How much do you love your work? This simple question can tell you.

Would you?

Would you clean the toilet if a big client or VIP was coming and the bathroom needed cleaning?

Imagine an important person–a client, a potential hire, an investor, someone you wanted to impress — is coming to the office.  You discover the bathroom needs cleaning, and there’s no time to call someone else to clean it.

When you feel that sense of ownership, when something has to be done and no one else will do it, you do it.

When there’s no alternative, would you tackle the toilet and clean the bathroom?

What it takes to succeed

Why?

Because paying attention to details and having passion for the entire mission is what it takes to succeed.

Because when the meaning of your work is your vision, everything you do is a part of realizing that vision. If that means running across town at 2am because that’s the only place still open to drop off a proposal or make the copies you need, you do it.

The important part is the sense of ownership and vision.

Meaning and purpose

Does the work’s meaning and purpose come from inside or does the work require big external incentives?

What you’ll clean the bathroom for means a project and result you care about, even love. What you have to be paid a lot of money for or you won’t do it… how much can you love it?

Would you clean the bathroom for your work?

If not, and not that you’d enjoy it, but do you wish you loved your work so much that you would?

Leadership and instilling ownership

If you lead a team, can you give your teammates such a sense of ownership that they’d do what it took to get the job done?

If you weren’t a team leader, do you think if you had the skills to inspire that passion in your teammates that you’d become a leader?

 

With thanks to INC magazine, written by Joshua Spodek, author of ‘Leadership Step by Step’.

Want To Get Your Company On Those Big Blue Highway Exit Signs?

Have you wondered how businesses get their logo on those big blue signs on the highway that tell drivers what’s at the next exit?

As a marketer, leave no stone unturned to get customers to your location or that of your client.  Far better to get one highway sign than to get hits on social media – this sign brings results 24/7/365.

Drive down any major interstate in the U.S., and you’ll see big blue signs decorated with business logos near most exits. Here’s who decides which businesses make it on the signs, and how much it all costs.

Called interstate logo signs or specific service signs, these ubiquitous big blue billboards are godsends to weary travelers searching for gas, food, or lodging close to the highway. Unsurprisingly, the signs aren’t solely there to help out motorists, as they also provide monetary benefit to businesses and, crucially, to the state.

Roadside advertising programs are administered by individual states, though specific service signs like the one in the picture above tend to be farmed out to contractors. One of the biggest of these contractors is a company called Interstate Logos, which works with transportation agencies in 23 states to not only install the huge blue panels, but also to work with businesses to run the programs.

This information comes from David Tracy and Jalopnik.com, with our thanks.

If you own a business that falls into one of these groups—attraction, pharmacy, camping, lodging, food and gas—and your business is located near a controlled-access state highway, then you’re eligible to get your company on the big blue sign.

But not everyone is eligible to display their firm’s logo; that’s because the state’s requirements are rather strict, specifying things like distance from the highway, operating hours, required amenities, and number of parking spots available.

For example, as shown in the image above, Michigan requires that any gas station on a specific service sign be within six miles of the highway, and be open at least 16 hours a day, seven days a week and 360 days a year. In addition, the gas station must offer water, gas, and oil for various types of vehicles, as well as public restrooms and a public telephone.

Requirements for food facilities are similarly specific, stating that facilities must operate continuously for 12 hours a day and six days per week. In addition, restaurants on the service signs must be within six miles of the highway, and offer 24 seats for patrons, a public bathroom, and a public telephone.

Other states are even stricter; Colorado specifies that restaurants must offer drinking water and be open continuously between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., and Kentucky limits restaurant and gas businesses to within three miles of a rural interchange or within only one mile of an urban interchange.

But even if your business meets all the requirements, and you’ve submitted your online application, there may be competition from other nearby businesses. As for which of those businesses get to be on the signs, that depends on the state’s policy. Colorado rotates the businesses at the end of each contract year, but other states like Michigan give preference to businesses nearer the highway, while still others like Washington use a first come-first serve (with waiting list) approach.

 Types Of Signs

Signs generally come in three different types: mainline, ramp and trailblazer. Mainline signs are the huge ones that motorists see on the main highway just before exits, ramp signs are found on either side of an exit ramp and usually feature an arrow and a distance to the destination, and trailblazer signs are found along the route when driving to a business from the exit ramp isn’t straightforward.

