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Apr

28

2017

5 Essential Skills Marketers Need to Succeed This Year [Infographic]

Published by in category Daily, IGSS, Professional Development | Comments are closed

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The marketing landscape evolves at what often seems like a bewildering pace. There are changes in consumer preferences. There are updates to search algorithms. And, we can’t forget the frequent updates and features added to various social media channels.

For that reason, being a successful marketer today might appear to require a never-ending list of skills. Where do you need to excel — content creation, social media, web analytics, or all of the above … and more?

Relax. In a perfect world, it would be possible to constantly maintain all of these skills at an expert level. But in reality, it’s okay — and helpful — to prioritize. The question remains, however: What skills do marketers need the most to both keep up with the industry, and be good at their jobs?

Luckily, the infographic below from TEKsystems outlines five crucial skills — largely digital ones — that marketers need to succeed this year:

  • Digital Advertising
  • Social Marketing
  • Website Design/Development
  • Content Development
  • Mobile Marketing

It’s a helpful guideline for marketers who want to help their brands stay up to speed, as well as job seekers and recruiters who want to know which knowledge is the most valuable in today’s landscape. We’ve elaborated a bit on each one below the image — so read on, and learn more about the skills you need to start, continue, or foster a lucrative marketing career.


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5 Essential Marketing Skills to Succeed in 2017

1) Digital Advertising

Many marketers are trained to draw a bold line between marketing and advertising. But the latter, in its digital and analytical form, has become the work of the savviest marketers. That includes things like creating strategic ads on different social media channels, as well as pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. According to TEK systems, some of the other specific skills that fall under this umbrella are:

  • Search engine optimization/marketing (SEO/SEM)
  • Digital business analytics — data like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights
  • Digital project management

2) Social Marketing

Long gone are the days of simply posting the occasional photo or update on social media. Social marketing has become far, far more complex — so much so that many brands dedicate full-time roles to it. Within this realm, you might see many overlapping skills with digital advertising, like understanding the same analytics and managing PPC campaigns.

While there’s a detailed subset of skills required in social marketing, the major ones fall under strategizing and managing social media posts and presence, according to each channel. That’s one form of content strategy, which we’ll get to.

3) Website Design/Development

As the infographic puts it, “The website is the face of your brand.” It’s often the first line of interaction that a customer will have with your company — that’s why an optimal user experience is imperative. After all, that’s one of the core principles of inbound marketing: Create the content that’s going to draw and benefit your buyer personas.

For that reason, here’s yet another area where — like most of these five skills — understanding content strategy is going to be important. But that’s not the only knowledge required here. TEKsystems also identifies the following top skills sought after by marketing hiring managers:

  • UX design
  • Front-end development
  • Web development
  • Consumer and behavioral analytics
  • Product management

4) Content Development

Finally — content gets its own category. Of course, understanding how to develop the best content for your various distribution channels is important. But then, there’s understanding how to develop consumable content that doesn’t necessarily reside on your social networks or website copy, like reports, or other downloadable items. And in addition to being well-produced and informative, it should be sharable, and a content developer needs to understand how to create something of that nature. Related skills, therefore, include:

  • Analytics
  • Project Management
  • SEO/SEM

5) Mobile Marketing

Mobile is gradually becoming the primary way we consume online content — 48% of consumers, for example,  start mobile research with a search engine, while 26% start with a branded app. That’s why mobile marketing has become such a valuable skill, from understanding how customers use mobile, to how a brand’s digital presence and content can be optimized for that platform.

And while mobile marketing might be a bit different from mobile development — the latter is a bit more technical — it doesn’t hurt to at least understand how that (and app development) contrasts from traditional web development. Additionally, valuable skills here include:

  • Mobile traffic analytics
  • E-commerce analytics
  • Mobile design

The More You Know

We’re not suggesting that marketers need to become experts in every single one of these areas. However, if there’s a specific area of marketing that interests you the most, or into which you’d like to move, understanding where you’ll need to excel can help you get there that much faster.

Plus, as your brand and the landscape continue to evolve, this list can serve as a good reference when you feel like you might need to brush up on certain skills, or at least become more aware of them when it’s necessary. That way, in addition to honing your own skills, you can understand where you might need to focus team-building efforts.

What are your most sought-after marketing skills? Let us know in the comments.

This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Apr

28

2017

6 Cover Letter Examples That Got Something Right

Published by in category Canonical, Daily, Professional Development | Comments are closed

Let’s face it: A job search is, typically, anything but fun.

It’s almost as if it carries its own stages of grief. At first, there’s denial of its demoralizing nature. Then comes the anger over either radio silence or rejection from prospective employers. Of course, there’s bargaining — “I promise to never complain about work again, if I can find a new job!” That’s often followed by depression, and the idea that one is simply just unhireable. Then, there’s acceptance: “This is awful, but I have to keep trying, anyway.”

But we have good news. It is possible to have a little fun with your job search — and maybe even make yourself a better candidate in the process. The magic, it turns out, could be in your cover letter.

It may be true that 63% of recruiters have deemed cover letters “unimportant,” but that doesn’t mean yours has to contribute to that statistic. In fact, it might be that cover letters are deemed insignificant because so few of them stand out. Here’s an opportunity for you to exercise your creativity at the earliest stage of the recruitment process. Personalization, after all, goes beyond replacing the title and company name in each letter you send to recruiters. Download our free guide here for more interviewing and screening tips to build  your team.

What does that look like in practice, and how can you make your cover letter stand out? We found six examples from job seekers who decided to do things a bit differently.

Note: Some of these contain NSFW language.

6 Cover Letter Examples That Nailed It

1) The Short-and-Sweet Model

In 2009, David Silverman penned an article for Harvard Business Review titled, “The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received.” That letter contained three complete sentences, as follows:

short-and-sweet.pngSource: Harvard Business Review

One might argue that this particular letter is less than outstanding. It’s brief, to say the least, and the author doesn’t go into a ton of detail about what makes him or her qualified for the job in question. But that’s what Silverman likes about it — the fact that the applicant only included the pieces of information that would matter the most to the recipient.

“The writer of this letter took the time to think through what would be relevant to me,” writes Silverman. “Instead of scattering lots of facts in hopes that one was relevant, the candidate offered up an opinion as to which experiences I should focus on.”

When you apply for a job, start by determining two things:

  1. Who might oversee the role — that’s often included in the description, under “reports to.” Address your letter to that individual.
  2. Figure out what problems this role is meant to solve for that person. Then, concisely phrase in your cover letter how and why your experience can and will resolve those problems.

The key here is research — by looking into who you’ll be reporting to and learning more about that person’s leadership style, you’ll be better prepared to tailor your cover letter to focus on how you provide solutions for her. Not sure how to learn more about a leader’s personality? Check out any content she shares on social media, or use Growthbot’s Personality Profile feature.

2) The Brutally Honest Approach

Then, there are the occasions when your future boss might appreciate honesty — in its purest form. Livestream CEO Jesse Hertzberg, by his own admission, is one of those people, which might be why he called this example “the best cover letter” (which he received while he was with Squarespace):

Brutally honest.pngSource: Title Needed

As Hertzberg says in the blog post elaborating on this excerpt — it’s not appropriate for every job or company. But if you happen to be sure that the corporate culture of this prospective employer gets a kick out of a complete lack of filter, then there’s a chance that the hiring manager might appreciate your candor.

“Remember that I’m reading these all day long,” Hertzberg writes. “You need to quickly convince me I should keep reading. You need to stand out.”

3) The One That Says “Why,” Not Just “How”

We’ve already covered the importance of addressing how you’ll best execute a certain role in your cover letter. But there’s another question you might want to answer: Why the heck do you want to work here?

The Muse, a career guidance site, says that it’s often best to lead with the why — especially if it makes a good story. We advise against blathering on and on, but a brief tale that illuminates your desire to work for that particular employer can really make you stand out.

Why Example.pngSource: The Muse

Here’s another instance of the power of personalization. The author of this cover letter clearly has a passion for this prospective employer — the Chicago Cubs — and if she’s lying about it, well, that probably would eventually be revealed in an interview. Make sure your story is nonfiction, and relatable according to each job. While we love a good tale of childhood baseball games, an introduction like this one probably wouldn’t be fitting in a cover letter for, say, a software company. But a story of how the hours you spent playing with DOS games as a kid led to your passion for coding? Sure, we’d find that fitting.

If you’re really passionate about a particular job opening, think about where that deep interest is rooted. Then, tell your hiring manager about it in a few sentences.

4) The Straw (Wo)man

When I was in the throes of my own job search and reached one of the later stages, a friend said to me, “For the next job you apply for, you should just submit a picture of yourself a stick figure that somehow represents you working there.”

Et voilà:

AZWstrawCoverLetter.jpg

I never did end up working for the recipient of this particular piece of art, but it did result in an interview. Again, be careful where you send a cover letter like this one — if it doesn’t match the company’s culture, it might be interpreted as you not taking the opportunity seriously. Be sure to pair it with a little bit of explanatory text, too. For example, when I submitted this picture-as-a-cover letter, I also wrote, “Perhaps I took the ‘sense of humor’ alluded to in your job description a bit too seriously.”

5) The Exercise in Overconfidence

I’ll admit that I considered leaving out this example. It’s rife with profanity, vanity, and arrogance. But maybe, in some settings, that’s the right way to do a cover letter.

A few years ago, Huffington Post published this note as an example of how to “get noticed” and “get hired for your dream job”:

THE-EPIC-COVER-LETTER.jpgSource: Huffington Post

Here’s the thing — if the Aviary cited in this letter is the same Aviary I researched upon discovering it, then, well, I’m not sure this tone was the best approach. I read the company’s blog and looked at the careers site, and neither one indicates that the culture encourages … this.

However, Aviary was acquired by Adobe in 2014, and this letter was written in 2011. So while it’s possible that the brand was a bit more relaxed at that time, we wouldn’t suggest submitting a letter with that tone to the company today. That’s not to say it would go unappreciated elsewhere — Doug Kessler frequently discusses the marketers and brands that value colorful language, for example.

The point is, this example further illustrates the importance of research. Make sure you understand the culture of the company to which you’re applying before you send a completely unfiltered cover letter — if you don’t, there’s a good chance it’ll completely miss the mark.

6) The Interactive Cover Letter

When designer Rachel McBee applied for a job with the Denver Broncos, she didn’t just write a personalized cover letter — she designed an entire digital, interactive microsite:

Source: Rachel McBee

This cover letter — if you can even call it that — checks off all of the boxes we’ve discussed here, in a remarkably unique way. It concisely addresses and organizes what many hiring managers hope to see in any cover letter: how her skills lend themselves to the role, why she wants the job, and how to contact her. She even includes a “traditional” body of text at the bottom, with a form that allows the reader to easily get in touch with her.

Take Cover

We’d like to add a sixth stage to the job search: Experimentation.

In today’s competitive landscape, it’s so easy to feel defeated, less-than-good-enough, or like giving up your job search. But don’t let the process become so monotonous. Have fun discovering the qualitative data we’ve discussed here — then, have even more by getting creative with your cover letter composition.

We certainly can’t guarantee that every prospective employer will respond positively — or at all — to even the most unique, compelling cover letter. But the one that’s right for you will. That’s why it’s important not to copy these examples. That defeats the purpose of personalization.

So get creative. And, by the way — we’re hiring.

What are some of the best cover letters you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments.

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Apr

25

2017

Is an MBA Worth the Money?

Published by in category Daily, Professional Development, Tactical | Comments are closed

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Here on the HubSpot Marketing Blog, I haven’t exactly made it a secret that I went to business school. It was an experience that provided two years’ worth of fodder, lessons learned, and other actionables that I like to share here.

But there’s one question I have yet to answer, at least in this venue, about the time spent earning my MBA: Was it worth it?

It’s a question I considered even before I began applying to different business schools, and one in which I’m certainly not alone. When I asked my colleagues if any of them had experienced the great “Should I get my MBA?” debate, there was a clamor of responses. Many of us — all marketing professionals — had experienced the same decision-making process, which made us realize how many other marketers out there must be going through the same thing. Download our free SEO ebook here for more tips from experts on increasing  your search rankings. 

While the topic seems to be eternally up for debate, we agree that there are instances when people should, in fact, go for an MBA — but it’s important to have a clear idea of what those circumstances are, and if they really apply to you. And if they don’t, fear not: There are alternatives. We’ve outlined the factors that do make an MBA worth the investment — and the other things you can do until that day arrives.

When an MBA Is Worth the Money

1) When you know exactly what you want out of it.

Before I began studying for the GMAT — the required admission exam for most MBA programs — I spent about five years deciding whether or not to apply to business school. I had a lot of questions, many of which were shared by my colleague, Mimi An, when she was faced with the same decision. For her, she told me:

The biggest things to consider were if I was at a place where I couldn’t progress further in my career, if I wanted to change function or industry, if I wanted to move, and what exactly I wanted out of the degree. I couldn’t answer the last question. In fact, the answer was ‘no’ to most of my questions. I could still progress. I did not want to change function. I did not want to move. I didn’t know what I expected to get out of it.”

According to Investopedia, the average cost of an MBA is $140,000 — and $260,000 if you’re not working or earning any income while you’re in school. Think of it this way: Would you spend that much on a luxury car or new condo if you weren’t sure why you were buying it? That’s a big chunk of change to spend on something that you aren’t certain is going to benefit you in some way.

Of course, for many people, the answer to those questions is overwhelmingly “yes” — in fact, they were for me. At the time, I wasn’t progressing in my career and I wanted to move, which are two fundamental reasons why I ultimately made the decision to go to business school. But not everyone will have the same responses to those important questions, nor do they come easily to anyone — so be sure to put sufficient time into them.

2) When your work isn’t teaching you what you need to grow.

There’s an important point that An made in her quote above — how much room for growth you have in your current career trajectory, whether that means you’re able to progress in your current job, or do it elsewhere.

If you’re not getting the right learning opportunities in your current workplace, but you’re also short on some of the skills to progress in another role or company, it might be time to think about getting an advanced degree. It’s what Jim O’Neill, HubSpot’s chief information officer, realized early in his career here, when he was also considering leaving to pursue an MBA.

“I couldn’t get it out of my head that I’d be giving up more by leaving the company at that stage than I’d ever be able to learn in business school,” he said. “And while I still might want a graduate degree someday, I was lucky to stay, learn, and grow over the following six years.”

But again — everyone’s experience is different. When O’Neill was contemplating this decision, HubSpot happened to be scaling up, which forced him to learn a lot of crucial business lessons as a byproduct of being in the throes of a company’s earliest stages. Not everyone will be in that same position, and some people will have to seek the lessons O’Neill learned elsewhere.

Depending on the program you choose, an MBA could be the best place to gain this knowledge. So when you’re making this decision, carefully evaluate where you are in your career, and how much you can learn on your current trajectory without an advanced degree.

3) When you actually have the time to dedicate to it.

During my first semester of business school, I was working full-time while also completing my coursework. Granted, most of my classes were at night, which on the surface seems like a convenient arrangement. But as any student will tell you, your academic work extends far beyond the hours you spend in the classroom. There are exams to study for, papers to write, and group projects to complete.

In other words, if you add that to your current professional workload — your nights and weekends are pretty much toast. At least, that was my experience.

That may seem like a sacrifice you’re willing to make, but think about it, in the context of the previous points. Even if you’re certain of your reasons for pursuing an MBA, do you really have the time to dedicate to it? Will you also be able to sufficiently take care of yourself, and spend enough time with loved ones to maintain a measurable level of mental health?

It’s easy to think that the answers to those questions are “yes” — in fact, I told myself that I would have plenty of time to work out between classes or before work in the morning, and to cook healthy meals ahead of time on the weekends. And while that was sometimes true, it required extremely strict time management, and left precious little time to actually relax.

My colleague, Karla Cook — who’s working full-time while pursuing her master’s degree — agrees. “I tell people the only reason they should work full-time while pursuing a graduate degree is if they get offered an opportunity that falls in the ‘dream job’ category,” she explains. “If that’s not the case, then it’s probably not worth completely killing yourself over, because you will have no free time.”

But the good news is, it’s temporary. Business school doesn’t last forever — though it might seem like that while you’re going through it. But before you seriously consider going through this kind of program, have a clear idea of what’s going to make it “worth it” to you. Having that goal in mind gives you something tangible to keep you motivated during these stressful periods.

4) … And when you have the money saved.

They say that “time is money” — and just as you must be sure you’re willing to sacrifice the former, you also have to make certain that you have the latter. Remember those aforementioned dollar figures we cited about the true cost of an MBA? File this point under deciding what will make the degree “worth it,” with “it” being the hundreds of thousands of dollars that your degree will likely cost.

When you’re deciding whether or not to go to business school, ask yourself if you can afford to take on student loan debt. If you’ve just bought a house, paid for a wedding, expanded your family, or bought a car — the answer might be “no,” unless you happen to have a lot of liquid funds at your disposal.

That said, loans aren’t the only answer. You should also see what other resources might be available to you, like scholarships or fellowships, some of which might even be available through the school you end up attending.

When you begin selecting which programs you’ll apply to, explore their respective policies on merit-based financial aid — that’s the kind that you don’t usually have to repay. There are several guides to external merit scholarships available to MBA students, as well, like this one from GoGrad.org.

5) When the program’s career resources will actually help you.

At risk of sounding like a broken record, this point also speaks to the idea of what will make an MBA program “worth it.” Again, everyone’s priorities are different, but if you’re going to business school with the hope of advancing your career with a new employer, make sure the school you choose has the right resources to support your job search.

This factor is one that institutions know prospective students take seriously. In the Graduate Management Admission Council’s Alumni Perspectives Survey Report 2017, 91% of respondents indicated that they found their MBAs to be “professionally rewarding,” and many schools feel a lot of pressure to uphold that significant figure for their own students. For that reason, many graduate students have found advertised career services to sometimes be a bit embellished. Cook echoes that sentiment, and says she’s come across many graduate programs that lack “any useful career benefits,” despite what they claim.

In my own MBA experience, those services weren’t exactly embellished, but they were removed from the university’s budget after I had committed to the program. That wasn’t entirely negative — experiences like those can teach some students crucial lessons on networking and other valuable job search skills. Evaluate the resources available to you through a very fine lens, and consider how much of a priority they are in selecting a business school.

6) When your employer will cover your tuition.

This one seems a bit obvious, but it requires some reading between the lines, so to speak. If your employer will reimburse your MBA tuition, it might seem like a proverbial no-brainer to take advantage of that benefit. But understand what will be required if you do.

