Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How to Grow Your Email List for Free Using LinkedIn

An email list can be a key marketing and outreach asset. Here's how to build your own -- for free.

Plenty of people talk about the power of building an email list of customers, prospective customers, and connections. Email lists typically outperform social in terms of response rates and conversions. Unlike SEO, email is immune to algorithm changes that could make your search rankings disappear.

And to many people--including prospective partners, investors, and publishers--the size of your email list matters a lot more than the size of your social following.

So how do you build your own email list? And how can you do it if you're willing to spend time but not necessarily money?

Good question -- so I asked someone who has, simply by using LinkedIn.

The following is from Chris Spurvey, the author of It's Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set. Chris helps entrepreneurs and business owners sell their products and services with confidence.

Here's Chris:

In late 2014, I decided to write a book. After I got over the paradigm that tried to hold me back--that told me I could not write--I put myself on the right path and dove in. A few weeks in, I began to think about who would buy my book. I thought, How will people hear about my book?

That an email list is a key asset for any business has been well documented. Yes, followers on the various social media platforms are valuable; however, those platforms are constantly changing the rules of the game, to the point that the value of having the following is changing and, in most cases, decreasing.

Start your trial to experience our easy-to-use email marketing tools and more. You'll also have access to personal coaching and resources to get you real business results.

So I decided to start an email list and publish articles on LinkedIn. I am not even remotely close to being the most successful writer on the LinkedIn platform, but I have been consistent in my contributions, which has led to several thousand subscribers opting in to receive my weekly email newsletter.

Here are the ideas that I have deployed to gain new subscribers to my email list. And if you're interested, here's a free download that you can use to deploy these suggestions.

1. Welcome readers to share your article.

After the first piece of valuable information in each of my articles, I include the following text:

If, after reading this article, you conclude that you found it helpful, please feel free to share it with your network. Perhaps we can all learn from one another. Thanks!

This simple suggestion plants in the reader's mind the idea that you have contributed something that his or her network will benefit from. A few of my articles have been shared more than 100 times on LinkedIn alone.

2. Suggest other articles of yours that you believe your readers will benefit from.

Whenever appropriate, embed the suggestion for further reading directly into the text of an article. I also include at the bottom of each article a list of two or three articles for further reading on that topic or related topics.

This practice enables readers to become more familiar with your writing. Mike Johnson is a master at this. Last Saturday morning, I found myself captivated by his articles about how to build passive income, entirely due to him having recommended other articles.

3. Invite readers to connect more deeply with you.

At the end of each article, I invite people to follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. When I receive a request, however, I don't automatically accept it unless it is from a person whose name I recognize.

Instead, I take the time to look closely at the profile of the person who has sent the request and then reply to it with a message inviting the person to subscribe to my email newsletter. My typical reply looks like this:

Hey Dan, Sorry for the delay on responding to your connection request. I let them pile up in the hopes I will find the time to respond to each of them personally. :) For a number of years, I have been blogging on the topic of attracting new clients. I welcome you to check out my website and subscribe to my Sunday morning newsletter. I typically share a story about me falling down and picking myself back up in the world of sales. You can check it out at

This message has resulted in a 25% conversion rate.

4. Draw attention to your email newsletter.

Do this at the end of each article. Here is the text that I typically include:

If this article resonated with you, I welcome you to subscribe to my Sunday morning e-newsletter. In that, I share stories about me falling down and getting back up as I pursue sales as my career. You will receive the first three chapters of my best-selling book, It's Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set, as a welcome to the newsletter. The book and newsletter will change how you look at life and sales.

5. Use lead magnets.

I have successfully deployed a number of lead magnets. The most recent one is my It's Time to Sell personalized sales plan. It's a 27-page PDF that walks people through how to leverage their personality to become more effective at sales. I also have offered LinkedIn Publishing checklists, or cheat sheets, about how to find your own unique ability to sell.

In the vein of a lead magnet, here is cheat sheet that you can use in deploying the tactics outlined in this article the next time you publish an article. These tactics are just as effective on other platforms, such as Medium and beBee, as they are on LinkedIn.

The key with lead magnets is to deliver extra value in what you provide in exchange for obtaining the person's email address. You lose credibility if you do not.

These strategies have helped me to grow an asset that I will carry with me forever. So, although the platform may change... as long as I offer value in my weekly emails I can take my list wherever I go.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

When Should You Switch Up Your Email Template?

I don’t mean to dim your summer glow, but let’s face it — the holidays are just around the corner.

Before you know it, you’ll be adding a holiday-themed touch to your business, merchandise, communications, and even your house.

This is typically when a lot of our customers ask us if and/or when they should consider using a different email template. 

We hear this question so much that we’ve decided to share our thoughts in blog post form.