 The six main types of businesses found on logo signs—local attractions, pharmacies, camping, lodging, food, and gas—are often placed along the highway in that order (in other words, you’ll see the big blue “attractions” sign first and “gas” last), and are usually within one mile of the exit. They tend to feature a maximum of six logos.Cost

The cost of getting on a specific service sign varies by state, but in general, it spans between about $500 and a couple grand per year. For some states, the annual fee depends solely upon which kind of sign a business is renting, though other states base the annual fee on how much traffic that particular road sees (a sign along a more crowded road costs more).

Washington’s fees, for example, vary based on traffic and location. The example table on the Washington Department of Transportation site—shown above—displays annual costs between $360 and $910 for two signs (one in each direction).

Michigan charges a flat fee of $850 per mainline sign (this comes with a ramp sign as well), so advertising on both sides of the road—one sign for each direction—means businesses have to pay $1,700 each year to advertise on the highway.

Florida does things a bit differently, setting rates based on things like “population, traffic volume, market demand, and costs for annual permit fees.” In Florida, the maximum annual fee for a “sign location” in an urban area is $3,500, while $2,000 will get a business a sign in a rural area.

 Texas breaks up the cost of Mainline signs and small ramp signs, but also uses daily traffic count to determine cost. Mainline signs cost between $900 and $3,250 per year, and smaller ramp signs cost between $150 and $750 per year. Colorado’s fees are $750 per direction for a mainline, a ramp sign and a trailblazer.

These are just a few examples, but on average, it looks looks like if you want your business on a big blue highway sign, expect to shell out about a grand per direction.

There are, of course, other costs involved. Though individual states (or whoever the states have contracted to run the logos program) tend to provide the big blue back panels, businesses are tasked with designing the logo signs to meet the required specifications. This isn’t always cheap; Washington’s Department of Transportation gives some ballpark figures:

 Signs that are 24 inches by 12 inches cost between $84 and $530
  • Signs that are 36 inches by 12 inches cost between $160 and $530
  • Signs that are 60 inches by 36 inches cost between $330 and $530

Typical mainline logo signs are about 48 inches by 36 inches, so based on WSDOT’s ballpark figures, it’s probably safe to figure about $300 to $500 per sign.

Add the annual fee to the cost of making the sign, and any removal/change fees (usually around $100), or fees for additional trailblazer signs (typically about $50), and businesses in some areas could end up spending close to ten grand per year for the advertising for a pair of signs (though most businesses will likely end up spending just a couple of grand). If traffic is heavy enough, and the business is well-recognized among motorists, this could be worth it.

 The sites says that in 2010, Kentucky Logos—contracted by the Kentucky DOT—paid the state $618,904.91. That’s great for the state, but according to the report, of the businesses on the 1,568 signs in the state, only 1 to 2 percent leave annually. So it seems the businesses are happy, too.

 

5 Top Tips for Email Marketing – It’s All About Timing

Top 5 tips for getting your email timing just right:

#1 –  Trying to reach business owners?  best time to email is Saturday

#2 – Your audience is larger, including employees?  try Thursdays

#3 – Average consumers?  Fridays are the best

#4 – What about timing?  try midnight (your email will be first opened at the start of the day) or 10 am (after the morning rush is over) to get the highest open and click rates

#5 – You want a response?  Try 6 am or 8 pm

This infographic below is excellent!  Click here to see the entire story in ENTREPRENEUR:  https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294536

Huge List of National Holidays for Marketing and Easy Ways To Use Them

Today is a holiday!  And, it seems as if there are national holidays, a national day or national month for everything. In fact, there are over a thousand national holidays, national weeks and national months. Add bank holidays and major religious holidays, and you have one crowded calendar!

National days of observance have become trendy and popular in part because companies have learned to use them for marketing. Just look at social media. Judging from the hashtags for various food days, people days, pet days, medical condition days, military days or industry days — it seems like every single day is a national holiday or national day of observance on Twitter and Instagram.

If you’ve ever wondered, “what national holiday is today?” — we’ve got you covered. With thanks to Small Biz Trends for providing this information. Here is a link to their article: https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/09/list-of-national-holidays-marketing.html.

How to Use a List of National Holidays for Marketing in a Small Business

Are you in a pet related business, such as dog grooming or pet treats? If so, your customers may be interested in a special spa day you host on National Love Your Pet Day.

Own a coffee shop? Then National Coffee Day could be an awesome opportunity to run a sale on lattes or do a flash Facebook promotion to drive some foot traffic to your cafe.

Or perhaps you do financial planning or business succession planning. In that case you might want to highlight National Employee Ownership Month on your blog to get some attention for your thought leadership in that niche.

