10 Social Media Trends to Watch in 2019

Users are increasingly leery of the information on social media.

8 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As social media platforms have evolved into full-blown communication channels, more brands are relying on these platforms to reach their target audiences.

Consumer attention is scattered across various social platforms, not to mention apps and other online diversions. Brands that hope to capture consumers’ attention and dollars need to keep in touch with how their audiences utilize these platforms. The bottom line is that, as trends evolve on social media, so must the corresponding marketing.

With the start of a new year, it’s time to look into the crystal ball of emerging trends on social media. What is going to influence social media users? What does this mean for brand marketing? And what do we need to be aware of to stay current and relevant in 2019?

Here are the top 10 social media trends to keep an eye on in the new year.

1. Rebuilding trust in social media platforms.

Social media platforms continue to grow annually — in fact, Facebook has more than 2 billion active users each month. However, the picture isn’t entirely rosy. Consumer confidence in social media is on shaky ground.

Users are growing increasingly leery of the information they find on social media. And marketers may be contributing to the situation when they fail to properly label paid advertising posts or they bombard a platform with targeted ads that overwhelm users. All of this can leave users feeling distrustful of both the brand and the platform.

Younger generations have little tolerance for marketing that comes off as disingenuous. Brands will need to look for ways to build consumer trust. That means focusing on ways to authentically connect with audiences, and ways to highlight their humanity. Brands need to connect with their audiences on a meaningful level. No one likes being constantly swamped with ads. Even worse is when you’re being marketed to and don’t even realize it.

2. Social media is about storytelling.

Social media’s popularity is rooted in the fact that it allows us to share our life experiences with friends and families. We get to tell our stories through our posts, and we get to see a snapshot of everyone else’s lives through our news feeds. At first, that was through written posts and photos, but video content is increasingly popular.

Social media is adapting, embracing new ways to allow people to tell their stories and share their narrative with the world. Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are embracing this trend, and it’s changing the way we consume social media content.

This opens the door for brands to share more human stories of their own, which will inspire audiences to try out their product. Storytelling feels real, immediate and personal, but it also demands a mix of more time-intensive video, images and graphics, and requires brands to be more creative and thoughtful in the intent.

3. Build a brand narrative.

Along with honing their human stories, businesses are going to need to build a strategic narrative behind their brand. Narratives capture moments and experiences shared between a user and a product; they’re the conversations that are occurring, and they’re often about trying to create a broader, more positive change.

These narratives can be distributed through social media and digital media, and they reflect what a brand’s community is saying about them. If a brand can build a larger story, it will have a better chance of success.

Brand narratives need to be compelling and lead audiences to an action. Evaluate your brand story, and ensure it is inspiring and stands out against the messiness of other social media content.

4. Quality and creativity over quantity.

Marketers often have a knee-jerk reaction to trends by flooding platforms with mediocre and uninspired content in hopes of riding the trend wave. Would-be customers react by tuning out and quickly dismissing subpar messaging. The threshold for gaining customer attention and trust has grown exponentially. Marketers who hope to gain consumer consideration must be willing to go the extra mile in creating engaging content.

The bottom line is, to have an impact, brands must be purposeful and creative. Less content, if it’s created thoughtfully and is well-positioned, will have greater impact than an abundance of content that is uninspired, heavy-handed or seen as shallow or dull.

Related: 5 Ways to Create Engaging Content Your Audience Will Share

5. Put a human face to your brand.

Personal branding is a must on social media. Putting a real, human face to a brand is key in building trust and loyalty, especially for small, relatively unknown businesses. Personal branding gives a business a human element that will naturally connect customers and make the brand seem more relatable. Businesses that learn to foster their human element will have a real advantage over those who hide behind a logo.

One popular trend in humanizing a business is to promote the personal brand of the business owner or a high-level leader. This can be done through guest blogging, podcasts and webinars. Giving the public an up-close view of the company’s leader can strengthen its brand reputation.

Related: 7 Rules for Building a Distinctive Personal Brand (and a Bonus to Get You Started)

6. Influencers continue to grow their communities.

Influencer marketing continues to develop and grow on social media platforms. Influencers are social media figures who have gathered a defined community around themselves. Their large followings (which can range from the thousands to over a million viewers) give them influence over others. They can be incredibly effective as salespeople because we inherently trust the people we follow on social media.

Much like personal branding, when done well influencer marketing gives a human voice to brands. Influencer marketing is less direct than traditional forms of advertising, but it can effectively create authentic ways of connecting with customers.

Related: 10 Influencer Marketing Trends to Keep Your Eye On

7. Selfie videos and branding.

The selfie culture continues to flourish on social media, with the popularity of selfie photo evolving into the self-recorded video. These “selfie videos” are drawing high user interest on social media. Like the selfie photo, the selfie video allows users to capture a moment in time, but the video format allows users to communicate in a deeper and more personal way than a photo ever could. Selfie videos tend to be short and feel more immediate than a written post with a photo.

Businesses need to take note: viewers spend hours watching friends’ videos on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. Brands would be wise to look for ways to incorporate first-person “selfie video” content as part of their marketing strategy.

Traditional advertising can be off-putting to younger audiences, who are more cautious about their purchases and want a more authentic experience with their brands. The selfie video can help a brand seem more relatable and trustworthy.

8. Segment your social audiences.

While brands talk about their customers and audiences, the reality is that most businesses will have multiple audiences. Segmentation is the process of organizing your audience into manageable groups (or segments) so you can tailor your messaging and communications to the preferences of each group. Social media is most effective when you segment your audiences so you can be relevant to the right groups of people at the right time.

Making assumptions about your audience and lumping them all together could limit your ability to reach more people. So the more you know about your audience and the various groups that make up your audience, the better you can adjust your messaging and narratives to fit each segment.

9. Hyper-targeted personalization.

Customers have come to expect brands to tailor special offers and discounts to their wants and needs. To keep up with expectations, businesses need to step up their game when it comes to targeted advertising. Nearly every social media platform offers some level of audience filtering when you opt to pay for advertising. These options range from simple geographic targeting to advanced filters that refine audiences into highly specific segments.

In the coming year, brands will increasingly turn to hyper-targeted personalization to reach their audiences. This is often achieved through retargeting or remarketing ads. Ever wonder why you’re seeing an ad on your social media site for something you were shopping for earlier? That’s hyper-targeted personalization at work.

