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Larry Mersereau is a nationally-known business growth expert,  author and keynote speaker. 

You wrote ‘Shoestring Marketing’ back in 1995, before Twitter, Facebook or even Adwords. Which techniques still works and which new ones do you recommend to your clients who are bootstrapping their business? 

Heck, back in 1995 almost nobody had a web site yet! Some things in marketing never change. It’s still important to clearly define who your target customer is, then focus all of your efforts on talking to them in the places they’re most likely to hang out about things that are most important to them. The choice of social media depends entirely on where your target customer is. What you post there depends entirely on what your target customer is interested in. Valuable content that will help them solve the problem or fulfill the desire of the day is the only thing that will make them stop and pay attention. 

You’ve said that companies need to treat their social media accounts, like a publishing business. Can you explain and tell our readers what it takes (to borrow your analogy) to get on a bestseller list. 

I was referring to periodical publishers. They create an editorial calendar for the year, then spend their time creating or curating content that fits the calendar. Every business is seasonal or cyclical to a degree. You should be timing posts to coincide with those cycles. And you should be creating or finding the content months in advance so you’re not under deadline stress. If you wait until December 1, to create your Christmas season content, you’re going to do it quickly and inefficiently. Plan ahead, create in advance, simplify your life. 

What is the number one mistake that hinders explosive growth even for successful companies? 

This is really back to basics: Too many companies change the look and feel of their business too frequently. They change messaging. They change layouts, colors, spokespersons, products, themes, tag lines… People have to see 
you numerous times to get to know you. But if you don’t look the same every time they see you, the repetitions don’t accrue. Every time you change your look and feel, even a little bit, you start over. 

To follow the previous question, what it the one thing that most companies can do to speed up their growth? 

The fastest growth will come from multiplying your customers. By that I mean going back to customers who already know and love you and 1.) selling them again, 2.) asking them for referrals, and 3.) looking for more prospects who are just like them. 

Many experts say that we are in the midst of DotCom bubble 2.0 . Of course, no one knows (yet) if it’s true or not, but perhaps you can share some advice what business leaders should do in this situation to make sure that they end up like Google and not like AOL. 

People are comfortable doing just about everything online. They socialize, learn, shop, entertain themselves…everything. That’s not going to change in the foreseeable future. 

Can you share your favorite growth strategy resources (books, blogs, podcasts) with our readers? 

I enjoy the information I get from Hubspot.com, and of course, Bitrix24.com

Thank you for the interview. 

Bitrix24 gives you Team collaboration software and tools. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB.  

See also: 

Free Virtual Workspace
Free Online Workspace
Free Digital Workplace Software
Online Collaborative Workspace
Zurmo CRM alternative
Free QuickBase alternative
Free Sage CRM alternative
Free Salesforce alternative

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PickyDomains - World’s first risk free naming service 

Engaged employees are one of the major factors in successful businesses. If employees are engaged , they feel connected to their work and do their work with passion. 
That passion and sense of connection helps engaged employees to do better work: they go the extra mile, see (and implement) ways to innovate, and improve your business with their enthusiasm and insight. 

However, only about half of employees feel engaged. The rest feel either not engaged (neutral) or actively disengaged (unhappy) at work. 

To increase employee engagement in your business, start with this list of proven ways to help employees connect, work with passion, and love what they do. 

1. Recognize your high performers. 
A little praise goes a long way. Like all of us, your employees appreciate having their efforts and work noticed. But noticing doesn’t increase engagement unless you also let them know that you’ve noticed. Simple verbal praise, alone or in a group, can be very effective . Consider instituting - and giving - regular awards or rewards. Make them meaningful to your business, and more specific than the generic “employee of the month.” 

2. Get employee input. 
Here’s a novel idea: instead of guessing, ask your employees what would help them to be more engaged at work. What makes them feel connected? Perhaps it’s having a big-picture vision, or big goals to achieve with the team. Or perhaps it’s having the opportunity to head up a project or work on different areas. 

Your team members can help you see the ways that they feel blocked from engagement. There might be bureaucracy, micromanagement, or certain processes that simply don’t work anymore. Your job here is being open to what they say and willing to change in order to remove those obstacles to engagement . 

