REPOST: 4 Smart Strategies To Build Your Business Brand

Spreading the word about a new business can be a difficult endeavor for most small business owners. This SmallBizTrends.com article highlights four tactics entrepreneurs can employ when competing against well-known and established brands.

Image Source: smallbiztrends.com
Image Source: smallbiztrends.com

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses and startups is getting the word out about their products and business to acquire new customers and build your business brand. Having a website is not going to magically generate sales.

Couple that with the fact that businesses online face even tougher challenges and significant disadvantages with the advent of search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing and social media marketing. Competitors have established themselves and may have larger marketing budgets than your business does. Time and finances can get stretched beyond budgets very quickly trying to catch up.

So how does a new business compete?

There are a number of offline and online marketing strategies that can help boost your business brand and connect with potential customers. Here’s a closer look at four of my favorite tactics and a couple tips to maximize your efforts from them.

Trade Shows

So many businesses focus solely on digital marketing tactics. This is an error. Your business needs to diversify. Participating in a trade show of your targeted niche can give your business fresh prospect interest in what your business offers and accelerate the development of key relationships.

When exhibiting at a trade show, there are a couple key pieces to success. Having an eye-catching trade show booth to draw people in, high quality branded sales collateral to give to visitors to your booth, along with hosting a contest helps attract more people.

Video

Video is huge and can give your brand tremendous exposure. Gary Vaynerchuk of the famed WineLibraryTV created daily videos about wine for several years. Over the course of those years, Gary’s videos helped contribute to build his personal brand. They also helped his family’s business jump from a couple million a year in revenue to over $50 million a year.

Being able to create videos about your niche and your business as a way to connect with your prospective customer base is a powerful way to develop brand advocates as they become your “fans” while driving customers to your business.

Remarketing

Beyond basic pay-per-click advertising, one of the more underutilized marketing opportunities for many businesses is remarketing ads. Also known as ad retargeting, remarketing allows your business to show your ads after they’ve visited your website, to stay in the customer’s mind.

Remarketing is a powerful Internet marketing tactic because you are getting brand exposure and becoming more recognized by your target audience.

Engage In Q&A Sites

Beyond the standard social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, a rapidly growing channel to target are Q&A sites like Quora and even LinkedIn’s groups. Being able to participate on these sites gives exposure to your business because you’re giving value in responding to questions. Providing answers and referencing resources can establish you and your business as an expert in your niche. Added bonus – you can connect with the people who are asking the questions.

Businesses have a near infinite number of tactics and opportunities to drive traffic to their websites and build a consistent revenue stream. Once you’re done with the basics of SEO and paid advertising, focus your efforts on video, content development, relationship building via social media networks and exhibiting at trade shows. Define your goals and target the channels that will help your business reach those goals.

Think outside of the traditional marketing box to grow your business and build your brand.

Subscribe to this Steven Rindner blog to learn effective techniques in marketing and branding.

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Steven Rindner’s GPS Fitness Watch Helps Him Manage His Runs

It seems that every year, technology yields new applications for improving fitness. After the iPhone came out, developers made available apps to help people improve and track their exercise patterns. More recently, avid runners started using GPS fitness watches to manage volume and intensity to improve their fitness and avoid getting injured. While a smartphone can perform the same functions, the fitness watch is much smaller and lightweight and is dedicated to your running. Steven Rindner, a dedicated marathoner, uses his GPS fitness watch to run more efficiently and to improve his race times. While the cost is between $200 and $300, an avid runner finds price is no obstacle to better running times.

Image Source: istockphoto.com

A GPS watch collects data while you run and displays it on the watch’s screen so you observe it during your run. You can download the data from each run to enable you to monitor progress over time. Some models will alert you during your run if your pace is too fast or intense and you risk injury. Also, these watches are waterproof so you need not worry about running in the rain or snow. Research shows that people wearing a pedometer tend to walk more. It stands to reason that if you wear a monitor for running, you will run more often and feel more motivated.

Additional motivation comes from the ability to view your progress graphically. Steven Rindner enjoys analyzing his results and planning his runs based on the data. He has seen improvements in his race times with fewer incidents of injury as a result of active monitoring of his runs. He also likes the fact that he can set his watch so that, when he stops for a traffic light or other reason during the run, the tracker stops, as well. So, his results exclude the time waiting for the light to change.

Certainly, a GPS fitness watch is not for everybody, but it can be invaluable for runners.

Avoiding these two common running injuries

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Image Source: bplans.com

Serious runners often take an injury as a disaster that sidelines them to the couch until they’re well enough to go back on track. The causes of running injuries vary; they can result from overtraining, overuse, improper form, or even the wrong pair of shoes.

Fortunately, runners can minimize the risk of injury while training for or running in a race. The following are two common running injuries and tips on how to prevent them.

