Business Intelligence

1. Companies are aggressively moving to computerized support of their organizations. Can you list at least 2 of the factors driving this move?

• Speed and efficiency.
• Legibility and accuracy.
• Self-sufficiency.
• Cheaper research and development.

2. The definition of Business Intelligence (BI) is:

BI is an umbrella term that combines architecture, tools, databases, analytical tools, applications and methodologies.

What does “umbrella” term mean?

The definition of Business Intelligence (BI) encompasses various software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data. The discipline entails many related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting

3. Sometime we say that the term Business Intelligence (BI) is “context free”. What does this mean?

The term business intelligence is “context free” in the sense that the expression means different things to different people. For this reason, we have seen researchers advancing different definitions for business intelligence.

4. Describe what a data warehouse is and how it might differ from a traditional database used for transaction processing.

A data warehouse is a central repository for corporate data and information that an organization derives transaction data, operational systems and external data sources. Although these two may look like they are similar, they exhibit several differences with regard to usage pattern, architecture as well as technology. A traditional database is based on operational processing while a data warehouse is based on informational processing.

A data warehouse focuses on storage, filtering, retrieval and analysis of voluminous information.

A traditional database is used for day to day operations while a data warehouse is used for long-term informational requirements.

5. What is the difference between a data warehouse and a data mart?

A data mart is a subset of a data warehouse that relates to specific business line. Data marts are managed by a specific department within an organization. On the other hand, a data warehouse involves multiple subject areas and assembles detailed information from multiple source systems.

6. What is meant by “Big Data”?

Big data refers to a huge volume of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data from which viable information can be extracted. This kind of data is so voluminous that it cannot be processed using outmoded database and software techniques. Big data helps organizations to improve their operations and be in a position to make quick and smart decisions.

7. Data mining methods are divided into supervised and unsupervised methods. What are these and how are they different?

Supervised data mining method has to do with the presentation of fully labeled data to a machine learning algorithm. On the other hand, unsupervised data mining methods conduct clustering. Data instances are divided into a number of groups.

Unsupervised data mining methods do not put emphasis on predetermined attributes. Moreover, it does not predict a target value. Instead, unsupervised data mining finds hidden structure and relation among data.

Supervised data mining methods are appropriate when there is a specific target value that I to be used to predict about data. The targets can have two or more possible outcomes, or even be a continuous numeric value.

Supervised data mining methods the classes are known in advance while in the other the groups or classes are not known in advance. In supervised data mining methods, data is assigned to be known before computation but in unsupervised learning Datasets are assigned to segments, without the clusters being known.

8. When we consider KPI’s (key performance indicators) we distinguish between driver KPI’s and outcome KPI’s. What is the difference between the two (give a couple of examples of each)

Key performance indicators provide a framework on which organizations can value their progress. Outcome KPIs which are also referred to as lagging indicators measure the output of previous activities. On the other hand, driver KPIs/leading indicators measure the activities that have a significant on outcome KPIs. Driver KPIs have a significant effect on outcome KPIs, but the reverse is not necessarily true.

9. A BSC (balanced scorecard) approach for BPM (business process management) is well-know and widely-used. Describe the strengths of a BSC approach.

BPM entails activities

BPM involves activities like automation, remodeling, monitoring, and analyzing and improving business processes.

Cost efficiency

This is one of the most palpable benefits of BPM approach. It cuts down on costs and increases revenue. BPM adds crucial value in the long run by allowing businesses to compete globally. BPM technology equips a business to switch gears and respond to changing business environment appropriately.

Agility

Change is inevitable in business and a business must be ready to undergo sudden changes at any time. BPM accords a business the flexibility of making changes at minimal costs.

Improved productivity

BPM automates several elements within regular workflows. Process improvements such as eliminations of drawbacks, elimination of redundant steps, and introduction of parallel processing are achieved through BPM. These process improvements allow employees to focus on other important activities of their business since the core support functions would have been handled.

Better visibility

Basically, BPM uses advanced software programs to facilitate the automation process. These programs enable process owners to keep abreast of their performance. Apart from guaranteeing transparency, BPM keep track of how processes work without the need of monitoring techniques and extensive labor.

