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9 Ways to Validate Your Startup Ideas

Having your own business might be something that you envisioned for a long time. Now that you have an idea on what business to pursue, should you jump in right away and get started? No matter how excited you are and how good you think that idea is, it’s still best to pause and validate if your business idea.

Validating your startup idea doesn’t necessarily eliminate the risk of failure. However, this will tell you if it has a bigger chance of succeeding. Plus, it will help determine if you are on the right track when it comes to your plans.

One of the things to ask yourself is what problem you are trying to solve or eliminate? Your product or service must be useful for your target audience. It should be the solution for their specific issues or it must make their lives easier.

Know your market. Decide on which group of consumers you will be focusing on. Do your research to find out about their needs, wants, and expectations and see if your idea meets them.

There are more ways on how to validate your idea for a startup business. We compiled them in an infographic to make the process more convenient for you. Find out if your idea is something that is worth pursuing or not with our gorgeous and informative illustration below:

9 Ways to Validate Your Startup Ideas

Guest Blogger: Scott D. is with Start Blogging online: www.startbloggingonline.com

 


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5 Ways Your Website Could Be Hurting Sales

website conversion helpIf you’re in the business of selling products or services online, your website can make or break your brand. While most companies stay on top of the marketing techniques that can help to drive more traffic to their site, they often forget to make improvements to the site itself. Here are five ways that your site might be hurting sales and how you can fix it.

1. You Have Unresolved Glitches

This sounds like a simple problem that any web administrator with an ounce of sense would avoid. However, many site admins don’t realize that their e-retail platform has a glitch because they don’t regularly check the platform for user friendliness. If customers run into a glitch, they’ll oftentimes abandon the purchase rather than contacting the administrator about the problem. Hence, it’s crucial that you’re regularly checking the site for any glitches or issues.

2. There’s Never Any Rush To Buy

If your site isn’t regularly running promotions that feature a deadline, such as “product X is 25% off until this Friday,” then you’re not creating time-sensitive reasons for customers to make purchases. Companies attach deadlines to their promo codes and sales for good reason; it gives the customer a reason to buy now instead of later. Don’t think of these promotions as sleazy. They’re actually quite common and a completely moral sales tactic.

3. The Tech Is Fine, But The Site Itself Is Hideous

Sure, any e-retailer needs to have a glitch-free storefront that runs smoothly and processes data and promo codes without error. But don’t think that design doesn’t matter. Customers like to be welcomed by a web design and graphics that are pleasing to the eyes. Good visuals can compel customers who are on the fence to finally make that purchase.

4. Zero Social Media Presence

As social media becomes more and more of an integral part of how our society communicates, retailers can’t afford not to have a strong social media presence. It’s common for consumers to look at a brand’s Twitter or Instagram before deciding to make a purchase. If your site doesn’t have any sort of social media presence, customers may actually find that to be odd and somewhat suspicious. Social media isn’t just good from a marketing perspective. Rather, it’s a good way to cement your brand as trustworthy and give a legitimacy to your brand’s entire presence online.

5. Contacting Customer Service Is A Nightmare

No one wants to receive a barrage of petty customer complaints or unnecessary questions. For this reason, many sites tend to bury their customer service contact form or information, theorizing that only customers with legitimate questions will take the time to seek out the contact info. While this idea is okay in theory, it can kill potential sales. When customers have a question that they need to ask before they feel confident making a purchase, they want to be able to contact customer service quickly and simply. This is why a customer service contact should always be plainly visible on your site.

If you stay on top of these five potential mishaps, you can create a site that is user-friendly and conducive to consistent sales.

Guest Blogger: Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who has worked in eCommerce for the last five years. She currently writes for Rakuten Super Logistics and recommends them for all your fulfillment


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Ecommerce Traffic Woes – Infographic full of Techniques

Redirecting the traffic on your site is hard, especially when competition is consistently on the rise. Retaining traffic is even more challenging. Success comes only if you are thorough with your marketing strategies.

Having a well-designed site with great loading speed is awesome, but optimizations are also needed, as they push the site further up the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ladder. Refining and updating your content as well as tuning the SEO parameters, gradually paves the way for more visibility.

Presenting yourself on social media is something you can’t afford to ignore if you want to target a wide segment of audience. Guest blogging on other sites, building links with the influencers, sending personalized emails to your customers etc. are some of the tested techniques that could be adopted for retaining a long term relationship and trust.

Non-internet users too can be targeted through offline promotions. Distributing merchandise with your brand logo or announcing online offers with print media can help in drive traffic to your website.

Simply put, It’s all about how effectively can you create a brand awareness for your site. The more people find you, the more traffic you generate.

The following infographic focuses on tips to ease you out of your ecommerce traffic woes –

E commerce infographic

Divya Dube pictureGuest Blogger: Divya Dube is an e-commerce subject writer at mofluid.com. She loves to do research and is an avid reader of technology, psychology, and fiction. She is also a gadget freak, a traveler, loves chocolates & music and has an immense passion for writing.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mofluid

Twitter – https://twitter.com/mofluid


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Mobile Road Map to Success by J.R. Atkins

J.R. Atkins Mobile Road Map to SuccessHow do you get a mobile app for your big idea or business? The solutions to this question is addressed in Mobile Road Map to Success by J.R. Atkins, MBA. “When I first developed this material I was working closely with entrepreneurs developing mobile apps and companies seeking to add mobile apps to their business lines. As I reflect on this content, a few years later, it’s still sound thinking and applicable today.”

