Thursday, December 31, 2020

What is Technographic Data? (And Why It Matters)

Digital transformation is more than just a buzzword — as noted by Forbes, 70% of companies have already deployed a strategy to improve digital service and solution uptake or are actively working on one.

And, in 2019 alone, enterprises spent more than 2 trillion dollars worldwide to help drive digital adoption and improve overall organizational performance.

For product and service providers in the technology industry, this presents an opportunity: If B2B sales teams can determine where enterprises are struggling with digital transformation initiatives, they can improve targeted marketing efforts and boost total sales.

But how do they bridge the gap between potential conversions and practical insight? Technographic data. In this piece, we'll break down what technographic is (and isn't), how companies can collect this data at scale, and why this data is important to help enhance B2B sales efforts.

Let's get started.

What is Technographic Data?

Technographics is a portmanteau of the words “technology” and “demographics”, and refers to information that describes the use of technology solutions, their adoption rates, and the potential challenges they present for organizations.

The challenge? This technographics definition isn't terribly useful without context.

First, let's talk about what technographics isn't:

Demographic data

Demographic data focuses on information about people — how many people are employed by a specific organization? What points of contact exist? How have companies' sizes and staff configurations changed over time, and what's on the horizon. This information is critical to help identify potential leads and develop initial marketing efforts but offers no insight about technology use.

Firmographic data

Firmographic data refers to information such as company size, product offerings, industries served, total revenues and even physical locations. This data is useful to help create targeted campaigns that drive B2B sales interest but doesn't include technology metrics or measurements.

So what exactly is technographic data? Put simply, it's the practical application of information about the technology stack used by a prospective customer — everything from the infrastructure and network tools they're using to the applications they prefer and the adoption rate of these applications at scale.

Effectively used, technographic data can help companies align their product offerings with digital transformation needs and capture client interest.

Worth mentioning? There's a distinction between pure technographic data and social technographic data. While technographic data speaks to the use of software, hardware, and networking technologies within an organization, social technographic data focuses on the consumption and use of social media technologies within an enterprise.

While this is useful for social marketing efforts, it doesn't serve the same function as technographic data for B2B marketing efforts.

How to Collect Technographic Data

When it comes to collecting technographic data, three broad methods exist:

1. Surveys

The most direct method of collecting technographic data starts at the source: Staff at target companies. Using phone or email surveys, companies attempt to collect information about how technology is adopted, deployed and used to boost B2B efforts. The challenge? Most companies won't respond to cold-call surveys, and many aren't willing to provide specific usage data even via email response templates. While this method may provide some generalized use data, it's often more trouble than it's worth.

2. Website Scraping

Website scraping tools extract specific information from corporate websites about the apps and services used by enterprises. Although this may produce more accurate results than survey data and without the need to cold call companies, it requires technical expertise to ensure tools are collecting and reporting relevant data. In addition, security controls on websites may limit the type and amount of data that can be collected, and available information may be out-of-date.

3. Third-party Purchasing

The most straightforward way to obtain technographic data is by purchasing it from a reputable data collection provider. Thanks to the rapid uptake of cloud-based SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS solutions, both service providers and data analytics firms now have access to much more robust and reliable technographic data sets than can be purchased by interested parties.

While there are some limitations on this data collection — for example, personal data must be anonymized to ensure compliance with both local and global privacy legislation — enterprises can access massive amounts of usable technographic data with the right third-party provider.

It's worth keeping in mind, however, that not every provider is created equal. Some promise massive datasets but can't deliver, while others can't offer real-time insight. Best bet? Do your research before contracting any technographic data supplier.

Why Technographic Data is Important

On its own, technographic data offers a window into company technology use. Combined with targeted marketing and sales efforts, meanwhile, this information provides a way to significantly improve conversion outcomes.

Four actionable benefits of technographic data include:

1. Improved Segmentation

With accurate data about the use and deployment of technologies within potential customer organizations, companies can better define granular customer segments based on current needs and ongoing priorities to ensure sales resources are used effectively.

2. Enhanced Specificity

Sales leads are often inundated with pitches for new technologies and services. Technographic data lets sales teams speak to specific problems faced by potential clients and quickly capture their interest.

3. Increased Prioritization

Not all leads have the same potential value to companies. But distinguishing lead priority is difficult, especially in an increasingly competitive technology market. Technographic data can help businesses quickly assess which leads are more likely to spend on new solutions and which need more time.

4. Reduced Lead Time

Speaking of time, news announcements about new technology solutions, mergers and acquisitions or product launches offer jumping-off points for successful sales discussions — but only if teams are equipped with relevant technographic data to help connect the dots between news releases and customer needs.

Tactical Technical Targeting

Technographic data makes it possible for marketing and sales teams to create tactical, targeted campaigns that speak to the real-life issues faced by organizations undergoing digital transformation.

By prioritizing in-situ issues and providing comprehensive solutions for emerging challenges using technographic data, B2B efforts can stand out from the crowd and help drive sustainable client conversion.

What is Technographic Data? (And Why It Matters) was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

What is the 7x7 Rule in PowerPoint?

Despite its reputation for dry content delivery across virtual and in-person meetings alike, PowerPoint remains the go-to choice for many professionals, even as other options emerge that offer greater usability and flexibility outside of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Part of the presentation platform’s popularity stems from its familiarity — many organizations still run Microsoft-first IT software environments, making PowerPoint the obvious choice for straightforward presentation design. Simplicity provides the second part of this popularity permutation since creating a basic PowerPoint presentation on a single topic requires minimal time and effort.

The problem? “Simple” doesn’t always mean “effective”. Staff across markets, industries, and verticals worldwide have stories about unbearably long and boring PowerPoint presentations that were long on details but short on value. The 7x7 rule offers a framework to help boost PowerPoint form and function by reducing text volume and improving information impact.

In this piece, we’ll break down the 7x7 rule in PowerPoint, best practices, and offer some actionable examples of seven-by-seven solutions in-situ.

The PowerPoint Problem

To put it simply, most viewers don’t like PowerPoint. While the format has the benefit of speed and convenience — and can conceivably be used to communicate information quickly and concisely — many presentations are overlong and overwrought with bonanzas of bullet points that seem relevant but are really just digital hot air.

In most cases, the disconnect between appearance and action is boring at best and irritating at worst. As noted by the BBC, however, in extreme cases — such as NASA’s Challenger shuttle disaster — overlooked information in an overstuffed presentation can have significant real-world consequences.

Best bet? To avoid PowerPoint frustration and fatigue, it’s time for a new framework: The 7x7 rule.

What is the 7x7 rule in PowerPoint?

The 7x7 rule is simple: For every slide, use no more than seven lines of text — or seven bullet points — and no more than seven words per line. Slide titles aren’t included in the count.

There’s no specific data supporting the 7x7 model as the ideal; some PointPower proselytizers consider 8x8 good enough while others say 6x6 is more streamlined. The point here isn’t the hard-and-fast number but the underlying idea: Cut out extraneous information to improve presentation uptake.

Slides can still contain images — and should, wherever possible — but sticking to the 7x7 rule helps cut down on excess data that might be better-shared in follow-up emails or one-on-one discussions. In effect, the 7x7 rule is a way to reduce the amount of time staff spend pretending to care about PowerPoints and instead help them focus on slide information that’s relevant, contextual, and actionable.

Best Practices for the 7x7 Rule in PowerPoint

Building a typical PowerPoint slide is straightforward. Like any business practice, however, it can be improved with a standardized set of rules designed to limit waste and improve efficiency. And when it comes to most PowerPoint presentations, almost any change makes a positive impact.

Let’s break down some of the best practices for building PowerPoint slides with the 7x7 rule.

1. Single slide, single concept.

Each slide should address a single concept rather than trying to connect the dots across multiple data points, trends or ideas. While it’s fine to build on previous slide data as your presentation progresses the single slide, single concept approach helps focus presentation efforts from the word go.

