Archive | January 2016

How This Guy Grew a Company to 7 Figures in 2 Years

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For those who survive, the benefits of entrepreneurship are enormous and well worth the difficulties they face on the road to success.
IMAGE: Getty Images

Starting a company is challenging. Coming up with a winning idea, sourcing capital, registering the company, getting official papers, hiring staff, developing a marketing plan and acquiring client are all tough heights to scale. This venture requires a lot of hard work, and many end up in failure. And this is why so many would-be entrepreneurs keep dreaming and planning, and never take the leap.

But for those who survive, the benefits of entrepreneurship are enormous and well worth the difficulties they face on the road to success. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country see the big picture every year and pull the trigger. If you’re about starting or you’ve just started your company, your next challenge is probably to break even and see some good numbers coming in.

Well, for a beginner that is 20 years old, growing a company to 7 figures is not an easy task. Somehow a young man who currently is 22 years old managed to do so at only 20 years of age. He is Filip Boksa who started and blew up a maid company pretty quickly. I wanted to know how he did it.

How easy was it to reach 1 million in revenue within a year of business and with zero experience?

To be completely honest, it wasn’t that hard, but it was a lot of work. I was in my first year of college when the business was started, so I had to balance between school and the business. It made it challenging, so as soon as some good numbers were coming in, I dropped out and focused every hour on the company.

What kind of working hours and what routine did you have during the beginning stages?

Well, the beginning stages were exhausting, haha. I would answer phones every day 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM Monday through Saturday and 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Sundays. When we weren’t busy, I would do marketing in the mean time and as much of it as possible. After closing hours, I would do more marketing and learning till about 1:00 AM at night and I would go to bed. The next day I would wake up a bit early to prepare myself, and I repeated the process for over a year straight without a single day off till it was time to hire someone and get our first office at the time. I even worked all the Holidays that year including Christmas, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving and New Year. I did, however, manage to take a bit of time on Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving to eat with my family. Besides that, no one knew I existed. I worked so hard my mother would yell at me and tell me I’m insane and a workaholic.

Where did you learn marketing?

I regularly read books and blogs! I read so much information daily from the most successful people I could find based on the topic I was learning.

Whom did you study, if you don’t mind me asking?

Some of the successful individuals that I studied and still do were Bill Gates; you must study everything about the richest person in the world! Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan; this might sound silly but I was always a huge fan of basketball, and I fell in love with these two players from day one, especially Kobe, mostly because he was still playing when I was watching the sport. I picked up a lot from them too. I admired their work ethics so much. I wanted to know everything about them and what makes them achieve such greatness. I also learned, to be great you have to copy and model yourself after the great, which is exactly what Kobe did. He copied Michael Jordan in everything he did and became great himself. Some other greats I studied were Tony Robbins, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Oprah, Napoleon Hill, Henry Ford, Dale Carnage and a few others. I studied a lot of successful people, and the list can go on!

What were the channels that were working well for you at the time?

For the first month, it was Craigslist. At that time, there was a program that allowed me to run ads non-stop. I took advantage of that until it stopped working and managed to make enough money to invest in SEO which didn’t come into play for a long time. In the meantime, we were building our reputation across sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, and Thumbtack. By the time Craigslist stopped working, we were able to leverage these sites and convert as many customers into recurring customers for constant cash flow. After that, word of mouth became the best source. We then used Facebook ads and Google AdWords to gain even more clients which also proved to be a good investment.

When you first hit 1 million in revenue what was your reaction?

My first reaction was, I want more and look how easy this was. The beautiful thing was when I first started my goal was to make a $100,000 a year and live a happy life. Once the company did seven figures in revenue and I crushed my goals, my whole perspective changed. I no longer have a limit on my goals, and I want to achieve true greatness in my life by helping others find their passions and meet their goals.

What kind of advice do you have for future entrepreneurs?

Become passionate about something, believe in yourself even if no one else will, work super hard, surround yourself with successful/hardworking people, and learn as much as you can! If you follow those simple rules, you will be able to achieve greatness in business and life.

