The 2015 SXSW Panel Picker has opened, and we are so excited that our CEO and Founder, Lauren Perkins’s workshop, “Agile Marketing: Market Speed & Customer Relevance,” is included in the list of candidates! But we need your support- cast your vote for our proposal and help us get to Austin next year!
This workshop will focus on providing real hands-on experience by helping participants create an agile marketing experiment to take back to the office as a framework for applying agile to their brand marketing efforts. Applying agile approaches to marketing is essential to adapt to the pace of the market and our customers. It helps leverage the best qualities of startup agility, while developing constraints and hypotheses for experiments to unearth real-time and forward looking consumer insights that ensure relevance.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed when the to-do list gets too long. Here’s how to cut things down to size.
I’m sure you know the feeling of getting up for work in the morning with the feeling of having so much to do that you don’t know where to start. Oftentimes, everything that you have to do seems like a priority, which makes it tough to figure out where to begin.
First things first! In order to move the ball forward you need to start somewhere. Here are some planning tactics that I’ve found helpful when you need to set your mind on immediate execution. Although long-term prioritization and planning is also essential, these techniques help me to make progress on the micro-level, day-to-day basis.
This was originally published on Inc.com by Lauren Perkins. To view the full article, click here.
It’s great that entrepreneurs are always looking for bright new ideas. But how do you stay focused on the projects you’ve already got going?
“Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.” -Victor Kiam
Do you have a lot of great ideas, but find yourself constantly pulled in multiple directions by new opportunities? As entrepreneurs, it’s in our very nature to be always looking for the next new thing — before finishing what we’re already working on.
This was originally published on Inc.com by Lauren Perkins. To view the full article, click here.
(Originally from our CEO Lauren Perkin’s article on Inc.)
I’ve founded two companies and co-founded two others, but some days, I still feel like I never know what’s going to hit me next. Luckily, I’ve found a few simple mantras that help me stay steady even when things get ridiculously hairy. Some have more to do with business, and others are more about the personality and mindset I need to bring to the business. They all help me cut through the mental clutter and uncertainty that can come with entrepreneurship.
Try reminding yourself of these mantras when you’re in a bind or have a decision to make. With a little repetition, they will soon become a natural part of your thought process, keeping you on a continual path to success.
Click here to find out more about Lauren’s 6 mantras for business success
Last year we created a playful video based on How The Grinch Stole Christmas. This year we thought we could still keep that playfulness by incorporating our signature design elements to create a fun and informational holiday greeting. There’s been so much growth in online sharing that we decided to create an infographic about social media network sharing and general online digital sharing statistics. From Facebook and Twitter to Wikipedia and Youtube, online sharing in 2011 has exploded.
We hope our holiday greeting makes you smile and gives you something to think about over your holidays. Seasons Greetings, from the Perks team!
2011 Social Digital Online Sharing Statistics Holiday Infographic
Most of us have figured out the go-to, day-to-day gadgets we rely on for our work – a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. But the array of accessories and apps out there for the enterprise user can be an overwhelming one. Here’s a quick list of the on-the-go apps and tech accessories that have now become must-haves in the entrepreneur’s arsenal.
It seems that the better battery life gets on newer devices, the more we use our phones since subconsciously we know we can. To help fight battery drain every entrepreneur should have a quick back up to reach for in their pocket or bag that will allow them to go on and at least finish out the day without needing to run to the nearest Starbucks for an inconvenient power pick-me-up.
No one wants to be caught without any power at a crucial moment – whether trying to pull up an email for reference or finding directions for the next destination.
Not every entrepreneur needs a Square attachment but for those who do need instant payment options for clients and customers, Square is revolutionary.
Think of the time that’s saved not waiting for a check to come in the mail once papers have been signed in person or taking in business for a quick turnaround with deposits in hand instantly.
Square has proven to be fruitful for those needing payment options on site and immediately without the entire setup of a point-of-sale terminal.
Mifi and Personal Hotspots – Prepaid plans
If you travel a lot you probably already know that internet service can be spotty at best, and security is a concern when connecting through open wifi access points. A MiFi portable personal wifi access point will wipe these concerns away. Having a monthly plan may not be the most logical depending on your travel frequency but luckily there are a couple of prepaid plans out there with various service providers.
Neat Receipt is a fantastic addition for anyone who has to expense or keep track of receipts for tax purposes. It allows you to scan these paper documents and then saves them in a format that is accepted by the IRS. Bonus – your now scanned and digitized information can be imported to Salesforce easily!
