Archive for Just Thoughts

Technology – Do We Really Need To Keep Up With It?

Technology is essential to every business, even those that aren’t considered “technology” companies. You deal with technology in your office productivity software, security system, air conditioning, computers and networks, phone systems, and much more. Whether it’s a simple cash register program that tracks inventory and daily purchases or a sophisticated network that links people and places around the globe, technology helps organizations maintain a competitive edge and build a strong presence in today’s “connected” business world.

If you want to compete in today’s business environment then it’s important to keep up with technology. You need to understand how to get the most out of the technology you have, understand what’s coming next, and know how to find the information that will help you make the right decisions.

“Oh, no,” you sigh, “I can’t possibly add one more thing to my to-do list.” Well, the truth is that it’s already on your to-do list, whether you know it or not, technology is an unavoidable and critical element of life today. Yes, it’s unavoidable. In our web design, SEO, and social media business, it’s a daily learning environment. It seems like something is changing, always.

Below are some simple ways to integrate technology awareness/knowledge into your work and life. The material will cost very little, if anything, because it’s based on resources that you already have access to. As I’ve always said, “If it’s free, it’s for me”.

Step 1. Determine your needs. You’ll determine your needs from the type of technology you live and work with, taking into account your existing knowledge base, and learning style. You’ll need to learn more about the specific devices you use the most. As an example, and this may seem simplistic, but knowing how your smart phone works really can help you.

Step 2. Assess the resources available to you. From books to magazines to the Internet to formal training sessions, you can find technology-related information in a variety of sources. I find that Google and YouTube are excellent resources and I rarely need to look beyond those two. Find your favorite search engine and learn how to use it. This will help you find appropriate sites, articles, user’s groups, bulletin boards, and online magazines. There is an almost unlimited amount of information available at no cost if you don’t mind searching for it.

Step 3. Get help. When all else fails, make sure to have someone you trust who can consult with you and who is skilled in the areas of technology that you need. There’s an old saying that goes “I don’t know what I don’t know.” So if you find that learning is not your bag, or you really don’t have the desire or time to do it yourself, hire a professional to advise you.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know everything. That’s why we have an accountant, an auto mechanic, a doctor, an attorney… and the list goes on. If you need help with anything that MVP is proficient with, please give us a call and let us take some of the burden off of your plate. That way you can focus your attention on the things you need to, like running your business.

Should I Use Pinterest For My Business?

As a small business owner you’re in a great position to start exploiting social media for all its worth. Although social media can be a fairly time consuming practice depending on how many platforms you choose to use, it’s also the key for a small business to develop awareness, raise its profile, gauge its market and interact with existing and future customers. Pinterest is a three year old visual media platform that has exploded onto the social media stage and gained traction with about 70 million users. The increasing popularity of Pinterest may have you asking, “Should I use Pinterest for my business?”

Some Pinterest Statistics

  • Pinterest has more than 70 million global users.
  • Pinterest is one of the fastest growing websites in history.
  • 79% of the active Pinterest users are from the U.S.
  • Pinterest drives more traffic to brands than Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and Google+ combined.
  • Pinterest shoppers in the US spend an average of $140 – $180 per order, compared to Facebook and Twitter shoppers who spend on average $60 – $80.
  • Pinterest represents about 41% of e-commerce traffic.
  • 90% of US online specialty retailers use Pinterest.
  • 25% of Fortune 100 companies are on Pinterest.
  • The average Pinterest user has a household income of over $100,000 per year.
  • 47% of online shoppers in the U.S. have made a purchase based on a recommendation via Pinterest.

Advantages of Pinterest
Pinterest is by its very nature a visual medium: everything on the site you post is an image. Images are the fastest and most direct form of communication we have.

Pinterest is magnetic: users spend more than an hour and a half on the site every month, sharing and re-sharing content. It’s a site that’s very easy to get lost in (aptly nicknamed “the rabbit hole”), so retaining the user’s interest is key. Therefore the more varied and interesting your content is the better.

Pinterest is a viral marketing machine: more than 80% of content consists of re-pins. Users actively promote your company for you. In fact 70% of brand engagement on Pinterest is generated by users themselves, not brands.

How can your small business use these advantages?

Be visual – This means using bright, bold colors, large interesting images and consistent yet imaginatively themed boards. The more visually captivating your pin is, the more likely it is to be re-pinned. The best boards have a good mixture of photographs, graphics and a small amount of text. Keep it varied.

Be resourceful – Large brands pin images of their own products to their boards; it’s easy for the user to click on an image and be taken directly to the brand’s own ecommerce page where the user can purchase the product.

Be friendly – Create a board called “Inside your company”. Give the viewer a sneak peek at the faces and what’s going on behind the scenes. This lets users take a closer look at the company, and personally identify with it in ways that perhaps couldn’t be achieved via other channels.

Be informative – Whatever your business, you can use specific boards to offer help and guidance on how to do all kinds of creative or practical things; tying into the products or services you offer. Perhaps if you run a gardening business you could offer advice on planting at the right time of year, if it’s a DIY business, you could offer advice on how to build something.

Be entertaining – It’s important on Pinterest to show a desire to provide a deeper consumer experience by going beyond self-publicizing.

With Pinterest you have access to countless images and an almost infinite number of themes, it’s easy to get lost among the ‘PINS’. If your company is only touting its corporate message and promoting its wares, you probably won’t achieve mass engagement and users will quickly move on.

Though Pinterest may not be thought of in the same way as Twitter and Facebook for marketing purposes, this research proves that Pinterest is quickly becoming a powerful marketing tool for businesses. Give it a try and if you get caught up in the “Rabbit Hole” and aren’t sure which way to turn, seek professional help for advice and guidance.