3. Implement good leadership. 
A lot of employee engagement depends on the type of leadership in your business. If employees feel that their ideas are rejected without consideration, they stop sharing ideas. If they feel that negativity, gossip, and unhealthy competition pervade the work environment, they will either join in - adding to the problem - or they will withdraw altogether. 

Implement good leadership first by being a good leader yourself. Then make sure that the managers you choose value their employees, listen to their concerns, and help them to work in their strengths. 

4. Think in the short-term. 
Business owners and team leaders are always being told to think long-term, get the big picture, take time for high-level strategic thinking and planning. Those activities are really important.  

In order to increase engagement, however, you can’t depend on high-level strategy. You need to bring it to the day-to-day level . Turn long-term goals into short-term goals. Track them daily and weekly. Build in milestones that you and your whole team celebrate. 

5. Rework the meeting. 
Let go of the traditional meeting and turn it into something that employees look forward to. 

Each meeting you schedule should meet the following criteria: 
- Purposeful. A meeting needs a clear purpose that is limited (specific) and achievable. 
- Inclusive. The people directly involved should be there… and that’s it. 
- Timed. Set a beginning and ending time and stick to them. 
- Conversational. Lectures belong in classrooms; discussions belong in meetings. 
- Ended with an action plan. Everyone in the meeting should walk away with a clear action or set of actions to take. Otherwise, what’s the point of the meeting? 

Try a strategy and see how it affects your employees; if the response is positive, try more of the same. If not, try a different strategy. Engaged employees are well worth the effort. 

Bitrix24 is a complete suite of social collaboration, communication and management tools for organizations. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB. 

See also:

Free customer database software
Online Customer Database
Sales Rep Software
Free client database softwareFree business messaging software
Free business chat software
Free group messaging service

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Unhappy customers are part of running a business, though definitely an unpleasant part that most of us want to avoid. 

Avoiding the angry customer won’t solve the problem, however. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to dealing with an unhappy, even irate customer without losing your cool… or losing the customer. 

Step 1: Stop arguing. 

Don’t engage in the conflict. 

When people get angry, they want to fight. If they can’t fight physically, they’ll often settle for a vehement verbal sparring match. 

You can’t win in this situation with your customer. Even if you “own” the argument, yell louder, and make better points, you’ve only made your customer more unhappy. 

So don’t let your ego get in the midst of a pointless argument. Take a deep breath. Winning an argument does not win you a customer. 

Step 2: Remind yourself of the goal. 

The goal isn’t to win the argument. 
The goal isn’t to save as much money as possible. 
The goal isn’t to get the customer out of the door as quickly as possible. 

The goal is to do whatever you can to make sure that your customer gets what he or she needs. 

That doesn’t mean you have to give in to unreasonable demands, break company policy, or ignore common sense in order to make your customer happy. 

It does mean that your job is to figure out what, in this particular situation, your customer is really looking for. 

Once you’ve figured that out, you can look at your options for how to meet that need. 

Step 3: Acknowledge your customer’s pain. 

Do not belittle their frustration. 
Do not say things like, “Well, I don’t know why you’re so upset,” or “That’s not really a big deal.” 

For your customer, this is a big deal. When you invalidate their frustration, you simply cause more of it to bubble up. 

Acknowledge that they have a right to be upset even if you think they are overreact. Let them know that you hear their frustration. 

Step 4: Listen without defense. 

It’s human nature to defend ourselves against accusations. 

Fight against this urge. 

Let your customer tell her story without interruption. Don’t make excuses, even if they are valid. 

Don’t invent reasons. Don’t give reasons that are perfectly true and good. Don’t tell your side of the story at all. 

Just listen, without complaint or defense or excuse, and - if possible - with a sympathetic expression on your face. 

Step 5: Repeat the issue back. 

Once you’ve understood the entire situation, repeat what you see as the main issue. 
“You didn’t receive the product you ordered and then you couldn’t get a refund.” 
“Our employee was rude to you and didn’t help you find what you needed.” 
“The product didn’t match up with what you thought it would be.” 
“You lost time because of technical failure on our part.” 