First, understand that you’ll most likely have to pay taxes on any amount of reimbursement you receive over $5,250. Also, some employers require you to stay with the company for a certain amount of time upon completion of your degree as a condition of receiving this benefit. Once again — ask yourself what your reasons are for pursuing an MBA. If they include progressing your career in a new work environment, taking a route that requires you to stay with the same employer for at least two years after you graduate might not be the most optimal one.

You might notice that many of these considerations work in tandem. For example, the point above about tuition reimbursement from your employer could be countered by having enough money saved to invest in the degree yourself, or being in a position to use student loans. That’s why we encourage you to spend ample time thinking about all of these factors — getting an MBA isn’t a minor decision.

When an MBA Is Not Worth the Money

1) When you should get a different degree.

Maybe — just maybe — you’ve decided against getting an MBA because it’s simply not the right degree for your career trajectory, or for what you’re hoping to do. If you’re looking to specialize in corporate communications, for example, it might be worthwhile to look into graduate programs that specialize in it, and have the catered career resources to support it.

That idea re-emphasizes the importance of knowing exactly what you’re hoping to gain from an MBA. When you outline your goals, compare them to the standard coursework required of an MBA, and see if they align. If not, it might be time to look into a different academic concentration.

2) When you can work for an emerging or early-stage business.

Remember O’Neill’s great story of how much he learned from sticking with a company that was scaling up — in lieu of pursuing an MBA? As we mentioned earlier, working with a company in its earliest stages often forces its employees, whether they like it or not, to learn a ton of business fundamentals.

In a valuable MBA program, you should learn such fundamentals as managing budgets, personnel, projects, and — when the company really begins to take off — scaling it to keep up with that growth. Sounds a lot like the type of thing that managers have to learn with a new, emerging business, doesn’t it? If that’s the type of work and knowledge you crave, it could be time to look for job opportunities with a company in these early stages.

3) When you can use individual courses to gain the skills you’re missing.

When I was in business school, I was fortunate enough to have some truly great professors. But I also learned something else — without naming names, I realized that while many academic instructors are experts in their respective fields, that doesn’t mean they excel when it comes to teaching.

That meant, for certain subjects, I sometimes had to seek outside resources to supplement classroom teachings — most notably, Khan Academy, an online provider of free classes and courses. I found out about it through a classmate in a particularly difficult class, and once I started using it for that particular topic, I saw how much knowledge the site has to offer.

And while I wasn’t about to abandon my MBA to self-teach via this resource alone, it did make me realize that, for individual areas and skills, sites like these can be a tremendous help to those who aren’t ready to pursue a full degree, but want to improve their professional credentials. And Khan Academy — despite offering a plethora of courses on subjects ranging from economics to art history — is hardly the only resource of this kind. Our favorites include Coursera, edX, HubSpot AcademyLynda, and Udemy. Even better, some of these sites, like Coursera, actually offer classes taught by faculty of some top-tier schools, including Stanford.

To B-School, or Not to B-School

Deciding whether or not to pursue your MBA is a pretty big decision — it can be a significant investment of both time and money. But, for many, it’s worth it. And now, you have a checklist to help make that decision just a little bit easier.

And as for me — the verdict is in. My MBA was worth it. In the thick of my coursework, I did sometimes question, “Why am I doing this?” Plus, I agree that there are many times when the investment just isn’t necessary. But in the end, I remain very happy with my decision to go to business school. I got to experience living in a new city, gain new skills, and figure out what I don’t want to do, which, to me, is a milestone in one’s career progression.

All in all, I think of it as a very productive use of my time — and I want it to be for you, too. You’ll make the right decision. But please, don’t make it in a hurry.

What are your thoughts on pursuing an MBA? Let us know in the comments.

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Apr

19

2017

How to Make a Good First Impression: 11 Tips to Try

Published by in category Business, Daily, Professional Development, Tactical | Comments are closed

good_first_impression_compressed.jpg

Did you know that it only takes a tenth of a second to make a first impression?

In other words, when you meet someone for the first time, you need to be on your game from the very beginning. This includes being aware of everything from the words you choose to the body language you convey.

Whether you’re meeting new connections, team members, potential employers, or customers, I’ve put together a list of tips designed to help you put your best foot forward and make a killer first impression.

11 Tips for Making a Good First Impression

1) Be mindful of your body language and posture.

Effective body language goes beyond simply standing up straight and having a firm handshake — although those things are definitely important, too. When you’re meeting someone for the first time, keep your posture open — don’t tightly cross your arms or legs, don’t ball your hands into fists, and don’t hunch over in your seat. Lean in when you talk to show you’re actively listening and engaged in the conversation. And don’t be afraid to take up some space at the table, either. If you normally use hand gestures or move around to communicate, don’t hold back. These nonverbal cues can make a powerful subconscious impact, so be aware of your body language and posture during meetings in general, but particularly initial pitches or interviews.

What behaviors should you aim to avoid? It’s smart to refrain from tapping, touching your face too often, placing objects in front of yourself, blinking excessively, and sitting or standing too close to others (respect the bubble, people). Some body language habits can suggest dishonesty, so be mindful to avoid those tics — avoiding eye contact, touching your mouth, and others — too.

2) Modulate your pitch and tone of voice.

A high-pitched tone of voice can make you seem childish or nervous — especially if you tend to “uptalk” or use a rising inflection at the end of your sentences. In fact, it has been shown that people perceive those who have a rising intonation as less knowledgeable, no matter what they are actually saying.

Not sure if you’re guilty of this? Try practicing your presentations or recording yourself reading aloud. You’d be surprised at how different you sound to others versus in your own head.

On the other hand, faster speakers are considered to be more confident, according to a study performed at Brigham Young University. However, even if you’re talking fast, be sure to avoid using filler words such as “um,” “ah,” “like,” and other similar phrases whenever possible, as it shows hesitation. Try practicing not relying on those filler words in front of a camera to train yourself.

3) Choose your words wisely.

Words matter even more than you think. Positive and persuasive words and phrases will often open doors and make people feel comfortable in your presence, which can ultimately make them more willing to work with you.

For instance, let’s take a look at many marketers’ favorite show: Mad Men. Some of Don Draper’s best pitches (e.g., Carousel & Lucky Strike) were full of positive language. That said, positive language doesn’t need to be cheesy or new-agey as Draper illustrates. Instead, positive language can be used to uplift your audience by simply being clear and simple.

This point is especially valuable if you’re making a first impression in a job interview. You want potential employers to find you positive, flexible, and capable, so use language that reflects optimism and agency instead of negativity.

4) Dress the part.

Regardless of how little you personally care about fashion or style, what you wear matters. While you want to look clean and neat, it’s also important to match or slightly exceed the relative level of formality of the person or business you are meeting with — whether that is business formal, highly casual, or something in between.

“You are your brand, especially if you are a business owner, so making sure that your look communicates your best self is important,” explains Laurel Mintz, CEO of Elevate My Brand.

If you want to show off your personality, try including one accessory that could be considered a memorable item or even a conversation piece. This could be anything from a unique piece of jewelry to a fancy tie to a pair of fun socks.

5) Make eye contact.

Focus on the person or people you are speaking with. It’s hard to get to know someone when you’re looking down at a screen, so make an effort to make some eye contact with everyone in the room.

However, keep in mind that eye contact can also backfire, according to a study by the University of British Columbia. If people aren’t already persuaded or inclined to be on your side, they may focus more on your mouth or any presentation materials you’re showcasing instead of your eyes, making attempts at eye contact a challenge.

6) Know your audience.

Do your research. If your meeting is planned in advance, you should know plenty about the person or business that you’re meeting with before you arrive. This might mean that you Google the people you’ll be meeting with, the company founders/co-founders, their history, their competition, their main products, and any other relevant info before you walk into the room.

Looking for a helpful tool to help you gather some background information? Check out Charlie App. This app scans hundreds of sources to uncover information about the person you’re meeting with and sends you a one-pager with all the details. Pretty cool, right? LinkedIn is also a good place to check out who you’re meeting with and learn more about them.

7) Come prepared.

There’s nothing worse than an unproductive meeting. To make a great first impression, be sure that you’re respectful of everyone’s time. If you’re meeting with someone working remotely, plan accordingly. That said, if you’re being productive and everyone has the bandwidth, it might be okay if the meeting runs long — just make sure you check in with the group before making the call.

Meeting time management is a key aspect of building an engaged group of clients or colleagues. Plus, it shows respect for their schedules.

8) Be authentic.

When you’re meeting someone for the first time, don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you don’t know the answer to something they ask, don’t fake it. The ability to lean into your weaknesses shows that you are self-aware.

However, be sure not to over emphasize your shortcomings. It might seem shockingly simple, but avoiding the “report card problem” or highlighting weaknesses and how you might fix them could cause you to only showcase the negatives, or at least make them the biggest part of your overall impression. While you don’t want to hide any weaknesses (people will likely figure it out anyways), you do want to be honest and move on to the good stuff — especially at the beginning of a business relationship.

9) Put your phone away.

That goes for tablets, laptops, and other electronics, too.

If you need to use technology to deliver a presentation, that’s one thing. But unless you’re projecting your computer or tablet screen to present to the entire room, turn off sounds and vibrations on your mobile devices, and put your screens away. Give your complete and undivided attention to the people you’re meeting for the first time to convey your commitment, focus, and let’s face it, your good manners.

10) Make a connection.

Pay close attention to who you’re meeting with for the first time and try to forge a connection based on what they share with you. Whether it’s their alma mater or their hometown, forging a connection outside of the professional conversation can be a great way to strike up a rapport.

That being said, don’t be too creepy. Avoid making comments about their appearance that could be perceived as inappropriate and stick to connections you might have in common. Those are more genuine than compliments anyway.

11) Don’t forget to follow up.

After an initial meeting, don’t forget to follow up by sending any necessary information — notes, presentation docs, next steps, and so on — or sending a thank you note.

These small gestures will help prove that you’re on the ball, and that you’re making them a priority, rather than just another task to check off your to-do list.

Sending out updated information after a meeting can also be a way to get a second chance at a first impression. How so? It helps to show another side of you or your business — perhaps a more responsible side. In fact, a Stanford study revealed that adding more external factors can actually mitigate the effect of a negative first impression.

Don’t let a negative first impression get in the way of your ability to get to know someone. Follow these nine tips to ensure that the first time you meet with someone won’t be the last.

What are your best tips for making a great first impression? Share them below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Apr

11

2017

6 Phrases to Demonstrate Active Listening — at Work, or Elsewhere

Published by in category Daily, Professional Development, Tactical | Comments are closed

A few weeks ago, I had an alarming revelation: I’m a crappy listener.

That came to light when someone important to me pointed out that I don’t seem to have any interest in what he does for work. “Your eyes just glaze over whenever I talk about my job,” he told me.

I couldn’t deny that. And it wasn’t limited to him — whenever someone spoke to me about something that I found less than fascinating, I had a tendency to tune it out. In reality, I could learn to appreciate my friend’s line of work, for example, if I learned to listen actively.

It’s an imperative skill — at work, and in your personal life. After all, if you’re never paying attention to what your boss, your significant other, or your kids are saying to you, how are they supposed to take you seriously? How can you expect them to come to you for advice, or with important information? When you don’t listen, you set the precedent that you can’t be trusted to absorb what matters to other people. Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your  productivity at work.

That’s why it’s imperative to learn how to listen actively. It’s one thing to sit and make eye contact with the person speaking to you. But are you really absorbing what they’re saying? And moreover, are you responding in a way that communicates that you’re actually listening — and that you have something worthwhile to say in return? 

There are a few key phrases out there to demonstrate that you’re listening actively. And it’s true — you’re not going to care about every conversation that someone initiates with you. But even if the topic isn’t important to you, the person sharing it might be. Read on to learn how to pay better attention, and how to show that you’re doing so.

How We Listen

The Process

To listen, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true.”

It’s that second part of the definition that stands out to me — especially when it comes to active listening. It’s the genuine absorption of what someone is saying to us that reinforces and communicates how seriously we’re taking it, or appreciate its importance.

Of course, there are many reasons to listen. It helps us to satisfy different physiological goals. We listen to alter our moods, stay alert, and figure stuff out — in humans, that’s been the case for pretty much as long as we’ve existed. The process starts when we receive auditory stimuli. Then, our brains have to interpret that stimulus. That’s enhanced by other senses — like sight — which help us better interpret what we’re hearing. That’s important. When someone is sharing information with us, our non-verbal reaction also communicates to that person how actively we’re listening.

Once we receive and interpret auditory signals, we follow a series of steps that consist of recalling, evaluating, and responding to the information we consume:

Hurier_Listening_Process.png

Source: Matthew Edward Dyson

All three of those steps are imperative to active listening. Numerous studies have discovered how listening triggers a widespread network of activity throughout the entire brain — and it’s why auditory stimuli is often strongly linked to memory.

When We Don’t Listen

Of course, we have to be paying attention in order to be able to recall, evaluate, and respond to what someone tells us. And even if we are, how we respond can send a variety of signals back to our conversational counterpart. Statements like, “I see,” or, “Cool,” for example, aren’t exactly active phrases. Rather, they exhibit a state of passive listening that communicates we hear the person, but probably don’t care.

And that’s not how anyone — let alone important people in your life, like your family or your boss — wants to be treated. Even if your significant other is telling you about his day, responding with something like, “Mm-hmm” doesn’t exactly send the message that you have great concern for what’s being said.

And even then, our intentions might be good. According to a coaching presentation created by Viorica Milea, there are many non-malicious explanations behind why we don’t listen. These are things like distractions, which abound in today’s device-centric world, and our tendency to start thinking ahead while the person is still talking — what Milea calls “judging,” which happens when we’ve preemptively “made assumptions” about what the person is going to say.

The Mutual Benefit of Active Listening

That’s why active listening is good for both parties in a conversation. It benefits the person speaking by helping to insure that she’s actually being heard. But it also benefits the listener — learning to put distractions and preemptive judgments (well-intended or not) aside will not only prevent you from missing important details, but also, can help teach you how to tune out unnecessary interruptions while focusing on other important tasks.

Practicing the incorporation of these phrases into conversations is a great way to get started. When someone is speaking to you, keep these in mind — if you feel your attention start to drift, or a notification appears on your phone, or you begin thinking ahead, come back to your mental inventory of these phrases to demonstrate and execute active listening.

6 Phrases to Demonstrate Active Listening

1) “Do you mean … ?”

Why

Sometimes, it seems like life is one long game of Telephone. Even if we interpreted something one way, the person who said it may have meant it completely differently.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting the full story from the person you’re listening to, and understanding it correctly. By asking for clarification, you’re not only encouraging more details from someone who might be timid about bringing something up, but also, you’re making sure you actually heard a statement as it was intended.

Alternatives

  • “I’m not sure I understand.”
  • “Could you tell me a bit more about that?”

2) “It sounds like … ”

Why

This phrase is another one that helps to provide clarification by demonstrating your empathy. But be careful with this one, and make sure you’re not telling your counterpart how she feels, but rather, phrasing it as an expression of how you interpret her emotions.

I have a tough time admitting when I’m upset about something, especially in a professional setting. But my manager happens to excel at active listening, and is very good at reading what I’m not saying in a conversation — and responding in kind. When I was disappointed about the outcome of a project, for example, I didn’t exactly say so, but she said, “It sounds like you’re feeling a little defeated.” I was, and having her say that to me out loud helped me take a proactive approach to the project moving forward.

Alternatives

  • “What I’m hearing is … “
  • “You seem a bit … ”

3) “Really?”

Why

This phrase is one that Milea helps to demonstrate encouragement during a conversation. It reminds the person speaking that you’re paying attention by encouraging them to elaborate on something they’ve said to you.

Alternatives

  • “When?”
  • “How?”
  • “You’re kidding.”

4) “I’ve noticed that … ”

Why

Here’s another term that shows how much attention you’re paying. By pointing out your observations about someone’s behavior or tendencies while she’s speaking, you’re not only fully absorbing her words — you’re also taking the non-verbal communication into consideration.

Instructors at the University of Central Florida use the example of, “I’ve just been noticing that when you talk about your conclusions, you smile. That makes me think you’re comfortable with the direction.” Making sure you know what someone means isn’t limited to the spoken word — you want to clarify what nonverbal behavior could indicate, too.

5) “Let me make sure I’ve got this right.”

Why

Another method of active listening is checking in with your counterpart to summarize what you’ve heard them say thus far. By repeating back something to the person you’re listening to, you’re not only demonstrating that you’ve been paying attention, but also, you’re further ensuring that you understand what the person actually means, and that you heard her correctly.

Alternatives

  • “These are the main points I’ve heard you make so far.”
  • “Let’s make sure I’m hearing you correctly.”
  • “Let’s pause to make sure we’re on the same page.”

6) “I’m sorry. That really sucks.”

Why

I joke about this one with my colleagues a lot. It goes back to the big idea of empathy and those occasions when, for just a moment, you want to have a pity party, rather than receiving proactive advice. Of course, you’re ready for that advice eventually, but not right away.

That’s why, when someone is sharing his frustrations with you, one of the most impactful things you can do is verbally acknowledge how crummy the situation is. Rather than invalidating the person’s emotions by immediately launching into suggestions for what she should do, you’re pausing to provide empathy, and to allow the person to work through what’s bothering him.

Alternatives

  • “I’m sorry you’re going through that.”
  • “What a crappy situation to be in. I’m sorry.”
  • “That’s rough. How can I help?”

Listen Carefully

We get it. You’ve got enough on your plate. There’s always a deadline, and there’s always somewhere you need to be. It can be hard to genuinely pay attention, especially when you’ve got a long to-do list that’s occupying your mental energy.

But as we’ve mentioned, active listening doesn’t just benefit your conversational counterpart — you also stand to gain from it. From making sure you don’t miss important details, to exercising focus for any important task, putting these phrases into practice can help you become a proactive, empathetic listener.

What are your go-to phrases to demonstrate active listening? Let us know in the comments.

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Apr

6

2017

The Emotional Intelligence Test: What's Your Emotional IQ? [Quiz]

Published by in category Daily, Professional Development | Comments are closed

emotional intelligence test blog (1).pngThere’s been a lot of chatter lately about the power of emotional intelligence. And it’s not undeserved — multiple studies have shown there’s a significant correlation between emotional intelligence and workplace success.

People with high emotional intelligence levels are even more likely to succeed than those with higher IQs or more work experience.

So what exactly is emotional intelligence? And, more importantly, how can you measure it?

Click here to take The Emotional Intelligence Test →

What is Emotional Intelligence?

