Clips 101: How to Use Apples New Camera App

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Marketers and readers agree — videos and social media make up the next great frontier of content marketing and distribution.

The harder question to answer: How do we quickly and easily make those shareable videos our audiences want to see on social media?

Check out our interactive guide to creating high-quality videos for social media here.

There are a lot of ways to create video content directly within social media apps. Think: Facebook Live, Periscope, and Snapchat Stories. But these videos are live, spontaneous, and unpolished. They’re authentic — but sometimes, you might want to create something more technical and creative.

Here’s where Clips comes in — Apple’s solution to easy social media visual content creation. Read on to learn all about the app, what you can do with it, and how to use it.

What is Clips?

Clips is a mobile photo and video editing app that helps users quickly and easily create shareable visual content for social media and its Messages app.

Its simple interface features a record/capture button, filters, emojis and geotags, and cards. If these features sound familiar, it’s because Clips borrows some of the most popular and engaging features from apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.

But Apple isn’t trying to create another photo and video sharing app that would inevitably compete with these other platforms. Instead, it’s created one to easily film, edit, and upload visual content to apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.

Apple takes Clips a couple steps further with two other cool features: automatic subtitling and a widget to add music from Apple Music. Let’s dive into how to use all of these neat video editing tools to make a highly shareable social media video.

How to Use Clips

Download Clips free of charge in the iOS App Store. As the name of the parent company might suggest, Clips is currently only available on iOS devices.

How to Record

When you open up Clips, you’ll see a big, red recording button. You can toggle between photo and video recording, or you can select a photo or video already recorded on your device. Tap the red button to capture a photo, or hold down the red button to record a video.

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You can record Clips up to 30 minutes in length at a time.

How to Add Automatic Subtitles

Tap the bubble text icon on the top of your Clips camera view, and choose the font style the way you’d like your subtitles to appear.

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Then, when you start recording, Clips will automatically subtitle the words you’re speaking. I had to record this video several times to get it right — you have to speak very clearly and slower than usual into your device’s microphone. Here’s what a short Clip with automatic subtitles looks like:

How to Add a Filter

Tap the triple Venn-diagram at the top of your Clips camera view and different filtering options will appear. Tap the one you like, then record your photo or video as normal.

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How to Add Emojis & Geotags

Tap the star icon at the top of your Clips camera view and choose a sticker to add to your photo or video. Here’s what one looks like in action:

How to Add a Card

Clips has a few options for static or moving images you can customize with your narration or music (more on that next). Tap the letter T at the top of your Clips camera view and select a card you want to use for your photo or video. Here’s an example I chose to wish someone a happy birthday:

How to Add Music

Clips gives you the ability to add music from your own library, or its library of stock soundtracks, by tapping the music note in the upper right-hand corner of the Clips camera view. Tap a track to download and select it for your Clip

How to Share Clips

Tap the downward-pointing arrow in the upper-left hand corner of your Clips camera view to look at your work. From there, you can create a new video or share the Clips you’ve already created.

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When you record several Clips in one sitting, they’ll be woven together into one large recording when you go to share. To avoid this, tap the arrow after each recording to create a new video project altogether.

Next, tap the sharing icon in the lower right-hand corner to pull up the screen below:

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From here, you can easily share your Clips via Messages, email, or you can save your Clips to your device.

Where to Share Clips

In addition to the channels above, you can easily share Clips where they were designed to be shared — on social media. If you tap the “More” ellipses, you can add other social networks to your sharing options, as shown below:

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Clips is a fun, easy-to-use app that allows you to create highly shareable images and videos. By adding a few embellishments like subtitles, filters, and emojis, content is easier to consume and share on a variety of platforms — without having to film and edit a video with professional equipment and software.

Have you tried creating video content using Clips yet? Share with us in the comments below.

social media marketing assessment

Want Better Small Business Employees? Use a Personality Test

Should You Use a Personality Test for Hiring?

It’s not a new phenomenon. Psychological tests have been used in employee selection processes since World War I.

Determining how to reduce turnover, increase productivity and more accurately predict employee performance has been and remains a goal of nearly every organization.

Due to its importance, predicting the future success of an applicant is a difficult, high-stakes game. Therefore, it’s only natural that companies turn to psychological assessment tests in the hopes of improving the accuracy and validity of their recruitment processes.

Should You Use a Personality Test for Hiring?

That begs the question: do personality exams prevent bias in recruiting and ultimately assist companies in choosing the most viable candidates? The answer is not a simple yes or no.

Understanding Weaknesses

It’s not an exact science. Tests are not always right. While there are benefits to incorporating behavioral and personality-based assessments in the executive recruitment process, they are far from fool-proof. In many instances, variables such as the ones below will present hurdles for the hiring manager.

  • Such tests may be able to detect global personality traits of individuals, their strengths and weaknesses, but will not be a good predictor of who will do well in a certain work environment. For example, extroverts and introverts may become equally good salespeople, using different strengths and skills to succeed. For example, an introvert may be a very good listener and use this talent to better understand his/her client.
  • Another problem is that individuals can “fake” the answers, providing the answers they think the employer is looking for (e.g., if an “extrovert” is considered a better for for a sales position, then the candidate will answer accordingly, irrespective of their “true” personality).

Where the Tests Prove Helpful

Despite not being perfect, studies have shown certain types of tests to provide valuable insight into an applicant’s ability to problem solve, reason and ultimately succeed in a position.

Even though they disagree as to the extent of accuracy, most experts do agree that cognitive ability tests (in which an applicant’s capacity to mentally process, comprehend and manipulate information is measured) tend to be the most accurate success predictor when compared to other types of pre-employment tests.