Using “cookies” while you browse online, marketers collect data on users, such as online habits, the area they live in and any other pertinent information. But marketers will need to find a balance between being too pushy and being able to offer personalized advertising that will genuinely interest customers.

10. Know your platforms.

Businesses should carefully consider which social media platforms to focus on, as each platform tends to be used by different groups. For example, over 80 percent of Pinterest users are female, and more than 50 percent of users are from the US. So, if a brand is targeting American women, posting on Pinterest could help isolate that group.

Meanwhile, Snapchat users tend to be younger than those who use Facebook. And career-focused professionals spend more of their time on LinkedIn. Brands that use multiple platforms should use these distinguishing characteristics to decide where to post content and on which platforms to focus the majority of their marketing efforts.

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5 Essentials for Starting a Business in 2019

starting a business in 2019

Is 2019 the year that you finally start your own small business or startup?

There are a lot of good reasons to consider starting your company this year. You can do it. You don’t necessarily need a degree in business or finance to be successful. But keep reading—there are a few essentials for getting up and running that you won’t want to miss.

1. A great business idea

If you’re kicking around a few ideas for your new company, or you think you have a concept but aren’t sure it will work, use these resources to help you think it through before you invest a ton of money and time.

Validate your best ideas

Our guide to coming up with a great business idea is packed with ideas for all kinds of industries. This article on generating hundreds of business ideas is a great place to start. When you’ve settled on one (or a few) favorites, download our free Business Idea Validation Checklist, which is an excellent tool for making sure your idea has legs before you invest any more time or resources in it.

Give your idea (and yourself) a SWOT analysis

From there, we recommend a good SWOT analysis. That acronym stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats” This is a flexible, simple analysis format that you can do on your business idea, and on yourself as a budding entrepreneur.

In just a few minutes, you’ll know exactly how you and your business idea stand apart from the crowd, and where you need to make improvements in order to succeed. Try our downloadable SWOT template.

2. A 30-day roadmap to starting a business

If you have a great business idea, it’s time to get started! Use this free startup checklist and our guide to starting a business in 30 days to help you make sure you’ve covered all your bases. Can you really launch a company in a month? That depends on what type of business you’re starting. No matter what, you can make a ton of progress if you make it your priority for four to five weeks.

During this 3- day stretch, you’ll think about your business name, your legal structure, and more of the nuts and bolts of making thing official. This is also a great time to do market research, build your website, and figure out how you’ll manage your bookkeeping in the early days.

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3. A business plan

If you’re not sure how to write a business plan, you aren’t alone—we talk with entrepreneurs and people who want to start a small business every day who feel this way.

There’s good news: you can do it, and it’s easier than you think.

Start with a Lean Plan

Set your timer for 30 minutes and write a one-page summary of your business idea—a Lean Business Plan. A Lean Plan is actually a better alternative to the Business Model Canvas. It takes those core ideas from your mission statement and goes a little deeper.

You’ll be thinking about the problem your business solves, your target market, and its competition. Not sure how to format it? We have a Lean Plan template you can download.

Grow your summary into a business plan

Once your summary is done, you’ll have a bigger set of core ideas (and more confidence) and feel much more ready to dive into writing a full business plan.

Download our free business plan template to capture notes as you gather information. Once you feel like you have a starting point for all the recommended sections of your plan, you can get started with the writing.

We have a list of helpful tips for business plan writing, as well as a detailed guide. And of course, we make LivePlan, a business planning app that’s designed to make putting together your plan simple and intuitive—even those financials, even if you don’t have a degree in finance.

4. Funding to get started

With your business plan finished, you may be heading out to present your business idea to investors to a bank. We know the funding part of your journey can be challenging, but don’t give up—many entrepreneurs end up making several attempts before getting funded. Check out our funding guide to help you get started.  

Approaching investors

If you’ll be making presentations to investors, we recommend having some specific slides in your pitch deck to help get your business idea across in a memorable way. It’s also a great idea to formulate several versions of your pitch, so you can deliver it in as little as one minute or as long as 20 minutes.

For most startup businesses, angel investors will be a more viable resource than venture capitalists (who are interested only in a handful of very high-growth companies). We have a complete guide to locating and approaching angels, and you can download our ebook on how to pitch and get funded.

Looking for lenders and other alternatives

If you’ve decided to seek out a small business loan, check out our guides for approaching banks and the Small Business Administration. If your credit is bad, you can still get funding, though it may take longer.

There are always alternative sources of funding to explore, such as crowdfunding, approaching friends and family, liquidating assets you own, bootstrapping—or even keeping your day job for a while. If you’ve validated your business idea and built a solid business plan, don’t let a few initial rejections stand in your way. Stay determined and think creatively.

5. Milestones and goals

Down the road when your small business or startup company is up and running, you’ll have a whole new learning curve: becoming a smart small business manager.

That business plan you wrote will be a companion on this particular journey—you’ll be updating it regularly, and comparing it against how your company actually performed. Set some goals, create some forecasts—these milestones will help you keep your new business on track.

For now, however, just stay focused on the steps you’re taking to get started. An entrepreneur never stops learning, and with each new skill you take on, you’re better equipped for the next challenge.

One last bonus tip: Find a mentor or someone you trust who can be a sounding board as you make early decisions—don’t try to do it all alone.

We wish you a successful start to your small business or startup in 2019!

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How and Why Entrepreneurs Should Focus on Seniors in 2019

You know those images of meek old ladies sitting in their gardens? Uh-uh. That’s not reality.

7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We see a lot of headlines about how our population is aging, but we don’t see what businesses are doing about it. By 2035, for the first time in American history, people aged 65 and older will outnumber those 18 and younger, and it’s time for entrepreneurs to take note. As someone who has worked in innovation in the senior space, for AARP and elsewhere, I can offer some predictions for what I see as the path forward, and what entrepreneurs — of any age — can do about it.

Related: Seniors in Emerging Markets Represent Huge Opportunity for Innovative Entrepreneurs

1. Understand your target audience.

Entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that all seniors are the same. How often do we see marketing material featuring little old ladies wearing straw hats, smiling meekly from the comfort of their gardens? Those stock photos are rampant because no one is taking the time to understand the phases of aging, nor are they recognizing that seniors are just as diverse as the rest of the population.

We’ve entered a time that I call the New Life Curve, where longevity has increased to the point that our generative years have extended by up to 30 years. That’s a long time! As health improves, adults 55 and up are working longer and have considerable more buying power than millennials, but many simply haven’t gotten the hint.

