Roy's Blog: October 2018

October 29, 2018

9 reasons you should talk about “cut the CRAP”

The world around us is filled with CRAP.

CRAP describes the stuff that gets in the way of getting things done; obstructions — the grunge as Tom Peters
refers to it
— that impedes progress towards a stated goal.

In business, CRAP could be projects and programs that are no longer relevant given the new strategic game plan developed by the organization.
For example, if the new marketing focus were shifted from consumers to businesses, customer communications and social media programs targeted at the consumer segment would fall into the CRAP category and could be scrapped or at least significantly reduced.

In our personal life, CRAP could be the distractions and red herring that cost us progress towards our ultimate career or life goals.
For example, if your career ambition were in business and you were tempted to take an extended vacation just after graduation, the vacation time you intend to take that could be spent on advancing your career could fit the CRAP definition.
Or chasing many potential opportunities rather than focusing on a selected few that were closely aligned with your desired end game is a CRAP activity.

Too much

CRAP is a critical ingredient in the progress equation and it gets relatively little attention as compared to the new stuff that should be done — doing new stuff is more sexy than eliminating old stuff.

CRAP is vital to our growth ambitions and should be talked about for these reasons.

No time

There is insufficient time available to both take on new things and continue to do current things. Everyone has limited bandwidth and a sharp laser-like focus is essential to success.
The problem is that we are comfortable doing yesterday’s tasks and so we want to perpetuate them; the prospect of taking on something new is risky and uncomfortable.

Make room

Old stuff needs to go and make room for new stuff; it’s the only way we can stay fresh and relevant given the changing times we are in. And we don’t have enough resources do do both the old AND the new.
Governments should heed this and stop throwing money at old programs — like the medical system — expecting that improvements will miraculously appear. There comes a time when you need to reinvent the old; blow it up and start with a clean sheet to create something new.

The right choices

People need to make the right choices. Parents constantly hound their kids about making healthy food choices, for example, and avoid stuff that is harmful to them.
Ironically, some of these parents go to their job the next day and continue to hold on to the comfortable ways of the past rather than shedding the “unhealthy”.

Baggage

New people; new skills

Organizations must constantly refresh themselves with people who possess the new skills and competencies necessary to survive and thrive in a new uncertain context. Releasing or retraining people who are busy doing CRAP is a good way to ensure a good flow of new employee skill sets.

No money

Financially, no one can afford to take on new stuff while at the same time perpetuating projects — however comfortable — that might have been necessary yesterday but not today.
There are no money pits with infinite resources available that enable this behaviour and it needs to stop.

Leadership

The whole concept of cutting CRAP is a powerful lesson on leadership.
I would estimate that over 80% of leadership strategy teaching goes to topics such as these: how to develop new customer solutions, how to decide which new market segment represents the best growth potential and which new partner should be acquired to deliver new sales capabilities.
Not much time if any is devoted to the fact that stopping stuff is just as strategic as starting stuff, and leaders need to pay attention to this if their organizations are to be both effective and efficient.

Paying for new things

Cutting CRAP is an efficient way to fund new activities. Stop doing a project that doesn’t contribute to the way forward and cut the funding for it.
Expenses are reduced and are available to reallocate to the incremental activities that must be undertaken.
As president of a data and internet organization, I was constantly asked for dollars that were not budgeted to fund new projects. My answer was always the same: “Stop doing something no longer needed given our new direction, achieve the savings and reallocate them to the new project. There are no added funds for you.”
Over time, these requests dwindled away and CRAP elimination behaviour took their place.

Excess

The environment

CRAP is an environmental issue. Our business and personal landscapes are too cluttered; there is simply too much waste around us and we need to get better at recycling the old for the new.
Let’s extend the conversation from landfills and pipelines to outdated systems in organizations and unproductive noise that clutters our personal lives.

Inertia

Inertia is a killer and CRAP is the genesis. It’s the force that propels us along a certain course and repels interventions that might change it.
CRAP is the embodiment of inertia that must be overcome in order to achieve a different purpose.
Fighting inertia from the past is arguably THE most critical thing to overcome if we are to change.
If CRAP is not dealt with, we will be stuck in a world with no future.

Refresh. Renew. Regenerate.

Cut the CRAP!

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series
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  • Posted 10.29.18 at 04:58 am by Roy Osing
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October 24, 2018

5 easy ways to use Instagram to grow your business — guest post

If you have successfully set up an Instagram account for your business, then you are on the right track. However, setting up the account is the easier part, finding followers and converting them into customers is the hardest part. You must be looking for strategies and methods to grow your business with Instagram.
Worry not, we’ve got you covered with our 5 different ways to grow your ecommerce business with Instagram.

