Brand Update : Horlicks pitches for Emotional Nutrition in the latest campaign
Lead by Example: 12 Ways to Be a Successful Team Leader
[This article was updated in December 2018 with new additions to the list. It was originally published in 2014.]
Over the years that I have worked in the project management field, I’ve taken a number of courses, read a number of books, and have seen and utilized a number of tools that have all promised success in leading teams and managing successful projects. And as helpful as they were, I found that the greatest asset in leading teams and managing projects is not found in technical tools and procedures but in skillfully relating to people. You can have all the processes and procedures memorized, have all the certifications, be an expert in all the technical tools, and list out all the terminology without skipping a beat. But if you can’t skillfully manage human relationships and interactions, you will fail in your attempt to successfully lead teams and manage successful projects.
If you’re not the greatest natural leader since Captain America, I’m here to help out. I’ve listed 10 guidelines to help you improve your ability to lead. If you can master these, you will exponentially increase your ability to lead teams and manage successful projects. Keep in mind that you won’t always get these skills right away. You’ll make mistakes. I know I do. But that’s ok as long as you keep working at it and resolve that no matter what, you’ll be a better leader. You need to do this because so few people are, and this world is starved for good leaders. So without further ado…
1) Don’t criticize or complain about people.
The surest way to demotivate people is to constantly criticize them or complain about them. If they make a mistake, put it in perspective with the things they constantly do well. Accentuate the positive and utilize mistakes as opportunities for continued improvement. This leads us to our next item…
2) Praise improvement, even minor improvements.
Psychologists discovered long ago that when you positively reinforce a desired behavior, people are far more likely to repeat that behavior. Most people want to do the right thing, which means you will find far more success in leading a team if you focus on using positive reinforcement rather than negative actions like threats and fear tactics.
3) Give honest and sincere praise and appreciation.
All people deeply desire significance. One of the easiest ways you can help fulfill desire that is by offering honest and sincere praise and appreciation whenever possible. This is probably one of the greatest motivational methods you can ever employ.
4) Encourage other people to talk and be a good active listener.
People want to be heard, really heard, and not patronized. Oftentimes, instead of listening to someone in a conversation, people are really just waiting for an opportunity to speak. If this is an area where you struggle, one trick is to say “What I understand you’re saying is…” By repeating what you understand the other person to be saying, it forces you to really listen to what they are saying. And as a side benefit, it reinforces to the speaker that you truly are listening to them and respect what they have to say.
5) Be genuinely interested in other people and make them feel important.
Everyone’s favorite primary subject is themselves, its human nature. Social media at large and the “selfie” testify to this fact. Nobody likes to feel ignored and unappreciated, including you (see item 3). So go ahead and make an effort to be interested in people and you will win their gratitude and by extension a cooperative attitude.
6) Be sensitive to people’s pride and let them save face.
The simple fact is that all people are prideful creatures. If you call them out on being wrong about something and make them look bad in front of others, they’ll fight you to the bitter end. But if you can offer criticism or disagreement in a manner that allows them to save face, they’ll be much more willing to cooperate and work with you.
7) Be respectful of other people’s ideas and opinions. Try to see things from their point of view.
When you try to understand another person’s point of view you may find that you learn something. But even if you don’t, you will still find it much easier to respect the people with whom you disagree.
8) If you are wrong, be honest and humble enough to admit it.
Sit down for a moment, are you ready for this? You are not perfect, you are not always right; you can and do make mistakes. One of the greatest personality traits you can develop is that of humility. We all make mistakes, and rather than deny and repeat those mistakes, wise people admit their failures and learn from experience. In doing this the wise person is able to grow and continually get better. If you’re honest and humble enough to own up to your mistake, apologize to those affected, and work to avoid repeating your mistake; you will gain the respect of those you work with.
9) Set a high bar for people and let them know you believe in their ability to succeed.
