5 Ways to Manage Your Brand’s Online Reputation

sentiment.jpgDid you know that more than 80% of individuals conduct some type of research prior to purchasing a product or service? People want to read honest reviews, learn more about the brand, and rationalize their potential purchase. Because of this, businesses and companies alike are trying to ramp up their online presence to appear at the top of search results. So, how do you ensure that the results viewers see are positive? Use these following tips:

  1. Start blogging! A company blog is a great way to create positive results in search engines and drive more traffic to your website or social media accounts. Additionally, blogs can help grow your brand following and eventually increase loyalty among consumers. For a list of blog ideas, click here.
  2. Keep your website & social media up to date. If potential customers are seeking information about your brand, it’s important that they are receiving the most accurate information possible. Personally speaking, I am often deterred from making a purchase if I cannot find relevant information, reviews, or if the website has a dated feeling to it. Try adding a biography to your social media accounts and website to increase your legitimacy. Insert blurbs about your employees on your website to give viewers fuller insight of your brand’s vision and culture.
  3. Integrate your employees’ personal brands with your company’s brand. Prospective customers and future job candidates will feel like they know your team on a personal level if you allow your own employees to let their own personalities shine on a regular basis. Have your employees comment, like and share your brand’s content and  let them interact with the public from professional profiles, such as LinkedIn.
  4. Monitor reviews. Traditionally, whenever an individual encounters good or bad service, their first instinct is to tell others. With the internet basically at everyone’s fingertips, it’s even easier to create a review in seconds. Search for reviews everywhere: popular review websites, social media, your company’s website,  etcetera. Reply to negative reviews online and make things right; this will show others that you genuinely care about your customers and their comments. Encourage feedback in any way you can: set up a sign in your space displaying links to your social media accounts, create contests asking for reviews, or offer a discount on a future sale for an honest review.
  5. Share (almost) everything! If you’re featured in your local newspaper, post it to all of your social media accounts and your website! If you receive a great compliment or testimonial, share, share, share! If you and your team are attending an event, build the hype and continue with the same energy at the actual event. Post pictures, use event-specific hashtags, Tweet others, and get your brand noticed.

One last piece of advice: be sure to always, always, always stay positive when representing your brand—on and offline.


Building a Sense of Urgency


I am one of those people that responds to EVERYTHING with a complete sense of urgency. Whether it is responding to a customer’s concern, a request for help, an email, a text message, or a phone call, I treat every request brought my way as a priority; I want to ensure those around me understand that I take their request seriously and value their response in return.

Problem is, I have grown to have the same expectation from others when I have a request. I have learned to adjust my expectations as not everyone responds with the same level of urgency.

I believe a strong sense of urgency allows me to attack my goals with purpose and get things done with thought and in an efficient matter. I also believe that sense of urgency is created from within. Below I share what I believe are the necessary ingredients to create a strong sense of urgency including a respect for deadlines, a certain level of discipline, optimism and a proactive approach.

Respect for deadlines. Everyone you encounter has a request that has a deadline, whether that deadline is strict or not. Time is valuable and I believe there is etiquette with respect to response times. If you cannot respond to the inquiry or request in a timely manner it is important to advise the person you are dealing with and provide a timeframe for when they can expect your response.

Discipline is an ultra important trait; it keeps you focused and on task regardless of distractions, frustrations or obstacles. Discipline will keep you on track, progressing towards and accomplishing goals. The focus that comes with a disciplined mind set will help you achieve more in a day. Responding quickly to tasks and completing them with efficiency allows for more daily accomplishments and productivity.

Optimism will help in those moments you need motivation to push through difficulties. When you take a request seriously and tend to it in an urgent manner the receiver is pleased and will develop trust which in turn will lead to an increase in the likelihood of a maintained business relationship.

Proactive approach. When you are proactive you are consistently thinking and acting a few steps ahead to determine tasks that need to be done. Questions you can ask yourself: What now? What else could I do? What’s my next step? Think ahead to projects or events that are upcoming and create your plan of attack.

Thinking on your feet and experiencing a little pressure can stimulate creativity when it comes to problem solving. A little pressure is healthy, however, be sure to set limits so others respect the value of your time and personal space.

I encourage everyone to try it; take a proactive and disciplined approach when it comes to your daily tasks and I am sure you will see an increase in your productivity.