Be as accurate as you can and rephrase as needed until your customer agrees with your statement of the issue. 

Step 6: Reassure. 

It’s a sad truth that customers often approach customer service providers expecting a battle. Past experience has trained them to expect such. 

Reassure your customer that you are not here to fight them but to help them. This reassurance can defuse tension and remind your customer that you are here to serve them. 

Step 7: Ask for a solution. 

This is a brilliant move if you can master it, and you can. 

All you have to do is ask this question: 
“What would be the best thing I can do to make this right for you?” 

Instead of presenting a bunch of options which the customer can shoot down, you’re asking for help. 

For your customers’ help. 

Let them rattle on for a bit, if needed, but bring that question back until you get an answer to it. 
“What will it take to make you happy?” 
“What would you like me to do to fix this?” 
“How can I make this better?” 

Step 8: Offer options. 

Once they’ve told you what they think would be a good solution, turn that into an option or two that you are willing and able to provide. 

For example, a customer might demand a full refund on something you simply can’t provide a refund on; so respond with an acknowledgement and then an option. 

“I wish I could give you exactly what you want - a full refund - but I can’t. Here is another option: a store credit for XYZ amount.” 

Step 9: Repeat steps 7 and 8 until you agree on a solution. 

You might have to go through these steps a few time. Be patient. 

Step 10: Follow through and follow up. 

As quickly and courteously and thoroughly as possible, make good on what you’ve agreed to do. 

Then follow up, some time in the future, with a phone call, email, or letter to your customer. This is truly “going the extra mile”; if you take the time to do so, however, you can turn an angry customer into a satisfied one. 

Maintain your calm, walk through these steps, and you can turn angry customers into your company’s biggest promoters. 

Bitrix24 is a complete suite of social collaboration, communication and management tools for organizations. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB. 

See also: 


Free business chat software

Sales agent management system

Free sales agent software

Free sales software

Free business messaging software

Free sales tracking software

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Erica Dhawan is a globally recognized leadership expert, keynote speaker and strategiest teaching companies and business leaders creative actions to drive elite performance, improve innovation across generations and cultures, capitalize on the expertise of Gen Y talent and prepare the global workforce for the future.





People are familiar with the concept of emotional intelligence. What is connectional intelligence? Why did you get interested in the subject? 


The world is changing. Everyone is connected today through social media, mobile devices and networks. But how do we leverage those resources? My new book, Get Big Things Done, co-authored by Saj-nicole Joni, revolutionizes the way we harness that connectedness to help us achieve greater impact than ever before. This is through what we call connectional intelligence - the ability to combine knowledge, ambition and human capital, forging connections on a global scale that create unprecedented value and meaning.


As a child of first generation immigrants, my goal was to check the boxes of success. I got a shiny degree from an Ivy League and marched into a glamorous job on wall street. Like every other millennial I worked incredibly hard. In the 2008 recession, I witnessed firsthand the disillusionment, confusion and burnout of my generation. I saw how our dreams and passions were being squashed everyday when we went into work. After the financial collapse, I switched gears entirely to try to find more meaning in my work and better understand how my generation could leverage our passion and purpose and the resources available to us. What I found was that whether at an NGO or at a private equity firm, many of the struggles were similar. People were trying to figure out how to work intentionally and cut through the noise of all our social, mobile and digital technology. This led to our research in connectional intelligence to answer the question, in today’s connected world, why do some people get big things done and others do not?


Your book is called Get Big Things Done. What are big things that businesses aren’t doing but really should be? 


A lot of how we measure success in the digital world is about quantity. How many Facebook likes? How many clicks? how many LinkedIn connections? This book shifts the focus from quantity to quality.


The other shift in our narrative is that simply building a network doesn’t lead to measurable change. The key is how you use that network. Creating something new and innovative and that actually changes people’s lives requires that we rethink how we use our networks and that we employ our resources and data in the smartest way. Connectional intelligence describes this skill that 21st century innovators have and that we all need to develop to maximize the potential of all of our connections and put them to significant use.