However, in order to benefit from a pre-employment assessment to the fullest extent, there must be an understanding that exams do not always accurately factor in certain variables important to success:

  • Current Competitive Advantage of the Company’s Product / Service
  • Positivity and Optimism Around the Office (i.e., cultural attitude)
  • Autonomy Given
  • Resources Provided for the Applicant to be Successful.
  • Management Dedication and Style

Moreover, companies must supplement the test with a structured interview process. This means all candidates are asked the same questions making it easier for interviewers to score candidate responses and draw comparisons across applicants.

Additionally, it must be predetermined what weight is going to be given to the results of the test. In twelve years of recruiting, we have numerous times seen great performers score lower on screening exams than those who have not worked out in a given role.

Therefore, unless an applicant score comes out dismal, tests are best utilized as a supplemental measure rather than an ultimate decision maker.

In the End

While not perfect, pre-screening tests can hold merit. Though, they must be used correctly.

Above all, benefiting from implementation requires an understanding of where the results fit in to the overall assessment of a candidate as test inaccuracies can weed out high performers on the job if given too much weight. However, despite some imperfections, hiring managers do benefit by combining a relevant test as a supplemental assessment variable.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Test Form Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Want Better Small Business Employees? Use a Personality Test” was first published on Small Business Trends

9 Reasons Your Marketing Agency’s Retainers Aren’t Bigger

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I’ve seen the inside of hundreds of marketing agencies over more than a decade, including my own.

Most marketing agencies struggle to generate recurring revenue. Many suffer through the ups and downs of the cash-flow roller-coaster because they never make the switch to recurring-revenue engagements.

Some inch their way to consistency by securing one, two, and three thousand dollar per month engagements. But, those low fees aren’t usually enough to justify much work, and after failing to make a big impact on their client’s business, they get fired after 6 months or a year.

On the flip side, I’ve also had the opportunity to see many agencies prosper as they’ve secured bigger and bigger clients that stick with them for years. When I met Stream Creative (now a Platinum HubSpot Partner) in 2010 at HubSpot’s INBOUND event, they told me they had no recurring revenue. Every year I’d ask them, “How much revenue is from recurring contracts now?” Every year, their percentage would go up. Last year, their response was, “All of our clients start as retainers, and now we add projects on top of that.”

I have hundreds of stories like this. This kind of success continues to fuel me in my mission to help agencies grow their recurring revenue. It’s why I started HubSpot’s agency partner program in 2008, and why I’ve launched an agency partner program at my new company, Databox.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of some common dumb moves that prevent agencies from winning new retainers, landing bigger ones, or losing those precious few ongoing contracts — and what to do instead.

9 Reasons Your Retainers Aren’t Bigger

1) Your Own Marketing Sucks

You wouldn’t hire a dentist with rotten teeth or hire an account who has filed bankruptcy 6 times over.

So why the hell would a company hire an agency that doesn’t prioritize their own marketing?

I’m not going to lecture you on how to do this. If you don’t know how to market your own business, you have bigger problems.

But if you want to start winning more, get more at bats by doing inbound, internet marketing.

If you need some inspiration, follow the lead of Impact Branding, a HubSpot Diamond Partner who now gets more than a quarter million visitors to their site every month. “We’ve grown from two to thirty-two people and the majority of our clients have found us through our online marketing. The smartest decision I made as a startup agency was to dedicate time to it and when we were bigger, to dedicate a full time person to it.”

2) Your Clients Are More Tech-Savvy Than You

Marketing technology is a given these days. Clients expect you to have expertise in the software products they’ve chosen.

When I ran my own little agency, marketing software was pretty new. Google Analytics, Moz, and Constant Contact were really the only well-known tools. There was such a lack of tools, we often edited websites with Notepad and configured our own email server for sending email campaigns.

When I joined HubSpot in 2007, web content management systems were still pretty new and HubSpot was really just a blogging platform with some keyword research tools and a form builder built into it. Today, HubSpot is a full marketing and sales growth stack that makes it possible to execute a multi-channel marketing campaign. And at Databox, our average paying customer visualizes key performance indicators from more than five different tools.

You need to be a tech-step ahead of your prospects.

3) You Aren’t Aligned with Marketing Technology Vendors

Marketing technology isn’t just a fact of life you must adapt to. It’s a massive business development opportunity for agencies.

Here’s why: marketing technology is booming. Investors have been putting billions of dollars behind marketing technology companies (known as martech) and it’s cousin, salestech, for more than a decade now. There are a bunch of marketing technology companies generating hundreds of millions of dollars — and a few generating more than a billion dollars in annual revenue. In fact, marketers are expected to spend more than $120 Billion over the next 10 years.

Where do you think they’re investing all that money? They are putting much of it into marketing and sales, or what they like to call it: customer acquisition. In fact, they’re putting more into sales and marketing than they make in many cases, as investors continue to put money behind them and their unprecedented growth curves.

When I started HubSpot’s agency program, partnerships between martech companies and agencies was a pretty new idea. But, today, most of these companies have agency partner programs. And the benefits of partnering are great for agencies.

In addition to earning commission when you resell their products, you can also do co-marketing to generate leads, buddy up with their sales teams to get referrals, and market and sell your expertise directly to their install base. In other words, you can leverage their customer acquisitions machines to generate new clients for you.

If you pursue these partnerships to help you win new clients, you can’t fake your way through it, though. First assign someone from within your agency to identify, learn and drive adoption of new software programs.

