How To Have An Attitude Of Gratitude And Change Your Life

have an attitude of gratitude

Do you have an attitude of gratitude about your life? Ever think about what you’re thankful for in your life? Yes? No? Sometimes? Never?

I do!

Every morning I pick up my phone and write down three things I’m grateful for before I get out of bed. Three things that would make the day great along with a thought/theme/affirmation for my day.

Every evening I write down three amazing things that happened during the day. Included in this daily routine are: the occasional picture, and review what could have made the day even better. It has been a daily routine that has profoundly impacted how I look at life, and how I feel at the start of the day and what I focus on ending my day. And it all takes about five minutes.

Living with an attitude of gratitude.

The world around us is so full of negativity, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of negative news that happens in life. Equally easy is to allow that negativity creep into our mental and emotional state of well-being.

I don’t know about you but I prefer to choose to live my day focused on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.

No matter what is going on in the world, or in my life, I make it a point to think about at least three things I’m grateful for each day and write them down.

At the beginning of the year, I stumbled across 5 Minute Journal due to a Tim Ferris video, author of the 4 Hour Work Week.

I love the idea of writing in a journal, but the reality of my life with 3 kids, a full-time job, consulting,  my health/fitness and writing for a living…a daily long form journal does not get a lot of consistent action.

5 Minute Journal was/is a revolution to my daily routine.

5 Minute Journal created a nifty hardbound journal that you can write down what you’re grateful for, what would make today great to start off your day. They include an inspirational quote at the top of the page and then at the end of the day you can review your day with what made today amazing and what could have happened to make it better.

gratitude 5 minute journal

For me, I prefer to use the 5 Minute Journal app I downloaded to my iPhone. Makes it easy to write my thoughts down, capture images of the day that made the day great and as I’m in bed, to quickly review my thoughts of the day.

As I reviewed the months’ worth of gratitude journaling with 5 Minute Journal, the trend of what I’m grateful for is pretty apparent. I’m often writing that I’m grateful for the love of my wife, the sound of my daughter’s laughter or look on her face when she smiles at me, grateful for the freedom my job affords me to work at home and be with my family. My health. Or the simple blessing of sitting on a lanai and seeing this view:

grateful for this view

I truly focus on what’s important in my life, how blessed I am, and stay in touch with the gift that life has in spite of days that are not so great. Having an attitude of gratitude really keeps me thinking positive instead of dwelling on the negative in those times.

If you want to develop an attitude of gratitude about your life, take a few minutes to think about what you’re grateful for today. And if you want to make being grateful a habit, go get the 5 Minute Journal book or download the app.

How LinkedIn Can Drive Traffic To Your Trade Show Exhibit

LinkedIn has become one of the most important ways for professionals to connect with each other. If you don’t already have a profile, then you can think of it as Facebook for people who are more interested in forging business connections than gossiping and sharing pictures. Once you have a profile, use these strategies to increase traffic at your next trade show display exhibit.

Connect With People in Your Industry

connect with people on linkedin

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4 Tips For Making The Most of Trade Shows

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that trade shows are irrelevant simply because so much marketing now takes place through email and over the Internet. They still accomplish a lot of business, so if you know how to work trade shows, they will reward you. Part of your success comes from simply showing up, but once you get there, you better get ready to work for it.

Make a List of Realistic Goals

realistic trade show exhibit goals
Image via Flickr by Christmas w/a K

Preparing for your trade show takeover begins long before the event itself takes place. As soon as you’re aware of a show you want to attend, start setting goals for yourself. More importantly, make sure they’re realistic. If you set your sights too high and don’t meet the numbers you’ve set for yourself, you’ll feel like a failure. That can negatively affect your showmanship at other trade shows.

Think first about what you want to do. Are you interested in pulling in prospects, turning those leads into sure sales, or introducing people to a new invention, product, or service? The goals you set for yourself depend on these wants. You might achieve more success by demonstrating your product a certain amount of times, or by booking appointments with a specific number of existing customers.

