SEINFELD MEETS ZUCKERBERG OF THE BUSINESS BLOG WORLD

By Lorne Price

Follow the rules or break the rules? We are all looking for an edge and a way to stand out regardless of our job or industry.

With a matter of fact sense of humor and great business instincts, Seth Godin offers an interesting and refreshing perspective.

With the volume of information available to us, we are all faced with a time crunch. Emails. Social Media. Meetings. Pod casts. We are bombarded with information from every angle. We all struggle with choosing what to read while fearing that we may miss something. I will convince you why Seth Godin’s blog is the one to choose if you had to choose just one.

A concise, witty and sometimes quirky approach to each and every day, American author and former dot com business executive Seth Godin offers a fresh approach to your job, to business and to life in general.

Godin’s blog is frequent with a post almost each and every day. They are short in length but they are concise, pack a punch and are chalk full of wisdom and wit.

As a business blog with a focus on marketing Godin’s appeal is in his ability to address the subjects many of us are faced with all the time. From abandoning worry and facing change to telling stories Godin offers approaches that are simple and obvious once presented to us.

 

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How Simon Sinek can help you avoid burn out

By Maria Orsina

It’s been quoted by Confucius “Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life”. Ok, what does this mean? Does this mean that you can devote 80 hours plus per week on a job, and never burn out?

The answer is yes.

Burnout doesn’t just exhaust a person’s mind and body. It’s the spirit that suffers the most. Employees who spend long hours at a job can begin to lose their passion.  However, when the job is in line to why we do it, the passion will never be lost no matter the hard work. Simon Sinek says it well, “Happiness comes from WHAT we do. Fulfillment comes from WHY we do it. Fulfillment comes when our work connects directly to our WHY”.

Simon would want you to wake up every single day feeling inspired, safe at work, and fulfilled at the end of the day. Wouldn’t you want this feeling, always? Reading, listening to Simon in your daily routine will help you achieve this in your life, and as quoted above, as if you never work a day in your life.

Been working in the corporate world for many years now, leading teams to achieve their highest potential, and always being very passionate to the culture and vision of the company. Though my work was about the #s, the Why was continuously being fulfilled by developing others and seeing them grow within the organization. I had understood that the Why that gets me up in the morning was that I was building meaning into my life, by inspiring others to be best they can be.

Then, the culture changed.

Those long hours began to feel very burdensome. Though the core value on commitment to client results was to absolutely be met, other company’s core values on respect and integrity, teamwork and collaboration, were constantly being neglected. When a corporate environment care way more about the $ than their employees, leaders who are to motivate their teams to achieve these goals, begin to feel demotivated themselves, and ultimately, risk burn out. For suddenly, your vision is no longer in line with the company you work for. This happens when your WHY is put into question.

Let Simon Sinek guide you to continuously live a fulfilled life. Discover your WHY, write it down, say it out loud, so it resonates, and never stop searching for that job that matches your WHY, and remember, change is good, so don’t be afraid to change that job, to build meaning back into your life.

 

Where does a blogging noob begin?

By Christine Prysunka

You start with Mark Schaefer’s blog {grow}.  It’s exactly the place to learn or expand upon your blogging skills.  I don’t come from a marketing background, in fact my career has mainly been in the human service, non-profit sector.   So, starting on the path into the world of blogging can be scary, challenging and just overall – “what the hell am I doing”?!  Putting my thoughts onto screen for the world to see? – “you’ve got to be kidding me”.  But what I’ve learnt so far by reading {grow}, is that it’s never too late to dive in.

There are a lot of marketing blogs out there, but {grow} tends to take a different angle and brings interesting points of view, no matter what your profession; which I can appreciate being someone who is new to the space.  I’m not interested in reading the same thing over and over again, but I also don’t have the time to scour blog after blog for different topics.  The fact that it’s a “one stop shop” is the perfect reason to keep coming back.  Just landing on the homepage of {grow} and skimming the headlines will show a person just how much diversely new content is published weekly.