10. A closed-loop process is often used to optimize business performance. Briefly describe what a closed-loop process means.

A closed-loop process, also referred to as feedback control system is a management system that promotes a well-organized base of preferred outcomes and system feedback. This process is designed to achieve and maintain the desired output in comparison with the actual condition.

Is It Worth It For Businesses To Go Solar?

Clean energy isn’t just for large corporations with enough capital to make decisions solely for the environmental good. For many business owners, going solar can be a strategic decision with significant financial benefits. If you’re wondering whether solar is a feasible option for your business ask yourself these 4 questions.

1. How much do you currently pay for electricity?

By some estimates, the average commercial property owner saves 75% on their electricity bill by switching to solar, but there are numerous online resources available to estimate how much money your business can save on its electricity bill each month. This information can also help you determine your payback period, or the amount of time it takes to break even on your solar investment. The higher your electric bill, the less time it will take for the system to pay for itself, so businesses operating in places with high electricity rates can realize considerable economic gains from investing in solar PV.

2. Choose your equipment wisely

The amount you save by investing in a solar PV system depends on a number of factors, including the size and orientation of your roof and the efficiency, durability, and reliability of the equipment itself. Higher-quality photovoltaic panels that increase your upfront cost may end up saving you more money in the long run by reducing maintenance costs, improving productivity, and increasing the lifespan of your system overall. On the other hand, you may find that the most expensive panels don’t necessarily translate into the greatest savings for your particular needs. Be sure you’re working with a solar provider who can help you navigate your many options based on purchase and installation costs, power capacity, and how long your solar panels are expected to last.

3. Compare your financing options

Solar can be a smart investment with a strong rate of return, but financing a solar energy system is a complicated process with many variables. Cash purchases yield the greatest savings at the greatest upfront cost. Those interested in reaping the benefits of ownership without purchasing their system outright can finance the purchase with a solar loan, which allows you pay off the cost of the system through fixed monthly payments. For some business owners, it makes more sense to rent their solar PV system with a solar lease, or power purchase agreement (PPA), which brings immediate savings with little or no money down, although monthly payments on a solar lease or PPA usually increase at a predetermined rate every year.

4. Consider short-term cost vs. long-term savings

To determine their true return on investment, business owners should consider the long-term benefit of going solar beyond its initial cost and immediate savings. In addition to considering your purchase or renewal options, federal tax incentives, rebates, corporate tax credits and other state tax breaks all factor into the short-term cost of going solar. Thanks to increased financial incentives and lower installation costs, the price of solar has decreased in recent years while electricity prices continue to rise. Investing in solar can help stabilize your energy costs and save you from the rising and often fluctuating price of electricity purchased from a utility. In many cases, solar can even increase property value, enabling you to see additional financial gain down the line.

The I’s In Innovation

When you hear mention of the word innovation, what comes to mind? Technology? Biometrics? Virtual reality? Androids? Data mining? Holograms? Wearable devices? Driverless cars? Let’s face it, innovation is nothing new, but it has become our sizzling buzzword of the century. Not to be confused with the word invention, innovation provides better solutions for a market’s unstipulated or existing needs.

In order to survive in today’s business climate, regardless of how large or small an organization is, or what industry they are in, the creation of new internal processes, new products, new additions to service offerings or overall business structures is vital. Innovation can refer to creating something new (an idea, method or device) or changes made to an existing product.

These 8 essential components will help you stay on target of your innovation strategy:

1. Ideas: Abstract concepts, mental representational images that you have in order to create, expand or reinvent your product or service for your organization.

2. Imagination: The creative ability to visualize, form, transform and integrate those ideas into functional products or solutions.

3. Inspiration: The process of learning through visual thinking or divine influence by moving intellect to motion and emotion.

4. Investigation: Discovering, studying, gathering or inquiring information and resources to produce an end-product for your users.

5. Identification: To recognize and establish your idea or invention into quantifiable and qualifiable opportunities and benefits to market your product or service.

