The Antidote to Boring Content? Emojis 🐙🍒🎟️🏳️😝👇

What are you most excited about when the latest iPhone launches? A better camera? Better color? A bigger screen? According to a report by Preply’s, 42% say it’s the release of new emojis that gets them energized.

Emojis date back to the 1990s when they were designed by a Japanese marketing agency with the intention of replacing words with pictures to enhance emotions and messages. With over 25,000 characters worldwide right now, there’s no denying that emojis have become a permanent part of our digital and everyday lives. 

More and more brands are beginning to understand the power that emojis can bring to their marketing activities. Brands are using them to make their content more emotionally appealing, showcase their brand’s personality and boost audience engagement. And they’re doing so across a variety of channels—social media, paid advertising, email campaigns and more. Consider these stats:

  • Emojis within your email subject line can increase your open rate by 3-4%. Source: ReturnPath
  • Users who add ten or more emojis to their captions receive about 40% more interactions than those who do not use emojis. In addition, studies show that the more emojis you use, the higher the number of interactions you will get with your post. Source: Quintly
  • 68% of millennials said they are more comfortable expressing emotions using images such as emojis. Source: Inc
  • Humans are naturally visual people, meaning they can process emojis faster than they can read and understand your sentences. Remember, your brain processes images 60 times faster than text and 3x faster than blinking! Source: International Forum of Visual Practitioners
  • Tweets with emojis in them generated 25% more engagement compared to the tweets with no emojis.

So, what does all this mean for brand marketers today? If you’re not using emojis in your marketing, it’s time to start!

Interestingly, a recent study from Hubspot examined which emojis improved click-through rates. The results were a bit surprising— none of them include a face emoji. The emojis that have a positive effect on your click-through rates seem a little more uncommon and random. Perhaps they stand out more because people don’t see them very often.

Emojis in Action

While the marketers of the past may scoff at the thought of emojis, they can add a ton of personality to an otherwise dull message. Beyond style, emojis add real value to your marketing messages. Brands are increasingly finding that the addition of emojis can soften up an otherwise sales-forward message. In fact, Intercom found that messages sent by a business that contain emojis are four times more likely to get a response from a customer.

At the same time, emojis should be used wisely. It’s not as easy as taking the list above and incorporating them haphazardly into your next campaign to increase engagement. Always consider context and content and remember that some emojis may have double meanings.

For example, using emojis within in your paid advertising campaigns should be purposeful, helping support your message and aligning with your brand voice. But if you’re not using emojis across the marketing mix, maybe start by weaving them into your organic message so that your paid posts feel more authentic voice. Also consider A/B testing your ads to discover how your audience responds to the change before jumping in with both feet.

Whether your brand has begun to incorporate emojis as a part of its tone and brand guidelines or not, there is a lot to understand about these characters. They are way more than characters to text your friends and family. They are now a unique language that can enhance your message and personality when used strategically and evoke a sense of connection between your audience and your brand. So, if you want to promote greater interaction and engagement with your brand followers, make emojis part of your marketing language today. 😍🌎😁🤠👏🐞🥇🧡😘

Do you believe in the power of emojis? Please leave a #comment below.

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Stay Ahead of These Five Emerging Marketing Trends Throughout 2023

In the exciting and fast-paced world of marketing, change is constant. Marketing trends are constantly evolving, and it’s up to brand leaders to stay up to date on the latest developments and adapt their marketing strategies to stand out from the competition. Keeping up with these changes isn’t always easy, but it’s essential in order to remain relevant with your audience and build enduring customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Trends happen for a reason. In many instances, they provide valuable insight into how your brand can best reach and connect with your target audiences. Staying on top and ahead of the trends is the first step. Determining how to best utilize the trends to your benefit can be an important differentiator.

As the second quarter of 2023 begins, these are the five biggest trends you should be tracking and maximizing:

1. Personalization: Customers are increasingly expecting personalized experiences from brands, and this trend is likely to continue throughout 2023. Customer expectations around personalization are also on the rise with 73% of shoppers expecting brands to understand their unique needs and expectations.  (Source: Insider Intelligence). While personalization was once a nice-to-have bonus, it is now essential for standing out within an increasingly competitive digital landscape.

To meet customers’ needs and preferences, brands will need to use data and technology to better understand their customers and tailor their marketing messages and offers accordingly. If you’re able to get this right, you can win a loyal customer who feels deeply connected to your brand.

2. Video marketing:  If video marketing is the future, the future is here! It’s not a major surprise that video is becoming an increasingly popular form of content, and this trend and demand is expected to continue for the remainder of 2023. A recent study shows that as many as 91% of consumers want to see more online video content from brands (Source: Wyzowl). And since 2017, the amount of online video consumed monthly has more than quadrupled.

    Brands will need to create high-quality video content that engages their target audience across a range of platforms, including social media, websites, and more. In my opinion, short and sweet is the way to “win” with video content. In fact, according to Sprout Social’s recent survey, short-form videos are found to be the most engaging. As many as two-thirds of consumers (66%) say they pay the most attention to short-form videos—2.5 times more than long-form videos. This is in line with the increasing number of videos on channels such as TikTok, YouTube and Instagram and video becoming an expected part of the online and social media experience.

