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What Makes the Mobile-Friendly Web so Marketable?

mobile friendly web

With nearly two-thirds of internet users accessing the web via mobile phones, creating mobile-friendly web pages and apps has become a crucial part of product marketing. While traditional access still accounts for a dominant proportion of e-commerce, mobile web users often visit product pages via a smartphone or tablet prior to completing purchases through a laptop or desktop computer. The upshot of it is that, in today’s world, if you’re not mobile-friendly, you’re not consumer-friendly.

Why Go Mobile?

Aside from creating an added line of accessibility to your business or product, taking your webpage mobile enables you to interact with your consumers on a level that is unachievable through more static devices. For example, many mobile apps now enable features such as coupon-scanning, expedited checkout, and special offer notifications, helping to draw customers in while keeping your product a dynamic part of their mobile world. Mobile accessibility is also of key advantage to stores with a high volume of local through-traffic. With 50% of local searches carried out on mobile devices, enabling mobile access to your webpage can help to ensure that travellers and tourists are able to locate your store and peruse your product selection.

Becoming Mobile-Friendly

If you’re on a limited budget, then making your existing webpage mobile-compatible is more a matter of simplifying your existing content than anything else. Mobile devices have the most difficulty with web pages that are content-heavy. On a small screen, an excess of graphics and information quickly becomes overwhelming, prompting mobile visitors to navigate instead to a more user-friendly site. Another common, and easily fixed, mobile visitor deterrent is screen compatibility. Many traditional websites are set up so that mobile viewers have to zoom in and scroll around to view content. You can rectify this problem in just a few minutes by setting a mobile friendly preferred width.

If you can afford to set up an exclusive page for mobile visitors, all the better. This can be done through an independent, simplified mobile web page, or an individual app for your business or product. By creating an independent platform for mobile visitors, you can draw traffic to your product app/page by offering exclusive discounts and coupons to mobile visitors. Via your mobile app, you can notify consumers immediately of new releases, sales and special offers. In designing your mobile page or app, stick to the simplicity rule of thumb. The more clean and concise your page, the more appealing it will be to mobile viewers.

The Future of the Mobile Commerce

Mobile commerce establishes a link between conventional shopping and e-commerce, and as the mobile platform evolves, so will the mobile shopping experience. With universal mobile wallets on the horizon, mobile commerce will soon establish an unparalleled foothold in the commerce world, enabling instant, secure checkout, from anywhere. As phone screens become both 3D-enabled and more high definition than ever before, shopping through mobile devices will rapidly overtake traditional e-commerce in popularity, practicality and accessibility. To keep your business astride of this changing mobile world, mobile web integration is crucial. Take the first steps today, and watch as your business becomes a part of the future.

Does Student Loan Debt Threaten Our Country’s Future?

student loan debt

The debate over the rising cost college is nothing new. Long gone are the days of working through college and graduating debt free. With the rising cost of tuition, room and board, and school books, college is a much more expensive affair. How costly?

According to a recent piece by CNN, it’s estimated that 40 million Americans now have student loan debt, with the majority of folks paying off five-figure debts. (The study conducted by credit bureau Experian states that the number of Americans with student loans is up from 29 million consumers in 2008, quite a large increase in the span of six years!)

So what will this mean for the country’s future? How will these loans affect the way America is educated, and is the prevalence of loan debt making young people rethink college altogether?

Why Is College So Expensive?

You may not realize this, but the student loan crisis is a very recent phenomenon; it’s so recent, in fact, that it didn’t even exist during the eighties! The problem developed for a number of reasons. For starters, the cost of higher education rose much more rapidly than the overall cost of living and wage compensation.

Much of the loan crisis can be attributed to students’ inability to repay loans. They default on their payments and rack up even more interest. It’s a vicious cycle! Though some students today are able to balance schoolwork with a part-time job, there are less part-time jobs to be had. In an age of underemployment and unemployment, students are paying the price.

Defunding of Schools

The educational system suffered another harsh blow when legislators attempted to preserve state college budgets. However, many of them couldn’t, and the defunding resulted in raised tuition. And the issue doesn’t just affect out-of-state students attending their “dream” universities. In actuality, 80% of all U.S. students attend publicly funded colleges. This is a serious concern. If young people are unable to attend college for financial reasons, they are less likely to get good jobs, stimulate the economy, and innovate. Investing in the education of a population is investing in that country’s future. So why isn’t education in the U.S. a bigger priority?