Let’s get to it!

Variety is the spice of life

A little variety is always a good thing, but for the most part, you want your emails to reflect your brand and the personality of your business.

The colors you use, the types of images you include, and the style of writing you employ should all consistently reflect your business. Your readers will come to expect and appreciate that consistency as their relationship with your business grows.

If you’ve attended our Virtual Workshops for Retailers, you’ve learned about the benefits of pre-designing a reusable template to save you time.

That being said, there will be times when switching it up a bit is beneficial for the message you’re sending.

Before you ditch your reusable template…

Don’t forget about the seven essential elements of email design.

You still want to incorporate your brand colors, logo, website URL, and social buttons — just as you would with your reusable template.

You should also include a clear call-to-action and be sure to add your contact information, hours, etc. in the footer section.

Now, let’s look at five times when you might want to switch up your email template:

1. When you want to say ‘Thank You’

Saying thank you to your customers or supporters is a great time to choose a different template.

For a thank you message, focus on simplicity. Cut out the other topics you discuss in your typical mailings and really focus on your message of gratitude.

We have several Thank You email templates for you to choose from. Simply do a search for ‘thank you’ templates in your account and voila!

Here’s a look at how a monthly newsletter can differ from a thank you message, from The Residencies.

2. When you’re celebrating a milestone

Did you just hit a 5, 10, or 25 year anniversary? Did your organization hit a major milestone? You should celebrate!

Choose a template that will draw attention to your accomplishment and generate a sense of goodwill from your readers. You may get congratulatory feedback from them, so be ready to bask in the flattery for a bit.  Or, you may want to commemorate something that your customers did. Either way, this is a good time for a different look.

Here’s how extendYoga chose a different template to celebrate their 1-year anniversary:

3. When you’re feeling festive 

National retail holidays are a great time to change up the look and feel of your email template for something more festive and colorful.

This is one of the few times when it’s okay to go along with the suggested color scheme of the template in place of your typical brand colors. Make sure your brand is still coming through from your logo, images, and writing style.

Mother Earth Pillows moved away from their signature green hue in celebration of a St. Patrick’s Day special:

4. When you’re making an announcement

When it’s time to make a major announcement, use a different template for impact. We have lots of templates you can use to announce anything from new shop hours to a second branch opening or a website re-launch.

Simply search for ‘Announcements’ to find available templates or create your own.

Here’s a look at Fruitlands Museum and their typical mailing versus a renewal notice:

5. When you’re looking for feedback

As it is said, “Feedback is a gift” and there comes a time in every small business owner’s career when they’re going to need to get some to make improvements or adjustments.

In that case, it’s also a good time to choose a template that will inspire feedback from your customers, volunteers, or donors.

Choose a template that will invite subscribers to click to take a brief online survey and another one that you can use to send to those who responded.

Take a look at how Rains Lucia Stern sends a quick message to ask for feedback after holding an event:

Is it time for you to make a change?

Consistency is important to your brand. But if the time is right, a new look can engage your readers and drive action for your business.

Keep the five occasions above in mind the next time you’re itching for a change.

Start your trial to experience our easy-to-use email marketing tools and more. You'll also have access to personal coaching and resources to get you real business results.


Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How to Turn LinkedIn Groups into a Marketing Power Tool

LinkedIn Groups are a great way to expand your network, especially for B2B businesses.

Most business owners know they should join social networks to promote their companies. Each network offers different opportunities: Facebook is the most popular, so it offers the best opportunity to expand your audience and gather leads; Twitter is the most popular for customer service; and LinkedIn is extremely popular amongst professionals. Which is why, if you are a business that sells primarily to other businesses, you must be more active on LinkedIn.

When it comes to connecting with people who mean business and generating leads, few can compare to the power of LinkedIn. Business decision-makers prefer LinkedIn, and you want to reach your target market. LinkedIn Groups are a great way to connect with these decision makers, regardless of industry or location. Here's how to go about it.

Join Groups

Find industry-, topic-, and location-specific groups that contain concentrations of people who you would like to network with, and join them. Spend time looking at the level of participation and conversations. If all you find is updates and members promoting their businesses, move on, as this group will be of little benefit.

LinkedIn has a "groups you may like" function that suggests groups based on your current profile and connections.

Connect with Members

Once you've joined a group, you have a common, natural connection with each group member, and LinkedIn gives you the ability to connect based on the mutual group membership. It's a little thing, but it's a step beyond simply saying you want to connect.

Look for active members, and add relevant replies to a number of posts. This starts the process of some one-on-one conversation, and since your replies are publicly available to all group members, you can use this technique to demonstrate that you have a lot to offer.