You can’t look only at age, though; you also have to look at “healthspan,” meaning how long we stay healthy. When I spent time in seniors’ homes for a client in the senior living industry, I saw a vast range of abilities. There was a man in his 50s who struggled with memory to the extent that he could no longer work or be on his own. But there was also a woman in her 80s who was chopping firewood in her backyard.

These diverse illustrations of aging should come as no surprise to anyone with senior parents or grandparents, but when people go about creating products and services for seniors, they often decide that one size fits all.

The only brand I’ve seen that breaks through is Viagra. Men and women in those ads are younger, more stylish. They’re enjoying life, they’re dancing, they’re out and about  — much like the seniors I have gotten to know through my work.  

As I said in a book I co-authored earlier this year, you have to get curious about your audience, to do rapid research. Pilot your product. Start small and keep iterating. But if you think all seniors are identical, you’ve already lost.

Related: Can Blockchain Prevent Billion Dollar Scams in the Aged Care Sector?

2. Don’t assume all seniors are low tech.

While the Silent Generation isn’t known for its use of smartphones, the majority of boomers are tech friendly. According to this study from the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of boomers own smartphones, 52 percent own tablets and 57 percent use social media. Although millennials make up the bulk of Facebook users, there are still 26.5 million who are 55 to 64 years old, and 21.1 million who are 65 and above. These numbers are far from negligible.  

One of the senior products I worked on, in fact, utilized tablets and smartphones. At the outset, advisors told us that seniors would never use a tablet, but experience showed otherwise. While some in our pilot study opted to use their desktop instead, plenty of our study group were delighted to have a tablet in their hands. A caregiver showed them how to use it, but they got the hang of it pretty quickly. One woman told me it was easier to use her tablet than her computer orphone!  

So, don’t think seniors can’t do tech whatsoever, or that tech for seniors means gigantic buttons and a dumbed-down experience. When it comes to wearable technology, make something anyone would want to show off to their friends. No one wants a huge pendant around his or her neck announcing to the world, “I’m old!” If you’re designing for fall detection, make your product stylish. The Apple Watch Series 4 has FDA clearance to monitor health and detect falls, and while no product is perfect, this shouldn’t be the only one in the field.

It’s time for competitors to catch up. My only caveat? Design with accessibility in mind. That’s simply good UX.

3. Help seniors stay connected.

According to a survey conducted by AARP, the vast majority of seniors (91 percent in that particular study) use technology to stay connected to friends and family. We also know that aging in place, i.e., not moving to an assisted living facility, is something that nine of out ten seniors are planning on, which means that concerns about loneliness are on the rise. Why? Staying at home can mean coming into contact with fewer people than in a retirement community.

And it’s not only retirement we should be thinking about. With divorce on the rise for adults 50 and older, isolation can be an issue long before someone retires. So, we need products and services that draw people in and use the power of digital to open up lines of communication. Did you know that from 2013 to 2015, the use of online dating for those 55 to 64 years old doubled? That’s a pretty short time for such a major shift. Entrepreneurs, are you paying attention?

4. Don’t assume everyone is facing the same challenges.   

You wouldn’t believe the number of conferences I attend where the so-called “innovation” for seniors is focused on canes and diapers. Yes, issues with mobility and incontinence can increase as we age, but they’re not the only issues we’ll face. And to reiterate my first point, “aging” is totally dependent on our individual state of health.

For example, look at surveillance. If you’re healthy and active in your 60s or 70s, having people suggest that you install cameras in your home would be offensive. But if you’re in your 90s, and susceptible to falls, cameras might be a comfort both for you and your family. Essentially, what’s appropriate to one part of the population is completely inappropriate for another; so you have to know whom you’re building for.

5. Focus on health.

We are in the midst of a health craze, and it’s much more top of mind for today’s seniors than in previous generations. According to a study reported in Forbes, today’s boomers are more concerned with well-being, while the Silent Generation struggles less with obesity. In fact, obesity among boomers is getting less attention than it should even though it affects one in three. There’s so much that could be explored to help seniors with their weight and their well-being.

All of this points to the same conclusion: We’ve reached a stage where personalization is important no matter what the age of the consumer. For seniors, age is sometimes only a number. You have to understand their health state and their goals. Some in their 80s are looking to break world records in pole vaulting, and others are trying to make it to their next family vacation. What I’ve found is that it’s an exciting time to develop products and services that truly satisfy and delight today’s seniors — in all their complexity.

Related: How Senior Citizens Can Use Technology to Ensure Safety

Trends in aging that you as an entrepreneur should be staying on top of:

  • The smart home: Nest, voice-based services, etc. to help people age in place
  • Telehealth: time for this to go mainstream
  • Data mashups: getting a holistic view of a senior’s passions and health state will pave the way for new products and services
  • Social determinants of health: place really matters
  • End of life services: the increasing openness to discussing mortality or innovating even in hospice settings  

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6 Ways to Profit From Your Patent

how to make money from your patent

You had a great idea for an invention, and after spending months brainstorming, filing, (waiting) and discussing the details with your patent attorney, your patent is granted.

Filing for a patent isn’t cheap, so it makes sense that if you went to the trouble of protecting your idea, the next step is to figure out how to profit from it.

According to Forbes, in 2014, 95 percent of the 2.1 million active patents weren’t licensed or commercialized: they didn’t generate any money.

The value of your invention is completely in your hands. Here are six ways to make money from your patents.

1. Start a business: Product conversion

One of the best ways to make money from your patent is to create and sell the product you invented. If you’re thinking about manufacturing and retail opportunities, start by yourself the following questions:

  • Does your invention solve a real-world problem?
  • Does it do its job better than existing products in the market?
  • Have you done an assessment to find if your consumers are going to like it?
  • Do you have funds for manufacturing and promoting the product?
  • Can you sell it at a competitive price?

Keep in mind that developing and selling a product—starting a business—requires different skills than creating a product idea and going through the patenting process.   

There are plenty of independent inventors that have chosen to travel the path of entrepreneurship. Dan Brown, the inventor of Bionic Wrench and founder of Logger Head Tools, is a prime example.

You can read the bright side of Dan’s story here. Dan did face some challenges, though, so make sure you think it through so you’ve accounted for potential risks before you get in too deep.  

Start by writing a business plan—they’re required by bank lenders and investors. But even if you don’t need outside funding to get started, business planning will help you make sure you’ve considered every aspect of your business.