These tips will help you connect with your audience, build relations with influencers, and bring in more sales for your online business.

Create content your customers want

Make sure that you craft a niche for yourself and create content that resonates with your audience. If you have a fitness-related business, then your posts should be a mix of fitness tips, product showcase, motivational quotes, etc.

Instagram

It’s up to you to figure out what your audience likes and what they want to see. If there are any content themes or style that resonates with your audience, then you should cover that aspect. Once you figure out what works and what doesn’t, start posting images, videos, quotes, and promotional content that ties into your business and resonates with your target audience.
A great way to find out what your audience loves is by researching your competition. Check out what your competitors are posting and take that as inspiration for your content.
You can also take inspiration from popular websites and blogs in your industry. Always keep in mind that engagement is the REAL King. You need to populate your account with content that gets real engagement.

Actively engage with influencers in your industry

One of the easiest and fastest ways to go higher in Instagram ranks is to build and maintain relationships with Instagram influencers in your industry. These influencers already have a massive fan-following and getting your brand a mention (shout-out) from one of these influencers can give your Instagram profile and your overall brand image instant credibility.

Bloomingdales

Influencers get approached by popular brands and companies on a very consistent basis because their single post provides a lot of value to these brands. So, most of these influencers offer paid shoutouts while some of them do so organically for free.
You can start off by commenting on their photos, videos, and other posts. You can also tag them in your content, they will receive a notification every time you tag them in our posts. This way they will become familiar with you and your brand and will be more receptive to your offer.
You can also offer them free samples of your products so they can review them and mention them in their posts. This way your products will be in front of a large audience that trusts the particular influencer and value their word.
However, be very selective of who you connect with. Look for influencers that have a high engagement rate and are known to get their followers to take some action.

Use strong call to action on your profile

There are a lot of companies and brands that have started posting on Instagram. Sadly, their content lacks any goal. They never tell their audience where to go or what to do.
For this purpose, you need to always use (Call to Actions) in your content, on your bio, etc. The call to action should be clear and should direct your followers to your store or product page. You have nearly 150 characters to use in your Bio, so make a witty CTA that works best with your audience.
If you are selling physical items, then posting images and videos about your products should be your go-to strategy. However, what adds extra oomph to your content is when you add CTA in your comment section. Mention your item in the comments section, provide a link to the sales page and direct people to the page.

Make your product images shoppable by tagging them

We already talked about using Call to Action in your content and bio. Now, comes the advance CTA usage. Having your product images tagged is a great way to increase your overall sales.
Tagging your products in your Instagram images provides a very clear CTA and makes it very simple for your followers to purchase from you. Instagram has recently allowed business accounts (in select countries) to tag items in their content, similar to how you tag people.

Instagram1

The setup is quite simple. You can quickly transform your Instagram profile into a sales channel with just a couple of clicks.
Here are the steps to get you started:
— Create a “Shop” section on your Facebook Business page which is connected to your Instagram business account
— Add your products to the Facebook page. Wait for a notification from Instagram that says you can now start tagging products. It takes a few days for the approval.
— Now, Whenever you are posting an image on Instagram, click the “tag a product” option, and you should see a list of all your product from the Facebook shop. Tag each product accordingly.
Whenever a viewer clicks a product tag, they are taken to the product page to buy it.

Pay attention to analytics

Finally, you should keep a close eye on the analytics inside your Instagram account. This area provides you with very useful information and data that can be used to increase the engagement on your content.
You can also see when your followers are active on Instagram under the “Audience” tab. You can break this down to each hour and plan your future content according to the peak times.
Pay attention to the photos and content that gets the most likes and comments, this is what your target audience prefers. You can use this data to curate content that your audience loves and increase overall engagement.

Hopefully, these easy-to-follow tips will help you grow your business with Instagram. Feel free to let us know what other methods you use on Instagram to grow your business.

Saleem Ahrar is well-versed in knowledge about ecommerce strategies, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship. He spends his time testing new approaches, hacks, and tricks to help the e-commerce community.

  • Posted 10.24.18 at 03:55 am by Roy Osing
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October 22, 2018

Ideas come easy but can you really pull it off?

Take a time out some time and listen to what is said around you. It could be in a meeting at work, in a bistro having coffee with a friend or at a networking event with colleagues.

People talk about their intentions most of the time; what ideas they have to improve their, or their organization’s circumstances.
— “I want to be a marketing executive.”
— “I want to lose 30 pounds.”
— “We will create a product that solves the distracted driving problem in our roads.”
— “I want to travel the world.”
— “I will invent a product that will change the world.”
— “Our goal is to be #1 in the market for international pharmaceuticals.”