“Clients hire us because of our experience identifying and using technology to improve their marketing and sales results. They’ve come to depend on us for evaluating new technology and presenting new opportunities to them. Even though HubSpot is a broad “all-in-one” marketing and sales platform, our average client uses more than 5 pieces of software integrated with it,” said Elyse Meyer, owner of Prism Global Marketing Solutions. Her firm won HubSpot’s Integrations Innovations Award for leveraging HubSpot and other software that is integrated with HubSpot to drive client results.

Maybe you’re just not that into technology, though, and this doesn’t feel natural. If for no other reason, do it for the leads. “Not only do our clients get better results, but we get more opportunities with larger companies that are looking for a tech-savvy agency that can focus on their business holistically,” Meyer added.

And if you’re clinging to your “We’re technology agnostic” line, stop it. Like any other personal or business relationship, the benefits of picking a mate are greater than going it alone. Plus, I usually find that technology-agnostic agencies are actually just technology-ignorant. I bet your prospects will make the same conclusion.

4) You Look and Sound Like Everyone Else

If you work at an agency and you haven’t read Blair Enns, “Win Without Pitching Manifesto”, you are doing yourself a disservice. He says it as concisely as possible:

The world does not need another generalist design firm. There are enough full service advertising agencies and marketing communication firms. The world is drowning in undifferentiated creative businesses. What the world needs, what the better clients are willing to pay for, and what our people want to develop and deliver, is deep expertise. Expertise is the only valid basis for differentiating ourselves from the competition. Not personality. Not process. Not price. It is expertise and expertise alone that will set us apart in a meaningful way and allow us to deal with our clients and prospects from a position of power.

As I was building HubSpot’s agency program, Enns and fellow agency luminaries David Baker and Tim Williams started warning me that the sheer volume of HubSpot partners marketing themselves with the same message and the same tactics will soon make them all look like a commodity.

And even though demand for inbound-certified practitioners still outweighs supply, inbound agencies do tell me they are being shopped around more and more and under-cut by new entrants all the time.

But this doesn’t mean your agency shouldn’t do inbound marketing. Inbound is an unstoppable movement driven by buyer’s interest in self-educating, self-serving, and ultimately, being served better.

What it does mean is that you must differentiate yourself by establishing an expertise no one else can match in another way. A great example of this is TREW Marketing, an inbound marketing agency and HubSpot partner that helps companies market to engineers. But they don’t market to all kinds of engineers. They’ve specialized even further than that. They focus on working with specific types of manufacturing companies like control and automation companies, embedded semiconductor solutions, and just two other specialties that I (nor you, probably) will understand even if I name them.

Here’s an excerpt from their website: “TREW helps design and embedded companies generate demand for their wireless chips, reconfigurable FPGAs, UI development software, and electronic control solutions (to name a few!) in this rapidly changing space.” Find another agency with that on their website. Go ahead, I dare you. They even wrote the book on inbound marketing to engineers.

“By focusing on these niche markets, we bring our collective knowledge of what works to each client, making it a win-win for both agency and client,” explains Rebecca Geier of TREW Marketing. “Not only can we serve them better than anyone else because we understand their products, markets and technical buyer, we can do it faster and more effectively than any other agency. Based on our knowledge and relevant experience with similar industries, we can help them create a differentiated position, develop content engineers are seeking, and drive conversions to fuel demand and business growth.”

5) You’re Trying to Be All Things to All People

Most agencies are small. According to Digiday, “Two thirds of advertising agencies in the U.S. employ fewer than five people.”

There is no way you can be an expert at everything. Instead, partner with firms who are truly experts at things and focus your own resources on developing one or two core competencies.

“Thousands of HubSpot customers use our website templates. We’ve worked with hundreds of them one-on-one to lower their Cost per Customer Acquisition with Conversion Rate Optimization.” said Joe Jerome, owner of Brand Builder Solutions. “Not only does our efficiency allow us to beat the competition on price, but we’re continuously investing in our processes and systems around this type of work.”

I personally know several other agencies who outsource their work to Jerome’s team because his quality is high and because he stays in his lane. He doesn’t offer the kind of services his agency partners do. Therefore, agencies trust him not to steal their clients. And Jerome is often in a position to refer agencies work too.

Find partners who are experts at one or two things, and be more like them too by building your own deep expertise in one or two things.

6) You’re Not Using Data To Justify Investments

Marketing results are more predictable today than they’ve ever been. It’s not an exact science, but over time, more and more things have become measurable.

Just a few years ago, it was possible only to measure CTR of paid ads and not ultimate conversion rates. Now that’s easy. As technology continues to advance, marketing and sales activities will become even more measurable and improvable based on data.

And if you’ve been doing digital marketing correctly, you know the longer you work with a client, the more data you can collect, and the better you can predict the outcome of future marketing activities.

When you’re starting out a relationship, it’s hard to predict how much value or ROI you can deliver. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, though.

According to a survey we ran at Databox, most agencies use data in their sales process sometimes, but only 30% require their clients to give them access to data every time. In addition to putting forth a more relevant and customized proposal to the client, there must be a reason these agencies always request access. Maybe they close deals more often because they do?

Here’s how they do it …

Without even asking for anything from your prospect, you can use tools like HubSpot’s website grader to evaluate issues with a prospect’s website or competitor grader to evaluate how they compare against their competition. You can use a tool like SEMRush to evaluate ways to increase organic search traffic.

Don’t stop there. If the prospect has Google Analytics setup, ask for access so you can evaluate issues and find improvement opportunities. If they’re already using tools like HubSpot or Databox, ask for access to those, so you can look for opportunities deeper in the funnel.

