CommunicationMarketingSEOUncategorized

One of the most confusing parts of working with a digital marketing company is understanding what in the world they’re telling you.  It ends up sounding like they’re telling you to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.

John Cleese
If you’ve never seen Monty Python’s Airplane Pilot sketch, you definitely need to.

Or in the words of the great John Cleese, “The scransoms above your head are now ready to flange. Please unfasten your safety belts and press the emergency photoscamps on the back of the seats behind you.”

To that end, I’ve compiled a short list of 13 of the most common digital marketing words.  Hopefully it helps you make sense about what the marketing experts are telling you.

 

Backlink – A link from someone else’s website to yours.  If it’s a reputable website this link will increase your search result rankings.

Bounce Rate – the percentage of people viewing your website who leave after only seeing one page.

Conversion – Someone who performs an action as a result of viewing your website or ad.  Such as signing up for a mailing list, taking a survey, buying a product, etc.

CTR – Click-through rate.  The percentage of people who see your site somewhere (usually search engines) that actually click through to your website.

Follow/No Follow – Whether or not search engines will follow a backlink to your website, boosting your rankings.

Keyword – a word or phrase that internet users search for on search engines.  The more specific the term, the more valuable it is since people searching for something specific are more likely to click through to relevant sites.

Remarketing – Advertising that targets people who have already interacted with your website.

Schema – A way of telling search engines what all the content on your website is.  Such as the title, author, and/or ratings and reviews of your website or products.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization.  In other words, ensuring that Google and other search sites

SERPS – search engine results pages.  Where the results for a search show up.  Ranking higher on a SERP means that you show further up on the results page.

Sitemap – a file that lists all of the urls for a site.  Search engines can read these to find urls they wouldn’t otherwise know about.

Tags – Tags can refer to two different things.  In blogging it refers primarily to relevant words or phrases to your article so that people interested in those things can find similar blog posts.  In SEO it refers to things like the title of your page, metadescriptions, headings, alt-text, no-follow tags, etc.  Don’t worry if you don’t know what those are.  Part 2 of this series will have a lot of the most common tags in it.

Phone bookWeb Directory – a website that provides lists of other websites.  Most directories require manual submissions of entries and usually include more details like contact information.  They are the easiest way to build up backlinks.

 

If there are any terms you’ve heard before and you have no idea what they mean, let me know and I can include them in a part 2.

EducationProductivityUncategorized

Rubik's Cube

Wolf pack
The big city was of course, the upstairs of grandma’s house

As children, we loved to play games.  Childhood is the age of games.  “Let’s play house,” “Let’s play a board game,” or “Let’s play family of wolves who are having trouble finding food because of the encroaching big city.”  Okay, maybe that last one was just me and my siblings…  The point is that children primarily learn through games.  The most effective way to get a child to learn something is to turn it into a game for them to play.

 

Eventually, we grow up.  Games are something that must be put away in favour of more somber pursuits.  They’re too unstructured for regular life, which requires rules and regulations to keep things running smoothly.

 

Monopoly money
What? No, that’s not monopoly money in my glass. Why do you ask?

But what if I told you that’s not quite true?  Games don’t have less rules than real life.  They just have different ones.  In real life, the rule is that in polite society we walk upright.  But in “family of wolves who are having trouble finding food etc….” the rule is that you walk on your hands and knees.  It’s a different rule but it’s still a rule.  Taking all my monopoly money and stuffing it into my coat is fine, if a bit strange, in regular day-to-day life, but when playing Monopoly it’s called cheating.

This cuts to the heart of why games are important.  They give us the ability to try out several approaches to a problem, also known as lateral thinking.  Lateral thinking is one of the most important tools for problem solving and sadly it’s one of the most overlooked, in part because our brains just aren’t naturally good at it.  Our brains love routine and lateral thinking forces them to step back from the rules we’re accustomed to so that we can see if there is another way to solve the problem.  Because we always do things a certain way, it’s easy to continue doing things that way, but when you play a game you have to step outside of that routine to embrace a new set of rules.

Of course, I’m not saying that you should get your boss to pay you to play Monopoly. Even if you don’t like board games, or card games, or word games, or any sort of game at all, you can still turn things into games.  Even work can be turned into a game.  If you take a goal or task you have to complete and make a game out of completing it in the most efficient way possible, in addition to the obvious benefit of work being a lot more fun, you can step outside of your work routine and look for what exactly you can do differently to boost your efficiency, since ultimately that’s what a game is.  “What’s the best way to do this thing as soon as possible.”  Whether the goal is bankrupting your opponents in Monopoly, getting more goals than your opponent in a game of hockey, or even figuring out the best way for your pretend wolves to get food from the fridge upstairs without getting caught, gaming teaches you how to achieve your goal with an (often) arbitrary set of rules and conventions.  It’s a quick jump to being able to use the same tools you build in the game world to achieve your goal with the rules and conventions of the real world.