6. Investment: A monetary, educational or time asset that will provide productivity for future profits and growth development of the organization.

7. Integrity: Ethics in all aspects of business practices influences the culture of attracting new customers, increases loyalty among current employees and affects the organization’s reputation in relationship building with stakeholders, business partners, and suppliers.

8. Influencer: Those individuals or influences (e.g. testimonials, reviews) who make a positive or negative impact on decision-making by potential buyers. Opportunities in your marketing activities, social influence, the power of persuasion, the collective teamwork of employees and other external interactions impact advocacy and promotion.

Top Tips To Stay Productive On Your Next Business Trip

While others might find business trips appealing because of free travel and accommodation, all business travelers worry about is getting the maximum productivity on their trip. This isn’t particularly easy. Because they are away from their comfort zone, it can often get very difficult to stay focused and keep a track of so much happening around them.

If you are a business traveler, here are some helpful tips for you to stay productive:

1. Become Tech-Savvy

If you are not, you have absolutely every reason to become one. Technology can solve a lot of your travel miseries. A lot of people complain that travel has become very complicated. The truth is, they haven’t made much use of technology to make their trip more convenient.

So where do you begin with? Firstly, you must pack all the gadgets you would possibly need. Now you may need a lot of things, but if you don’t intend to use them a lot there is no point in carrying all the weight.

Essentially, all business travelers need a laptop and a speedy internet connection. Because you will travel to different places, it is best to arrange for the internet before you leave on your journey. There would be a lot of important messages to respond to and it’s best to stay connected.

2. Do Your Homework

Before you set out on your journey, it is very important to do the destination search. Just knowing your flight times, address of the hotel and timings of the meetings is just not enough here.

Since it might be a new destination, it can be difficult to get around and keep a track of all the routes. For this reason, it is best to do a thorough destination search. Get to know the area you are staying in and the available transportation options.

If you have ambiguities of any sorts, it is best to connect with the locals and address them all your worries.

3. Make the Most of Layovers

Because flights with layovers are relatively cheaper, you may have to book them every now and then. A lot of businessmen hate the thought of layovers because it ends up wasting a lot of their precious time. Layovers can be a very productive part of your trip. Once you have settled with all the travel formalities, move to a quiet corner at the airport lounge and get all the pending work completed. This is the right time to plan for the upcoming meetings and make any other last minute arrangements that are needed.

4. Keep Hydrated and Stay Fit

If you are a business traveler, health has to be a priority. For this reason, it is best to stay hydrated at all times. Drink as much water as you can and leave no chance of getting up during the journey for a few stretches. This helps to keep your mind and body active and helps you to focus on important tasks ahead.

International Business Etiquette Tips

When doing business internationally, you shouldn’t concentrate on simply selling your products and services. To be successful, you need to cultivate relationships with the people that you are working with. To help you out, here are some of the areas you should pay attention to when interacting with people internationally:

Gender roles

You will be interacting with people from different sectors that have different beliefs. To avoid uncomfortable situations, take your time to understand the appropriate gender etiquette. In most cases, the gender roles are about personal boundaries and physical contact with men and women.

If doing business in the Arab countries, you should note that Arab women aren’t allowed to shake hands with men. If you are a woman and traveling to these countries, be cautious of this as it can be uncomfortable when you hand out your hand and the men don’t shake your hand.

Time

While time is crucial globally, different countries have different tolerance levels. In china and japan, punctuality is crucial, and if you are late for even a minute, the people you are having the meeting with will walk out. In India, your companions won’t be overly offended if you are a little late, but you shouldn’t push it.

If doing business in England, the business professionals will require you to show up on time or even slightly earlier. In France, punctuality is of little importance, and the professionals will consider you “on time” even if you are ten minutes late.

Dress code

This is crucial as it determines how people see you. Just like time, the business attire preference varies from one place to another. In china and japan, business attire is formal. You should wear a suit and tie to all professional meetings. In the US, the business environment is less formal; therefore, you can wear smart casual and be considered okay. In France, you need to be formal, well-tailored, and fashionable. It’s France you are in.