    3. Influencer marketing: Influencer marketing has become a popular way for brands to reach new audiences and build brand awareness. Throughout the rest of 2023, I expect to see more brands partnering with influencers to promote their products and services, particularly on social media platforms including shorter form video platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. Creator marketing can help drive brand growth and overall visibility across the entire purchasing funnel and many companies have begun to leverage online as well as offline influencer strategies over the past few years.  

    I believe the rise of micro-influencers will be where brands can stand out and successful leverage influencers as well as social media overall. As consumers are looking for more relevant and relatable content, marketers are turning to nano- or micro-influencer collaborations. These often-unpaid content creators with 1,000 to 100,000 followers have very active and engaged audiences. The benefit in my mind of these “smaller influencers” is that they often have a greater ability to truly connect with their community, which can give them significant influencing power. Consumers in general are likely to trust them for their expertise, product reviews and service recommendations. When brands activate them at scale, nano- and micro-influencers can be a great way to target niche audiences, drive awareness and boost sales.

    4. Sustainability: Customers are increasingly concerned about environmental and social issues, and they expect brands to act on these issues. Sustainable marketing is the promotion of environmentally and socially responsible products, practices, and brand values. If you’ve ever spent a little bit more on something because you knew it was locally sourced or 100% recyclable, you’ve taken part in supporting sustainable marketing.

    Within 2023, we can expect to see more brands promoting their sustainability efforts and highlighting their commitment to social responsibility. There are several ways brands can begin to approach becoming more sustainable including donating profits to sustainable causes, sourcing sustainably materials or packaging, and creating products that aides in sustainable living or more. One of my favorite brands and category sustainable commerce leaders, Patagonia, pledged 15% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment since 1985. In 2022, that amounted to a total of over $140 million. They have also set a target to become completely carbon neutral by 2025.

    The big picture of embracing sustainable marketing is that you’re able to position your brand as an active figure in an environmental or societal issue. It can humanize your brand messages and create another reason why customers should choose you over your competition.

    5. Voice search optimization: Consumers are beginning to search for more things using their voices. In fact, the number of voice assistants is expected to reach 8 billion units in 2023, up from 3.25 billion in 2019. (Source: Statista)

    I maintain that 2023 is the year of voice search optimization. As more people use voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, brands will need to optimize their content for voice search. This means creating content that is easily discoverable and readable by voice assistants and making sure that the brand website is optimized for voice search. Voice search is not just a component of today’s digital marketing landscape, it’s the future. Search engines are becoming more advanced and voice assistants are getting better at understanding the incoming questions and will provide more accurate results. In turn, that accuracy can encourage more people to take advantage of voice search instead of the more traditional time-consuming search process. 

    By focusing on personalization, video marketing, influencer marketing, sustainability, and voice search optimization, brands can stay ahead of the curve in 2023. What else are you working on this year? Leave a comment below.

    The Four Biggest Things I Learned About Running My Own Business: A Four-Year Lookback

    Four years ago, I filed for my LLC and established Marissa Pick Consulting. Consulting was always a dream for me and the fear of the unknown and potential lack of consistency required a leap of faith.  Ultimately, I made the decision to bet on myself, leaving my full-time role to start my own business. Looking back, this was the best thing I’ve ever done professionally. Scary, yes. But worthwhile, hell yes!

    I would describe myself as someone who loves networking— I truly enjoy connecting with others and thrive in social situations. I’m a self-starter by nature and when I started my business, I was fortunate to immediately find a consulting role covering for a university Marketing Director who was on maternity leave. Coming from financial services, this was a totally new area, audience, and experience. After enjoying working with one client, I began to reach out to old colleagues, bosses, and peers and put feelers out on what could be next. After all, what did I have to lose?

     Over the course of the next four years, I would learn much about myself— as a person and as a business owner. My entrepreneurial journey didn’t follow a straight line, but I wound up learning just as much from the twists and bumps than I did the smooth paths. In celebration of the past four years of running Marissa Pick Consulting, here are the four biggest things I’ve learned:

    1.   Invest in Personal Branding

    As a believer in social media and content marketing I knew that ongoing brand visibility and self-promotion were essential. I have always believed that you must practice what you preach, and I decided first and foremost to focus on building a steady stream of thought leadership and content for my website and social media channels.  I started by building content on my blog and reconnecting with friends in person as well as through local events and digital meetings. One client quickly became two, and soon I had amassed a sizeable business.    

    Just like I tell my clients, it’s important to develop a persona that is reachable and approachable.  So, that’s what I continue to focus on. I learned that you must put your best self forward, even if you don’t feel like it or it’s difficult to do so.  The reality is that social media has little to do with what we say about ourselves and has everything to do with what other people say about us. Treating yourself like a brand is the best advice I can offer to someone just getting started.  Funny enough, many of us have been running a business just like this the whole time, we just didn’t know it.  That business is you.  So, invest in yourself! 