If you want to make this process systematic, consider developing standardized report templates for your agency that allow you to quickly view the data the way you want to view it, like HubSpot Platinum partner, FullFunnel did, “We’ve created templates for our core funnel metric reports that make it even easier and quicker to roll out new reports to new clients and prospects.”

By doing this in your sales process, you’ll demonstrate your approach to data-driven marketing and set the stage for using data to justify future investments too.

8) You Are Too Focused on Top of the Marketing Funnel Services

There are not enough agencies that know how to grow sales for their clients.

I’m not suggesting you should stop building or re-designing websites, ignore search engine optimization, or social media marketing, but at a minimum, you need to be able to connect those efforts to sales.

To do that in a B2B or high-ticket B2C client, you need to serve the sales leader as much as you serve marketing. Marketing is essentially a support function for sales, so it’s ludicrous that an agency wouldn’t.

In the early days of HubSpot, we taught agencies how to generate leads for clients, which certainly helped turn top of the funnel results into client revenue. Then, as marketing automation became popular, generating qualified sales leads became the norm.

Today, generating qualified leads is no longer good enough. Agencies need to help drive CRM usage, align sales and marketing goals and messaging and enable sales teams with training and content for use during the sales process.

Many agencies have told me they’ve doubled their retainer sizes by offering sales enablement services. Other than the fact they have no reason to lie to me, I believe them. Why? Enabling a sales team is a time-consuming activity when done right. And it is a very quick return on investment when done right too. In one case, an agency reported they created a “a more stable pipeline and consistent flow of opportunities” just be getting the sales team to send out a sequence of pre-written templated emails to one additional prospect per day.

9) You Aren’t Introducing New Ideas to Clients

Typically, companies hire agencies because (a) they don’t think they can execute on certain concepts in-house or (b) because the same old stuff isn’t working as well as it once did.

It’s an enviable position to be in where clients are expecting you to pitch them new things. Most companies are expected to just do what they’re hired to do.

If your agency isn’t introducing new ideas to clients, you’re not only failing to deliver on expectations, you’re squandering an opportunity to retain and grow your client accounts.

Don’t have ideas of your own? Leverage technology to find opportunities for improvement. LeadG2, a HubSpot Platinum Partner leveraged SeventhSense, a send-time personalization solution, to do just that. Email marketing is an extremely important marketing channel for many of their clients, and they were at a loss on how to improve deliverability, opens, and click-through rates. By using SeventhSense to send emails to individual recipients based on the recipient’s activity profile, they achieved “a 26% Increase in open rate, 141.38% increase in read rate, and a reduction in hard bounces to almost zero.”

There are plenty of technology companies with clever ways to help your clients grow traffic, leads, and sales. Don’t feel like you have to figure it out all on your own.

Do These Things to Land Bigger Retainers

Most agencies really struggle to grow. The most common blocker I’ve seen is they take on project after unprofitable project.

While conventional ‘marketing agency’ wisdom says you need to go upstream to get bigger retainers, my work with HubSpot partners proves you can get bigger retainers from small and mid-sized businesses too. Sure, it helps to go upstream and you can gradually move upstream if you want. But, don’t fool yourself into thinking you need to go out and miraculously land big clients to get there.

Instead, stop making the mistakes above. Alternatively, start doing the things below.

  • Commit to consistently doing great marketing for yourself
  • Get tech-savvy
  • Partner with marketing technology companies
  • Differentiate yourself from all other agencies
  • Become an expert at one or two things
  • Use data to convince prospects to hire you and clients to pay you more.
  • Use real-time data to improve the results you deliver and ensure you hit goals that are meaningful to your clients.
  • Offer down-funnel services like CRM setup and sales enablement in order to deliver and prove ROI more easily and more convincingly.
  • Always be introducing new ideas to existing clients

Start doing all of these things and I guarantee you’ll never have cash flow problems again. Instead, you’ll start growing revenue and profit consistently. Oh yeah — and you’ll have bigger retainers too.

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What Founders Can Learn from the On-Demand Economy

Lessons to Learn from the On-Demand Economy

Has there been a business model that has earned as much attention, funding dollars, and as many spin-offs as the on-demand model? Certainly not in recent memory, and certainly not so quickly.

But just a handful of years after the first on-demand companies rose to become economic powerhouses, the model is experiencing problems, and the many smaller companies in that space have to reinvent the system. The problem is multifaceted and is in part due to the sheer volume of companies competing for consumer adoption. Services that span the full range of customer needs are fighting for traction, and many are falling out.

Last year the sum of venture capital funding that was given to on-demand startups collapsed by 50% compared with the year prior. In fact, the on-demand model often referred to as the “Uber of X,” is also being called the “Uber of failure.”

But out of the mayhem, valuable lessons are slowly being learned. Watchful founders are identifying the symptoms of failure. The model can work when the right service is paired with the right operational support and the right vision. But it has taken billions of dollars in funding and hundreds of failed companies to understand what that mixture should look like.

Lessons to Learn from the On-Demand Economy

While by no means a comprehensive list, these are a few things that founders in and out of the on-demand economy can learn from the last few years:

Copy and Paste Doesn’t Work

It should go without saying, but even though imitation is the highest form of flattery, it doesn’t always make for a good business. That has been proven out in the on-demand space where hundreds of companies copied the Uber model with little to know innovation or even customization to the particular service they were providing.

But by the same token, the on-demand companies that are still receiving venture capital funding and acquiring users are the ones who have built on top of the model. Scot Wingo, founder, and CEO of on-demand eco car wash service Spiffy put it this way, “Entrepreneurs who are succeeding in the on-demand space today do not operate like the original on-demand companies. They have changed their backend operations, changed their corporate cultures, and are going back to the basics of how to run a quality company and putting the customer first.”