I’ll leave you with this lateral thinking puzzle.  The answer will be in next week’s post, so try not to Google it until then.  A man walks into a bar and asks the barman for a glass of water.  The barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man.  The man says ‘Thank you’ and walks out.  Why?

BloggingMarketingProductivitySocial MediaUncategorized

So you’ve hired someone to manage your social media accounts. It takes time to manage so many accounts and see growth and that’s time you just don’t have as a business owner. While social media is widely used for sharing funny memes, and picture perfect content, your social media manager should be doing much more than that when it comes to their clients.

Marketing Objectives

marketing

You social media manager should know and ask about your marketing objectives and follow them. There could be many marketing objectives for your business and it’s important your social media manager is knowledgeable in all of them. This is after all what is going to make it worth it in the long run.

Tracking progress

Statistics

Keeping up with how many followers you gain each week or month is great but not all of these followers will be potential clients or customers. Tracking how many organic engagements you are getting, will give you a greater understanding on how your day to day strategy is working rather than being swayed by the big numbers your ad gets. While ads are great for exposure, the insights may not be as relevant. Ads show the number of impression your content is receiving, but did you know some ads count impressions where if one account has been shown the same ad 100 times this counts as 100 impressions. So while the big numbers may look great, the organic ones are where you want your social media manager to focus their energy on. Being smart on how you track your progress and statistics is just as important as the insights themselves.

Engagement

engagement

If your social media accounts aren’t active this may be a big concern. One of the biggest parts of hiring a social media manager is to get the activity on your account that you don’t have time for. This is a time consuming part of the job and extremely important. Just as importantly the content being published needs to be engaging to your audience. You social media manager should be researching and learning your audience and what interests them, as well as their needs and how your business can help them. Along with being active on your accounts, your social media manager should be keeping track of inquiries and directing them to the right people or resources within the company. If someone is inquiring about a service you offer they should make the initial contact with the customer, then direct them to the professionals in your business if they can’t answer the questions, or feel it’s better left to the experts in that area.

Scheduling & Calendars

calendar

Scheduling content is not just a trick of the trade, it’s necessary. This is how content can be posted at any and all times, based on your insights of optimal times to post. Keeping a calendar of content planning is a habit your social media manager should be doing. This is key to not only organization, but to have a plan for future content. Your social media should have a goal, and planning in advance helps you stay on track. A content calendar improves the efficiency of your social media specialist, so your content isn’t being left to the last minute, rushed to get out and susceptible to simple mistakes.

Content Curation

content

Content is another one of the biggest jobs for a social media manager. This is probably one of the main reasons you hired them in the first place. You didn’t have time to find or create content, and still don’t. Finding info to share that meets your audiences needs and interests is a very important part of a social media managers job. While your social media specialist doesn’t have to be a professional photographer, they should be creative in the kind of content and images to capture. They should also be somewhat photo savvy or have connections to a photographer they can work with, as making an attractive Instagram account etc. is part of their job. If your social media manager works remotely, they should at least be sending you content ideas that are easy enough for you to take yourself, or for a hired professional to take, and they should not be using only stock photos on your account.

Customized graphics

graphics

Part of branding is being recognizable. Your business colors are a big part of who you are, as is your brands voice, and logo. All these things should be used as much as possible. Don’t be stuck promoting others graphics, or words. Your social media manager should get creative and create a template that you can post quotes on, or promote sales. This helps increase brand awareness and makes your content original and shareable, let others promote your business and graphics not the other way around.

Trends

Trend

Your social media marketer should be keeping up with the latest trends for your industry and on social media. This also means keeping up with algorithms on social platforms. If video content is doing the best, your social media manager should be encouraging videos. If other businesses in your industry are active on Youtube, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc. then you should be too. Your social media manager should be keeping your business in the loop so you don’t miss out on opportunities to be seen and heard.

Research

Research

This may be overlooked by some social media mangers, and definitely shouldn’t be. Research should be done on your business, on the things you offer, and the people you are selling to or targeting. This is actually an important part of their job as well, if they don’t know what you offer and the people you are targeting, how will they be able to cater your content or ads to the exact people that want and need to see your business.