In short, people with high emotional intelligence have an deep awareness of their own emotions — and the emotions of others — and they can use this information to guide their thinking and actions.

According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, there are five main components of emotional intelligence, these are:

1) Self-awareness

Self-awareness is understanding yourself and your effect on others. Self-aware individuals know their abilities and play to their strengths, can admit to their mistakes, and can laugh at themselves when they make a mistake.

2) Self-management

Self-management is controlling disruptive impulses and thinking before acting. People who have good self-management are able to take a step back when they feel they are becoming overwhelmed with emotion. This prevents them from doing or saying things they might regret later.

3) Motivation

Emotionally intelligent people are constantly challenging themselves, and are driven by their passion, rather than status or money. They also remain optimistic about their future, even when their situation can sometimes be tough.

4) Empathy

Empathetic people don’t just listen to what people say, they try to understand more about what’s being said. Empathic people consider other people’s feelings when making decisions. Empathic people can gain knowledge through body language and other nonverbal cues.

5) Social Communication

People who have well-developed social communication skills can express their emotions to others appropriately and really listen to other people when they express theirs. They also seek feedback and give constructive feedback to others when needed. People with strong social communication skills are valuable because they are able to manage relationships effectively to move people forward towards a common goal.

The Emotional Intelligence Test: Take the Quiz

Emotional intelligence isn’t a fixed trait — it’s something everyone can improve with time and perseverance.

If you’re interested in developing your emotional intelligence, take our short emotional intelligence test below, which will show you how emotionally intelligent you are, and give you five actionable strategies you can use improve it.

Disclaimer: Bare in mind that this test isn’t a comprehensive scientific assessment — it’s just a fun way to get a gauge of your emotional intelligence levels and start becomming more emotionally intelligent. 

Are you on mobile? Click here to take the Emotional Intelligence Test →
 

 

What do you think: Does emotional intelligence play a part in success? What other skills do you think help with business success? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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Mar

30

2017

About the Author: How to Write a Quality Author Bio

Published by in category Blog, Daily, Professional Development | Comments are closed

How-to-write-a-bio

If contributing guest posts is part of your content distribution and promotion strategy, you’re probably familiar with the following scenario: You write a great article for a guest publication, and at the end, you’re compensated with a teeny, tiny paragraph about yourself.

Unless you wrote the article for purely altruistic reasons, this paragraph, though short, is quite critical. Not only does it connect you to the article on a level beyond your byline, but also, it provides space for links back to your website or social profiles. And who wouldn’t want even that little bit of glory?

But what are you supposed to write in that brief paragraph, anyway? How do you make your author bio compelling, powerful, and effective — without a whole lot of space?

Download our free guide to copywriting here to learn how to be a better  copywriter yourself. 

As it turns out, there are quite a few seemingly small ways to approach your author bio that can help it have a much bigger impact. But what do they look like, exactly? Read on — you’re about to find out.

How to Write an Author Bio

How to Write a Quality Author Bio

1) Write in the third person.

Different publications will have different standards — Forbes, for example, seems to encourage guest contributors to write in the first person, as per below:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 8.42.08 AM.pngSource: Forbes

However, the general practice is to write your bio in the third person. If it feels a bit self-congratulatory, that’s okay — you can even turn it into a joke, like Mark John Hiemstra did in his bio for a post on the Unbounce blog

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 8.38.54 AM.pngSource: Unbounce

Once you’ve written the bio, be sure to re-read it to make sure you’re not overusing “he” or “she.” And if you are, try replacing some instances of these pronouns with your name to improve the flow.

2) Remember: It’s not really about you.

Even though this paragraph is allegedly about the author, it’s not actually about you. It’s about your reader, and what that person is looking to learn or gain from your article. It helps to think of this setup as a well-composed sentence — you’re the object, and the reader is the subject.

That concept can be a bit confusing without context, so have a look at how Matt Southern pulled that off below:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 8.38.54 AM.pngSource: Search Engine Journal

Notice how Southern’s bio focuses on both himself and the reader. By explaining that his real passion is to help marketers, it serves as a nod to his readership — after all, your readers are the ones who ultimately decide if your piece is worth sticking around until the end, sharing, or discussing. Write for them.

3) Establish credibility — truthfully.

As the digital landscape only becomes increasingly crowded, it’s important to have a prepared, accurate way to answer the masses asking, “Why should I listen to you?”

Readers are right to ask that question, especially with many now questioning the accuracy and reliability of news. So, in your bio, establish your credibility, and be honest. Why are you qualified to write on this subject? Why should readers believe you?

If you write about conversion optimization, for example, explain what kind of experience you have with it. If you have academic degrees, list them — but only if they’re relevant to the publication or article. A bachelor’s degree might not be considered outstanding enough to warrant a mention in your bio, though there are exceptions to that rule. Let’s say you’re writing about women’s issues. If you attended a women’s college, it might be worth mentioning in that particular instance. 

Let’s have a look at how this concept looks “in the wild.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 9.36.03 AM.pngSource: Forbes

When Forbes contributor Ian Morris wrote the above article on a mobile device, he used his one-line bio to explain why he’s qualified to write on that subject. “I cover mobile,” he explains, as well as “internet services and the good and bad of tech.” And in his full bio, he expanded even further on that:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 9.21.12 AM.png

4) And while you’re at it, explain what you do.

It’s the inevitable — and often dreaded — question of any social or networking gathering. “What do you do?”

Chances are, someone reading your work will have the same question — it goes along the same lines of explaining why you’re credible enough to be writing about a certain topic. So think of your bio as an opportunity to answer it — after all, it’s a meaningful fact about you, and it deserves a line.

Notice how Yvette Tan immediately addresses that question in the first sentence of both her author and Twitter bio, highlighting the importance of keeping information consistent across different channels: 

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 10.07.12 AM.pngSource: Forbes
YtanTwitter.png

And Kiel Berry does the same thing for his contribution to the Harvard Business Review:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 10.13.33 AM.pngSource: Harvard Business Review

5) Be (appropriately) personal.

 

You’ve probably come across the occasional author bio that features a personal tidbit thrown in, like “cat lover” or “coffee addict.” But when is that okay or smart — or even more important, appropriate?

To answer that question, you need to think about where your article is appearing, and who’s likely reading it. Not every publication, for instance, is going to be the best fit for a quip about your affinity for craft beer. That said, it’s also good to remind readers that you’re human, especially among your professional credentials. Still, keep it to a minimum — readers are only marginally interested in your personal life, so your bio isn’t the place to divulge a lot of those details.

Buffer’s Alfred Lua uses his bio to share his hobbies like swimming. But by keeping it short, and sandwiching his personal interests between his job title and his personal one, he’s able to show personality, while maintaining his credibility: 

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 10.26.55 AM.pngSource: Buffer

6) Focus on value.

It can be tempting to turn your bio into a celebratory display of your interests and accomplishments — you’ve won awards, started a billion companies, and have been published in top journals. But readers, more often than not, might be responding with, “Who cares?”

That’s because they want to know what’s in it for them. By putting content out there, you’re essentially asking readers to borrow their time for what you’ve written. Sure, your status might be impressive, but they don’t really care unless they have something to gain from it. That’s where the idea of value comes in.

Use your bio to communicate that bio, and what you can do for your readers. Danny Wong does that well in his guest bio on ConversionXL’s blog: 

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 10.35.44 AM.pngSource: ConversionXL

Notice the key word in the second sentence: “Teach.” That’s the kind of value that might help Wong connect in a meaningful way — by telling them, “I teach people, and I can teach you, too.”

7) Don’t be afraid to brag.

Let’s have one more look at Wong’s bio:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 10.35.44 AM.pngSource: ConversionXL

After he explains the value he can provide to readers, he uses the opportunity to mention a pretty big accomplishment: Founding what sounds like a highly profitable business.

When done correctly — like Wong did above, by combining it with a value proposition — bragging can be both effective and appropriate. But it might be easier to do so in the third person. “She co-founded a multi-million dollar company” sounds a bit more humble than, “I co-founded a multi-million dollar company.”

Don’t be afraid to toss out a few awards that make you the proudest — just make sure that they’re relevant to the subject matter and the publication.

8) Avoid writing something obnoxiously long.

Just as you want to avoid bragging too much, you should probably avoid saying too much in general. Writing a super long bio might make you seem less than humble — if all the other authors on the site have three lines and you have thirty, it only emphasizes your sense of self-importance, even if that’s not what you intended.

Author Richard Ridley recommends that authors “keep it brief.” Here’s how he explains it:

Brevity is the soul of wit. Even if you’re William Shakespeare, you don’t want to write an author bio that fills up the entire back cover. In an odd twist of logic, the more accomplished you are as an author, the shorter your author bio can be.”

It’s okay — we all have an ego. We just have to keep it in check sometimes. Here’s a great example of a short-and-sweet bio from Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 11.07.45 AM.pngSource: Orbit Media

9) Customize it.

If the publication allows you to occasionally update your bio according to the season, take advantage of the ability to customize it. A universal bio that you copy/paste everywhere is okay, but tailoring it to a specific scenario can help enhance it for a particular outlet.

Here’s how HubSpot’s Lindsay Kolowich does that with her bio:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 11.16.53 AM.png

By fine-tuning it to resonate with the season, your bio stands out against some generic messaging you might be used to seeing.

10) Add a CTA.

Ah, the call to action, or CTA. It’s a powerful force in the marketing world, and it’s no different in your bio.

After your audience reads about you, they should take further action — but what action do you want them to take? Most often, it’s reading more of your material, or following you on social media.

In those cases, common CTAs would be to follow you on Twitter, or visit your blog. And while these options are effective, make sure the CTA is strategic within the given context.

For example, when Heather Hummel’s work is syndicated by Huffington Post, her author bio contains a CTA to check out her books, creating a source of possible sales:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 11.21.19 AM.pngSource: Huffington Post

Of course, some outlets might not have the bandwidth or allow such a full-scale dedication to this kind of CTA within an author bio. But if the opportunity is available, use it to your advantage.

11) Steer clear of the word “freelance.”

Freelance writers are an exceptional group of people who are skillful, qualified, and expertly positioned to write great content. But there’s something about the word “freelance” that, for whatever reason, can chip away at credibility. It suggests that you might be more of a generalist, and less of an expert — which, while not necessarily true, has grown to connote that while you might be good at writing, you might not excel at a particular subject.

If you’re a freelance writer, we tip our hats to you. But in your bio, there are ways to replace the word “freelance,” for the reasons above. Here are some examples:

  • “Fred is a conversion optimization writer, specializing in split testing best practices and cognitive biases.”
  • “Angie, a Portland-based author, helps people unleash their inner interior designer.”
  • “As a marketing writer, Todd’s favorite place to publish uncensored marketing content is his own blog.”

Ready to Write?

The best way to create a meaningful bio is to write it with care and intention. Think about your readers, establish your credibility, and make it memorable. But go ahead and have some fun with it — you want to prove that you’re human, too.

At the end of the day, your little bio matters. People care. They’re going to read it. Make it count.

And please — don’t judge me by my bio.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Mar

29

2017

How to Get Better Marketing Talent

Published by in category Canonical, Daily, Professional Development | Comments are closed

BestMarketingTalent-compressor.jpg

When I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Sure, I knew that I wanted, you know, to be employed. I knew I wanted to put my English degree to good use. And I knew I wanted some aspect of the written word to be involved. But what did that look like?

“I dunno,” would’ve been my honest answer.

It’s not that I received anything less than a great education. In fact, I have almost nothing but good things to say about my undergrad alma mater. It’s just that the school had fallen into the same problem that most universities do — the coursework, while excellent, didn’t address what has turned into a pandemic marketing and sales skills gap.

Granted, that was more years ago than I’d like to admit, before much of the technology essential to marketing and sales jobs was as prevalent as it is today. But according to research conducted by Boston Consulting Group, companies still continue to fall short on the level of digital skills on their marketing teams. And as the consumption of products, services, and information continues to rely more on technology — that’s not good.  Learn how to succeed in your new inbound marketing job with the help of this  free guide.

But what are you supposed to do about it? You’re busy enough trying to do what you can to make up for this skills gap. How could you possibly also resolve how to actually fill it? Well, as it turns out, you have two major options: To build talent, and to buy it. Don’t worry — neither option is as overwhelming or as expensive as it sounds. In fact, both really boil down to providing the right resources for both your current and incoming employees. What do those look like? We’ve got a few ideas.

How to Get Better Marketing Talent

When You’re Buying

Bringing in new hires is not a simple process. There are the measurable variables, like the cost of onboarding — an average of over $4,000 per new employee, for most companies — and expensive employee turnover in a number of industries. So when you’re looking to add someone new to your team, you want to make sure it’s a good decision.

Part of feeling certain of a new hire is understanding what kind of training and experience that person has received, especially when it comes to new graduates. A shortage of internships available undergraduates limits their opportunities for experience. So, how can you be certain that a candidate can fill your marketing team’s needs — especially if the right skills aren’t being taught in the classroom?

That’s where you come in. See, the recruiting process goes both ways — just as you want to make sure a candidate is the right fit, you want to do everything you can to look attractive as an employer. And those efforts could include providing learning resources to prospective employees.

For example, when I was looking for opportunities in business school, I would come across many hiring pages from companies that listed the many reasons why I should work there — great benefits, great culture, and opportunities for growth, to name a few. But there was something missing. Nowhere on these hiring sites were there tips for what I could do to strengthen my candidacy for that particular environment.

So if you really want to attract the best talent, follow the mantra, “Help me help you.” It only requires a few steps.

1) Make a list of desired attributes — beyond the job description.

When I first began to look into working for HubSpot, one thing that really stood out to me was the fact that the company has a Culture Code. It didn’t just teach me about how I would be valued as an employee, but it also illustrated the must-have qualities of people who get hired here. That immediately made me realize how much I wanted to work for a company like this one.

When you begin recruiting talent, ask yourself what your company’s own Culture Code would look like. It might not be for everyone, and that’s okay — you’re trying to get candidates who are the best fit to stick around. Give them the right information to help them know who they are.

2) Collaborate with educational institutions.

This step goes beyond simply signing up for a booth at a career fair. I wouldn’t know anything about planning a higher education curriculum, but I get the impression that it’s not easy — which is why these skills gaps might still exist. However, as a marketer, I have a better idea of what kind of knowledge my own team might be seeking, and I’m happy to share it.

If you’re in the same boat, it could be worthwhile to reach out to the career development departments of nearby colleges and universities to find out what you can do to help bring some of that knowledge to the student body. Mind you, we’re not suggesting that you ask for a teaching position or request to be paid for a special lecture.

Rather, work with the school’s administration to see if you can offer a complimentary workshop on the skills that you’re seeking the most. While you might have them, you’re only one person — so see what you can do to share them. It’s an investment of time and resources, but it doesn’t come without a return. If you brand the opportunity properly, it’s a way to stand out in the minds of future job applicants, who might ultimately apply for work with you, therefore filling those gaps. Plus, it reinforces your own reputation as an expert in that particular area, and now that you’ve helped others build those skills, you’ll be able to recruit the talent necessary to meet resulting demand.

3) Share learning resources with applicants — and educators.

While you might not have the bandwidth to undertake something like teaching a workshop, there are still ways to help bring skills and knowledge to your future hiring pool. That’s why your hiring site should be built with two audiences in mind: The applicants themselves, and the people who will be teaching them.

For applicants

In addition to listing the general skills and characteristics that you seek in your new hires, it might be helpful to direct them to the resources that can help them gain that knowledge and become better candidates.

Free online courses are a great place to begin. Do some research on the ones available for the skill gaps you need to fill the most — for example, this EdX course in Digital Branding and Engagement, or this one on High Level Digital Marketing Strategy For Small Businesses from Udemy. Plus, a pre-existing knowledge of inbound marketing is always helpful, and getting inbound certified is free with HubSpot Academy.

For educators

When it comes to providing resources to educators, sometimes identifying the skills gaps is a big first step. Understanding what your strongest candidates need to know in order to succeed in the digital marketing landscape can help develop the tools for teaching the accompanying skills. Outline what they are, and give examples of the type of job titles and responsibilities that require them.

And just as there are online learning resources for applicants — there are actually some for educators, too, like HubSpot Academy’s Education Partner Program. Its mission is to help educators teach inbound marketing, and to connect their students with opportunities to apply both in the real world. Plus, the criteria for becoming an Education Partner doesn’t really go beyond the scope of what’s already required of most institutions — it’s a college, university, or institute that teaches Inbound with HubSpot Academy’s resources, or uses HubSpot software in their classes.

When You’re Building

Please forgive the cop out, but we’ll tell you right now — the efforts for building the right kind of talent within your current team isn’t really all that different than buying it.

There are many situations when one option might be better than the other one — that all depends on your budget, your scope of work, or your current client and customer demands. But when it comes to the latest and greatest skills in cultivating your current employees, all you really have to do is provide the same resources for them that you would for external applicants.

It won’t look identical. But when you go about building or revamping a hiring page like we described above, look into building an intranet or wiki that provides many of the same learning resources that can help employees build their skills and progress in their careers — without leaving your company. After all, we’ve already gone over the high cost of employee turnover. Helping to build the right internal growth opportunities for your current team can prevent those costs from becoming necessary.

Create a place where your employees can see the types of roles or skills gaps you’re trying to fill, and let them know where they can learn how to fill them. Just as you might provide a list of these resources for external applicants or lead workshops for them, do the same for your current staff. Even if someone isn’t looking into changing roles, digital marketing knowledge can be applied to a broad range of projects.

And if they do progress — well, now you know how to attract the best people to replace them in their former positions.

Talent Show

Trying to ensure that you’ve got the best people to meet your company’s demands is never an easy process. There’s so much to consider, from culture fit to necessary skills. As we said — you want to be certain, and for good reason.

But with the above-outlined steps, it doesn’t have to be quite as daunting as you might think. You can proactively take measures to attract the best talent — whether that’s coming from a pool of recent grads, or from your current team.

What are your preferred ways getting the best marketing talent? Let us know in the comments.

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Mar

18

2017

The Best 2017 Networking Events for Marketers

Published by in category event marketing, Professional Development, Tactical | Comments are closed

Best2017NetworkingEventsMarketers-compressor.jpg

At some point in one’s life and career, it seems that networking events have earned a bit of a shabby image. They seem to conjure images of awkward handshakes, bad wine and, if you’re lucky, a stale cheese plate. And where’s the appeal of that?

The truth is, not all events fit that stereotype. Some draw people from around the globe and provide content that makes the journey worthwhile. They’re tremendously informative. They’re wildly entertaining. And they’re listed below.