2. License your patent

If starting your own business isn’t the best approach for you, you can still earn a handsome amount by licensing your patent.

Patent licensing is a practice that lets you transfer your patent rights to a party that can use it for making or selling a product or service.

There are two types of patent licensing:

  • Exclusive Licensing: The patent owner transfers all the ownership rights to the licensee.
  • Non- Exclusive Licensing: The patent owner/licensor can also produce the invention along with the licensee.

The benefits of licensing your patent rights

  • Your brainchild, your invention, sees the light of a day in form of a product.
  • Lack of resources or funding won’t stop your invention from going to market.
  • The trust and brand value of the licensee could help you build a legacy.  
  • Your licensee may sell your product worldwide faster than you would have been able.

Patent licensing as a number of complexities and intricacies. I recommend reading this article—it’s a guide to patent licensing. It will help you start developing solid understanding of what it entails, including scenarios where licensing may become less profitable than your initial expectations.

Find your small business loan today!

3. Use a patent licensing company

If you’re not interested in doing all the licensing legwork yourself, there are patent licensing companies, (some of them are publicly traded) like Acacia Research Corporation, that help individual inventors monetize their patent assets. Often these companies serve as a middleman, connecting an inventor with a company that could help them with expertise or capital.

Acacia Research Corporation, based in Newport Beach, has been one of the biggest supporters of individual inventors and small companies. They work with patent-holders to help them unlock the financial potential of their patent. It partners with many companies/inventors and splits the licensing revenue 50-50.

 Intellectual Ventures is another such company. It is one of the top five owners of US patents.  It acquires patents from almost every domain. It has more than 40,000 patents in its portfolio.

“The set of incentives that go around patents, that’s part of how the system works. Inventors should get rich. We should have more inventors. It’s good for everybody.”

― Nathan Myhrvold, former CTO of Microsoft and co-founder of Intellectual Ventures

It’s worth mentioning that companies like Acacia Research and Intellectual Venture are considered Non-Practising Entities (NPEs). NPEs are entities that own patent(s) but don’t use them to develop a product/process. Some of the NPEs have earned the moniker of “patent troll” because they use their patent(s) for filing frivolous lawsuits against renowned companies and startups.

4. Use it as collateral for a bank loan

Did you know that sometimes you can use your patent as collateral when seeking a bank loan? You might be surprised that this is a fairly common practice and something even major players like General Motors, Alcatel Lucent, and Kodak have done. Between 2011 and 2016, leading banks like JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America made 947,907 transactions for patent loans.

It has another benefit. If you mortgage your patent, there’s a fairly high chance that it could be acquired by a big company that wants to avoid litigation or to maintain its competitive edge. Often when patent owners mortgage patents, they’re more interested in leveraging the value of their resource, than licensing it or spinning up a business with it.

So, if a bank agrees that you can use a patent as collateral, they essentially agree that it has significant value, based on their due diligence. This can actually be a positive signal for companies looking to acquire patents.

5. Sell off your patent rights

What if you aren’t interested in licensing your patent? Maybe the market for your intellectual property is diminishing or the technology is becoming less relevant. It might be time to sell the patent.

Before you sell, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there any way to further develop your invention that might your intellectual property worth more down the road?  
  • Is patent pooling possible?
  • Are you running out of ways to make licensing profitable?

The next big question is—where will you sell it? Check out this list of 22 patent marketplaces to get started.  

6. Sell to a business that’s expanding to your country

Some patent owners make a point to research and keep tabs on overseas companies that are expanding their operations internationally.

Patents are location-based, meaning that you’ll need a patent in each country where you want to protect your idea. So when a company expands its operations to new countries, it will often try to acquire patents in the new country to help mitigate their risk of being sued for patent infringement.

Often, the expanding companies are openly looking for individual patent owners who are willing to sell. Xiaomi is one example of a company that acquired a lot of patent assets through its global expansion process.


Getting a patent isn’t a walk in the park. It is a complex, expensive, and slow process. Make sure your patent results in financial reward, whether you use it to launch a product, license it to someone else, or sell it. Don’t let your patent sit around!

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Kanika Sharma
Kanika Sharma

Kanika Sharma is a patent research analyst at GreyB Services. GreyB is a technology research and consultancy firm that helps Fortune 500 companies and top law firms across the world with its technological insights.

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10 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019

Marketing is being shaped by emerging technologies, methods and patterns.

7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It’s difficult to predict which methods will connect with consumers most effectively in the ever-changing landscape of marketing. Just when marketers believe they understand their audience, a new technology, new behavior or even an entirely new audience alters everything.

That said, it’s practical to reflect on the past year’s patterns and pay attention to growing trends that will influence next year’s success. Here are 10 marketing trends you would be wise to keep your eye on going into 2019.

1. The marketing funnel is shifting.

The current marketing funnel accepts anyone, assessing them for profitability and rejecting them if they’re deemed unfit. As John Hall writes in Forbes: “Too many companies see customers as gatekeepers to wallets; meanwhile, customers feel ignored at best — and insulted at worst — when the journey ends.” Rather than opening up a marketing funnel that swallows whoever it can, businesses are starting to efficiently leverage content to target niche audiences.

Reaching out to people who are more likely to be interested in your brand is not only more cost-efficient; it’s also more sustainable and less time-consuming. Consumers do not want businesses to gloss over them; they seek legitimate trust and genuine relationships.

Related: How to Create a Marketing Funnel That Will Increase Sales and Profits

2. Content is everything.

In the current climate, content is everything. You already know that you need to entice your audience: inspire them, provoke their thoughts, excite them or appeal to their emotions.

The goal is not to simply put content in front of people and hope they respond to it, but rather to encourage them to share and engage with it. Content — whether it’s an article on an outlet or a video on social media — opens the door for two-way communication, which is crucial for building trust and letting customers know that you appreciate their business.

3. Chatbots aren’t going anywhere.

Customer service is essential, but not everyone feels comfortable talking to a real person on the phone or has the time to do it over email. That’s what makes chatbots so convenient. These are little AI helpers integrated into websites that can answer questions and fulfill requests quickly — and many can accomplish this without sacrificing personality.

Grand View Research reports that the worldwide chatbot market will reach $1.25 billion by 2025, growing at an annual rate of 24.3 percent. Forty-five percent of end users actually prefer turning to chatbots for customer service, so if you have one, you can win the allegiance of people who enjoy interacting with these little programs.