Social media managers are extremely important and helpful for your business. As social media is growing… and definitely not going away anytime soon, you will want your businesses social media presence to be made known. Your social media manager should be posting content that is relevant to your industry, they should be doing their homework on your business so they are sending out content that is appropriate to your industry. When done correctly, social media managers can help increase brand awareness, sales, grow digital presence, generate new leads, retain existing customers, along with so much more.

ProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Habits to keep you organized at work

A tidy work place not only looks good but actually helps you stay focused and productive. We’ve all spent time looking for things that get lost in the mess, so keeping a tidy desk will help reduce clutter which in turn reduces stress. Did you know that a clean desk actually saves you time, spurs on creativity and communicates professionalism. That’s right, it might actually have more of a benefit than just looking neat. These are some ways I like to stay tidy in the workplace.

What I organize constantly:

My deskDesk

I have a specific place for my bags when I come into the office at the beginning of the day. I keep one water bottle or glass of water on my desk, during the day, there’s no need for more than that really (unless I’m drinking coffee, then you can find my coffee cup as well.) I keep only one pen, and one highlighter along with my daily planner on my desk. Anything that comes out of my desk goes back right after I’m finished with it. My biggest tip is to clean off your desk at the end of the day so you have a fresh start the next morning. Keeping only the things you need on your desk eliminates unnecessary clutter.

 

 

My daily planner

I like my day to be planned out in front of me on paper. Once a task is completed I check it off or highlight it. This helps me balance my work load throughout the day. At the end of the week I make a plan for the next week (so I don’t forget tasks over the weekend) and when I come in on Monday I eliminate the ‘Monday fog’ and have my day already planned for myself. I update my planner frequently during the week and balance out my work load if any new tasks arise.

My Computercomputer

Instead of keeping all tabs and programs open, I like to filter through the things I am absolutely finished with, save and close them. If I have a few things on the go I simply minimize the programs until I am actually working on them. This way I don’t tempt myself to jump back and forth between projects. But can focus on one thing at a time and close projects when they are completed. I go through my emails/voicemails (like most people) at the beginning of the day and throughout the day I reply to the ones that require my attention as well as delete any junk mail that may come through.

 

What I organize occasionally:

Files

My whiteboard

I have a whiteboard on the wall by my desk and this is where I jot down things that I need to look at daily. I don’t update this as often as some things are analytics, strategies and reminders. I do however make sure that when I jot down things on my whiteboard, since they will be there for a while, that I keep it looking neat and legible.

Computer Files

This is something I will admit that I need to be more organized with. I have a tendency to save documents or pictures in the ‘all files’ or ‘all pictures’ category. I do however still go through and move files and pictures into their correct places. Just like your paper documents this keeps the clutter out of your computer files.

Desk Drawers

Desk drawers are sometimes a dangerous place! If you want something off your desk it gets thrown into a drawer as fast as possible, out of sight out of mind right! Cleaning out your drawers may be more rewarding than you think! You may find your favorite pen that you were sure was lost to the darkness behind your desk. I’m curious what the craziest thing was that you found in your desk drawer you didn’t even know was there!

Organization bonus:

Since I am the social media specialist at the office, I definitely organize my social media accounts. Going through your social media and cleaning up old tweets, Facebook posts or Instagram photos is a great habit to get into. Keeps your accounts looking fresh and professional. Once a year I go through the accounts that I follow, and I unfollow accounts that no longer serve purpose to me, are spam, or accounts that hinder my mental well being.

 

Share some things you like to do to keep organized or if you have some tips for me leave a comment below!

BloggingSelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Gratitude

As humans we seek happiness everywhere we go. In the people we are with, the things we buy, the jobs we work at, the music we listen to and so on. But do these things make you the happiest you can be? When you are away from the people who make you happy, can you still be happy? When you retire from the job you LOVED, can you still find happiness? And if the radio doesn’t play the perfect song on your commute, can your day still be just as happy? The simple answer is yes. In fact the answer is gratitude. This goes with you no matter the people you are with, the job you work at, or the weather that day.
grat·i·tude
/ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
As Marc explains it; ‘Happiness is an inner feeling, focusing on yourself, whereas gratitude is an outer quality, focusing on others.’
gratitude
Gratitude creates happiness, but with better outcomes. Happiness may lift your mood, or improve your day, although gratitude improves your life. With Thanksgiving this weekend, it’s a great time to start practicing gratitude daily. Five minutes a day may not seem like it’s doing all that much, but over the span of a few months you will definitely start to notice the benefits.
Being grateful actually encourages patience, humility, and wisdom!
Say someone cuts you off in traffic, you can choose to be angry or you can be grateful you weren’t harmed and arrived at your destination safely. At times it may be more difficult to show gratitude, but this is when I feel it makes the biggest impact. When something doesn’t go our way, most of the time we let it affect us negatively and this has a ripple affect. Stop a bad day in it’s tracks and instead think of all the good things that have happened to you already, this will ripple out into other areas of your day and make a way better impact!