2. Images increase impact.

As noted above images are a welcome addition to slides, so long as they’re relevant. If you find yourself adding unrelated stock photos just to add some color — don’t. Keep slides, text, and images on-track.

4. Forget the funny.

Almost everyone has a story about a “funny” PowerPoint joke that was nothing of the sort. In most cases, these heavy-handed humor efforts are shoehorned in ostensibly to help viewers better remember slide data. In fact, they shift the focus away from your primary objective.

5. Plan it out.

Before creating your presentation, create a basic outline that highlights your primary concept, how you plan to get it across, and how many slides in total it should take. Then, draft your slides. Take a break, review them, and cut back wherever possible.

6. Consider the 7x7x7.

If you really want to go all-in on the 7x7 rule, consider adding another 7 and aiming for no more than 7 words in each line, no more than 7 lines on each slide, and no more than 7 slides in total. It’s not easy — but offers a much better chance of getting your point across.

7x7 Rule in Powerpoint Examples

So what does the 7x7 rule look like in practice? It’s one thing to talk about building a better slide, but it’s easy to fall back into bad habits when it’s time to put together a presentation. It makes sense; content creators are often trying to convey a significant amount of information in a short period of time, and it’s easy to get sidetracked by the notion that every piece of data must be included to make the meeting a success.

Let’s start with a slide that’s substantially removed from the 7x7 rule:

bad example of the 7x7-rule in powerpoint

There’s a lot to unpack here. We’re using too many lines and too many words per line. Lines are complex without saying much, and the attempt at humor doesn’t add anything.

Let’s try again:

example of the 7x7-rule in powerpoint that still needs some improvement

This one is better — we’ve reduced the number of lines to 7 and lost the joke, but most of the lines still have more than 7 words and the text is overly convoluted.

Let’s try one more time:

GREAT example of the 7x7-rule in powerpoint

This slide is clear and concise, and most lines have less than 7 characters. It offers the same information as the first two versions — it’s just more effective and efficient.

The 7x7 Solution

While using 7 lines of text with 7 words or less isn’t a silver bullet for all PowerPoint-related problems, it’s a good place to begin if you’re looking to boost viewer engagement and limit fatigue.

Bottom line? PowerPoint isn’t always the ideal format for getting your point across, but if you need to create a quick-hitter presentation that lands well with your audience, start with the 7x7 solution.

What is the 7x7 Rule in PowerPoint? was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

How to Password Protect a WordPress Page

Despite ongoing efforts to replace password protection with more robust and reliable security solutions — such as two-factor authentication or location-based access approval — recent research notes that “password authentication is still ubiquitous although alternatives have been developed to overcome its shortcomings”.

So why this continued passion for passwords despite their potential problems? It’s simple: Familiarity and ease of use. The mechanism for password protection is widely understood and easy to implement — and in many cases, more complex defense efforts can cause more problems than they solve.

Consider the use case of securing a WordPress website or blog. While site owners could invest substantive time and effort into in-depth security precautions, this popular content management system (CMS) offers built-in password functionality to help defend sites against unwanted access and editing.

In this piece, we’ll explore the pros and cons of password processes and provide an easy-to-follow framework for WordPress page and site password protection.

The Pros of Password Protection

Passwords remain the most common form of digital security because they offer a low bar to entry. If you know the password you’re granted access — if you don’t, you’re turned away.

They can also be easily combined with other security solutions to improve overall defense. For example, current-generation smartphones often leverage both biometric technologies — such as fingerprint or facial recognition sensors — and password-based backups.

And while passwords often get a bad reputation for regular compromise, much of this issue stems from poor password selection. If users select their preferred passwords carefully, don’t use them across multiple sites and adopt a policy of regular password change, it’s possible to significantly reduce digital risk.

Avoiding Password Pitfalls

Passwords aren’t perfect and for attackers looking to expend minimal malicious effort, they’re a potentially attractive prospect. In truth, however, the biggest risk comes not from external but internal factors — users who unintentionally stumble into three common pitfalls:

1. Poor Password Choice

No one wants to forget their password. As a result, it’s tempting to pick something simple and easy to remember — but this can rapidly get out of hand. Consider that in 2019, the three most common passwords were “12345”, “123456”, “123456789”. While these are easy for users to remember, they’re also simple for attackers to guess.

2. Defensive Duplication

The average user now has between 70 and 80 passwords — so it’s no surprise that password reuse and duplication is common. The problem? If attackers compromise one account or website using a duplicated password, they’ve potentially compromised dozens or more.

3. Static Security Practices

The sheer number of passwords required to navigate digital-first landscapes means that users are often reluctant to change login credentials Many also use physical media — such as sticky notes — to remind themselves of specific site or account passwords. In both cases, the existence of passwords that aren’t regularly updated creates a potential security issue.

How to Password Protect a WordPress Page

If you’re building a WordPress site, chances are you’re continually creating and evaluating new content to see which pages offer the biggest boost to user traffic and search engine optimization.

As a result, it’s critical to protect these posts — to ensure that unauthorized users can’t view, edit or delete data before you’re ready to publish pages or have the chance to make critical changes.

But how do you password protect a page? Thankfully, WordPress makes it easy with a quick and painless built-in tool.

Follow these six steps to quickly password protect a single page or post:

  1. Log in to your WordPress account
  2. Go to Posts, then All Posts
  3. Click Edit on a specific page or post
  4. Using the Publish menu, change the visibility to Password Protected
  5. Enter a password
  6. Publish your newly-protected page

1. Log in to your WordPress account.

Make sure to log in as an administrator or you won’t be able to make any changes to post visibility or security.

2. Go to "Posts", then "All Posts".

From your dashboard, click through to "Posts" and then "All Posts" to select the page or post you want.

3. Click "Edit" on a specific page or post.

Password protection is implemented on a per-post basis, so you’ll need to add security to individual pages as required.

4. Using the Publish menu, change the visibility to "Password Protected".

By default, WordPress pages are set to Public — meaning anyone can view them. Private pages can only be accessed by designated Admins and Editors, and Password Protected offers the highest level of security.

5. Enter a password.

Choose your password. As noted by the official WordPress site, the maximum length is 20 characters.

6. Publish your newly-protected page

To apply any changes made, you must click the “Publish” button for unpublished pages or posts, or the “Update” button for already-posted content.

How to Password Protect a WordPress Site

If you’re looking for even more protection it’s possible to password protect your entire WordPress site. This is often a good idea if your site isn’t ready to go live yet or you’re in the middle of in-depth page and post development.

The caveat? WordPress doesn’t natively offer this feature, meaning you’ve got two options: Plugins and HTTP authentication. Let’s explore each in more detail.


There are a host of free and for-pay WordPress plugins that make it possible to password protect your entire site. While the details differ from plugin to plugin, the basics are the same — you select a password for your site and specify any exceptions, such as visitors from specific IP addresses, then apply the changes. When users visit your site, they’ll see a WordPress login screen that requires a valid password for access.

HTTP Authentication

This type of password protection happens at the web hosting level; many web hosting providers now offer one-click HTTP authentication for your website, regardless of what CMS you’re running. Just like plugin-based password protection you select a password for your site along with any exceptions. Unlike plugin solutions, visitors won’t even see a WordPress logo when they arrive — they’ll simply see a text box asking them to log in.

Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe

Despite potential pitfalls, passwords offer substantive protective benefits — so long as users avoid common letter and number combinations, don’t duplicate these defenses and regularly update login credentials.

For WordPress website owners and administrators, meanwhile, the judicious use of passwords offers peace of mind by limiting access to reduce potential security risk.

How to Password Protect a WordPress Page was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Best Free Graphic Design Software for Marketers and Beginners

When it comes to website success, what you see is what you get. While compelling text, blog, and social media content can help set your brand apart from the competition, the visual appeal of your site is the first thing users see when they follow backlinks or click through on search engine results.

Recent research found that it takes just 2.6 seconds for users’ eyes to focus on a specific area of your website. What’s more, it takes just 0.05 seconds for visitors to form a general first impression of your site — meaning you’ve got just one opportunity to change their minds or reinforce this impression, and it happens in the first three seconds of arrival.

