ask them in a survey
  • Use language that your buyers use instead of the language of marketers
  • Make sure your messaging is cohesive from the ad, to the landing page, all the way to your checkout.

And pay double attention to your reports when they show an ad is working!

“When an ad is phenomenal and you’re getting leads for 1/5 the price of other platforms, DON’T let it ride!” Meert advises. “Put on the gas. Pause everything else, and put your money behind the ad while Facebook is helping you push. It can snowball in your favor!”

Like It or Not… Facebook Is Still King of Paid Media

People underestimate how big and powerful Facebook ads are. There’s no better way to reach a targeted audience instantly. — Brian Meert

So, don’t give up if your first efforts aren’t as grand as you think they should be. Just figure out what mistakes you’re making and start fixing them.

If the Facebook ad tips in this post weren’t enough help, there are great books and courses out there to help you master your Facebook ad campaigns.

And if all this sounds daunting, there’s no harm in bringing in extra help. You can’t DIY every part of your business. If you decide you’re in over your head with Facebook ads, here’s Meert’s advice on vetting your outside help:

  • Find an individual or agency with a good track record — do your research!
  • Make sure they’re Facebook Blueprint Certified before going any further.

We hope these Facebook ad tips provided you with the first aid you need to get better results than ever!

Which of these Facebook ad tips will you try first? 

The post Facebook First Aid: 4 Reasons Your Ads Are Failing (And How to Fix Them) appeared first on The DRIVE.

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What’s stopping you from doing more of what matters, and less of the other stuff? You, and only you.

How often do you find yourself wishing you had an extra 20 minutes in the day, or maybe even an extra hour or two, so you can get everything done that you had planned?

If you’ve got time management and life management in general figured out, then you don’t need to read any further.

But this blog post on essentialism — and how changing your mindset can change your life — is for the rest of us (ahem…the normal ones).

Choosing the Difficult Path

When I first set out to pursue my dream of leaving the 9-5 world and running my own business on my terms, I’ll admit, it was downright overwhelming. It was terrifying, to be honest. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, where to start, or who to look for guidance from.

I felt this way despite all of the genuine support I was receiving from my then employer, my then fiancé (now husband), my family and friends, and my inner instinct that told me this was the right thing to do.

While I knew deep down that working for myself was the best (while also most difficult) decision I could make, I also knew that the road ahead would be paved with serious potholes.

I wasn’t sure if my polite, thin-skinned, people-pleaser personality could make it in a dog-eat-dog world. In fact, I was partially convinced I was going to get eaten alive.

Not Just Another Self-Help Book

Source: Greg Mckeown

Because of my self-doubt and the inability to shake the feeling that I was destined for failure, I found myself reading a lot of blog posts about being a successful business owner.

I finally stumbled upon a book that intrigued me, and from the moment I opened it to begin reading, I couldn’t put it down. The book is titled Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown.

While the book itself didn’t solve my problems for me (because books don’t actually have that power – only you do), it did help me to take a closer look at not only how I use my time, but also why I use it the way I do.

The book helps readers explore what they feel most important in their lives, and guides them towards taking meaningful actions to support only what is essential.

Essentialism Is a Mindset; a Way of Life

According to Greg McKeown himself,

“Essentialism isn’t one more thing; it is a different way of doing everything. It is a discipline you apply constantly, effortlessly. Essentialism is a mindset; a way of life. It is an idea whose time has come.”

I really can’t think of a better way to say that, so I’m not even going to try. And I’ll tell you what else I won’t do – can’t do. I won’t sum the book up for you in the remainder of this blog. That wouldn’t be fair to Mr. McKeown; nor would it do the book justice. You’ll have to read the book to get the genuine experience that I did and to take from it what you need to.

What I can do is tell you four of the most important things that I learned from the book, how they’ve changed the way I evaluate potential projects and clients, and how they’ve changed my definition of what’s essential in my life, dramatically.

1. Learn to Say No

Saying no isn’t any fun. We all want to please everyone all of the time, but it’s simply not possible. Plus, even if we please everyone else, we likely aren’t pleasing ourselves, because we don’t have any time left to do what we enjoy, or do things that help us better ourselves.

Instead of beating around the bush, I strive to be honest from the beginning. I remind myself that I don’t have to give a reason why or feel guilty about it.

Saying yes may feel better at first, but if my yes eventually turns into a maybe, and ultimately a no, whoever asked for my help is going to wish I had just said so from the beginning.

If you’re pretty sure you don’t have time to do something, it’s likely that you don’t.

If you aren’t able to assess when you have to say no, and can’t do so with authority, your schedule will get taken over by projects and people who have pushed you to take on more than you can handle. And, when you rush through tasks and projects simply to get them done, you’re not doing you or your customers any favors.