My Challenge To You

So my challenge to you is to start showing more gratitude in your everyday life! Start with the people who are close to you. Do something thoughtful for them, like offer to help clean up after the Thanksgiving meal! Give them a compliment on something you appreciate or admire about them. Don’t stop there, do something for people you interact daily with, like give a generous tip when you pick up your coffee, or bring flowers to a co worker and leave a note telling them they are appreciated and doing a good job. And definitely show gratitude to the people who challenge you. This might be listening to what they have to say without telling them they are wrong. Maybe you can use it as a lesson to practice patience, courage and compassion.

Gratitude Journal
A great way to practice gratitude is to keep a journal, write down the the things you are grateful for. Try it in the morning to set the mood for the rest of your day. According to Greater Good Magazine, it may be more beneficial for you to journal occasionally rather than everyday.
“One study by Lyubomirsky and her colleagues found that people who wrote in their gratitude journals once a week for six weeks reported boosts in happiness afterward; people who wrote three times per week didn’t. “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems counterintuitive, but it is how the mind works.”
In conclusion, I think we all need a little more gratitude in our lives, and the best way to achieve it, it to be the one who practices it! It’s a ripple affect, showing gratitude and kindness to others will encourage them to do the same. You may not see it directly or right away, but your actions make a difference!

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” —Zig Ziglar

BloggingEducationMarketingMobile AppsSocial MediaUncategorized

Social media for your business

Most have a good understanding about what common social media platforms offer. Some think the more the better (target as many people on all corners of social media and you’ll reach more potential customers), but with social media this isn’t necessarily the case. The best way to approach social media is to find channels that are the most beneficial to your businesses unique needs. Each platform attracts different age, gender and even industry demographics. Depending on your target audience you want to be present on the platforms your audience is using most often.

Facebook: facebook

This is the best platform to start on for any business, it has the widest range of age demographics, and currently has 2.38 billion active monthly users. This is a great platform to make connections and build community. You can easily share important aspects of your business, and find potential customers. On this platform you want to post videos and curated content. Although if your business is targeting a younger audience, ages 13-17 this age group spends less time on Facebook than 18 and up.

 

Instagram:Instagram

Instagram has quickly become a massive platform, with 1 billion active monthly users. This platform is great for product based businesses, as it is highly visual and just recently released the shopping feature making it even easier for customers to buy your products. Instagram is focused on creativity and building community. If your target demographic is under 35 this is a platform you cannot skip. 63% of users are between the ages of 18 to 34, and to make it even better its virtually an even split between male and female users. On this platform you want to post good quality aesthetically pleasing images and stories, use this platform to become more personal with your customers.

 

Twitter:Twitter

Twitter is the go-to platform for being updated on the latest news and trends, it is fairly fast paced so posting often is key. This is another great platform for sharing interesting information, or contributing to a conversation about your industry. Studies show that tweeting content with visuals does significantly better than without, although other studies show posting your traditional “one liner” tweet is just as good (we’ll leave it up to you to decide for your business on this one.) This platform also tends to have a younger audience 38% user are 18-29. But with that said, still a high number of users age 30-49 are active on Twitter making up for 26% of adult users. Both male and females are active on Twitter so if your business targets one or the other, or both this is a great platform to gain exposure on.

 

LinkedIn:LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for professionals. This channel is best used for business-to-business brands aiming to make interactions with the decision makers of a business. Gender demographics are well balanced here as neither male or females are more active on this platform. Businesses are looking for certain industries or job titles rather than ages or genders. This is a great place to post job openings, update other business owners and professionals on company changes and share professional content. 34% of users between the ages of 18 to 29 and 33% of users between the ages of 30 to 49 are active on LinkedIn.

 

Pinterest:Pinterest

Pinterest is a platform that is often overlooked as it used to be a community of home makers sharing recipes and DIY projects. While this is still true, the user base is more female dominant on this platform, 50% of new accounts are being made by males. Pinterest should be seen as a search engine more than a social media platform as 2 billion searches are made every month. It’s a great site to direct traffic to your website and gain exposure for blog post, and products. The content on this platform is highly product based, as users on Pinterest are usually searching for a product.