    2.   Get Comfortable with Change

    Back in March of 2020 as COVID rocked the world, my business took a major hit as I went from several clients down to one. Instead of freaking out about my business coming to a screeching halt, I joined several communities for consultants and took a deep dive into ongoing education for small business owners, connecting with others and networking, and being present with my family. I loved taking my two boys for long hikes, and wandering around with no fear of missing calls, meetings, etc. It was honestly exactly what I needed. I refocused, rebuilt, and enjoyed the time in the moment and worked on embracing change, an area where I’ve previously struggled.

    Even though I prefer predictability, I learned to adapt, become more flexible and focus much more on my communication skills. Although this is still an area I’m working on, somehow knowing that the only thing that’s certain is change allows me to be more comfortable with the uncomfortable.

    3.   Don’t be Afraid to Pivot

    As the world began to reopen, so did my business. Eventually I built up a steady workflow to the point of having to decide whether to scale up or make a change. I made the difficult decision to leave my own business and go in-house full time to lead a performance marketing team at an AI-powered SaaS company. I quickly realized how much I missed working for myself, the flexibility of a desirable work-life balance, and being my own boss. After six months I decided to leave this role on good terms and re-focus on re-building my business.

    I realized that life is too short to be unhappy or wonder about the “what-ifs.” Yes, I made a choice to try something new, but ultimately it wasn’t what I wanted. So, I reversed course and returned to working for myself.   These decisions weren’t easy, but you must be willing to go through the mud at times to understand what will provide the most happiness and fulfillment. You may come out the other side messier, but you may also come out stronger.

    4.   Find What Makes You Smile

    Achieving work-life balance can be overwhelming, and some days it’s hard to not get lost in the fast-moving pace of life. The highlight of my day is having my kids run into my arms off the bus after school and tell me about their day. I find that kids have a view of the world that is so innocent, pure, and refreshing. My boys’ curiosity and hopefulness inspire my husband and me every day to smile and have fun. This really helps offset the daily stressors of running a business. Whatever it is that makes you smile, recognize it, and make it part of your daily routine. 

    Looking Ahead to Year Five

    As we approach 2023, I believe that being open minded and welcoming others into your world is going to be the key. This doesn’t mean you will agree with everyone, nor them with you, so we must keep an open mind and be comfortable acknowledging others’ views and giving space even if you don’t agree with them.  Easier said than done at times, but necessary none the less.  

    I want to thank my friends and family and my extended network, especially my colleagues from Hey Mamma, The Upside, and Dreamers & Doers®. They have all been trusted navigators on my entrepreneurial journey. And I truly couldn’t’ do any of this without my husband Brandon Pick. He’s always believed in me and supported me and I’m lucky to have as a partner.

    Four years later, I am even more open and positive about what the future holds. I look forward to continuing to network and meet new people, embracing change and finding joy in the everyday. Above all, I will continue to bet on myself as my business continues to grow. 

    What lessons have you learned in your own business journey? Please leave a comment below and let me know. 

    When networking is done well it can be the most powerful form of marketing— for you and your business. Yes, it can feel overwhelming at times— no one likes walking into a room full of strangers and having to start a conversation— but it a surefire way to elevate your brand or business. 

    Earlier this year I ran a session on how to turn networking into sales during InEvent’s 20 in 30 Webinar Series: Future of Content & Digital Trends. Within the session we explored how to learn and apply new skills and strategies when networking in events as a means of creating new business opportunities. 

    This got me thinking, how can we continue to build on the idea of turning networking into sales for the remainder of 2022 and as we start to think about 2023? Here are a few key learnings:

    Create a strong online presence

    Remember that the first thing someone will do before hiring or working with you is to check you out online. Potential customers need to know you, like you and trust you ahead of buying from you or doing any business with you. Therefore, the need to network and gain access to a referral network is crucial and having an online presence is a must. Additionally, many businesses refer customers and have strong relationships within their industry so the ability to network, connect and grow your relationships becomes of the utmost importance when you’re working on building your sales pipeline.  

    Carefully craft your content marketing strategy

    Another way to enhance your online presence and bring added value to your network is through content marketing. In a crowded digital environment, providing consistent high-quality, and engaging content impacts audience decision-making more than any other technique. According to Hubspot’s 2022 State of Inbound report, content creation is a top priority for 80% of marketers and on average, accounts for 26% of B2B marketing budgets. First impressions matter and having a digital footprint does as well.   

    Develop visual and snackable short content

    When developing your content marketing strategy, keep in mind that Microsoft research found that the average human attention span is now only 8 seconds (compared to 12 seconds in 2000). People have little patience to read through long form written content and may even be turned off it it’s too long or comprehensive. How do you make a big impact in the first eight seconds? By developing short and snackable content, which is digestible and informative.