The thing is, we’ve been to enough — to put it kindly — less-than-stellar events to know what a remarkable one looks like. And to help you avoid the trouble of canvassing the web to find the best ones, we compiled this list for you. Get 32 examples of enviable inbound marketing campaigns here.

Whether you’re a content marketer looking to enhance what you’re creating, or want to learn SEO on a borderline-obsessive level, there’s an event out there for you. By no means do we suggest you attend all 25 of the events listed below — rather, we recommend taking inventory of what sort of engagements are available to help you become a better marketer, depending on your specialty or where you’d like to improve. So look no further — we’ve got you covered.

15 Networking Events for Marketers in 2017

1) Adobe Summit

March 19-23, 2017 | Las Vegas, NV | Pricing Info

AdobeSummitFront

Adobe Summit boasts being one of the largest digital marketing conferences in the U.S. It largely centers around Adobe’s technology, and how marketers can make the most of its Marketing Cloud platform. But it’s more than just a multi-day advertisement for Adobe’s software. Rather, it’s a collection of keynotes and breakout sessions that help marketers keep their projects up-to-date with the constantly and rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Attend this event if you:

  • Want to know the latest and most sustainable ways to reach a target audience
  • Are juggling several campaigns and want to know how cloud technology can help you more seamlessly manage them
  • Like big names — speakers include actor Kate McKinnon and the CMO of the National Basketball Association

2) Social Media Marketing World

March 22-24, 2017 | San Diego, CA | Pricing Info

Source: Social Media Examiner

While we can’t corroborate Social Media Marketing World’s claims of being the “world’s largest social media marketing conference” off-hand, the fact that it’s hosted by the online publication Social Media Examiner makes us inclined to agree. But despite its name and description, the event is hardly one-size-fits-all. Rather, the agenda seems to contain a little bit of something for everyone, whether you’re looking to polish your knowledge of social media basics, or an expert looking to learn about the latest and most advanced best practices in this realm.

Attend this event if you:

  • Want to become a thought leader or otherwise build your following on social media
  • Are looking to use social media to build customer loyalty and ambassadorship
  • Would like to meet like-minded peers at any social media knowledge level

3) Digiday Publishing Summit

March 29-31, 2017 | Vail, CO | Pricing Info

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Digiday hosts quite a few marketing-centric events throughout the year, which is why you’ll see its name quite a bit throughout this list. Each event, however, focuses on a specific marketing practice and caters its content according to that audience.

For its Publishing Summit, Digiday places a large amount of focus on digital distribution — that is, online publishing in a variety of formats and outlets. The event description summarizes it nicely: Platforms “like Snapchat have become media outlets of their own,” and marketers need to figure out how to leverage them accordingly.

4) Next10x

April 5, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

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There’s digital marketing — and then, there’s mobile digital marketing. That’s the focus of the Next10x event, hosted by digital marketing firm Stone Temple Consulting.

With mobile usage now surpassing that of desktop, learning how to best use that medium for marketing is no longer just nice-to-have. Mobile marketing is necessary, especially for SEO — just look at this recent announcement from Google about how a poor mobile user experience will negatively impact rankings. For that reason, it makes sense to have an expert from Google at an event like this one — that could be why Gary Illyes, Google’s webmaster trends analyst, is one of the featured speakers.

Attend this event if you:

  • Think you might be a little behind the curve on mobile marketing — or think you could be doing a little better.
  • Want to learn how mobile marketing aligns with social and SEO efforts
  • Aren’t entirely sure where content marketing and mobile intersect

5) Content Marketing Conference

April 11-13, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

There may have once been a time — a simpler time — when content marketing was such a new concept that it seemed pretty singularly-faceted. Create good content and the search traffic will come. But today, things look a lot different. Good content marketing can require a multi-pronged approach, and even has different sub-categories. There’s the creation of good content — be that words, audio, or visual. Then, there’s the distribution. And what’s more, there’s content created specifically for or on a given platform.

Overwhelmed? Don’t worry. That’s why these events exist, especially the Content Marketing Conference. In fact, its hosts have so much faith in the expertise of the event’s speakers and workshop leaders, they’re assigned the label of “superheroes” — they’re here to save the day for many smart marketers who simply aren’t sure how to manage the many pieces of content marketing.

Attend this event if you:

  • Want to learn about a specific side of content marketing — this conference allows attendees to choose tracks that focus on one area
  • Are also into comedy — there’s an entire portion of the conference dedicated to comedy for marketers
  • Like comics — this event’s superhero theme seems to permeate almost every element of it.

6) Experiential Marketing Summit

May 3-5, 2017 | Chicago, IL | Pricing Info

We’re not bashful about our love of creating good experiences around here. We love the idea of marketers creating a good story — not just through their digital content, but through real-life opportunities for the public to interact and engage with their specific brands. And while we’ve written about the way that can be accomplished, it can help to have it explained and carried out in front of you.

That’s why the Experiential Marketing Summit is so helpful. It not only celebrates remarkable work done within the category, but helps marketers learn how to do it themselves.

Attend this event if you:

  • Think experiential marketing is really cool, but you’re not sure you have the knowledge to pull it off independently
  • Have heard of experiential marketing, but have yet to actually experience it yourself — no pun intended
  • You want to learn from the masters, and gain one-on-one insights from experts from major brands who have accomplished remarkable experiential marketing

7) SEJ Summit

May 11, 2017 | Chicago, IL | Pricing Info

One of our favorite resources for the SEO-specific news outlets is the Search Engine Journal, which provides the “latest search news, the best guides and how-tos for the SEO and marketer community.” So when a publication like this one hosts an event dedicated entirely to what it knows best, chances are the attendees are going to come away with a great deal of knowledge.

The headline for the event is “Actionable Marketing Education.” That’s our favorite kind — the education that gives people something tangible to implement after walking away from a teachable moment. And while SEJ hasn’t yet announced its 2017 speaker lineup (as of the publication of this post), some of the experts from previous years, who you can see in the video above, leave us confident about this year’s roster.

Attend this event if you:

  • Prefer events of a smaller scale — this one tends to cap at 200 people
  • Learn best from keynotes, since they make up the majority of this event’s content
  • Stand to gain from SEO-specific education, whether you want to learn the basics or want to enhance your current knowledge level

8) Digiday Video Anywhere Summit

May 17-19, 2017 | New Orleans, LA | Pricing Info

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By now, there should be zero doubt among marketers of the importance of video. After all, 4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, and 43% of people want to see more content in this format from marketers. So if you haven’t figured out how to incorporate video into your overall content strategy — get on it.

We get it, though. As a marketer, you’ve got a lot to do, and sometimes, something like video might not seem like it should take priority. But if those statistics have convinced you to get the ball rolling and you’re not sure where to begin, it might be a good idea to check out an event dedicated to this type of marketing — like Digiday’s Video Anywhere Summit, which takes many of those most perplexing video-related questions faced by marketers and addresses them head-on with keynotes and workshops.

Attend this event if you:

  • Are good at making video content, but aren’t sure how to monetize it.
  • Want to learn how outlets like Refinery29 and POPSUGAR approach content marketing
  • Don’t have anyone to go with — this particular event has agenda items like “dinner with strangers” for attendees who are flying solo

9) C2

May 24-26, 2017 | Montréal, QC | Pricing Info

We don’t always get “event envy” around here, but if we did, it would probably be the result of C2: The self-described “three-day immersive event that will transform the way you do business.” Have you ever wondered what the most absurd yet effective brainstorming environment would be for you? We haven’t either. But the minds behind C2 have, which is why each year they have a new “experimental brainstorming” setting, to help attendees become their most creative in the most unusual of surroundings, like in a row of chairs suspended 18 feet off the ground.

Even we can’t make that up. And that example is highly illustrative of C2’s unconventional nature, which is what we love most about it. It’s a great opportunity to learn — after all the agenda includes master classes and workshops — but it’s also been known to include an enormous playground-like setting with a ferris wheel and other attractions for attendees to experience.

Attend this event if you:

  • Really don’t like networking events, as this one pushes every boundary it can
  • Enjoy the intersection of marketing and pop culture, and think you could learn something from leaders at brands like Apple and Cirque du Soleil
  • Like an event with a theme — C2 has a different one each year, and the 2017 theme is “ecosystems”

10) Savage Marketing

June 13-14, 2017 | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Pricing Info

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 8.03.13 AM.png

Here’s the thing about marketing: As we mentioned before, there’s no one single type. There’s marketing for different industries, business sizes, formats, and media. There are so many different levels of marketing expertise, how could you possibly expect to fit them all into one event? It’s an effort that some people might even call — wait for it — “savage.”

That’s why the name of this event is so fitting. It examines the marketing best practices for a number of different industries — like sports — and concentrations, like SEO, data-driven, and customer experience. They’re the important pieces of marketing that, when you’ve got an overflowing plate, can be easy to overlook.

Attend this event if you:

  • Are so caught up in your day-to-day responsibilities as a marketer, that you forget about some of the sub-topics listed above
  • Work in advertising — this event has an AdTech track
  • Are especially curious about the overall role of tech in marketing

11) MozCon

July 17-19, 2017 | Seattle, WA | Pricing Info

Source: Moz

SEO, like many other pieces of marketing, is one of those things that can seem really tricky. Just look at how many changes have been made to Google’s algorithm since 2000.

Now, have another look — and note who compiled that timeline. Why, it’s the good people of Moz: The providers of endless SEO learning resources. So when this brand hosts a three-day event dedicated to SEO, we think everyone stands to benefit from it.

Attend this event if you:

  • Want to learn anything and everything about SEO
  • Like plenty of socialization built into your networking events — this one has plenty of end-of-the day activities
  • Are curious where and how SEO fits into any marketing role

13) INBOUND

September 25-28, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

Here at HubSpot, INBOUND season practically has us singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” An entire multi-day event dedicated to inbound marketing? Sign us up.

Last year, the event boasted over 19,000 attendees, and for good reason — it’s not just a networking event. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with like-minded marketing professionals, but INBOUND offers a plethora of learning opportunities from interviews with some of notable, knowledgeable figures, like Alec Baldwin.

Attend this event if you:

  • Enjoy a side of “party” with your networking event — this one offers plenty of opportunities to kick back, as well as learn
  • Want to gain unexpected knowledge in unconventional parts of marketing that can actually be applied to your work
  • Like some entertainment — like live music and standup comedy — mixed with your networking

14) MarketingProfs’ B2B Marketing Forum

October 3-6, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

As many marketing events as there are, it seems like those dedicated to B2B are few and far between. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and MarketingProfs is doing its part to make sure that’s no longer the case with its B2B Marketing Forum. “This is your event,” the homepage reads. And it’s true — how many times have you come across a marketing resource with a plethora of consumer-centric learnings and takeaways only to think, “But what about me?” MarketingProfs has heard you, and has built a rather impressive event presence to address your needs.

Attend this event if you:

  • Think that B2B marketing is capable of being just as sexy as the B2C kind, and want to hear more people talking about it
  • Like examples of good B2C marketing in practice, but want to know how you can apply it to your B2B brand
  • Want to hear about more than just the good stuff, and learn how to address and resolve the biggest challenges faced by B2B marketers

15) Growth Marketing Conference

2017 date not yet scheduled | Silicon Valley, CA | Reserve your seat

Source: Growth Marketing Conference

Growth: It’s one of the most important things that, as a marketer, you need to make sure your brand experiences. That’s why we think of HubSpot as a growth stack — it’s a collection of Marketing, Sales, and CRM software that all combine to help you, above all else, grow.

So when we heard about an entire event dedicated to growth marketing, naturally, our interest was piqued. And while no date has been set for the 2017 edition of this conference, there is an option to “reserve your seat” for it on the homepage, suggesting that it will most likely take place late in the year.

Attend this event if you:

  • Want to hear inspiring stories from organizations that have started small, but experienced measurable, sustainable growth
  • Also want to hear how they did it, and how you can accomplish the same
  • Can’t make it to MozCon — you’re likely to hear similar content here

Conclusion

No offense to the cheese plate, but most of these event features are much more our style. Of course, we won’t dismiss free snacks and the ability to exchange a handshake, but now you see — it doesn’t have to be stuffy or awkward.

Go forth, and network. We hope to see you there.

Which marketing networking events will you attend this year? Let us know in the comments.

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Dec

2

2016

How to Build a Memorable Personal Brand on Twitter

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Imagine that you’re within 140 characters of connecting with a customer, prospect, or influencer. How can you afford not to reach out?

We’re talking Twitter, of course: the 300-million strong whirlpool of information that has emerged as a personal branding, relationship-building nirvana.

Twitter pros have found ways to use the platform to score business and media deals — they’ve even built relationships through developing successful Twitter personal brands. Yet, too many people have joined the community simply because they know they should be there, not because they’re strategic or focused.

When it comes to those that have managed to scale their following and build a reputable brand on Twitter, there’s a lot we can learn. To do this, I decided to go straight to the source, interviewing some well-known names with as many as hundreds of thousands of followers.

Thanks to their insights and generosity, I put together a eight-step road map for developing your personal brand on Twitter. Check it out below.

How to Build a Memorable Personal Brand on Twitter

Step #1: Follow the leaders.

Cheryl Burgess, author and CEO of Blue Focus Marketing, said she started off as a listener on Twitter, following people she admired like Kent Huffman, Tom Peters, and David Edelman, among others.

You see, the beauty of Twitter is that you don’t have to go far to discover a successful marketing playbook. The platform gives you free reign to observe how the pros do it.

Similarly, Neal Schaffer, CEO of Maximize Your Social and cofounder of The Social Tools Summit, says to follow people who are sharing a lot of content and who are omnipresent on Twitter. For Schaffer, that’s folks like Jeff Bullas, Mark Schaefer, Pam Moore, Lilach Bullock, Marsha Collier, and Glen Gilmore.

Over time, in addition to observing Twitter luminaries at work, start to engage them. Influencers, like anyone, appreciate praise. But don’t expect an immediate home run. If the influencer eventually follows you — or even better mentions you — you’ve scored a coup.

If you do directly reach out, see what you can offer in return – a mention in a blog post or article for instance. Burgess said she developed a relationship with Tom Peters by following him on Twitter and also recognizing him as part of a Twitter awards program she was running.

If you’re wondering what impact influencers can have, consider this: Nearly 40% of Twitter users say they made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer.

Actionable Takeaways:

  1. Create Twitter lists of your mentors whom you can then easily monitor. Think of it as having a front row seat to your favorite performers. “Grouping my audience into categories, I see what’s happening across the world quickly and seek opportunities to help and respond,” says Mark Schaefer.
  2. Visualize your Twitter ecosystem using a tool like Mentionmapp.Mentionmapp helps me decide whom to follow and the conversations I need to be part of,” says Burgess.

Step #2: Define your brand.

Clarify the type of person you want to be on Twitter. Think of this as an opportunity to showcase your capabilities, passions, and interests.

Peg Fitzpatrick, social media speaker, trainer, and author, refers to this exercise as “defining the seeds of your brand.” Fitzpatrick advises selecting two or three main topics for your brand content — for her personal brand, she zeroes in on media, her role as author (and speaker), and marketing.

Peg Fitzpatrick Twitter.png

Mari Smith, social media speaker, trainer, consultant, and author, has done this beautifully, explaining that she shares “quality, cherry-picked content pertaining to social media, business development, and time and life hacks with a sprinkling of spiritual uplift and a daily dose of motivational quotes.”

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Focus on three seeds, or go super-niche with one main focus. Do this and “you’ll build a solid Twitter following that will love your content,” says Fitzpatrick.

Step #3: Sharpen your profile.

Don’t leave your Twitter profile to chance or whim. It’s your face to the world on Twitter. While most people will find you through your content, they’ll then check out your Twitter profile.

Ensure that it defines your brand. Dump the default Twitter egg and use an image that highlights your brand, advises Burgess.

Burgess’ own profile leaves no doubts about her accomplishments and her focus:

Cheryl Burgess Twitter.png

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Avoid the pet photos. “Unless you’re a veterinarian or your social media goals aren’t especially business related,” says Burgess, “it’s probably better to go with something else.”

Step #4: Create and curate great content. Repeat.

Tweet negative things and you’ll be seen as a naysayer. Tweet helpful, insightful content and you’ll grow your reputation. If there’s a common thread among those with impressive Twitter brands, it’s that they all post a steady stream of valuable content.

“You can’t tweet enough,” urges Schaffer. This doesn’t mean that you should aim for 100 tweets a day, but if you’re seeing positive engagement, keep it going.

The lesson? Find your rhythm. For example, Michael Brenner, author and CEO of Marketing Insider, says he tweets every hour typically from his smart phone while reading. “I’m a big fan of email newsletters,” he says. “I scan the headlines and if I read the article, I share it.”

While it’s tempting to rely solely on curated content, if you’re serious about building your personal brand, try to post some original content. “The fuel of social media is content,” says Schaefer. “I devote an enormous amount of time to creating original content on my blog which then becomes something I can deliver on Twitter that is helpful and unique.”

Smith says she likes to spotlight up-and-coming bloggers and experts that not many people are tweeting about. “I want to give people a leg up and not just share the same super popular blog posts others were sharing,” she says.

Actionable Takeaways:

  1. Don’t share content without identifying the source or the author, says Schaffer. Don’t simply say via @HubSpot or @HuffingtonPost. Take the trouble to also identify the author, who will appreciate the mention.
  2. Tweet with an image whenever possible. Posts with images on social media are 40X more likely to get shared. “I tweet 100% of my tweets with images,” says Schaffer.

Step #5: Engage.

Twitter is a two-way street: If you reach out, people are likely to engage with you.

“Put aside some time to reach out and engage with the tweets of your followers as well as influencers you would like to build a relationship with,” says Melonie Dodaro, a social selling speaker and trainer and author.

Smith says she “takes a quick peek at someone’s bio and recent tweets to find something to compliment or talk about to create a connection.”

Don’t expect, however, that you can outsource your engagement and be effective. All of the experts I spoke to, despite having massive number of followers, handle responses themselves.

Keep this in mind: “The heart of the brand is you,” says Schaffer, “and your engagements are you.”

Brenner calls relating in social “Give to Get (G2G)”: “Karma works in the social world,” he says. “Share the work of people you admire and they will take a second look at your own work. Over time, you will become an authority yourself.”

“Be yourself. It’s okay to mix business and personal,” adds Gini Dietrich, author and CEO of Arment Dietrich. “People want to know the person behind the brains. And you have to just do it. So many people overanalyze it and overthink it. Just jump in and start tweeting.”