After familiarizing yourself with the platform, you will start to notice that not only does Mark do most of the blogging, but often times he has guest bloggers or members of the community take a turn, which I personally enjoy.  What I really appreciate about this is all the different approach’s and perspectives on various content.  As someone who aspires to potentially step out of the non-profit world and one day venture into a more marketing focused position, I have found so many relevant posts that make me stop, think and get excited over so much potential in this new and exciting realm.

{grow} possess the perfect philosophy for anyone starting out in the blogging space.  When asking yourself, what are you looking to gain out of following a blogger?  {grow} asks you to ask yourself, what are you looking to grow instead.   I really related to that thought and this is why I plan to keep reading and absorbing all the content the site has to offer.

I encourage any other aspiring bloggers to check out Mark’s blog, you can find the link here: https://www.businessesgrow.com/blog/

The power of social media: How to revive a struggling business.

What’s the secret to a successful coffee shop? Small businesses and local entrepreneurs are pushed down by giants like Starbucks and Tim Hortons. If they want to survive and grow their business, they have to figure out how to stand out in a crowded market. Java u is one of them, and our mission was to help them conquer the digital world.

What started out as a single coffee shop inside a Montreal university, has now expanded into many locations in Montreal, and even around the world. With all this growth and franchising, this little coffee shop has slowly been losing its identity, and is now struggling to find its place.

Why?

To create a digital marketing strategy we had to keep java u’s “why” in mind. They serve coffee, teas, pastries, and paninis, but they want to be known for their coffee. Proudly serving exclusively fair trade organic coffee is what they’re all about, and we had to communicate that in our digital strategy. We want to engage loyal customers who share the same core values. However, for any company to be considered experts in their field, they need to build credibility. This can be done by writing a blog about their expertise. We started a blog about coffee that also talks about the importance of the fair trade movement.

Start a conversation

Java u’s social media presence is not at its best. Their official Facebook page only has 513 likes and their posts are creating almost no engagement. Their Instagram is a little better, but still has a long way to go. With over 5000 followers, their posts are getting as few as 6 likes although a year ago, their posts used to get over 100 likes. The big problem here is that they’re having a one-way conversation. Instead of just posting pretty pictures, brands have to interact with their customers. Engagement doesn’t come magically, you have to start a conversation. Let your audience talk to you. Mark Schaefer recommends amplifying your content by using hashtags and asking questions. That is why we decided to start a campaign and use a new hashtag that will invite users to share photos of themselves with their favourite java u drink. A prize will be given as an incentive for instagrammers to share their java u moment. Not only does this help build brand loyalty, it also provides valuable knowledge about their audience. We also created an event, and gave customers a reason, and a deadline to go to java u and participate.

With these simple but incredibly important steps, businesses can get back on the path to success by making the most of social media. A Digital strategy that effectively communicates their brand identity and values will help the company position themselves in the market. Having an engaged community creates brand ambassadors and keeps the customers coming back.

JAVA U – Project… Is teamwork really democratic?

Putting 5 people in one room and assigning them a shared project does not constitute teamwork.

True teamwork is when all members are working in harmony; but remember, a symphony plays best when it has a leader, someone who keeps time.

To succeed as a team, someone needs to assume the lead throwing out the concept that teamwork is democratic and that all members are equal and play equal roles.

Focus on leader

Take a Formula One team or a team participating in the Tour de France. A leader is chosen; someone who demonstrates the qualities, competencies and capacities to take a team over the finish line in first place. This person generally has innate leadership qualities and skills that gives their team the best chance of winning.

The team members are then chosen to compliment this individual. Their role is clearly defined so that every move, task and effort is made with one goal in mind; support, aid and assist the leader in their quest to win.

Let’s breakdown a Tour de France team contending for the overall prize – the GC (general classification) as it is called… other teams might compete for the polka-dotted jersey, which is awarded to the top climber.

