Are Your References “Professional”?

What do your professional references say about you? Ever think about it? You should because no matter how good your interview went, if your references don’t say good things about you….you’re not getting that new job you want. Seems kinda harsh doesn’t it? But it’s true, a bad reference can single handedly sink an otherwise great opportunity.Ironically, most people pay little to no attention to their references. I hear things like “I haven’t talked to him in ages.”, “I didn’t really work that closely with her.”, “I’m just his friend” but my favorite is the “one word answers” – yep, no, yes, maybe, absolutely. Joking aside, if you aren’t taking the time to really cultivate and inform your professional references you are putting yourself at a disadvantage in any job search. Someone who takes their job search seriously has educated, informed, prepared and PREDICTABLE references. I recall a candidate interaction a long time ago where the recruiter asked a reference “Would you hire so and so again?”. Simple stuff, nothing major, should be a straight forward response and it was just that….”I wouldn’t hire that guy to stock shelves”. End of interview, no hire, thanks for playing. If your references say they wouldn’t hire you again, it’s pretty bad but when they go out of their way to torpedo your application it’s apocalyptic.Without further adieu, a few quick tips on how to give the best professional references:1) Give people who you know, trust and who will absolutely, positively say nice things about you – I know, right, who WOULDN’T do that? You’d be surprised. I’m not even going to talk about this anymore, do your homework, call your references so when they talk to potential a employer they don’t throw you under the bus.2) Give a former manager – Again, I know, not rocket science. I’m always happy to hear how great a guy someone is, or how they play a mean guitar or how they can finish Halo without dying……….but, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. I want to talk to someone who can tell me what kind of an employee you’ll be once you are hired. Former managers are critical to making sure any potential employer can get the info they need to hire you without reservation. If you don’t have a former manager who’ll say nice things, try someone else in a leadership role. You need someone besides your lunch buddies to say nice things about you, especially in a competitive job market like we have now.3) Make sure your references are available and expecting the call – This one drives recruiters crazy. Nothing more frustrating than leaving voice mail after voice mail for a reference only to follow up with an email that bounces back “On vacation until September 2013″. Good times! It’s common courtesy for everyone involved and will help also make sure our references say nice things about you.4) Have a few people recommend you on LinkedIn – Simple stuff, and frankly it doesn’t matter if this is a former manager or not. With the rise of social networking, more and more companies are searching the web for potential hires. No better way to reinforce that you are a quality hire than to have a well groomed LinkedIn profile that has several people singing your praises.5) Keep in touch with your references to make sure you have a big stable of people to use -This is the final tip, and probably the most important. You want to keep in touch with people who can serve as great professional references. Seriously, think about it. How many former managers can you give that would say nice things about you? The more you have, the better off you’ll be long term. You don’t need to talk to them every day, week or even every month however, you should be just touching base once every quarter or two, JUST in case you need them or, get this…..maybe they need you. That’s right, your former boss may be looking for a job and need a “former direct report” to say nice things…next think you know you guys are colleagues again. So, trust me on this one, figure out who will give you a stellar reference and then maintain and build on that relationship.That’s it, nothing crazy, nothing complicated. Follow these simple tips and I can guarantee you’ll have much more success converting those interviews into offers.

Do You Make These 5 Marketing Automation Mistakes?