Actionable Takeaways:

  1. Avoid tactics that look like spam on Twitter. “At first I thanked every single person who retweeted my content,” says Brenner. “But then I just felt like a robot, blindly sending ‘thanks for the RT’ messages. Now I focus on those people who really seem interested in connecting.”
  2. Don’t automate direct messages. Dietrich’s pet peeve is the auto direct message that encourages you to buy something from the person you just followed.
  3. Don’t be blatantly promotional. Don’t say something like “buy my stuff,” says Brenner. “That’s the quickest way to lose followers and anger people.”

Step #6: Test and analyze.

Twitter gives you practically instant feedback. Almost as soon as you post something, you can see how it performs.

“Twitter is my number one platform where I share the most content and also the platform where I test content,” says Schaffer. “When I see what resonates, I know what to share on my other platforms, for my newsletter, blog posts, books, and other projects.”

Schaffer says he aggressively uses hashtags on Twitter so he can be found and manage his content, and also so he can compare how tweets with a certain hashtag perform against other hashtags.

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Take time to find the right tool for measuring and analyzing. “Find the one that makes sense to you and you’re comfortable with,” says Burgess, who uses Triberr for posting, RiteTag for finding the best hashtags, as well as several analytic tools.

Step #7: Outsource strategically, if at all.

According to Schaffer, you don’t need to outsource any of your Twitter efforts in the beginning. But once you start to scale your followers, consider outsourcing some of the administrative work.

“Outsourcing content curation is one of the first areas busy business owners ought to consider. It’s highly worthwhile and ensures your Twitter presence stays active and relevant,” says Smith. “I’m the only one that replies and engages, though,” she adds, “as I never actually delegate my conversations. I also live tweet events.”

At the same time, don’t outsource so much that your authenticity is lost, says Burgess. “To those that are considering outsourcing, first I’d recommend simplifying. You don’t need to tweet every five minutes and you don’t need to reply to every mention.”

Schaefer says, “I do 100% of my own tweets. I feel strongly that I don’t want to disappoint anybody. I never want to be in a position where somebody is engaging with me and then they discover that it’s not really me.” Schaefer says the only thing he outsources is some of the administration on his account, like managing followers.

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Find a system to help you find, curate and share content, says Neal Schaffer, who personally uses Sprout Social. Schaeffer says you don’t need a monitoring tool unless you’re a well-established brand. “The @ mentions of your name are enough for most people.”

Step #8: Commit.

Now that you know what to do, you need to devote time each day to just doing it.

Brenner’s advice? “You have to find the time to make small investments in social every day,” he says.

“Tweet once a day. Blog once a week (if that’s all you have time to do). Do whatever works for you and be realistic. It’s amazing what happens after a year. You’ll have sent hundreds of tweets, created dozens of blog posts, connected with lots of great people and learned more than you would have ever imagined.”

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Find your focus by following one course until successful and stick to it, says Smith. “Publish daily tweets around your chosen focus. But don’t forget to engage, too.”

Building Your Brand

These Twitter brand experts have cracked the code. And so can you if you follow these seven steps. Remember the adage: Success is no accident. You have to work at it.

What are your best tips for building a memorable brand presence? Share them below.

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Nov

29

2016

Keyboard vs. Pen: What’s the Best Way to Take Notes?

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Growing up, I was fascinated by my mom’s shorthand notes. The cryptic symbols she’d write blindly while listening through our 1980s-era phone with a 12-foot cord were a different language — vestiges of a different time. 

“You’ll never need to learn shorthand because you’ll type all your notes,” she explained.

And as it turns out, she was right. These days, many of us have traded in our mechanical pencils and fancy notebooks in favor of laptops to ensure that our every word is perfectly spelled and neatly tucked away in “the cloud.”

It wasn’t until I attended a Bold Talk at INBOUND 2014 about note-taking that I put much thought into the difference between writing and typing notes. In his session — “The Pencil and the Keyboard: How The Way You Write Changes the Way You Think” — New York Times Magazine writer Clive Thompson explained why handwriting is better for taking notes and remembering big-picture thinking, while typing is better for composing your ideas and communicating with others.

Ever since I attended that session, I couldn’t help but wonder: Was he right? Were we doing this all wrong? To get some answers, I dug into some research on handwritten notes versus typed notes. 

Keyboard vs. Pen: What’s the Best Way to Take Notes?

TL;DR: As it turns out, understanding how your mind captures, retains, and recalls information can help you become more productive. Writing notes by hand in long-form will force you to synthesize the information, which helps you remember and recall it. So next time you head to a meeting, consider just a notepad and pen.

When we take notes by hand, we typically can’t keep pace with the information being presented to us. As a result, our brains are forced to quickly synthesize the information into two categories: “important: write this down” and “not important: don’t write this down.”

That simple neurological process is valuable to us, as it begins to stamp those important notes in our memory. In other words, when we’re forced to mentally prioritize information, it becomes a little bit stickier in our mind.

In his Bold Talk, Thompson described a series of experiments conducted by researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer that demonstrated the benefits of handwritten notes:

A couple of scientists decided to test this. They set up an auditorium of people. Half of them took notes on keyboard and half of them took notes handwriting while someone spoke. They wanted to figure out who would remember the most, who would retain the most. They tested them afterwards. It turns out that handwriting won, hands down, pun intended. Handwriting completely won out. People understood more, they retained more, they remembered more when they wrote by hand.”

There are times when typing is optimal, however. Thompson goes on to explain that typing is better suited for communicating information to other people. (Think: Handwriting is for input, while typing is for output.)

Fast-typing, referred to as transcription fluency in this context, correlates to better writing skills because there is less interruption between your thoughts and the composition. Stephen Graham, a scholar of literacy, described this phenomenon as follows:

You can think of the ideas in your head as rushing along and you’re trying to transcribe them onto the page. The faster you can do that when you’re in the act of writing, the less likely it is that words and ideas will escape and get away from you.”

7 Handy Tips for Taking Better Notes:

At the end of the day — with all research aside — the most productive way to take notes will ultimately boil down to what works best for you. But whether you’re typing away or jotting things down by hand, we put together some handy tips and tricks to keep in mind that’ll help you stayed organized. 

  1. Know the purpose of your notes. Do you just need to remember a few key things to follow up on from a meeting? Or are you preparing for an exam that will test you on the details? Knowing your purpose will help you craft the right amount of detail.
  2. Use a lined notebook and *try* to use good penmanship. The extra time you put into your handwriting will save you time later when you’re searching through your notes.
  3. Underline, embolden, italicize, and highlight. Introduce some textual hierarchy into your notes so that you can decipher them more easily later on. Need help mastering italic handwriting? Check out this self-instructional course.
  4. Get the big ideas down on paper. Trying to keep up with a fast-talker? Try just recording any numbers and facts that you know you won’t be able to recall. As soon as you get the chance (as in directly after the lecture) fill out your notes with everything you can remember while it’s still fresh in your mind.
  5. Try a tablet and stylus. Want the memory benefits of handwriting, with the collaborative benefits of digital? A tablet and stylus — like Apple’s iPad Pro and Apple Pencil — can help you speed up the note-taking process.
  6. Learn the ins and outs of bullet journaling. According to the website, bullet journaling is best described as a “customizable and forgiving organization system.” You can learn more about this approach (and other helpful strategies) here.
  7. For meeting notes, record the initials of the person who made the noteworthy comment. This makes it easier for you to follow up with them. Date, time, who’s in attendance, meeting topic, and project are all housekeeping items that add context to your notes for a future — possibly more forgetful — version of yourself.

Ready to Improve Your Skills?

If note-taking is not your strong suit, consider it a skill worth developing that will have compounding effects on your productivity throughout your career. Remember: Typing is best for getting your thoughts on [digital] paper, with as little interference between idea and text as possible. And for content creators, learning how to type quickly will allow you to get your point across with less edits later on.

Want to work on developing your content skills even further? Check out HubSpot Academy’s first-ever Content Marketing Certification here.

Pre-register for HubSpot Academy's all-new Content Marketing Certification Course

Nov

29

2016

Keyboard vs. Pen: What’s the Best Way to Take Notes?

open letter.jpg

Growing up, I was fascinated by my mom’s shorthand notes. The cryptic symbols she’d write blindly while listening through our 1980s-era phone with a 12-foot cord were a different language — vestiges of a different time. 

“You’ll never need to learn shorthand because you’ll type all your notes,” she explained.

And as it turns out, she was right. These days, many of us have traded in our mechanical pencils and fancy notebooks in favor of laptops to ensure that our every word is perfectly spelled and neatly tucked away in “the cloud.”

It wasn’t until I attended a Bold Talk at INBOUND 2014 about note-taking that I put much thought into the difference between writing and typing notes. In his session — “The Pencil and the Keyboard: How The Way You Write Changes the Way You Think” — New York Times Magazine writer Clive Thompson explained why handwriting is better for taking notes and remembering big-picture thinking, while typing is better for composing your ideas and communicating with others.

Ever since I attended that session, I couldn’t help but wonder: Was he right? Were we doing this all wrong? To get some answers, I dug into some research on handwritten notes versus typed notes. 

Keyboard vs. Pen: What’s the Best Way to Take Notes?

TL;DR: As it turns out, understanding how your mind captures, retains, and recalls information can help you become more productive. Writing notes by hand in long-form will force you to synthesize the information, which helps you remember and recall it. So next time you head to a meeting, consider just a notepad and pen.

When we take notes by hand, we typically can’t keep pace with the information being presented to us. As a result, our brains are forced to quickly synthesize the information into two categories: “important: write this down” and “not important: don’t write this down.”

That simple neurological process is valuable to us, as it begins to stamp those important notes in our memory. In other words, when we’re forced to mentally prioritize information, it becomes a little bit stickier in our mind.

In his Bold Talk, Thompson described a series of experiments conducted by researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer that demonstrated the benefits of handwritten notes:

A couple of scientists decided to test this. They set up an auditorium of people. Half of them took notes on keyboard and half of them took notes handwriting while someone spoke. They wanted to figure out who would remember the most, who would retain the most. They tested them afterwards. It turns out that handwriting won, hands down, pun intended. Handwriting completely won out. People understood more, they retained more, they remembered more when they wrote by hand.”

There are times when typing is optimal, however. Thompson goes on to explain that typing is better suited for communicating information to other people. (Think: Handwriting is for input, while typing is for output.)

Fast-typing, referred to as transcription fluency in this context, correlates to better writing skills because there is less interruption between your thoughts and the composition. Stephen Graham, a scholar of literacy, described this phenomenon as follows:

You can think of the ideas in your head as rushing along and you’re trying to transcribe them onto the page. The faster you can do that when you’re in the act of writing, the less likely it is that words and ideas will escape and get away from you.”

7 Handy Tips for Taking Better Notes:

At the end of the day — with all research aside — the most productive way to take notes will ultimately boil down to what works best for you. But whether you’re typing away or jotting things down by hand, we put together some handy tips and tricks to keep in mind that’ll help you stayed organized. 

  1. Know the purpose of your notes. Do you just need to remember a few key things to follow up on from a meeting? Or are you preparing for an exam that will test you on the details? Knowing your purpose will help you craft the right amount of detail.
  2. Use a lined notebook and *try* to use good penmanship. The extra time you put into your handwriting will save you time later when you’re searching through your notes.
  3. Underline, embolden, italicize, and highlight. Introduce some textual hierarchy into your notes so that you can decipher them more easily later on. Need help mastering italic handwriting? Check out this self-instructional course.
  4. Get the big ideas down on paper. Trying to keep up with a fast-talker? Try just recording any numbers and facts that you know you won’t be able to recall. As soon as you get the chance (as in directly after the lecture) fill out your notes with everything you can remember while it’s still fresh in your mind.
  5. Try a tablet and stylus. Want the memory benefits of handwriting, with the collaborative benefits of digital? A tablet and stylus — like Apple’s iPad Pro and Apple Pencil — can help you speed up the note-taking process.
  6. Learn the ins and outs of bullet journaling. According to the website, bullet journaling is best described as a “customizable and forgiving organization system.” You can learn more about this approach (and other helpful strategies) here.
  7. For meeting notes, record the initials of the person who made the noteworthy comment. This makes it easier for you to follow up with them. Date, time, who’s in attendance, meeting topic, and project are all housekeeping items that add context to your notes for a future — possibly more forgetful — version of yourself.

Ready to Improve Your Skills?

If note-taking is not your strong suit, consider it a skill worth developing that will have compounding effects on your productivity throughout your career. Remember: Typing is best for getting your thoughts on [digital] paper, with as little interference between idea and text as possible. And for content creators, learning how to type quickly will allow you to get your point across with less edits later on.

Want to work on developing your content skills even further? Check out HubSpot Academy’s first-ever Content Marketing Certification here.

Pre-register for HubSpot Academy's all-new Content Marketing Certification Course

Nov

10

2016

The Free Growth Tools I Recommend For Modern Businesses to Grow & Scale

growth-tools.jpg

If you’re growing a company, chances are you’re challenged with choosing the right tools to help you grow.

Both at HubSpot and at other businesses I’ve helped advise, I’ve seen marketing and sales teams experiment with all sorts of different tools they’ve hoped would drive growth. Some of these tools did help the team grow. Others slowed growth down or blocked it altogether. At HubSpot, we’ve seen opportunities to build new growth tools for marketing and sales teams and we’ve worked hard to fill those gaps.

One of the most important lessons I’ve taken away from growing businesses is that most growth problems come not from ideas, but from execution. You might have a growth-driven team, a great vision, and the dedication to achieve your lofty goals. But having those things isn’t enough to actually grow.

To execute on your strategy, you’re going to need a powerful set of tools that leverage every stage of the customer experience, from the first point of contact, through the sales and marketing process, and over the lifetime of the customer.

The foundation of a strong growth stack starts with the following:

  • A CRM system that serves as the foundation for all the other growth tools you’re using, which is where all of your customer data is stored.
  • A marketing platform to attract the right people, convert them as leads, and communicate with them through the purchase process and once they’re a customer.
  • A sales platform that helps your sales team identify the right people, connect with them, and close them as customers.

Some companies are in the position to implement a growth stack right off the bat and then enhance and customize it with the right collection of integrated tools. Others need to start with free tools and build to a full growth stack over time. (Note: There is a free version of the HubSpot Growth Stack.)

For those companies just getting started, here is my shortlist of the best free growth tools for modern businesses. The list comprises a blend of free HubSpot tools and those from other companies that we’ve used and recommend.

The 11 Free Growth Tools I Recommend

A Free CRM

1) HubSpot CRM

You can’t build a skyscraper without a solid foundation. A CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool) is just that — it acts as the base layer of growth where all your business functions’ information is organized and can be easily analyzed. In all honesty, it’s impossible to grow and scale your business without a CRM.

Your CRM is the software that sits at the core of your digital system. It tracks every interaction your sales team has, stores all your marketing leads and customer data, and improves communication across your organization. The more you grow, the more important this becomes.

The problem is, most traditional CRM systems are hard to implement and use — especially for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with limited time and resources. Sales teams have trouble adopting them internally, and you can bet that doesn’t help your business grow whatsoever. If you’re looking for a clean and intuitive CRM that’ll make your sales reps more efficient — regardless of their experience levels — I’m very proud of the free CRM our team at HubSpot has built.

hubspot-crm-screenshot.png

Free Growth Tools for Marketing

2) Trello

I’m a big fan of visualizing progress. Growth teams tend to have a lot of ideas, a lot of projects, and a lot of experiments going on at the same time. We’ve found Trello to be the best tool for tracking that progress. Each idea, project, and experiment can live on its own card, which teams can use to take notes, assign tasks, set due dates, and so on.

Here’s a real example: Our VP of Marketing Kieran Flanagan uses it to track, from start to finish, all the experiments his growth team runs. What’s especially remarkable is that his team members are located in various parts of the US and Europe, but with Trello they’re able to stay organized and effective, and make a big impact on business growth.

trello-sample-promo-board.png

3) Hotjar Heat Maps & Visitor Recordings

Data beats intuition. You can’t really know what your audience wants without getting inside the heads of the people who already regularly visit your site to find out why they visit your site, and Hotjar’s tools are perfect for just that.

These guys are on the cutting edge of helping people figure out what drives people to different parts of their website. They’re making it possible for people to build and grow their website in a way that actually resonates with people. We actually just launched an integration with Hotjar that shows Hotjar poll responses in HubSpot users’ contact timelines.

The Heat Maps and Visitor Recordings are my favorite parts of the tool, though, and here’s why: They visualize what people are doing when they get to your site by showing clicks, taps, and scrolling behavior. This is so important for a business because each of these actions shows what people do and care about on your site. It’ll also help you find the biggest opportunities for improvement and testing. (And you should always be testing.)

hotjar-heatmaps.jpg

Image Credit: Hotjar

4) Google Keyword Planner

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to growing traffic, which is a big driver of business growth in the online age. Simply put, you need to do it, and you need to do it well. If you want more people to find you on Google, you’ll need a keyword tool to help you prioritize which keywords to focus on.

There are a few good keyword tools out there, but Google Keyword Planner is a great starting point for narrowing down the right keywords, gauging competition around each one, and learning how many people are searching for them.

google-keywords-planner-1.png

5) GrowthBot

Bots are pretty freaking cool, and there’s business value to them too — they can make simple processes more efficient, giving your team time back in your day and helping you intelligently answer questions around your business. I could not be more excited about bots. That’s why I spent a lot of time this year building a chatbot for growth professionals called GrowthBot. I originally started building it because I wanted it myself, but others have told me they find it helpful, too.

So how does it work? By connecting to a variety of marketing systems (like HubSpot, Google Analytics, and more), GrowthBot is able to give you more convenient access to information you already otherwise have, and give you access to information you didn’t know you had. In the first case, you could ask it the question, “How was organic traffic last month?” and it’ll tell you. In the second case, you might ask it, “Which public SaaS companies are using HubSpot?” or “Which PPC keywords is uber.com buying?” and it’ll spit back the answer in just a few seconds.

growthbot-examples.png

6) HubSpot Marketing Free’s Lead Flows

A big mistake I see growing marketing teams making is spending all their time driving traffic to their website, but not turning that traffic into leads. Problem is, if you’re not learning about the people who are showing interest in your business, you’re leaving critical lead and sales numbers on the table.