Personal space

Personal space varies from one gender to another and also on how well you know each other. In china, the formal way of going about it is shaking hands. You shouldn’t great someone with a kiss or hug. In France, men will sometimes greet women with a kiss, but many women will stick out their hands if they prefer a handshake. In England, personal touches such as kissing and hugging are reserved for close friends and family; therefore, allow a certain amount of personal space.

Business gifts

Handing out gifts varies from one culture to another. In most Asian countries, gifts are tolerated and highly encouraged. In fact, the business associates will expect you to bring a gift. When you are presenting the gift, always wrap it. Remember that the value of the gift is less important than the thoughts you put into it.

While gifts are encouraged in Asian countries, the culture is highly flowed upon in western countries. Most of these countries consider a gift as a bribe.

Conclusion

These are the international business etiquette tips you should consider when doing business internationally. Always go through them before visiting a country you aren’t familiar with.

Top Tips for Successful Luxury Coach Business Trips

It’s not unusual to find a company that has hired a coach to take its employees to a seminar, conference or simple social event but who have subsequently been disappointed with the results.

Here we’ll examine some of the common causes and their solutions.

Poor turnout / response to invitation

This is a commonly expressed frustration in many organising departments.

Ignoring mechanical causes (such as poor communication of the “we weren’t told” variety or insufficient notice) this is often attributable to:

  • low morale in the company;
  • a lack of interest in the event concerned;
  • conflicting priorities (your event has been scheduled at a time which clashes with other things).

There is no easy answer to this and simply making attendance mandatory isn’t likely to be the answer. You may need to analyse the causes in more detail.

Dissatisfaction with the quality of transport

In the 21st century, professional people expect corporate transport to be modern and comfortable.

If an “old banger” of a coach arrives at the outset, then already your session is in trouble due to creating the wrong impression.

Be prepared to spend a little money here to get a comfortable limo bus.

Impacting personal lives

Today, most people expect and demand a professional / personal life balance.

So, anticipate dissatisfaction and disgruntled attendees if they’ve had to get up at 4am to make your planned departure time and/or they won’t be getting back home until the early hours of the morning.

A luxury coach might help alleviate some of this through comfort during the journey but it won’t, in itself, be the solution.

Impacting professional lives

On a similar theme to the above, asking people to get back very late to their homes, while expecting them to be back in the office at 8am and firing on all cylinders, is likely to be a recipe for ill-feeling.

Provide or arrange for refreshments

If people have been asked to get up unusually early and been on a coach for some time, then it’s really good psychology to provide (or stop for) some refreshments.

A little caffeine and a calories boost can ensure people arrive at the destination eager to get started rather than tired, jaded and looking for reasons to complain.

Railroading

Ideally, your corporate event should be so desirable by its very nature that your colleagues should be fighting for the chance to participate.

Only use “attendance is mandatory” approaches as an absolute last resort, as touched on earlier.

If you see a lack of interest and voluntary participation, something is wrong and a re-think is required. People typically don’t respond well to being forced to attend company events.

Relate to the wider world

Remember that a corporate event will be seen by many against a much broader backdrop of the wider business world you share with your colleagues.

How To Create a Killer Brand

After sitting down for an impromptu talk with Markus Kramer of Brand Affairs, AG (formerly Aston Martin and Harley Davidson global marketing director), it was intriguing to discover exactly what he would recommend about branding. Today’s world is much more ephemeral than previous, leading many people to become confused about what exactly constitutes a brand.

Despite the development of social media, Internet and the myriad of other innovations, branding is as similar today as it always was. The reality is that a brand is basically a label applied to a set of products. what makes the brand is the initiative which goes into it — products, ideas and promotion.

Markus gave us the biggest insight, which was that the core of branding was – and always will be – history. The more history that’s tied up in a brand, the more value – and responsibility – it has. Unfortunately, and this is especially true in the US, history is often disregarded in search of trends. We’re seeing this even more so now we have more waves of “technology” to infuse into older offerings… nonetheless Markus was insistent that history was the main deal.