37 Things I’ve Learned in 37 Years


It’s true, I’ll soon be turning 38. I never hesitate to take ownership of my age and I’ve never felt that ‘eesh’ type of feeling when someone’s asked me. I remember a specific moment on the day I turned 33. I sat at my table and wrote out a list. It was the first time I embarked on the exercise of listing the amount of life lessons equivalent to the amount of years gone by. So many amazing things happened to me when I was 33 that I am convinced that putting pen to paper (or keyboard to ‘notes’ in this case) was a great way to reflect on the years gone by and the year ahead. Some of what follows is based on experience and some is based on lessons from the numerous mentors I am privileged to have in my life (both personal and professional). Without further delay, I give you this year’s list of the 37 things I’ve learned in 37 years:

1. Under promise – Over deliver; every time in every facet of your life.
2. Don’t fear the ‘no’. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no!
3. Surround yourself with people you admire.
4. Reading is seriously underrated! Do it!
5. Travel…without fear and without hesitation.
6. Ditch all negativity, be they things, events or people.
7. Love yourself unconditionally.
8. Don’t be afraid to sing out loud! Music is good for the soul.
9. If you have a passion for something, pursue it.
10. Learn to listen. People like to talk and they’ll love you for listening.
11. Walk into every room and every meeting with purpose.
12. You will never know everything there is to know. Be willing to learn from others.
13. Never be afraid to be the bigger person. Let go of anger and let go of your ego.
14. Sometimes, you won’t win in life and that is 100% ok.
15. Establish goals every single year for yourself and shatter them.
16. You’re not always right, no matter how much you think you are always right.
17. When you’re on the phone, smile, people can feel it.
18. Dream big. If you’re unafraid, you’re stifling your potential.
19. You are always growing. Stretch out of that comfort zone.
20. Keep up with the times.
21. Never say no to an experience that is sure to elevate you.
22. Say yes to challenges, you can learn to do anything you set your mind to.
23. Fill your plate with things you love.
24. Live your life the way you hope your children will.
25. You can’t be the expert at everything. Ask for advice when you need it, it’s so much simpler.
26. Laugh often and laugh hard!
27. If you don’t have one, write out a bucket list!
28. Indulge a little.
29. If you’re stressed out about something, talk it out with yourself before having a conversation with anyone else!
30. If you’re impulse is to argue about something, ask yourself; “Will this matter tomorrow?”.
31. Wake up ready to take over the world, every day.
32. Subscribe and watch Ted Talks! It’s inspiration on demand!
33. If something is gnawing at you, clear the air… who needs to waste energy on that kind of stuff?
34. People can still surprise you. Provided that person’s well being matters to you, never give up on them.
35. Understand that failure is a lesson and not the end of the world.
36. Be curious.
37.Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines. Stay creative.

My call to action? I dare you to sit down and write out a list of lessons. Even bolder? Share it!


2 Ways to Avoid Product Confusion


What’s the biggest misconception people have about our product? The answer is pretty simple. The minute I get anyone to set their eyes on StaffStat, the first thing I say is: This is not scheduling software. It’s shift filling software. Whether we’re providing demos at a conference, meeting with a potential corporate client or giving a presentation remotely, it clears the air. When we cold call, prospects tend to tell us that they already have scheduling software, to which we respond with the bolded line up above. My goal with this post is to get other entrepreneurs thinking about what the biggest misconception about their product is and how to remedy it.

First, your marketing really needs to amplify what you do and not confuse your customers. What service/solution/product are you providing and what problem will it solve on their end? That’s the bulk of your marketing. Keep it simple, keep it clean. It doesn’t need to be wordy and it doesn’t need to be fancy. We used to use “Staffing Revolutionized” as our tagline. This led to much of the initial confusion with our product. Our new tagline: “Filling Shifts in Seconds” hits our target demographic in a way that they understand immediately the pain point we’re trying to abolish.

Right now, in health care and across many sectors, when someone calls in sick, schedulers are tasked with calling down a list manually. Throw that scenario in a unionized environment and the problem only grows. We spoke to an organization today that admitted that it could take up to a few hours to fill ONE shift. So, what are WE doing about that? We’re helping customers fill shifts in SECONDS. Our system blasts it to every single available staff, generates a pool of willing respondents and allows the scheduler to assign according to their rules.  Once we realized that this is what the customers needed to know immediately, we polluted our social media, website and this blog with that very message: “Filling Shifts in Seconds”. That’s what we do and when considering what you do, break it down and help to lift the veil of confusion felt by your prospects.