Don't be afraid to reach out to people and ask to connect. Send them a short note on why you joined the group, and share something in common that made you want to connect. Don't jump the gun and begin selling just yet; it's more likely your invitation will be ignored.

Create Groups

Once you get the hang of Groups, you should consider creating your own topic group. This is not a company group; it's one that is set up to discuss a topic that your prospects, customers, partners, and even competitors might find worthwhile.

A word of warning: if you want your group to grow and give you the ability to benefit by virtue of your status as the group's manager, you have to commit the time to curate, moderate, stimulate, and facilitate group participation.

Add starter content that gets people talking. Participate in conversations. Promote. But above all, do not tolerate spam and self-promotion.

Keep the group running actively, and you'll build a considerable amount of trust with specifically targeted business owners. Every single member of your group can then be considered a powerful lead.

Take Action to Grow Your Business, Today!

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, August 29, 2016

5 Steps To Prep For Leaving Your Job To Start A New Business

Westchester Networking for Professionals is organizing a Growth Partners Excel Program - Mastermind Group starting in September 2016 for small businesses and entrepreneurs to help grow their business.  Click the link for more information.

After you’ve chosen a career path, it’s easy to feel like you’re locked into that decision for the rest of your life. Maybe your job isn’t fulfilling, isn’t providing you with sufficient opportunities to develop your leadership, or you just feel like there is nothing new there for you to learn.

According to a survey from Deloitte, two-thirds of all millennials plan to leave their job by 2020 and 44% say they would leave their employer in the next 2 years.  If you have got the itch to leave your job, you are not alone.

The average American switches careers six times throughout the course of their life–meaning there’s a lot more room for second chances than you might think. You may know it’s possible to make a career change, but understanding how to take action in your own life is a different matter.

Meet Eric Finnigan, a professional copywriter and founder of Autopilot Email, an email marketing service agency that helps companies boost their revenues by $100k+ through automated emails. Today, Finnigan works a schedule on his own terms structured around projects he cares about. But just months ago, he was working a 9-5 for a corporate company that drained him.

I spoke with Finnigan about how he was able to leave his former career and restore purpose to his work on this week’s episode of Unconventional Life, “How to Leave Your Corporate Job and Pursue Your Dreams.”

Fresh out of college, Finnigan found himself broke and in debt, with all his credit cards maxed out and nowhere to turn. “I had this moment where I was like holy cow I just went to college and in theory I should be set financially, what’s going on?” he says. “It was kind of this panic moment where I realized I had to make money.”

Like many new graduates in this position, Finnigan was eager to start paying down his debt and immediately got a job. Over the next seven years, he would dedicate nearly all of his energy to getting promotions and salary raises until his financial insecurity faded to a distant memory.

Step by step, Finnigan climbed the corporate ladder to the position of Vice President, managing a $36 billion portfolio for his investment strategist company. His salary was abundant and he occupied a luxury apartment in NYC… yet something was missing.

“I would sit at my desk and think, do I really want this? I had this moment of yeah, I had succeeded in what I wanted to do, but what I had been working towards it turned out wasn’t the thing that was actually fulfilling for me,” Finnigan reflects.

Upon that realization, Finnigan decided it was time to make a change.

He still depended on his job as a source of income, so he didn’t just quit on the spot. Instead, he began investing all of his free energy into his lifelong passion for writing, which he never pursued because he didn’t believe it could be profitable. Within several months of studying the art of copywriting, Finnigan felt confident he could monetize it and quit his corporate job.

Today, Finnigan has created a livelihood around copywriting and has become one of the most sought-after contractors in his industry, running six and seven figure campaigns for many multi-million dollar clients. But the doubt and uncertainty that accompany making a major career change were not lost upon him. Below, Finnigan shares how you can succeed in making a similar transition.

1. Learn from others. Immerse yourself in the stories of others who have already made this transition and are thriving on the other side. Listen to podcasts and seek out news articles to encourage, motivate, and inspire you to do the same. You’ll begin to feel like it is possible for you, too, and you’ll benefit from learning from their mistakes and advice.

2. Ask for help. Ditch the mindset that you need to figure it all out on your own. “For me it was a matter of pride,” Finnigan says. “Have humility–you can make it much faster with help.” Asking for help might look like reading books, enrolling in courses, or finding a mentor. Guidance and accountability are essential to your success.

3. Hustle on the side. Use your current job as a safety net so you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to “figure it out,” which can actually be counterproductive. Be reasonable and give yourself time to develop your new skill until you feel confident that it will be able to provide for you financially. Be prepared to put in the hours both for your current job and your emerging passion. “I worked 4 to 5 hours a day in addition to my job,” Finnigan recalls.