Keep Growing Your Ideas

trade show display ideas
Image via Flickr by Vancouver Film School

You know the saying: go hard or go home. You can never get complacent at your trade show displays. Just because your last booth was successful doesn’t mean you should show up with the same display. Invest in a new trade show display booth. Make it bigger, better, more dynamic, and more colorful. Here are 5 Ways To Update A Trade Show Display.

Don’t keep your goals the same either. Always strive to do more and to improve. Work on your sales pitches, your demonstrations, and your follow-up techniques. Offer better swag. Use better technology.

Choose Your Shows Wisely

choosing the best trade show exhibit for your business
Image via Flickr by ThinkGeoEnergy

Don’t feel like you need to attend every single trade show that comes your way. Once they’re announced, take a look at each show. Ask yourself some key questions:

  • What sorts of consumers typically attend?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Have you succeeded at this trade show before?

If it’s not your niche, don’t go. Spend your time preparing for a different show that will serve you better. As far as competition goes, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to go up against dozens of competitors or infiltrate a trade show where your niche doesn’t have as much representation.

Networking vs. Mining for Prospects

trade show networking
Image via Flickr by Maryland GovPics

Networking with former and existing customers is just as important as pulling in new prospects. Divide your time wisely, keeping in mind that you’ll impress your existing buyers by proving that you’re still interested in them. It’s not a bad idea to have someone devoted to selling to new prospects and turning them into sales, while someone else converses sincerely with the attendees who have already given you their business.

If you want to leave the trade show exhibit feeling like a success, you have to do more than your competitors. Make your customers and prospects feel loved, impress them, and show them that your innovations never stop.

The Oahu Beaches Experience Infographic

English: Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii. Fran...

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Find Your Perfect Oahu Beaches Experience

Oahu Beach Infographic

Oahu Hawaii’s beaches are some of the most famous in the world.  From the “romantic” Waikiki Beach to the awe inspiring surf mecca of the North Shore, you can pretty much pull over anywhere for a quick dip in the ocean or an incredible view. Do you want to do what everyone else is doing or do you want to get off the beaten path on your Oahu vacation?

hawaii's oahu beaches

The best way I know to explore Oahu is not by the big tour buses or just randomly driving around the island. Who needs that? Not me. I’d much rather have a personal tour if I was a first timer to Oahu. Something like Hawaii Jeep Tours.

Hawaii Jeep Tours

oahu hawaii jeep tours

Hawaii Jeep Tours believes in giving visitors a real and local experience. Their philosophy is to offer Oahu tours that are not only personal, but affordable as well. Visitors coming to Oahu, Hawaii should be able to easily find off-the-beaten-path adventures, but they’ve looked. And didn’t find any. Which is why they started Jeep Tours Hawaii.

They offer genuine tours guided by knowledgeable locals who are eager to share Oahu with visitors. Not only are their tours intimate, but they’re also offered at a great price. You couldn’t beat it if you tried! Touring the island on your own doesn’t mean you’re saving money. In fact, they priced it out and you’re actually saving money when you book a tour with them. And that’s just being honest.

They don’t bother with big buses or crowds either, because they prefer a private adventure with just guest(s) and guide. Which means they’re taking you to the underground local spots that other tour companies don’t know about and providing you with one-on-one attention. Jeep Tours Hawaii was created out of a real desire to show visitors around Oahu in an intimate way, not heard them like sheep.

You will LOVE your personalized tour of Oahu with Hawaii Jeep Tours. They will make your Oahu vacation memorable!

Check them out at: http://jeeptourshawaii.com

Over on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HawaiiJeepTours

Hawaii Jeep Tours on Facebook

200 Google Search Ranking Factors

seo ranking factorsAhhhh…search engine optimization (SEO) is a wonderful pain in the ass for businesses big and small. Done right, your website can be flooded with quality traffic. Do it wrong and nobody visits your site. From on-site work via site structure, content, images, keywords, etc., etc can be overwhelming. Add to that all the Google algo changes that have impacted how a site ranks from social media, to link building, SEO is a very complex world to be competitive in. Definitely not something to be dabbled in by someone or companies that don’t understand all the variables that can positively or negatively affect search results for a business online.

