Branding Your Business on a Budget

Branding is one of the key tools to a successful business. I mean, if people don’t know what you brand is then how can they buy something, or even better, become a loyal customer? To some brand marketing may come naturally, but for others it is just something else they have to do…but there are ways to make it easy and not expensive to implement.

There are ways you can get creative and brand your business. It may require a little time, but in the long run, you will see the ROI and can actually save you money!

Find a Voice

Once you’ve identified your buyers are you can start to see your brand form. A brand identity is the things that make people aware of what your brand is, aka your voice. Figuring that out follows a process not unlike the one that’s used to determine your personas but instead of answering questions about your target audience, you’re answering questions that are more introspective to your brand. What are its values? What does it represent?

 Know Your Peoplepeople-01

The needs, goals, and behavior of your potential customers dictate how you convey your product or service. Understanding those things helps you determine what kind of media your personas are consuming, what motivates them, and where they “live” online. Having that information helps develop a compelling, effective brand and it helps you reach the right people!

Use Social Media

Now we know who your personas are and we know what to say to them and how to say it. Yet, where are they located?

Since you might have a clear picture of the different pieces of your audience, it’s important to figure out where they’re spending the most time, especially on social media. It is effective to reach people where they are already present, which includes their online behavior, too. Once you do establish that presence, you need to maintain it. How many times have you gone to a brand’s Facebook Page only to find that nothing has been posted in the past three months? Chances are, it didn’t have a positive impact on your perception. That can be avoided by planning and scheduling social media posts like you would with any other marketing calendar. That’s a huge part of staying relevant to your audience. By sharing content that pertains to what they’re likely thinking about at a given time of year will be a key to your success.

Blog 

Blogging is important as we have said in other articles. It is the “attract” stage that turns strangers into visitors to your website.

blogging-01Blogging might be the most fundamental step of inbound marketing. It helps you reach qualified customers, by creating the informative content that matches the information they’re searching for. It’s so important to make it relevant to this audience, when you’re writing, make sure the content is optimized for those searches. After friends and family, blogs are the third most trusted source of information. That content will also serve as material to populate your social media networks, and we’ve already covered what a crucial part that plays in branding on a budget. One of the biggest struggles we hear about is the cost of spending time on it. If you are new to the web and blogging, check out firstsiteguide.com. Here they can show you how to start, run and grow your own blog!

Like planning your social media presence, having an editorial calendar for support-01-01your blog can be helpful in maintaining consistent timing and fresh content.

Customer Service

Whether you’re serving customers or clients, the goal is to create a delightful, sharable experience. And when the client or customer experience is a priority, it shouldn’t cost you much for them to talk about it. That revisits the importance of your identity and voice. As you go through these brand creating steps, think about the values that you want to be resonated in those things. Is amazing customer service one of them? Those values are what shape the brand, and that influences the voice you project to your audience.

Get Branding

Building a brand might seem like a huge undertaking, especially with limited resources. However, there are plenty of economical ways to not only get started, but to continue the momentum you start with these efforts. The thing is, you can really have fun with the process!

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Easy Ways to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal

Have you ever had a deadline at work and suddenly your Wi-Fi stops working? How about moving your laptop to the other room and “poof”, no more Wi-Fi? This can be one of the most frustrating situations one can face in the workplace or at home. Many times there are simple hacks than can fix the situation.

Don’t throw out your router just yet…check out some great solutions to help boost your signal.

Watch Where You Put That Router!
Yes, I have complained about my Wi-Fi only to have the cable company tell me that I shouldn’t have it on its side on the floor. Whoops! To achieve the strongest possible wireless connection, position your Wi-Fi router on a flat surface off the floor and closewifi-router-01-01 to the center of your home if you can. It is ideal to place it somewhere up high and out in the open is best, away from brick, stone, metal or concrete walls that could mess with the signal.

Place your router accordingly so that signals will go straight through walls, as opposed to at an angle. Wi-Fi signals will significantly weaken when they hit walls at angles. The best thing to do is in a multi-floor home or office is to place your router on the top floor for maximum coverage.

Also make sure to situate your router at least 10 feet away from certain devices or objects that could interfere with your signal, like refrigerators, cordless phones, garage door openers, speakers, microwaves, and mirrors.

Switch the Channel
To reduce interference from neighboring Wi-Fi networks just switch the channel I am told that channels 1, 6 or 11 are the best and most common channels for wireless networking. It all varie depending on the router you have. If you switch and your signal is still not working, try any other channel until you find one that maintains a strong connection.