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COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SEO THAT JUST WON’T DIE

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SEO has evolved a lot during the past years at a very rapid pace. With search engine algorithms being constantly updated and new benchmarks of what’s considered relevant and what not changing year after year, a number of myths and misconceptions waddle around people’s minds and just won’t go away.

Here is a list of SEO misconceptions that are either outdated or straight up wrong, and some of them might not only mislead, but actually hurt your rankings instead of helping climb the SEO ladder.

META TAGS AND DESCRIPTIONS ARE IMPORTANT FOR SEARCH ENGINES

Meta tags were important once. By saying once I mean around 2008. The Meta tags existed to provide information to search engines about a certain page – how often was it updated, what the page is about, who created the page, which keywords the page represents, etc. – but since 2009 it was heavily abused by long lists of keyword stuffing.

Starting from 2009, all the major search engines tweaked their algorithms so that they no longer paid attention to Meta tags. Using Meta tags today does you no good, but can do a lot of harm instead, like giving information to your competitors about your SEO strategy for instance.

Meta descriptions don’t have much influence on the search engine results either, but they are still a part of the search results. Writing a compelling Meta description can help you generate more website traffic, so consider investing some time into this.

IF YOU DON’T USE ENOUGH KEYWORDS, YOUR CONTENT WILL NOT BE FOUND ONLINE

This is one of the most problematic misconceptions. Search engines still value keywords in your text, but only if they don’t interfere with the actual content and don’t disturb user experience. There are a lot of other things important for SEO apart from keywords like social media presence,social proof, influence, content quality, the amount of visuals used, etc.

Search engines are all about providing the best possible user experience to people and the amount of keywords you put in your content is among the last things they care about.

There are a hundred other ways that search engine bots can understand what your content is about like title, image alt texts and actual content. So if you are thinking about what is the best keyword density to use for your 700 word long blog post, you can save yourself the trouble. Just use the keyword phrase (it doesn’t even have to be the exact phrase, all variations are fine) whenever it fits the context and be done with it.

FOCUSING ON HIGH SEARCH VOLUME KEYWORDS WILL HELP ACHIEVE SUCCESS

A lot of people think that all they need is to be found on the first page of Google with a number of keywords and they will be in a good shape. But the thing is that those keywords must be relevant to your business. If they are not, you might generate high number of website visits, but you will get close to zero conversions. More traffic doesn’t always equal more cash.

Focusing on long-tail keywords with low to medium search volumes that are very relevant to your business however, is another thing. Yes you will get a lot less traffic with those, but conversions rates will be a lot higher, because those people will actually be a part of your target group.

HAVING A GOOD AMOUNT OF LINKS WILL BOOST YOUR RANKINGS

Links are still an important part of SEO, but not every link counts. Think of it like this: A link to your website is like a client recommending your services to his friend, but if he has no credibility among his friends, why would you want to be recommended by him in the first place?

Only links from high authority websites matter and should be considered by businesses for healthy SEO link building. In fact, links from low authority or “bad websites” can potentially harm your rankings. It has become a fairly common practice for competitors to create bad quality content and provide links to your website, just to drag you down on Google.

Better to have 1 good quality link, than 10 medium quality ones. It will take a lot of time to build a relationship with a high authority website before you can ask them to place a link to your site, but it’s absolutely worth it.

I hope that this was enough information to clear your thoughts around those topics. SEO is a very rapidly evolving space and there is a good chance that all of these facts will get outdated in a year or two, but as for now, you can be safe from those myths.

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Quote of the Day

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”

-Eric Hoffer.

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How to Improve Your Email Marketing in 6 Easy Steps

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A huge number of companies fail because they didn’t know basic inbound marketing techniques.
IMAGE: Getty Images

Businesses have so much competition. If you drive through a fairly large city or town, you could see new businesses on every corner. Besides the number of new startups in an industry, dentists also have to compete with Fortune 500 companies as well.

With so much competition, it is hard for new entrants to compete. A huge number of companies fail because they didn’t know basic inbound marketing techniques. You have a number of options for success. Each of the choices for marketing your business has its merits. In this article, we’ll expound on one that many companies don’t understand — email marketing.