My friend Jayson DeMers, wrote in Forbes Magazine, The Three Pillars of SEO In 2013: Content, Links And Social Media, he said:

In 2013, success in SEO hinges on businesses putting together a robust combination strategy that brings together an integrated web of great content, credible links, and social signals. Each of these pieces supports the other, providing tremendous value to readers, building your authority and brand value, and distributing your content across new channels. . . .

The world of SEO is definitely complex, and in 2013 a simplistic legacy approach is no longer enough. Effective SEO requires managing different elements, ranging from your content and keywords to your social media and link building activities. But with a focus on these three pillars, you can create a foundation and structure that will support a high ranking site for a long time to come.

Seeing that SEO requires a skill set beyond what a business owner has time for to master, but if you’re willing to do the work on top of your work, it IS possible. But why do that when you can hire a quality search engine optimization person/company (hint hint ME) that can do that work on your behalf.

Eric Siu wrote an article in June 2013, A Look at Google’s 200 Search Ranking Factors (Infographic)  where Eric says:

Maintaining and improving your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) can be exhausting. Every time search giant Google changes its algorithm, business owners and their webmasters are left with their heads spinning, trying to make adjustments so their sites don’t fall in Google’s search rankings.

Most recently, Google rolled out Penguin 2.0, a newer version of its previous Penguin algorithm update, which aims to cut down on web spam.

While trying to keep on all of Google’s changes can be a hassle, there are a large number of SEO factors that are unlikely to change any time soon. To help make SEO just a little easier, digital marketing firms Backlinko and Single Grain have created the infographic below, collecting some 200 factors that Google considers when ranking sites in its search results. The information was compiled from hundreds of sources, including SEO blogs and from statements made by Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts.

Eric goes on to talk briefly about content and targeted keywords. These need to be in your website’s title tags because they help your business perform better than pages that don’t have targeted words in the title tags. Next, he mentions backlinks. His simple advice is that the more links pointing to your site the better. And then our third item—Social. Google is paying attention to retweets, Facebook share and Google +.

This was put into a GREAT infographic below!

google search engine optimization rank factors

4 Things Small Business Owners Should Know About Google

Google is more than just one of the most popular search engines in the world, it’s also a lucrative source of advertising. If you simply worry about page rank and search results, you need to start expanding your horizons. While those things are important, Google can do so much more for your small business—but only if you take advantage of everything it offers.

Google Authorship Lends You Expertise

google authorship

Image via Flickr by Ianiv & Arieanna

Every small business needs both a website and a company blog, whether the blog is on your site or separate. Your blog can pull in more new customers than you might imagine, but only if people know about it, read it, and trust it. That’s why Google Authorship is so important.

Your Author Rank comes from a combination of rank, which is very valuable, and trust, which is even more valuable. If you’re seen as an expert in your field, you get more traffic, more customers, and more sales. Author Rank lets consumers know you’re a professional, not just a hobbyist blogger doing something for the fun of it. You get a good Author Rank not just by having lots of readers, but by providing high quality content with rich, relevant keywords. Above all, relevancy is the key.

Google+ Really Does Help

google plus

Image via Flickr by Muhammad Cordiaz

Do you use Google+? It was a huge thing when it launched, then it faded off a bit. Over time, however, it’s gained in popularity, first among individuals and then among businesses. It’s like Facebook, but more professional; like LinkedIn, but more involved; and like Twitter, but less restricted. More features, such as Blogger, are ultimately becoming part of G+, so you’ll have one go-to spot for all your business related updates, and even your blog.