Some national observance days are more popular than others, of course. You’ve probably never heard of National Bicarbonate of Soda Day (December 30), and probably never will again. On the other hand, every business owner knows Valentine’s Day — especially florists and candy shop owners.

However, for small businesses, some of the lesser-known national holidays might be your best marketing opportunities. Here’s why.

  • On a smaller national day you’re less likely to have your marketing campaign overshadowed by Big Mega Corp’s humongous marketing budget.
  • Some funny national holidays just make people smile, like National Make Your Bed Day on September 11. The fun factor alone could get you mileage (particularly if you run a furniture or mattress store!).
  • And weird national holidays like National Handbag Day on October 10 grab attention through their sheer … weirdness. Yet a day like that is perfect for marketing in a boutique or fashion eCommerce shop.

Smart Ways to Use National Holidays for Marketing

Here are some idea starters for how to use national holidays for marketing:

Use National Holidays on Social Media and in Content Marketing:

  • Create content for your blog highlighting a national holiday, national week or national month relevant to your business. You can publish the content on the day in question, but if you’re looking for potential search engine traffic, publish a post ahead of time. People may be searching in search engines before the holiday arrives. Then post another when the national holiday starts, linking back to your first one.
  • Share that content on social media, using the relevant hashtag. Others may find it when they search the hashtag on social media.
  • Include an image in your social post. Use a tool like Canva or Picmonkey to superimpose the name of the national holiday, the date and any relevant hashtag on the image, too. People love to share images to visibly show their support of national holidays, so a properly labeled image can increase shares.

Use National Holidays As a Reason to Run Sales and Specials:

  • Put something on sale or offer a special deal in honor of the national day observance.
  • Publicize your sale, by putting signs in your physical location if you have one.
  • Distribute details about the special deal to your email list and social media channels in honor of the day, week or month being commemorated.

Use National Holidays As a Theme for Events:

  • Hold a celebration at your office or physical location in honor of the national holiday.
  • Invite customers to attend along with your team. It gets both groups more engaged with your business.
  • Take pictures celebrating the national day (or national week or national month).
  • Take the celebration online. Load pictures to social channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, using the related hashtag such as #FarmersMarketWeek.
  • Repurpose the pictures along with a bit of background text about the celebration and use in your next customer newsletter. Or use the pictures to create an engagement-building post for your company blog. Put a blurb and picture in your website’s About page, too, about your celebration and support.

The above quick and easy tips for using national holidays in marketing should get you started. Research Chase’s Calendar of Events or nationaldaycalendar.com for more ideas.

But you know you can also make your own!  Be creative, be fun and put your customer first, that works every single day!

 

Bennett’s Best – 10 tips for a NEW Year

Decide that this year – 2018 – you are going to try at least 10 new pathways to grow your business brand… feel free to add another 10 in your personal life!

1. Learn new things, about new subjects – Use alerts and e-newsletters to bring you opinions and topics you might not have tapped before – you can always unsubscribe later.  Pick things that intrigue you or you are seeing in the news or hearing about from friends, then commit to reading something about these new topics at least once a week.

2. Build a personal arsenal – start a personal Excel file of influencers, speakers at conferences you attended, friends, college alumni and professors … anyone you can turn to for advice or connections. The Excel file should have contact information and a notes column to remind you where you met them or why they are on this list.  Think of it as your future success list – sign up for their feeds, get alerts when they are quoted and link up on LinkedIn – you’ll be glad, I promise.

3. Embrace Artificial Intelligence – make it a priority to be the smart one about this subject.  Read something new every day of the work week – start by Googling ‘artificial intelligence’ and pick what interests you and take it from there.

4. Find your days – and use them to your advantage.www.daysoftheyear.com.  Sign up for free weekly email.

5. Tune into your instincts – does your heart, gut or brain say you should do something and you don’t.  My advice?  do it!  use chocolate cake for breakfast example….

6. Turn your thinking upside down – before you start any project ask yourself “what is the desired outcome?”  Write it on your to-do list to keep it the focus.

7. Security needs to be part of your everyday watch too.  It often lands at the feet of the PR and marketing pros to manage the aftermath of a crisis, disaster, public perception problem – and you should be way ahead and ready.  You have seconds to react, offer advice, move your team – so be ready. Tell your leadership, or be the leader and role model.  Be prepared.  The beginning of the year is a perfect time to have a ‘What If’ meeting and get the answers in writing.

New coined terms like ‘culturious’ (cultural immersion that satisfies your curiosity, according to Tauck who is using this term), “Keep it 100” means you are being true to yourself or a set of values, and “the emotional landscape” is full of acronyms and emoji’s – thanks to social media.