    In addition, think about site speed. Research by Nielsen found people do not read content on web pages word for word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. Some of these tips can go a long way in grabbing and keeping attention:

    ·     Highlight important keywords

    ·     Use bullets to make important points stand out

    ·     Use subheadings to break out key sections

    ·     Focus on one idea per paragraph

    Again, the “snackable” content is what catches our eyes and can help to generate leads. The more an audience views your content, the more likely they are to purchase from you in the future! 

    Develop User Generated Content (UGC) to stand out

    When a brand generates User Generated Content (UGC), it helps consumers feel like they’ve been seen. Who doesn’t love being highlighted by a brand they love? Content creation involves gathering, reviewing, and sharing the most relevant and impactful content with your audience. More than 86% of companies today use user-generated content as part of their marketing strategy. And users who create and share content on social media channels get 28% higher engagement compared to standard company posts. Think about how to incorporate UGC into your content marketing strategy to stand out and cut through the noise to captivate your customers’ attention.

    One of my favorite brands, Warby Parker, has become well known for shipping customers frames to try on at home before purchase, a service the company continues to promote via an ongoing UGC campaign. The brand has launched series of high successful social ads using different formats of UGC content including video testimonials, camera photos from customers trying on at home, and motion GIFs. This has allowed Warby Parker to highlight both its stylish frames and its convenient home try-on option in a genuine way. 

    Lean into video

    Content has a reputation for being “king,” but I believe that video is now taking over the crown. According to a Cisco study, by the end of 2022 82% of all online content will be video content. Video content is one of the most engaging forms of content and in my opinion will soon dominate social media and emerge the clear winner over all other types of content. Whether it is short-form videos like those popular on TikTok or Instagram Stories or long-form content viewed on YouTube, videos are the future of social media content.

    Video can also help increase conversions and sales. In fact, according to Insivia, adding a product video on your landing page can increase conversions by 80%. Video can also lead directly to sales. A wyzowl study show that 74% of users who watched an explainer-video about a product or service subsequently bought it. So, if you’re looking for a new way to increase sales, think about a fun and dynamic way to showcase your brand and product through video!

    Embrace the metaverse

    Many experts look at the metaverse as a 3D model of the Internet. Basically, a place parallel to the physical world, where you spend your digital life. A place where you and other people have an avatar, and you interact with them through their avatars. I would argue that the metaverse in the truest sense of the term doesn’t exist yet, but marketing professionals are working through how to adapt this online space and build it into 2023 plans.

    During the pandemic it looked as though livestreaming and hybrid streaming would become the norm, but the metaverse offers several upgrades to that model. I think the metaverse will be the next frontier for advertising and e-commerce and brands are quickly figuring out how to incorporate it. The question is not if, but when people will adopt it. In my opinion, companies should invest in creating virtual experiences for their customers and audiences within the metaverse today, so that they can be first to market when the technology is more widely adopted. The metaverse is “always on” and will continue to evolve but it allows us to develop virtual identities, presence, re-invent peer-to-peer interactions and more.

    Today, the cost to develop advertising and e-commerce technology for the metaverse is a barrier to entry for most businesses. As time goes on there will be platforms that are much easier to utilize by average merchants. For now, it’s a good idea to map out how you might link physical objects in the real world to virtual objects and experiences in the metaverse and put this on the road map for building your sales and marketing funnel.

    Remember, your digital footprint matters!

    There are plenty of tools and tricks to leverage social media, marketing, video and more to help build your network to drive sales. The bottom line is that your digital footprint matters. The first impressions you make through your online presence- whether it be through your written or video content, UGC, or the metaverse— can make a significant difference in your ability to turn networking into sales. As you think about your 2023 planning, what else would you add? Leave a comment below.

    Transforming Networking into Sales is Easier Than You May Think

    The Importance of PR When Scaling Your Business

    The Below is a Guest Post from Melanie Parncutt

    There’s one particular Bill Gates quote that has continued to resonate with media professionals, in which the Microsoft founder said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” It’s high praise of the efficacy of the art of PR from one of the most important business minds of the 21st century. It’s also a telling indication of just how effective a campaign can be in drastically altering the course of a business’ trajectory. 

    Public relations, in simple terms, is the management of a person, business, or brand’s public image. For smaller companies, it’s mostly about trying to secure press coverage, but it can also be about creating the right kind of buzz, and knowing how to protect against and navigate crises. 

    When people pursue PR for the first time, they often assume it’s interchangeable with marketing or essentially serves the same purpose. But crucially, PR is not something that directly translates into sales, and even the most viral of campaigns don’t guarantee a direct correlation to extra dollars. Instead, the priority of PR is establishing brand credibility by securing coverage in the media, which translates into something more valuable: consumer trust.

    Below are four key reasons why PR is important when scaling your business.

    PR Establishes Credibility, Solidifies Your Brand 

    One of the hardest things any growing business faces when starting out is establishing credibility in the public eye. How do you prove to a complete stranger that you are worth trusting, and — eventually — putting their hard-earned money into? It’s a hard sell, but one that becomes far easier once you have press and media featuring you, or referring to your employees as expert sources. If you can prove that your opinion is trusted in thought leadership publications like Entrepreneur or Forbes, then that’s an indication know your industry. As Powderkeg writes, it’s your “stamp of approval”.