GC contenders win the tour by creating time gaps during hilly stages, and the team and individual time trials. So the “domestiques” on these teams support their leaders by pacing them on long climb. Given this arduous task, a “domestique” rider may kill themselves to pace their leader one day, and completely fall back and take it easy the next day to recover. This hurts their overall time, making it impossible for this rider to win but that’s not their purpose in the tour, their sole purpose is to support their leader at any cost.

Eye witness

I am avid cyclist and worked in Formula One for 11 years. In both cases, I witnessed teamwork taken to the extreme, where everything and I mean everything was thought out to the very last detail. In cycling, drafting behind another rider allows you to expend 30% less effort, over a 100km ride, that’s significant.

In Formula One, look at how the garage is set-up at every race, no matter where this race is taking place. The toolboxes are laid out exactly in the same place / position so when a mechanic reaches for a ¼ inch ratchet, it’s there, without having to search or think about it. It’s about saving time and being efficient, which could be the difference of making the podium or not.

In relation to the Java U project

For the Java U project, teams were pre-selected, meaning, no one knew who they’d be working with.

Over the course of working on the project, it became clear which member would play which role.

Our team quickly gelled and found a balance permitting us to work efficiently brought on by the fact that the proposed strategy was immediately endorsed by the team, call it our finish line.

Once our mission / purpose were set, the team fell into place and off we went. But this strategy was mainly driven by one individual who drove it and sold it to the other members getting their buy-in – the leader.

Had there been 2 leaders, 2 strong willed individuals in our team with opposing views, it could have split the team down the middle or made defining our strategy difficult.

Democracy

So for teamwork to actually work, as in Formula One or in the Tour, someone needs to lead and others need to accept and assume their specific roles. Teamwork works best when this concept is accepting by all, that’s democratic but the make-up of the team and the assigned work is not.

 

A great coffee quote, “a morning without coffee, is like sleep”.

COFFEE GETTING LOST IN THE SHUFFLE

Sitting and listening to Valerie’s Java U presentation, I can’t help but wonder if the focus of their brand got lost because they didn’t have a true why. They even diluted their coffee message by partnering with Natrel, going so far as to detract from their own logo by giving Natrel prime real estate—their coffee cup! What you’re about to read is my impression of Java U and the best two practices I would recommend for them.

We all have numerous choices of coffee shops within a short walking distance. How do you get a consumer to choose you over the guy next door? Java U’s new brand voice “more than just coffee” is a good start. This is not a deep why message from the President but branding as a Fairtrade and organic coffee that is healthier and socially responsible will appeal and connect with a niche consumer.

It’s all about the connection

A best practice will be ensuring this message is authentic and connects with the right audience. As Bernadette Jiwa says: “If you fail to make an emotional connection with your audience–to tell the story that illustrates value–you’ll never quite reach your potential.”  This target audience will be broken down into 3-4 personas with the social media tactics adjusted with each persona in mind.

Hashtags are our friend

Creating a hashtag for their brand would be a second best practice. Not only will it give Java U a way to track consumer comments, it will also give them the opportunity to form a connection by entering their conversation. Mark Schaefer sums it up well: “the hashtag is one of the most important components of monetizing the web.”

Overall it seems Java U is on the right track. As long as they stay focused on their new why “more than just coffee” and creating an emotional connection, they will succeed in carving out their own niche clientele.

How to profitably reposition a diluted brand identity in a saturated market?

For years, Java U has been known for the quality of its food and its catering services. The brand identity has become so synonymous of delicious food that not once in 11 years of living in Montreal have I ever associated Java U with great coffee. That fact in and of itself illustrates the challenge the Java U brand is now facing: how to profitably reposition a diluted brand identity in a saturated market like Montreal’s coffee shop scene? Here are three best practices in digital content creation to achieve just that, woven into my experience of this project.