Google+ is no longer a simple aggregator. Instead, it will become the place where you can distribute the content you write—the same content that gives you an expert status. Ultimately, G+ will have an enormous effect on SEO practices, so it’s a good idea to get on board now.

All Those Updates Have a Point

google panda google penguin

Image via Flickr by Ognian Mladenov

Google Panda and Google Penguin struck fear in the hearts of bloggers and small businesses that rely on content. There’s no reason to feel afraid, though. If you provide quality content, these updates are good for you. If you’ve done effective search engine optimization on your site, with your Google Authorship, you have nothing to worry about. They mean that no content farms can overtake your expert status simply because they pump out a bunch of keyword-laden content that doesn’t really explain your niche. As long as you stay relevant and share meaningful information about your business, you will benefit.

You Can Get Paid from Anywhere

google wallet

Image via Flickr by inky

Google is also changing the way people can pay you. For instance, upcoming updates include the ability to send and receive payments through email. That’s endlessly efficient, especially if you have an online business and deal with people who don’t have Paypal. Other enhancements, such as the ability for small businesses to pay all of their bills and vendors online, will further streamline your e-commerce.

Google can really help your small business if you can make it work for you. What upcoming features will benefit you the most?

5 Steps For B2B Social Media Marketing Success

If you want a successful business to business (B2B) social media marketing campaign, you’ll need to follow these 5 steps. Without them, you’ll likely fall short of your goals. Of course, that assumes you even know what your goals are.

1. Set Goals

72 percent of companies don’t set specific goals for their social media marketing campaigns. That’s a huge mistake that will impede your business’s performance.

If you don’t set goals, then how will you even know if your campaign has been successful? You won’t.

You’ll need to sit down and establish a set of realistic goals before you start your campaign. You can realign your goals over time, but you still need to start from a baseline. Otherwise, you’re lost without a map or a compass to guide you.

2. Understand Social Media’s Abilities

Don’t get involved in social media marketing just because everyone else is doing it. You can’t just jump in without doing some research either.

Start by learning more about what social media can actually do for you.

Social media can:

  • Help you connect with other people and businesses
  • Give you a way to share videos, blog posts, and other content
  • Show you how to connect with companies that aren’t using your services

Social media can’t:

  • Increase your sales without hard work from you
  • Magically introduce you to company executives
  • Convert all of your leads into sales

In other words, social media marketing is another tool you should use, but it won’t do the job for you.

3. Appoint a Social Media Marketer

You have to put someone in charge of social media marketing. Making one person responsible for updates and reaching out to make new connections should create a cohesive strategy. If you let several people pass the reigns back and forth, your marketing campaign will lack cohesion.

If you’re really serious about using social media to expand B2B success, then you can let your head of social media marketing hire a small staff. Every member of that staff, though, should report to the social media manager. Without an authority figure, you’ll have chaotic content.

4. Remember That Branding Matters

Social media is a great way to increase your company’s brand awareness. Try to integrate social media as a part of your overall branding plan. Don’t treat it as something completely separate. Make it a natural extension of the marketing that you do in the real world. From your marketing materials, your email signatures, even your pop up displays at a trade show  your presenting at, your social media links should be a part of them.

This should help create a coherent brand identity that potential clients can recognize.

5. Learn How to Convert Leads Into Sales

Getting leads is one thing. Converting them into sales is an entirely different beast. You should get a higher conversion rate from social media marketing when you have a plan for how you will turn leads into sales.

Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect; however, it does need quantifiable parameters so you can measure its success. Over time, you can tweak the plan for a better conversation rate.

Like any marketing strategy, the more time and resources you put into a campaign, the better the result. Do you have other steps that you use for B2B social media marketing success? Which have worked best for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The Blurring Lines of Social Media & SEO: What You Need To Know

As business owners, you’ve been told over and over you need to use great SEO on your website and blog, but you also need to pay attention to social media management. The important thing to learn is the difference between the two and why you need both.