2. Own the Freedom to Choose

We all have the freedom to choose, but we also all love to use our supposed lack of having the freedom to choose as an excuse for why we do or don’t do certain things. McKeown talks a lot about our freedom to choose in his book, and how our choices affect every aspect of our lives. He also makes a point of highlighting the fact that choosing the essential over everything else is really, really, hard.

It’s hard to make difficult choices, especially choices that are unpopular or that we’re afraid may be received with feelings of frustration, judgment, or simple rejection.

However, I’ve learned that if something is that important to me that I must make a difficult decision to do what matters most, then it’s worth whatever risks are associated with the choice.

3. Sleep More. Work Less.

Without sufficient sleep, your brain doesn’t work properly. When your brain isn’t working properly, you aren’t able to approach tasks and projects most productively and efficiently.

While it may be tempting to sacrifice sleep to get more done, sleep is one of those things that fall on the list of things we should do more of.

I’m one of the lucky ones, in that I generally don’t have any trouble sleeping. However, I do try to fit too much in sometimes (okay, a LOT of the time). This concept is about:

  • Reminding yourself to go to bed instead of answering an email
  • Picking a hard “quitting time” when the work day is officially over
  • Aaccepting that sometimes you won’t finish everything on your “to-do” list (without kicking yourself for it the next day)
4. Give Yourself a Buffer

This is something I’ve neglected to do my entire life, and that’s not even an exaggeration. If I know it takes me 15 minutes to get somewhere on a normal, low-traffic day; then I allow 15 minutes to get there every time. That’s a terrible way to manage my time, and I know it. I do this so that I can, in theory, fit more into my day, but you can guess what happens.

McKeown opens up his chapter about buffers with the perfect quote (in my opinion) attributed to Abraham Lincoln, who said,

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

In this same chapter, McKeown compares how a “Nonessentialist” would approach a task or project with regards to time management vs. how an “Essentialist” would approach it. And, you guessed it, the “Essentialist” would be sure to account for potential issues, setbacks, and other obstacles that may prevent things from going smoothly.

Unlike in the case of my estimating travel time based a low-traffic day, an “Essentialist” would estimate that there would be at least some traffic or some similar obstacle that would add 5-10 minutes onto my travel time – just in case. (I’m still working on mastering this.)

I know now what I can realistically fit into each day because I account for any number of things that could go wrong every 24 hours.

Applying Essentialism to Life

Greg McKeown’s book has helped me to realize that I can’t – nor do I want to – do everything for or be everything to everyone. It’s not sustainable, and it certainly isn’t going to help me grow as a person and business owner.

By sharing my talents with the world and letting the best version of myself shine through, I can improve my quality of life and provide better services to my clients.

And all of this happens when I practice essentialism by saying no when I need to, owning my freedom to choose, getting enough sleep, and accounting for the unexpected.

  • What do you wish you had more time to do?  
  • Are there things you wish you spent less time on?
  • What if you did less of what you don’t enjoy, and more of what you do enjoy?

I know it’s not quite that simple, but it almost is. What’s stopping you from doing more of what matters, and less of the other stuff? You, and only you.

What’s your take on essentialism? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

The post Essentialism 101: How to Do More of What Matters and Less of the Rest appeared first on The DRIVE.

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Father knows best… create your promotional strategy for dad’s day using these data-backed tips and tricks for getting more sales!

There are more than 70 million dads in the U.S. and their loved ones are about to open their wallets to show ‘em some love on Father’s Day. With all that spending on the horizon, there’s no time like the present to build your Father’s Day strategy.

Before you get too excited for a big payday, we should point out that dads kind of get the short end of the Hallmark Holidays stick.

Americans spend about $23.1 billion on Mother’s Day, making it the third-largest retail season behind Christmas and back-to-school.

And Father’s Day? Try $15.5 billion.

To be fair, moms probably earned that higher billing. But let’s give it up for dads too!

Last May, the National Retail Federation surveyed 7,335 U.S. consumers about their Father’s Day shopping plans. We dug into the results and found these takeaways that should shape your Father’s Day strategy.

Who Is Getting all These Father’s Day Gifts?

Dads are loved by more people in their lives than just their sons and daughters.

Check out these stats:

  • 54% of consumers buy Father’s Day gifts for their own dads or stepdads
  • 29% shop for their husbands
  • 10% shop for their sons

Father’s Day strategy tip: Dads are receiving the gifts but anyone who knows a dad is a potential buyer. Even if your email subscribers and social followers are mostly women, you can sell them Father’s Day gifts. Just make sure you have something for men to sell! Speaking of which…

What Are the Most Popular Father’s Day Gifts?

Father’s Day isn’t all just tacky ties and baseball tickets.