The big difference between branding and promotion is that a brand is meant to denote a certain way of doing things… a lifestyle in many cases. Promotion is for a specific product. Branding is inherently more expensive than promotion as its MAIN purpose is to create demand. If you’re able to create demand, you have a strong chance at becoming a potent brand. This is why many of the world’s greatest brands only do things they actually “want” to.

If you’re inherently interested in creating a resonant brand, you need to focus on the core “innovation” the brand stands for. This “innovation” can be tangible, or intangible. The core of it is that it needs to provide its community with a completely different take on the world – another dimension. All the best brands are started by individuals, and eventually teams, who wanted to do things their own way.

Whilst creating a brand can be relatively difficult, the simple reality is that if you’re able to focus on what you want to do, you’ll start attracting a community who values your ideals & thoughts. In all honesty, creating a brand takes at least a decade of commitment / focus. You cannot expect people to just switch onto what you’re doing straight away.

Share a Message About Your Business With Ease

You don’t always have to go with big ticket marketing methods to get your business noticed. Sometimes, the best return comes from the smaller and inexpensive items you put out there. For example, promotional keyrings offer a very easy way to reach people and for them to see your business details daily. In order for them to put it on their set of keys, it needs to be appealing.

This is where your focus should be on the design for promotional keyrings. If they are ugly, they aren’t going to get used. If they are made from cheap and flimsy materials, they aren’t going to last. Look for something sturdy they can rely on for very long time. While you can put any message you want on them, make sure it won’t fade or easily rub off.

It isn’t just the person that owns the keys that will see that information. Their family and friends will see it when they are with that person. Any time they use valet parking or they get their vehicle serviced, others will have their keys and see your business information. Don’t underestimate how well promotional keyrings work to successfully get your business out there.

Providers

Being successful with promotional keyrings depends on the provider you hire to help you get them created. If you already have a design in mind, talk to them about it and see what they can do. If you aren’t sure what to offer, they may have some suggestions they can offer to you. Take your time to continue with the process until you find something you are very proud to offer.

Keep in mind, promotional keyrings can be any shape or size you would like them to be. With that in mind, you may wish to go with colors that reflect your brand and you can even go with a shape that is going to resemble your logo. There is no right or wrong option to use, so you have quite a bit of freedom to work with.

Ask to see samples of other products they have created and the prices. You need to balance your budget with what can be created for you. If you have a tight budget, select a simple but professional looking design to work with. As with any marketing tool, the goal is to get the highest return for the least amount of overall investment.

Quantities

Try to order promotional keyrings in large quantities so you can get a deep discount. The initial fees to set up the design and the typesetting cost the most. You will pay less per unit when you buy 1,000 versus 100! Find out about the offers the provider can extend to you. They want to give you a great deal but also make a profit on what they offer at the same time.

You can keep the extras you don’t plan to give away immediately on hand. They don’t take up lots of room so you don’t have to think about storage capacity. You can slip them into envelopes for information you mail out, documents you share, and even personally hand them out. Tell your employees to be generous with them too!

You will soon start to see them all over town, and that is very encouraging. Every time you see one of them, you can count on several people finding out about your business or being reminded about what you offer. It doesn’t cost you anything to spend some time seeing what is offered and how it can fit into your marketing budget.

What Trends Will Custom Packaging See In 2017?

Marketing experts predict some global packaging trends that are going to prominent in the industry in 2017.

• Simple, bold and clear: going back to fundamentals is a trend that never dies. This year the version of simple, bold and clear is going to be more expressive and more persuasive to the customers. Using minimum elements in the package design can promote the product in a very decent way. In today’s fast moving world consumers have not much time to read each and every detail given on the box? So just stick to the essential information and help the purchaser to make the right decision. A clear, clean design can convey the information and make the product shine using simplicity.

• Custom lettering: every designer loves mind grinding and to get crafty to generate some of the best work by hand. They do this practice to get the original effects in the designs. Irregular line and natural texture files can make a product stand out in comparison to the digital designs and patterns. This natural look can create a feeling of warmth to the product making it feel complete, wholesome. So in 2017, we are going to witness a comeback of custom hand lettering as a packaging trend.