    This goes hand in hand with establishing an authentic, strong brand image. Having a clear, consistent brand story across the board also helps your employees to be confident in your brand image, who will grow more comfortable in sharing their expertise as thought leaders. Additionally, if you can identify a story that makes you different from the competition, PR will help you pique media interest, which in turn gives prospective customers a reason to connect with your company on an emotional level.

    PR Boosts SEO, Drives Web Traffic

    Have you ever tried Googling yourself or your company? If so, did you like what you saw? Are there similar businesses ranking higher, or is there even anything to see at all? 

    When you’re dealing with prospective customers or clients, you can be sure that they’ve probably Googled you, maybe even just to look at reviews. Although, nothing says “trustworthy” more than a glowing page one of search engine results, full of highly-ranked publications. It’s also an opportunity to increase the number of backlinks your site has in other publications, which helps earn a higher domain authority. That way, when a prospective customer is conducting a Google search for the service or product you product, you’re more likely to rank higher in the results they see.

    Not only this, but PR professionals are experts at spotting potential opportunities for brands or businesses in markets they might not have considered. It could be that there’s a particular story angle that will resonate in a different country or industry. Algorithms and elusive variables create alternative search results in different locations, but aiming for breadth as well as depth in specialist PR campaigns will help to improve your online presence across the board.

    Word of Mouth Marketing

    Word of mouth (WoM) is the holy grail of marketing for any business, and it’s always going to carry more weight than traditional advertising. WoM inevitably becomes the most trusted source of information, because it usually comes from family or friends. A 2018 report found that 83% of Americans say WoM marketing is more likely to make them purchase something. However, it’s something that can be tricky to manufacture, but it can be encouraged by creative PR campaigns and favorable coverage. This is something that can spread like wildfire on social media, and you’ll often hear media teams say that all it takes is one viral event.

    The most important thing to note here is that a good story is the best way to get people talking, as humans are naturally drawn to narratives more than anything else. As they say, a story changes minds and wins hearts. We react to stories because they make us feel and communicate in a naturally intuitive way. They serve as a “collective sensemaking process,” according to Liz Neeley, former executive director of Story Collider. PR helps you dig out and celebrate the stories you might not have seen yourself. You might also find that it is actually more costly being boring than it is to invest in developing your brand story.

    Storytelling is More Economical Than Digital Marketing

    Marketing, of course, has its place in every business. And while there is certainly a way to find the intersection of marketing and storytelling through PR, the strategies for each one are different. 

    The greatest value you get from media relations is that the stories you help publish will be available online to reference forever, whereas marketing is usually a temporary campaign that will soon get buried on social media or removed from websites. A good marketing strategy will use a story, but PR is about getting other people outside of your own team to scream and shout about it. This creates organic media coverage, which can then be picked up by other outlets and republished to gain you greater coverage of your story. Marketing might earn you sales as intended in the short term, but storytelling through PR helps set the foundations for long-term success.

    Furthermore, investors care about a brand story more than your snazzy videography skills or attractive website landing page. “Stories are engaging, compelling, and persuasive; it is far more interesting to hear yarns of how a fund manager met with the CEO and toured the new factory, rather than discuss probabilities and uncertainty, which are almost always more relevant considerations in an investment decision,” one author writes at Behavioral Investment. Where you could spend months trying to pull together impressive figures for your pitch deck, words and stories are always going to stick more than numbers.

    In a market where an estimated 90% of startups fail, PR helps you find your edge, and then shouts to the world about it. Nevertheless, it’s important not to wait until you’re down to your last dollar to start working on your PR.

    The Above is a Guest Post from Melanie Parncutt

    Melanie Parncutt is a publicist at Otter PR in St. Petersburg, Florida. In Baltimore, MD, Parncutt studied writing, technology, communication, and design with a focus on leadership studies. She has extensive experience in public relations, marketing, and advertising including media planning, content writing, and marketing, ghostwriting, corporate partnerships, and broadcast productions.

    She has worked with clients in over 10 different industries. She enjoys clients who are actively making a difference in their community and driving innovative change. Parncutt has developed strong media relations experience working with journalists from around the country. Some of her clients are contributors for the Forbes Councils and Entrepreneur Leadership Network and others have been featured in Fortune, USA Today, MarketWatch, LA Weekly, Tech Times, NY Weekly, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, CBS TV Miami, and more.

    Overcoming The Paradox of Choice is Possible—And Here’s How

    If we’ve learned anything the past two years is that the only constant is change. And change is hard. As the owner of Marissa Pick Consulting, I’ve certainly felt the bumps in the road throughout the pandemic, but I’ve learned how to adapt to change and remain agile, ready to shift with the changes that are sure to come.