To help you take a page that gets a good amount of traffic and turn that traffic into leads, some really smart folks created a feature within HubSpot’s new free marketing tool called Lead Flows. Lead Flows are unobtrusive widgets — pop-ups, dropdown banners, slide-ins — that you can add to any of your website pages. Best part is that they involve no technical setup or coding whatsoever, so you can set them up in minutes (seriously, minutes) without having to make changes to your existing site. Let us know what you think of Lead Flows on Product Hunt.

hubspot-marketing-free.gif

7) Buffer

There’s a lot you can do with social without spending any money. Social media is an amplifier. It takes time, but if you build a following, it is a great way to take that awesome content you’re producing and spreading it further and wider.

For social media marketing on all the major networks, Buffer is a great place to start. It connects your business’ Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+ accounts in a single platform and lets you share text, links, photos, and videos, either immediately or to schedule for later.

buffer-schedule-posts.png

Image Credit: Buffer

8) Canva

Tools that make creating visual content easier are important for growth, especially for a business with limited design resources. Being able to create great images in a short amount of time will help make your website, your emails, your social media posts, and every other marketing asset more engaging and attractive to your audience. Simply put, better visuals = more engagement = more traffic = business growth.

Canva makes it easy and fast for people who aren’t designers by trade (like me, as my team knows well) to create visual content quickly.

canva-example-1.png

Image Credit: Entrepreneur’s Organization

Free Growth Tools for Sales

9) join.me Free Conference Calls & Screen Sharing

The easier you make it for your sales team to interact with leads and prospects, the better they’ll be at closing customers, which you most definitely need if you want to grow your business. join.me isn’t software — all your reps have to do to start a call is open up the desktop or mobile app or log in online.

There are a lot of meetings tools out there, but this one is one of the fastest, most reliable, most intuitive, and easiest to use. And if you use HubSpot’s free CRM, you can start a join.me meeting directly from your contact timeline.

hubspot-join-me-integration.png

Image Credit: join.me

10) HubSpot Sales Templates

Your sales reps are probably wasting a lot of time writing the same emails over, and over, and over again. There’s a lot of value in streamlining the emailing process while still making sure sales reps are sending high-quality emails. If your sales reps can get their hands on personalized email templates, that’ll save hundreds of hours over the long term. Templates, a feature of HubSpot Sales, lets you access personalized email templates for free from within your inbox.

What makes this tool particularly powerful for sales teams is that you can build a shared library of templates everyone can use. You can also aggregate data on how often emails with certain templates get opened or clicked, which helps you hone in on the approaches worth sharing.

HubSpot-Sales-Email-Templates.png

11) HubSpot Sales Email Open Tracking & Notifications

This is one of my favorite email tools, not just for sales teams, but for personal use. It sends instant desktop notifications when the emails you send get opened. You’ll see who opened the email, at what time, on which device, and where they were located when they opened it. If you want to look at all your notifications, or all your notifications on a specific email, then you can view the full history in a stream.

hubspot-email-activity-stream.jpg

This list of free tools is a starting point for those looking to grow from startup into sustainable. Down the road, you’ll want to integrate your growth tools together into a true growth stack. For those looking to take the next step, we’ve mapped out our version of a complete growth stack over on Product Hunt. Take a look and let our engineers know what you think.

hubspot-growth-stack

Nov

10

2016

The Free Growth Tools I Recommend For Modern Businesses to Grow & Scale

growth-tools.jpg

If you’re growing a company, chances are you’re challenged with choosing the right tools to help you grow.

Both at HubSpot and at other businesses I’ve helped advise, I’ve seen marketing and sales teams experiment with all sorts of different tools they’ve hoped would drive growth. Some of these tools did help the team grow. Others slowed growth down or blocked it altogether. At HubSpot, we’ve seen opportunities to build new growth tools for marketing and sales teams and we’ve worked hard to fill those gaps.

One of the most important lessons I’ve taken away from growing businesses is that most growth problems come not from ideas, but from execution. You might have a growth-driven team, a great vision, and the dedication to achieve your lofty goals. But having those things isn’t enough to actually grow.

To execute on your strategy, you’re going to need a powerful set of tools that leverage every stage of the customer experience, from the first point of contact, through the sales and marketing process, and over the lifetime of the customer.

The foundation of a strong growth stack starts with the following:

  • A CRM system that serves as the foundation for all the other growth tools you’re using, which is where all of your customer data is stored.
  • A marketing platform to attract the right people, convert them as leads, and communicate with them through the purchase process and once they’re a customer.
  • A sales platform that helps your sales team identify the right people, connect with them, and close them as customers.

Some companies are in the position to implement a growth stack right off the bat and then enhance and customize it with the right collection of integrated tools. Others need to start with free tools and build to a full growth stack over time. (Note: There is a free version of the HubSpot Growth Stack.)

For those companies just getting started, here is my shortlist of the best free growth tools for modern businesses. The list comprises a blend of free HubSpot tools and those from other companies that we’ve used and recommend.

The 11 Free Growth Tools I Recommend

A Free CRM

1) HubSpot CRM

You can’t build a skyscraper without a solid foundation. A CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool) is just that — it acts as the base layer of growth where all your business functions’ information is organized and can be easily analyzed. In all honesty, it’s impossible to grow and scale your business without a CRM.

Your CRM is the software that sits at the core of your digital system. It tracks every interaction your sales team has, stores all your marketing leads and customer data, and improves communication across your organization. The more you grow, the more important this becomes.

The problem is, most traditional CRM systems are hard to implement and use — especially for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with limited time and resources. Sales teams have trouble adopting them internally, and you can bet that doesn’t help your business grow whatsoever. If you’re looking for a clean and intuitive CRM that’ll make your sales reps more efficient — regardless of their experience levels — I’m very proud of the free CRM our team at HubSpot has built.

hubspot-crm-screenshot.png

Free Growth Tools for Marketing

2) Trello

I’m a big fan of visualizing progress. Growth teams tend to have a lot of ideas, a lot of projects, and a lot of experiments going on at the same time. We’ve found Trello to be the best tool for tracking that progress. Each idea, project, and experiment can live on its own card, which teams can use to take notes, assign tasks, set due dates, and so on.

Here’s a real example: Our VP of Marketing Kieran Flanagan uses it to track, from start to finish, all the experiments his growth team runs. What’s especially remarkable is that his team members are located in various parts of the US and Europe, but with Trello they’re able to stay organized and effective, and make a big impact on business growth.

trello-sample-promo-board.png

The folks at Trello put together their own list of business growth apps, inspired by ours. Check it out here.

3) Hotjar Heat Maps & Visitor Recordings

Data beats intuition. You can’t really know what your audience wants without getting inside the heads of the people who already regularly visit your site to find out why they visit your site, and Hotjar’s tools are perfect for just that.

These guys are on the cutting edge of helping people figure out what drives people to different parts of their website. They’re making it possible for people to build and grow their website in a way that actually resonates with people. We actually just launched an integration with Hotjar that shows Hotjar poll responses in HubSpot users’ contact timelines.

The Heat Maps and Visitor Recordings are my favorite parts of the tool, though, and here’s why: They visualize what people are doing when they get to your site by showing clicks, taps, and scrolling behavior. This is so important for a business because each of these actions shows what people do and care about on your site. It’ll also help you find the biggest opportunities for improvement and testing. (And you should always be testing.)

hotjar-heatmaps.jpg

Image Credit: Hotjar

4) Google Keyword Planner

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to growing traffic, which is a big driver of business growth in the online age. Simply put, you need to do it, and you need to do it well. If you want more people to find you on Google, you’ll need a keyword tool to help you prioritize which keywords to focus on.

There are a few good keyword tools out there, but Google Keyword Planner is a great starting point for narrowing down the right keywords, gauging competition around each one, and learning how many people are searching for them.

google-keywords-planner-1.png

5) GrowthBot

Bots are pretty freaking cool, and there’s business value to them too — they can make simple processes more efficient, giving your team time back in your day and helping you intelligently answer questions around your business. I could not be more excited about bots. That’s why I spent a lot of time this year building a chatbot for growth professionals called GrowthBot. I originally started building it because I wanted it myself, but others have told me they find it helpful, too.

So how does it work? By connecting to a variety of marketing systems (like HubSpot, Google Analytics, and more), GrowthBot is able to give you more convenient access to information you already otherwise have, and give you access to information you didn’t know you had. In the first case, you could ask it the question, “How was organic traffic last month?” and it’ll tell you. In the second case, you might ask it, “Which public SaaS companies are using HubSpot?” or “Which PPC keywords is uber.com buying?” and it’ll spit back the answer in just a few seconds.

growthbot-examples.png

6) HubSpot Marketing Free’s Lead Flows

A big mistake I see growing marketing teams making is spending all their time driving traffic to their website, but not turning that traffic into leads. Problem is, if you’re not learning about the people who are showing interest in your business, you’re leaving critical lead and sales numbers on the table.

To help you take a page that gets a good amount of traffic and turn that traffic into leads, some really smart folks created a feature within HubSpot’s new free marketing tool called Lead Flows. Lead Flows are unobtrusive widgets — pop-ups, dropdown banners, slide-ins — that you can add to any of your website pages. Best part is that they involve no technical setup or coding whatsoever, so you can set them up in minutes (seriously, minutes) without having to make changes to your existing site. Let us know what you think of Lead Flows on Product Hunt.

hubspot-marketing-free.gif

7) Buffer

There’s a lot you can do with social without spending any money. Social media is an amplifier. It takes time, but if you build a following, it is a great way to take that awesome content you’re producing and spreading it further and wider.

For social media marketing on all the major networks, Buffer is a great place to start. It connects your business’ Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+ accounts in a single platform and lets you share text, links, photos, and videos, either immediately or to schedule for later.

buffer-schedule-posts.png

Image Credit: Buffer

8) Canva

Tools that make creating visual content easier are important for growth, especially for a business with limited design resources. Being able to create great images in a short amount of time will help make your website, your emails, your social media posts, and every other marketing asset more engaging and attractive to your audience. Simply put, better visuals = more engagement = more traffic = business growth.

Canva makes it easy and fast for people who aren’t designers by trade (like me, as my team knows well) to create visual content quickly.

canva-example-1.png

Image Credit: Entrepreneur’s Organization

Free Growth Tools for Sales

9) join.me Free Conference Calls & Screen Sharing

The easier you make it for your sales team to interact with leads and prospects, the better they’ll be at closing customers, which you most definitely need if you want to grow your business. join.me isn’t software — all your reps have to do to start a call is open up the desktop or mobile app or log in online.

There are a lot of meetings tools out there, but this one is one of the fastest, most reliable, most intuitive, and easiest to use. And if you use HubSpot’s free CRM, you can start a join.me meeting directly from your contact timeline.

hubspot-join-me-integration.png

Image Credit: join.me

10) HubSpot Sales Templates

Your sales reps are probably wasting a lot of time writing the same emails over, and over, and over again. There’s a lot of value in streamlining the emailing process while still making sure sales reps are sending high-quality emails. If your sales reps can get their hands on personalized email templates, that’ll save hundreds of hours over the long term. Templates, a feature of HubSpot Sales, lets you access personalized email templates for free from within your inbox.

What makes this tool particularly powerful for sales teams is that you can build a shared library of templates everyone can use. You can also aggregate data on how often emails with certain templates get opened or clicked, which helps you hone in on the approaches worth sharing.

HubSpot-Sales-Email-Templates.png

11) HubSpot Sales Email Open Tracking & Notifications

This is one of my favorite email tools, not just for sales teams, but for personal use. It sends instant desktop notifications when the emails you send get opened. You’ll see who opened the email, at what time, on which device, and where they were located when they opened it. If you want to look at all your notifications, or all your notifications on a specific email, then you can view the full history in a stream.

hubspot-email-activity-stream.jpg

This list of free tools is a starting point for those looking to grow from startup into sustainable. Down the road, you’ll want to integrate your growth tools together into a true growth stack. For those looking to take the next step, we’ve mapped out our version of a complete growth stack over on Product Hunt. Take a look and let our engineers know what you think.

hubspot-growth-stack

Nov

3

2016

10 of the Best Podcasts About Business and Management

management podcasts.png

Today’s workforce is always on the go and multitasking. We’re busy, we’re distracted, we’re ambitious, and we’re always on the hunt for new sources of inspiration. That’s why business management-oriented podcasts are so perfect for today’s professionals.

A recent comScore survey found that 22% of U.S. internet users listen to podcasts at least once a week. It makes sense. Whether commuting to our offices, schvitzing at the gym, or sitting at our desks, podcasts provide hands-free enrichment. Enthusiasts listen in order to strengthen and freshen skills, to learn about new business success models, and to explore new perspectives on leadership and management – all while going about our regular routines.

Let’s be frank. Who has the time to keep up with all our favorite blogs and social feeds nowadays? Since the majority of podcasts are light in tone and conversational in structure, they make it easy to explore business challenges and trends from multiple perspectives. Listening in on these discussions can feel like having coffee with a group of expert colleagues, deliberating the latest trends in a freeform conversation.

Here are some highly recommended management and leadership podcasts.

10 of the Best Podcasts About Business and Management

1) For social media and the entrepreneurial grind: Gary Vaynerchuk

AskGaryVee Podcast

Source: her heartland soul

Outspoken thought leader Gary Vaynerchuk has taken his colorful personal brand to new heights with his hit podcast, The #AskGaryVee Show. Vaynerchuk delves into a variety of topics such as business management, entrepreneurship, millennialism, social media, ethics, leadership, and self-starting.

In episode 192, Vaynerchuk reveals that he’s finally starting to think about having a different perspective on work, perhaps recognizing that there are important things in life beyond the non-stop hustle that makes him famous. On the other hand, this man has taken just three vacations over the course of his life. (And he’s not alone — 53% of Americans haven’t taken a vacation in the past year.) So, if you have thick skin and you’re looking to get both practical and inspirational information on how to create the career you were meant to have, Vaynerchuk is your man.

Wildly entertaining, crass and impassioned, Vaynerchuk’s podcast will have you hooked. New episodes go up sporadically, but there are typically several uploaded each week.

2) For perspectives from the top: Jill Geisler

What great bosses know Podcast

Source: Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know

What Great Bosses Know is hosted by Jill Geisler — a leadership, management, and news media expert who teaches at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Communication. In this podcast, Geisler shares practical lessons for managers who want to be great bosses.

In “How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge,” for example, Geisler gives an overview of her tips for getting recognized as management material, even when serving in a junior role. People who emerge as rising stars in organizations, Geisler says, consistently offer constructive solutions to problems – and take the lead on implementing them. They constantly learn, grow and connect what they’re doing to overall organizational strategies. They stay calm under pressure, and they’re generous with resources and information, but always in a way that doesn’t detract from their own productivity. And there are fewer of them out there than you might think — 51% of managers say they’re not even engaged at work.

If you’re looking to build the essential skills that inspire others to perform at their best, this engaging and practical podcast is likely to give you plenty to chew on. Geisler posts two episodes each month.

3) For getting your leadership development fix: Richard Rierson

Dose of Leadership Podcast

Source: Dose of Leadership

Former U.S. Marine Richard Rierson’s Dose of Leadership Podcast is a fantastic place to find educational and inspiring interviews with dozens leaders from a wide swath of industries. The podcast focuses on leadership development and ethics, featuring influencers of all types, from entrepreneurs, to authors, to military heroes, to faith-based leaders.

“Fear and uncertainty are never going to go away,” said Rierson in a rare solo episode in which he explored the importance of confidence. Along with being calm, consistent, and courageous, Rierson explained that being confident is one of the “Four Cs” that form the core of a leader’s personal charisma.

Interviewing some of the bigger names in business — such as Barbara Corcoran, Steve Forbes, Fred Smith, and Bob Burg — Rierson’s podcast is a must if you’re working on leadership development. His episodes don’t air on a regular schedule, but two to six episodes come out over the course of most months.

4) For exploring the success mindset: Nathalie Lussier

off the charts business podcast

Source: Nathalie Lussier Media

Digital strategist and entrepreneur Nathalie Lussier’s podcast, Off the Charts Business, is packed with short, actionable advice to move your business forward. In iTunes, it’s listed under a section for “Inspiring Women’s Voices”, thanks in part to Lussier’s interviews with women entrepreneurs and business experts across the globe. The guests provide a diverse range of perspectives on professional success, management, and work-life balance.

In one episode, Australian coach Leonie Dawson — who runs the Shining Biz + Life Academy — discussed the importance of documenting goals for the purpose of business planning. That’s huge — 82% small business owners say that envisioning their goals have helped to actually accomplish them.

“The more that you’re in tune with where you’re going,” she said, “you will very, very naturally see what it is that you need to start doing and what you need to stop doing, in order to make sure that your business and life goals come true.”

Airing bi-weekly, Lussier’s episodes discuss what it takes to run a growing business — like productivity skills and the right mindset. This thought leader provides loads of inspirational and actionable advice on email marketing, digital product development, website creation, business management, and more of the best business resources.

5) For freelance development: Daniel DiPiazza

Rich20Something podcast

Source: Daniel DiPiazza

Rich20Something host Daniel DiPiazza is a self-taught millennial entrepreneur. DiPiazza is an advocate for being your own boss, and takes a friendly approach to professional self-discovery, freelancing, leadership, and business organization. Freelance advice is a hot space to be in, too — the rise of the gig economy seems to have inspired a new generation of side-hustlers and aspiring “solopreneurs.” But it can be scary to get started, which might be why DiPiazza welcomed guest Mark Dhamma, a performance coach for entrepreneurs, to talk about facing one’s fears.

DiPiazza’s podcast has yet to settle into a set schedule, but there are typically four to five episodes each month. You can access them via YouTube or iTunes.

6) For faith and communication: Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley Leadership podcast

Source: Stitcher

The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast takes a faith-infused approach to leadership, efficiency, communication, and lifestyle. An author of dozens of books, Stanley is a big believer in character, clarity, courage, and competency as the pillars of leadership.

In one episode, guest Glen Jackson — co-founder of brand communications agency Jackson Spalding — explains the first three of his “seven pillars of preeminence.” To build a truly exceptional organization, Jackson believes, leaders must build trust, strong relationships, and a focused marketing communications program. And, he discusses how you know when you’ve achieved preeminence.

Stanley is a pastor, communicator, author, and founder of the North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, Georgia. His podcast has a lot to offer business professionals of all backgrounds — episodes are posted on a monthly basis.

7) For team building and success stories: Jesse Lahey

Engaging Leader podcast

Source: Engaging Leader

The Engaging Leader podcast, hosted by author and HR consultant Jesse Lahey, is dedicated to discourse about leadership and communication principles. Knowing that meetings are a point of contention — 33.4% of their participants say it’s not a productive use of time — consultant Karin Hurt came on the show to talk about “How to Lead Meetings That Get Results (and That People Want to Attend).” Her advice was to overtly state the objective of every meeting, and to invite only the people who truly must attend if those objectives are to be met.   