Easy ideas

Ideas come easy

Ideas come easy; declaring what is intended (to make you happy, enhance your performance, build customer loyalty and achieve a rewarding career) is a straightforward task.

The far more difficult thing is to achieve what is intended (to BE happy, increase your performance by 50% and to be appointed to that VP position).

But despite the chasm between the idea and delivering the successful result,  the focus today is all about ideas; they are given the priority to the point that an entire discipline has been established to aid people in coming up with tools to aid in the “ideation” process.
Various tools such as brainstorming, storyboarding and mind mapping are promulgated in a logic framework to generate outside-the-box thinking.

Rewards seem to go to the brilliance of the idea and forget the most important piece.

Can you pull it off?

The ability to pull it off is the counter balance to the intellectual worth of the idea — it is the offset to an awesome notion that can’t be implemented.

An amazing idea that (on paper) has the potential to “change the world” in some way but can’t be pulled off is an idea with ZERO worth (other than the discovery that the great idea has no practical application). Theoretical possibilities sponsored by the intellect contribute nothing of value until they are pulled off.

“Affordable housing” in Vancouver is a notion that most everyone can subscribe to, but until the idea is quickly followed up with a plan that is successfully implemented (https://www.bedifferentorbedead.com/blog/item/851), it is vapourware. And that is exactly what is happening in every major city in the world: the affordable housing aspiration is saluted, but little progress has been achieved.

Affordable housing

So is achieving affordable housing a good idea? Yes and no. If you evaluate it in terms of whether it would deliver substantial societal benefits, it’s not only a good idea it’s an incredible one.
But if you judge the idea on its practical merits, I would say it’s not only a bad idea, it’s a dismal failure. It’s no more than an altruistic notion of what a great thing it would be if it COULD be achieved. But until someone figures out how to pull it off it’s a pipe dream that every politician and social interest group applauds but goes no further.

We need to change the way we think about success and value; real success doesn’t come from ideas themselves but in actions that have produced demonstrated benefits. But in many circles it’s easier to utter rhetoric and be a student of it because it requires no commitment to DO anything.

The pull-it-off factor

We need to start thinking of worth and value of a idea as a function of whether you can pull the idea off or not. So, that amazing idea with a small “pull-it-off-factor” isn’t as amazing as the not-so-amazing (imperfect) idea that can be pulled off with real benefits streaming out sooner rather than later.

Pull-it-off should rule the decision on whether or not an idea is worthy of pursuit, not the inherent brilliance of the idea. Resources — time, money and energy — should be applied to ideas that have a path in front of them that leads to achievement, not the need to consume more resources as time goes on.

What can you do with a low pull-it-off idea?

Chuck it

Discard the idea and run with another one that has both significant paper benefits and one where you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And incrementally improve the idea along the way as more practical insight is determined about how it will work and what can be done to make it better.
You have to know when to cut your losses and pursue something else that creates value. Throwing money at an impossible task is a waste of resources and is just plain stupid.

Chunk it

Break the idea into discrete pieces and focus on one that CAN be accomplished and create value. Look for a chunk that is a small piece of the bigger puzzle you are trying to solve. And maybe, just maybe getting the small piece done will, inch by inch, lead you to your grand plan.
A nano-inch worth of progress is far better than spinning your wheels on the big play.

Morph it

Morph it

Change — squeeze, bend, twist — the original idea into something that be delivered. It may not possess all the attributes as the original idea, but may retain some characteristics that do create value and are directionally consistent with your ultimate end game.

Note to self: no value is created when an idea can’t be pulled off

Society pursues Innovation because of our quest for added meaning and value to our lives — more exciting ways to communicate, lower cost and easier transportation, environmentally safe resource development projects, higher quality entertainment and safer driving tools that protect lives.

But we have arrived at a point where we need things DONE to improve our collective lives; we don’t need a continuing rhetoric of what COULD (in some theoretical sense) be achieved.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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If you can’t reason with people attack their heart
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  • Posted 10.22.18 at 03:43 am by Roy Osing
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October 17, 2018

7 smart marketing tactics to try this holiday season — guest post

The 2018 holiday season is just around the corner, which means marketers and business owners need to pick up the promotional pace. As per Shopify, in 2017 almost a quarter of US buyers did nearly half of their holiday shopping online. For maximizing the potential, you need to start preparing from now on, since your 2018 revenue goals largely depend on it.