Perhaps the single greatest takeaway is that the first responsibility of an entrepreneur is to innovate, even if only by a few degrees.

Fundamentals Still Apply

At the beginning of the on-demand era, there was an enthusiasm about the model that it was a gold strike. People rushed to open up their goldmine confident that they would also find incalculable wealth without needing to experience the drudgery of building a business in a traditional industry.

Of course framing any opportunity as a gold rush is easier to do in hindsight. In the beginning, it was hard to be a voice of reason and bet against something that had such universal appeal. But there were concrete signs at the beginning that ignored by many entrepreneurs.

No business model in the world allows you to ignore the basic tenets of good business. Every business needs a brand, a path to profitability (one that doesn’t assume the idea will go viral on its own), and core values that consumers can identify with. Most on-demand companies lazily attached their brand and values to the notion of convenience. But consumers want to be able to relate to a brand for its unique qualities — its commitment to excellence, passion for the environment, or desire to help the under served.

In other words, the fundamentals of business are essential in every industry, however great the hype.

Value is Greater than Hype

“Businesses solve problems,” says Wingo. “If your business is not solving someone’s problem or meeting someone’s need, it is not a viable business. So just because people have clothes does not mean they will use an on-demand dry cleaning service. There has to be more to the idea; a value proposition that connects with people.”

Good entrepreneurs have the ability to understand in a meaningful way what value is. Maybe it is instinct, perhaps it is just careful observation, but the most successful entrepreneurs can tell whether a value proposition makes sense or not. That is not to say that they are immune to hype and dollar signs, but that is the difference maker.

Testing every business idea against that principle is also what is changing the makeup of on-demand companies which are increasingly purpose-driven, slow growth, and laser focused on value. Wingo’s startup Spiffy has several of those earmarks, slowly launching in select cities, emphasizing its commitment to the environment, and using full-time employees instead of contracted workers. The industry is likely to see more changes as the winnowing of on-demand services continues.

Founders should pay close attention to those changes and learn from the on-demand saga.

Keyboard Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “What Founders Can Learn from the On-Demand Economy” was first published on Small Business Trends

Hey Small Designers the Latest Jeans Are Already Out of Style

Are Short Lived Trends Worth Your Attention?

Blue jeans are generally considered to be pretty timeless in the world of fashion. But that doesn’t apply to all of the trends within that niche.

Recently, some specific blue jean trends have gained a lot of attention — just not always in a good way. You can currently get jeans that look like they have mud on them, plastic jeans, detachable cutout jeans and clear mom jeans.

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However baffling these trends might be to the average consumer, there are businesses that are making profits off of these fleeting trends. The only question is, how long will it last?

Fashion isn’t the only industry with fleeting trends. So this concept can actually apply to businesses in a lot of different industries, regardless of whether or not clear jeans are involved.

Are Short Lived Trends Worth Your Attention?

When dealing with these short lived trends, businesses have a couple of different options. You can either designate some limited resources to producing products that fit into those specific trends just to gain some quick attention and profits for your business. Or you could simply stick with the more timeless products and focus on building a base of long-term, sustainable customers.

There isn’t one right answer for every business. You just have to understand that not all trends last forever so that you can plan properly.

Image: Y/Project

This article, “Hey, Small Designers, the Latest Jeans Are Already Out of Style” was first published on Small Business Trends

81 Percent Of Small Business Owners Say Entrepreneurship Makes Them Happy

Are Entrepreneurs Happy?

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you are probably happy to be one, a new study indicates.

Are Entrepreneurs Happy?

According to the 2017 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, the answer is, “Yes”. In fact, 81 percent of business owners say their happiness is due somewhat or entirely to being an entrepreneur. What’s more, 94 percent of entrepreneurs say they are happy with their lives.

Optimism High Among Business Owners

It’s probably because of their optimism that business owners are feeling more secure about their future. The study shows fewer entrepreneurs are worried about their ability to save for retirement (45 percent, down from 53 percent in 2016).

On average, entrepreneurs believe they will need 1,182,000, up slightly from the $1,170,000 they thought they needed last year.

Small Businesses Have Big Plans

“In this economy, there’s a clear correlation between business owner optimism and plans for growth,” says Susan Sobbott, President, Global Commercial Payments, American Express (NYSE:AXP).

Data supports her assertion as it’s revealed entrepreneurs are planning to increase capital investments, hire staff and increase usage of low cost methods like social media to attract new customers.

Hiring is High on Agenda, But Remains a Challenge

In specific numbers, 74 percent say they need to hire to handle their growing business or to help increase business volume (72 percent).

To meet their staffing needs, the greatest number of small businesses (17 percent) will hire a combination of full and part time employees. Sixteen percent say they will hire only part timers while 12 percent will hire only full timers.

Finding the right people, however, continues to be the biggest challenge (26 percent, up from 19 percent last year) for businesses.

The American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, conducted since 2002, is based on a nationally representative sample of 700 U.S. small business owners/managers of companies with fewer than 100 employees. The anonymous survey was conducted via telephone by Ebiquity between March 29 and April 21, 2017.

Happy Business People Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “81 Percent Of Small Business Owners Say Entrepreneurship Makes Them Happy” was first published on Small Business Trends

How to Differentiate Your Agency by Applying a Planning Approach

Businesswoman and colleague working at their desk in the office.jpeg

“Be useful. Be different. Be consistent.”

These are the markers DigitasLBi Chief Strategy Officer, Fern Miller, puts down as her starting points for differentiating her agency brand. And this advice comes following her first-hand experience of being the client on her own agency’s brand.