Email marketing is sadly considered to be dead by many, however if done correctly it can yield up to 4300 percent return on investment. Not just this, it also helps build relationships and can help bring in new patients.

According to an expert in the field of inbound marketing, “Email marketing is better because it gets you in direct touch with your potential clients, giving you a chance to strike a chord and convince them why they should work with you…and when they’ll go happy they’d recommend your services to friends and family.”

Let’s get started. These are ways to make email marketing easy to learn and use.

  1. Know who to email –– With all marketing, if you choose the wrong group, you will fail. It doesn’t matter if you are using direct mail, a retailer sending smart phone coupons or a manufacturer trying e-mail. Let’s say, you want to promote your special on new cleanings for the email campaign. You won’t want a list that features mostly people living in nursing homes. You would want to find those parents who just moved to the area and are looking for a family dentist. Over 90% people that subscribe to a newsletter enjoy reading mails, so make sure you reach people that actually do enjoy the kind of content you have to share.
  2. Use e-mail etiquette — When you are doing an e-mail campaign, you have to use proper email etiquette, or your rate of return will be low. Today, people want a message that isn’t too personal and explains the message in a few sentences. You want to be short to draw in your potential customers, give them the bait, hook them with a link and reel in the new clients. Make your text short and easy to scan through the information. People aren’t going to read the whole e-mail. Some tips include using a subject line longer than 10 characters. As per stats, around 45% people will not open your email if they do not like the subject line enticing.
  3. Use links –– E-mail campaigns are meant to entice people to seek more information via the links you provide. Your goal is to drive traffic to your landing page, product page or website. Without getting people to click on the website link, you won’t get new clients. The way to hook the reader is to add a link any time a customer might want more information. You definitely want your links to appear as links. Also, your calls-to-action should be compelling and strong to make people click.
  4. Don’t use many pictures — These might work on social media and your website, they don’t work in an e-mail campaign. Unlike your social media and direct mail marketing, using pictures with e-mail is challenging. Your prospects might not see the pictures because they have a provider that strips pictures or the patients might not have the capacity to retrieve large files. Therefore, attaching pictures would end up wasting your time and money. Instead of pictures, use well-coded html or a link to a site with pictures. You can send your prospects to your Facebook site to see the pictures of your dental office, for example.
  5. Make unsubscribing easy to see – Many people don’t want all that information in their mailboxes. If they don’t see how to opt-out of the message, they might get frustrated. These are not the potential new customers you want. You want happy clients who will refer you to others. Along these same lines, you don’t want to end up in your prospects’ spam folders. Make sure you avoid being categorized as spam.
  6. Maximize the e-mail dimensions – Just like a printed campaign, such as postcards or door hangers, you have limited space to say what you want to say. Most people will see your email in a preview pane without pictures. You want to use an e-mail template that isn’t more than 600 pixels wide. Within the first 100 pixels, you want to explain your value and one link. While shiny headers look nicer, you will get better results without the graphic. Another trick is to use a second column on the right or left hand.

These are tips that will help you market your company through e-mail. When you incorporate email into your overall marketing strategy, you will see great results and the numbers of customers you have will increase.

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How to Increase Awareness, Generate Leads and Create Advocacy With Social Media

#1: Increase Brand Awareness

Perhaps your brand isn’t a household name and you’d like more prospective customers to know who you are. Social media can help you get there. Here are some ways to jumpstart your brand’s presence through social media:

use social media to achieve your marketing goals

Discover how to use social media to achieve three common marketing goals.

Establish fully fleshed-out profiles on the major social networks. Create company profiles on the big four social channels: LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Make sure your company logo and bio are consistent across all of your social sites.

Decide which social network you’ll spend the most time on. Depending on your market segmentation and customer research, it might make sense to spend more time on one network and less on others. For example, LinkedIn is consistently the best social outlet for B2B lead generation, and Google+ tends to attract professionals in the technology space.

Consider advertising. When you first sign onto a social network, you don’t have any connections because no one knows you’re there. One way to make yourself known is through advertising. Each social network has intriguing ad options (like media-rich Twitter cards and Facebook sponsored posts) that help you target the prospects who will most likely click through and get to know you.

twitter card example

Media-rich Twitter cards can help increase your brand awareness and reach.