If you’re going to be doing any sort of writing that goes beyond a myriad of notes then you absolutely need a keyboard that docks your iPad or tablet, essentially turning it into a notebook. Anyone who has tried to type out long documents on the touchscreen knows that our wrists just weren’t built that way. Do yourself a favor and get one. Fellow Vator.tv writer Krystal Peak shared her favorite one here.
Linkedin recently purchased Cardmunch to further build out their offerings for professionals everywhere. Cardmunch allows you to scan someone’s business card with your smartphone camera and then converts the image to the appropriate text. It automatically searches LinkedIn for their profile in order to connect right away. What better way to keep in touch than to socially connect on the professional social network? Your new contact will find your follow-up to be refreshing and thoughtful.
Gist and Rapportive both keep you up to date with all of your contacts’ updates, like a personal CRM tool. The Gmail plugin for Rapportive keeps you in the loop about the person that you’re emailing with. From this sidebar you can find out their latest social network updates, recent email interactions, vital contact info extracted from signatures, and other social network links so you can connect further. Gist offers a similar feed of your address book all at once on a dashboard or organized by your tags and preferences.
Don’t trust documents and platforms to save your original work? You can use Evernote for syncing your thoughts, ideas and bits of information. Evernote recently launched Evernote Hello so you can remember those you met and organize the context of how you met them.
For small companies, Dropbox has the added benefit of supporting your hardware server and backup so it is accessible and constantly synced no matter where you are. Besides using Dropbox as cloud storage, documents can be accessed remotely and accidentally deleted items can be restored.
While we wait for the next iteration of the netbook and tablet hybrid to be able to fully compute on-the-go, QuickOffice Pro bridges the divide with the much needed document creator and editor compatible with Microsoft Office.
Investing a little bit of money into this app will go a long way for your business; integrating your mobile experience with the productivity tools offered here frees you from the burden of the laptop.
Think of how much a desktop version of Office costs and then relate that here. It’s well worth it.
The following article was originally written by Lauren Perkins on ForbesWoman.
from HA! Designs - Artbyheather via flickr
Networking events are a fantastic way to meet new business prospects, potential partners, and leverage relationships within your existing network for referrals. These events can certainly seem intimidating if you don’t have an action plan to keep you focused and on task. To make the most of networking opportunities, business women can treat each event as they would treat a date. Following the same rules that you would typically follow on a date provides some guidance for how to prepare for the event, what to do while there, and actions to take post-event to take advantage of any prospects.
Primping for your Date
The first step toward an engaging experience at a networking event is preparation. When you go on a date, there are certain rituals you do to get ready. These same rules apply to preparing for a networking event to be the best-prepared date you can be:
Research the event host and the demographics of the attendees. If there’s someone going to the event you want to be introduced to, ask a mutual contact for an introduction ahead of time. LinkedIn is a great resource to discover mutual contacts.
Have a stack of business cards ready to go.
Prepare your elevator pitch and main talking points, then practice a few times!
Be a Good Date
A good date qualifies as someone who makes you feel comfortable. This person listens to you and asks questions based on what you are saying. Networking works the same way. To be a networking queen and get the most from your experience, you should:
Ask other attendees about their purpose for attending.
Make conversation with people you have the most business interest in. While you should be friendly to everybody, don’t waste more than two minutes chatting with someone who you know you have no business interest in.
Listen to who they are and what needs they have that your business may be able to fulfill.
Ask strategic questions to direct the conversation- play to their needs, offer helpful hints, and suggest your business as a solution.
In any dating situation, you always need a good exit strategy. Even if you’re having a great conversation and are interested in working with someone, you don’t want to spend too much time with one person. The more people you meet, the better chance you have at acquiring business. Think of it as speed dating! You want to handle these situations with great care because you never want to leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth about you or your company.
Excuses to Exit:
To use the restroom: “Excuse me, I have to use the restroom. It was a pleasure meeting you!”
For a phone call: “Pardon me, I have a phone call to make. Enjoy the rest of the event!”
To meet a colleague: “Please excuse me, I have to meet a colleague. It was a pleasure speaking to you.”
If the conversation went well and you’ve procured their contact information, you may also need to excuse yourself for the above mentioned, but remember to:
Tell them next steps (“I’ll be in touch tomorrow to continue our discussion!”).
Exchange business cards.
The Morning After
Who wants to be the first one to get in contact after a date? YOU DO! Never wait for them to contact you first. In the dating world this may seem desperate, but in business we call this eager, smart and strategic. The day after the event, you should:
Add the person on LinkedIn. Include a friendly message in the invitation that recaps the conversation and next steps.