4. Understand success isn’t linear. Unlike working in a corporate job, success isn’t linear when working for yourself. “It’s not like plug away for a few months and get your first paying customer, then in another few months get your 5th paying customer,” Finnigan says. “It’s frustrating coming from the corporate world, where you work hard and get a bonus at the end of the year.” While you may struggle at first, don’t be discouraged. Keep at it and be mindful of how you measure success–fulfillment is equally as important as profit.

5. Create your own urgency. “If there’s no urgency on your end, no one’s going to create it for you,” Finnigan says. Develop a timeline for your goals to keep yourself on track and be willing to let go of whatever may be holding you back.

Take Action for Your Business, Today!

Image Credit: Source: Eric Finnigan

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Successfully Making Business Development Transition From Summer To Fall

Westchester Networking for Professionals is accepting application for the Growth Partner Excel Program - Mastermind Group starting on September 20, 2016. Click the link for more information.  

Pop quiz: What are the two biggest days of renewal for business owners, professionals, and independent consultants? Answer: New Year’s Day and Labor Day.

While the renewal power of New Year’s resolutions are well known, the lesser known Labor Day resolution is a similar phenomenon. When the kids go back to school and summer vacations end, many in business see this as a last chance to make an impact on yearly goals.

“Fall is the biggest season for client decision making,” says Scott Hamilton, founder of the Executive Next Practices Institute, a forum for C-level executives. He says fall is no time to fall victim to the tyranny of the urgent items on the to-do list.

“Your choices for the rest of the year are to focus on the urgent, the important, or play Pok√©mon GO,” Hamilton advised a group of Orange County, California business leaders this week. “Focus on the important during the 15 weeks from Labor Day to Christmas.”

Also speaking at the meeting was business development expert Mark LeBlanc, author of the book Growing Your Business. LeBlanc says it takes more than focus. What is needed now is extreme focus. Here are his three best practices to maintain extreme focus as autumn takes hold:

1. Create a profile of your ideal week. Good news, everybody. You don’t control much in life, but you do get to control your time. Isn’t that why you became an independent professional, solo consultant, or small business owner in the first place? (For example: My day starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I don’t meet with clients, I focus on writing and planning. On Wednesday mornings I do volunteer work. Am I perfect? No.)

2. Maintain your daily focus. Mighty castles are built one brick at a time. All LeBlanc asks is nine minutes a day to make a call, send an email, and mail a card. “One a day, one a day, one a day, just like taking your vitamins,” says LeBlanc. He calls these “stormstarter” calls, emails, and mailings. That’s because they start a storm of new business development.

3. Develop your will-do list. Scrap those traditional “to do” lists. Instead, what three accomplishments will you complete in thirty days and ninety days?  These are the stars you guide your ship by. “Put everything else in a parking lot,” says LeBlanc.

What should you be sure to include on that will-do list? One new contact strategy is a teleclass on your area of expertise.

“The best clients are those who seek you out because they have already heard of you,” says Steven Van Yoder, author of the excellent book Get Slightly Famous, and an advocate of teleclasses. “Having heard you speak, people feel they know you personally, and are more confident about hiring you.”

The advantages are abundant. You don’t have to be personally present to give a talk that reaches your target market, says Van Yoder. Online chats and teleconferences, using your own or others’ telephone lines, can help you reach a lot of people eager to hear your message.

Teleclasses are a great way for businesses to provide information to prospects, clients, and customers all over the world, with minimal cost and effort. Unlike seminars and other meetings, they eliminate the need to travel. Both hosts and participants can attend from their offices, their favorite easy chair at home, or even by mobile phone while on vacation. (Summer isn’t the only time people take off – those holiday vacations are just around the corner.)

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Growth Partners Excel Program - Mastermind Group

We're excited to announce that Westchester Networking for Professionals is forming a Mastermind group for our business professionals call "The Growth Partners Excel Program. Enrollment starts now for sessions beginning in September 2016.

We’ve learned that as entrepreneurs, surrounding ourselves with like-minded positive people can motivate us, keep us vibrant and on the right track to ensure the future of the success in our business. This is why we are developing this program dedicated to providing our community of business professionals  who are ready take their businesses to the next level and build successful businesses, an opportunity to learn and grow with like-minded individuals.

There is absolutely no selling or recruiting in this group, strictly building relationships and growing business. 

What is a Mastermind Group?
A mastermind group gives you access to a team of like-minded individuals who motivate and inspire each other to succeed.

When you need help in decision making for aspects of your business, whom do you have to turn to? Mastermind groups offer a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills. A mastermind group helps you and your mastermind group members achieve success.

Participants challenge each other to set powerful goals, and more importantly, to accomplish them. The group requires commitment, confidentiality, willingness to both give and receive advice and ideas, and support each other with total honesty, respect and compassion. Mastermind group members act as catalysts for growth, devil’s advocates and supportive colleagues. This is the essence and value of mastermind groups.