In 1980, the US Olympic Men’s Hockey Team was set to play against the Soviet Men’s Team in the Winter Olympics. At the time the Soviet team was the undisputed powerhouse in men’s hockey. Nobody expected the US team to have any chance of beating the Soviet Team. The US team was a mix of amateur and collegiate players and the Soviet Team had won the gold medal in six of the seven previous Olympic Games. Before the game, the US team coach Herb Brooks read his players a statement he had written out on a piece of paper, telling them that “You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.”(Coffey, 2005). The US team went on to beat the Soviet Team and then Finland and secure the Olympic Gold. Set a high bar for your people, believe in them, communicate that to them and be amazed at what they can achieve.
10) Set Clear Goals.
Goal setting theory teaches us that goals are the primary drivers of the intensity and persistence of effort. Both for you, and the team you intend to lead.
Very simply: assigning employees difficult goals results in higher performance than easy goals. Further, assigning employees specific goals results in higher performance than general goals (such as “do your best”).
Goals organize and direct our attention by necessity. They require us to regulate our efforts. They increase our persistence. And they encourage strategy and planning.
If you’re looking for a concrete way to put this into practice, look no further than the classic SMART Goal framework.
11) Understand Equity Theory and Practice Procedural Justice.
How do we move motivation beyond just financial incentives? How does fairness or unfairness influence your work environment? And what steps could we take to increase intrinsic motivation in ourselves and those around us?
There’s a lot going on in this diagram, which is why it’s still taught in a lot of MBA classrooms.
Expectancy theory from Victor Vroom suggests that if you can:
- Set your team’s understanding about what is expected of them
- Set what the rewards will be for meeting or exceeding that expectation and deliver those rewards
- Offer incentives that they truly value…
You will dramatically increase satisfaction and both individual and team performance. Failing to live up the expectations you’ve set, whether intentionally or unintentionally, can have major negative consequences to morale and future performance.
12) Follow the greatest leadership rule ever given (IMHO).
If you wish to be a great leader, make it your focus to serve those whom you would lead. There are a lot of people that want the power, prestige and pay that comes along with leadership positions, but few want to do what it takes to actually be a good and effective leader. Great leadership isn’t about bossing people around; it’s about inspiring and guiding people towards a common goal for everyone’s benefit. Build your team up, give them credit for their work, praise their efforts and reward them when they succeed. There is a saying that states “Be the change that you want to see”, we can adapt that to this discussion by saying “Be the leader that you would want to lead you”.
*Coffey, Wayne (2005). The Boys of Winter. New York: Crown Publishers.
The post Lead by Example: 12 Ways to Be a Successful Team Leader appeared first on Portent.
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How this brand doubled their sales by listening to their customers
Could asking two simple questions actually help double your sales?
Absolutely. Here’s a real-world case that proves it. And it just happens to be my favourite case of all.
It’s a story of a premium grill brand you most likely know – Weber Grills. In a period of just 3 years, they’ve doubled their sales.
How did they do it? By adapting their marketing to their best customers’ PERCEPTION (even if it sounds illogical)
Check out the full story:
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How To Write A Great Product Description Page
Every web-browsing human being reads a product description, almost every day. Most product descriptions are eye-bleeding horrors of lousy copy and unclear information. That means some of the most-read digital content is some of the worst.
We can do better.
This is my sort-of-system for better product descriptions. Use as you see fit.
Two Kinds Of Descriptions
You’re writing two product descriptions:
- The SERP snippet, to improve rankings and generate clicks
- The product description page, to generate sales
Both impact rankings. But writing just for rankings will kill sales, and vice-versa. You have to find the right balance.
I beg of you, please don’t go and rewrite 10,000 product descriptions to the exact formula I outline here. It’s a starting point. Be creative.
The Product Description Page
This is the classic “product description.” Folks read it when they’re making their buying decision. They’re looking at two things that your writing can impact:
If UX is solid and the product is good, a great description will explain features and establish value so well that the customer clicks buy.
I focus on three elements of the product description page:
- The on-page title
- The blurb
- The bullets
If you don’t have bullets, may I suggest adding them?