As a result, it’s critical to create webpages that are both aesthetically appealing and contextually relevant. For larger businesses, this often means hiring dedicated graphic designers to develop eye-catching designs and deploy them consistently across web pages, but SMB budgets may not support this type of spending.

What it Takes to Have a Great Design

Advanced graphic design skills require practice, practice, practice. Great designers can take one look at your webpage and see where current visual elements aren’t performing, then create visual content options that capture both your brand position and aesthetic style. But what about website and business owners who can’t afford the skills of a master graphic designer? How can they jumpstart the process of improving their site’s visual appeal?

The first step is taking a step back. Open your own webpage in multiple browsers and see what stands out. What’s the first thing you notice? Is it a specific image — or lack thereof? Is the image clear and concise, and does it drive action? What about the text formatting, color, and font? Here, the goal isn’t to drill down and analyze the nitty-gritty details of website design but instead put yourself in the digital shoes of a site visitor.

It’s also a good idea to ask for feedback from other staff members along with friends and family. While this comes with natural bias — they want your site to succeed, after all — it can help identify persistent or problematic visual elements and suggest an initial course of action.

In this piece, we’ll examine some of the best free graphic design software tools, where this software fits into your website strategy, and how they can help capture user interest from the moment they arrive.

What is the Best Free Graphic Design Software?

If your research turns up a problem — your images aren’t compelling, your text is hard to read and your color scheme hurts the eyes — you need a simple solution.

Free graphic design software offers the ability to customize the look and feel of your site without breaking the bank. But with a host of options on the market, which is the best fit for your business?

Two broad factors impact this outcome: Your current graphical ability and your potential use case. For example, if you have no experience with graphic tools of any kind, look for a solution that’s simple, streamlined, and does most of the work behind-the-scenes. If you have a graphic design background or natural inclination, tools with more robust customization and control may be a better fit.

If you’re planning to revamp your entire site with new colors, images, logos, and menus, meanwhile, you’ll need an in-depth solution that provides this level of control. If you’re starting small with minor changes to your color scheme or image quality, this kind of granular adjustment isn’t necessary.

So which software tool is the best fit for your business? Here’s a look at five free graphic design tools and some pros and cons for each.

The Best Free Graphic Design Software for Beginners and Mac Owners

The Best Free Graphic Design Software for Beginners

1. DesignWizard

designwizarrd interface

DesignWizard ranks among the best free graphic design software for beginners. The tool offers a large database of images along with a host of free templates (over 10,000) plus a simple, easy-to-use interface. You can also quickly create custom templates, but where DesignWizard excels is as a front-line, free graphic design tool for beginners.

Despite an easy-to-use interface and no upfront costs, it’s worth noting that most of the more powerful options in DesignWizard are only available in its for-pay version.

2. Setka Editor

Setka editor user interface

Setka bills itself as “everything you need to create content that converts”. This graphic design software is primarily focused on delivering enhanced content branding across your website, ad campaigns and social media posts — and works from within your current CMS or in the cloud.

The caveat? Although the Setka Editor is free to try for two weeks, companies will need to select a plan — Starter, Pro, or Enterprise — to unlock the full feature set and keep using Setka.

3. Canva

Whether you're looking to create an ebook, infographic, business card, or email header, Canva has a template to simplify your process. The free web design tool, developed by non-designers, offers professional, easy-to-customize templates for just about any design need you can think of.

The drawback? You might need to invest in the paid version or try one of the more advanced free graphic design softwares as you skill up. While Canva's free version is great for new designers working with templates, you can access more complex tools and features -- such as team sharing -- in the paid version.

4. Adobe Spark

adobe spark user interface

Adobe Spark is a free alternative to the company’s popular, for-pay Adobe Illustrator. While it’s not nearly as full-featured it does support integration with other Adobe products, is easy to use and comes with a host of free templates. If you’re looking to quickly create posters or videos for ad campaigns, Spark is a great choice.

The potential drawback? A limited feature set makes this a great starting point for beginners but less useful for more in-depth projects or experienced designers. Spark is available for both web and mobile, however, meaning you design anywhere, anytime.

Best Free Graphic Design Software for Mac

5. Krita

Krita is a free, open-source painting program made by artists, for artists. Ongoing development of this tool depends on donations and is driven by the needs of the designer community at large. It’s no surprise, then, that Krita includes a customizable user interface, feature-rich toolset, and a comprehensive resource manager.

For businesses looking to boost their graphic design impact, Krita is a great tool — if they have the help of an experienced designer. For companies in need of simple, streamlined solutions, meanwhile, other software on this list offers a better fit for beginners.

6. Gravit

Gravit is a vector design application created by the makers of Corel Draw. With a host of tools for creating vector art and a self-adjusting interface, Gravit earns its place among the best free graphic design software for Mac and Windows — the tool is also available for ChromeOS and Linux.

graphic designer software

Image Source

Worth noting? When you sign up for a free trial of Gravit you automatically get access to “Pro” features including the ability to work offline and see version history. However, you lose these features when your trial is up unless you’re willing to pay for a subscription.

Creating a Great First Impression

The first thing users see when they land on your website significantly impacts their perception of your brand — and their likelihood to become paying customers. The right free graphic design software can help ensure your site delivers visual value from first impressions to eventual purchases and streamlines the process of ongoing aesthetic adjustment.

The Best Free Graphic Design Software for Marketers and Beginners was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

The Five Types of Utility in Marketing

How do prospective consumers spend their money? What matters to them when they make decisions about how much to spend, where to spend it, and which company earns their business?

This is the role of sales and marketing teams in your organization: Designing and deploying consumer campaigns to showcase the unique value proposition of your product or service so you stand out from the competition.

The challenge? It’s not easy.

Customer preferences are constantly evolving in response to both external market forces and internal financial constraints. As a result, the reasons around how, when, and why consumers spend money are never static — companies must find ways to understand and articulate the value of service or product offerings in a way that both captures consumer interest and convinces them to convert.

Here, the concept of utility-based marketing is markedly useful. In this piece, we’ll explore the basics of utility in marketing, why it matters, and then dive into five common types of utility in marketing.

What is utility in marketing?

Put simply? Value.

While in a non-economic context the term “utility” typically means “usefulness”, the marketing-driven definition speaks to the specific value realized by consumers when they spend on products or services. Understanding utility in marketing can help companies both better-predict spending habits and design campaigns to capture consumer interest.

Why Marketing Utility Matters

Historically, marketing efforts have focused on making an impression. It makes sense — if consumers notice and remember your print, email, or television ad campaign, you’re better positioned to capture their spending when they see your brand again in-store or while shopping online.

The problem? With so many companies now competing for consumer interest both online and in-person, market saturation is a significant concern. Even more worrisome? As noted by a New York Times article, “people hate ads.” Oversaturated and overwhelmed by ads across desktops, mobile devices, and in-person, prospective buyers are now tuning out enterprise efforts to impress.

Instead, they’re looking for utility. This is the goal of utility-driven marketing: To offer consumers functional and useful products or services that provide a specific benefit or can be repurposed to serve multiple functions.

When done well, utility marketing can create stronger bonds between customers and companies, and drive increased brand loyalty over time. It’s a slow-burn process rather than a quick-spend process and one that serves a different purpose — connecting customers with brands based on value, not volume.

The Five Types of Utility in Marketing

Despite our definition, the notion of “utility” in marketing remains fairly nebulous. That’s because trying to identify the exact value offered by your products or services to a specific customer segment, and how best to communicate this value effectively, is no easy task.

As a result, utility in marketing is often broken down into different types, each of which can help inform better ad building and effective sales outcomes. Depending on how specific — or how generalized — your marketing approach, however, it’s possible to identify anything from one massive utility model to hundreds of smaller utility types for each consumer segment.

To streamline your audience targeting and campaign creation process, we’ll dig into five common types of utility in marketing.