If the person doesn’t use LinkedIn, you can also send them an email with the same type of message. Also, make sure to download Rapportive, which is a social tool allowing you to view all of a contacts footprint on twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Networking events may seem intimidating at first, but the above strategic tactics alongside your natural abilities will ensure that you make the most of the opportunity both personally and professionally. If you think about networking the same way that you would think about being a good date, you’re sure to come out with a broader professional network and a rolodex of untapped business prospects.
Recently I was honored to be invited to the G20-Y Summit in Paris France as an official US Ambassador for the “Innovation, Technology, Communication, Social Media and Wikileaks – Opportunities and Risks” committee. In addition to the committee I was a part of, other topics covered were: shadow banking; financial stability and regulatory issues in emerging markets; systemically important financial institutions (sifis) – resolution tools and regimes; climate change and green growth; integration of the perspectives of the Islamic countries into the G20’s mission and governance & regional conflicts 2011. The purpose of the G20-Y Summit is to inform the G20 delegates about major issues that are affecting all of us, especially the youth of today.
At Perks Consulting we know how important technology and social media is to all of us personally as well as on a business level. It’s now assumed that in addition to a website you should have a social media presence on at least Facebook and Twitter. The way we interact online is often indistinguishable from offline interactivity when it comes to human behavior and how it affects us emotionally and financially.
Innovation in technology and communication has fundamentally changed human behavior across the world. The pace of change and its potential impact, specifically in mobile and social media, continues to scale at an exponential rate. As a result, the world has become more interconnected. If harnessed correctly, innovation provides two solutions to current global challenges – GDP growth and job creation. If this isn’t addressed soon the existing divisions between ‘citizens and governments’ and ‘customers and corporations’ will continue to grow.
The solution lies in changing education, fostering innovation and improving the quality of access to and use of social media. To change this situation, the lack of understanding within government, business and other organizations of this technological revolution and its impact on human behavior need to be addressed.
We felt that G20 member countries should individually seek to understand their respective countries strengths and then collaborate to develop a global innovation policy. Once this is understood, G20 member countries should develop applicable frameworks for implementing education initiatives that foster innovation in a diverse, global economy.
From this point we proposed to build a G-20Y Summit Innovation Committee. The purpose of this committee is to identify and establish global best practices by leveraging experts across a variety of fields and to connect the components of entrepreneurial ecosystems across the world i.e. ideas, capital and markets. Providing all citizens with quality access is the pre-requisite to realizing the growth potential. Every 10% of broadband penetration results in 1.2% – 1.4% increase in per capita GDP growth (source: World Bank).
In order to take advantage of the opportunities at hand, it was recommended that the G20 set a timetable for the development of digital networks across the globe and define specific benchmarks for penetration rate, speed and quality of access. These solutions must be economically viable and environmentally sustainable. On a personal note, connectivity issues don’t just plague third-world countries. I had frequent connectivity issues while in France and Chile. You don’t realize how essential digital communication (email, social media, texting, etc.) is to your life until you don’t have access to it anymore.
With evolution across the technological landscape occurring vertically and inconsistently among cultures and borders, the open culture of social media networks has also brought economic and social disparities in full view. Movements of civil unrest have arisen, generating reactionary responses from government leaders, attempting to control and undermine access to such digital communication tools. As more of humanity comes to rely on technology as a part of their everyday lives, there will eventually be increasing ire towards governments that attempt to curb technological access or refuse to prioritize the development of digital infrastructure. This issue also extends beyond despotic countries, with governments lacking understanding in this revolution of communication norms and interaction, hoping to maintain the status quo and a powerful elite voice. Instead, social and mass media should be seen as a tool to engage, educate & connect with these communities to quell any issues and provide a more open forum for societal progress.
To address this we proposed that the G20 creates a Technology and Communication Board, to 1) maximize growth by identifying global trends that correlate to economic activity, measuring Key Performance Indicators and developing recommendations that capitalize on GDP growth opportunities and to 2) mitigate risks by creating a global policy on cyber security, privacy matters and the use of technology for criminal activity.
The world is only going to become more interconnected as time goes on. With an increasingly globalized trade system and lightning speed transactions, the lack of stable and accessible technological infrastructure needs to be addressed as a priority or major political, social, and economic consequences will arise for individual governments. Hopefully these suggestions from my G20-Y committee will be implemented in a timely manner in order to move forward effectively. I hope to maintain a commitment furthering the role of social media and technology across the board by staying involved in these issues, especially while engaging with Entrepreneur Week across the globe.