The Difference Between SEO & Social Media

getting started in seo

Image via Flickr by FindYourSearch

To quote Rand Fishkin of Moz, ”Effective SEO will land a searcher on your website or blog.” For example, if you sell the best potato chips in Cleveland, you want to use SEO keywords that use those words: “the best potato chips in Cleveland.”

SEO is invisible—at least it should appear that way. It is the labels, tags, meta descriptions, and keywords you use on websites and blog posts to help search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo! find your website.

The definition of social media is pretty simple. It is creating accounts on sites such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Pinterest, and then posting to those sites. Be social.

Why You Can’t Have One Without the Other

Aaron Fletcher of GeekFreeNet offers an explanation on why you need both SEO and social media. He calls this “syndication.”

Once you have original content on your website using great SEO, you also need to utilize promotional techniques. This is where social media comes in. Posting to all of your social media sites engages consumers to click images and links to land on your website or blog.

Using SEO in Social Media

twitter social media

Image via Flickr by ivanpw

Another fuzzy line of SEO and social media is that they do crossover from time to time. The most common areas include:

  • If you sell items online and use SEO tags, keywords, and meta descriptions for your storefront and item descriptions it’s also a good idea to use the same SEO on social media posts.
  • When creating social media accounts, do write relevant profiles and about us page content using SEO keywords that match your website or blog. For example, if you are the Hawaii Coffee Company and want to focus on your Royal Kona coffee, use relevant search keywords in your profile—”We sell the best coffee in Kona.”
  • When you use social media to post something industry related, you’ll also need to lead the social media user to the post and share it. You may want them to check out a great potato chip commercial on YouTube but within your post, you should still use SEO. For example, link the commercial and write a post that says, “Must see potato chip commercial from the makers of the best potato chips in Cleveland.”
  • When posting images on social media, it’s a good idea to tag the images with SEO. Again, if you post an image of your best-selling trade show display, you would want to label the image “best trade show displays in the USA.”

SEO Variations Are Essential

There are many examples here to help you learn the difference between SEO and social media and how to use them to complement one another. It is also essential to use keyword variations—something search engines love. A keyword variation would be mixing up the keyword a bit: Instead of the “best potato chips in Cleveland” use variations such as “Cleveland’s best potato chips” or “Potato chips in Cleveland.”

Now that you understand there is a blurry line between SEO and social media, it’s time to hop on the Internet and start creating original content, employing great SEO strategies, and promoting your website and blog posts via social media sites.

4 Ways Content Marketing Can Help Small Businesses Grow Sales

Small businesses depend on large sales, especially in the first year or two. The only problem is that smaller businesses don’t always have the customer base of larger competitors, which means you have to work harder to generate sales. Content marketing is one of the most efficient and successful ways you can do that, but only if you know how to use it correctly.

You’ll Get More Leads for Less

love content marketing

Image via Flickr by garryknight

Whether you run a brick-and-mortar business or an online shop, content marketing is probably the most cost-effective way you can advertise and get more customers. If you know enough about SEO yourself, content marketing is basically free.

Even if you have to hire an search engine optimization company and/or marketing manager, you’ll spend less money than you would with traditional forms of advertising. At the same time, you’ll reach more people. Think about how often the people you know read blogs, use social media, and sign up for email deals. That could easily benefit you.

People Love Social Media

social media content marketing

Image via Flickr by Jason A. Howie

According to HubSpot, people who are online will spend at least one minute out of every eight on their Facebook pages, while active Twitter users create 90 million tweets every day. Social media is big. You already know that, but are you using it for your business?

Social media-based content marketing works by keeping your fan base and followers updated about your latest deals and offerings. If people see a hot deal or a new product on the Facebook or Twitter, they’re interested. The only thing to keep in mind is that you’ll have to promote your posts, especially on Facebook, or invite users to like and comment on all your status updates.

Constant Updates Keep You in the Lead

blogging content marketing

Image via Flickr by Udo Herzog

By keeping your customer base updated, you also keep them interested. Putting an ad in the local paper is expensive and largely obsolete because shopping for anything is technology-driven. Stores send emails and text messages advertising sales or sharing coupon codes. It’s extremely cheap, but it’s also extremely effective.