• Play with colors: generally colors do stimulate emotions and affect the purchasing decisions. For this reason, choosing colors has always been one of the major decisions in packaging design. Bright and vibrant colors are going to make colorful scenes on the store shelves in 2017. We have seen that different colors are used to differentiate varieties of a product. A consumer might not remember the name or number of their favorite product, but they surely are able to recall the packaging color. All this involved a color psychology and if used properly words might not be needed in 2017.

• Using illustrations as narrative: behind every packaging design, there is a story. Customers seek out and cherish the stories which they feel close to their hearts. Using an illustration technique in packaging design can be very helpful in telling your brand story. This style can take the customer into the fantasy world. The illustration is gaining its place in industry, and in coming years are the years of carefully crafted, content rich illustrations.

• Go Vintage: packaging designs are getting popular every year through the use of new technologies and materials. Vintage designs bring back the memories of people who actually lived through that time. The success key in going vintage is to find the balance, evoke nostalgia and maintain a sharp modern look at the same time.

• Ingenious die-cuts: most traditional box designs conceal its contents, but contemporary designers are conducting experiments with die-cutting by showing the product and to use it to their advantage. If the packaging can show the product in the most meaning full and clever manner that means there are more chances that buyer would stop and take a notice of the product.

• Repeating patterns: using well-chosen and attractive patterns can make a box design from ordinary to extraordinary. The idea of repeating shapes and patterns can be simple, but it can have dynamic effects if used correctly. It doesn’t matter whether the pattern is bold or playful patterns have the ability to create a strong identity of the product that customers will never forget.

• Mail delivery trend: we all remember the joy of getting something through the mail. With the advancement of transportation and communication channels that experience is lost. So this packaging trend in 2017 is here to save that feeling with an emerging postal trend. There are some manufacturers in the market who are already using this trend. They use customized stamps to make the product more authentic. This type of packaging for ice-creams, cookies, and cakes draws the attentions of the passersby. This also gives a nostalgic feeling to the customers.

• Eco-friendly Packaging: biodegradable, natural, environmentally friendly or call it whatever you like to call. But going green with packaging is the new trend that is going to hit in 2017. Further, then its positive impacts on the environment, it can save expensive and attract the customers. Multinational companies are now doing experiments with biodegradable materials to make innovative designs for their products. One of the manufacturers of bottles sells bottles made with ocean plastic. Now more and more consumer brands are going green in packaging designs and this is the only trend we hope to see grow and sustain in every year to come because it benefits all.

• Reuse and recycling: sustainability is always the central topic of any project. With the emerging trend of using biodegradable and eco-friendly materials concept of reusing and recycling is also a fast growing trend. The concept of “reuse” consist multipurpose packaging design that gives a second life to all the boxes. A life beyond just to be a product box.

With all the discussed packaging trends in mind, we can say that trends in the packaging industry in 2017 design should be simple and must add authenticity and meaning to the product. Both companies and private individuals also realize that product that communicates a clear and persuasive message to consumers enhances their confidence with ultimately leads them to purchase that product. Trends come and go and come back yet again, but they are the most impactful communication use we can use in branding our product.

Why Be Your Industry Influencer? Business Growth Leveraging Your Personal Brand

Marketing is like sex. Everyone thinks they’re good at it.– Steve Tobak

We are in a golden age of solopreneurs: independent, innovative experts who are turning the traditional working model on its head. No longer content with working under layers of organisational management, workers around the globe are increasingly making the decision to take full control of their careers. To carve their own niche and capitalise on their skills. To join the solo revolution.

And you are one of them. A revolutionary!

Creating your own brand has never been easier. With the explosion of social media, solopreneurs have immediate access to billions of people around the world. You can speak directly to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Likewise, the number of services and products consumers have instant access to is infinite. Neither business nor buyer is bound by location anymore.

It is an incredibly liberating age. But it’s also one that some entrepreneurs and businesses find overwhelming.