In a talk for The Art of New Business on the topic of differentiating your agency through a planning approach, here were some of her other key takeout’s:

It’s Terrifyingly Rewarding to Take Care of Your own Brand

But it is worth it.

Your own brands’ behaviour is important, and not simply because competition for agency services is higher than ever, but because the relationship between building your agency brand and the growth of your agency is more than a casual one.

Clients are looking for people to build their brands with them. And the first place they rightly look is the brands of those they are willing to entrust with theirs.

Start With Culture

This is an industry with a high churn rate. And that churn is expensive. But culture is the biggest defence against it.

Culture is a powerful thing, particularly when you don’t have a physical product to sell, and what you are selling is your people. Culture grows. Culture can’t be defeated. And it can be a driver of new business success — because not only is it a unifier for the agency, but clients feel an attachment to it as their agency brand too.

Develop Your Positioning

All great brands have great strategy at their heart, and tell great stories around that strategy. Why would your own agency brand be any different?

Fern advocated for the need to always agitate around your core proposition to ensure it is right, working and competitive, and an anecdote she shared from being the marketeer of the DigitasLBi brand showed just that:

The merger of two separate agencies, LBi and Digitas, required a new logo for the newly created DigitasLBi entity — that was a unicorn, as a confident symbol to represent ‘a quest for digital mastery’. But over time it became unidentifiable at a global level and they needed to unify what it meant to people at a local level.

The outcome was each office getting its own custom unicorn. From the expected (a unicorn on a bike for Amsterdam) to the unexpected (a Robocop unicorn for Detroit), they added meaning to a positioning. This wasn’t just a redesign; this was a global story merging with local, cultural relevance to give the DigitasLBi network something to stand for and rally round.

It is powerful narratives like these that separate great from good brands, and in this case, agencies.

Make Your own Content

DigitasLBi embarked on a host of no-ordinary ways to show what they were about through their content.

A massive agency rave with hundreds of people pledging devotion to creativity and tech. They had Buzzfeed, Guardian Labs, Facebook Atlas, Mondeo Bank, Gay Star News, Mashable, Unilad and Contagious speak at an event program held in their basement. They were the first agency to sponsor the first Digital Pride. And they showed they were thinking about what their clients wanted with a change to the client-agency dinner party model by inviting the families of their clients to a family-day showing them all sorts of tech, and how to make stuff.

In terms of how this approach rewarded them, they won 2 Lions, a Grand Prix at the BIMAS, Digiday’s European agency of the year, Campaign APAC’s digital network of the year and shortlisted for Campaign’s UK Digital Innovation agency of the year.

No Time Like the Present

While we feel a lot of love for your own brand, doing work on it can be terrifying, and it is easy to get lost in dependent behaviour of being distracted elsewhere.

But none of these are good habits. And all impede new business. Planning on your own brand for it to be differentiated is a modern tool to grow your agency.

So…

”Be useful. Be different. Be consistent.”

The Art of New Business breakfast talk series exploring modern ways to grow an agency are running throughout 2017. So if winning new business and the growth is even a blip on your agency radar then secure yourself a ticket to the next event and discover some of these fascinating insights for yourself.

Find Out More Here!

Author:

Dan Cunningham is an Account Director at sports marketing agency, Dark Horses. In a set-up unique from the rest of the sport marketing world, Dark Horses is co-owned by the advertising agency, Lucky Generals, and is a new breed of sports marketing agency that believes the moment you see yourself as the favourite, you’ve lost the race.

10 Tips for Creating and Selling Online Courses

10 Tips for Creating and Selling Online Courses

Creating courses to sell online is a great way to funnel your expertise into a rewarding and profitable channel. If you’re an expert, specialist or highly knowledgeable in a certain area, why not share your knowledge to a global audience and earn some money as you do so?

Of course, successfully creating and selling online courses takes time, knowledge and commitment. To shed some light on how to effectively create and sell courses online, Small Business Trends spoke to David Siteman Garland, the creator of The Rise To The Top and Create Awesome Online Courses. David helps people create and sell online courses, and has assisted more than 3,500 students in over 100 countries to create successful courses, on everything from baby sleep training to clarinet lessons for adults.

Take a look at David Siteman Garland’s ten tips for creating and selling online courses.

Tips for Creating and Selling Online Courses

Get Your Customers Results Quickly

Rule number one of online course creation and selling, is to get your customers (students) results as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible.

That’s why they are investing in your course! They want your advice to get them to their goal and you are the shortcut.

Create Courses with Tangible Results

The most successful courses have a tangible result or transformation. Period.

Think about this… if your ideal student took your course and did everything you said… what would be the result? The transformation? Did they learn how to do a backflip? Teach their dog 20 new tricks? Complete writing their book?

Create a Step-by-Step System with Your Online Course

What people are buying from you is a system to do something. Anyone can research random YouTube videos or Google 1,000 blog posts. What you are doing is creating a step-by-step system.

Be Specific about Niche and Target Audience

There are riches in niches. Be specific in terms of topic and who you are selling to. A huge mistake I see all the time are courses that are way too broad. You have to be specific in terms of topic, audience or both.

Don’t Price Your Courses Too Cheaply

Don’t compete in the bargain basement. Resist the urge to price your course at the bottom of your industry. Focus instead on the right students who not only want to pay a premium price but will actually take action. Staying at the premium end of the industry will bring in happy customers who are invested and ready to put your system to good use.

Price Courses on Value

The length of your course has nothing to do with pricing. Pricing is based on VALUE (the result). Length has nothing to do with it. Remember rule number one, people are going to buy your course because you are the SHORTCUT.