The Growth Partners Excel Program will provide a group of up to 10 business professionals a community of supportive colleagues who brainstorm together to move each other to new heights in their business.

3 Reasons to Join the Growth Partners Excel Program:
  1. To SHARE your ideas and get feedback from other entrepreneurs so you can leverage their success and experience to rapidly grow your business.
  2. To receive ACCESS to a network of business owners from various backgrounds to obtain different perspectives, input, and resources.
  3. To become ACCOUNTABLE to others for key goals you have for your business and have a mechanism to help you follow through.

Are you ready to take you business to the next level?

Now Accepting Application for Sessions beginning in September 2016.


Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Why Your Business Contacts Ignore Your Emails

The strength of your company and career is dependent upon the relationships you've built over the years. Even so, most people let important contacts fall off the radar, often for years at a time.

Then something happens and suddenly you want to get back in touch with a somebody you've neglected because (let's face it) you had better things to do than keep the relationship alive and well.

In my free weekly newsletter (in addition to providing links to my most recent posts), I offer free critiques of reader emails. Based on what I've seen, here's how most people attempt to reactivate a neglected contact:

SUBJECT: Long time no see
Hey, John,
I hope you're doing well!
I've started selling mcguffins and I would love to explain to you why our mcguffins are the best in the world!
What's the best way to get on your calendar? You can reach me at 888-555-1234 or check out our website at
I look forward to hearing from you!
Jim Jones
McGuffins Inc.
1234 ABC Blvd.
Central City, OH, 44130

Email like this almost never get answered, primarily because the hidden message is: "The only reason I'm contacting you is because I want something from you."  Beyond that, here are some other reasons such emails go unanswered:
  1. The email is all about the sender and what the sender wants, which is irrelevant to the recipient. 
  2. The tone of fake friendliness is insulting and even faintly disgusting.  The capper is the "sincerely" at the end when the email is obviously self-serving.
  3. The request for a meeting, and therefore the expenditure of the other person's time (and thus money) is completely out-of-line.
  4. The Subject line is irrelevant to the recipient and actually reminds the recipient that the sender has neglected to maintain the relationship.
  5. The email makes the common error of having multiple calls-to-action, which tends to reduce the response rate (too many choices).
  6. The final sentence is not only self-centered but presumptuous.  After this shameless display of "me me me," why would anyone want to respond?
To be clear, the example I've provided above is much better than average. Many such emails actually contain feature lists, biz-blab, and other gobble-de-gook guaranteed to make the recipient hit the delete key.

Ironically, it's easy to reestablish contact with a neglect business contact. In fact, I have an almost 100% response rate to my "reactivate a contact" emails.  I'll explain exactly how to do this in tomorrow's post.

Meanwhile, though, I'll tell you the secret (which I'll explain in detail tomorrow). The secret is 1) get over yourself, 2) put aside your own agenda, and 3) get curious about the other person.

Again, I'll be going into more detail tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, August 19, 2016

5 Reasons Why Social Entrepreneurship Is The New Business Model

Today’s young people are as concerned with making a positive impact on the world as they are with making money. A whopping 94% want to use their skills to benefit a cause. Meanwhile, only half of Americans have confidence in the free market system, down from 80% just 15 years ago.

Against this backdrop, social enterprise has taken off as a new formula for success, combining capitalism with a do-gooder mentality. These self-funding, for-profit businesses also have a mission to tackle global issues such as alleviating hunger, improving education, and combatting climate change. To achieve their high-minded goals, the companies might fund specific programs, partner with governments or existing philanthropic entities, or follow a one-for-one donation model, and work on either the local or international level.

I spoke with several leading social entrepreneurs, all of whom are incredibly enthusiastic about what they do for a living because it allows them to live their passion, embracing a career with meaning. Here are five reasons why they believe social entrepreneurship is the new business model:

1. It connects you to your life purpose.

Honeycomb is a social impact SaaS platform bringing businesses and philanthropy together to make the world a better place. The company has facilitated over $2.4 million in social impact to over 500 non-profits in less than four years.

Honeycomb cofonder Melissa Levick said, “ Having social impact built into your business model allows you to live your life on purpose.  It’s about connecting your brand’s why with how it can be used authentically to serve the world. It’s not a gimmick or a marketing tool. It’s a genuine mechanism to solve social problems while feeling connected to a higher purpose.”

2. It keeps you motivated.

Ido Leffler had tremendous success with one of his first businesses, the natural beauty brand Yes To (Carrots, Cucumbers, etc). When thinking about what to do next, he and his business partner Lance Kalish decided to build their company on three key pillars: working with incredible people, making great products, and benefiting an impactful cause.