A local farmer writes a column about his life as a “foodpreneur” and calls himself a “farmacist”, his company name?  “The Farmacy” – says it all right?   Do you have a product or service that could create a new word?  Smarketing maybe?

8. Put it all together – differently – New coined terms like ‘culturious’ (Cultural immersion that satisfies your curiosity, according to Tauck who is using this term), “Keep it 100” means you are being true to yourself or a set of values, and “the emotional landscape” is full of acronyms and emoji’s – thanks to social media.  A local farmer writes a column about his life as a “foodpreneur” and calls himself a “Farmacists”, his company name?  “The Farmacy” – says it all right?   Do you have a product or service that could create a new word?  Smarketing maybe?

9. Get it in writing. No matter what you do, we’re being asked to sign agreements for more services.  To make sure that all those fees, surcharges, and taxes are disclosed up front, note  language along the lines of, “Neither Group nor its attendees are responsible for any fees or surcharges not enumerated in the contract (or signed off on at check in), or “good into perpituity in all mediums”.  Note language that is not clear and if you make a change initial the change and make copies.

10. See everything as an opportunity.  How many business cards have you given out lately?  Have you grown your LinkedIn, Facebook or other social media connections?  Set a goal to add 50 – 100 new contacts a month to your list, it’s easier than you might think!

Make 2018 the year you go for it, there will never be a better time.  Happy New Year!

Face to Face is #2 and E-mail is #1 – still all about two-way conversations

And the survey says… communication matters, and those two-way conversations whether by phone or via email are still the winners.  You can’t build a relationship, or tell a story, with one-way communications … so focus on the people you are trying to reach on the other end!

Email is holding its own in B2B sales despite minor slippage, according to State Of Inbound 2017, a global survey by HubSpot. Of 6,399 professionals surveyed in 141 countries, 86% prefer email for business communications — a loss of two percentage points from last year.

That drop doesn’t mean much when you consider the gap that follows, however: Face-to-face communication is a distant second, falling from 61% to 60% Phone communication comes in third, holding steady at 56%. And social media has fallen from 42% to 39%.

No wonder HubSpot concluded that “when it comes to communication channels, email is the clear winner.” It added that it had seen “slight decreases in people’s preference to communicate in nearly all channels.” The only one to grow was messenger apps — from 29% to 31%.

At the same time, email was rated the second-most effective channel for sales reps to connect with prospects, falling from 29% to 26%. The telephone, holding steady at 36%, was first. Facebook came in fourth, having risen from 9% to 12%. These results were consistent around the globe.

Communication methods depend on the person’s seniority. The telephone is the most popular way of reaching everyone from VP/director on down, with email second. For example, the phone was cited by 42% of respondents as the preferred way to reach managers, and email by 24%.

But email has parity at the C level — it was selected by 25%, compared to 26% who chose the phone.

The most daunting chore was getting a response from prospects (38%). That was followed by closing deals (35%), identifying good leads (30%) and engaging multiple decision makers at a company (27%). Connecting via phone was listed by 20%.

Of course, these findings are about tactical channel choices. Asked for their wider marketing priorities, 70% mentioned conversion of contacts and leads — nothing else even came close. Second was driving traffic to the Web site (53%), followed by increasing revenue from existing customers, at (43%).

Inbound practices produced the most high-quality leads, and outbound the least.

Overall, 61% of the respondents say their marketing is effective, while 39% say it isn’t. But it depends on the person’s rank. CEOs are most likely to feel that way (69%), and individuals/contributors are less so (55%). And while all regions are upbeat, North America is the most positive, while Asia is the least.

That said, these executives are moving into social media. Their marketing teams “will maintain or increase their presence on YouTube and Facebook video and focus on figuring out how to market on messaging apps such as WhatsApp,” HubSpot writes. “Snapchat is still a mystery for many businesses, and we see a dip in focus as marketers opt to spend their time on larger emerging channels.

Here are two more tidbits:

  • 44% claim that marketing and sales “are generally aligned.”
  • Salespeople are flummoxed when doing manual data entry – 23% say it’s their biggest hassle using their CRM tool.

What are these leaders’ sale priorities for the next 12 months? The answers were closing more deals (71%), improving the efficiency of the sale funnel (44%), social selling (29%), training the sales team (27%) and reducing the length of the sales cycle (26%).