There’s lots of other stuff: Images, call to action, price, for example. I’m not writing about those here. I know my limitations.
Check For Duplication
If you’re rewriting an existing description, check for duplication.
- Copy two sentences from the blurb
- Put them in quotes
- Paste them into Google
Do these sentences appear on other sites? That might be OK. But for SEO, duplicate content is a problem. Also, ask yourself: If your product description matches one or more other sites, what reason do folks have to buy from you, instead of them? If you can’t answer, you need to rewrite.
If you need to rewrite the description, don’t worry. Follow the rest of these recommendations, and it’ll happen naturally.
The On-Page Title
Note: Writing titles for Amazon is an entirely different discipline. Start with these recommendations, but you’ll need to include more product detail. It’s annoying, I know.
Your on-page product title starts as the product name:
Fast Roller TX 1000
But it must pass the Blank Sheet of Paper Test: The title, written on a blank sheet of paper, should make sense to a knowledgeable stranger. The Fast Roller is a road bicycle tire. Try this:
Fast Roller TX 1000 Road Bicycle Tire
That sounds like an SEO wrote it. When you’re wearing your SEO hat, though, you don’t write copy. You optimize it. Never optimize while you write.
I want something tighter. Remember, the blank sheet of paper test says a knowledgeable stranger. So this will work:
Fast Roller TX 1000 Road Tire
Maybe there are two TX 1000s, though: One for each valve type. Then I end up with:
Fast Roller TX 1000 Road Tire: Presta; and
Fast Roller TX 1000 Road Tire: Schrader
You want higher rankings, though, so you’re tempted to write a fifty-word title. Use your judgment. An overweight title won’t pass the blank sheet of paper test:
Fast Roller TX 1000 Road Bicycle Tire Flat Proof Presta 700C 150TPI Bike Rolling Thingie With A Valve And Tube And Stuff
The knowledgeable stranger will give up. Think before you start keyword stuffing.
The Blurb: Write An Appeal
Fill the blanks:
If [thing or need] then this is a perfect [product].
"If you [want puncture-resistance] then this is a perfect [road bike tire].”
That’s your appeal. It’s not the only way, but it’s a robust introduction.
You can combine multiple appeals:
“If you want puncture resistance and great handling, then this road bike tire is perfect.”
“The TX 1000 provides puncture resistance without sacrificing weight, for a tire that delivers great handling and low rolling resistance.”
Again, I plead. I beg. I implore. Don’t use this as a formula.
The Blurb: Point Out Results
Something about this product makes it uniquely valuable. I hope.
Tell me how you outperform:
“In testing, the TX 1000 showed greater flat-resistance than all major competitors.”
Describe unique features. Get specific!!!
“The TX 1000 is the only tire with an unobtainium valve for greater durability and easier inflation.”
I won’t call this the USP because the term’s so overused it makes me ill.
The Blurb: Find The Unnoticed Obvious
Find one important unnoticed feature related to the appeal. For example threads per inch (TPI) affect a road cycling tire’s puncture-resistance and handling. If no competitors talk about TPI, we should:
“150 TPI means a supple, flat-resistant sidewall.”
Now, I have:
“If you want to balance puncture resistance and performance, then this is a perfect road bike tire. 150 TPI means a really supple, flat-resistant sidewall that doesn’t sacrifice handling or increase rolling resistance. The TX 1000 is also the only tire with an unobtanium valve for greater durability and easier inflation.”
The Blurb: Remove Words That Should Never Be Spoken
Plague words. Ew. Additionally, really, indeed, obviously. Shudder. Dump them all.
I’ve got a whole list of plague words right here. If you use ’em, delete ’em.
“If you want puncture resistance, then this is a perfect road bike tire. 150 TPI means a
really supple, flat-resistant sidewall that doesn’t sacrifice handling or increase rolling resistance. The TX 1000 is also the only tire with an unobtanium valve for greater durability and easier inflation.”