4. AI continues to grow.

On a related note, artificial intelligence is growing in prominence. It makes data analysis more efficient, can target potential leads rapidly and can perform tasks that humans struggle with. Sometimes it takes the form of advanced machine learning, but even Netflix’s recommendation system that suggests new TV shows to watch is technically AI.

AI can also monitor consumers’ online patterns and help you understand their behavior in real time, though there are legitimate concerns about whether this is ethical or not. Even if you decide not to take advantage of AI in this way, however, it’s smart to pay attention to how consumers react to it and whether your competitors use it.

Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without Coding

5. People are cautious about security.

Every company should ensure that its security is thorough. Even if customers do not notice it, they deserve the utmost respect when it comes to their privacy, data and financial details. Not every company promises this, though — and customers are starting to notice. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect in Europe this year, consumers are beginning to pay more attention to how businesses handle their information.

Talk about your security with customers. What makes it better than others? In an economy where people are rightfully cautious about hacks, leaks and theft, they will favor establishments that can promise them the safest business experience.

6. Voice search is getting louder.

According to Search Engine Land, voice-based commerce sales in the United States reached $1.8 billion in 2017 and are projected to reach $40 billion by 2022. Yep, that’s 40 billion! This trend means 2019 is the year to get ahead of the game.

Voice searching is an ingenious bit of technology. After all, who doesn’t like being able to simply say out loud to the nearest smart speaker, “Place an order for school supplies”? Not only does voice searching make it easier to find information online without pulling out a device; people love it because it reduces their screen time. Next year, make sure you’re optimized for voice searches.

Related: Why Do We Need Voice Search Optimization?

7. Vertical video is on the rise.

You already know that video is imperative. It used to be one aspect of your marketing strategy, but now you need an entire strategy just for your videos! People watch countless hours of video every day, and YouTube is the largest search engine after its sibling Google. Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram or some other platform, video is not going anywhere.

However, people do not always like turning their mobile devices to the side. Instagram — one of the most popular social media platforms at the moment — launched IGTV in June for the express purpose of watching videos in vertical mode. IGTV allows longer content, so you could publish animated videos, demos, interviews, case studies, 360-degree virtual reality, live streams and more. Your social media strategy needs to keep vertical-form IGTV videos in mind.

8. It’s time to focus on Gen Z.

Gen Z is getting older, which means they are beginning to enter the workforce and possess buying power. You might recall how marketers scrambled to understand millennials (there didn’t seem to be an industry they didn’t kill — but hey, they’re just broke and much harder to lie to), so now is the time to pay attention to Gen Z.

It is impossible to make monolithic statements about members of the second-youngest generation, but you should remember a few things: they seek authenticity, and they prefer socially responsible businesses. They’re growing up in a scary world and a struggling economy, so they’re more likely to turn to companies that make the world a better place.

Related: Gen Z Brings a Whole New Dynamic to the Workforce

9. Visual searches are taking off.

Besides voice searches, can you name another kind of search method on the rise? Visual. Google has long enabled reverse-image searches, but new camera technology makes it possible for people to take a picture of something in the real world and find information about it.

Pinterest launched its Lens feature back in February, and the social media platform reports that its users conducted over 600 million combined monthly searches with it. To leverage the power of image searching, don’t neglect Pinterest in your marketing efforts, and optimize your site (and social) images for SEO.

10. Influencers have different identities.

Influencer marketing is also a classic social media strategy, but who influencers are is beginning to change. Companies previously relied on celebrities to convince people that products are worth buying, but consumers are now leaning toward their peers.

The frozen-food retailer Iceland, for instance, recently switched from celebrity marketing to partnering with “real” people (micro-influencers) because their customers — mothers, in this case — trusted other mothers above brands and so-called industry experts. Next year, adjust your influencer marketing strategy according to who your audience is most likely to respond to.

Marketing is becoming increasingly complex, so it’s practical for marketers to keep their eyes on emerging technologies, methods and patterns.

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Use Video in Every Step of Your Marketing Funnel

This holiday season, delight your customers with a personalized message.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Video is huge. I know this isn’t news, but I think we find it hard to grapple with how big it is becoming — and, hence, how important.

To get a feeling for it, consider this: as of October 2018, Netflix is devouring 15 percent of all internet bandwidth. That is mostly driven by consumers, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the history of the internet, it’s that trends that start as consumer plays quickly make their way into B2B environments.

The most successful brands will be those that take advantage of video in every stage of the marketing funnel before it gets so widespread that no one notices it anymore.

Related: 5 Incredibly Simple Strategies to Help You Win With Video Marketing

Here’s how you can use video to attract and convert more customers.

Using video to raise awareness.

Connecting with new customers is probably the most natural way to use video in your marketing funnel. From ads to how-to’s to expert interview and conference recordings, video can be a great medium to connect with the people who stand to get the most out of using your solution.

However, with the proliferation of video, it is becoming increasingly more challenging to get eyeballs on your content. Recording, editing and publishing video is still a challenge, but now there’s another hurdle — getting people to your content.

Video SEO is increasingly emerging as a discipline that skillful marketers understand and apply.  

Acquiring leads with video.

Once the audience knows about your brand, it’s your goal to show them how your product can solve their pains. A video is one of the best tools to do that because it leaves a lasting impression on those who watch it.

A good product explainer video is one of the most valuable marketing assets you can have. Unlike the demo, the explainer is a low-cost way to demonstrate the power of your product as it can be placed readily available on your homepage for your audience to watch on their own terms.

Producing a good explainer can be challenging — you have to make sure you put enough efforts in creating a very strong script that presents your work in the best possible way. That’s a harder job than you think.

As a founder, you know your product inside out, so presenting the best of it in a very limited time, and in a way that would be understood by anyone, is challenging to say the least. Groove’s account of how they created their product explainer video is a good walkthrough of everything that goes into the process.

Related: No, Video Isn’t Dead — It Still Boosts Sales Conversions When You Put It on the Right Pages of Your Site

Closing leads into customers with video.

Video can be a really strong tool to provide the final push to those who’re considering purchasing your product.

Turning a stranger into a customer is all about connecting with them and earning their trust — and video is the perfect medium to achieve that. However, it might be hard to think of the exact format to use when it comes to this.

Case studies and customer testimonials are among the strongest assets brands use to close customers. Turning them into video makes them even more persuasive and allows your audience to get to know — and relate to — other people who have succeeded by using the product you’re offering.