But none of this will be easy. B2B marketers face these challenges:

  • Generating traffic and leads — 63%
  • Proving the ROI of our marketing activities — 40%
  • Securing enough budget — 28%
  • Identifying the right technologies — 26%
  • Managing our Web site — 26%
  • Targeting content for an international audience — 21%
  • Training our team — 19%
  • Hiring top talent — 16%
  • Finding an executive sponsor — 7%

Thanks, HubSpot. Let’s catch up again next year – originally published in Media Post, a commentary written by Ray Schultz, columnist.

Something to think about at Thanksgiving – The Science of Gratitude – More Important Than $$$

3 MINUTE READ – from FAST COMPANY

The Science Of Gratitude And Why It’s Important In Your Workplace

Lack of gratitude is a major factor driving job dissatisfaction, turnover, absenteeism, and often, burnout.

This is the time of year when we focus on giving thanks, with many of us sharing our gratitude with friends and family. But when is the last time you thanked your employees? Coworkers? Or boss? If you haven’t recognized the members of your work team lately, you need to repair the oversight before your holiday leftovers are history.

Gratitude is absolutely vital in the workplace, says UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons, author of The Little Book of Gratitude: Creating a Life of Happiness and Wellbeing by Giving Thanks, and a leading researcher on the subject. “Most of our waking hours are spent on the job, and gratitude, in all its forms, is a basic human requirement,” he says. “So when you put these factors together, it is essential to both give and receive thanks at work.”

Gratitude has been the subject of numerous studies, and the findings could be beneficial to your workplace:

GRATITUDE IMPROVES CORPORATE CULTURE

Lack of gratitude is a major factor driving job dissatisfaction, turnover, absenteeism, and often, burnout, says Emmons. “In many organizations the workplace culture is toxic,” he says. “Symptoms of this are exploitation, complaint, entitlement, gossip, negativity.”

Expressing thanks is a remedy against these symptoms, says Emmons. “Grateful individuals live in a way that leads to the kind of workplace environment that human beings long for,” he says.

Gratitude also reduces aggression, according to a study by the University of Kentucky. Participants who practiced gratitude were more sensitive toward others and less likely to seek revenge or retaliation when given negative feedback.

GRATITUDE STRENGTHENS TEAMS

Gratitude takes people outside of themselves and to a place that is part of a larger, more intricate network of sustaining relationships, says Emmons, relationships that are mutually reciprocal. “In this sense, it, like other social emotions, functions to help regulate relationships, solidifying and strengthening them,” he says.

Gratitude also leads to reciprocity. “It is not only a response to kindnesses received, but it is also a motivator of future benevolent actions on the part of the recipient,” says Emmons. “Serving these functions, gratitude enhances our own well-being in that we are built for relationships,” he points out. “Gratitude is the high-octane fuel that, without which, we’d be in relational ruin.”

IT’S A BETTER MOTIVATOR THAN MONEY

Researchers from the London School of Economics found that financial incentives can backfire when it comes to motivating employees. An analysis of 51 separate experiments found overwhelming evidence that “incentives may reduce an employee’s natural inclination to complete a task and derive pleasure from doing so.”

Appreciation is a much better motivator. A study by Glassdoor found that 80% of employees would be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss, and 70% said they’d feel better about themselves and their efforts if their boss thanked them more regularly.

A study done at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania underscores this point. Researchers divided participants into two groups, and asked them to make fundraising calls to solicit alumni donations. One group followed the traditional method of making calls while another group was given a speech by the director of annual giving, who expressed gratitude for their efforts. The group who received the pep talk made 50% more fundraising calls than those who did not.

HOW TO DO IT

There is no limit to the way in which gratitude is expressed, says Emmons. “We are hungry for genuine expressions of gratitude,” he says. “Everyone wants to feel appreciated, valued, recognized.”

Employee recognition programs are a common way gratitude is demonstrated in workplaces, but little micro-expressions of gratitude are easier and can be delivered more frequently. “Just saying ‘thank you,’ acknowledging a kindness, or engaging in a helpful act are all ways of expressing gratitude,” says Emmons.

Particularly important is sincerity, adds Emmons. “With something like gratitude in the workplace, we know that it works, but we also know you have to keep gratitude authentic,” he says. “If, for instance, a leader tries to offer gratitude for purely cynical or instrumental reasons, it’s unlikely to work.

“Gratitude is the ultimate performance-enhancing substance at work,” says Emmons. “Gratitude heals, energizes, and transforms lives in a myriad of ways consistent with the notion that virtue is both its own reward and produces other rewards.”

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, you are very much appreciated – Laura