    With rapid change comes choices, which can make it challenging to make decisions, especially when business and personal lives collide. Whether it’s choosing a career to pursue or a snack to eat, our lives are full of decisions. But how does our brain decide between an apple or Fruit by the Foot when we go to the snack cabinet for a mid-day treat? Even with routine choices, decision-making is a complex task that involves assessing the information we have (there are so many kinds of snacks on my shelf), determining our choices (which snack do I like?), examining our experience with these choices (I remember liking Fruit by the Foot as a kid), and ultimately picking what we think is the best option.

    We can’t escape the need to choose, nor can we control the consequences of our decisions or the choices of others. We often put too much pressure on our choices. And somehow, we don’t put on enough pressure. This causes us to mess up at both ends. But by taking control of the process, here are some ways I was able to embrace the “paradox” of choice so that my business could continue to grow.

    Embrace change. A self-described “Type A” personality, embracing change in my own life isn’t easy. But the pandemic forced me to tackle my issues with change headfirst. A planner by nature, I really struggled with the uncertainty surrounding all aspects of life. It was like a constant question mark was looming above me and it was extremely uncomfortable. As someone who thrives on predictability, accepting and welcoming change was a scary experience. But by focusing on my communication skills and leaning into a more flexible mindset, I learned that change doesn’t have to be scary. I realized that “not knowing” can sometimes be liberating and inspire you to see your world and the responsibilities that come with it in a different light. Since I stopped running away from change, routines in my business and household spheres have become a bit steadier. And if things become rocky again, the difference is that I’m more equipped to handle that.


    Try to plan ahead. There are many times in life that we know change is on the horizon, forcing us to choose a path. Whether it’s following market dynamics, trends or just gut instinct, there are many ways to get ahead of the “selection process.” With my marketing clients, I’m a big proponent of prep work. I try to do as much research as possible to outline the “nice-to-have and must-have” elements of any marketing plan. For example, there are a plethora of technologies available to add efficiencies to our work, but which ones will best justify marketing budgets and boost performance?By weighing options upfront, you’ll be in a better position to provide sound counsel and judgement.

    Before you start looking for ways to embrace change, you need to identify what the change is and how it will impact you. Many people think that any change which throws our plans off-course is undesirable. However, it is important to not feel pessimistic or lose hope. Review where you stand after things settle down. Identify the areas which need attention and allocate resources to them accordingly.

    Reframe your thinking. Change will happen regardless of our decisions, so it’s important to identify how change makes you feel. Are you feeling sad or anxious? How can you break negative patterns or step back and reflect on your feelings? Taking timely action after adversity or change will enable you to embrace it. For example, if you break your arm, you may be unable to type, write or do other important work for yourself. However, you can look to dictation services, voice to text software, or even hire someone to support and take notes for you. By reframing your thinking and addressing a situation in a different way, you can feel more in control of the aftermath of change.


    Count your blessings and smile. Life is overwhelming, and some days it’s hard to not get lost in the endless circus of life. The highlight of my day is when my kids run into my arms after school and tell me everything about their days. Kids have a view of the world that is so innocent, pure, and refreshing. My boys are so inquisitive, curious, and hopeful about the future. Every day, they inspire my husband and me to smile and have fun, and they remind us that family comes first, no matter what. Whatever it is that makes you smile, recognize it, and make it part of your daily routine. Change makes the world go around, and we are fortunate to live in a country where we hold the power to make choices (even if there are more than we would like, at times).

    In the words of Bob Dylan, “Your old road is rapidly agin’/Please get out of the new one/If you can’t lend your hand/For the times they are a-changin’.” When you’re able to re-think your relationship with change, you may be surprised to discover how many more possibilities you can unlock for yourself and your business.

    Support Ricky’s Riders During Cycle for Survival 2022

    Supporting rare cancer research is important to me, which is why I’ve joined Cycle for Survival leading Team Ricky’s Riders to raise money to help beat rare cancers.

    This year will be my eleventh year of Cycle for Survival taking place in an outdoor event on May 14th and I’m asking for your help to meet our team fundraising goal of $10,000.  If you can contribute, any amount makes a difference.

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    Why do I ride? For my father, Richard. 

    My father, Richard, was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a few years ago. He’s currently in remission and doing well following a stem cell transplant and extensive treatment.  He was fortunate to benefit from cancer treatment and advances, but not everyone is as lucky. I ride for my father, but also for those who aren’t as lucky as him. 

    For those of you who don’t know about the cause, Cycle for Survival is the movement to beat rare cancers. As a community, we ride in support of research discoveries and clinical breakthroughs that benefit people all over the world.

    Click this link to visit my fundraising page and make a donation that will truly make a difference. Any amount has an impact because 100% of your gift will fund rare cancer research led by Memorial Sloan Kettering.

    Rare cancer research is underfunded, and people who are diagnosed with these cancers are often left with limited treatment options — sometimes none. The generosity of donors helps fill that funding gap, giving people with a rare cancer hope for a better future.

    Learn more about the incredible work- and people this community supports.