Grants – A Step in the Right Direction

FAFSA and Pell Grants are helping many students return to school. They might not pay for everything, but they definitely put a dent into that chunk of tuition change, especially if you are going back to school after working for awhile. The application process has gotten a lot simpler in recent years, and Obama has been making the initiative a priority. Hopefully, the size of the grants will continue to grow in sync with tuition costs.

Will Students Move to Be Education Overseas?

According to the Washington Post, there are other countries around the world that can offer Americans an education in English for next-to-nothing. Germany offers free education to its citizens, and many of their universities also offer undergraduate programs in English in hopes of attracting foreign students and skilled workers. Finland is another country that will cover tuition costs. However, they won’t cover living expenses, room and board. Still, not too shabby! According to the article, If you’re considering graduate school, France might be a wonderful option. They award one out of every three degrees to foreign students, and most have tuition fees that are much lower than America’s costs. Sweden, Norway, Brazil, and Slovenia are also wonderful options.

What’s it Like Graduating With a Mountain of Debt?

Much has been made of the stereotype of the lazy, entitled millennial. Some of that criticism may be fair. However, today’s graduates face different challenges than their parents endured. it’s hard to dig into the classic ideals of “adulthood” when you’re starting out behind. In a rough economy, many graduates are being forced to live with parents, working survival jobs and paying down what can sometimes amount to six figures on a part-time job!

Community College – An Alternative

Perhaps community college is a more viable option! The tuition is lower, many courses of study offer more practical applications of knowledge, and the cost of “room and board” is lower. If students can graduate with less debt, they might have a better start! In theory, a federal subsidized loan or grant could cover most of the cost.

So what do you think?…

How will future generations handle rising costs in education? Do we need reform? Leave your comments below.

25 Tips for Saving Money This Winter

saving money this winter

With the holidays closing in, most of us are ready for our own kind of fiscal hibernation. The adventurous risk-taking behaviors of spring and summer are losing heat with the air around us and the next six months are all about playing it safe. Do you have all the nuts and berries you’re going to need to make it through to May?   Perhaps it’s time to start optimizing your daily finances with the following 25 money-saving tips:

1) Avoid ATMs

Most banks charge a fee for ATM transactions completed by customers who are using a debit card issued by a different bank. ATM fees can range as high as $5. While that extra few bucks may not seem like a lot at the time, the charges can really add up.

2) Skip the Gym Membership: The Spartans were pretty darn in shape, by all accounts, and they didn’t spend $50 a month on gym memberships. Buy some weights, a scale, and a second-hand treadmill, and voila–you have yourself a home gym.

3) No More Data: In today’s world, a smartphone is a must, but how essential really is your data plan? If you’re home, you have wi-fi. If you’re at work, you have wi-fi. If you’re at McDonald’s, you have wi-fi. Is checking your Facebook while you’re in the car really worth the extra $420/year?

4) Cut the Cable: Okay, so reality check. How often do you actually watch your cable tv? For most of us (football/basketball fans exempt), cable tv is a frivolous waste. Stop flipping through channels and wasting time on advertisements. Netflix is only $7.99/month, and boasts a library of over 10,000 streamable movies and DVDs.

5) Order Pick up: Between the delivery fee and the tip, it’s more than worth it to just get off the couch and pick up your pizza.

6) Stop Eating Out: Eating out is sort of like flushing your money down an extremely high-calorie toilet. Try to eat out only on special occasions, or as a bi-monthly self-reward for good financial behavior.

7) Be More Energy Efficient: As well as being good for the environment, cutting back on your energy usage can help keep your monthly bill to a minimum. Switch to energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, and for goodness sake turn out the lights when you leave the house.

8) Cut Coupons: You don’t have to take up extreme couponing, but by cutting and using coupons you can rack up significant savings.

9) Caffeinate at Home: Whether you buy your morning coffee at Starbucks or Burger King, you’re spending more than you have to. Get up five minutes earlier, and brew it yourself (or stop by your bank in the mornings and grab yourself a free cup).

10) Avoid Credit Card Fees: Even it you pay off your bill on time, you’re paying extra when you use your credit card. Transaction fees can range from $0.10 to $2.50. Avoid these fees by paying with cash or debit.

11) Use Gift Cards: When your friends and relatives ask you what you want for your birthday/Christmas gifts, tell them to get you gift cards. Far better to get a gas station gift card from your grandma than to let her pick out that clothing that she thinks you’ll like.