Lahey conveys key business lessons through storytelling and humor, often sharing engaging stories as springboards for giving over valuable advice about work-life balance, teamwork, and leadership development. Episodes are published on the 1st and 15th of each month and last 30 minutes.

8) For book-driven business insights: Jeff Brown

Read to Lead Podcast

Source: Read to Lead Podcast

Hosted by seasoned broadcaster Jeff Brown, each Read to Lead episode examines a different business book. Brown drills down to talk about each book’s take on personal development, leadership, business, productivity, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

At one point, Brown was joined by management coach and author Michael Bungay Stanier to discuss his latest book, The Coaching Habit. Among other topics, Stanier explained what he sees as the three most common and potent self-perpetuating obstacles to professional achievement: overdependence, overwhelm, and disconnect.

This podcast could be especially valuable If you love reading, but don’t have the time to pick up every business book you’re interested in. It’s a great opportunity to get an inside look. Although Brown doesn’t air on a set schedule, you can access all of his episodes on iTunes and his website.

9) For learning to lead and live intentionally: Michael Hyatt

This is your life Podcast

Source: Michael Hyatt

Publishing executive Michael Hyatt co-hosts his weekly This Is Your Life podcast with emcee-for-hire Michele Cushatt. Some recent episodes have covered things like charisma, handling critics, software recommendations, and getting the most out of vacations.

Hyatt and Cushatt once took on topic of “the cult of busy” in the “6 Ways to Reclaim Your Free Time” episode. With some sobering tough love, they made a compelling argument for individuals to take responsibility for their own busyness levels. After all, 61% of U.S. professionals say they’re too busy to do the things they want, and that’s a problem. That means smart time management requires sometimes saying no.

“It may be that you have a fear of missing an important opportunity. It may be that you have a fear of disappointing other people. It may be that you have some other kind of fear

that keeps you stuck in this area,” said Hyatt, “but the real problem is us.”

Hyatt strives to help each of his listeners “live with more passion, work with greater focus, and lead with extraordinary influence.” With recurring themes including the importance of life planning, writing, healthy lifestyle, and influence, Hyatt’s podcast delivers well-rounded inspiration. New episodes go up every Monday morning on his website.

10) For growing and marketing brass: HubSpot

The Growth Show Podcast

Source: Stitcher

Hosted by HubSpot’s VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson and CMO Kipp Bodnar, The Growth Show is an exploration of all things relating to business growth. Anderson and Bodnar take turns at the helm, welcoming expert guests to talk about growth: organizational, cultural, conceptual, and team.

In one episode, Bodnar welcomed Candor, Inc.’s Kim Scott, whose “radical candor” framework has transformed the way companies like Apple, Google, Twitter, and Dropbox handle team management. Encouraging us all to unlearn the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” Scott championed an approach to feedback whereby managers maximize their abilities to “challenge directly” and “care personally.” The most effective and revered managers, Scott said, are invested in their team relationships enough to give honest feedback, even when it’s negative.

Can’t Hurt to Download

If you’re looking for an easy way to learn about taking your career to new heights, management podcasts are a great solution. Always available with new and engaging insights, this could be the connection between you, greater skills, and stronger leadership. Plus, they’re a great way to add a productive edge to what might otherwise be “time-sucks,” like your commute, cleaning, or getting from point A to B.

What are your favorite management podcasts? Let us know in the comments.

free guide to podcasting

Nov

1

2016

How to Run Successful LinkedIn Ads [Free Two-Week Planner]

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LinkedIn is the #1 social media platform for B2B content distribution. That makes it a key platform to generate leads, build professional relationships, and drive leads.

But it’s not enough to use LinkedIn just to build an organic following. If you want to effectively expand your content’s reach and get it in front of the right eyes, you should be using LinkedIn’s Sponsored Content feature.

Even if you’ve used Sponsored Content before, you may not have mastered all of the steps it takes to make sure you’re getting the most ROI from your campaigns. Luckily, HubSpot teamed up with LinkedIn to bring you How to Run Successful LinkedIn Ads — a two-week guide on running successful LinkedIn Sponsored Content campaigns.

More specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Build an organic audience on LinkedIn.
  • Select the right pieces of content.
  • Identify the best target audience.
  • Build an effective editorial calendar.
  • Implement conversion tracking to prove ROI.
  • Develop an effective targeting and A/B testing strategy.
  • Monitor, report on, and optimize your sponsored content campaigns over time.

Download your copy of How to Run Successful LinkedIn Ads here.

free planner: how to run successful LinkedIn ads

Oct

7

2016

How to Find a Great Mentor at Any Stage of Your Career

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Have you ever had your mind blown by a little kid’s wisdom?

More often than not, they tend to have surprisingly astute yet simple observations in life. (Case in point — noting to my Dad, at age two, that my Mom “keeps the money in her purse” when I was told he couldn’t buy a toy I wanted.)

While it might be a stretch to call kids our mentors, the occasional profoundness of children reminds us that youth doesn’t always preclude wisdom. And the same goes for mentorship. It doesn’t have to be limited to kids, teens, and people early in their careers. As we progress in life, that guidance shouldn’t disappear — there isn’t an age that deems us unfit to be mentored. Download our leadership guide for actionable advice & guidelines from  HubSpot's Dharmesh Shah. 

But when it comes to being mentored later in our careers, many of us aren’t sure where to begin. There are many ways to go about finding a mentor at any age, though, and we’re here to suggest a few. (And to learn more about finding a marketing mentor, check out these tips from HubSpot Academy.)

How to Find a Mentor at Any Stage of Your Career

1) Ditch your preconceived notions of experience.

We tend to believe that mentors are supposed to be older, wiser, and more experienced. Today, that logic is a bit flawed — we live in a time when being professionally experienced means many things.

Some younger generations are more experienced in jobs that didn’t exist a decade ago. And then there are those who are more advanced and know the broad spectrum of certain career paths. There’s an upside to learning and teaching both. As it turns out, we all need guidance.

New York Times assignment editor Phyllis Korkki recently covered this phenomenon, describing how, in her mid-50s, her 27-year-old Social Strategy Editor made her better at her job. In an act of reverse mentorship, the younger colleague taught Korkki how to use Snap chat, which she says, “stretched me as a journalist and a person.”

I, too, was hesitant to jump of the Snapchat train at first. But when I started this job and befriended one of my slightly younger colleagues — one of whom brilliantly explains Snapchat here — I decided that it might be a good idea to figure it out. And lucky for me, she was more than happy to help.

That wasn’t all my colleague taught me, though. I’ve actually learned a lot from her in just a few short months — including how to toss any age- or experience-related connotations around mentorship away.

2) Know that mentorship goes both ways.

When I asked my colleague, Staff Writer Aja Frost, about her thoughts on being a mentee at any point in life, she provided some interesting insights.

“I think everyone should simultaneously seek mentorship and give it,” she told me. “Being both makes you better at both. If you know the type of mentorship you like to accept, you can also dole out that type.”

Korkki touches on this concept, noting that the only thing that could have improved the experience was if she, too, had mentored her younger colleague. It wasn’t until she had grasped Snapchat well enough to take over the New York Times account for a day that she asked her mentor, “What do I have to offer?”

So really, the best mentorships are balanced. It can be hard to ask for help, and to remember to offer it in return. But don’t hesitate to surface your own strengths and offer guidance in return — that “give and take” approach helps both parties see the value in the relationship. It becomes clear that that the investment of time is worthwhile.

Not to mention, helping someone out makes you feel good. As my colleague Adrienne Ober put it, “Being a mentor can be a huge boost to your own confidence. When people ask me questions, I go, ‘Oh, wow. You want to know what I think?”

3) Leverage your own network.

A few years ago, I was in the midst of a very difficult career decision and didn’t know who to ask for advice. It wasn’t until several weeks that I realized I had an entire network — former clients, supervisors, and colleagues — to call upon for mentorship. Why hadn’t I turned to them earlier?

It turns out that most of us suffer from something called inattentional blindness, which is essentially the psychological term for not being able to see what’s right in front of us, so to speak. So when we’re particularly engaged in a decision or situation that’s occupying most of our time, inattentional blindness could explain why we miss helpful resources that are actually quite readily accessible — like our own respective networks.

Once you take stock of your network, you might be surprised how well-received a request for advice can be. And unless you’ve burned every professional bridge you’ve ever known, there’s likely someone in your life whose advice you can seek. They might even be able to introduce you to someone in their network that fits your criteria.

4) Know what it is that you need.

When seeking a mentor, it’s important that you’re (at the very least) prepared to answer one pivotal question: “So, what do you want?”

Be sure to have some goals in mind when you seek out this kind of guidance. Knowing that will achieve two things — getting the information you need, and being able to seek out the right kind of mentor.

Take my above example of when I sought mentorship within my own network to help with a difficult decision — to quit a bad job without having another one lined up. I didn’t want to be shut down with a hard “no.” But I also didn’t want a quick, impractical “yes.” I needed someone who could pragmatically walk through the pros and cons, and evaluate options that I hadn’t thought of. (There it is again — inattentional blindness.)

When you look for a mentor, make sure you have a comprehensive purpose in mind. Think of the difficult questions you haven’t been able to ask. Having those criteria in mind will help you find the right person to provide the guidance you need.

5) Attach the right parameters to “success.”

In addition to experienced, wise, and older, we tend to think of the best mentors as successful. But there’s a problem — like “experience,” “success” today take s many different forms.

Our reasons for seeking advice are diverse, and with them come varied signs of success. Some traditional metrics are outdated — having great wealth, finding a spouse, and settling down in a big house isn’t everyone’s idea of accomplishment. In fact, most people value happiness at work over a big salary — almost 70% would take a pay cut for a job that they were passionate about.

Maybe that’s what you need in a mentor — someone who has taken risks and can help make yours more calculated. Or maybe you’re not sure what it is that’s going to make you happy, and need someone to objectively work that out.

The point is, don’t discount a potential mentor simply because his or her life doesn’t fit the mold of what’s stereotypically deemed successful. In fact, if someone is truly happy at work — which only 38% of people say they are — that, to me, is a sign of success.

It’s Your Turn.

Ready to get out there and start building these valuable relationships? You’ve got this. But remember, mentorship is just that — a relationship.

Show gratitude for what your mentor brings to the table. But don’t ignore what you have to offer — ask how you can be of service, too. Even if you’re an expert on a given topic, chances are, you have something you can teach.

And don’t forget to pay it forward. Even if there isn’t an occasion when your mentor asks you for help, plenty of others could use it. That could be anyone — not just other professionals. Check out the National Mentoring Partnership to learn how to work with kids at an earlier stage.

How did you meet your best mentors? Let us know in the comments.

free ebook: leadership lessons

Oct

5

2016

8 Tips for Giving Great Peer Feedback

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The last constructive criticism I received was from my cat. After presenting her with the organic, gluten-free food that I’d spent arguably too much money on, she refused to eat it. 

Can you believe that? Does she even care that I consulted blogs and veterinarians about the best diet to put her on? Unfortunately, we’re not great at communicating feedback to each other because we’re of different species.

Luckily, that’s not the case when giving feedback in the workplace. It’s easy to communicate criticism, but it’s not always easy to do it effectively. This can especially be the case when providing peer feedback, which is a trend that’s growing in different workplaces.

Part of assembling a great team means providing helpful feedback so they can grow, and peer-to-peer discussions of strengths and weaknesses is a way to round out the top-down feedback employees receive from their supervisors and glean a fuller picture of how they can improve. In this post, we’ll discuss why peer feedback matters and how to deliver it effectively.

Why Feedback Is Important

Feedback is an important and necessary part of anyone’s career path, whether you’re in your first job out of college or have been a CEO for many years. Feedback from managers, peers, and reports is critical to identifying performance strengths and weaknesses. It provides employees opportunities for growth and education in their roles. What’s more, it often results in improved communication and better understanding of expectations between employees.

You might think that employees dread giving or receiving feedback, especially if it’s negative, but that’s actually not the case. There are some surprising statistics about the importance of feedback to employees who receive it, especially if it’s negative:

Zenger/Folkman surveyed nearly 1,000 employees, and 72% thought their performance would improve with the help of feedback. Additionally, 57% preferred corrective feedback over praise, and 92% of those surveyed agreed with the statement that negative feedback, when delivered correctly, is an effective way to improve performance.

It’s clear that negative feedback is not only desired by employees, but it’s beneficial. So, now the question is how to deliver constructive feedback correctly so employees aren’t demotivated and discouraged by it. One answer to this question is the peer review, or the 360 review.

Peer reviews are designed to provide a broader picture of employees and how they work with others, not just their supervisors. They’re not intended to replace or contribute to regular performance reviews or salary negotiations.

Instead, they’re designed to help employees set goals related to interpersonal and professional skills in the workplace based on feedback managers and peers provide. The goal of peer review is to provide a clear picture of a team’s performance from the inside, out, and to create a team culture and spirit of positive reinforcement as well as constructive feedback from those who know the employee best.

To shed some light on ways to give feedback to your peers that’s helpful, actionable, and not uncomfortable, I’ve rounded up suggestions from my own peers and trusted leadership sources to get you started.

8 Tips for Giving Great Peer Feedback

1) Assume good intent.

This is good advice for anyone on the receiving end of constructive feedback, but it goes for those giving peer feedback as well. As uncomfortable as you might feel providing feedback to your peers, they want to hear from you: 76% of employees surveyed were motivated by positive feedback from their peers.

I asked my colleague, HubSpot Marketing Director Rebecca Corliss, what advice she gives for providing great peer feedback.

“For those who feel uncomfortable giving feedback, I hear you. Especially if you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, it can be really difficult.” Corliss suggests that peer reviewers and feedback recipients view the comments as a gift. “If your feedback is shared constructively and with genuine care for the other person, you’re doing it right.”

HubSpot Sales Blog Editor Leslie Ye echoed this sentiment. “Your peers are there to help you improve, not cut you down or make you feel bad,” Ye says. “Their feedback isn’t a reflection on your worth as a person. Remind yourself of this to make feedback feel less personal.”   

2) Review regularly.

If peer reviews are incorporated regularly over the course of a working relationship, they won’t be viewed as a sporadic and dreaded event only followed by an employee’s mistake. Instead, peer reviews will be part of an ongoing two-way discussion that allows for honest and open communication and faster problem-solving.

I have a weekly check-in where I receive feedback from my manager, and I receive peer feedback each time I submit a blog post to HubSpot Marketing Blog Editor Carly Stec for her review. Communicating regularly about my progress and growth makes it feel less like a review that I dread and more like an ongoing conversation that I look forward to as a way to improve my work.

Stec suggests, “make giving and receiving peer feedback a consistent habit, and it’ll start to feel less intimidating.”

3) Come prepared.

Fractl surveyed 1,100 employees about how they felt about difficult conversations in the workplace, and they found that respondents were more likely to be somewhat or completely satisfied by feedback conversations with a direct report than with a superior. The promising result? Nearly 50% of respondents were somewhat or completely satisfied with difficult discussions with peers.

How do you ensure that feedback conversations between peers are productive and leave all parties satisfied? Come to feedback meetings prepared. A whopping 85% of the survey respondents said they prepared for difficult conversations in advance, and that’s smart advice for any feedback meeting, no matter how casual.

When preparing for a feedback meeting with a peer, have the following questions in mind to ensure that the time is well-spent:

  1. What are your goals? What are you both seeking to get out of this meeting?
  2. How can you both work together to achieve them? How can you help your peer grow and improve?

4) Learn the other person’s style.

As you may already know from previous career experience, feedback can sometimes rub you the wrong way. It might be the content of the feedback, or you might be taking criticism personally, but it could also be because you and your colleague delivering feedback have different communication styles.

Stec suggests that peer reviewers “take time to learn how the person you’re working with prefers to receive feedback — and package your notes accordingly.”

Ye encourages expectation-setting prior to giving feedback so colleagues know what to expect from you early on. “I’m a very direct person and my feedback is the same way. I know that my feedback can come off as blunt or abrupt, so I set the expectation early on that that’s my style, so people receiving feedback aren’t taken aback.”

The easiest way to learn your colleague’s style is to ask: Do they prefer in-person discussions, or emails? Do they want big-picture feedback, or do they want to dive into making changes? Consider asking colleagues about personality assessments, such as the DiSC test, that might provide you with greater insight into how you colleagues communicate and work best.

5) Get to the point.

We’ve written before about the importance of not giving feedback in the form of a “sandwich,” wherein constructive feedback is preceded and followed by positive feedback to lessen the sting of criticism. It can often make your peers feel patronized and condescended to, so skip the sandwich.

Instead, try a feedback flatbread (bear with me here, I’m hungry). Instead of prefacing constructive criticism with praise, dive into the feedback head-on, and follow it up with discussing how their strengths can be used to solve the problem.

In another study, Zenger/Folkman surveyed nearly 4,000 employees who’d received negative feedback asking them if they were surprised by the criticism they’d received, and 74% had already known and weren’t surprised by the feedback. So when you’re preparing to meet with a peer about ways they can improve their work, it’s safe to assume they know themselves fairly well. Address areas of growth and ways they can use their strengths to improve, rather than following a compliment-critique-compliment sandwich recipe.

Ye notes that the compliment sandwich can “obscure the true feedback and often lead to more rounds of back-and-forth,” but she echoes the need to interweave positive comments into peer feedback discussions. “It’s discouraging to not receive any positive feedback, and it’s a missed opportunity to call out and reinforce good habits.”

6) Encourage a growth mindset.

Are you familiar with the fixed mindset and how it compares to the growth mindset? For a quick overview, these concepts were coined by psychologist Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:

In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues.”

When providing peer feedback, phrase your comments and challenge your colleague to think in terms of a growth mindset. Instead of focusing on individual tasks your coworker didn’t accomplish, give them feedback about how the skills they’re learning to tackle contribute to the bigger picture of their professional success.

Praising or criticizing peers by telling them what they are — right or wrong, good or bad — can inspire a fear of failure and making mistakes that stagnates learning. Corliss says it best: “Most folks see feedback as a time to sit down and tell people what they’re doing wrong or what they need to do better. While that can be true, I think there’s a better way to view feedback: offering people a reflection of themselves that they may not be able to see.”

Producing successful work is important, but as a peer, it’s important for you to provide feedback that gives your colleagues a fuller picture of their progress and growth that empowers them to experiment and learn new ways to define “successful.”

7) Use the passive voice.