One example of continued relevance is the dominance of iOS and Android operating systems over Blackberry, Microsoft, and Symbian.  Microsoft still is active on their platform but it just never took off with independent developers who dominate the mobile app development field.

Another example of relevant content is the mobile app development process represented by the flow chart below. I still run across people who say they have an idea for a mobile app but have not taken step one, which is creating a written description.

stepps to building a mobile app

A third example of continued relevance is the basic cost associated with mobile app development. I would have guessed that this would have changed but, since they are general categories, the price points still hold true.

How much money to build a mobile app

New log for SDC llcEven though time has passed and application development has improved, these are still reasonable guidelines to use in early planning. For more details and the rest of the story on Mobile Road Map to Success, check out the book on Amazon.

I look forward to seeing your comments and questions.


J.R. Atkins has been speaking, teaching and consulting on Social Media since 2008. He has a BA in Marketing from Texas A&M University, an MBA from The University of Phoenix, Dallas Campus and is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He has published 3 books: Success Simplified, Social Media 2.0 and Mobile Road Map to Success. His company, Something Different Companies, works with churches, individuals and companies to implement effective online communication strategies.


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6 Best Practices for Promoting Events

A well planned, well communicated and well attended event can help an organization thrive and a business grow. Yet, I receive event notifications on a regular basis that are missing information, poorly timed, and offer too many reminders. Why is it so hard to get it right? Let’s take a look at a few best practices for promoting an event.

1._Create an event fact sheet. This should include all of the relevant facts such as date, time and location, as well as who should attend, where to J.R. Atkins talks about event communicationpark and who to call or email with questions. This list can be used to develop a press release and other forms of marketing communications as well as sharing with people and sponsors you are recruiting.

2. Develop a marketing communication plan at least 90 days out from the event. Your event may require more or less time depending on the J.R. Atkins on event planningevent, but 90 days is a rule of thumb as it allows time for event publication by relevant resources and printed materials. For best results, once you have confirmed the venue, develop your marketing communication plan. It is easier to deal with plenty of time than not enough time.

3. Send out a “save the date notice” in plenty of time. The bigger the event, the more notice people will need. For a major fund raiser or “annual J.R. Atkins says send out save the date noticesevent” publish the date on your website 12-14 months in advance and send out save the date notices several months in advance. As an example, an annual charity event may announce the date 12 months out but not release the theme, entertainment and other details until just the right moment to generate excitement.

4. Use “reasonable” frequency. One organization I belong to sent me 5 or more emails about the same event during the 30 days leading up J.R. Atkins warns of too many emailto it and they were the same email. Yuck! First, once a week is sometimes too often and second, the message needs to be different in every email. I wonder why I do not receive an invitation on Facebook or other mediums? Over communication often leads people to tune out and unsubscribe. By using multiple communication channels you can stay in front of people without driving them crazy. Use your website, email, social media, print and mail for really big events.

5. A picture is worth 1000 words. Make sure to use images that tell the story of the written content. This will create the best a picture is worth 1000 wordsimpact. For an even better impact, use a short video, less than 60 seconds, to promote the event. People will share your pictures and videos if they are done well and are relevant. PDF formats are often used to share event information, but remember they are an image and the details in the image are not searchable and someone cannot cut and paste the details into their calendar.

6. Use a professional online registration tool. It is common practice to offer registrations on your website or through an event registration tool. J.R. Atkins recommends eventbriteThese tools will increase your revenue and help manage the details. If your members like a hands on approach, you can still take their information over the phone or in person then enter it into the online tool. I have used cvent and Eventbrite, or check out the list by Capterra.

I could list more but I think these are the big ones I see being missed by well-meaning organizations. I welcome your comments, suggestions and success stores.

Good luck with your next event.


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Social Media Webinar @Rio Texas Conference of UMC

The Rio Texas Conference has hosted several webinars since February 2016. On April 30, 2016, Rev. Will Rice hosted a social media webinar with J.R. Atkins, author of Social Media 2.0.

 


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4 Trends to Capitalize on in 2016

To help your business grow in 2016, consider these trends and how well you execute in each area. I’d love to help you.

  1. social-media-buy-buttons-300x270Social Selling aka “The Buy Button” – In case you have not seen a “click to buy now” option on Pinterest or Twitter, get ready for them to appear on every social media platform. It just makes sense when you think about it; you see a picture of something you like, one click and you are able to buy it.

http://time.com/4075560/buy-button-facebook-youtube-pinterest/

  1. your design mattersDesign Still Matters – The look and feel, the ease of use, ease of navigation, online and in person, it’s all about the experience. The phrase “Customer Service” is so dated; it’s all about the “User Experience.” Millennial shopping habits are shaping the buying experience for all.

https://designschool.canva.com/blog/design-at-work/

  1. brand trustBuilding Trust – To build trust you must stand by your products and services, as well as communicate clearly and honestly about your brand. Your effectiveness in building trust is directly related to your online reviews and how you share and answer messages on social media.

https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/01/why-trust-matters-in-business/

  1. global and localBe Local and Global – Once you have a good online presence with your website and social media, you are ready to expand beyond your local market. With good online communication, competitive pricing and global shipping, you can do business anywhere you desire. You are only limited by your decisions.