    Please consider making a donation to Ricky’s Riders By visiting my fundraising page.

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    JOIN THE BATTLE and support #CycleforSurvival

    Thank you in advance for your contribution!

    Winter Break Memories

    Family vacations are all about making memories. Whether you prefer a ski getaway or relaxing at the beach, you know you’ve had a successful family vacation when everyone leaves the trip remembering something special. This was certainly the case for us last month on our first family vacation in almost TWO years since the beginning of the pandemic. We left the winter weather behind us in New Jersey to welcome the sunshine of Naples, Florida with our two kids.

    We had a magical week relaxing and digitally detoxing as much as possible. We spent a lot of time at the beach, playing in the pool, shopping, playing mini golf and more. Towards the end of the trip, we regrouped over our final dinner and asked Lucas (7) and Reid (5) what the most memorable part of the trip was. Both boys shared that the highlight of the trip was beating us in mini golf and getting ice cream as a reward. It’s the little things that bring the most joy to kids, something we should all remember.

    For me, being able to put my phone down and be present with the kids was the best part of being away. This is the first trip that our dinners focused on quality conversations, not on what was happening on the kids’ iPads. It was also special to watch my kids entertain themselves and so easily adjust to new surroundings. Whether they were playing with kids they hardly knew around the pool, enjoying a Shirley Temple, or practicing their cannon balls, it was a treat to see them just be boys and take a break from their screens and the hectic pace of our regular routine.

    When they returned to school, they both shared the highlights of the trip with their teachers and classmates— the plane ride, endless swims and beautiful sunsets. My older son integrated these experiences into his creative writing and my younger son came home with drawings of sunshine and swimming pools. 

    It also reminded me how much I love the beach. Nothing tops the sound of a wave breaking and a clear view of the water.  It’s a place I can really unwind, relax, and tap into my inner most creativity. We watched the waves in the distance and were lucky enough to spot dolphins in the water. We came home with seashells the kids collected. Just this morning, I found beautiful white sand in my purse from another shell my younger son had hidden.

    This experience opened my eyes to the need for lasting memories in the workplace as well. It made me think, what if we redefined part of our leadership approach to include Chief Memory Maker?  What if we were able to get under the hood of the people we lead to really learn what memories were made in the workplace last week? On even their most recent project? Wouldn’t it be helpful to find out what memory is burned in their minds from the specific work they did? This is something I’m going to work on with my team and see how this shapes their daily experiences.

    Most people have a desire to be a part of a memory. If you don’t believe me just open your phone after a vacation and watch as people come behind your shoulder to take a sneak peek. I shared photos of my trip with my direct reports just last week and the response was authentic interest.

    I’m already busy planning our next vacation and I’m eager to make more memories with my family. And I’m just as excited to create more memories at work.

    What are some of your biggest travel- or work-related memories? Leave a comment below to let me know.

    Stop and Read This Before You Start Your Small Business

    Guest Post from Amy Collett, BizWell

    Image via Pexels

    As a budding business owner in New York City, you can set yourself up for success if you follow a few rules and avoid making the same mistakes many startups make. Instead of cutting corners, prepare thoroughly for this new venture. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid. 

    Not Having a Business and Marketing Plan

    Your small business will have a better chance of thriving if you develop a business plan that provides a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish, how you will achieve it, and when it will happen. By doing so, investors and partners will be more likely to be interested in your idea, whether it’s based around products or services.

    With approximately 220,000 businesses located in NYC, it’s important to make yours stand out. Create a go-to-marketing strategy template that can help keep everything on track for a product release. Using a pre-made go-to-market strategy template can help you streamline the entire process instead of creating your own from scratch. Expecting your product or service to speak for itself as a new business owner is a pipe dream. 

    Not Taking Advantage of Technology

    Small businesses have a lot to gain from technology since it can make things run smoothly and boost profits. The use of inventory management software, project management platforms, cybersecurity protection, and cost savings can benefit your business. Other benefits of technology for your business include: 

    • Communication with customers:  Your customers can get information about your business online 24/7 through FAQs on your website. In turn, this facilitates smooth communication between your business and the public.
    • The efficiency of operations: Technology can help you better understand cash flow needs and save you time and space. Meetings can be held online with tools like Zoom and Skype rather than renting a physical space.
    • Security: Data protection and client security are vital in any industry. Make sure you invest in solutions that increase security and improve operations.

    Choosing the Wrong Type of Business Entity

    The wrong business entity can have a significant impact on your business as you could end up with additional taxes or be liable for issues with your business. Consider the following:

    • Business creation and ongoing costs: Partnerships are typically the simplest to set up, but LLCs come a close second. Corporations require more paperwork and filings.   
    • Indemnification: Consider your assets when choosing a business structure. LLPs and LLCs are better options for securing your private assets than sole proprietorships because they separate your business from you. 
    • Taxes: Corporations are often the most tax-efficient, depending on how you structure them, but LLCs are close behind. 