Second, get the misconception out of the way, right away. Like I said earlier, my first line clarifies what we are not and what we are. Whether it’s an email, a call or live in person, it’s ALWAYS my first line. I usually get a “oh, ok…” and an interested listener rather than a million questions about what our product can and can’t do. Find out the biggest misconception about your product and answer to that immediately. Don’t let a demo drag on as the person you’re presenting to is left wondering and not really paying attention.

As a rule of thumb, I write down any questions I get while presenting our product. If some of those questions become repetitive, I make a mental note to answer those questions before I even begin in a way that leaves our future prospects’ minds free to really hear what I’m saying.

We continue to work toward clarifying the biggest misconception surrounding our software and service. The key, at least according to this gal, is KNOWING what that is and fixing the problem in the very first sentence I utter once we get the ‘show’ under way!


A Twitter Guide for Beginners


Are you someone who joined Twitter ages ago, and all you have is an abandoned account to show for your efforts? Or have you recently joined and have no clue where to begin? Don’t feel bad! Twitter is an extremely simple interactive tool to use once you get the hang of it! Using this popular social media app is easier than you think…just follow my guide to get started:

  1. Creating your Twitter handle. Every username starts with an @. For example @StaffStatSuds is StaffStat’s username. Be sure to choose one that is easy to remember and easy to read. Also, pick something that is creative, and if you have multiple social media platforms, try to be consistent with your usernames. If your Facebook username is BlogsRUs, check to see if the same username is available on Twitter.
  2. Pay attention to the details. Fill out your profile and keep it concise. Add information that is relevant. Add a website URL (link) if you have one. And remember, don’t remain an egg; add a picture to your profile ASAP!  Twitter accounts with profile pictures have 10 x as many followers than those that don’t.
  3. Start following! Use the search bar to find accounts that interest you. If you know the specific handle of a user, simply type “@” followed by the username. You can also search for brands, organizations, people, etc., simply by typing their name; typing “StaffStat” will return a variety of results—StaffStat’s Twitter account, Tweets, mentions, photos, videos, and more. Be sure to follow accounts that align with your company’s vision as it can be a direct reflection of your brand and image.
  4. Get organized. When you log in to Twitter, the page you land on is your home stream. Any Tweets from accounts you follow will populate and automatically refresh in real-time. This feed can easily become flooded with Tweets which can cause you to miss activity from specific accounts you’d like to see on a more frequent basis. The solution? Create a Twitter list. From the desktop site, simply click on your profile photo in the upper right hand corner of the screen and select “Lists”. The page will then show you any lists that you have subscribed to (when viewing others’ accounts you can check out their lists and subscribe to any that interest you) and lists that you are a member of (those that others have added you to). You also have the option of creating your own list, naming it, and adding accounts you exclusively would like to group together. For example, you can use keywords such as “entrepreneurship” or “quotes” and group similar accounts under their respective lists. To view lists, go to your personal Twitter timeline and select “lists” from the bar that portrays all your other Twitter-related stats, such as Tweets, Following, Followers etc.
  5. Understand what “@” means. As mentioned, the @ symbol is always displayed next to each and every username, but it is also how you will communicate on Twitter. If you compose a Tweet and begin it with someone’s @username, not everyone will see the Tweet. For example, “@StaffStatSuds I love filling shifts in seconds!” will be seen only by users who follow you and the user you are mentioning. Adding the username anywhere else in the Tweet is called a mention and the Tweet is visible and public to all. For example, “Wow! I love using @StaffStatSuds to fill shifts in seconds!” will ensure the account mentioned and all others will see your Tweet.
  6. #HashtagSparingly. Placing a # before a string of text will turn it into a clickable keyword, allowing users to view other activity surrounding that specific keyword.  For example “#Marketing” populates a variety of results, from top news, live Tweets, accounts, photos, etcetera. Don’t use an abundance of hashtags in a single Tweet; try to use one or two at most, and only hashtag keywords people are likely to search for. “#TwitterTips for beginners!” is more specific than “#Twitter #Tips #For #Beginners”.

There you have it…a few starters to help get you on the path to becoming a #TwitterExpert. Want to learn more? Consider reading my other posts about Twitter found here:

Good luck!


So, What is Your Greatest Weakness?