Creating meaningful case studies is no easy task, but this article is a good starting point on how to do it.

Delighting customers with video.

Many marketers seem to think that video’s applicability suddenly falls off a cliff the moment someone converts to being a customer of the brand. Nothing could be further away from the truth.

Supporting customers is the most obvious place for using video. Supplementing self-service options such as your knowledge base with animations and walkthroughs will allow customers to quickly resolve common issues, especially if you’re selling a complex product.

However, video has its place in your marketing plan even beyond that. It is perfect for demonstrating personality and desire to connect with your customers. The key here is to come up with initiatives which your customers aren’t expecting and that are most likely to leave a memorable impression on them.

Vidyard used this tactic to send personalized Christmas videos to their customers:

During the holiday season, your customers will be getting a lot of messages from various brands. Video, especially one with their name on it, is a great way to differentiate and make sure your greeting will be seen.

Related: A 7-Year-Old Boy Is Making $22 Million a Year on YouTube Reviewing Toys

Now is the time to embed video in your marketing strategy.

Before you know it, all your competitors will be using video to attract, close and delight customers. By then, video will be a necessity rather than a novel way to carve out a place in the minds of your audience.

Finding creative ways to implement video now, at every stage of the buyer’s journey, will help you cut the distance between your brand and your customers and shorten the time it takes to earn their trust.

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4 Quotes From Successful Small Business Founders

Bruce Carr of Web Ninja

Bruce Carr, left, of Web Ninja.

Are you ready to start your business this year? Sometimes it can help to hear from small business founders who were able to breathe life into their business idea and make it go.

These four founders shared their success stories with our LivePlan team over the past year. Here’s a little insight into what helped them take their businesses from an idea on a napkin to a reality.

Allison Reitz and Good Elephant community yoga

Allison Reitz with one of Good Elephant’s community yoga classes.

Finding the right business idea

“It’s so easy to promote yoga because it’s so pure—I’m not promoting myself or even the business. All we are promoting is mindfulness. So there’s never any qualms or anything about what we’re doing. It just feels like it’s more like service rather than entrepreneurship.” ― Allison Reitz, founder of Good Elephant

For some entrepreneurs and small business founders, business ideas seem to just appear—it’s about taking a skill or interest to the next level. For Allison, Good Elephant’s potential to be a profitable, sustainable business started with exploring different business models, and testing out new ideas as the business grows.

Joanna Stanford and the Trots Dogs team.

Using data and metrics to make nimble business decisions

“The most important metric I look at is how much each individual service is bringing in, and how much it makes us on a monthly basis,” she says. “So, if one certain training program isn’t doing very well or isn’t working for people or making enough money, we can adjust it accordingly.”  Joanna Stanford, founder of Trots Dogs

The easier it is to see how your business financials are doing, the more often you’re likely to review them, and the quicker you can respond to problems and opportunities. As Joanna works to grow and scale her dog walking, boarding, and training business, she’s been able to mitigate some of the risks every business faces, simply by staying on top of the numbers.

Bruce Carr of WebNinja

Bruce Carr of Web Ninja.

Regular business plan reviews increase your transparency

“The plan gets people talking,” he says. “You say, ‘I’ll commit to do this, this, and this.’ Or, ‘Have we thought about that? Let’s have a discussion. Put a milestone. Put someone responsible to it.’ It’s wonderful.” ― Bruce Carr founder of Web Ninja

This year, how will you make sure you’re on track to meet your business goals? Having a regular business plan review—monthly or quarterly—creates time and space for you to review your numbers and adjust your strategy regularly. It’s made a big difference for Bruce and his team at Web Ninja.

Even if you’re a team of one, reviewing your plan with a business mentor, or someone you trust, shines a light on how your actual results compare to what you forecast. You can make adjustments quickly, set new milestones and goals, and avoid roadblocks like a cash flow crisis.

Jared Fackrell of Capitol Cider.

A healthy business is never done planning

“There’s a great Eisenhower quote: ‘Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable,’” says Jared Fackrell. “I think that’s very true. Everything changes so much. We’re not going to really know till we have doors open which direction we’re going to take it in.” ― Jared Fackrell, founder of Capitol Cider

When our LivePlan team talked to Jared, he was just about to open the doors of his brand new Capitol Cider location. He wrote a business plan, in part to help him explain his vision to supporters, but also to help him validate his idea—to figure out if the vision he had, an unpretentious, locally sourced cider house, could be a profitable, successful business.

But that initial business planning phase is just the start. A healthy, growing business is always coming back to and refining their strategic roadmap—we call it Lean Planning.

Get your free business plan quote today!

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Kateri Kosta
Kateri Kosta

Kateri is the managing editor of Bplans and the LivePlan blog. She is fascinated by the intersection of words (and the humans that use them) and tech and startup culture.

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How (and Why) Collaboration Brings About Stronger, More Creative Web Design

With respect to web design, the result of team collaboration is almost always a better product.

7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There are very few projects that can be accomplished on your own. Literally thousands of people may be involved in the making of a big-budget blockbuster. Even activities that we normally think of as solo endeavors will usually involve the contributions of several individuals.

Take writing a book, for example. We often picture an author working by themselves, typing away each day to craft their story. But while the author may come up with the story idea on their own, getting it to publication requires collaboration.

There are beta readers and editors who offer important feedback, agents who pitch the book to publishers and of course, the many people who bring that book to life at the publishing company.

If something as individual as writing a book is actually a team effort, then surely fine-tuning your company’s web design should also be a collaborative process. While not everyone will be involved in the actual programming of the site, collaboration can help you avoid costly mistakes and create a stronger, more customer-friendly experience.

Related: 10 Tips for Web Design That Drives Sales

There are more opportunities for widespread learning.

To get some additional insight on how collaboration can spur more creative and effective web design, I reached out to Meredith Cooper, director of product marketing for Adobe’s Creative Cloud Enterprise.

Her company has recently begun hosting what it terms “Creative Jams” — events featuring expert speakers and team competitions that fuel a collaborative, learning-oriented mindset.

“Designers are hungry to learn. They’re hungry to experiment and try to push the boundaries and innovate, and we provide this through a new and different forum for learning,” she explains.

“This community platform for learning goes a long way in terms of not only helping creative designers hone their craft or learn new skill sets, but also to help them feel really good about what they’re doing so they can feel inspired and feel like their work matters.”

The competitive nature of the events has served as a powerful transformative tool, as designers of different backgrounds and talent levels are forced to work together. This creates an environment where everyone learns from each other as they adapt to new tools and processes.