1. Utility of Time

This is the “when” component of utility: Is your product available when customers want it? Will it arrive quickly and without complication? Consumers want to spend as little time as possible waiting for products to arrive in-stock or at their homes — as a result, utility of time is critical to capture consumer conversion on-demand.

Time utility also accounts for seasonal changes in purchasing habits; for example, sales of boots and gloves spike in the winter, while ice cream sees greater demand during the summer.

Some products are staples and are therefore time-resistant — such as groceries — but still need to be in-stock and delivered on-time. As a result, time-based marketing efforts are inherently tied to inventory and delivery systems to ensure outcomes meet consumer expectations.

2. Utility of Place

Place utility refers to the ability of consumers to get what they want, where they want it. Often applied to brick-and-mortar stores, utility of place is paramount for customers looking for familiar items that are easy to obtain.

In a world now driven by digital marketing efforts, place offers a competitive edge if companies can showcase their capacity to keep specific items in-stock at all times. And as improved logistics chains shorten the time between order and delivery, it’s possible for ecommerce operators to leverage place utility as a market differentiator.

3. Utility of Possession

Possession utility speaks to the actual act of product possession — such as consumers driving a new car off the lot or having furniture delivered to their home. It also highlights the connection between possession and purpose.

Consider plastic storage bins. While they might be sold in the “kitchen” section of an online or brick-and-mortar store, consumers are free to repurpose the items as they see fit once they take possession, increasing their overall utility.

4. Utility of Form

While some companies offer lower prices by shifting the responsibility of assembly to the consumer (e.g. that new dresser that you bought and had delivered, but still need to assemble on your own time), finished forms are often more valuable to customers.

Consider complex products such as vehicles or electronic devices — by highlighting the finished form of these items, companies can reduce potentially purchasing barriers by making it clear that consumers will receive feature-complete products that don’t add the complexity of self-assembly.

5. Utility of Information

Information utility is a new addition to this list, but in a world where competition for even basic goods now happens on a global scale, information can make the difference between successful sales and failed conversion efforts. Information utility speaks to any data that helps consumers make buying decisions. This includes product details on ecommerce pages, targeted marketing campaigns, and well-trained call center and in-store agents capable of answering customer questions.

Simply, the right information at the right time improves market utility and increases the chance of sales conversion.

Creating Customer Value

The ultimate goal of any marketing strategy is to create customer value. While not every campaign requires the complete implementation of all five utility types to improve conversion and customer satisfaction, general knowledge paves the way for implementation to deliver value at scale.

The Five Types of Utility in Marketing was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

Interesting Advertising Experiments HubSpot Tried in 2020 [+ Takeaways for Marketers]

The other day, I was on a run and listening to my trusty Spotify playlist. Lo and behold, in between two of my favorite pump-up jams, I hear a HubSpot audio advertisement trickle through my headphones.

It’s not uncommon for me to see HubSpot ads on social media or Google, but Spotify was a new one.

This experience made me curious about what other kinds of advertisements our team at HubSpot had tested out this year. So I sat down with a few folks on our advertising and editorial teams.

Below, they share some interesting lessons and takeaways regarding the different platforms and audiences they tested in 2020.

Advertising Experiments HubSpot Tried in 2020

“While HubSpot has traditionally been relatively direct response-focused (with software signups being the main acquisition goal), one of the biggest takeaways from our advertising in 2020 actually revolves around driving awareness through brand advertising,” shared Rex Gelb, Director, Acquisition Analytics & Paid Advertising at HubSpot.

In early 2020, the team realized they were reaching diminishing returns on many of their existing ad channels, namely search and social ads, and saw it as an opportunity to branch out.

They spearheaded this effort based on the guiding principle that the HubSpot audience is comprised of people with different media habits.

“What works for one person might not work for everyone, so we were likely only reaching a small segment of them through [direct response ads],” said Jillian Hope, Senior Marketing Manager, Brand Advertising at HubSpot. “But in reality, our audience is listening to podcasts, they're reading articles in the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal,they’re watching Hulu, they're doing all these different activities throughout the day.”

So, by expanding where they showed HubSpot ads, the team hypothesized they could reach a much larger segment of their audience and make new consumers aware of HubSpot.

As I chatted with these experts, a few key platforms stood out.

1. Audio Advertising

“In 2020, we started doubling down on [podcasts]. It started as more of an awareness play, but we’ve invested in this really neat tool called Podsights,” said Jillian. Podsights is a podcast attribution tool through which the team measures when someone hears a podcast ad and returns to the site, and becomes a lead.

(Can I plug an audio file in COS?

The team has tested a few direct buys with specific podcasts, like NPR’s How I Built This and Masters of Scale. They’ve also done some national radio buys on NPR and a few Spotify Audio Everywhere ads (for those Spotify users who don’t pay for premium).

2. Hulu Advertising

“[In addition to podcast advertising,] we're diversifying into new channels and also looking for opportunities to really measure and hone in on what's working even from a direct response standpoint, including Hulu,” Jillian shared.

That’s right — this year, consumers turned on their TV to see some of HubSpot’s first advertisements on streaming channels. The team found that Hulu has high completion rates (about 99%) because the network’s ads are unskippable. “This made it a great tactic for testing out more creative messaging and executions because our audience was tuning into the full ad,” shared Alicia Collins, Copywriting & Brand Strategy at HubSpot.

Alicia worked on much of HubSpot’s 2020 brand advertising campaigns, including the Hulu push.

3. YouTube Advertising

Video as a whole gave the team more room to deliver value through education, entertainment, and inspiration, especially compared to a display or static social advertisement.

“Because YouTube is a Google-owned property,” Jillian said, “we had the ability to target people who are actively searching for content related to our products, so our ads are relevant to their work.”

In fact, Rex shared one of the most successful tests they ran: YouTube’s “affinity audiences,” Affinity audiences are audiences that Google’s algorithm identifies as likely to be interested in your product(s).

“While the algorithm is a bit of a black box, trusting their data ultimately paid off for us, generating some of the most cost-efficient, high-quality impressions and video views, which in turn yielded a great brand lift (as reported by surveys), and a measurable increase in incremental Google searches,” reported Rex.

So, what does developing this brand advertising campaign creative look like?

According to Alicia: “When you're thinking about brand awareness advertising, you have to think about who you're coming in contact with.”

Most people who interact with HubSpot’s brand awareness advertisements have never heard of HubSpot — versus those who see the typical direct response advertising. “There's a reason why people are getting targeted with [direct response] ads; they've seen our content, they've been on our website, and they've interacted with our posts.”

The same can’t be said for this new brand advertising push. Alicia and her team are trying to reach a completely new audience, meaning they have to create clear, direct ads that communicate what HubSpot is and who it's for.

“[We’re aiming for] eye-catching and engaging, so people are either enticed to click-through to learn more or simply stop and take a second look,” Alicia shared.

advertising experiments hubspot tried in 2020 sales hub enterprise brand awareness

Speaking of second looks, Alicia has learned just how different the brand advertising strategy can be. “[It’s a] bit different because, again, people don't see one social ad and immediately remember your brand. It takes like seven or eight impressions for someone to start recalling.”

In her opinion, brand awareness work is unlike a lot of other bottom-of-the-funnel work. “It's not that there's only a science to it, but there's also a bit of an art,” she shared. “It's [all about] trying to find the right balance between solving for the data and the short-term results, and thinking about where you want to be in the long-term.”

She encourages those who want to invest in brand awareness plays to be patient. “It can take a long time to move [brand awareness] metrics; raising brand awareness can take years and millions of dollars,” said Alicia.

In her experience, people who want to invest in new channels and audiences tend to put their money in one place. But Alicia and her teammates have found that no one spends all their time on one channel.

advertising experiments hubspot tried in 2020 hubspot cms brand awareness

For example, you might prefer to start your day listening to a podcast, read a few articles during lunch, and watch your favorite Hulu show to unwind after work. However, your coworker might like to start their day watching cable news, scroll through social media during lunch, and travel to the gym (passing multiple billboards) after work. “You're just getting multiple touch points throughout the day and sharing your stories in new, unique ways,” said Alicia.