12) Buy Generic Brands: For the most part, generic brands are the same as the brands you know and love, just with less attractive packaging. Stop paying for advertising costs by going generic.

13) Get the Medium: Whether it’s popcorn, Mountain Dew, or french fries, how often do you actually finish your “large” order? It might only be $0.70 to upgrade, but $0.70 over the cost of the year amounts to a whopping $256. That’s enough to cover your car payment.

14) Buy Second Hand: Okay, so a second hand shirt might not be ideal for your hot date, but why not start buying your work clothes at the thrift store? By getting second hand button-ups and dress pants, you can save your clothing budget for the weekends.

15) Car Pool: Stop spending more on gas than you need to by car-pooling to work–or even walking or biking if your commute is short enough.

16) Get the Rewards Card: When you’re at the checkout and the cashier asks you if you’d like a rewards card, say yes. Most of them actually offer pretty decent money-saving incentives.

17) Stop by Your Local College Move Out Sale: At the end of the college year, most schools have move out sales, where they sell off all of the furniture, clothing and electronics left behind in the dorms by students. These sales are often even cheaper than thrift stores–you’ll be looking at $1 for a garbage bag full of clothing, or $25 for a flat screen tv.

18) Go to the Library: Stop paying for books and head to the library instead. If you’re not a reader, check out the DVD and video games selection. You’ll be surprised by how many titles they have to offer.

19) Buy in Bulk: Instead of just picking the cheapest package of paper towels off the shelf, get out your calculator and figure out how many sheets you’re getting per dollar. For the most part, you’ll save a few bucks by buying in bulk instead.

20) Water it Down: You can double the life of your shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, dish soap and laundry detergent by watering it down. Unless you go over the top with it, it won’t affect the effectiveness of the product.

21) Get a Toaster Oven: Instead of turning the oven on every time you want to make yourself a snack, switch to a toaster oven. Toaster ovens are more energy efficient, and can even cook your food faster.

22) Shop with a Friend: By shopping with a friend, you can split the cost of buy-one-get-one-free offers, saving you both on the cost of the original item.

23) Freeze Old Fruit: Fruit is expensive enough, without throwing half of it out every time it gets old or bruised. Instead of dropping it in the trash, pop it in the freezer. You can use it later on for smoothies or baking.

24) Drink Tap Water: Stop wasting money on water by buying a nalgene bottle and drinking from the tap. If you’re concerned about purity, just buy a home water filter.

25) Order Large Meals on Dates: If you’re not paying for it, let him. Order the biggest portion on the menu, and then take the leftovers home with you. If you’re a serial dater, you’ll be amazed by how much this can save you in groceries.

Where Did We Get All this Medical Debt?

medical debt

Debt is one of the biggest drags on any economy – and medical debts have quickly become one of the biggest problems that households face. What’s going on here, and where did all this debt come from? Let’s take a closer look at the real causes behind medical debt.

How Many People Have Medical Debts?

Tens of millions of people will find themselves burdened with medical debts at some point in their lives. In fact, just about anyone who has major medical expenses (surgery, emergency medical care, and so on) will probably get a bill that’s much higher than they can easily afford to pay, even if they quickly work to establish a payment plan.

Patients aren’t the only ones worried about this problem – rising costs for providing care mean that doctors are just as concerned about their patients’ inability to pay, especially at a time when so many changes (such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the upcoming medical coding switch to ICD-10) are forcing them to spend less time with patients and more time managing paperwork.

How Much Is Owed?

Enough to drive over a million people into bankruptcy and sharply lower the cost of living for many more people. In fact, people without insurance could owe their entire annual salary in medical bills – and it’s usually an expense they never saw coming. The added expense is enough to drive a family deep into the red and keep them there for years to come – which is one reason so many people declare bankruptcy and try to start all over.

What’s Causing These Bills?

High medical bills have numerous causes – and in many cases, it’s a combination of these factors that drives people into debt. Here are some of the biggest factors that are influencing the bills:

  • Hospital Fees: A hospital is a large, complex facility staffed with well-trained, well-paid employees and filled with expensive, specialized equipment. It takes a lot of money to keep a hospital running – most of these places benefit from at least a few grants and donations, but the huge majority of a hospital’s revenue comes from bills sent to patients and insurance companies.
  • Out of Pocket Costs: People buy insurance to help them pay bills they couldn’t afford on their own – but many forms of insurance won’t cover everything, leaving patients on the hook for a significant amount of their care. Out of pocket costs can take many forms, from buying prescription medication a plan doesn’t cover to the use of equipment in a hospital that an insurance company decided wasn’t necessary to use.