 

There are so many more platforms you can choose to be active on but these are the biggest ones you want to focus on as they are highly popular. Social media is a great way to reach more people and build rapport with customers. It’s a way to show off your aspects of your business that may otherwise be looked over.

Tip: remember to be social on the accounts you have, respond/leave comments,  and share things you find interesting. Whatever your company culture may be let your content also express this same energy to your viewers. Your account can be whatever you want it to be, not just what everyone else in your industry is doing!

Uncategorized

Search Engine Optimization is hard.  Balancing optimizing your results right now with preparing for changes to the Google algorithm, you sometimes start to wonder how other people do it; how they keep pace in an ever-shifting world.  I know that I do.  That’s why it’s always good to seek advice from other professionals in the industry to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  And while you can’t always personally ask every Search Engine Optimizer for their advice summed up into one quick sentence, that’s where the power of the internet comes in!  Here are 7 great quotes, six of which are from people with lots of real world SEO experience and one is from Douglas Adams because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love Douglas Adams?

1. “Good SEO work only gets better over time. It’s only search engine tricks that need to keep changing when the ranking algorithms change.” – Jill Whalen

2. “The objective is not to “make your links appear natural”; the objective is that your links are natural.” – Matt Cutts

3. “Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.” – Wendy Piersall

4. “You wouldn’t buy pills from someone who sends you a spam email so why would you do that with your SEO?” – Kelly J. Rose

5. “It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic.” – Jeff Eisenberg

6. SEO is a marketing function for sure, but it needs to be baked into a product, not slapped on like icing after the cake is baked.” — Duane Forrester

7. “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” – Douglas Adams

Hopefully these quotes can help you achieve SEO Success, or at the very least help you know what SEO Success actually looks like.

CommunicationEducationUncategorized

I love riddles.  Give me a book of riddles and my productivity tanks as I spend the rest of the day thinking about them.  I love old riddles, new riddles, and I especially love creating riddles.  My wife and I will try to stump each other with riddles for hours and we even created our own riddle game where one of us thinks of a punchline for a joke and the other person has to create the setup.  (It’s great for long road trips.)  But why do we riddle?  What purpose do riddles serve?

Riddles Unite Us

Sumerian Mosaic

Riddles serve to pull us together.  Throughout human history, riddles have been a part of life.  All cultures have them and many riddles have been shared across cultures and languages.  The riddle of the sphinx comes from Greece originally but versions can also be found from Estonia and even on the Marshall Islands.  This connection with people across cultural and linguistic divides helps us to understand them and to see how similar they are to us.  it transforms them in our minds from the Other to the Same.  Riddles even bridge the gap of time.  As long as there as been English there has been people telling riddles in English.  But going back to the dawn of written language we even have riddles from the ancient Sumerians.  Here’s an example:

A house based on a foundation like the skies
A house one has covered with a veil like a secret box
A house set on a base like a goose
One enters it blind,
Leaves it seeing.

The answer?  A school.

So in a sense, we ask riddles because we always have.  Asking and answering riddles is a part of the human experience.  It unites us across cultures and eras and helps connect us to them.  We can now say that the Sumerians valued education just as much as we do.  All from one short little riddle!  That still doesn’t really answer the question though.  The unity riddles give us is a powerful effect of riddles, but it is only one effect. It is not the purpose behind them.  What is that purpose?

Why Tell Riddles?

Oedipus and the Spinx
Um… Uh… A really weird cow?

Ultimately, riddles teach us.  They teach us essential problem-solving skills when we’re young and they help us enhance those skills when we’re older.  Sometimes riddles teach you that the answer was hidden in plain sight.  Which word in the dictionary is spelled incorrectly?  ‘Incorrectly.’  These sorts of riddles rely on double meaning.  What can travel around the world while staying in a corner?  A stamp.  Some riddles rely on clever metaphors.  The riddle of the sphinx is a classic example.  What walks on four legs in the morning, two at mid-day, and three in the evening?  A person.  No matter what trick the riddle uses, when you’re told a riddle you know it’s a trick.  You know the answer is hiding right behind it waiting to be discovered.

There’s an even greater challenge in creating a riddle.  A good riddle is solvable but not too solvable.  If there isn’t an answer, then it’s not really a riddle.  If it’s too easy to find the answer, the thrill of the chase is gone.  When you create a riddle, you have to solve it yourself without any clues.  You need to figure out what the twist is going to be and then build the riddle around that.  And once you know the answer to your riddle.  You just have to figure out the question.  So both solving and asking riddles requires creativity and helps us train our brains to think laterally.