Jillian agreed: “What works for some won’t work for all. If we limit channels, we risk not reaching a large segment of our audience.”

And the more channels on which consumers can see HubSpot, the more likely they are to remember and return.

Read more about developing your own cross-channel or omnichannel advertising strategy on the HubSpot Blog.

Interesting Advertising Experiments HubSpot Tried in 2020 [+ Takeaways for Marketers] was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

How to Give a Persuasive Presentation [+ Examples]

A presentation aimed at persuading an audience to take a specific action can be the most difficult type to deliver, even if you’re not shy of public speaking.

Creating a presentation that effectively achieves your objective requires time, lots of practice, and most importantly, a focused message.

With the right approach, you can create a presentation that leaves a skeptical audience enthusiastic to get on board with your project.

In this post, we'll cover the basics of building a persuasive presentation. Let's dive in.

What is a persuasive presentation?

In its most basic form, a persuasive presentation features a speaker who tries to influence an audience to accept certain positions and engage in actions in support of them. A good persuasive presentation uses a mixture of facts, logic, and empathy to help an audience see an issue from a perspective they previously discounted or hadn’t considered.

How to Plan a Persuasive Presentation

Want to make a persuasive presentation that connects with your audience? Follow these steps to win friends and influence people within your audience.

1. Decide on a single ask.

The key to convincing your audience is to first identify the singular point you want to make. A good persuasive presentation will focus on one specific and easy-to-understand proposition. Even if that point is part of a broader initiative, it ideally needs to be presented as something your audience can say "yes" or "no" to easily.

A message that isn’t well-defined or which covers too much can cause the audience to lose interest or reject it outright. A more focused topic can also help your delivery sound more confident, which (for better or worse) is an important factor in convincing people.

2. Focus on fewer (but more relevant) facts.

Remember: You are (in the vast majority of cases) not the target audience for your presentation. To make your presentation a success, you’ll need to know who your audience is so you can shape your message to resonate with them.

When crafting your messaging, put yourself in your audience's headspace and attempt to deeply understand their position, needs, and concerns. Focus on arguments and facts that speak specifically to your audience's unique position.

As we wrote in our post on How to Present a Compelling Argument When You're Not Naturally Persuasive, "just because a fact technically lends support to your claim doesn't mean it will sway your audience. The best evidence needs to not only support your claim but also have a connection to your audience."

What are the target audience's pain points that you can use to make a connection between their needs and your goals? Focus on those aspects, and cut any excess information. Fewer relevant facts are always more impactful than an abundance of unfocused pieces of evidence.

3. Build a narrative around your evidence.

If you want to persuade someone of something, it’s not enough to win their brain -- you need their heart in it, too. Try to make an emotional connection with your audience throughout your presentation to better sell them on the facts you’re presenting. Your audience is human, after all, so some emotional tug will go a long way to shaking up how they view the issue you’re talking about. A little bit of emotion could be just what your audience needs to make your facts “click.”

The easiest way to incorporate an emotional pull into your presentation is through the use of narrative elements. As we wrote in our guide to crafting pitch decks, "When our brains are given a story instead of a list of information, things change -- big time. Stories engage more parts of our brains, including our sensory cortex, which is responsible for processing visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli. If you want to keep people engaged during a presentation, tell them a story."

4. Confidence matters.

Practice makes perfect (it's a cliche because it's true, sorry!), and this is especially true for presentation delivery. Rehearse your presentation several times before you give it to your audience so you can develop a natural flow and move from each section without stopping.

Remember, you're not giving a speech here, so you don't want your delivery to come across like you're reading fully off of cue cards. Use tools like notes and cue cards as ways to keep you on track, not as scripts.

Finally, if you can, try to practice your presentation in front of another human. Getting a trusted co-worker to give you feedback in advance can help strengthen your delivery and identify areas you might need to change or bulk up.

5. Prepare for common objections.

The last thing you want to say when someone in your audience expresses a concern or an outright objection during your presentation's question section is “umm, let me get back to you on that.”

Carefully research the subject of your presentation to make the best case possible for it -- but also prepare in advance for common objections or questions you know your stakeholders are going to ask. The stronger your command of the facts -- and the more prepared you are to proactively address concerns -- the more convincing your presentation will be. When you appear confident fielding any rebuttals during a question and answer session after your presentation, it can go a long way towards making your case seem more convincing.

Persuasive Presentation Outline

Like any writing project, you’ll want to create an outline for your presentation, which can act as both a prompt and a framework. With an outline, you’ll have an easier time organizing your thoughts and creating the actual content you will present. While you can adjust the outline to your needs, your presentation will most likely follow this basic framework.

I. Introduction

Every persuasive presentation needs an introduction that gets the listener’s attention, identifies a problem, and relates it to them.

  • The Hook: Just like a catchy song, your presentation needs a good hook to draw the listener in. Think of an unusual fact, anecdote, or framing that can grab the listener’s attention. Choose something that also establishes your credibility on the issue.
  • The Tie: Tie your hook back to your audience to garner buy-in from your audience, as this issue impacts them personally.
  • The Thesis: This is where you state the position to which you are trying to persuade your audience and forms the focal point for your presentation.

II. The Body

The body forms the bulk of your presentation and can be roughly divided into two parts. In the first half, you will build your case, and in the second you will address potential rebuttals.

  • Your Case: This is where you will present supporting points for your argument and the evidence you’ve gathered through research. This will likely have several different subsections in which you present the relevant evidence for each supporting point.
  • Rebuttals: Consider potential rebuttals to your case and address them individually with supporting evidence for your counterarguments.
  • Benefits: Outline the benefits of the audience adopting your position. Use smooth, conversational transitions to get to these.
  • Drawbacks: Outline what drawbacks of the audience rejecting your position. Be sure to remain conversational and avoid alarmism.

III. Conclusion

In your conclusion, you will wrap up your argument, summarize your key points, and relate them back to the decisions your audience makes.

  • Transition: Write a transition that emphasizes the key point you are trying to make.
  • Summary: Summarize your arguments, their benefits, and the key pieces of evidence supporting your position.
  • Tie-back: Tie back your summary to the actions of your audience and how their decisions will impact the subject of your presentation.
  • Final word: Try to end on a last emotional thought that can inspire your audience to adopt your position and act in support of it.

IV. Citations

Include a section at the end of your presentation with citations for your sources. This will make independent fact-checking easier for your audience and will make your overall presentation more persuasive.

Persuasive Presentation Examples

Check out some of these examples of persuasive presentations to get inspiration for your own. Seeing how someone else made their presentation could help you create one that strikes home with your audience. While the structure of your presentation is entirely up to you, here are some outlines that are typically used for different subjects.

Introducing a Concept

One common type of persuasive presentation is one that introduces a new concept to an audience and tries to get them to accept it. This presentation introduces audience members to the dangers of secondhand smoke and encourages them to take steps to avoid it. Persuasive presentations can also be a good format to introduce marco issues, such as this presentation on the benefits of renewable energy.

Changing Personal Habits

Want to change the personal habits of your audience? Check out this presentation on how to adopt healthy eating habits. Or this presentation which encourages the audience to get more exercise in their daily lives.

Making a Commitment to an Action

Is your goal to get your audience to commit to a specific action? This presentation encouraging audience memes to become organ donors could provide inspiration. Trying to make a big sale? Check out this presentation outline that can encourage someone to buy a home.

Remember: You Can Do This

Anyone can craft a persuasive presentation once they know the basic framework for creating one. Once you get the process down, you’ll be in a better position to bring in sales, attract donors or funding, and even advance your career. The skills you learn can also benefit you in other areas of your personal and professional life as you know how to make a case and influence people toward it.

How to Give a Persuasive Presentation [+ Examples] was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

How to Create a Killer 5-Minute Presentation

Developing and delivering a five-minute presentation seems an easy enough task at first -- until you realize the condensed format actually requires significantly more efficiency, focus, and attention to detail than longer presentation types.

When there's less time to get your point across, every second counts more.