There is a lot of advice on making new connections. Are there are rules of thumbs when you should break existing connections or order to avoid ‘connection overload’? 


If you find yourself collecting a business card like a hundred others that you already have, just for the sake of a new LinkedIn contact, that may be leading you to feel connection overload. Again, look for quality over quantity. Open yourself up to new people and ideas when looking for connection. This means connecting with people of different cultures, different backgrounds, in different disciplines and of different ages. Often we like to play it safe and stick to our industry, but connectional intelligence is all about bridging generations and bridging skill sets. We all have something to teach each other and the idea that might revolutionize your normal way of operating is probably not going to come from someone who has exactly the same lifestyle as you. So look at if the connections brings value to your life and vice versa.


What are some simple things that people can do to improve their connectional intelligence? 


First, spend ten minutes day engaging with a new media source. If you always read The New York Times, spend ten minutes reading a niche publication like a financial magazine or even a gaming magazine. Follow a new hashtag on Twitter for a week or two. The point is to get out of your routine. The ideas we have are greatly influenced by the media we consume and if you want to start thinking creatively, you need to infuse your day with content that you might not have imagined would be relevant to you.


Another way is to explore some of the new apps like Treatings and Coffeeme - both are like LinkedIn meets Tinder - to meet professionals in other industries. Be courageous and take a chance going to coffee with someone who might think differently than you do.


What tools (as in software, services or gadgets) in your view are the best for staying connected and which ones don’t perform so well? 


I love Twitter because its an amazing tool of discovery of new interests and ideas. I also like a lot of the new team management tools like Slack and Asana. They are extremely helpful when collaborating.


I’m not sure I can make a blanket statement about tools that don’t perform well because it all depends on how people use them. One challenging tool has been Yammer. While it is an interesting knowledge sharing tool internally for companies, it naturally does not fit the normal way of working and communicating for many of today’s employees.


Thank you for the interview.


Bitrix24 is a complete suite of social collaboration, communication and management tools for organizations. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB. 

See also:


How to Pull Your Team Together After a Crisis

Self hosted Dropbox server

Know When to Grow with These 5 Signs Its Time to Expand

Where to get free employee engagement software

5 Practical Ideas for Helping Remote Staff Stay Connected

Small Business Savings: 8 Ways to Cut Costs Now

How to Help Your Team Se t and Reach Good Goals

What’s best free CRM ?

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PickyDomains - World’s first risk free naming service 


The main problem of conducting business from home is isolation, broken daily routine and lack of motivation. Here are some tips you can use to conduct your business efficiently.



1. Choose tools for work. It’s the first and foremost thing you have to do. Everything will do – from Excel sheets to complex CRM systems – just make sure you have all the information at hand and don’t forget to update it.


The latest trend is all-in-one collaboration workspaces - Bitrix24 is free and particular popular. Besides Bitrix24, there are, for example, MangoApps, Freedcamp and some other. They substitute multiple tools like Trello or Asana for project management, Slack or Yammer for inner social communication, Dropbox for sharing files, Skype for making calls and provide CRM for maintaining client database.


2. Choose a special workplace at home. You should draw clear line between work and home so that to be able to focus on business. It’ll be good also to change into work clothes.


3. Make more calls. Seriously, you won’t even notice how you become less and less social, especially if you live alone. If you have an alternative: to call or to write a letter, it’s better to make a call (with a written follow-up, of course).


4. Write a plan and always stick to it. Better print it out and have before your eyes. You can use the method of Mark Foster from his book “Do It Tomorrow”: plan all your doings and the approximate required time for them the previous day. If something unplanned turns up, put it off till the next day. Thus, by the end of the day you’ll already have a plan for tomorrow. This will help you to keep yourself together.


5. Track the time you devote to work. You can use Pomodoro timer technique (there are plenty of apps for each smartphone platform) when work process is split into short 25-minute pieces. Or just use your kitchen timer. Always start working the same time and stop working by the end of the day.


Source - Free Tools For Running Your Business From Home


See also


Free office management software

Free CRM Tools

Best QuickBase alternative 

What is social HR ? 

Sage CRM vs (Sage CRM competitors)

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