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8211-expand-business-internationally.html

Update from Something Different Companies – 2015 has been a good year, expanding our business in London, ENG, Atlanta, GA, Fort Collins, CO, Cheyenne, WO, Dallas, TX, Killeen, TX, Copperas Cove, TX and Belton, TX. 2016 brings hopes of growing business in Mexico, Israel and Palestine. Cheers!


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MOZ 2015 Search Engine Ranking Factors

Every two years, Moz surveys the opinions of dozens of the world’s brightest search marketers and runs correlation studies to better understand the workings of search engine algorithms. We gather this data to gain insight into the factors that may help—or hurt—a website’s visibility in search engines.

This year, Moz surveyed over 150 leading search marketers who provided expert opinions on over 90 ranking factors.

In addition, the Data Science team at Moz, lead by Dr. Matthew Peters, ran an extensive correlation study to determine which features of websites and webpages are associated with higher search rankings. For the first time this year, Moz partnered with several data partners to enhance the study, including SimilarWeb, DomainTools, and Ahrefs.

Note that these factors are not “proof” of what search engines use to rank websites, but simply show the characteristics of web pages that tend to rank higher. Combining this understanding with both experience and knowledge of search engine algorithms can help lead to better SEO practices.

Please see the entire article, data and related information at: https://moz.com/search-ranking-factors

J.R. Atkins shares MOZ 2015 search faCTORS

 


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Books I recommend by J.R. Atkins, MBA

Every time I do a workshop or presentation I end with a list resources including a list of books. At one of my recent talks, someone asked what other books I would recommend for business owners. I have a long list on my website but here is the short list by category.

Social Mediasocialnomics

  1. Socialnomics, by Erik Qualman

“How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business “

  1. Social Media 2.0 by J.R. Atkins

“A cliff notes version of the Big 5 of Social Media “LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and Video”

  1. Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah

“A guide to increasing online visibility and engagement”

Starting a BusinessJ.R. Atkins recommends a lean start up

  1. Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki

“Explains your role as an employee, business owner, self-employed and investor”

  1. eMyth by Michael Gerber

“E is for Entrepreneur. Learn how to work on your business, not just in your business”

  1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

“Before you start your business, know what is important and what is fluff”

Building your BusinessJ.R. Atkins Recommends Blue Ocean Strategy

  1. Crush It by Gary Vanerchuk

“Shows you how to use the power of the Internet and social media to grow your businesses”

  1. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne

“How to create uncontested market space and make competition irrelevant”

  1. Failing Forward by John C Maxwell

“Taught me how to convert past failures into future success”

Personal DevelopmentJ.R. Atkins recommends Elon Musk book

  1. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

“The power of thinking without thinking”

  1. Strength Finder by Tom Wrath

“Discover your strengths, use them and surround yourself with others to cover the gaps”

  1. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

“An inside look at a visionary, entrepreneur and billionaire”

I’d love to hear what your favorite books are and why. Drop me a line sometime at

jratkins@SomethingDifferentCompanies.com

J.R. Atkins has been working with individuals, executives and small businesses since 1993 and on Social Media since 2008. He has a BA in Marketing from Texas A&M University and an MBA from The University of Phoenix, Dallas Campus. J.R. serves as an adjunct professor at Temple College and CTC. He has published 3 books Success Simplified, Social Media 2.0 and Road Map to Success.


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Atlanta Location Added for Something Different Companies

J.R. Atkins has presented to the USMC Advertising groupIn March 2015, J.R. Atkins of Something different Companies opened an additional office location in the Hapeville area of Atlanta. Expanding to meet client needs drives the expansion of Something Different Companies which provides consulting in the areas of marketing and communication. J.R.’s specialties reside in the areas of social media, websites and mobile apps backed by a strong background in sales and marketing.

The new Atlanta location for Something Different Companies is located at 1031 Virginia Ave, Atlanta, GA 30354

J.R. Atkins speaks at University of Phoenix Dallas CampusOver the last 6 years, many clients have been small to medium sized business of 1 to 100 employee range although the company has worked with a few major clients such as The United States Marine Corps and The University of Phoenix.

As an author and speaker, J.R. Atkins speaks approximately 50 times each year at conferences, association meetings, Chambers of Commerce and private companies. J.R. also teaches social media and marketing at Universities and has published three books Success Simplified, Social Media 2.0 and Roadmap to Social Media 2.0, Author J.R. Atkins, social media ROISuccess.

Reach out via email, social media, snail mail, at a meetup, by phone or video conference. Coffee, lunch and cocktails are always good too.

To book J.R. Atkins as a speaker call 214-7070-1705 or send an email to jratkins@SomehtingDifferentCompanies.com


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