While short presentations can be unexpectedly challenging to create, when done correctly they can be more impactful than longer presentations.

Five minutes is just enough time for you to present a compelling narrative about one topic, without any filler or fluff. The time limit forces you to pack as much valuable information as possible into your presentation while maintaining a coherent structure.

The shorter format also encourages audiences to pay more attention.

But how can you ensure your short presentation accomplishes everything it needs to within just five short minutes? We've put together an (appropriately condensed) guide on five-minute presentations to help you get started.

How Many Words Are in a 5-Minute Presentation?

A person speaks on average 120 to 160 words a minute, which means the average five-minute presentation will be anywhere from 600 to 800 words. That means every word should be carefully chosen to support the central idea of your presentation.

When constructing a longer presentation, you might be more concerned about transitions and keeping the audience engaged with more extensive narrative elements.

In a short presentation, everything you say should directly tie back to your central premise and further advance your main point. By keeping a tight scope and using your words carefully, you'll ensure your time isn't wasted and the audience leaves with a clear, singular takeaway.

How many slides are in a 5-minute presentation?

Generally speaking, you'll want to stick to just five or six slides for a five-minute presentation, but there's no set limit on how many yours will require. You may choose to have twenty slides and to spend about 10 or 15 seconds on each depending on your subject matter.

More important than your slide count is what each slide contains. While it's a good rule to keep your slides simple and focused on visuals (instead of text) for a presentation of any length, this becomes especially important when you're dealing with a condensed presentation window.

It can be tempting with a small time window to try to cram in as much information as possible -- resist the urge. Instead, focus on simple, clean visuals that (once again) all tie back to your central premise.

If you're concerned that scaling back the scope of your presentation will leave things out, add a slide at the end of the deck with additional resources and information that your audience can access after the presentation is over.

5-Minute Presentation Example Format

If you're looking for a starting point for your own five-minute presentation, we've created a basic outline below you can use to organize your initial thoughts in the planning stage.

You can choose to devote one slide to each section or multiple slides if you want to break them down further.

Feel free to make departures from the structure depending on the content or format of your presentation. Just remember not to give your audience too much to chew on -- the key here is -- you guessed it -- tying every slide back to one central idea.

An Extremely Short Introduction

Your first slide should serve as an introduction to the topic of your presentation. Try to limit your title to around six words or even less. If your title is too long, it can become unwieldy and your presentation may confuse your audience by covering too much.

Remember: your audience (hopefully!) already has an idea of what you're presenting on, so you don't need to spend too much precious time or slide real-estate explaining what you're going to cover -- just jump right in.

A Problem Slide

Most presentations can be boiled down to a problem you've identified, solved, or are in the process of solving. Lead with that familiar narrative. It will give your presentation a clear starting point and prime your audience for the rest of your slides.

A Solution/Analysis Slide(s)

Now that your problem has been introduced, tell your audience what they need to know about what you're doing about it. In shorter presentation formats, you'll want to focus less on the details and more on the big-picture items. Ask yourself: what does your audience need to know when they leave the room? Anything that falls into the "nice to know" category can be cut and delivered to stakeholders after the meeting in a follow-up email.

A Conclusion Slide

The conclusion side allows you to bring a coherent end to your presentation and summarize the important takeaway points for your audience. Don't skimp on your conclusion just because it's a short presentation -- it's the last thing your audience will hear from you. A good conclusion will reinforce the other information you presented and ultimately makes your presentation as a whole more memorable.

5-Minute Presentation Examples

While we (unfortunately) weren't in the room when these presentations were originally given -- and therefore can't confirm with 100% certainty that they ran for only five minutes -- these decks all clock in at under 15 slides and use a simple format to convey a problem and solution.

1. AirBnB Pitch Deck

2. Buffer Pitch Deck

3. Mixpanel Pitch Deck

How Do I Create a Killer 5-Minute Presentation?

Here are some best practices to follow when crafting a short presentation.

1. Focus on the most important part.

The greatest challenge you'll have when designing your presentation is choosing what to focus on -- but from the format we discussed above, you can see how important it is to have a single premise to design your presentation around.

It's easy to become overambitious in your presentation or to be overwhelmed by the information you want to present. Choosing a single idea to focus on gives you clarity when designing your speech and allows you to cut extraneous information. It also provides a narrative structure that your audience can more easily grasp.

2. Research, fact-check, and do it twice.

Your presentation is your chance to shine -- but the shorter format also means that each point you make is going to be more visible, memorable, and consequentially more vulnerable to scrutiny.

Take the time to thoroughly research the subject of your presentation and ensure every point you make is both technically accurate and easy to understand. This will put you in a better position to field questions and discuss your subject in-depth. With a strong command of your subject matter, your delivery will also be more confident and convincing.

3. Appeal to how people learn best: stories.

A story can give meaning to your presentation and elevate it to more than just facts, figures, and some flashy slides. Building your presentation around a simple, easy-to-understand narrative (like the problem/solution narrative we showed you in the template avoid) can make your content more digestible. Your presentation will only last for a few minutes, but the story you tell needs to stick around in your audiences' brains for longer -- and stories naturally help humans understand and retain information more easily.

4. Don't skip that practice session.

Just because your presentation is only five minutes doesn't mean you should try to wing it. Your audience's time is valuable, and practicing your presentation before you deliver it to them will help you make the most of it.

From CEOs to interns, everyone can benefit from practicing their presentations in advance, no matter how confident they are.

If you're able to deliver much (or all) of it by heart, your delivery will be much more natural, allowing you to develop a stronger connection with your audience. And once nerves hit, you'll have the muscle memory to fall back on and carry you through the rough patches!

5. Relax and don't rush.

You only have five minutes to present, so it's only natural to feel pressure to go a little too fast. Stay relaxed throughout your presentation and avoid distractions, such as someone informing you that you only have a minute left.

Staying focused on your presentation itself will improve your delivery and give you more confidence, even if you're normally terrified of public speaking.

If you find yourself needing to speed through your presentation to squeeze it into a five-minute window, that's a good sign you're trying to do too much and need to consider cutting your slides down.

You Know Your Audience Best

When creating your five-minute presentation, think about your audience and craft it to appeal to them.

The information you decide to highlight and the way you frame it will be vastly different depending on who your presentation is meant for.

It's natural to be nervous going into your presentation, especially if you don't like public speaking or have a fear of it, but with enough consideration and practice, you'll be a master of whatever subject you hope to present.

How to Create a Killer 5-Minute Presentation was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

Monday, December 28, 2020

The 8 Best Books on Working from Home for Remote Work Employees

Remote work is incredible. Goodbye soul-draining commute, uncomfortable "business professional" outfits, and expensive takeout salads.

Hello leisurely mornings, hoodies and slippers, and delicious home-cooked meals.

But remote work is also tough. You're hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from your colleagues; your home workspace probably lacks some of the bells and whistles of a traditional office; and your work-life boundaries can quickly become nonexistent.

To learn how to conquer these challenges — plus many you haven't discovered yet — take a look at these books on remote work.

1. Working Remotely: Secrets to Success for Employees on Distributed Teams

By Teresa Douglas, Holly Gordon, and Mike Webber

Unlike many remote work books aimed at leaders and solopreneurs, Douglas, Gordon, and Webber focus on the front-line remote worker. This book is divided into seven chapters, each dedicated to a pillar of WFH success.

You'll learn how to battle isolation and loneliness, work well with your peers, and manage your inbox. Along with concrete tips, the authors include examples and anecdotes to bring their points home (no pun intended).

2. Work-From-Home Hacks: 500+ Easy Ways to Get Organized, Stay Productive, and Maintain a Work-Life Balance While Working from Home!

By Aja Frost

On March 20th, I left HubSpot's Boston office with my monitor and keyboard. I thought I'd use them for a few weeks, a month at the most — then we'd all be back in the office.

Of course, eight months later most of our team is still working from home … and that will be the case for years to come. Maybe forever!