These were the most popular categories of Father’s Day gifts in the survey:

  • 64.3% of consumers shop for greeting cards
  • 48% shop for special outings (ahem, baseball tickets)
  • 46.1% shop for apparel (and there’s your tacky ties)
  • 42.6% shop for gift cards
  • 23.9% shop for books or CDs
  • 21.2% shop for consumer electronics
  • 20.9% shop for bath and body products (like cologne)
  • 16.7% shop for sporting goods
  • 16.3% shop for tools or appliances
  • 16.2% shop for home and garden supplies
  • 16.1% shop for automotive accessories

Father’s Day strategy tip: Some of these gift categories probably aren’t available in your online shop. Few of us own baseball teams, right? However, here are category specific tips for selling apparel, bath and body, and home and garden to dads or anyone.  

What Are the Most Lucrative Father’s Day Gift Categories?

Father’s Day cards are popular. They’re also cheap.

The real money is being spent in the following categories:

  • $3.3 billion on special outings
  • $2.2 billion on gift cards
  • $2.2 billion on apparel
  • $1.8 billion on consumer electronics
  • $888 million on bath and body
  • $885 million on home and garden

Father’s Day strategy tip: Men are notoriously difficult to shop for. Maybe that’s why ties became a thing. So, don’t sleep on that gift-card category. People love to shift gift-buying responsibility to the recipient!

Where Does Father’s Day Shopping Take Place?

For whatever reason, local small business is at a huge disadvantage during the Father’s Day season.

  • 40% of consumers shop at department stores
  • 34% shop online
  • 26% shop at discount stores
  • 24% shop at specialty stores
  • 19% at a local small business (ouch!)

Father’s Day strategy tip: Focus your Father’s Day strategy on your online shop. Emails and social media posts leading to unique Father’s Day gifts or to the men’s section of your ecommerce store are critical to getting in on the Father’s Day action.

Wanna get tactical? Check out these Father’s Day marketing ideas including gift bundling tips, sample email subject lines, and more.

What’s your Father’s Day strategy this year?

The post Father Knows Best: A Data-Backed Father’s Day Strategy for Online Sellers appeared first on The DRIVE.

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Do you believe you can accomplish what you want? When you fail at something — and we all fail at times — do you rally and push through or decide it’s time to give up?

The answer to these questions depends on whether you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.

People with a growth mindset believe that abilities are not fixed but can change over time, which keeps them going after a setback.

But if you’re a business owner or budding entrepreneur with a fixed mindset, you are in trouble. Tough times will sink you because you do not believe there is room for improvement.

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset 

If you have a fixed mindset, rather than viewing challenges as an opportunity to grow, you throw up your hands and say “I can’t do this.”

But do not let where you are now discourage you from where you can go. It is possible to develop a growth mindset as long as you are willing to work at it.

Believing in the capacity for change is what it takes to grow personally and professionally.

Every action we take is rooted in what we believe. Which is why a fixed mindset is so detrimental — it operates through a filter of pessimism, constantly on the lookout for the negative to confirm existing beliefs.

8 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset

Ready to change your thoughts? Below are some ideas of how you can move out of a negative, fixed mindset to a growth one.

1. Take a Break

Walk around the block. Go sit in a park. This is not the same as throwing up your hands and saying, “forget it!” It is instead about getting perspective and a change of scenery before jumping back in.

2. Be Humble

Ask questions of other entrepreneurs and learn from them. Invite feedback from professionals in your circle and use what you receive to improve. Grab onto something new you can try.

3. Do Not Look Around

Okay, it is good to look around to learn from the mistakes and successes of others, but it can turn into a comparison game which is zero help.

You may find yourself labeling others as a “success” and yourself as “failure” based on limited, and often filtered, information.

So do not look around with a goal of looking like other people. You are unique. And looking like everyone us makes us boring!

4. Take on a Challenge

“What?! I just failed and you want me to do it again?” No, not the same challenge right way. (You do not want to burn out).

Is there something you can try in another area of life to continue to grow? It can provide that change of scenery mentioned above and get you connected with people outside your existing circle.

5. Change the Question

Rather than, “Where did I go wrong?” ask “What did I learn” or “What can I do differently?” Those are very different questions.

Wrong focuses on the negative. Flipping the question does not deny things went wrong, but reframing gives you somewhere to go rather than just saying something was “wrong.”

There are insights you can glean from a failure that inform your next decision. You may identify gaps in knowledge that need to be filled or when it is time to pivot.

6. Surround Yourself with Likeminded People

 Stay away from the Negative Nellies and Debbie Downers. These are the people who will tell you “It is not meant to be” or “You can only do so much.”

Instead surround yourself with people who are motivated, goal driven, and positive.