Update Your Router’s Firmware
firmware-01Maybe your router just needs an update. Manufacturers are always tweaking software to dish out more performance and speed. Most current routers have the update process built right into the admin interface, so its easy to click just by hitting a firmware upgrade button. Older models still require you to first find and download the firmware from the router manufacturer’s website.

Buy a Strong Wi-Fi Antenna
Many Wi-Fi routers come with an antenna or two, but sometimes there are not strong enough to send signals to hard-to-reach areas and distant corners. If you add a high-gain or “booster” antenna to your router, it can fix the problem! This will instantly extend and strengthen your router’s range and give you coverage over large areas. They aren’t expensive, as I purchased a Cisco-Linksys High Gain Antenna Kit for for $15. The great thing is that you don’t have to be a genius tech superstar to install a high gain antenna. Just unscrew the old and replace with the new!

Buy a Plug-in Extender
High-gain antennas broadcast your Wi-Fi signal and Wi-Fi extenders, also called repeaters, rebroadcast them with improved range and speed and you can say adios to Wi-Fi dead zones.
The process of finding an extender’s sweet spot can be hit-or-miss at times. You may have to move it a little to find the best location and tilt the antennas on it.

off-02-01

Don’t Share with Others

I am all about being neighborly but there is no need to share your Wi-Fi network’s name with your neighbours. You can prevent this y turning off its Service Set Identifier (SSID) broadcasting option. This blocks strangers in your area from seeing your network, mooching off it and slowing it down. Most important, it reduces your risk of getting hacked! Of course, password protected Wi-Fi is also strongly encouraged to prevent this.

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Distractions and How to Stay Focused

I love writing these blogs for Extendware, because I get to tell my stories and sometimes in my writing, make realizations on my own work habits. Recently I have noticed when I am focused and enjoy the tasks I am executing, nothing can stop me from getting things done. Then, there are the less attractive tasks. Those are the tasks that trigger my once focused self to be easily distracted. I was working on a spreadsheet that could have taken an hour, yet instead it took about three. Here are the reasons why.

I noticed dirt on the floor and decided to vacuum

I answered emails every time one came through

I played fetch with my dog

I answered my phone and talked to my cousin for 30 minutes

Pretty much anything that could distract me, I let distract me. Does this sound familiar?

We Are All Guilty

Many of us can get pushed off balance by the slightest interruptions at work, while others easily tune them out. In all honesty, nobody is completely attentive to their work 100% of the time and we can all use some guidaWe are all guilty-01nce on ways to avoid or ignore disruptions. The key is to limit distractions as much as possible. We’d all get burnt out pretty quickly if we didn’t get distracted from time to time to take our minds off of work. The bigger issue is when distractions take up too much of our time and prevent us from getting anything done. If interruptions in the office are not managed, they can seriously deter your focus and may lead to factual mistakes, poor performance, and poor judgment.

Frequent distractions can also negatively affect your mood. They can prevent you from getting your work done on time, which creates more stress for you and can make you more frustrated and unhappy at work. Happiness comes with work that has meaning to you, and seeing positive results from your efforts. Distractions can decrease focus, which increases stress, which can intensify any poor work habit you may have.

A distraction can take many forms. External annoyances like loud mouth phone talkers in open cube space to personal distractions such as social media or personal email.

DISTRACTIONS-2-01Types if distractions depend on your line of work, office space, size of your company etc. Some examples of the various culprits include: Relentless e-mail, text messages, social media, co-worker or client interruptions, visitors and unscheduled meetings, music, TV, alerts, IM’s, ringing phones, other people talking, noisy copy machines, vehicles going by outside your window, elevator doors opening and closing…wow I am getting distracted just writing this!

There is hope! If you regularly lose focus at work because of one or more of these distractions, there are a few things you can do.

Time Management

Reserve blocks of time for work that requires the most concentration. The regular 9-5 timeframe might be standard but to assume people will use that exact formula is silly.  I like to use the first hour at work to make headway on my most time consuming and difficult project. Some people feel like they can focus later in the evening, after kids go to bed, dinner is over etc. Its all about finding what works for you. If you are sharing an office, ask your co-workers for quiet time, and if that’s out of the question, take your work into a conference room or other quiet space.