This book is packed with all the advice I wish I'd had when I transitioned to permanent remote work. It covers common scenarios like maintaining boundaries between work and the rest of your life (when your office is also your bedroom or kitchen), combating loneliness and isolation, and overcoming the "out of sight, out of mind" effect. Plus, if you're a parent, freelancer, or manager, there's special advice just for you.

By the time you finish, you'll know everything you need to be successful and happy as a remote worker.

3. The Holloway Guide to Remote Work

By Juan Pablo Buritic√° and Katie Womersley, along with contributing authors

This manual will help leaders through common remote work challenges and choices, including hiring, onboarding, and compensating remote employees; creating communication channels and setting expectations; implementing a healthy company culture across time zones; and more.

Buritic√° and Womersley draw on their experience as leaders of distributed engineering teams at Splice and Buffer, respectively. Employees from Angel List, Doist,, and other remote organizations contributed, as well. As a result, every recommendation is practical, realistic, and often backed by case studies, examples, and/or data.

4. REMOTE: Office Not Required

By Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of Basecamp

If you're looking for a manifesto on the benefits of remote work, this one's for you. Fried and Hansson spend most of REMOTE: Office Not Required refuting the arguments against allowing folks to work from wherever they'd like, such as:

  • You don't need an office for collaboration
  • Your company size and industry doesn't matter
  • Your pool of potential employees won't shrink — it'll grow

Already believe in remote work? Looking for practical tips on how to do it well? I'd suggest other books, like Work-From-Home Hacks or the Holloway Guide.

5. Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions

By Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran

Microaggressions — or Subtle Acts of Exclusion (SAEs) as Jana and Baran call them — happen whether you're remote or co-located.

But SAEs are harder to handle when you're not all in the same room: You can't drop by someone's desk to let them know what they said was hurtful, or stop a conversation in its tracks by asking the offender to leave.

And if you're the one who committed the SAE? The relationship damage is harder to undo without the rapport-building effects of sharing an office.

That makes Jana and Baran's book an essential read for distributed teams. Learn how to spot, deal with, and most importantly, prevent SAEs so that everyone feels safe and included.

6. Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

By Herminia Ibarra

If you're like me — or any of the other managers I talked to — your professional self-confidence might suffer after going remote.

Why? Because you lose a ton of positive feedback. You're no longer bumping into your coworkers in the hall, seeing their smiles and nods when you present, hearing their cheers when you win a big account, or getting celebratory drinks after a great quarter.

All the subtle signs that said, You're doing a great job! are gone.

This book will help restore your confidence. According to Ibarra, the best way to feel like a leader is to act like one. In other words: Your thoughts follow your actions, not the other way around.

She provides you with actionable recommendations to do just that. Whether you're an individual contributor, executive, or anyone in between, you'll discover how to step up at work — and boost your self-esteem in the process.

7. The Remote Facilitator's Pocket Guide

By Kirsten Clacey and Jay-Allen Morris

Running remote meetings is both science and art. As Clacey and Morris point out in their introduction, virtual meetings are:

  1. More intimidating than in-person ones, as attendees feel isolated from each other and can't read everyone's faces
  2. Harder to focus in; eight in ten people multitask
  3. More dependent on the facilitator's mood and style

To combat these issues, the authors condensed research, personal anecdotes, and strategies into a short but powerful book. In just 153 pages, you'll get a veritable PhD in remote meeting facilitation. One GoodReads reviewer said, "Everyone who does online meetings should read this book."

8. The ultimate guide to remote work

By Wade Foster, with content from Danny Schreiber, Matthew Guay, Melanie Pinola, Bethany Hills, Alison Groves, Jeremey DuVall, and Belle Cooper

Zapier has been a remote-first company since its 2011 founding. Safe to say, the team has spent a lot of time thinking about common remote work issues and coming up with scalable solutions.

This guide (which is available online for free) is broken into fifteen chapters. First, you'll learn how to hire and manage remote employees. Next, you'll delve into building and maintaining a strong virtual culture, followed by tips on productivity, multi-time-zone collaboration, and avoiding burnout.

And, finally, you'll discover how to get a remote job (likely easier now than when the e-book was first written) and work smarter, not harder with the remote work tool-kit.

Hopefully, this remote work reading list helps you avoid many of the pitfalls of working from home … while maximizing its benefits.

The 8 Best Books on Working from Home for Remote Work Employees was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

Friday, December 25, 2020

What is a Dofollow Link?

The easier it is for potential customers to find your site in search engine results, the more traffic (and sales) you’ll generate.

As a result, there’s a kind of constant content competition underway as website owners and administrators look for ways to stand out from the crowd and improve search engine optimization (SEO).

Gone are the wild, wild west days of the World Wide Web where keyword spamming and content stuffing were the norm to drive search engine interest.

Now, brands need to focus on more tightly-controlled metrics — such as Google’s PageRank — to boost their online appeal and push their site listing closer to the first page, first result pinnacle.

While part of this effort comes down to writing relevant, accurate, and interesting content, there’s another key component: Dofollow links. With the right approach, these links can help leverage great content into higher PageRank and better search results.

Here’s how they work.

What is a dofollow link?

PageRank is effectively a weighted score that uses links to assign points — the more points, the better your site rank, and the better your SEO. Often referred to as “link juice” by online marketing professionals because of their ability to “flow” through websites with the right linking structure, getting these points is a priority for any site owner.

The problem? Almost immediately after their introduction, getting points in any way possible became the strategy of many unscrupulous marketers.

The easiest way to achieve this aim? Leaving comments on the posts of popular websites that contained links back to client sites, in turn boosting their profile. The more reputable the linking site — think well-respected retailers or news organizations — the bigger the link juice boost.

By default, these links were “dofollow” — they instructed search engines to follow the link back to the originating site and boost its PageRank. To solve the growing problem of spam links the “nofollow” link was created: Site admins could add an HTML tag:

… to any link on their site, which instructed search engines not to follow the link back to its destination and, in turn, not boost its PageRank.

Today, dofollow links remain an important part of SEO strategy — getting a “backlink” from a reputable site can significantly boost PageRank values and help brands stand out. The introduction of nofollow links, meanwhile, offers more control for site admins.

For example, most comment sections now include nofollow tags by default, and page creators can choose to add nofollow tags to blog posts and other articles. Changing these links from nofollow to dofollow is easy, but requires that destination site owners contact linking site admins and ask for the change.

How to Make a Dofollow Link

In most cases, no action is required to create a dofollow link. If your site is linked to by another site and they don’t choose to add the nofollow tag, search engines will naturally arrive at your page and increase your overall PageRank.

The same is true if you’re including links on your own site. For example, you may choose to add links to other reputable sites within your own content and allow search engines to follow these links.

If you’ve been asked by another brand to include their links on your page or are moderating blog comments, meanwhile, you may want to turn on automatic nofollow tags where possible or ensure that all links include the nofollow tag until you’re sure it makes sense to follow the link back.

This is especially critical if other links lead to low-quality or keyword-stuffed content, since this can reflect poorly on your own site.

Put simply? When it comes to external links from reputable sites that lead back to your page, dofollow is ideal. Links leading outside your site and linked from your own posts or attached to comments on your content should only be dofollow if the outgoing link site is reputable and relevant.

What tools are available for dofollow links?

Wondering if a link is dofollow or nofollow? If it’s on your own site, you can check the HTML code from your CMS admin page to determine if the nofollow tag is present, but what happens when the link comes from another, external site? Since you can’t see or edit their code, you can’t be certain if links are dofollow or nofollow.

In this case, it’s worth using dofollow link checker tools to determine if links will boost your PageRank or not.

Examples include:

The first tool is a web-based tool that checks entire pages for nofollow and dofollow links. Moz MozBar is a Chrome extension, while SEOquake is offered for both Chrome and Firefox. Link Analyzer, meanwhile, is a standalone tool that doesn’t require a specific browser. Each of these tools is free and works by following any links to your site to determine if they’re nofollow or dofollow, then reports the results.

Should I dofollow an external link?