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Even though this is one of the most common interview questions, doesn’t it seem like it’s the one that people struggle with answering the most? So many people tend to think of a weakness as a hindrance or a disadvantage, even though they aren’t.  Not everyone is going to be great at everything – everyone has a weakness – and your interviewer knows that. So why is it that this question is so difficult for some people to answer? What are some things to consider when being asked this question?

The number one reason that interviewers ask this question is to truly get to know the interviewee. The rest of the questions that they ask (usually regarding strengths and experience) cover “the good”, but they do not cover “the bad and the ugly”. They are not looking for a reason to deny you employment; they are simply trying to weigh the pros and cons of all of their options. They want to get to know the true you!

There are two things that I would encourage candidates to consider when preparing for their interview to guarantee a positive outcome when it comes time to discussing weaknesses:

  • Be prepared. Although I can’t guarantee it, I’m 99.9% positive that this question is on every interview questionnaire that interviewees will come across, regardless of the organization. Take some time prior to the interview to prepare answers for the typical questions, this question included. I’ve spoken to people who are scheduled to go in for interviews and they laugh when I ask if they researched the typical questions asked for someone going into that sort of a position. Think of interviews as tests. You normally study for tests, right? The interviewer is testing your ability to answer the questions that they are asking in a way that makes sense and relates to what they are looking for in their future hire. Why wouldn’t you study for this test? Take some time to come up with the best possible answers for questions such as this one to guarantee a better outcome!
  • Be honest. When most people answer questions like this during an interview, they think of the typical ‘turning a negative into a positive’. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book and interviewers can see right through it. Instead, why not simply tell the truth? If you struggle with something like public speaking or speaking in front of a group, be honest about it. Quite often, organizations have a professional development fund allotted to employees to take advantage of. Some enroll in college or university courses, some opt for weekly group meetings, such as Toastmasters, which assist you in improving your public speaking skills. Most weaknesses are improvable, so don’t be afraid to be honest!


Proud Mommy Moment!

“If you don’t ask the answer will always be no.” 

How many times have you heard this statement? If you haven’t then I am happy you are reading my blog post today. I had heard this statement quite some time ago, however, it’s just over the past few years that I have come to learn how true it really is.

I have found that when you do push yourself outside of your comfort zone and ask questions you normally wouldn’t, magic happens!

Today, I have to share a story that made me so proud. Recently, my youngest daughter had a question about her bus route. Her current bus transports children to two schools, her school and another school in very close proximity. Every morning, the bus passed right in front of her school and dropped off students at the other school then back tracked to drop off herself and other students at her school.

Her concern was valid: “Why pass my school, drop off at the other school and then go back to drop me off and then I am late?!” She is fortunate enough to dance with girls who know people (their mom) who can make changes within the bus routes. She told her dance friends about her bus route problem hoping the message would get to their mom who had the authority to make changes. She crossed her fingers and was wishful every day as her bus continued to pass her school. She was patient and persistent and kept asking. Soon enough her efforts paid off! Our fellow dance mom who is also in control of bus routes looked into the concern, noticed the inefficiency and moved our daughter’s request forward! Soon enough, Ava’s request was pushed through and the day her bus dropped her off first felt like magic to her.

She did not realize how BIG this moment was; she was simply excited to get dropped off first and not be late for school! We thanked our fellow dance mom profusely as this was a huge win and important learning opportunity for our daughter. Two messages that will serve her well in life were learned from this experience. Firstly, if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no and secondly, persistence, kindness and patience certainly pays off!

I was so proud of her and have been continuously praising her efforts and opening her eyes to the bigger picture and the change she made, not only for herself but for her fellow students and the driver who now saves a little time on his route. Her older sister now says: “Ava should be Mayor one day!”

I have experienced this “magic” myself, in situations I may not have pushed for in earlier years of my life. Now that I have learned the value in asking a question, raising my hand when I have a concern, bringing forth a discrepancy or inefficiency I utilize every opportunity I can to practice this right. In earlier years I may have sat back and not said anything in fear of being told no or feeling inferior; however, a few years ago I promised myself that my opinion is valuable, my input is valuable and my question can potentially bring forth some magic! The worst thing that someone can say to me is no; and if I didn’t ask the answer would have been no anyways!
I am beyond proud to witness these moments in my daughters’ lives and will continue to encourage them to push for change and bring forth their valid concerns. The moral of my story is to always ask, always push for what you believe in and set an example for those little people who are likely watching every move you make.