Patients can sometimes avoid these charges – they often have a good case when an expensive tool was used on them without their knowledge or permission – but most people find that their wallet is where most payments are coming from. It’s not uncommon for these costs to reach $20,000 or more, making them a leading cause of medical debt.

  • Medication: Speaking of medication, many prescription drugs are quite expensive – and if an affordable generic version isn’t available, then patients could find themselves spending hundreds of dollars a month for medicine that they quite literally need to survive.

How Can People Deal With This Debt?

Medical debt is like most other debts in that it can usually be paid off if families can come up with the right strategy. Many choose to delay or eliminate anything they deem non-essential – sure, those aches and pains are annoying, but they’re better than not having food on the table or warmth in the winter. Others simply decide to avoid the debt entirely and never go to their doctor if they think they can handle it on their own. Unfortunately, this is very dangerous – but the prospect of overwhelming debt is enough to frighten people into doing things that are ultimately bad for them.

The good news is that hospitals understand – they want those bills to get paid, and they will negotiate with you if you approach them correctly. Caroline Mayer, writing for Forbes, has some good advice on this subject – and it’s worth talking to a professional even if you aren’t sure that you want to hire them. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the higher your bills are, the more likely it is you’ll be able to eliminate a significant portion of it. Demonstrating responsibility, genuine need, and a willingness to do what you can – especially by paying as much up-front as you can afford – should be able to get you deal with the overwhelming debts that a hospital bill can impose.

5 Tools That Will Help You Generate Startup Capital

generate startup capital

Almost all startups have two things in common: first, they have a great idea that the owner or founders believe in, and second, they’re short on capital for expanding their operations. Startups begin with an idea and span into a business. It’s the idea, passion and drive that motivate the owners, but it’s the capital that keeps them in business. Without capital, the most successful business plans and innovative ideas will never lift off.

Capital isn’t always easy to come by, and often consumes a substantial amount of time in the beginning stages. Not everyone who offers to invest should be taken at face value, and many offers will be from those who have no interest in the company. Some of them don’t share the cultural values of what makes the business plan successful, and others will come with high interest rates or large stakes in the company. Capital should be understood as nothing more than a vessel, a means to achieve a goal, and not an emotionally driven decision by a desperate entrepreneur who will scrape up every dollar available, regardless of the costs. With that in mind, here are five tools that will help you generate startup capital.

1. Crowdfunding.

The ability to find a venture capitalist with a few hundred million they’re willing to spare (without considerable hassle) is a near impossibility. While they do exist, they can be incredibly difficult to convince. Instead, try shooting for an entire crowd raising small sums of money. There are over 300 million people in the U.S., and for the right idea, most are willing to invest $25 dollars (as one example). Gathering up a few thousand people willing to invest $25 is much easier than convincing an investor to write a check for $75,000. In addition, many investors become customers after buying into your idea – and hence, product.

2. A Plan

Not just any plan. Have an iron-clad, foolproof plan that you have spent hours examining and improving. Your plan will be your greatest asset. Take objective criticism, learn from it, and realize that an emotional attachment has been the bane of many entrepreneurs. Any emotional attachment could undermine your plan, if it does not allow you to consider the weaknesses. Instead, it makes one more susceptible to failure. Having a plan is absolutely necessary, but developing the plan like a business instead of a hobby will play a major role in success. When looking for capital, your plan will be analyzed, shred to pieces, and you’ll be forced to defend most facets of it. Make sure it’s comprehensive enough to survive the scrutiny.

3. A Pitch

After your plan, your pitch is the next most important piece of the puzzle. A great plan with a mediocre pitch will not receive much attention or convince potential investors. Your pitch should contain an initial hook, followed by the vision, market opportunities, and what you’re asking. There are a number of different ways to craft a great elevator pitch, but your hook will definitely stand out as the most important aspect.

4. SCORE

What began as the Service Corps of Retired Executives (now simply Score) is a great – and free – means to obtain advice from experienced executives who volunteer. Score has more than 350 chapters across the Unites states who specialize in helping young executives, entrepreneurs, and startups with a wide variety of challenges. This program is sponsored by the SBA, and offers expertise from writing business plans to growing your business. Securing capital is one of the many ways that Score can help launch your business. However, a mentor can help you considerably beyond securing capital, making this one of the most important steps a startup should take to building their business.