Riddles in Life

The lateral thinking that riddles give us is essential to success in the modern world.  Unexpected problems crop up all the time and they usually require unexpected solutions.  If you’ve trained your brain to be prepared to think laterally, to step outside of the box and wrestle with your problems, you’ll be better equipped to solve them.  Whether it’s figuring out what’s wrong with the code in your program, discovering a way to stay under budget in your department, or even finding the best angle to chop down a tree, lateral thinking and problem-solving skills are essential for success in life and enable us to take charge in our lives and deal with our problems head on.

A very real example comes to us from the 19th century.  Until less than two hundred years ago it was a point of professional pride for doctors to never wash their aprons since they showed how experienced they were.  To make matters worse, they’d only wash their hands at the end of the day since they knew they’d just get them dirty again.  The high infection rates in hospitals were attributed to stale air but the real source of the problem was completely unknown even though it was right in front of them.  Along came Dr. Joseph Lister.  He was able to step outside the box of accepted medical practice and so he realized that the lack of hygiene was the real culprit.  He was gradually able to convince others and the changes he made to the medical industry saved countless lives and he is now called the father of modern surgery.  If he wasn’t able to think laterally, how many more people would have died from easily preventable causes?  While the situations we’ll be faced with in our daily lives generally won’t be that dire, lateral thinking is still just as necessary for us now as it was then.  Without keeping our brains sharp we won’t even know what problems we’re missing, let alone how to solve them.

The Bayeux Tapestry

As a final thought, I’ll leave you with this Anglo-Saxon riddle from the book of Exeter.

I am an eminent thing, known to nobles,
and I often abide, notorious among the people,
both mighty and poor, traveling widely,

standing a stranger at first 
to my friends, a plundering hope—
if I must keep hold onto the profits 
or a brilliant good in the cities.

Now wiser men love me the most,
my companionability. I must reveal wisdom
to the multitudes. They never speak there,
any of them across the earth—

Although the children of humanity,
of the land-dwellers, pour over
my tracks, I conceal
my footsteps from every man
at times.

CommunicationEducationProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Last week I was helping out at a local father-son summer camp outside of Calgary called Arcatheos.  A lot of theatrics and explosions and all those great things.  We like to joke that it’s a camp for teaching boys to become men and men to become boys again.

One of the characters with his fire sword
I mean a LOT of theatrics

Leadership Requires Service

This year the theme of the camp was “To Serve is to Reign”.  We really focused in on this theme of service with the teenagers who would become our version of camp counselors, called “knights.”  To be able to effectively lead the boys in their charge, they couldn’t simply order them around all day without a care for their well-being.  They had to be emotionally invested in both the boys they were in charge of and in the other members of their teams.  with that emotional investment, every order or directive is followed because the boys know its for the good of the camp and themselves.

I was struck by how well this carries into the workplace.  If an employee feels that his boss is invested in him and his life, that he’s not just another cog in the machine, the extra overtime needed to finish an important project becomes a lot easier to deal with.  It no longer feels like a forced task from a faceless overlord but like an urgent request from a friend.

Respect

Aretha Franklin
“Find out what it means to me”

We taught the “knights” that the easiest way to serve their boys is to respect them.  If you respect those around you, they’re more inclined to respect you.  If they respect you, they’re more likely to incorporate your feedback into their behaviour and truly listen to what you’re asking them to do.  They won’t merely sit around after completely a task waiting for you to hand them the next one, and instead they’ll proactively seek out ways to be helpful.

Don’t be a Drill Instructor (unless you are one)

Drill sergeant
Johnson! Did you finish that spreadsheet yesterday!

Meanwhile, if those under you feel they have to walk on eggshells around you with even the slightest mistake causing them to get raked over the metaphorical coals, they might try to work their hardest to not make a mistake, but a lot of their attention that could go towards doing their job right is now going towards watching over their shoulder to make sure they haven’t awoken the dragon.  In addition, if given a choice, people prefer leaders who are caring and compassionate instead of leaders who are taskmasters and drill instructors.  So if your employees have a choice, they will eventually leave for greener pastures.

Don’t be a Door Mat

Welcome
Please ignore all my directives on your way in.

At the same time, you won’t have respect if your employees feel they can walk all over you.  If missed deadlines are never a problem, unexpected absences are rampant, and no one listens to your instructions, sure, you won’t have employees flocking to leave your company in droves for better conditions, but you’ll also obviously end up with inefficient employees wasting the company’s time and money.  Resulting in them, and probably you, being let go.