Create a content schedule. Consistency is key in social media. Before you start posting, create a content schedule that allows you to develop your brand story one social post at a time. Give content creators access to the calendar so they know what to contribute and when.

Make connections with others. Depending on the network, start following others in your industry who have important and insightful things to say.

Obviously, you won’t follow competitors, but think laterally. Bloggers, thought leaders, academics and companies in related industries might be putting out great content, and be open to socially engaging with you. And that comes with the bonus of a bigger presence for your company.

Track important key performance indicators (KPIs). Only by tracking certain metrics can you know if your social efforts are paying off. Decide which metrics you’ll evaluate on a regular basis, ranging from the number of likes and shares of your material, to more telling metrics like web traffic, social media conversion rates and reach. Make sure you have the right social media management tool on hand to walk you through your stats.

conversion

Track important KPIs to find out if your social media efforts are paying off.

Once you’ve set up a content calendar, perhaps done some advertising and are ready to track predefined KPIs, you’ll have a solid foundation for spreading awareness of your brand.

Your audience will then get a chance to see how your products and services can change their business practices. Perhaps they’ll see the light through an interesting YouTube video or a report that speaks to a particular problem and your solution for addressing it. However you make your customers’ lives better, social media puts you out there and brings your solutions to your prospects’ doors.

#2: Generate Leads and Engagement

Now that people are starting to know you exist, it’s time to turn people into leads.

As in all content marketing, you’ll want to develop social content that speaks to your audience. This is content that your followers will find informative, helpful and even exciting.

content

Develop content your followers will find informative, helpful and even exciting.

When you’ve improved things just a little bit for people, they’ll come back to you for more of the same, and that’s your chance to qualify them as leads.

lead

Repeat engagement can turn your social media audience into leads.

Here’s how to put together social content that turns followers into leads:

Create content that inspires conversation. On social media, you can’t depend on passive followers to convert themselves. You need to create as many opportunities to engage people as possible, and it all starts with your content. Consider what your prospects and former customers have generally responded to, such as:

  • A video about how your products work
  • Short, interesting insights about the culture of your company
  • Shocking stats about inefficiency in your industry (for which you then discuss solutions on your blog, with your product in the spotlight)

Whatever the case may be, build social content that gets your prospects talking to you.

Use social best practices for maximum engagement. Several things are always true in social media. Images win out over plain text almost every time, so you should have a good supply of snackable content and video ready to go for your social profiles. Stick to best practices and refine your strategy based on your metrics.

Participate in communities. Private LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups and Google+ communities are conversation hubs that your prospects might be active in. Join the discussion and share some of your expertise when it’s relevant.

advocacy

Join and engage in groups populated by people likely to use your services.

You never want to be promotional in social groups, but if you’re consistently helpful and engaged, prospects will likely be interested and click through to your profile. That’s where they’ll find your posts and click through to your marketing collateral.

Gaining leads and qualifying them via social media is a fine art. To make the most of it, simply be a helpful human presence on social channels.

#3: Create Customer Advocacy Opportunities

Customer advocacy is where your marketing ROI can skyrocket. In such a scenario, you’ll be putting in less effort to reach your marketing goals because your customers will sell for you. And it can all start through your social campaigns. Here’s how to get a head start on customer advocacy opportunities via social:

advocacy

Create customer advocacy opportunities through social media campaigns.

Continue to engage qualified leads and customers through informative social content. If they’ve learned from you before, there’s no reason why they should stop learning from you after becoming customers. If they’re on an email list or subscribed to your blog, send out reminders to connect with your company on social networks.

You might even offer the occasional incentive for customers to review your services or share certain posts on social media. Coupons or bargains such as free consultations might work, depending on your market. The benefits for you are twofold: You’ll get more brand exposure and customers who are becoming your advocates in subtle ways.

Engage customers specifically about your products and services. If your company offers a product with many moving parts or a complex service, it might be a good fit for continued customer support on a social channel. Consider creating a forum on your website or an entirely new “social network” that acts as a hub just for you and your customers to interact around your products.