5. The Shark Tank

Every entrepreneur’s playbook needs one Hail Mary, one idea so out there and idealistic that you can always turn to in moments of desperation. And nothing exemplified one last mad dash for the American Dream like reality TV.

For those who don’t know, Shark Tank is a hit ABC show that brings in entrepreneurs to make their pitch to potential investors in from of a national televised audience. It sounds insane, and it is, but this has actually worked for some people.

But the advice we’ll give you to take to the sharks is advice you could take to any venture capitalist, so even if you have no aspiration for celebrity, it might be worthwhile to stay focused.

Be very precise in outlining what you need, what you’d like to see, and how you expect to achieve your goals with these numbers. Investors will want to know who you owe money to, how much the interest is, how much doing business has cost so far, and how well you manage money.

Startups require a special sort of personality to succeed. Having a good idea is the first step – but it requires considerable more than just an idea. The idea put into action becomes a prototype from which to refine and perfect the idea. Turning the prototype into mass production often requires financial assistance, and investors are the best place to find it. It’s important to remember that not all investors will offer the best means for financing, and many are more concerned with their ROI of the loan than your business success.

Capital is ultimately what will launch a product and provide the means to mass produce. To effectively secure as much capital as possible, consider crowdfunding. The terms are easy, and it can net higher than a single investor would be willing to give anyway. In addition, have a fireproof plan that’s comprehensive inside and out. Keep your pitch simple but effective, and master it using different scenarios.

Win big on Shark Tank or partner with a Score member as a mentor who can provide valuable assistance, and most importantly, stay organized (especially your finances). Utilizing these 5 tools will boost your odds of getting your startup off the ground!

Social Self-Promotion 202: Strengthening Your Business Contacts and Leads

social self promotion 202 business contacts leads

One thing advertisers don’t like admitting is the fact that finding leads is easy. In fact, many advertising platforms are so geared towards efficiently allowing you to send messages to potentially interested readers that it’s almost harder to not get clicks on your ads.

That said, it doesn’t matter how many leads you have if you’re not strengthening your connections and converting those leads into customers. This is the last in our series of lessons, so it’s only fitting that we talk about how to build on everything you created before reaching this point.

Why Your Ads Aren’t Selling Your Products

Most people are cynical when it comes to businesses – along with the statistics noted there, a full 86% of people don’t trust the advertisements they see, and they’ll be quick to quote the adage “anything that sounds too good to be true probably is”. That’s why your ads shouldn’t be about selling your products – instead, advertisements should be focused around getting people interested enough to learn more about your company so you can draw them into your sales funnel and attract them to your real content.

This takes place during the second part of the sales funnel – quality content on an ongoing basis is what solidifies and grows a group of leads. Now, what exactly “quality” is happens to be an elusive term – but in general, high-quality content is something that people want to see.

That simple fact is the root of modern marketing techniques, and it’s amazing to see how many companies don’t understand this. It’s not about what you want people to see. That’s right – you can have all the desire in the world for people to see that new video or blog post of yours, but it doesn’t matter if nobody else wants to see it. The only people who care are those whose interest you’ve caught – but the right followup once you have their attention can truly strengthen business contacts and help you convert leads into paying customers.

The Ultimate Advertisement

The best ad is the one you can’t buy – a recommendation from a friend. Less than one in five people is inclined to trust any normal advertisement, and there’s a point where people just start to tune you out. This is where the end of the sales funnel comes into play and you turn people into advocates for their product.

Most people want to help others that are within their social network. If one person mentions a problem, others will mention a solution – and any solution a friend offers (especially if it comes from personal experience) is immediately valued far more than any amount of advertising you could create. In short, your ultimate goal is to create advocates for your products. Each advocate can bring in several new customers over time, and while there is a limit to this – we’re in the real world, not the realm of infinite marketing theory – the ultimate results are quite impressive.

The Side-Effects of Strengthening Business Contacts

Content that gets shared more is valuable. People who share more are valuable, too. In fact, you both benefit when your followers are taking the time so share your content with others, and the end result is that you’ll soon find yourself ranking higher on web pages and continuing to strengthen your entire brand.

Strengthening your connections will also give you a better sense of who your followers are, allowing you to sort them into groups based on their interests and activities. This is an incredible boon for the targeted advertisements we talked about in Lesson 201 – better targeting leads to a higher conversion rate, and a higher conversion rate ultimately means success for your company.