Create Anticipation

Build anticipation for your first launch. Never just “release and pray” people will enroll. Think about a movie… what happens before it comes out? (you guessed it…previews!) Same concept for an online course. Build anticipation for your first launch by creating a free video series that inspires, educates and gets folks pumped to enroll the day you open up for business.

Do a Course Launch

Speaking of launches…. remember to do a launch. A bad idea is just to create your course and send out an email saying …. it’s open! The best thing to do is what I call a VIP launch. It lays out specific dates, bonuses and other aspects that build up anticipation and MOTIVATES people to enroll NOW.

Get Your Name Out There

Don’t worry about those overhyped launches you see all over the internet, where people brag about the zillions of dollars they made with their launch.

The launch is just the kickoff party. It puts your name out there and gets your first few (or more than a few) customers in. One of my students, Renae Christine did $3,000 on her first launch and was ecstatic.

Promote Your Course After Launch

The launch is just the beginning…not the end. Now Renae has done over seven figures in sales in the past 12 months — just a couple of years after that first $3,000 launch. The most successful courses and course creators stick with it after the first launch. There are all kinds of ways to market and promote your course so you are rolling in sales (and happy customers) 24/7.

If you have any tips or advice about creating and selling courses online, we’d love to hear our readers’ stories and experiences about their internet course endeavors.

Chalkboard Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Tips for Creating and Selling Online Courses” was first published on Small Business Trends

20 Women Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing the World

It’s a great time to be a female entrepreneur. There are plenty of trailblazers making their mark on a variety of different industries. If you’re looking for some inspiration or any female entrepreneurs to look up to, take a look at the successful women entrepreneurs listed below and learn how they’re changing the world with their businesses.

Successful Women Entrepreneurs

Rebecca Minkoff

20 Successful Women Entrepreneurs - Rebecca Minkoff

The millennial fashion designer has built her own clothing and accessory empire by targeting young women and actually connecting with them on a personal level, mainly using social media and influencer marketing.

Alexa von Tobel

This entrepreneur actually dropped out of Harvard Business School before starting her business, LearnVest. Her goal with the business is to bring financial knowledge to the masses to help them make better decisions.

Weili Dai

Weili Dai is the co-founder of Marvell Technology Group, a company that makes semiconductors. The tech entrepreneur has won numerous awards and recognition for her ability to succeed in a male dominated industry.

Pamela Slim

Pamela Slim is an author, teacher and business expert. She provides coaching and consulting services to other entrepreneurs looking to boost their bottom line.

Leslie Blodgett

An accomplished entrepreneur, Leslie Blodgett has stood at the helm of multiple beauty brands, including Bare Escentuals and Shiseido.

Tory Burch

20 Successful Women Entrepreneurs - Tory Burch

This popular fashion designer has built a worldwide brand of shoes, handbags, clothing and more. She is also a philanthropist and has won several awards for her designs and business acumen.

Cher Wang

Cher Wang is the co-founder and chairperson of HTC. And her success is magnified by the fact that she does it all in the tech industry, a sector that has traditionally been dominated mainly by male entrepreneurs.

Angie Hicks

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a website that helps connect consumers with local service providers. She started the business back in 1995 and has since grown it into one of the most recognizable sources for finding service providers.

Shelia Lirio Marcelo

This female entrepreneur founded an innovative online startup to help people find child care, pet sitters and house sitters. Care.com is now one of the top sources for finding child care providers online.

Cynthia Ndubuisi

Cynthia Ndubuisi is the entrepreneur behind EverGlow, a company that makes biodegradable dish soap that’s derived from plants. She created the product because of some challenges faced by people in her native country of Nigeria. And she used the help of a mentor to build it into a recognizable brand.

Arianna Huffington

20 Successful Women Entrepreneurs - Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington founded the Huffington Post, one of the most notable news publications online. Since then, AOL acquired the publication. But Huffington remains involved in business endeavors and has another startup in the works called Thrive Global.

Erica Nicole

This entrepreneur is the founder and CEO of YFS Magazine. The news site focuses on providing informative content to young self-employed individuals and entrepreneurs.

Rashmi Sinha

This female entrepreneur created an online presentation tool that’s popular with a lot of small businesses — SlideShare. She’s been named as one of the most powerful female entrepreneurs in the world.

Sara Blakely

The founder of SPANX dealt with plenty of failure in the professional world before starting the wildly successful shapewear business. Now, it’s a globally recognized brand. And Blakely’s net worth has been estimated at about $1 billion.

Yang Lan

This entrepreneur is the founder of Sun Media, a Chinese media group. Her empire includes TV, newspapers, magazines and more. And she’s been named as one of the most powerful entrepreneurs in China.

Sophia Amoruso

Although her original entrepreneurial venture, Nasty Gal, folded earlier this year, Amoruso remains involved in the business world. She has a successful book, Netflix show and other projects in the works.

Debbi Fields

Debbi Fields is the female entrepreneur behind Mrs. Fields cookies. She started the business with just a small personal investment and built it into a large, nationwide brand.

Gisele Bundchen

Though Gisele Bundchen might be more well known for her modeling career, she is also an accomplished entrepreneur. Her skin care business, Sejaa Skincare, brings in millions each year.

Corri McFadden

If you think ecommerce reselling is just a hobby, think again. Corri McFadden has built a very successful business based on that concept. Her business is called eDrop-Off. And she and her team collect gently used luxury goods and resell them on eBay.

Mei Pak

Though she actually has a degree in mathematics, Mei Pak decided to go the entrepreneurial route instead and started Tiny Hands, a company that sells unique and handmade jewelry pieces.