I also dislike overuse of unrivaled, unmatched, best, fantastic, or any other phrase that doesn’t apply to your product or your category of product. If you’re Rolex, maybe you can say unrivaled. If you sell shoelaces, stop it.
The Blurb: Remove The Breathless
Avoid the painfully obvious. Without bicycle tires, I get sparks and hemorrhoids. And only an idiot wants a tire that combines high rolling resistance with vulnerability to sharp objects. I get it.
Don’t tell me I’ll love this product, either. You’re already implying that. Saying it out loud seems needy and pushes me away.
In cycling, tires are important. Performance and flat resistance matter. If you want to balance puncture resistance and performance, then this is a perfect road bike tire. 150 TPI means a really supple, flat-resistant sidewall that doesn’t sacrifice handling or increase rolling resistance. The TX 1000 is also the only tire with an unobtanium valve for greater durability and easier inflation. You’ll love this tire!”
I know I need a bicycle tire. Tell me why I need this bicycle tire.
The Blurb, Resplendent
Here’s what we’ve got:
“If you want to balance puncture resistance and performance, then this is a perfect road bike tire. 150 TPI means a supple, flat-resistant sidewall that doesn’t sacrifice handling or increase rolling resistance. The TX 1000 is also the only tire with an unobtanium valve for greater durability and easier inflation.”
On to the bullets.
The Bullets: Find The Questions (And Answer Them)
Bullets are punchy little bits of information. Readers scan for them. Use them to dispel concerns and answer questions. Finding good bullet content is easy:
Go to Amazon.com. Search for your product, or a relevant one. Scroll down to “questions.”
If there are any, find the five most-read and most-asked. Write a brief response to each one. Keep those answers handy.
Do the same on other sites: Walmart, Jet, and vertical-specific sellers all have “questions” sections.
Those will become bullets in your product description. You might even repeat items from the blurb, like “150 TPI.” Use your judgment.
I found many questions about tire weight, tube versus tubeless, and sidewall color. So my bullets could be:
- 10 grams (a guy can wish)
- Requires a tube
- Black sidewalls
You can skip bullets if you want. Maybe you don’t need them. That’s fine. I mean, who needs to answer all those pesky customer questions, right? That’s my over annoying parental way of saying you need bullets. Bribe the developer. Get the branding team drunk and ask for written approval. Whatever you have to do.
Destroy the FAQ
The FAQ is where copywriters go to die. If there are frequently asked questions about a product, write brief answers for those, too. Add them to your bullets, or the product description. Or add a separate section for related FAQ.
If you’re reselling someone else’s product, look at the manufacturer’s FAQ.
Those can become more bullets or part of the blurb.
Everyone wants to know if we guarantee this tire. We provided this answer, so I turned it into a bullet:
- 10 grams (a guy can wish)
- Requires a tube
- Black sidewalls
- Guaranteed rim fit and flat resistance against normal debris. No rampaging hippos
Product specifications? Your call. I don’t think you need specs for a capybara plushie. You might if you sell roofing shingles.
Product ingredients? I like to put them after the bullets, but it depends on the product. A bag of popsicle sticks doesn’t need a list of ingredients. I hope.
Just Get To The SEO, Ian
If you did all of the above, you’ve got an optimized product description page. If you want to take it further:
- Make sure you don’t avoid your keyword. You sell bicycle tires, not inflatable wheel support.
- Start with the important stuff. Ingredients rarely belong in the first paragraph. Your appeal does.
- Do some smart internal linking.
And, you need to work on your SERP snippet:
The SERP Snippet
The product description page is your pitch. The snippet is about search visibility and clickthru.
I’m going to focus on the title element and meta description. They’re usually the bulk of the snippet:
It may include reviews and other bits, too. That’ll be another post.
The Title Element
If you don’t know what a title element/tag (same thing, different names) is, here’s a primer.