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Image Source: therunningcompany.com.au

Plantar fasciitis is a condition wherein the plantar fascia, the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot, becames overloaded or overstretched, causing a stabbing pain that comes and goes.

To prevent it, runners should maintain a healthy weight, run on gentle surfaces such as a track or grass, and limit mileage increases to 10 percent per week. Stretching exercises that work the heel cord and the plantar fascia and ice massages after a hard run can prevent the condition from recurring. In addition, runners should choose shoes that provide ample cushioning and arch support.

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Image Source: homeceuconnection.com

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PPS), also known as “runner’s knee,” is one of the most common overuse injuries among runners. It is characterized by knee pain, knee buckling, and a grinding or popping sensation while walking.

It occurs when the kneecap cartilage becomes overloaded due to poor alignment or overuse. PPS has many possible causes, from flat fleet that provide no cushioning, to wide hips and a greater Q angle that causes the kneecap to track abnormally.

To reduce the risk of PPS, runners could try exercises that strengthen the leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps, to improve kneecap tracking, and stretching exercises for the calves and hamstrings to promote a neutral running gait.

If runners feel pain, they shouldn’t force themselves to run through it or keep training: doing so might worsen the injury. At the first sign of injury, runners should scale back their mileage, get plenty of rest, and consider seeing a physician if the problem shows no signs of abating.

Steven Rindner is a marathon running enthusiast. For helpful articles on marathon running, subscribe to this blog.

REPOST: What Great Leadership Training Does Now That It Didn’t 10 Years Ago

What is the best leadership strategy to-date? Kathy Caprino, a contributor to Forbes.com, shared this interview she had with Ray Carvey, Executive Vice President of Corporate Learning at Harvard Business Publishing in this article below.

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Do a Google search on “Leadership Training,” and you’ll find over 100 million results – academic programs, management training series, white papers, leadership “gurus,” articles, resources and more. Those of us in the leadership space are inundated with new-fangled approaches to understanding leadership, and teaching and training leaders today.

Through working with emerging women leaders at Fortune 500 companies and in academia and non-profits, I’ve formulated my own views about what goes into the making of a truly great leader – one who is capable of articulating a powerful, positive and compelling vision for organizational and individual growth, and who can generate the trust and support needed to execute on this vision.

To learn more about the best of the best in leadership training today, I was excited to catch up with Ray Carvey, Executive Vice President of Corporate Learning at Harvard Business Publishing. Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning division partners with clients to create world-class leadership development solutions for managers at all levels in global organizations and governments.

Image Source: forbes.com
Image Source: forbes.com

I asked Ray all about what top-level leadership training does now that it didn’t 10 years ago:

Kathy Caprino: What lessons have you and Harvard Business Publishing learned recently about employee training that you didn’t know before?

Ray Carvey:  We’ve learned that there are several key dimensions of leadership training that must be present in all the programs we deliver, if we’re to help organizations thrive and succeed in today’s environments. These key dimensions are:

Developing a leadership mindset.

To evolve as leaders, managers have to internalize the idea that leadership is fundamentally different from managing tasks. Being a great leader means both managing tasks and functions well, but also understanding how to behave and “show up” as a leader. It can be hard to grasp for some, but it can be learned.

There’s a big difference between a learning organization and a training organization.

It surprises me how many training programs exist in a vacuum. They might focus on training on specific skills like time-management, budgeting and coaching, for example, but they incorporate very little business context into the design of their programs, and they measure metrics such as “usage,” rather than real business impact. Top-level training organizations move beyond abstract learning to understand how to align what they’re doing with key business objectives.

Our clients who really do this well speak in business terms, not in training lingo. For them, learning and development initiatives start out with what the business is trying to achieve.  Some business goals we’ve helped clients achieve are building stronger capabilities for innovation, improving client/supplier relations in high-growth emerging markets, or shifting what has been a single-country headquarters mindset to a global one.

If content is king, then context is queen.

Context is so important for effectively incorporating learning into an organization. For learning, getting it right in the context of your organization’s needs is what makes it relevant, meaningful and “sticky.”

Leadership development doesn’t and shouldn’t look the same at every organization. For example, how leaders make decisions at a start-up in a high-growth industry is going to be quite different from decision-making at a 100-year-old organization in an established market.

Read the full interview here.

 

Learn more about different leadership strategies by following this Steven Rindner Google+ Page.

7 Winter Running Tips

Spring races are hard to get ready for when winter weather impacts your training, but implementing some of these tips can help bridge the gap:

1. Use Layers Intuitively – When you layer up for colder weather, do so based on what you intend to remove once you get too warm (i.e. wear a long sleeved t-shirt over your windbreaker jacket, so once removed you still have protection.). This will keep you from the frustration of needing to slow your pace to take off, then put back on the necessary layers you need for protection, etc.