Just a decade ago, people waited until Thanksgiving to begin their holiday shopping. However, by 2016, almost 40% of seasonal shoppers started before Halloween. This denotes that increasing brand awareness from the month of October and early November is essential for meeting your direct response goals. Top brands already have strategized for this pre-holiday ramp.

Holiday season

Keeping this aggressive timeline in mind, these are the core aspects of holiday marketing:
Be mobile ready
The utilization of mobiles is continuously rising, so your website needs to be optimized for the same. Be it video or carousel or display, your advertisements need to be tablet and smartphone-friendly.
In 2017, more than 30% of online shoppers used their mobile devices for holiday shopping.
In 2018 this figure is expected to increase. Many buyers browse products on their mobile, even though they do not take the final call on their phones.

Resort to creative sequencing
It involves displaying the exact message at the proper time, right up to the check-out point. This way customers receive messages in accordance with their position in the purchase cycle, be it just learning about a new brand or abandoning a shopping cart.
Highlight your most popular offerings and their key features, and continually check as to which creative is leading to the highest conversions.

Get into audience research
It is essential to study the psychology and buying patterns of your ideal buyers. Make use of resources like Facebook’s Audience Insights to learn demographics, locations and interests.
Who belongs to your loyalty programme? Who has visited your website in the past? What about the single-category shoppers? These are the ones that need attention.

Maintain a calendar
Be well organized by finalizing the dates and times your website needs to be updated, your email campaigns need to be deployed, and the beginning and ending of your promotions. Your calendar should also cover all the ad channels you are using.
To stay abreast with the competition you’ll have to be very aggressive with your online advertising bidding strategies. Top search terms on Google and prime audiences on Facebook will be additionally competitive.

Calendar

Create a sense of urgency
Urgency and anticipation are the best triggers as far as impulsive buying is concerned. Promotional and pre-sale ad teasers are an implication of scarcity with limited supply mentions and countdown timers.
By launching limited-time promotions (especially on Cyber Monday and Black Friday), levying shipping deadlines, and inculcating compelling calls to action, you’re making customers eager to buy at the very moment.

Formulate your budget
While you chalk out your fourth-quarter budget, leave ample resources for around-the-clock campaigns, massive scheduling of customer service associates, free shipping deals and the big impact days like Black Friday.

Measure
Anticipate how you will measure the conversions and sales. Your metrics will vary in accordance with your goals; however, you’ll discover that A/B tests facilitate the assessing of the impact driven by your creative.
Be sure to also explore the available tools; analytics conjoined to your e-commerce platform, Pinterest ads, Google AdWords and Facebook ads should also be taken into consideration.

The more you are aware, the better prepared you’ll be for implementing a successful digital marketing campaign and garnering record-breaking seasonal sales.

Finishing touches

Finishing touches

There are of course a few finishing touches that need to be given to your holiday campaigns. For instance, ensure that your return policy and payment options are in place. Most retailers loosen their return and exchange policies over the holiday season, which is worthwhile as their potential impact on sale can be balanced with anticipated customer satisfaction and rate of retention.

This is a good time to make your purchasing process all the more accessible. Adding Amazon Pay and PayPal as payment methods can boost conversions. Affirm can be used for financing bigger purchases.

Contingency plans

Contingency plans too need to be in order. If your e-commerce venture is not hosted on Shopify, be sure that your website can manage heavy incoming traffic in a short duration. What about the brick-and-mortar site? Is your shipping company able enough? Courteous and prompt service is necessary, so nullify the chances of any disappointment by gearing up for all the challenges.

Monitoring competitor activities is another important criteria. Visit their websites, get on their email lists, and look for publications that highlight competition. You’re likely to catch some great ideas along the way.

Decorating the boxes with custom labels can add an element of surprise and will help in customer retention.

What next?
Undoubtedly, November and December are going to keep you super busy. Be well prepared to work on Thanksgiving and the following weekend for 24 hours a day. Be ready to tackle employees who wish to take time off for loved ones.

Outsourcing

It is challenging to manage a complex and time-consuming advertising initiative over and above your primary business responsibilities. It would be best to outsource to professionals who are experts in handling round-the-clock, high value seasonal promotions, rather than losing out on primary revenue, in the event of mismanagement of primary business activities.
If outsourcing is not your cup of tea, there are lots of online resources like Facebook Blue Print training and the Shopify Blog that will guide you properly.

So gear up now, without wasting time, and position your enterprise for optimal fourth-quarter success with the help of early planning and vital strategizing.

Smith Willas is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. He has a management degree in Supply Chain & Operations Management and Marketing and boasts a wide-ranging background in digital media.

  • Posted 10.17.18 at 04:14 am by Roy Osing
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