First, follow the Blank Sheet Of Paper Test. I like to start with the product description page title:
Fast Roller TX 1000 Road Tire: Presta
But I probably need to include “bike” or “bicycle” to separate me from motorcycles and cars:
Fast Roller TX 1000 Road Bicycle Tire: Presta
- Flat-resistant bicycle tires
- Fast bicycle tires
- Bicycle tires weight
- Road tire vs. mountain bike tire
I also found a lot of folks search for quantitative features:
- Size (700c)
- Inflation pressure (110psi)
I might add these to my description:
Fast Roller TX 1000 Road Bicycle Tire – Presta – 700c – 110psi
Remember to check the current maximum title element length. We have a nifty SERP preview tool that can help.
Turns out my title is too long, so I have to get ruthless. I remove the less-important feature:
Fast Roller TX 1000 Road Bicycle Tire – Presta – 700c
OK. Title complete.
The Meta Description
If you’re not sure what a meta description tag is, read this.
The meta description has zero direct impact on rankings. It does, however, impact clickthru. These are a few things I try to do:
First: Include the features for which you believe people will search. Those get bolded. Their presence will reinforce that this is the right product. If someone searches for “rolling resistance,” “presta,” and “schrader,” and I have that word in my meta description, the search snippet will look like this:
The searcher is more likely to click.
Second: Use the highest-performing ad text. A few years ago, Wil Reynolds made this recommendation. It blew my mind: Use the highest-performing PPC ad text as your description tag. You’ve already tested that text. You know it gets high clickthru from a SERP. Blew. My. Mind.
I don’t recommend doing this for the on-page, visible product description. Ad text is optimized for search results, not a product page.
Finally: If it’s relevant, include differentiators: Shipping time, available colors/sizes, genuine original, etc. Anything that matters to your audience. On the other hand, don’t tell me you have genuine original socks. I care exactly not at all.
Try to use all available characters. As I write this, the accepted maximum is 300 characters. It changes all the time. Do your research.
Done! Or Not.
You’ve written a great product description page. You’ve got a great SERP snippet. Nice!
Keep an eye on page performance. Look at clickthru rates. Revise. Keep trying to beat previous performance.
Writing descriptions can be tedious, but it’s a solid conversion win with SEO implications. Done right, it can strengthen your brand.
What’s not to like?
Just please, don’t ask me how many times to repeat a keyword.
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A Marketer’s Intro to Advertising on Amazon
Part of my role as a Client Partner at Portent is to stay up-to-date with marketing platforms and channels so I may determine which ones to recommend to my clients. Recently, I’ve focused on learning as much as I can about advertising through Amazon.
Amazon’s expansion and transformation are intriguing. The twenty-year-old company’s growth from an online bookstore to a publicly traded empire currently valued at over $995 billion is fascinating. Since Amazon’s CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, announced Amazon’s IPO in 1997, the company has expanded its portfolio to include: cloud computing (AWS), a crowdsourcing API (Amazon Mechanical Turk), eBooks (Amazon Kindle), tablet computers (Amazon Kindle Fire HD), streaming services (Amazon Music and Amazon Instant Video), wireless smart speakers (Amazon Echo) and more.
Not to mention, the giant has further diversified its investments with the purchase of multiple high-earning businesses (ex. Zappos, IMDb, and Audible). And that isn’t even the half of it. In fact, Amazon recently surprised the market when it acquired Whole Foods (August 2017).
Amazon’s empire not only offers marketers reach but also access to a broad wealth of data.
And, as you know, data is the sexiest commodity in digital marketing.
Amazon is so appealing that CNBC reported earlier this month that notable advertisers are moving half of their search budget from Google to Amazon.
In short, B2Cs who are not selling or advertising through Amazon may be losing out on an opportunity to diversify their marketing channel portfolio, and as a result, reach fewer potential customers – especially if they are a small to mid-sized business.
Do I Have to Sell on Amazon to Advertise on Amazon?
No, you do not have to be a seller on Amazon to advertise through Amazon. However, it does limit the amount of Amazon advertising channels which will be available to you. For instance, you will be unable to build a Store or Sponsored Ads (these two options are only available for sellers and vendors).
Why Should I Advertise with Amazon?