Marketing automation has become a vital tool for businesses of every size. It can help you gain and sustain a competitive advantage. Speed up sales results. Plus, enable you to engage more contacts with personalized messages sent at the right time. So you can build good relationships.Yet not each marketing automation system is the same. In fact, very few have all the essential tools in one package of services. If so, that can cause you to integrate system parts from third parties that can cost you time and money, especially when things go wrong down the road.That is why it’s vital to first know what a full all-in-one marketing automation system is all about.Marketing automation is a server-based software that integrates different technologies.4 Automation Technologies Most Vital for Marketing CampaignsFirst, it includes a CRM that allows you to collect, store and use information about your contacts. To be able to segment your contacts by custom fields and tags, behavior – such as opening emails and clicking on links, plus purchases.Second, it includes an automated messaging system for emails, text, postcards and tasks. This allows you to send each message to contacts based on when they opted in, a date, behavior, purchase and more.Third, it has eCommerce functionality. It integrates order pages with a form and payment gateway for one-click purchases. Plus it can allow you to integrate with a shopping cart if you prefer. Most of all, it can automate processes based on successful or failed transactions, subscriptions, trial periods, payment plans, coupons and more.Fourth, it must have a campaign builder that enables you to take each contact on a personalized journey with measurable results. This allows you to create multiple campaigns for opt-in, sales, upsell, downsell and retention.A marketing automation system such as one by Ontraport can provide additional features. These include marketing tracking to help you see which ads, landing pages and emails are generating the most cost-effective results. Affiliate marketing and membership site to help you boost the number of customers and sales. Landing page and form builder to enable you to design professional looking sites in minutes. And a lead router and scoring system to help you and your sales team follow up leads and convert them into customers.Three key benefits of a marketing automation system are that you can customize it for your business. You can have multiple marketing campaigns at the same time that operate 24/7. Plus you can automate processes specific to contacts along their journey. But there are also marketing automation mistakes you can make along the way.Marketing Automation Mistake #1: Sending eMails to Contacts Who Did NOT Opt-in
Marketing automation involves permission based emails. That means you send emails to contacts who give you permission to send them information. You can get permission when each contact opt-in to your system. However, importing a list or manually adding contacts to your marketing automation system is a violation of SPAM rules. If you do this you can compromise the delivery of emails even to those whom give you permission.Marketing Automation Mistake #2: Not Maintaining a Database of Active Contacts
Even after you get a contact to opt-in, you must keep them active. That means, you must continually send them emails with relevant content to engage with at least once per week. Otherwise, they may forget you and not open the few emails you send. Over time, they can become less engaged, diminishing email delivery of your entire database. A re-engagement campaign is an effective method to get non-engaged contacts to interact with your emails again. You get these contacts to tell you if they’d like to remain on your list or opt-out. So you can maintain a consistent and clean contact database.Marketing Automation Mistake #3: Focusing on the Wrong Metrics
Marketing automation allows you to measure the results of your campaigns. This includes opt-ins, sales conversion, email open and click link rates, landing page visits, sales, ROI and more.However, focusing on the wrong metrics can cause you to misinterpret the true results. For example, you may have two campaigns where one has much higher open rates and lower click rates. Yet when you calculate click to open rates you can see an entirely different result. Before starting each campaign, it is vital to know the metric you seek to focus on to determine success.Marketing Automation Mistake #4: Not Split Testing Campaigns
All campaigns differ by the type and number of contacts, content and more. Split testing campaigns is the key to finding what works right. But the key to split testing is to test just one variable at a time. Such as a headline, price, offer, design or target audience. The campaign that wins is the new control. Then you can test other campaigns against the control.Marketing Automation Mistake #5: Not Having a Certified Consultant on Your Team
Marketing automation is both an art and a science. It requires a mix of technology know-how with direct response marketing expertise. Plus an objective mindset that is not biased toward the company or product. These are why it is best to have an independent consultant certified in the use of the marketing automation software on your team. To develop the strategy and build a custom automation system for your business. Plus, to train your team on using the system.

A Plethora of Internet Marketing Tips

The keys to the successful internet marketing business

As different organizations look at the internet marketing model for redemption, there are certain elements that need to be under control and under the constant supervision of the major stake holders. These are the elements that will ensure that the organization in question has a very good chance of influencing the industry positively. The list is by no means exhaustive but it provides a good starting point for people that wish to explore this area further:

  1. Site wide links are no longer in fashion because the internet marketing model is all about the products. The links to the home page might not give the clients the products that they need. In any case the larger websites require the clients to click on more than one page before they land on the product from the home page. That is just unacceptable in the competitive world. The direct link to the product page is the way to go.
  2. Meta tags should be used to avoid significant amendments to the websites. When product lines change then the client should look to the Meta tags to ensure that they can redirect the product lines to the appropriate landing pages without having to change the entire website. Characters must be limited to the key words and the essential content. A repeat of over 25% of the title can be fatal in terms of page authority. Important key words have to be given the priority when undertaking the internet marketing strategy.
  3. The use of copied content is not advisable from the perspective of a comprehensive internet marketing strategy. This type of content tends to reduce the value of the website in the eyes of both the human traffic and the mechanical crawlers. It is not ethical because it can lead to copyright theft. The search engines have significantly increased the efficiency of their duplicate content detectors and it will be only a matter of time before the offending website is duly penalized.
  4. The individual that is deeply involved in the internet marketing world has to ensure that they have created a list of tips that go with the work that they have achieved. This is learning that can be applied to the different people that join the organization. It can also form the basis of a marketable product in terms of training for others.
  5. Domain classification has precedence for age. The older domains are given credence in the internet marketing world as compared to the new domain names. That means that it is not necessarily a good idea to rush out and buy a new domain name for a very expensive price. It might not deliver the kinds of results that the client is expecting from the model.
  6. The internet marketing model is all about networks. That means that the merchant is strongly advised to build a network of related but different websites. This is the first step in creating a niche that can prove to be a very powerful marketing tool. In the end that is what makes all the difference between a haphazard strategy and one that is founded on a clear understanding of the internet marketing tips. At the same time it is important that the websites are differentiated in order not to attract the wrath of the major search engines that might suspect foul play.
  7. The image search functionality on the engines is ripe for internet marketing. This is an area that has not been well explored by the merchants because they are not aware of the true marketing potential for images. Images and videos should be prepared and optimized in order to diversity the revenue stream. If one element fails then a loss leader strategy can be effectively applied to rescue the company in question.
  8. Affiliate programs are an excellent internet marketing tip. They are based on a model that pays when there are clear results from the representative. From this perspective the affiliates are the idea opportunity for the publishers to get traffic without the added complications of managing the system or the elements that deal with the day to day sales.
  9. Technology must always be included in the internet marketing strategy in order to keep pace with the developments within the industry. A fear of technology can effectively remove the possibility for improving the outcomes for the industry as well as the people that organize it. Merchants are advised t take courses in order to improve their general awareness.