Practice Makes Perfect

Like most things, you’re probably not going to perfectly accomplish everything you try when you first start strengthening your connections. Instead, try to keep these two things in mind:

  • Relationships are easy to destroy. Try to avoid posting controversial content, especially if your business has nothing to do with the subject at hand. Even long-time customers can turn on you in a heartbeat if they’re sufficiently offended, so while you should still be providing at least 50% content that exists solely to entertain, be absolutely certain that your content isn’t built around mockery or put-downs. Positive content tends to work far better.
  • It’s all right to mess up as long as you learn from your mistakes. The lessons we’ve provided here are the general guidelines for your success – we can tell you that picture-based ads are good for building up your brand, but it’s up to you to figure out what kind of pictures to use. Content marketing and self-promotion is about learning from your experiences and improving yourself over time. Don’t be too hard on yourself if something doesn’t work – instead, try to find out why it didn’t work and search for a way to improve. Oh, and don’t go all-in on anything until you have solid evidence that it’s working for your business plan. There’s no sense in spending money on a failure when taking a little time to research could tell you far more about your odds of success.

Social Self-Promotion 201: Targeted Ads and Paid Amplification

social self promotion 201 targeted ads paid amplification

Self-promotion is one of the most effective ways of increasing your presence online after you’ve gotten the rest of your funnel set up. To start this off, let’s talk about targeted ads and paid amplification.

Targeted Advertisements: The Real Goal of Advertising

Modern marketing is all about targeting the audience you’re trying to reach. In fact, many forms of modern technology have been built to support this. Let’s take a look at targeted ads on Facebook – you can target an audience based on things like their interests, the words they put in their posts, their demographic information, or nearly anything else you can imagine.

Here’s a question, though: Why wouldn’t you do this? If you’re selling a brand new pillow, then yeah, it’s probably worth targeting some ads to people who wrote the words “trouble sleeping” on a recent post. If you just formed a sponsorship with a major sports league, then you could be directing literally all of your paid advertisements to people who are fans of each team.

Targeted ads tend to have a much higher click-through rate than traditional forms of advertising – and if you want to promote yourself properly, this is the place to be.

Paid Amplification: The Easy Way to Target Leads

Targeting your advertisements is what should be happening – and paid amplification is how you do it. Most social advertising networks offer ways to increase your exposure and amplify each part of your funnel.

Remember – despite the name, people don’t enter solely at the top of a sales funnel, nor will they proceed through every section in a straightforward manner. Some people will enter the funnel deeper than others, and at least some of your leads will move up and down the funnel several times before finally converting into true customers. The greatest success won’t come from amplifying just the basics of your company – you need to amplify everything if you truly want to succeed in your self-promotion.

What Types of Targeted Ads Are There?

Google, Facebook, and other companies have been working on advertisements that will guide viewers towards doing certain things. The Favorite Ad will try to get people to Like, +1, or otherwise show support for a given piece of content – without even leaving the page they’re currently on. Posted Ads are all about increasing visibility, and tend to appear in more than one place at once. Higher exposure means higher click-through rates.

Content Ads are similar, but they’re all about a piece of content contained in the advertisement. It might be text, a graphic, or a full-on HD video that you’d like people to watch. Finally, App Ads are about encouraging people to download and use a specific app.

The possibilities here are almost limitless, but for maximum effect, you’ll probably find yourself using most or all of these targeted ads as you try to amplify your entire business. Remember: Different types of ads appeal to different kinds of people, and they’re far more useful at different stages of your sales funnel. Graphics and videos tend to be better for building brand awareness, while simple text can provide an attractive link to your content.

But Wait, What’s the Catch?

Social media is continuing a transition to content-based marketing, following the idea that people are more likely to click on material that interests them. This is one of the major reasons you’re not going to start off with targeted ads – in fact, Google Plus won’t even allow you to create their +Post ads unless you have a minimum number of followers to advertise to.

Targeted Ads are not a way to effortlessly earn more business or create more sales. They’ll only be effective if they’re created as part of a targeted campaign that’s specifically designed to appeal to a certain group of people. On the bright side, it’s actually easier to create content that appeals to a specific demographic than it is to try and create content that will engage anyone who stumbles across it.

Finally, most targeted ads aren’t very large. You may find yourself needing to convey a message in 90 characters or less – larger advertisements are possible, but may get cut off if the ad is being placed in more than one area. You’re competing for the attention of your customers and you’re not going to get very far unless you do it right.