    Underpricing

    One of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make when launching a new product is underpricing. If you underprice, you won’t make money no matter how hard you work. Research your target market to determine a suitable price.

    Setting Up a Business

    Running a business requires a lot of groundwork and needs careful thought, from creating a business plan to choosing the right structure.  

    If you have any questions consider contacting Marissa Pick for digital marketing help from the social media evangelist herself. If you need more specific help consider reviewing Design Rush’s Top Social Media Marketing Agencies.

    Amy Collett is creator of Biz Well, a website that helps professionals and entrepreneurs build and strengthen their personal brand.

    The Future of Content Marketing Appears Bright Moving Into 2022

    The pandemic put content center stage, reminding many marketers that they must develop content that includes purpose, context, creativity, and integrity. To do so, content must add value and enhance the conversation with brands’ target audiences to facilitate engagement. It’s clear that people are looking for ways to be inspired and entertained, making it even more important for content marketers to find creative ways to connect with their audiences. 

    Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs released their 12th annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report last month which portrays an encouraging and optimistic future ahead for content marketing. The research within the report confirmed what many of us already knew: content marketers are some of the fiercest business pros around. In the most difficult of times, they get the job done– and many come through more creative and stronger than before.

    I wanted to break down some of the key themes highlighted in this report.

    Video and Events Present Prime Opportunities for Engagement

    Ninety percent of content marketers say that short articles and posts (such as blogs) have been within the mix this past year. That is followed by videos (66%), virtual events/webinars/online courses (64%) and case studies (61%). But which tactics produce the best results? Virtual events, webinars, and online courses were named by 58% of respondents as a top performer (including 66% of those categorized as “most successful”) and research reports and short articles/posts were tied for second at 48%.

    B2B marketers remain at a critical inflection point as we prepare for the future of events. The pandemic rapidly accelerated the digitization of events, profoundly changing the live events industry as we knew it. I maintain that most events and conferences will remain virtual until the end of 2022, but agree that the opportunity for virtual events, webinars and online courses showcases the importance of virtual and hybrid events as a MUST next year.

    Given the results of the survey it’s no surprise that the top two planned areas of investment for next year are video and events. It’s clear that content marketers are looking for ways to more immersive engagement with their audience within a fundamentally altered environment. The good news for content marketers is that there are several opportunities to keep virtual events as an integral part of fostering connection and engagement. 

    Earlier this year I wrote an article for InEvent about the 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Virtual Event which discussed the importance of developing great content. When you begin planning your virtual event, it’s important to remember that content is often viewed hand in hand within the overall program. That is why it’s so important to take the time to put together a cohesive look and feel and ensure you’ve outlined branding for your online event. Make sure that the content you develop promotes your speakers, sponsors, and every aspect of your program. Eye-catching and captivating promotional materials are key.

    LinkedIn Remains King for Organic and Paid Social Media  

    It’s no surprise that LinkedIn is the top social media platform to distribute both organic and paid B2B content. It’s a viable content marketing platforms and when content is relevant for the proper audience and complimentary to the features of LinkedIn it can really pay off in the end. 

    B2B content marketers in this survey rated it as the most effective for both organic and paid social media. When it comes to producing results with paid social media, LinkedIn was ahead of the next-highest rated platform by 25 percentage points. For organic results, the chasm is even wider.

    Overall, more than three-quarters of practitioners said their paid distribution spending has either increased or remained steady. Social media advertising and promoted posts were the most common paid distribution tactic (77%), beating out search engine marketing and pay-per-click (65%).

    Content Marketing Budgets Are Rising

    Although the pandemic brought a lot of businesses uncertainty, many haven’t pulled back their content marketing investments, which was at one point considered “discretionary” spending. Forty-three percent of respondents familiar with their organization’s spending said their content marketing budget increased in 2021 compared to 2020. Meanwhile, 66% say they expect their content marketing budget to grow in 2022. Very few saw decreases in budget this year or expect them next year.

    The Top Marketing Challenge Ahead

    Creating content which appeals to multi-level roles within the target audience and accessing subject matter experts to create content are still a major challenge. It may be because more marketers are leveraging content collaboration tools, or because so many people have been changing jobs over the last 18 months. 

    This challenge can be compounded if content marketers only focus on creating content that appeals to those in the C-suite, as research from Netline Corporation shows that the vast majority of content consumption happens within roles outside the C-suite. Marketers must find relevant subject matter experts in 2022 to develop relatable content appealing to numerous roles within their target audience. 

    I discussed the future of content generation on my blog and just like any other content marketing strategy, repackaging content is all about consistency. I recommend brands create 2-3 additional content assets whenever they publish a new article, such as developing a piece of audio content, adding a voice over, or turning a presentation into a video. Through videos, user generated content, and a variety of content types they can begin to home in on what content resonates most.

    Despite the challenges of the recent past, it’s an exciting time to be a content marketer. With new approaches and channels to develop content and engage with audiences, refreshed budgets and agreement that content is king, it’s clear that there is a world of opportunity for B2B content marketers in 2022.