Such collaborative experiences have been found to significantly improve results in the workplace. A 2014 study from Stanford found that collaboration improves engagement and the ability to stick to a task while simultaneously reducing fatigue and emotional burnout.

In the fast-paced world of web design, with rapid project turnarounds and other pressures, such benefits can create a huge difference in overall productivity and the quality of design results.

As Cooper further elaborates, participation in collaborative learning events such as the Creative Jam helps web designers develop new skills and gain valuable experience that will help them with future projects.

“People come into the Creative Jams maybe having used other wire framing or prototyping tools, maybe having heard of XD but not used it. They walk away having had fingers on the keyboard, having participated in this competition and having actually sat through the bootcamp and done hands-on exercises. They walk away able to start literally using that tool in their production workflows.”

Even an experienced web designer can learn from up-and-coming programmers who have experience with new technology and design principles. As all parties share information and insights, it becomes easier to identify best practices and important trends.

Related: 10 Simple Ways to Build a Collaborative, Successful Work Environment

You don’t have to be a designer to make this happen.

It’s only natural that collaborating with other web designers would expose you to new tools and concepts that would allow you to better your work. But collaborative web design efforts shouldn’t be limited to the “experts” who know how programming works.

After all, web design is ultimately meant to create a seamless end user experience — and the average person visiting a company’s website won’t have a design background. They just want a streamlined, easy-to-use platform.

As Aaron Pitre of Duda, a scale-centric web design company, writes, this collaborative mindset is especially important in an agency setting. Says Pitre, “Collaboration with a client begins the moment you are seriously considering working with them. Get off to a strong start by developing a research plan in which you will collect as much relevant information as possible; it will serve as the template on which you will lay the groundwork for the entire project.”

Continues Pitre, “Do not rush this step. Pore over the details of your plan. Brainstorm and share design ideas, come up with intelligent questions to ask your client, ask them to share examples of the work they like. Feel free to repeat these steps as many times as needed.”

What works in one industry won’t always work in another.

Because of this, web designers need to be willing to collaborate with “outsiders” to ensure the creation of a strong design that actually accomplishes the company’s goals. This requires industry research, customer insights and general design preferences — information that the non-design team will provide to help guide the design team’s work.

Technically, even A/B testing is a type of collaboration — and an especially crucial one in the web design process. By learning directly from end users regarding which design choices impact bounce rate, conversion rates and other factors that will directly affect the long-term success of the website, designers can discover overlooked errors or make minor changes that lead to a big shift in results.

Related: One Metric for Testing a Successful User Experience

The benefits of collaboration go beyond web design.

Engaging others in the creative process won’t just improve your web design …

It can also improve creative output on a company-wide scale. Sergio Castro, VP and group director of Digital Studio at Digitas, whose company participated in one of the Adobe Creative Jam events, found that collaboration helped transform everyone’s perspectives on idea generation.

“The main takeaway was just how quickly you can put something together to put in front of the client when you create the right environment. Anytime that you change environments and remove yourself from the normal day-to-day work situation, you become inspired and want to create more things.”

Continues Castro, “Maybe our team wouldn’t have had the same ideas if they were sitting at their desks. I think Creative Jam inspired people to be more creative, to find solutions, to find the different locations that would inspire them.”

As employees gain outside perspectives from their collaborative efforts, they become more likely to think outside the box when confronted with new challenges or projects.

Rather than falling back on the set, standard routine, they feel motivated to come up with better solutions based on the things they learned from their coworkers — something that 82 percent of executives believe will give them a competitive edge.

Yes, collaboration will improve web design. But it also fosters a collaborative, innovative culture that creates a more unified and productive team — something that will deliver better results across all aspects of the business.

Companies should clearly find the right balance when determining how many people will be involved in this collaborative process, as well as who should participate. While too many collaborators could actually slow down the work, the right mix of people will spur creativity and generate better results.

When done right, quality web design can drive sales for your company and improve the overall perception of your brand. By incorporating insights from a wide range of individuals, including non-design team members and prospective customers, you’ll be better positioned to create a usable, innovative interface that helps your company stand out.

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The Perfect Pitch: A Pixar Storyteller’s Secret

pixar storytelling

For 25 years, it’s been my job to craft heartwarming and sometimes heart-wrenching stories about rats that want to cook, fish that become better parents, and toys that learn to get along. Stories can transport us to unique (and imaginary) worlds, transforming the way we think and feel by placing us in the paws, fins, or cowboy boots of the heroes going through life-changing events.

The principles of great storytelling, which I used at Pixar, can also be leveraged by entrepreneurs wanting to seal the deal at their next pitch or presentation.

Great stories help us feel more connected with information. This is why Pixar films resonate so deeply with us and we remember the characters and moments so vividly. When you transform data and statistics into a story, memory increases dramatically. The late cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner found that facts are 22 times more likely to be remembered if they are part of a story.

The 8-second countdown

One key fact: You have eight seconds to convince investors or customers that you’ve got something worth hearing about before they zone out, tune out, or check out.

So how do you create a great hook that holds someone’s attention? Start with something unusual, unexpected, action-driven, or in conflict.

Start with a “what if?” scenario.

“What if superheroes were banned from saving people?” That was the hook for “The Incredibles,” which took the day-to-day world of superheroes saving people and turned it into an unusual situation. Your audience is now hooked and asking, “Why and how did they get banned?”

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod in 2001, his hook was: “What if you could put a thousand songs in your pocket?” This was unheard of. At the time, the only way you could listen to music on the go was with a cassette tape stuffed in a Walkman. Steve shared something unusual and unexpected in eight seconds that grabbed his audience’s attention.

Entrepreneurs, take notice. Look at your product or service as if it were a movie. Develop that eight-second “elevator pitch” that grabs clients by the lapels. Tell a compelling story that shows how their lives will be changed.

Download the free Investor Pitch Deck Template Kit today!

Inside the brain: Why storytelling works

Storytelling is the most effective way to change minds, behaviors, and philosophies. When characters go through a believable transformation, the audience is changed as well. This “neural coupling” occurs when the brain activity of the storyteller and the person listening mirror each other.

Neural coupling actually affects our bodies on a chemical level. When people—or even animated toys, robots, or rats—are laughing, smiling, or sharing stories of suspense, dopamine and endorphins are released in our bodies. When the story is sad or somber, oxytocin is released. When we place these sad and happy moments next to each other in a story, we build an amusement park ride for people’s hearts and minds.