Minkoff, Burch, Huffington, United Photos via Shutterstock

This article, “20 Women Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing the World” was first published on Small Business Trends

25 Travel Accessories for Men

25 Travel Accessories for Men

If you’re in the market for some masculine travel accessories, you’re in luck. There are plenty of different products out there that work great for male business travelers. Here are 25 of them.

Travel Accessories for Men

Lifewit Men’s Leather Briefcase

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Lifewit Men’s Leather Briefcase

If you’re taking short trips and mostly just need to transport your work gear, an over-the-shoulder bag like this leather briefcase might work just fine. This leather bag retails for between $130 and $300.

Renwick Shoulder Bag

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Renwick Shoulder Bag

This shoulder bag from Renwick offers another classic option for business travelers. It retails for $17.99.

CaseCrown Laptop Bag

25 Travel Accessories for Men - CaseCrown Laptop Bag

This CaseCrown messenger bag offers another option. It’s made specifically for laptops and comes in a few different sizes, starting at $29.99.

Kopak Slim Business Backpack

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Kopak Slim Business Backpack

Or you could opt instead for a backpack to hold a variety of different items. This slim model is made specifically to fit most laptops, but can also hold some other belongings. Price starts at $36.99.

Targus Rolling Bag

25 Travel Accessories for Men -

You could also go for a rolling bag like this one from Targus. It’s sized to hold laptops and other items. And it retails for $44.95.

HSEOK Laptop Sleeve

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Targus Rolling Bag

While you travel, you’ll need a way to keep your laptop protected. This HSEOK laptop sleeve features a masculine design and starts at $16.99.

Rivacase Tablet Case

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Rivacase Tablet Case

Likewise, a tablet case like this one from Rivacase can be essential if you travel with a tablet device. This product starts at $14.90 and comes in a few different sizes.

ProCase Tablet Stand

25 Travel Accessories for Men - ProCase Tablet Stand

You might also find it helpful to have a stand for your tablet so you can easily work on the go. This ProCase tablet stand is made for Samsung tablets and retails for $17.99.

RAVpower Portable Charger

25 Travel Accessories for Men - RAVpower Portable Charger

This portable charging station will allow you to charge your devices even on the go. The product starts at around $20 and features a sleek, masculine design.

Treblab Connectivity Headphones

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Treblab Connectivity Headphones

If you need to do any video or voice chatting while you travel, some good headphones with a built-in microphone can be a big help. These start at $39.99.

Philips Noise Cancelling Headphones

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Philips Noise Cancelling Headphones

Or if you just need to drown out the distractions around you, consider some noise cancelling headphones like these from Philips, which retail for $114.95.

Roll Up Electronics Organizer

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Roll Up Electronics Organizer

To store all of your electronics without taking up a ton of space in your suitcase, you could use something like this roll up organizer from Patu, which starts at $12.99.

MLMSY Toiletry Bag

25 Travel Accessories for Men - MLMSY Toiletry Bag

For all of your shaving supplies and other toiletries, consider this hanging toiletry bag from MLMSY. It comes in a more masculine style than many other toiletry bags and costs just under $13.

Squeeze Pod Toiletries

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Squeeze Pod Toiletries

Or if you’d rather just purchase the travel sizes of the toiletry products you need, these squeeze pods offer a simple solution at $12.99.

Travel Bottle Set

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Travel Bottle Set

You might also find a set of travel size, TSA approved bottles like these helpful. This set is fairly masculine and costs $16.95.

Parker Travel Shave Kit

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Parker Travel Shave Kit

Or you could go with a dedicated shave kit like this one from Paker that retails for about $100.

AmazonBasics Garment Bag

25 Travel Accessories for Men - AmazonBasics Garment Bag

If you need to travel with a suit or other garments that you need to keep wrinkle-free, a garment bag like this one for $7.99 can be a huge help.

LapGear MyDesk

25 Travel Accessories for Men - LapGear MyDesk

If you need to get any work done while on a plane or waiting around the airport, a lap desk like this one can be a big help. This LapGear product starts at $16.99.

ProCase Travel Case

25 Travel Accessories for Men - ProCase Travel Case

You could also use a multi-purpose case like this one to hold toiletries, electronics or any other number of goods. This ProCase organizer starts at $11.99.

Waterproof Travel Pouch

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Waterproof Travel Pouch

If you plan on doing any hiking or exploring while you travel, having a small case like this one to hold your essentials can be a big benefit. This one starts at $8.99.

Travel Portfolio Bag

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Travel Portfolio Bag

A portfolio bag like this one can provide another option for keeping your phone, wallet and other important items easily accessible while traveling. This one ranges from $9.99 to $21.78.

Caseling Travel Storage Case

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Caseling Travel Storage Case

Or if you need a case that’s really durable, this Caseling product has a hard exterior to protect your breakable goods. It retails for $14.99.

Master Lock Luggage Lock

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Master Lock Luggage Lock

No matter what types of accessories you choose, you’re going to want to make sure they’re all secure in your bags. So you might want to purchase a TSA approved lock like this one from Master Lock, starting at $6.98.

Accuweight Luggage Scale

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Accuweight Luggage Scale

You’ll also want to make sure that your bags don’t exceed any airline weight limits. And this Accuweight luggage scale, priced at $6.99, can help.

Travelmate Neck Pillow

25 Travel Accessories for Men - Travelmate Neck Pillow

This memory foam neck pillow can help you make your travels more comfortable as well. It retails for $13.65.

Traveling Man Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “25 Travel Accessories for Men” was first published on Small Business Trends