MUTE-01Limit Technology

Spending a just a few minutes each day checking personal e-mail or texting is not a problem but doing it in excess can be detrimental to your day.  I turn off my email and text alerts during work hours so they don’t distract me, then I dedicate a couple times a day to check for anything urgent. The key is to check, and move on if not pressing.

Organize Your Space

It’s so easy to catch sight of something that will only take a couple of minutes and stop working on the big stuff to address the little things. Don’t let visual distractions cost you important focused time. Keep your desk clean and put the urgent items in file stackers or a tray. Anything else file away out of site!

 

 

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Millennials And Why I Employ Them

Ok so without really admitting my true age to the masses, I will let you know a few things about how I grew up and I will let you figure it out.

I used to go to Blockbuster when I wanted to see a newly released movie

I would spend hours reading books at the library when writing a paper

I used this thing called a payphone when I needed to call someone remotely

I would wait outside the CD store when new album came out

Sound familiar? Things are so different now, so convenient and technology rules the world. So, it can be difficult to relate these “old times” to a lot of the people I work with today. “The Millennials” By most definitions, milleLEADERSnnial’s were born between 1982 and 1996

It can feel as if this new wave of young people creates some friction for older management, but as the IT leaders of the future, I learned to embrace my millennial counterparts, make them feel welcome, and more importantly, keep them engaged. Barely knowing a time without using email, these managers of the future will be more diverse, and have a vastly alternative outlook to many trends like technology innovation, security, management style and career planning.

My Experience

They are either driving me batty or impressing the crap out of me! They can be hard to manage, easily frustrate with protocol and just plain lazy, or their creativity is absolutely brilliant and they don’t let the threat of failure bother them. Its really all in how you manage them that allows them to be most effective for your business.

Why We Love Them

geekMillennials have no fear and aren’t afraid of hard work. If you set the goal or target and release the reigns, they will find a way to get there and produce a pretty creative result. In my business, I employ a 26-year-old who is extremely tech savvy with a change-focused work ethic. It helps us old folk who are set in our ways, and provides a fresh outlook on things I may have overlooked. They have grown up learning that they need to constantly adapt to ever changing times especially when it comes to technology.

Working with millennials means taking on an appropriate management style, while being selective about what personalities will fit your specific working environment. I have learned that taking the time to find out what motivates them will pay off in the end!

Be Flexible

Millennials by nature don’t really like rules. They grew up in an environment where parents asked their opinions, allowed them to make decisions, and rarely pushed something on them that they didn’t like. If you press too hard on them to comply with the company’s position on things like hours or attire, you could very easily find yourself losing a good employee.

targetDon’t Be Vague

Millennials are not good at interpreting what you meant and very rarely succeed when put into a situation to “wing it”. Though they want responsibility and authority, they are uncomfortable without having some sort of framework for the task at hand. Good instructions and a lot of flexibility in how you get there. They need to be kept engaged to produce a real value for the company. They crave a sense of ownership and purpose, so working towards the specifics of a certain goal is key.

Be Real

One major pitfall that Gen X and baby boomers often fall into is trying to be cool and hip to attract and inspire younger workers. I myself fell into the trap when I was caught typing my virtual assistant. I used a couple of new age trendy words to the reaction of, “I am sorry Diane, I do not understand what you are saying”. Fail! Often this muddies the waters between leaders and their employees who would prefer clear direction.

CommunicationIt seems that Millennial’s want authenticity, and they’re craving the traditional values of a good leader. It’s okay to be old school! It’s about being a mixture of old and new, by being open to the new ideas but still being able to leverage that experience.

Good communication is also paramount to keep the culture open and considerate of individual needs. Millennials want to feel that their voice is heard and valued when it comes to working conditions and decision-making. If they’re unhappy about something they will have no fear about vocalising their frustration. It is important to listen to your employees and ask them what they would like to do and how they would like to achieve success. That way, you can adapt, change and modify based on that feedback.

Managing The Gen “Y” Staff

Employing engagement strategies is a great means of retaining talent, but millennials generally don’t
sucess follow traditional structure, and their display of company loyalty will be no exception.

Ensuring that Millennials are working on interesting projects and feeling like they’re developing their skills will ensure greater interest in what the company has to offer.

If ambitious millennials do leave to see if the grass is greener, it’s important to treat that as a new form of talent management, ensuring they depart viewing the company and its leaders in a positive light. They may sometimes hone the “lazy millennial” rap, but in my experience they can offer immense creativity to your brand, you just have to know how to harness it!

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