Be a Compassionate AND Effective Leader

Cool dudes in cloaks

Instead of either of those two extremes, a synthesis of the two is required.  There are times when you need to lay down the law and reprimand the people working for you.  There are also times when those people need an ear to understand the problems and difficulties they’re facing and a helpful hand to guide them.  Using only one method or the other cripples your leadership abilities and it is only when you are both firm and compassionate as a leader that you will earn the respect and trust of those underneath you and unleash your full potential.

Ultimately, these leadership lessons we taught to the boys are vital for everyone, whether or not they’re currently in a position that requires leadership.  Everyone at some point in their lives will be in charge of something.  Whether that’s a multi-million dollar project or 10 children at a summer camp, no matter how large or small the opportunity effective compassionate leadership inevitably leads to further leadership opportunities down the road.

Social MediaTechnologyUncategorized

geometric panda head

The office has two 3D printers, not just any 3D printers, these were built by our CEO himself. We decided we wanted to print everything we could think of. We wanted to see how the printers would hold up, how successful the outcome was and what kind of things we could make!

A Phone Stand

Phone standphone stand with phone

The phone stand took a total of 6 hours to print. This is super functional if you are a frequent Facetimer and constantly find yourself propping your phone on a pillow. You can use it to watch movies on your phone, or keep your phone in a super functional position while at your computer.

Geometric Wall Hanging

geometric panda head

The sky’s the limit when it comes to 3D printing. Next we printed a cool decoration to add some life to the office. This also took a total of 6 hours to print. If you’re looking to add decorations to your house 3D printers are an amazing tool, you can print out exactly what you like, the color and size, depending how big the printer is. Which brings me right into our next print job.

Dog Figurine

dog figurine Dog figurine

This one quickly became a favorite. Anyone would love having a super cute dog to look at while you work! If you’re not a dog person, a cat can be printed up just as easily and as cute. Even though it may not look like it, the dog is actually quite small for size, standing only a little taller than the phone stand, it fits nicely into anyone’s hand, even small children.

A Cookie Cutter

cookie cutter

The cookie cutter has been printed many times by us before and for good reasons! It takes about the same time as the others to print, and is a great gift to give to others. If you’re wondering if we’ve tried it out, we have in fact and it worked just as expected, perfect. The last, but definitely not least print job is by far the most ridiculously fun.

Finger Soccer

finger soccer

Yes, you can in fact 3D print games! Who would have thought? While a tournament has yet to be played we pulled the finger soccer fresh off the printer today just to get amazing pictures of it. It’s super fun and comical.

3D printers have so many uses, from pure entertainment, to super handy, to adding life to your office. Next to be printed is Barbie furniture, more pandas, of course and definitely more games. We are proud to say the printers haven’t had trouble, yet (the Barbie furniture itself will test new limits on the printers) and the outcome of each job was better than expected. Follow us along on Facebook and Instagram  to see new projects and how our journey continues.

BloggingEducationMarketingSEOUncategorizedWeb Development

Today when people are searching for your business they are mainly going to their phones or computers to find you. Google is the biggest search engine out there, and if you aren’t on board, people may be missing you. Starting a Google My Business account or optimizing your existing one is vitally important for your business and how it appears in searches.

Setting Up a Google My Business Account

Google My Business listings

If you haven’t set up a Google My Business (GMB) account yet, you’ve got one mission for today…set up a GMB account! No seriously, it may seem like just another place to add your business to but this one is important and here’s why. When people are searching for a product or service they jump onto Google. For example, searching “office supplies” pulls up the Google accounts of places that offer these supplies. This image is what your GMB account will show up like. You will see the rating of your business, location, some images and much more as you go in further. If you have a good GMB account, this may even show up before your website listing. The initial set up is straight forward, but it’s the actions you take in each of those steps and after your account is set up that makes or breaks your account.

Images Are Everything

images are everything

When you have the option to add pictures of your business, always, always do it. You don’t want to resort to stock images because Google will find them and remove them. Take this chance to show off your business, inside and out. Take multiple pictures of the front and inside of your building. People feel comfortable when they can see different aspects of your business. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer either. Take clear, well lit images of the first place you see when you walk in, the staff and definitely your products. Don’t make people feel like they are going on a blind date when they are coming to you. If a business adds stock images as their product photos or avoids images of their building, I usually question why their products weren’t deemed “good enough” to make it to the front page. Or what the building looks like so I wont drive past, or wonder if I’m at the right address. Including these images shows you are proud of your work and prepared. Add pictures of the people working there, recognizing a face when walking into a business, even if it’s just from a picture, helps puts people at ease and builds trust.