Leffler created Yoobi to make school supplies fun again and solve a big problem along the way: Teachers in the U.S. spend an average of $500 out of their own pockets every year on school supplies, and millions of kids don’t have the tools they need to realize their potential in the classroom. For every Yoobi item sold, the company donates supplies such as colored pencils, staplers, and notebooks to schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Why found a social enterprise? “I think the biggest question once you’ve reached success is one of motivation,” Leffler said. “What keeps you going? For us, it was this idea that we didn’t want to just be ‘widget guys.’ We wanted to make a real and lasting impact on people’s lives. It’s that simple. At the end of the day, giving back in the way that we are is much more rewarding than any business success I can think of.”

3. It brings you lasting happiness.

Corporate360 is a multi-million dollar outbound marketing data software start-up that founder Varun Chandran created without external funding. The company also runs an NGO in Chandran’s hometown of Padam, in Kerala, India.

The social enterprise’s main programs include improving sanitation, drinking water, and housing for the villagers. The company has gifted a school bus and an ambulance to the local government. Every academic year, the Corporate360 team distributes school kits consisting of bags, books, umbrellas, and lunch boxes to the local students. In addition, through its SmartWorker software, Corporate360 hires women, youth and physically challenged individuals from low-income families, training them to perform simple digital data tasks and connecting them to a life-changing source of income.

Chandran himself grew up in Padam extremely poor, the son of a farmer. This is a big reason why, for him, the definition of success includes making a difference in other people’s lives. “I have discovered a larger purpose,” Chandran said. “My biggest happiness so far in life is being able to go back to the village where I was born and ‘adopt’ it. When I first made money, I traveled to 32 different countries and bought everything that I had ever wanted, but I realized that I still wasn’t happy. I found real, lasting happiness through my social impact work. At the same time, it makes me feel more responsible for working hard to build the business so that I can contribute even more. It’s a win-win situation, and I enjoy it to the fullest.”

4. It helps you help others discover their life purpose.

NEWaukee, based in Milwaukee, is the only social architecture firm in the country that operates on a social enterprise business model. “We believe that the place in which a company is located and how invested that company is in the local community have a direct correlation to the ease with which it sources the talent needed to make its products and the customers needed to buy its products,” explained NEWaukee co-founder and CEO Angela Damiani.

The social enterprise model allows NEWaukee to offer hundreds of events and programs annually to the public for free, build public parks and works of public art without the need for taxpayer or philanthropic investment, and support twenty-four different non-profit organizations at no charge. “We’ve developed a mechanism for corporations to put the human back into human resources while simultaneously making the Milwaukee community a more equitable, accessible and vibrant place for all to enjoy,” Damiani said.

On a personal level, Damiani feels honored to “live and breathe this work every day.” She said, “Not only have I found my own passion through creating this business model, but also I am delighted to help others find their own life purpose through our projects and programs. We are serving our clients while shedding light on their potential to be their best and brightest.”

5. It is what today’s consumers want.

WE’VE provides hand-selected, skilled artisans from Cambodia, India and the U.S. with a global online marketplace for their goods. All the eco-friendly products are sustainably created. In addition, WE’VE collaborates with the artists to support their families and local communities.

WE’VE Founder and CEO Eve Blossom said, “As consumers, we have redefined ourselves as citizens of the world. More and more people are interested in products and services that align with their values. We are considering our purchases in a holistic sense, examining the price of products not only in terms of the amount paid at the register, but also the total cost of production along the way, including pesticides and poisons used, sweatshops employed, and other, broader human consequences. A whole industry has grown around this revelation, as businesses are being built on a smarter framework of ecological, economic and social sustainability. The most fulfilling goods and services are those that connect us in relevant ways to other people and help us live in concert with our values .”

Image Credit: Studio Emp,  Kendal Lovejoy, Varun Chandran, Jason Klein,  Rick Dean

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Traditional Advertising Is Dying a Slow and Painful Death. Here's What to Do Instead

The proof is in the pudding. How many times have we heard that? However, when comes to building a brand it holds true 100 percent of the time.

When companies have social proof of repeated positive interactions with their customers it builds trust in the marketplace which increases conversion rates of new customers.

Traditional advertising efforts are declining in their effectiveness. Consumers have been marketed to so profusely that they have become resistant to almost all claims made in advertisements.

I received yet another phone book on my doorstep over the weekend. Like millions of others, I immediately recycled it. Studies show most millennials don't even watch tv. Newspaper subscriptions are down across the country, rendering their ads far less effective than they once were.

There is simply so much noise that consumers have largely shut down and tune out commercials. They simply don't place any value in the claims made by marketers unless they can be validated from actual proof from within the marketplace.