Study your leads, find out what they care about, and tailor your content to the people you’re reaching. Don’t be afraid to listen to the companies behind these ads, either – Google has some excellent advice on creating targeted advertisements through its +Post system, and further research on what’s worked for companies similar to yours can help you avoid the pitfalls and start seeing a return on your investment as early as possible.

10 Technologies that Science Fiction Writers Dreamt Up First

science fiction technologies

Over the years, we have seen the invention of quite a few significant technologies. While there is little doubt that the creators of these devices had brilliant minds, it’s rare that we stop to think about where the ideas for these concepts came from. Sometimes they were literally just original concepts from the inventors themselves, but other times they were inspired by speculative science fiction. Here are ten examples of technology that had its origins in the realm of sci-fi.

Lunar Modules

In his 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne described a projectile that could be used to send people to the moon. Roughly a century later, Lunar Modules were created and man first walked on the moon. Verne is usually credited with creating the idea for these amazing devices because he described them accurately as something that would essentially shoot people through our atmosphere and into outer space. Had he not envisioned the possibilities of this technology, it might not exist today.

Bluetooth

This one comes not from the pages of science fiction, but rather from the images on a television screen. Some of the characters in Star Trek used an Earpiece to keep in touch. Years later, we now have earpieces of our own that connect with mobile devices using bluetooth technology.

Submarines

Yet another creation inspired by Jules Verne, the submarine may not have been a reality if it weren’t for his novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Thanks to his description of the Nautilus, we now have electronic submarines that can reach great depths and discover new life at the bottom of the ocean.

Artificial Intelligence

In particular, Arthur C. Clarke’s depiction of HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey has inspired scientists to create similar technology that can be used to help the human race. IBM built a supercomputer known as Watson which is working to help mankind find a cure for cancer, a far better prospect than what happened with poor HAL.

Rockets

It may be hard to believe, but rockets are a relatively new invention. Creator Robert H. Goddard credited his inspiration to H.G. Wells, who wrote the much beloved classic War of the Worlds. If Verne gave scientists the idea for space travel, Wells solidified it with his incredible depictions of interplanetary fight.

Flip Phones

Originally seen in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, the Communicator was a device that could be flipped open in order to allow the user to communicate with other people over large distances. This would inspire the later invention of the flip phone, a cell phone that flips open in order to give users the ability to make calls from just about anywhere.

Nuclear Power

Another invention inspired by H.G. Wells, Nuclear Power is perhaps one of the greatest examples of life imitating art. In his novel The World Set Free, Wells imagined a world where atomic energy would be created and lead to a world war, after which peace would be possible. This is not far off from what actually happened, as the technology was created and part of a huge World War, only later being used as a source of energy in a peaceful manner.

The Tablet

Yet another product that came from the mind of Gene Roddenberry, the Tablet as we know it today had its origins in the Padd (Personal Access Display Device) on Star Trek. This was a touch screen device that was used for various tasks, much like the Tablets that we have today. In fact, Apple’s version of this technology is called the “iPad,” which sounds very similar, although there is probably no official link between these two names.

Particle Beams

While the idea of “rays of light” isn’t exactly new to science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke’s depiction of the technology in Earthlight might just be the most accurate. In the novel, he depicts particle beams that can be seen and cause damage. Today, we have laser technology that can be seen and cause damage if focused correctly.

Helicopters

Yet another creation that would not have been possible without the help of Jules Verne, the Helicopter was created by a man named Igor Sikorsky, who credited Verne’s novel Clipper of the Clouds with giving him the idea for the invention. Having read the book as a young boy, he was inspired to make the visionary’s dream come true.

As one of the most inspirational science fiction writers of all time, Jules Verne said it best when he stated “Anything that one man can imagine, another man can make real.” This may just be the most accurate statement that he ever made, and truly an inspirational quote that many have taken to heart, which is why we have so many fantastic new technologies today.

Social Media: Your Best Resource for Event Promotion

social media

So you’re planning a party, trade show event, showcase, or product launch. Before the big day, you’ll need to book a great venue, organize the guest list, and gather supplies! Plus, you need to get the word out. Truly, social media has changed the way society does event planning. Read on to find the tips you need to ensure your big moment goes off without a hitch!

Give People Enough Time to Mark Their Calendars

It’s vital you get the word out early. Shoot for two to three months. Blog posts, press releases and teasers are a great way to create buzz! Use multiple social-media platforms for the maximum effect! Be sure to “@mention” guests and industry influencers. Create anticipation via a sort of “virtual party” before the “real world” event.