Wouldn’t you love to deliver a sales pitch to an investor or customer and have that same can’t-leave-your-seat effect on your audience?

Build a stronger relationship with your audience by inviting them to an experience, not a mission statement. Share authentic stories that are personal, vulnerable, and honest.

Stories deliver smart lessons

After “Toy Story” came out in 1995 and was declared a huge success, employees wondered if Pixar would try its hand at making live-action movies as well. What about TV shows? Video games? Pixar employees were prepared to make the leap from startup to a worldwide media company, like Disney.

To keep us grounded, Steve Jobs shared a cautionary tale that kept us focused as a company and safe from going bankrupt. It went like this: “When Apple was just getting started, the team and I loved to go eat at one particular sandwich shop in Silicon Valley. Although it was a small shop, owned and operated by a family, it served the very best sandwiches in town.

“The sandwiches were so delicious; we would even wait 45 minutes in line just to get one. But as the sandwich shop grew in popularity, the owners began to serve coffee and pastries to compete with Starbucks and Krispy Kreme. Unfortunately, their coffee and pastries were mediocre, and the attention to detail on their trademark sandwiches lapsed. So we stopped eating there. Months later, I discovered the sandwich shop was gone. They had spread themselves too thin, and they went out of business.”

Steve’s story drove home the point loud and clear: Don’t over leverage yourself.

Even though “Toy Story” was a wild success, if we spread ourselves too thin, too fast, we would risk losing it all. We needed to focus on making really good animated family films. Steve knew the best way to communicate this message to us was by sharing a story about characters facing change and learning.

Include a beginning, middle, and end

One last tip: Make sure you include a beginning, middle, and end in your stories. Did you see how Steve included a setup, build, and payoff in his sandwich story?

Setup: Successful business.

Build: Business grows too quickly.

Payoff: Business goes bankrupt.

This structure keeps an audience from getting bored, confused, or distracted.

For thousands of years, the best writers (and savvy business leaders) have used these storytelling techniques to inspire their listeners to try something new. Now it’s your turn. How can you, the entrepreneur, use storytelling to create stronger authentic connections with your investors and customers?

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Matthew Luhn
Matthew Luhn

Matthew Luhn is a writer, story-branding consultant, and keynote speaker. With over 25 years of experience at Pixar Animation Studios, his story credits include Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and Up. Alongside his work in Hollywood, Luhn teaches CEOs, marketers, and other business and industry pros how to craft stories for corporate brands worldwide. His new book is The Best Story Wins: How to Leverage Hollywood Storytelling in Business and Beyond. Learn more at matthewluhnstory.com.

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5 Ways to Turn Your LinkedIn Connections Into Paying Clients in 2019

Start planning for the new year by leveraging your existing network.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

People generally approach the New Year as a time to start anew, a blank page to be filled, a network to be expanded upon, but January 2019 is not just a time to begin afresh but to re-engage with your existing network and develop the relationships for which you laid the foundations in 2018.

Related: How to Get Thousands of Views on Your LinkedIn Content

Here’s how you can successfully achieve this.

1. Send personalized private messages.

LinkedIn will permit you to send up to 100 private messages per day to your first degree connections. The key to these is to use them well: Personalize messages with the recipient’s name and preferably mention their company, and offer something of value — a company newsletter, a change in legislation that may affect them, a link to an interesting article. Publish an article using LinkedIn’s publishing platform and share the link to it in a message. LinkedIn says more than 1 million people use LinkedIn’s publishing platform, sharing over 130,000 posts each week. Think of this as a Christmas present to your connection, instead of a pitch. If you wish, sign off with a call to action such as “perhaps we can catch up in the New Year?”

2. Leverage your network. 

According to LinkedIn, the average B2B purchase now involves 6.8 decision makers. But, 78 percent of sales professionals are connected to either only one person or not connected at all into accounts they’re trying to close. Look through your connections and then see who else with decision-making power also works at their company and connect with them; connect with the entire decision-making board. Did you know that as many as 50 percent of B2B buyers use LinkedIn when making purchasing decisions?

Related: 3 Ways to Stand Out on LinkedIn

3. Endorse your connections.

At first sight, the endorsements section of LinkedIn profiles is often dismissed as a meaningless widget. Wrong. This taps into people’s ego. They generally appreciate the good vibes and attention demonstrated toward them. This has a two-fold positive effect:

  1. They will endorse you back, which boosts your profile on LinkedIn
  2. They will remember you exist and it will prompt them into scheduling a call with you. You’ve successfully jogged their memory.

4. Ask your connections for their opinion and feedback

I have yet to see a negative response when clients ask their connections for feedback on a new product or service. This is a particularly effective channel of market research. One client who is about to launch an app has received hundreds of useful insights permitting him to improve the site prior to launching.

Related: These 10 LinkedIn Tips Will Make You a Networking Master

5. Make a solid impression — focus on your headline

If you connected with someone years ago, your name may not resonate when you send a message so he or she will quickly take a look at your profile. Also keep in mind that your name and headline will appear in many places on LinkedIn, such as search results pages. Plus, LinkedIn claims users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to be contacted about opportunities.

Be sure your headline is optimized for the right keywords for your job, industry or skill set. You can also use your headline to differentiate yourself from others in your industry. The key here is to use this space to tell your connections precisely how you can assist them. The direct consequence of this is they will them listen to what you have to say.

Ideally, you should hire a professional to optimize your profile so that LinkedIn will prioritize you, but here are some examples of highly converting headlines:

  • Co-Founder & Partner — (Company Name) | Private Client Wealth Specialist | Investment Opportunities for Senior Execs
  • Co-Founder @ (Company Name) | Providing Transparent Digital Life Insurance Solutions | Equity Research Analyst | Strategist
  • Founder @ (Company Name) ] | Strategic Portfolio & Financial Advisor | Assisting Clients Minimize Risk & Maximize Wealth
  • Director | Strategic Consultant for International Wealth Management & Financial Planning | Family Office Adviser

What is most important for everyone to do now is to plan ahead for next year. This year, 2018, was the year that LinkedIn transformed both its desktop interface and mobile app with a host of new features. Among the updates were a dedicated notifications section, the ability to add documents to your posts and a scanning feature that may well render your business cards obsolete. Don’t wait another minute — start planning ways to make that subscription pay for itself and effectively develop your connections into a genuine income stream.

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