Take advantages Of Features

using features

Just recently, Google made it available to get a short name for your business. Creating a short name makes it easier for people to send links to others to leave a review. When adding a logo to your profile be sure corners aren’t being cut off and it is a good quality image, a square usually works best. Choose a header that represents your business well and be creative when writing your business description. Please don’t copy and paste directly from your website, make your description unique.

Post regularly

Post regularly

Be active on your Google My Business account, post every week about new features or products. Bring to life aspects of your business that go unnoticed. Posts will expire so keep your account updated for the best reach. Regularly check your categories because they are often updated and new categories are added that you may want to be found under.

Reviews

reviews

Reviews aren’t as scary as they seem. We have an entire blog post about how to manage bad reviews. So when it comes to Google reviews, don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave a review after their visit. It’s a great way to hear about their experience and gain exposure! Although in the event that a bad review pops up, don’t take it personally. Be professional, address the issue, create a solution, if it hasn’t been solved already, and apologize for their experience. Keeping emotions out of it is the best way to professionally solve a problem. Since you can’t control the actions of others, it starts with you. Don’t become aggressive or invalidate their experience. Accept it and always apologize, then respond to them in a positive way. This is important. Always respond to reviews, good or bad, in a positive manner. Recognize that some bad reviews are good. Many people want to look at bad reviews just like they want to look at good reviews. They take note of how you responded and what your solution was to the problem.

Creating a Google My Business account increases the amount of people you reach. It helps give more information about who you are and what you do. It encourages people to find you in other areas, like Facebook or maps. You don’t want to skip on an opportunity for people to see your business and to gain more customers.

BloggingEducationSEOTechnologyUncategorizedWeb Development

Improve Your SEO

Everyone wants to be seen and heard, but when everyone wants to be seen that means almost no one is. In case you got lost at the title, I’ll briefly explain what exactly SEO is.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the process of getting more quantity and quality traffic to your website through the free, organic, or natural search results on search engines.

This of course is something you want for your business, free, organic, natural traffic. We’ll dive into some tips you can practice to achieve good SEO on your website.

1. Create Relevant Content

Blog content

Did you know the amount of time people spend on your website affects your SEO? This means, you want to put out content that people will want to read. Ideally content with more words does better than those with fewer words. But this doesn’t go to say that a post with 2,000 words will do better than one with 500. Pay attention to the quality and relevancy of your posts as this is what makes the biggest difference. The idea behind “the more words the better” is that, you have more space to add keywords, add more outbound links and get people spending more time on your page.

2. Add Quality Photos

good quality photos

Adding photos increases the legitimacy of your website. You can easily find high quality photos for free or take your own pictures for your website. Make sure when adding photos to add keywords to the various components of the image. Such as the file name, alt text, title, description, and caption. Images are processed 60,000 times faster than text and 65% of people are visual learners. Images hold a tremendous amount of value for readers and SEO.

3. Readability

Readability

To make posts inviting to viewers always try to break up text with headers. Just think, if you click a link that is only somewhat interesting to you and are greeted with a huge block of “mono tone” looking text, the chances of you sticking around are pretty slim. The title would have to be extremely compelling for you to read past the first sentence. Don’t give your readers “Mount Everest” type of  content to tackle. What I mean by this is, you can have a heavy or highly informative topic to write about but if you just lay it all on your readers you will overwhelm or even lose them. Break up your text with images, headers, and shorter paragraphs to avoid exhausting or boring readers. To give your SEO a boost try adding keywords into your headers. The easier your content is to read the better you will rank.

4. Mobile Optimization

Mobile Optimization

Back in 2015 Google started penalizing websites that aren’t mobile friendly by pushing them down in search engine rankings. In fact, taking a look at some statistics on just how many website visits were from mobile devices in 2018, 58% were from mobile devices. This number just keeps jumping each year, if your website isn’t mobile friendly good chance you are also seeing a high bounce rate. If you are a B2B marketer mobile optimization is especially important. 77% of executives use their smartphones to research a product or service for their business.

5. Website Speed

Website Speed

Search engines pay attention to your websites loading speed. The chances of users leaving your site increases if they have to wait  longer than 7 seconds for pages to load. Try optimizing the size of your images, larger images can slow down your page. Reduce the number of plugins, the more plugins you have the more resources are needed to run them which slows down your website. The recommended loading speed for your website is under 3 seconds. Since so many websites fall short of the recommended speed, you will have an advantage on your competitors if you increase your website speed.

There are many aspects to SEO but making these few changes will increase your search engine ranking and drive more traffic to your website.