Externally, LinkedIn showcase pages and Facebook groups might be possible hubs for product-based conversations that build increased trust for your brand and position your company as worth advocating for.

Provide advocacy opportunities that are even more substantial. Over time, you might form mutually beneficial partnerships with repeat customers. Consider inviting these customers to participate in your webinars and at networking events, which can be sources of more compelling content for social distribution.

advocacy video

Create more substantial advocacy opportunities by inviting customers to participate in webinars and networking events.

Approach customers directly for case studies. Sometimes you have to ask for what you want, and in the case of happy customers, asking works well. If your customers have transformed their business practices, streamlined processes or increased their profits because of your products, they’re great candidates to approach.

B2B consumers are particularly primed to hear from peers about what works and doesn’t work in their industry. You can then link to these case studies via social and distribute them as gated content, generating more exposure and leads.

The result of these efforts? Customer advocacy can lead to increased brand recognition, thought leadership and goodwill for your brand in the marketplace. And it all can begin with strong ties forged and reinforced via social.

Conclusion

Social media marketing by itself can serve as an important foundation for the success of any company. While B2C businesses have attributed success to social for some time, 80% of B2B companies also note increased brand presence and 72% gained loyal fans via social, which means social is here to stay.

If your company is a late adopter of social media marketing, now’s the time to jump in with both feet.

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Quote of the Day

“It takes a long time to become young”

Pablo Picasso

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Google Does Away With Authorship Photos! Is Authorship Still Necessary?

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Google Does Away With Authorship (1)You may have noticed over the past several weeks that Google’s search results are looking a little bit bare. Until very recently, if a blogger or site owner had connected their Google+ account to their website, a small thumbnail image (taken from their Google+ profile) would be displayed next to their content in the search results.

One of the key benefits to setting up Google Authorship on your website or blog has been this image: it was said to improve click-through rates, as it made your content stand out against those which didn’t have Google Authorship set up.

If you thought maybe these photos disappeared recently….unfortunately, you are right. In late June, Google made the decision to remove these photos from the search results, much to the disappointment of bloggers and webmasters everywhere.

According to John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, this decision was made in order to “simplify” the way Authorship is shown in the search results:

He writes, “We’ve been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results, in particular creating a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices. As a part of this, we’re simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count. (Our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.)”

This statement has been met with surprise by many SEO’s and social media strategists, particularly since Google themselves once claimed these images increased click-through rates. SEO guru Rand Fishkin wasn’t shy about venting his frustration on Twitter:

google authorship

I think it’s fair to say many SEO’s and webmasters are feeling the same level of frustration. But the question remains, where does this leave us now??

Where Does This Leave Us? Is Authorship Still Necessary?

Besides the photos being gone, the “in xx circles” below the results have also been removed. This means that the only evidence you’ll see of Authorship in the search results is a byline with your name, just before the meta description (see screenshot below).

google authorship

Clicking on the byline will take searchers to the author’s Google+ page, rather than what was displayed previously – a page listing all of the author’s content. While it remains to be seen how this change will impact click-through rates, one can only imagine it will increase traffic (even if just a little) to Google+.

So, the question on everyone’s minds: Is Google Authorship still important?

Most marketers and social media experts agree that in spite of these changes, Authorship is still a necessary and valuable part of your SEO and content marketing strategy.

While click-through rates may no longer be a primary reason for setting it up, there are, as I see it, two other significant benefits of Authorship:

Google will still display the images in some personalized search results. It appears thatwhen users are logged in to their Google account, the thumbnail images will be displayed in search results for authors who they’re connected to on Google+. In other words, if I’m following you on Google+ and am logged in to my Google account, your image may still be appear if one of your blog posts appears in my search results.

As of right now, Author Rank is still alive and well.  Trust on the web is a huge priority for Google right now; and one of the ways they’re promoting this is by learning which content belongs to which authors. While Author Rank is likely not currently used to determine the ranking of a particular piece of content, there is much speculation that it will be in the future.

While it’s disappointing that Google Authorship photos are gone, I would strongly encourage you to continue incorporating Authorship into your content and social media strategies. As Google continues to work at making content less anonymous, Authorship is likely to be the main strategy they use for achieving this.

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