Don’t Be Afraid to Advertise Via Paid Promotions

Google, Facebook, and other ad spaces can prove to be fantastic resources. Utilize keywords and invent event-themed hashtags. Create Twitter lists; this will allow you to organize disparate demographics! Instagram the invitation and even give-away gifts! Foster a sense of mystery and anticipation.

Create a Pinterest Moodboard

The theme, style, location, and small touches really tie an event together and allow you to perfect a welcoming and chic ambiance. Search Pinterest for party ideas, interesting typefaces, color schemes, and decorating tips. You can even make the board “secret” so it won’t ruin any sort of surprise.

Image is Everything

Swap your usual profile picture and cover photo for an event-specific image! Create an event on facebook, encourage friends to share the flyer and details, and retweet and regram excited fan content! Creating an “event community” will encourage your audience to attend! Everyone wants to be part of a fun crowd!

The Day Of the Event: Show Time!

Make sure you have all of your materials ready to go; print enough business cards, pamphlets, and other informational handouts. Set up a photo station for attendees to snap pictures and include a hashtag suggestion. Online, interact with every single person who tweets at your company and/or uses any of your event hashtags. Upload content–images, sound bites, interviews–all in real time. Also, don’t be afraid to stream any live interviews, performances, or lectures. This way, followers that had prior engagements will be inclined to attend the next event.

After the Fact – Rehash (and Hashtag)

Now that your event has come and gone (we’re sure it was a smashing success), it’s time to run PR! Instagram photos from the event. Thank specific guests (using their Twitter and Instagram handles) for coming. Publish fantastic pictures and plug any upcoming parties/mixers/or product unveilings. Make your next event the most happening place to be. Think inclusive, not snobby or trendy!

Social Media – Changing the Event Game

So what do you think? Will you use any or all of these tips when organizing your next event? What’s your social media strategy? Leave your comments and anecdotes below!

Social Self-Promotion 102: Tips and Tricks for LinkedIn Engagement

social self promotion 102 linkedin tips

*Sigh* LinkedIn is simultaneously a wonderful and awful social-media platform. On the bright side, it’s a fantastic networking tool because it connects industry bigwigs and entry-level workers, providing fabulous networking opportunities and wealth of information. However, so many people misuse LinkedIn, and the result can be a frustrating user experience.

So, as a public service, we’ve provided a definitive guide for “How Not to Be That Clueless Employee on LinkedIn.” We may be preaching to the choir, fabulous social-media gurus, but we all need a little reminder sometimes, right?

Remember That Quality Trumps Quantity Every Time

The hard truth is, 60% of employers on LinkedIn aren’t looking to hire, but would be open to the opportunity if it presented itself. Therefore, the best use of your time is making valuable connections with real people. You don’t need one hundred followers. Instead, build valuable connections with four or five key people. Share expertise via the posts you share, earn recommendations, and straddle the line between confident and pushy. Stay in employers’ eyesight and you might wind up being the first on their mind the next time a job is posted.

Be Positive, Professional, and Stay On Task

Unlike Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, LinkedIn is a strictly professional website. Therefore, it’s imperative that you maintain a level of professionalism in your conversations and posts. Don’t confuse the platform for your personal accounts. Only share articles you feel add to the conversation and reflect well on your “personal brand.” This means avoiding overly-political or biased news sources, irrelevant anecdotes, and other “amatuer-hour” behavior. Instead of dressing for the job you want, digitally network for the job you want.

A Picture is Important

Make sure your picture is professional, well-lit, and (hopefully) displays you smiling. You want to appear approachable yet competent. If you’re at a loss for what makes a great photo, seek out a professional photographer who specializes in business photography. If it helps, think about the kinds of pictures that appear next to columnists’ articles. Make sure you are dressed in your best business attire and that the photo represents your personality. This is a crucial component of your brand or message! Don’t skimp. For more tips, consult this Business Insider article on “Rules for Your Profile Picture.”

Watch What the Pros Do

You should definitely be following your industry’s innovators on LinkedIn and carefully analyzing the way they behave. Don’t passively subscribe to their posts. Instead, be careful in your studies. Look at the specifics. When observing the pros, ask yourself important questions. What time of day do they post? What are they reading? Who are they interacting with and what does that conversation look like? In order to be more employable, you have to emulate the habits of the best and brightest leaders. Read as much as you can. Force yourself to network and notice what works and what doesn’t.

So what do you think? Are you ready to revolutionize your LinkedIn persona? Leave your comments after the jump!

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