Here, the answer depends on two factors: Where does the link lead, and what are the benefits if you opt for dofollow? Ideally, any dofollow links point search engines to content that’s current, relevant and accurate, in turn providing “link juice” for both the external site and your own website.

There may be cases where reciprocal dofollow links are a good idea, especially if you’re looking to expand site traffic and the external site has a similar ranking to your own page. Ideally, you want a mix of nofollow and dofollow links on your page to ensure search engines don’t view your content as simply a vehicle for PageRank points.

How long will it take Google to recognize a dofollow link?

While there’s no hard and fast answer here since search engine spiders crawl a significant volume of pages each day, dofollow links are generally recognized by Google within two to four days after being posted.

If your site has low traffic volumes and the dofollow links you’re creating or receiving come from similarly small webpages, it could take more time for PageRank to recognize these links. If you’re fortunate enough to receive a backlink from a highly-ranked site, meanwhile, you may see the benefit in just a few days.

Dofollow links remain a critical aspect of SEO and search ranking efforts, but must be used strategically to deliver substantive benefits.

What is a Dofollow Link? was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

How to Schedule a Post on Facebook: A Step-by-Step Guide

While platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and even TikTok have gained significant user ground over the past few years, one social channel is still the market leader: Facebook.

Recently, the Pew Research Center revealed that nearly 70% of all U.S. adults use Facebook, while 74% log on daily. Worldwide, Facebook has more than 2.7 billion users.

And, today, regularly posting timely and relevant content on Facebook is key to reaching its big and broad audiences. 

Why? Trends, content, and discussion on any social media channel move much faster than they do on older platforms, like television or radio.

While content is vital to winning over audiences, quickly and consistently creating new social posts can overwhelm even tech-savvy social media managers.

While creating content manually comes with the advantage of right-now relevance, it also requires site owners to constantly track trends and interactions on Facebook, then craft relevant posts to leverage current conditions.

But what happens if site owners aren’t online? What if users halfway around the world are just waking up and looking for content while social managers are still asleep. Scheduled posts can help.

There's a solution for many of the problems above: Scheduled Facebook posts. 

Facebook's post scheduling tool lets you to launch pre-created content on your Facebook Business page on a predetermined date and time. By scheduling a few posts in advance each week, you and your team can keep normal work hours while even free yourselves up for brainstorming new social media strategies. 

While it’s still critical to create manual posts that speak to specific events or emerging market conditions, scheduled posts can help streamline your social efforts at scale.

Not sure how to schedule an engaging Facebook post? We’ll walk you through how to to do this, as well as how to solve common scheduling issues below.

We'll start with the steps for scheduling a standard post. If you're interested in learning how to schedule a share of another page's post, click here to go to that section.

Step 1: Log into your Facebook Business page.

The first step in making a scheduled Facebook post is making sure you’re logged into your business page. Currently, personal pages don’t offer the same range of publishing tools.

Step 2: Click on “Publishing Tools.”

In the left menu of your business Facebook page, click on “Publishing Tools." This will bring up a list of all published posts, as well as options to see your scheduled posts, drafts, and expiring posts.

Publishing tools on Facebook Business Page left hand menu

Step 3: Create a compelling post.

Select “Create Post” at the top of your post. Write your post in the provided text box and add any images or links — you’ll get a real-time preview of the post as you create it to help identify any potential issues. 

Click Create Post or view older posts in publishing options pafe

As you draft your post copy, don't over-complicate your scheduled posts. Design them the same way as on-demand posts — be engaging, personable, and relevant. 

Step 4: Set a publish time. 

When you’re satisfied with your new post, select “Schedule" in the drop down menu under News Feed. This will open a box that allows you to pick an exact date and time.

Click schedule post in drop down menu.

Step 5: Consider putting spend behind your content.

Worth noting? You can also increase the reach of your Facebook post by paying the social media site to advertise it for a specific length of time. Select the “Boost” option next to “Publish” to select your budget, target audience, and desired post duration.

To learn more about how to promote Facebook content and run ads, click here. 

Step 6: Track and adjust your schedule.

The Publishing Options menu lets you keep track of what you’ve already posted and when new posts will be published. Check it regularly to make sure scheduled posts still make sense.

For example, if you’ve suddenly run into production or supply issues, you might want to unschedule posts about big sales on lower-stock items.

Step 7: Consider cross-promotional scheduling.

It’s also worth noting that scheduled posts don’t automatically trigger any other notifications — such as Tweets. If you want Facebook posts to go out in tandem with other social media posts, ensure you know your publish dates so you can boost the impact of cross-platform promotions.

Additionally, you can also use helpful tools like HubSpot's Social Media Software to schedule posts across multiple platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. 

Step 8: Embrace scheduling tools.

While you can create and manage all scheduled posts manually, this can get very complicated very quickly as the impact of your Facebook page expands. 

As mentioned above, it’s worth considering social media management tools like HubSpot or Oktopost to help streamline scheduling while you focus on the creation of more compelling, on-demand content.

Step 9: Don’t over-schedule.

It might be easy to think you can schedule all of your posts for weeks at a time, and then not deal with social media for days. But, that's far from the truth. 

If you’re making multiple scheduled posts per day, customer interest can quickly dry up as your page starts to look more like a sales vehicle than a social platform. While it’s worth calling out the debut of new products or big business changes, don’t over-schedule yourself.

Step 10: Compare your scheduled content to the competition.

Want to schedule posts ahead of time, but worried about inauthentic or robotic copy? Look at what your best competition is doing. 

Check out the frequency and content of their posts and use that knowledge to improve your social efforts. 

The goal of analyzing your competition isn’t to create carbon copies, but rather take a cue from their scheduling to make the best use of social platform potential.

Interested in scheduling a post that shows Facebook content already shared by a brand partner or company you're working with? Learn how to schedule shared posts below. 

1. Go to the post you want to share and click the three dots.

This will show you all of the settings related to a post. Please note that some posts, such as those on personal Facebook accounts might have different settings options and might not be shareable.

2. Click "Copy link."

HubSpot Post with copy link drop down

3. Go to Post Publishing Tools.

As noted above, hit the "Create post" CTA to open a post creation page. 

4. Go to Settings to access the older version of the tool.

Here's where things get tricky. When we tried sharing a post with Facebook's new tool, the previews looked a bit glitchy. For the best preview options and to ensure the post will look normal, click the settings icon on the lower left to access the tool's older version while it still exists. 

click classic tool to access the older version of facebook's post creation tool

5. Insert the link into the post text box.

You should instantly see the business' post appear below the text box. If you'd like to share a caption about that post, you can also include it as this HubSpot blogger did below:

Screen Shot 2020-12-08 at 1.12.49 PM

6. In the drop-down menu under News Feed, select "Schedule."

This will allow you to schedule a post similarly to how you schedule your own. 

toggle to schedule in news feed drop down

Why Can’t I Schedule a Post on Facebook?

Running into problems scheduling your post on Facebook? There are several common culprits.

First, check to make sure you’re logged into the right account. If you’re logged into a personal rather than business page — or if you’re not a page administrator — you won’t be able to schedule posts. 

Next, make sure you’re looking in the right place. Until recently, the post scheduling feature moved from the “Create Post” box on Facebook Business pages to the “Publishing Options” page. 

If you try to create a scheduled post from your front page, you won’t see the scheduling button, but you should see an information box that directs you to the Publishing Options page. 

an information box directs Facebook business page users to schedule posts from the Publishing Tools dashboard.

What can't be scheduled on Facebook?

Unfortunately, you can’t schedule everything you publish on Facebook. 

While posts with links, photos, and videos can be scheduled, photo albums, polls, or events can’t be set to launch automatically. You also can't schedule Facebook Stories

Creating an Effective Facebook Schedule

Scheduling Facebook posts is a great way to boost your business impact and drive user engagement. 

Remember to keep content simple and relevant, don’t over-schedule, cross-promote posts where possible, and leverage best-in-class tools to streamline scheduling at scale.

How to Schedule a Post on Facebook: A Step-by-Step Guide was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.