7. Revisit your action plan

Dreaming big is a good thing. It can inspire you to work hard to reach your goals. But an unreasonable action plan can lead to discouragement.

When you invite feedback from others, you may discover the six-month goal for your business should be revisited as a twelve-month goal.

8. Be Willing to Let Go

Additional learning may be what you need to continue on a set path, but other times we need to change courses. If it turns out that your path was not the right one, reframe it as a journey that led you to where you are now.

Our priorities and life circumstances change over time. It helps to ask if what you are doing is because you want to or because you should.  You may even discover that your actions are no longer congruent with your goals. Maybe it was even a goal that others had for you.

That can happen when we live on autopilot. Things that are familiar are not necessarily the right thing. When you let go of the familiar, you may discover so much more.

Your Thoughts Are Driving Your Actions

Learn more about the growth mindset in Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and take a short quiz online to see where you stand.

Your thoughts are powerful and impact the course of your life since thoughts drive your decisions and decisions drive your actions. Believe that you are capable, learn from failures, and know that is is okay to pivot. It is not a matter of if you can change, it is when it will happen.  

How will you work toward (or enhance) a growth mindset this year?

The post Why a ‘Fixed Mindset’ Is Causing You to Fail at Business appeared first on The DRIVE.

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Every celebrity entrepreneur has their own unique abilities that have made them so successful. But there is one thing they all have in common: they worked really damn hard to get where they are.

Do you know what motivates you? Or, how you define success? Uncovering what kind of entrepreneur you are will help you find these answers.

Take this quiz to see if you seek to inspire and empower people like Oprah Winfrey, or if you are a visionary like Elon Musk, who changes the world with his innovations.

Ready for another quiz? Find out what gene is most dominant in your entrepreneurial DNA!

The post Quiz: Which Celebrity Entrepreneur Are You Most Like? appeared first on The DRIVE.

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There will soon be 1 billion… Instagram users

At some point very soon, Instagram will achieve an incredible milestone: 1 billion users.

Wait…

How many Instagram users did you say?

Yup, you saw that right. And hopefully, you read it in a Dr. Evil voice: 1 billion Instagram users.

Mwah ha ha ha.

Based on a public statement by Instagram’s owners (ahem, Facebook) last September, we already know that Instagram has at least 800 million users.

Some folks predicted that Mark Zuckerberg would announce one billion Instagram users as early as Facebook’s quarterly earnings call last month. Unfortunately, Mark’s agenda for the call was a little, umm, full.

Regardless, we thought it was time to catch up with the latest tools and tactics for a social platform that’s one of our faves — no matter how many Instagram users there are.

3 New-ish Ways to Play With Instagram Stories

Since erasing Snapchat’s five-year lead in the race to own disappearing video, Instagram has continued to roll out new enhancements to its Instagram Stories product.

ICYMI, check out these three new toys for Stories:

  1. If you use a business account and have enough followers, you can add links to your Stories to drive users to, say, a Mailchimp landing page by simply swiping up.
  2. You can now pin Story Highlights to the top of your feed so they don’t disappear after a day like traditional Stories.
  3. No photo or video? No problem. With Type mode, you can now share your words on creative backgrounds without including a photo or video.

Need some inspiration for your first Story? Here you go:

Link in Bio? Try Hashtags and Usernames in Bio Too

As an online seller, you’ve probably pointed followers to an ecommerce link in your bio because of Instagram’s restrictions on link sharing.

As if our bios weren’t already stuffed enough, Instagram recently enabled us to add hashtags and usernames to our bios too.

  • Just click on Edit Profile and add relevant #s and @s to associate your account with the topics and users that you love.
Follow Hashtags to Keep Up With the Latest

Speaking of hashtags, Instagram added the option to follow hashtags in December. When you follow a hashtag, you’ll see top posts and Stories from that hashtag on your home screen.

This makes it easier for us to follow the trends, get new ideas, and engage with other users.

It also makes it easier for new customers to discover our posts… if we use the right hashtags in them.

Reach 1 Billion Instagram Users With Facebook Ads

Facebook reported that 91% of its Q1 ad revenue was from mobile ads. A bunch of those dollars came from Instagram, where 2 million companies including many small- and medium-sized businesses placed ads last year.

If you’re not advertising on Instagram yet, what are you waiting for? You can place your order for Instagram ads inside the same Facebook ads interface you’re probably already using.

To get started, check out our recent guides on setting up your first Facebook ad and retargeting via Facebook custom audiences.

With a little know-how and a few ad dollars, you’ve never been better armed to reach all of Instagram’s nearly 1 billion users.

How many Instagram users will there be by 2020?

The post How Many Instagram Users Are There? Dr. Evil Knows the Answer. appeared first on The DRIVE.

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