We’re Living in a Digital-First World

In his book Ctrl Alt Delete, Mitch Joel discusses the term “digital first”. He reveals the five key movements that organisations must embrace to future-proof themselves – or go out of business. One of these shifts is the fact that now, the first place your brand and business are validated is online. Essentially, the internet and social media have the power to make or break your chances of success.

Serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of how to cultivate a successful business by leveraging digital media. Born in the Soviet Union in 1975, Vaynerchuk immigrated to the United States in 1978. From humble beginnings, his father went on to own a liquor store in New Jersey. In the early days of the digital-first world, Vaynerchuk could see the burning potential of his father’s business. After graduating from college, Vaynerchuk transformed the liquor shop into a retail wine store, which he named the Wine Library. In 2006, he started a daily video blog, Wine Library TV. This hugely popular webcast turned him into an internet celebrity. It attracted 90,000 viewers a day and led to a flurry of TV and speaking engagements. In just six years, Vaynerchuk grew the family business from $1 million a year to a whopping $50 million a year.

Not too bad for a small family business, right?

So, as you can see, traditional marketing has been blown out of the water. We’re no longer restricted to cold calling and setting up meeting after meeting to generate leads and sales. Digital marketing has opened an array of cost-effective avenues for self-promotion and lead generation. Sales are now about leveraging your social networks, engaging with people online and educating.

This is, essentially, the social sales model: (see link below)

Today, the businesses and entrepreneurs that make the most impact on their audiences are role models. They’re trusted advisers who create tribes – powerful online communities that help their brands grow. They educate and provide solutions. They’ve jumped on board the social sales train and embrace the connection economy whole-heartedly. Because if you don’t, you get left behind.

But we can’t rest on our laurels. We must build on this massive sales reform and look to the future. We must become industry ambassadors. We must become thought leaders who engage meaningfully with our followers, share generously of our expertise and regard our audiences not just as leads or dollar signs, but as lifetime partnerships.

Why Stand Out from the Crowd

Solopreneurs are the way of the future. They account for 61% of Australian businesses[1]. And with the advent of freelance sites such as Upwork, 99designs, Freelancer and Airtasker, an increasing number of Australians are freelancing. According to freelance marketplace Elance-oDesk, 30% of the Australian workforce – or 3.7 million people – undertake some sort of freelance work[2].

Digital marketing presents an enormous opportunity for solopreneurs. According to Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange, the average person spends two hours a day on the internet. Furthermore, IBM’s Global CEO Study found that CEOs believe social media utilisation for customer engagement will increase by 256% over five years. This means social media will become the second-most popular way to engage customers after face-to-face communication.

Social media has created a level playing field. It’s cheap and readily available. You don’t need large amounts of money to build a business. You don’t even need an existing client base – you can start one from scratch online. The internet has given everyone the potential to create a successful solo business.

But there’s a downside to this equal opportunity. Despite the accessibility of social media, one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs continue to face is finding leads and retaining clients.

The digital marketplace means you’re competing against everyone else with a business like yours. You can’t simply create a LinkedIn or Facebook account and expect clients to come to you. How will they know you’re there? What makes you stand out? When everyone else is pushing their own unique selling point, what will make people choose you?

In a world where customers have immediate access to information on every kind of business around the world, it’s hard to cut through the noise. To gain that competitive edge, you must create a connection.

Being a solopreneur is not enough. You must bond with your audience by offering more than your products and services alone. You need to educate, lead and gain trust. You need to make a real difference to the lives of your clients.

Position, Position, Position

Positioning is fundamental to creating trust and having influence. It’s more than just creating an image. It’s about owning your space in your industry. It’s about flexing your expertise, starting conversations, changing the game, creating engaging content and enlightening others. It’s about being the go-to expert for peers and clients needing guidance.

And it’s what leads to sales.

When you have a rock-solid positioning, your return on investment is second to none. Digital media and technology company Burst Media’s 2014 Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report found that on average, marketers who implemented an Influencer marketing program in 2014 received $6.85 in earned media value for every $1 of paid media.[3] The primary tools used in Influencer marketing were:

  • Blog posts
  • Social syndication and branded content distribution
  • Influencers and influential content