I know, you probably read the title of this section and wondered, “wait, doesn’t this advice go against a cardinal rule of writing?” Before you write me off, hear me out: The passive voice is integral to giving productive peer feedback that’s helpful without being personal. It allows your feedback to focus on the problem, not the individual who you’re critiquing.

Compare these two styles of feedback on the same hypothetical article:

  1. “You didn’t support the claims you made in the article.”
  2. “This article would be stronger with most research to back its claims.”

See the difference? While the two critiques are communicating the same thing —  the article needs more support for its claims — the second is a more productive way to provide feedback to a peer. Focusing feedback around the subject instead of the individual makes it less likely that your peer will become defensive of themselves and will lead to an altogether more productive conversation.

Remember, 57% of Zenger/Folkman’s respondents said they preferred corrective feedback. Your peers and colleagues want to know how to improve, and if it’s your job to help them in that process, you owe it to yourself and your coworkers to have the most productive conversation possible.

8) Embrace technology.

It’s 2016, and it’s time for peer feedback to get with the program. As we mentioned earlier, it’s courteous to learn how your peers like to receive feedback to tailor an approach that works for their learning style, and that can include technology.

Experiment with different ways to deliver constructive criticism electronically, such as via email, Google Drive comments, Slack, or Evernote. One benefit to communicating peer feedback electronically is that it can be documented and saved for future reference.

On the other side of the coin, there are many ways to electronically harness positive peer feedback as well. Here on the HubSpot Marketing team, we use TinyPulse to gauge employee engagement and happiness, but also to give “cheers” to our peers for great work that their supervisors might not have noticed. YouEarnedIt lets employees provide similar real-time praise.

Your peers want to succeed in their roles, and feedback from managers and peers is integral to making that happen. The next time you sit down for a feedback conversation with a peer, ask yourself if you’re doing the best you can to make your criticism fair, actionable, and empowering.

What’s your favorite way to receive feedback from a peer? What’s your advice for giving constructive criticism to your coworkers? Share with us in the comments below.

learn how to hire an all-star marketing team

Sep

27

2016

How to Make the Most of Your To-Do List: 7 Styles to Try

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In my family, memory is an asset.

It’s not that we’re senile. It’s just that our minds move too quickly. We’re so busy jumping ahead to whatever’s next that we forget what we were doing in the first place.

So if we want to remember anything, we have to write it down. We are a to-do list family.

To-do lists have quite the history. They date back at least to the 1700s, as you’ll see below, and have been the subject of glee, contention, and productivity advice alike ever since. And while they’ve evolved significantly over the years, they still stand to serve a pretty similar purpose: To plan what we need to do.

Download our complete guide to productivity here for more tips to improve your  productivity.

What did that look like, once upon a time? And what does it look like for us today? As it turns out, the answer to the latter is different for everyone, and we’ve identified some of the ways people make to-do lists work for them.

The Earliest To-Do Lists

In his 1791, Benjamin Franklin recorded what was one of the earliest-known forms of a to-do list. But his intention behind the list wasn’t exactly to get stuff done — instead, he used it as a way of making sure he contributed something positive each day. He started his list with the question, “What good shall I do this day?”

Ben-Franklin-Schedule.jpg

Source: Daily Dot

I won’t lie — Franklin’s to-do list doesn’t look entirely far off from mine. Granted, I don’t usually include the words “diversion” and “contrive” to describe what I need to do on a given day, but our respective lists achieve the same thing. I also schedule time in the morning to eat, and often use the lunch hour for my own version of “overlooking accounts.” You and I aren’t so different, Franklin.

What’s really changed are the different options available to us for creating and organizing to-do lists. Though not nearly as ancient as Franklin’s style, many of us can remember owning a paper day planner — those actually date back to 1924, with the debut of the Wanamaker Diary.

Wanamaker_Diary_TP2.jpg

Source: Boston Globe

But the age of the digital to-do list really started when computer operating systems were including calendar programs in their ensuite software packages, like primitive versions of Outlook Calendar. Those were followed by a 1992 version of a smartphone called Simon — which included scheduling features — and then came calendar-ready PDAs, or personal digital assistants. The first generation of online calendars came along in the early 2000s, which eventually evolved into programs like Google Calendar that could be synced with their smartphone counterparts.

In other words, it’s been a long time since we needed a pen nearby to take note of something — as long as we have a mobile device nearby, we can text reminders to ourselves, enter events into its calendar program, or use a voice search feature to set a reminder.

But I find it so interesting that something that now seems like antiquated technology — the PDA/personal digital assistant — is now become more applicable than ever again. We’re seeing more and more programs that were originally intended to be voice search platforms evolve into virtual personal assistants. So we’ll definitely touch on those, and how they come into play in the modern age of the to-do list.

How to Make the Most of Your To-Do List: 7 Styles to Try

1) The Classic Handwritten List

Around here, we joke about what an old-fashioned gal I can be. I go to bed early, have a collection of film noir, and reminisce for cartoons of the early 90s. I also keep a handwritten to-do list, which — with all of the bells and whistles available to us these days — is almost archaic.

I have a weird system for using my handwritten to-do list, too: I use it in tandem with Google Calendar, which we’ll get to later, and I use it as a shield from distractions.

When I’m working, I might get a random thought of something that I want to look up on the internet, or a personal message I want to send, or an errand I need to run. More often than I’d like, I respond to those thoughts in one of two ways: 1) Dropping what I’m doing to address it, or 2) saying, “I’ll deal with it later,” and forgetting about it.

Handwrittenlist.png

But having a notebook beside me while I’m working gives me a place to store these things, without completely interrupting my work to deal with them. Some of them are more important than others, but this way, I have a place to “put away” any distractions. (You’ll notice I use cartoonish exclamation point to indicate “fun” tasks.) And with the rapidly-dwindling attention span of humans, any hack to stay focused is welcome, especially in a deadline-driven line of work.

2) Bullet Journals

It seems like Bullet Journaling is the to-do list du jour. Everyone is talking about it, and yet, so few people seem to understand it.

Even when I surveyed my colleagues who have been giving it a shot, the reviews were mixed — most were falling behind on using it, and the others weren’t sure if it was actually benefiting them. One of them, my fellow marketing blogger Sophia Bernazzani, was kind enough to share a picture of hers:

Bullet_Journal_Example.jpg

A Bullet Journal, Bernazzani explained to me, works for her, “because it easily lets me see my big-picture priorities and daily to-dos all in one place.”

According to a semi-official Bullet Journal website, the strategy is best described as a “customizable and forgiving organization system” that works as an all-in-one “to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary.” Here’s what I was able to deduce from the remainder of the website content:

  • It’s a list of tasks, events, and miscellaneous notes.
  • Lists can be daily, monthly, or yearly.
  • Symbols are used to indicate the category and importance of each item.

What sets it apart from other to-do lists is its purpose to keep people from going nuts over the stuff they didn’t get done. It matches some research performed by a productivity app called iDoneThis, which found that 41% of to-do items are never completed. With the Bullet Journal system, nothing is ever crossed off — it’s just labeled with a new symbol that indicates it needs to be migrated to a future date.

The other differentiator is Bullet Journal’s advice to take daily logs one day at a time, instead of listing those items too far in advance. It also recommends not making these lists too long, which also aligns with research — studies have indicated that the more items on our to do lists, the less we’re likely to get done.

3) The 3-Step To-Do List

Earlier this year, my colleague, Christine Ianni, spoke with Pultizer-winning author and journalist Charles Duhigg about how the most productive people manage their time. He revealed a three-step process that breaks down larger, more difficult steps into micro-steps.

It looks something like this. Start with a blank sheet, and then:

  1. Think of your stretch goal for the day.
  2. Write your goal at the top of your page.
  3. Break your goal down into actionable/measurable steps.

Basically, this method decreases the intimidation factor of big projects. When larger goals each have their own to-do list, they’re re-organized into the smaller steps that lead to it being fully complete.

Curious to learn more about how that works? Check out our interview Duhigg on HubSpot’s The Growth Show.

4) Online Calendars

Here’s where my to-do listing is a bit more hip than an old-fashioned, handwritten inventory of distractions. I’ve written before about my tendency to schedule my day down to the very last detail — my online calendars are great for that.

Notice that I pluralized it — “calendars.” That’s because I have multiple online schedules, for both work and personal items. But thanks to cloud technology and the ability of calendars to merge together in one place — like iCal or my phone’s calendar software — I can have all of this information on a single platform.

AZWcalendar.png

Like a few of my colleagues, I later found out, I use my online calendars in tandem with another to-do list format. Instead of just listing what I need to do, the calendar breaks down how much time I have to complete things throughout my day, from walking the dog to getting my writing done in the morning.

It also helps me remember to take breaks throughout the day. I’m not always so good at actually taking them, but since the most productive people remember to take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in, I at least include it as an action item for myself. And by aligning them with my handwritten to-do list — where I write down reminders to look into otherwise distracting things — it helps to ensure that those 52 minutes of work aren’t severely interrupted.

What’s also cool about Google is its “Goals” feature, which lets you schedule out longer-term items — like learning a new language, for example — and dictating how much time you want to dedicate to them each day, month, or year. And, Goals keeps you accountable. If another commitment is scheduled during the time originally set aside to work on that longer-term item, Google will automatically reschedule the latter for you. So no excuses — it’s time to learn Japanese! Or, you know, whatever it is that you want to take up.

5) Virtual Personal Assistants

Last week saw the launch of Google Allo, a “smart messaging app” that also comes equipped with Google Assistant — a virtual concierge, if you will. It’s preemptive to the rumored October 4th launch of Google Home, which sources say is likely to use similar technology.

So why does that matter? Well, Google Home is another addition to the growing list of stand-alone virtual assistants that don’t require the use of a mobile device. And among their many capabilities, these in-home virtual assistants should be able to help set reminders.

Google Home will play in the same leagues as Amazon’s Echo, which uses its own voice search technology, Alexa, to assist with these requests and queries. I’ll let Alec Baldwin — who, by the way, you can come see at INBOUND 2016 — help explain:

Google and Amazon aren’t alone in this technology — let’s not forget Siri, one of the original voice search platforms that was programmed to create to-do lists and set reminders.

SiriToDo.png

Digital personal assistants tend to accomplish different things than the other types we’ve covered thus far. For me, at least, Siri is a great tool for creating or adding things to a to-do list when I’m on-the-go, or don’t have time to go through the process of adding a new event to my calendar.

We anticipate that this method of virtual to-do listing might continue to gain popularity — after all, look at how many major names are entering the space.

6) The “I Did” List

My colleague, Mike Renahan, is rumored around here to know a thing or two about productivity — you can check out some of his articles here. Naturally, I asked him how he organizes his to-do list.

His answer? He doesn’t, really. Instead, he uses what he calls an “I Did” list.

“You write down all the goals you accomplished in a given day,” he explains, “and those dictate what goals you set for yourself tomorrow.”

Here’s an example of what that looks like for him:

I_Did_List.jpg

As you can see, Renahan keeps this running list in a note in his phone so that he can update it whenever, wherever. “I update this list every day when I’m on the train,” he told me. “It helps me reflect on how productive I was in a given day. And from there, I can start planning realistic goals for the following day.”

Renahan’s approach works to resolve the emphasis on the incomplete by focusing on the good things we did on a given day. And instead just adding more and more things to an existing list, his theory says to use the good things to dictate what you’ll do tomorrow.

7) Task Management Apps

Finally, we reach the inevitable “there’s an app for that” method of organizing to-do lists.

Make no mistake — these apps are different than digital personal assistants. Rather than dictating reminders and scheduling items to a separate platform, many of these apps allow you to be in full control of your tasks.

There are tons of task management apps out there — Wunderlist and the aforementioned iDoneThis are two of the more recognizable names.

But among my colleagues, like the Section Editor of the Hubspot Sales Blog, Leslie Ye, it seems like Todoist is the most popular.

multi_task.gif

She’s written about it before, and says that being able to triage the items on her to-do list according to their priority is major benefit. Plus, unlike a lot of other task management apps, Todoist has managed to gamify these tasks — the more you successfully complete, the more “karma points” you can earn.

“And accumulating karma points,” Ye explains, “is a fun way to gamify something that is usually a source of stress.”

Feeling organized?

At a time when we seem to be busier than ever — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as that’s been said to improve our cognition — staying organized can become a challenge. But that’s only if you don’t have the right tools and, as we’ve illustrated, there are plenty of those to be found.

As we noted before, not every method is perfect for everyone, and whichever one makes you most productive might not look conventional. These methods can be combined and used in tandem with each other — like I do with handwritten lists and online calendars — or maybe there’s just a singular method that works best for you.

And maybe there’s a really cool, unknown to-do list organization method out there that we need to know about. Got one? Let us know in the comments.

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Sep

26

2016

How to Get People to Actually Listen to You

ListeningToMusic.png

By now, you may have heard of a musical called Hamilton.

In you haven’t, here’s a rundown: Since its Broadway debut in August 2015, people can’t get enough of it. They’re paying upwards of $500 for crappy seats, and close to $3,000 for good ones. It won a Pulitzer, a Grammy and 11 Tony Awards. Its composer and original star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is now a celebrity.

In other words: People are listening to this stuff.

Seeing the way Hamilton captivated such massive audiences — in less than a year — fascinates me. How the heck did this thing blow up?

(Psst. If you’re eager for some Hamilton action, Leslie Odom Jr. — a star from the original cast — is performing at INBOUND this year.)

Watching the progress and near-instant success of Hamilton is really a lesson in why people listen — not just to a hit musical, but to a person, a podcast, or anything, really. A lot can be learned by looking into those reasons, especially for marketers. To what and whom do people listen? Why? And how can we get them to listen to us? 

To answer those questions, we did some research on the listening process, our motivations for listening, and more.

The Listening Process

To listen, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true.”

Listening helps us to satisfy different physiological goalsWe listen to alter our moods, stay alert, and figure stuff out. In humans, that’s been the case for pretty much as long as we’ve been in existence.

The listening process starts when we receive auditory stimuli. Then, our brains have to interpret that stimulus. That’s enhanced by other senses — like sight — which help us better interpret what we’re hearing.

Then, once we receive and interpret auditory signals, we follow a series of steps that consist of recalling, evaluating, and responding to the information we consume: 

Hurier_Listening_Process.png

Source: Matthew Edward Dyson

It’s that third step in the entire process — recalling — that might be the most important one for marketers. Numerous studies have discovered how listening triggers a widespread network of activity throughout the entire brain. That activity is what so strongly links auditory stimuli to memory.

That’s particularly true of music: Research has revealed a partial restoration of memory in Alzheimer’s patients upon hearing their favorite music. In other words, we know that listening heavily correlates with memory, which helps explain the mjor success of something like Hamilton — it’s a musical theatre production, which really epitomizes the intersection of auditory and visual stimuli.

15-Studied-Effects-of-Classical-Music-on-Your-Brain_zpsd5b63a4e.png-original.png

Source: Carina Zimmerman

When people talk it up, they’re actually sharing a story about their memories of seeing it. And no matter what happens to our attention spans, we still seem to love a good story.

That comes back around to what we do as marketers, really. We share the stories of and about our brands in a way that will get people to — you guessed it — listen.

The Art of Getting People to Listen

Earlier this year, my colleague, Lindsay Kolowich, put together a post on how to make a speech memorable. The infographic touched on a few guidelines that can be applied to, well, pretty much anything that you want someone to listen to:

  • Start strong
  • Make it informative and interesting
  • Think of your audience

Aha! Your audience — remember them? Knowing your audience is going to help you create the content they want to listen to, but that also requires an understanding of their motivations for listening. 

And in a modern context, our motivation to listen runs a bit deeper, especially when it’s something we don’t have to hear. We’re not listening in survival mode as much as we did in infancy or ancient times — we now have the luxury of electing to listen to most things.

So let’s explore some generally understood, non-survival motivations for listening these days. I’ll use our old friend Hamilton to put those things in context — it shows how people’s reasons for listening have been successfully put into practice.

4 Motivations for Listening (and How to Tap Into Them)

1) They’re familiar with the person or the work.

Hamilton’s earliest audiences may have tuned in because they knew about Miranda’s previous work. Perhaps they were fans of In the Heights, or had seen one of his smaller performances. Either way, it got them to come back and listen to him again.

Some people think of that as the mere-exposure effect: A psychological principle that states we prefer the things that are familiar to us.

Key takeaway: When you’re trying to figure out how to get someone to listen to you, start by tapping the folks who already know you — the ones whose attention you already have. At HubSpot, we call those folks evangelists: The people who advocate for your brand. If you want to expand your reach, it’s important to know who your evangelists are, and how to keep them motivated (which you can learn more about here).

2) They share values with what or whom they’re listening to.

Even if someone wasn’t familiar with Miranda’s work, if they had the basic context of Hamilton — a hip-hop musical about a historical figure — that might have been enough to get them to listen. Maybe that person just likes hip-hop. Or musicals. Or history.

When you isolate the different components of what you’re trying to market, that gives you more options to pique people’s interests. I’ll use myself as an example — while I’m the type of person for whom The History Channel quickly cures insomnia, I will jump at the chance to listen to some great rap music. Therefore: A rap about history? Okay, I’ll bite.

Key takeaway: Break your message or story down into different elements that people might actually want to listen to. That can help to draw in a diversified audience, by pitching these different pieces to the people who like them the most. 

3) Someone told them to.

I have to wonder how many people bought tickets to see Hamilton, or even first listened to its soundtrack, because so many people recommended it. We call that social proof: the theory that people will adopt the beliefs or actions of a group of people they like or trust.

In his book Contagious, Author Jonah Berger found that the content receiving the most word-of-mouth contained six essential qualities: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories.  

See that? “Stories.” “Emotion.” “Social.” Those are the qualities that get people to keep listening, and get the people who they share it with to listen, too.

Key takeaway: Give your current audience the right incentive to listen and share. illustrate your message through an emotional story. Teach people something they’ll want to pass on to their coworkers or friends. In short: Position your message in a way that makes it hard not to end up telling someone else about it. 

4) They think that what they’re listening to will be good.

And while you can’t please everyone, you can do your best to make sure that you’re giving them something of quality. Remember — make it informative and interesting, but also make it true to yourself and your brand.

After all, that worked for Lin-Manuel Miranda. He took the things that fascinated him — musical composition, hip hop, and the life of Alexander Hamilton — and turned it into a phenomenon that actually got and held people’s attention.

Key takeaway: Find out what matters to you, and use what we’ve covered here today to make it matter to others.  

Amazing things happen when people listen. Now, you have the tools to get them there.

What are your best tips for catching the attention of an audience? Share them with us in the comments below. 

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