Credibility is essential to building a brand and consumers simply would prefer to find out what others are saying rather than placing faith in what advertisers are telling them.

Here are several simple yet highly effective ways marketers can leverage social proof to increase conversion rates:

  • Create case studies from successful customers. Demonstrating how existing customers have benefited from a brand's services establishes credibility. Share them to your website and social media
  • Write blogs that tell the company's story, demonstrate industry thought leadership, document success, highlight talented employees, and create engagement.
  • Encourage customers to leave online reviews and publish them to the company website. The sales team should seek recommendations from existing customers via LinkedIn that can be displayed on their profiles.
  • Ask influential existing customers to give a testimonial via a quote. Create a graphic with the quote prominently displayed and share it via social media.
  • Prominently feature awards, mentions in the media, or any other positive rankings or ratings via social media.
  • Leverage numbers when possible. People are far more likely to take a certain action if they know others have already done it. If a company has 75,000 subscribers to their e-Newsletter making that known lends credibility and encourages new users to sign up as well.
  • Encourage your sales reps and account managers to get LinkedIn recommendations from existing clients. Then, make the recommendations part of the sales pitch to prospects. I have 37 LinkedIn recommendations and have used them as a closing technique for years, "don't just take my word for it, see what my clients have said about me."

To get business, blogging has been the only advertising I've done for my startup. When I was in the corporate world and before blogging, it was always me who was doing the reaching out to companies (calling, emailing, messaging on LinkedIn, etc).

Since I began blogging and left the corporate world, I found that giving away just enough free information via my blogs attracts interest in my business. Blogging helped me convert from a 100% outbound marketing strategy to an inbound one in which people reach out to me.

When I meet with companies about their social media, one of the biggest fears I see is negative reviews online. They are hesitant to go all in on social because they fear that by doing so it will give their customers more opportunities to voice a negative experience.

What many don't realize is that these negative reviews are likely already happening to some degree with your company. The best way to offset a negative customer experience online is to share and highlight positive outcomes from customers that show the real benefits of your products and services.

Once a company has an understanding of how to leverage their social proof, they become truly influential within their industry. The key to marketing is what others are saying about a brand, not what the brand is saying about itself.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
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4 Things Your Welcome Email Must Do (and Probably Doesn’t)

As a small business, you know how important a first impression can be.

Whether it’s the first time someone walks into your store, the first time someone calls your office, or the first time someone looks up your business online — you work hard to make sure customers walk away thinking positively about your brand.

But how about the first impression a customer has with your brand’s email marketing?

Have you put any thought into the type of experience you’re giving your customers when they receive an email from your business for the first time?

The value of welcome emails

It’s easy to forget that each time a customer opens an email from your organization, they are actually having an experience that can impact the way they think of your business.

Like when someone decides to hop in their car and visit your store, when someone decides to sign up to receive your emails, they do so with certain expectations. More often than not, those expectations will come from the initial experience that reader had with your business­­.

That’s why it’s such a surprise that so many businesses pay so little attention to their Welcome Email.

What most businesses do wrong

Welcome emails are the automated messages subscribers receive when they sign up for your email newsletter.

Because welcome emails are automated and most email services provide stock content for businesses to put into them — many business owners don’t even know what the first experience they’re providing their readers looks like.

That’s a huge problem. Especially considering open rates for welcome emails are much higher than typical email correspondence. (The average open rate for a welcome email is between 50-60 percent.)

That’s a lot of people being served a less than optimal first impression. Even worse, that’s a lot of people setting low expectations for the emails they’re going to receive from your organization in the future.

Make sure your Welcome Email delivers a fantastic first impression. Here are four things your Welcome Email must do:

1. Reaffirm they made the right decision

The fact is, even customers who love your business can be reluctant to offer up their email address — especially if they are new to your business and haven’t built a strong relationship with you.

For the customers who do make the decision to subscribe, they’re going to want to know right from the start they made the right decision.

Here are three ways to do just that:

Remember your subject line best practices: Just because Welcome Emails are automated, doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention to your best practices. A Welcome Email subject line should catch the reader’s attention, thank them for signing up, and give them a reason to open your email.
Try something like “Thanks for signing up. Now what?”

Let them know they’re part of a community: Don’t be afraid to showcase your success as an email marketer. Letting readers know just how many people are receiving your newsletter each month is a great way to reaffirm their decision to subscribe to your list.

Make them feel safe: People are protective of their information online — and for good reason. Letting your customers know right from the start that you plan to protect their email address is a great way to make them feel safe and secure.

2. Tell them what to expect in the future

Once you’ve reaffirmed the reader’s decision to subscribe to your mailing list, offer some preview of what they can expect next.