Amazon advertising offers a broad reach and unique data set.
These millions of users are interacting with Amazon.com on a daily basis – purchasing, discovering, learning. By placing your ads on this platform, your company will be uniquely positioned to capture their attention.
Not only that but as an Amazon advertiser, you’ll be able to harness the user data behind these experiences to smartly build and optimize your advertising campaigns.
This is a significant reason why Amazon is now on pace to become the 3rd-largest digital ad platform by the end of the year (behind Google and Facebook).
What Advertising Channels are Available Through Amazon?
There are currently five marketing channels available to advertisers through with Amazon:
Promote your products and brand through Sponsored Ads – Sponsored Product, Sponsored Brand (formerly Headline Search Ads), Product Display Ads – which appear within the Amazon search engine pages (SERPs) and on relevant product pages. Users who click on these ads will be sent directly to your Amazon product listing page. As such, this advertising feature is only available to those who have their products listed on Amazon. Sponsored ads are budget friendly as marketers are only charged when a customer clicks on the ad.
Amazon Display Ads are formatted similarly to Google Search and Display Ads. For instance, you’re able to customize the audiences you advertise to based on Amazon shopping insights. The most significant difference is that Amazon Display Ads only appear within the Amazon network: on Amazon.com, Amazon owned and operated sites, Amazon devices, and across the Amazon network. You do not need to sell on Amazon to advertise using Amazon Display Ads. However, you must have a budget of $35k or more in the United States to run Amazon Display Ads.
As marketers, we know video is essential to our content marketing strategy. For instance, Hubspot reported that 81% of businesses now use video as a marketing tool and 76% of marketers saw an increase in sales from using video. Harness this power for yourself using Amazon video ads. Easily tell a story about your product and/or your brand and capture your audience’s attention. Your Amazon video ads may appear on both Amazon.com, across the Amazon network, and on Amazon devices, like Fire TV. As with Display Ads, you must have a budget of $35k or more in the United States to run Amazon Display Ads.
Amazon Sellers, vendors, and vendor agents are eligible to build free multi-page sites, otherwise known as Amazon Stores, within Amazon.com to feature their brand and products. Amazon Stores are easy to assemble (no coding necessary) and feature custom URLs. Think of Amazon Stores as a landing page hosted on Amazon.com which you can directly drive Amazon advertising traffic to, to offer a unique customer experience.
The Amazon DSP is a programmatic platform which employs Amazon shopping data to reach customers on Amazon.com, Amazon Apps, and through third-party partners.
How Do I Measure My Amazon Campaigns?
Advertisers on Amazon have access to Amazon’s Advertising measurement solutions – a platform built and maintained by Amazon to measure the performance of advertisements. Amazon’s first-party data will provide your team with the insights they need to understand the impact of Amazon ads on your brand’s reach and conversions. In addition, third-party data is available to provide a holistic view of how your ads are performing.
Should I Advertise Through Amazon?
Yes, if you’re a B2C e-commerce site, you should consider advertising through Amazon.
What are the Cons to Advertising Through Amazon?
Amazon does not (yet) have the reach of Google.
For context, Google – the largest search engine – processes an average of 3.5 billion daily searches worldwide (Smart Insights). In comparison, Amazon.com has an average of five million visits per day from the United States.
- Amazon’s Advertising Console is not yet as granular as other platforms (such as Google AdWords).
- The ad infrastructure
with Amazon is clunkier and more manual than those of competitors like Facebook and Google.
How Can I Start Advertising Through Amazon?
Start advertising with Amazon today by visiting the Amazon advertising registration page.
If you’re already a registered Amazon seller, vendor, or vendor agent, you’ll be easily able to set-up a Store or advertise with Sponsored Ads. Otherwise, you’ll only be able to promote through the Amazon DSP, Display and Video ads until you set-up an Amazon Brand Registry account.
Amazon advertising is not a fit for every brand and product. Reach out to Portent to learn more about advertising with Amazon and determine whether or not it fits in with your company’s overall goal and digital marketing strategy.
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