Your social media updates are helpful, but don’t stop there. To get the most out of content marketing, you need:

  • A blog filled with rich, informative, and relevant content
  • Weekly or bi-weekly text messages containing sales information and deals
  • A monthly or bi-weekly email newsletter filled with updates and product information
  • And guest posts on high traffic blogs in similar industries

Marketing Pulls in Unexpected Customers

content marketing brings in customers

Image via Flickr by Alan Cleaver

By keeping an active blog presence and making your social media sites the go-to hotspots for what you offer, you’ll do more than pull in new leads. You’ll attract customers you never expected. Where once word-of-mouth spread over fences in the backyard, it now gets shared over comments, online reviews, and shareable content. Your current customers will share deals, interesting articles, informative blog posts, and newsletters with their friends. Those friends, intrigued, will then give your business a try, or they’ll recommend you to people who can use your services. I’ve made it a priority for Smash Hit Displays for our trade show displays blog. Continually providing content that will be found valuable and shareable.

Content marketing is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to increase your sales. Have you made the leap to marketing yourself online?

7 Building Blocks To Start A Small Business Blog

You’ve probably heard how powerful blogs are for marketing small business. It’s inexpensive, relatively easy, and gets your name out to a far wider audience than you could reach on a limited ad budget. But if you’re like most small business owners, you don’t know where to begin.

Here are 7 building blocks to start a small business blog:

1. Choose a Platform

small business

Image via Flickr by businesspictures

See if your web hosting service offers a blogging platform. This will allow you to start the blog right from your own website, and people can easily navigate back and forth between the blog and your other pages. If you don’t have a website yet, shop for a web hosting service that offers a blogging platform with the purchase of your site. Most of these are easy, intuitive, and quick to set up and manage.

2. Think Broadly About Your Industry

Blogging isn’t just a matter of spilling your same sales messages over and over. A successful blog gives people insight into the industry, answers many of their common questions, and helps them make better decisions. For example, if you’re a plumber, write about:

  • Simple DIY repairs
  • How to avoid common plumbing scams
  • How to save on your water bill

These are useful topics for everyone, and bring a lot of interest to your business without trying to sell them anything.

3. Establish Yourself as an Expert

Write your blog from a position of authority. This doesn’t mean you talk down to the audience, it simply means you establish yourself as the go-to person for knowledge about the topic. Read other industry blogs, and offer your helpful insight in the comments sections. Become the authority.

4. Blog Regularly

You can blog every day, three times a week, or once a week, but always blog regularly. Over time, you’ll build a readership and they’ll be expecting it. Also, it keeps you in the mind of people who might need your services. When someone goes to your blog and the last post is over a month old, they wonder if you’re still in business.

5. Consider Paying a Professional

Blogging is a chore if you’re not into writing and have little online knowledge. Consider hiring a professional writer to keep up with regular blogging, or at least hire an editor to proofread your posts for mistakes. Spelling and grammar errors hurt your credibility.

6. Use Images

High quality images draw readers in, even when the headline fails to capture their attention. Add photos to illustrate your point, to show off your staff, so customers will recognize your trucks, or simply to provide visual appeal to the text. Upload some of your own company photos and your logo and supplement these with high quality images and photos from Flickr or Google Images.

7. Promote Your Blog on Social Media

Here is where many businesses fail to bring their blog to fruition. You’ll garner a few clicks now and then from your blog posts, but to really draw a crowd you need to get involved in social media. Set up a Facebook page, and accounts with Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and other social media outlets, and connect these accounts to your blog. Each time you submit a new post, put it on your news feeds in all your social media accounts. This gives several avenues to promote each blog post.

Finally, when you’re blogging, make sure each post is something your company can be proud of. Never post something just because it’s Tuesday. Post valuable information that people want to read and share.