Train Your Brain – Training that Works

Off the beaten path of our normal topics…

MVP was fortunate enough to learn about a training program by Dana Wilde of “The Mind Aware“. This program is specifically designed to help business owners focus on objectives, generate positive mental awareness, prioritize their efforts and grow their businesses in a very short period of time.

We took the training and achieved more growth in 2 months than we previously had experienced in the six months prior. We wanted to share this with our readers so that you could have the opportunity to do the same thing we did.

Paraphrasing an email from Dana:

Are you frustrated because your business is growing so slowly?

Do you ever wish you could just hit a “forward fast” button and get your business moving?

Are you stuck and wanting to get moving again?

Some of you may know that Dana’s specialty is training brains. Her direct sales team went from zero to over one million in sales in just nineteen months.

She’s got a new program out and you can register for her FREE ONE-HOUR TRAINING in which she tells you how she did it and how you can do it too. And the best part is … you get immediate access.  We want you to know right off the bat that yes, this is an affiliate link and we will make a little if you should decide to purchase her entire program. We’re transparent about this and we don’t often share links such as this in a post but we believe in this offering because of the way it has impacted not only our business, but our life.  And the initial training is FREE.  Chuck always says – “If it’s free, it’s for me”.  If nothing else, you walk away with a very valuable free hour of Dana’s training.

In this training, Dana explains the EXACT techniques she used to rise to the top so quickly.

This FREE training is for you if you . . .

  • Have been using “hard work” as your method to success.
  • Feel like you know all the things you “should” be doing to be successful, but you don’t feel like doing them.
  • Have hit a plateau
  • Would like more consistency in your business
  • Can’t seem to get started
  • Feel like you’re doing everything right, but you’re not getting the same results as others.
  • Just want to get to the top quickly!
  • If you’ve ever been frustrated when someone has told you to “think positive” and you’ve wondered just how to do that . . .
  • If you have hit a plateau in your business and you want to break through . . .

In this training, a few of the things you will learn are:

  • Why most people work LONG HOURS in their businesses and only see incremental growth.
  • The SPECIFIC formula Dana followed to grow her business from ZERO to ONE MILLION DOLLARS in just 19 months!
  • The ONE thing you MUST do to get UNSTUCK and get off The Cycle of Perpetual Sameness!
  • ONE simple technique for training your brain that you can apply IMMEDIATELY that works for even the BIGGEST SKEPTICS!

If you take the course, please let us hear from you in the comments.  Even though we are not a direct sales company, it has made a significant impact for us.  And we’re betting it will for you too!

Pinterest Wannabes, Heads Up – Pinterest is a Visual Board of Your Life

As many of you are discovering, Pinterest is a fabulous site that’s pretty new to the social media scene but has been around for a little bit. You can share photos and images from the web that attach to their own stories – whether it be a recipe, a design project or just a favorite hobby or collection. I joined the Pinterest Waiting List almost exactly one year ago because as a creative, it was an exciting new place for me to be! Once I was approved in April, I went in and immediately created boards with names that appealed to me and my personality instead of using their defaults. Over time, I continually add images and links as they reveal themselves to me as being part of my life.

What’s particularly endearing to me about Pinterest is that it is all visual and that you can really see some gorgeous photos, obtain some magnificent recipes, and reap so many other benefits of thoughtful sayings, collector hobbies and fascinating miracles. I joined this site because of its unique ability to allow you to have so much fun sharing and displaying so much of who you are. Not to mention the sort of visual mind mapping that it allows. We literally re-designed the entire main area of our house and kitchen by pinning elements we planned to incorporate into our design.

Sadly, I am prompted to write this blog because of the “Pinterest Wannabe” crowd. This is the crowd that is joining Pinterest merely for the exposure or because they think it’s where they need to be and not for the value that it offers. According to Pinterest’s “Pin Etiquette“, read Item #3 which explains that this site is not about promoting yourself. As is true with most social networks, it’s about sharing. I have been so disappointed lately watching this “Pinterest Wannabe” crowd appear.

Wannabe Scenario:

  • Someone follows me.
  • I go to their link to see what fascinating things they have for me to “Like” or “Re-Pin”.
  • I find they have no boards, no likes, no pins and yet they are following many and being followed by many.

What a shame. It reminds me of all of those who joined Twitter or Facebook for the same reasons – they join to be part of the “Wannabe” crowd and have no clue how to use it or make it valuable to themselves or others. It’s particularly upsetting with Pinterest because why would I want to follow someone who HAS NO PICTURES OR BOARDS? This is a visual board of your LIFE people. 20% of those following me have no boards whatsoever or one board with one pin relating to their business.

So there.. my rant.. and here’s my advice to Pinterest newbies – don’t be a Wannabe! And…

  1. Don’t sign up if you don’t want to share things you love
  2. If you do sign up, don’t follow anyone until you have something to show them
  3. Don’t put your logo in your photo spot – this is about you, not your company
  4. Have fun with this. Show pieces of who you are professionally because that’s part of who you are – but don’t bore us to death with sell, sell, sell.

Am I too sensitive?

 

Happy New Year – And Enjoy Our Simple Hoppin’ John Recipe!

We’d like to share one of our favorite recipes to start you into a great New Year! Hoppin’ John is a Southern tradition for the New Year’s Day meal. We pair it with some kind of “greens” (spinach, collard, mustard) as that is said to bring you lots of “folding green” while the black-eyed peas are said to fill your pockets with change. This is a basic recipe that we have enjoyed for years. There are many ways to “kick it up a notch” so use your imagination! We wish everyone prosperity in 2012!

Read More →