When it comes to lifestyle innovation, the car industry is definitely doing their part to push things forward. The latest in a line of digital disruption is Zipcar allowing customers to reserve a car on Facebook, thus moving the social commerce needle forward. Why is this important? According to a survey done by Zipcar, 88% of their customers spend roughly 15 hours per day on Facebook.
First off, that couldn’t possibly be true. While it’s important to poll your customers, it’s also important to get the right data. For that statistic to be true, Zipcar’s customers would have to be on Facebook for every single waking moment. Having Facebook open isn’t the same thing as actively being “on” Facebook.
Regardless of the skewed data, Zipcar’s decision to allow customers to reserve cars on Facebook is no less important. It’s widely documented that people general spend a lot of time on Facebook and leave it open in a tab. Instead of forcing your customers to search for your website on Google, they can just search for your brand on Facebook and use it through that channel.
Zipcar’s engagement proves that online shopping goes beyond just e-commerce and buying products. Customers are hungry for viable e-commerce solutions that simplify the process by allowing them to shop where they spend the most of their time – Facebook.
“We know that our members are tech-savvy and actively engaged in social media, so providing members with the ability to reserve a Zipcar directly through Facebook is a natural next step,” Scott Griffith, chief executive of Zipcar in a statement.
According to member surveys performed by Zipcar, 88 percent of Zipcar users are also Facebook users who spend roughly 15 hours a day on the social network. So why not capture the audience where it spends the most time? Not to mention the obvious opportunity to acquire new customers from Facebook’s 800 million active users.
Visitors to the Zipcar Facebook app will be able to find and reserve available cars, get direction to the car’s locations, and of course, share the reservation with friends. You will also be able to extend or cancel a reservation directly from Facebook and because it is a canvas app, there is no reason for Zipcar member to leave the Facebook website.
Facebook recently made a slew of changes to its platform allowing these apps to really flourish. These changes include updates to it’s developer-focused Open Graph, the ability to integrate different vocabulary into your “likes,” and more.
Zipcar users can also stay mobile through Zipcar’s mobile app available on both Android, iPhone and website.
Social media marketing has moved from cutting edge to being standardized across online channels. Brands can ask their customers what they like on Twitter and Facebook, but when it comes to reaching them in a dedicated mobile environment there hasn’t been much in the way of innovation. That’s where Opinionaided comes in.
Opinionaided allows you to ask a question, upload a photo, and have users vote on it. As with all new networks and apps, the form of user engagement should be determined early on. If you decide to use a question and answer platform like Opinionaided, it’s better to ask if users like one of your products versus another one. Users should never be asked to compare to a competitor or be given an option to compare two of your products that aren’t similar enough. Remember, you never want to make your customers uncomfortable.
There’s also a possibility of engaging network influencers by making them brand ambassadors, but this shouldn’t be taken lightly. If payment is provided then disclosure needs to be standardized across the board. For situations like this we recommend Cmp.ly, which we worked with early on to design their iconography. We do not recommend doing this on your own, as navigating the paid brand ambassador waters can be tricky. It’s always best to bring in a marketing or consulting agency that has done lifestyle engagements before. Regardless of whether you use an agency, make sure you have a content creation calendar and social media guidelines with examples of proper usage before you set out to use any new network officially.
Everyone’s got an opinion — something that the mobile question and answer company Opinionaided has tapped into with its popular iPhone app. Today, the company is releasing its long-awaited Android app, which will help to spur on Opinionaided’s skyrocketing growth and increasing user engagement.
As of September, active users are now spending 3 hours and 25 minutes on the app, compared to around two and a half hours in August. Opinionaided users gave over 10 million responses to over 250,000 questions last weekend alone. Clearly, users are finding something addictive about the service, which allows you to take a picture on your phone, ask a question, and instantly receive responses.
“What is most significant to us is that we are creating a social utility based on helping others, with little judgment or bias,” CEO Dan Kurani said in a statement today. “By adding the Android app, we are able to cultivate a larger and more inclusive community of mobile users.”
Kurani tells me it took the company some time to put together the free Android app, which is now available on the Android Market. The Android app still doesn’t have some of the sharing features that the iOS app has, but Kurani says they’re coming soon.
In my brief testing of the Opinionaided service, I was struck by just how quickly responses to my questions came. That near-instant engagement even surprised Kurani when the app was first launched. He says that users are now seeing between 50 and 100 responses per question, with an average of 70 responses. Kurani attributes the impressive users engagement to the company’s focus on on opinion Q&A, instead of fact-based Q&A like Yahoo Answers.
Opinionaided is based in New York City and has raised around $6.7 million across two rounds of funding.