It’s important that what you tell your reader in the Welcome Email is consistent with what you promised at the point of sign-up. You don’t want to offer coupons and deals to get people to sign up and then tell new readers that all they’re going to be getting is news updates.

Take the time to revisit what you’re offering people at the point of sign-up. Remember to include details about the type of content you plan to send, how frequently you plan to send it, and the expertise you plan to share.

3. Make sure future emails get through

Even the most experienced email marketers can sometimes fall victim to SPAM filters.

If you’re a Constant Contact customer, you can use the Spam Checker to improve the likelihood of your emails making it through.

But you should also use your Welcome Email as a way to avoid getting flagged as spam, and to improve your chances of getting noticed in your readers’ inbox.

A great way to do that is by asking them to “whitelist” or add your business to their trusted contacts. That way, your emails will not only end up in the inbox (and out of the spam folder,) but will also be more likely to be recognized by the reader.

4. Fulfill on your offer

It’s likely you made an offer of a download or coupon in exchange for your contact’s email address. After all, special offers are one of the reasons why people sign up to email lists. The Welcome Email is where you should fulfill on that offer. Since the Welcome Email is typically sent immediately after a new contact joins your list, you’ll be able to provide instant gratification to your new contact.

Remember this is your Welcome Email

Personalizing your Welcome Email will not only improve the first impression you’re able to make on your readers, it will also help set you apart from your competition.

While most businesses are sending welcome emails with static and un-engaging messaging, you’ll be providing an experience that will shape the way customers and potential customers think of your brand.

Take the steps provided for you in this post and remember this is your welcome email. It’s your opportunity to introduce your email marketing and reintroduce your business to your target audience. Make sure it’s written in your words and that it reflects the personal experience you plan to provide your readers.

Make it memorable.

How to edit your Welcome Email in Constant Contact:
You can edit the default Welcome Email, using these steps. Once set up and customized, this email will send automatically to your new contacts, so you can make a great first impression, every time.


Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

16 Basic Marketing Tools Every Single Company Should Know

Modern marketing involves seemingly endless amounts of data generated by a smorgasbord of digital channels. In fact, the ocean of marketing data available is so vast that it's hard to know what to focus on, particularly when a company is young. Fortunately, a wealth of inexpensive and easy-to-use cloud platforms exists to help sift through and make sense of all the noise. Take some pointers from Nikhil Hasija, CEO of Seattle-based Azuqua, a company helping businesses like General Motors, GE, and Starbucks connect cloud apps and data, doing things such as linking Twitter to Marketo to Salesforce to Zendesk to Jira. Here are his words regarding the best digital tools any company should start with.

Website Content Management System (CMS)
Every company needs a website, but it's amazing how many companies create a website without a content management system. There is absolutely no reason to waste precious resources updating website copy. I use WordPress because it doesn't require engineering talent, there is a huge community of users to tap for help, it offers millions of themes to choose from, as well as a huge ecosystem of consultants, agencies, and developers.

Web Analytics
For most startups, the free tier of Google Analytics is enough. However, once you have more traffic, you may want to try advanced, yet more expensive, tracking tools like Kissmetrics, Mixpanel, Omniture, or Webtrends. No matter which tool you use, web analytics is absolutely critical for running experiments, and improving the impact of your content.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
If you have leads coming in, you need to start managing them. Salesforce is the most common CRM system, but it has grown bloated over the years, to the point where it is actually pretty difficult for a startup to get it up and running. The good thing about Salesforce is that every sales and marketing person knows how to use it. The downside is that it's more complex than it needs to be. I'm a big fan of Pipedrive as an alternative.

Marketing Automation
Once you start spending money on acquiring leads through things like paid media or events, you'll want to track and optimize your spend to ensure those leads mature and drive revenue. This means you need a system to create landing pages and gate content, send out newsletters, and create nurture campaigns. If you are focused on email marketing and newsletters, tools like MailChimp, SendGrid, and Constant Contact will suffice. However, they don't really generate leads. Marketo or HubSpot are much better for this. The biggest issue many companies have with marketing automation is that managing the tool becomes a full-time job. Azuqua--my company--addresses this issue.

Design Tools
Every marketing team needs design work. Marketing is inherently visual, especially in the digital age. While larger companies have design teams dedicated to marketing collateral or agency vendors focused on creative, small teams need to do much of this in-house. Many teams still use Photoshop, but Sketch is quickly overtaking Photoshop in popularity with startups because it's lighter, easier to use, and covers the functionality that non-design professionals need 95 percent of the time. I also recommend Canva to easily create social media creative and Unsplash to find free, high-res stock images.

What marketing tools are your favorites, and why? Sound off in the comments.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Save 25% with Constant Contact Email Marketing



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Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!