2. Eat Real Food – Eating a gel packet in freezing temperatures is not the most palatable, so winter is a great time of year to try real food running boosts like dehydrated fruit. In addition, cave dwelling during the colder months is an excellent time to brush up on your lifestyle cooking skills to fuel your runs by a solid whole foods diet void of processed foods.

Image Source: bostonmagazine.com

3. Think about Traction – Slipping on slick terrain can inspire indoor treadmill running quickly, but outdoor solutions do exist. Purchase some traction devices that best fit your style and pace of running to keep you motivated and safe during winter.

4. Keep Feet Warm – Contrary to popular belief, keeping the feet warm is less about shoes, more about socks. Go for brands specifically designed to wick moisture away and avoid cotton. Use a running shoe that allows for the foot to be fully relaxed in the toe box so circulation does not impair proper blood flow to the feet.

5. Head, Hands, and Neck – Yes, the number one place for heat loss is your head, followed closely by your hands, but the neck also needs to be covered to keep your body warm. Try a neck gaiter or turtleneck.

6. Stay Motivated – Sign up for an early spring event helps to stay motivated to get out the door on blustery winter mornings.

7. Have a Plan B – Unexpected weather, alarm clocks mysteriously not going off, and failures in the buddy system all happen during winter a bit more than in the warmer months. Having backup workouts, even cross-training (or running on the dreaded treadmill at times) can keep you on track to meet your running goals.

For more on marathon running and related tips, please visit Steven Rindner‘s homepage.

Startup success: Tips on development and marketing

At the onset, building a startup seems simple: take a great idea, put it into practice, and wait for investors. But complications, arising from an economic climate or internal problems, are bound to show up. Before the tech bubble burst, lazy development strategies passed muster, but investors today are smarter and wiser.

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Image Source: personaltrainerguru.com

According to research by Shikhar Ghosh, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, three out of four startups fail. A possible reason for this is a lack of strategy: entrepreneurs are too focused on building their product and neglect building a strategy to grow and market their business.

It’s important to create an incisive business development strategy in order to raise a startup’s chances of success.

The following are some practices that entrepreneurs can incorporate into their business development plans:

Cut costs, not quality

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Image Source: fundinggates.com

Entrepreneurs should forgo the corner office with a view until they could actually afford it. Rent, for a small startup, is an unnecessary cost: a home office will do until needs cry for expansion.

Entrepreneurs should also consider other ways to cut costs without compromising quality. For example, instead of having full-time employees for non-essential tasks, entrepreneurs should consider outsourcing them to freelance workers.

Startups should consider a “release early, release often” approach. Minimum Viable Products (MVP) have only the necessary features needed to earn money and get constructive feedback from early adopters. This is more cost-effective and less time-consuming than creating a product with the maximum number of features on it and hoping it appeals to customers.

Create a marketing plan

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Image Source: businessmarketingblog.org

A good marketing plan will build awareness, create and reinforce the company’s image, and develop a solid customer base. It also differentiates a startup from the competition and provides reasons for potential customers to choose its products or services.

The above two tips are just the tip of the iceberg: there are many other things that entrepreneurs need to incorporate into the business, marketing, and financial sides of their business plan. Beginners to the world of business will benefit greatly from the guidance of an experienced business development leader.

Steven Rindner is a business and corporate development executive with experience in several industries. For discussions on business growth strategies, follow this Twitter account.

Learn to Run with Proper Form

Perhaps you are new to running or a seasoned runner fighting injury. Learning the proper form and posture of running is imperative to having longevity and happiness in the sport. The purpose of this article is to teach runners a proven, effective, and safe way to run to avoid injury and improve performance with effortless technique (one in alignment with the body’s natural physiology).

Image Source: npr.org

The Basics of Proper Running Form:

• The proper body position is upright with a slight forward (but balanced) lean from the ankles.

• The core should be engaged with good posture and a straight back.

• The chest should push forward slightly as the arms pump backward and the hips and knees extend.

• Hands should stay near the chest with a short, compact, arm swing. Pump the arms back and let them recover or relax forward.

• To help the legs drive straight and the foot to land aligned underneath a bent knee, the arms should go forward and back with as little side to side motion as possible.

• The elbows should not come forward past the torso unless running at very high speeds.

• The upper body should carry over the foot leaving the feet to lift off quickly and extend behind the center of gravity.

• The feet should strike the ground under a bent knee as the leg begins to swing back under the body. Although the foot will contact the ground slightly in front of the body, it should feel as though it is directly underneath. Generally speaking, the full foot should contact the ground at the same time (a mid-foot strike). However, depending on genetics, the type of footwear being worn, and the running surface, the feet may contact with a slight forefoot landing or very slight heel landing.

• The foot strike should be light and quick and have about a 180-step-per-minute cadence.

 

Tip: Running barefoot for short distances can aid in helping you to feel, understand, and master proper running form.

 

For more on marathon running and related tips, please visit Steven Rindner‘s homepage.