green beans blog linkedin

Networking Tips: LinkedIn 101

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, allowing anyone to build and customize their digital resume, grow their industry network, and stay connected with current contacts. As with any professional role, LinkedIn has some unspoken rules of etiquette one should follow. We’ve constructed some DO’s and Don’ts of using this site, so you can best utilize it to build your professional network and make a great first impression. Read on for some top-notch networking tips!

DO send a customized invitation to connect

It’s always better to send a customized invitation when you’re trying to make a new connection, as opposed to a generic, pre-filled request. You always need to be thinking about how you can make yourself stand out, especially if using LinkedIn for job hunting or searching for clients. Take a few extra minutes and really personalize your message to the professional you’re reaching out to. Let them know why you’re connecting, and you’re much more likely to get a response.

DON’T send two (or ten) requests

We know that it’s annoying when it’s been weeks and someone STILL hasn’t responded to your invitation. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s okay for you to delete that request and send another one, just to “remind” them. There might be a reason that they weren’t so quick to accept your request, and it only makes you look desperate if you bombard them with one after another. You’ve done your part, you’ve reached out with a personal message. Now the ball is in their court, and it’s their choice whether or not they want to connect with you.

DO respond to messages and invitations promptly

Knowing how frustrating it can be when somebody doesn’t respond to your invitation as quickly as you would like, don’t do the same to others. A good rule of thumb is to treat LinkedIn like e-mail. It’s perfectly acceptable to wait 24 or sometimes even 48 hours to respond, but any longer than that is just rude. Don’t start off on the wrong foot! A prompt response shows that you’re organized, professional, and interested in building relationships. Let LinkedIn send you email notifications or make it a part of your daily schedule to check for new invitations. Whichever method you decide to use, make sure to stick with it!

DON’T ask someone you don’t know well for a recommendation or endorsement

Would it be awesome if the VP of the company you worked for and met maybe 2 times in 10 years gave you a glowing recommendation? YES! Is it okay for you to ask for one? NO WAY! We’re not saying that you shouldn’t ask a close colleague if she’s willing to endorse you for a specific skill that she’s seen you perform – you should be doing that. But don’t ask acquaintances or new connections if they’re willing. It will portray you as desperate, and may even make the person feel uncomfortable or pressured. On the same note, just because you’ve endorsed someone doesn’t mean they have to endorse you back. Remember that this isn’t Twitter! Concentrate on getting endorsements from those you know well – they’ll be much more beneficial to you in the long run, anyway.

DO endorse your colleagues

Don’t be afraid to endorse your colleagues for skills that you’ve seen them embody. It makes them feel good about themselves and will help you build both a professional and digital LinkedIn relationship with them. However, don’t endorse someone for a skill that you can’t bear witness to. Being anything but honest will come back to haunt you in the long run, and you don’t want to put yourself in that position. Stick to endorsing people that you know well for skills that you know they can perform.

DON’T start a message with “I see you’ve viewed my profile…”

Creepy, right? Being able to see who has viewed your profile is a particularly cool LinkedIn feature, but not one that you should take advantage of. Don’t start by saying that you see they’ve viewed you; they’re already aware of that Plus, it could make things a bit uncomfortable if they’ve viewed you and then chosen not to reach out to you. If you do want to connect with someone who has viewed your profile, that’s perfectly fine. Just send a personalized connection request – talk about your common interests, mutual connections, etc, and then let them respond how and when they’d like.

DO make lots of connections

That’s what LinkedIn is for, right?! Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone,no matter how much higher or lower you think you are on a professional scale than them. Ignoring someone’s request could cost you an interview for your dream job, as could being too proud to reach out to someone less qualified than you. In the professional world, it’s all about who you know. The connections you make will have their own connections established, and breaking into their web of contacts is the best way to grow your own.

Best of luck!

Hat Tips

green beans blog trader joes spotlight

Marketing Spotlight: Trader Joe’s

If you’ve ever stepped foot in a Trader Joe’s you know that it is not your average grocery store. While each store is decorated in a slightly different way you’re bound to see fun things like murals of a cow surfing or Hawaiian shirts as the employee uniform throughout the store. The beachy theme throughout and the friendly and helpful employees create a relaxed atmosphere that turns the chore of grocery shopping into an enjoyable experience.

Originating in the 1950’s, this chain has grown into a popular stop for healthy and affordable food.
Trader Joe’s has also realized that being a grocery store isn’t enough in today’s market. With cool recipes to try on their website and their Fearless Flyer that is full of personality and bound to put a smile on your face, Trader Joe’s knows how to keep their customers engaged.

Here are 7 Reasons why we put the marketing spotlight on Trader Joe’s, and what works about their strategy:

1. Trader Joe’s makes you feel good about what you’re buying.

Whether it’s their cage-free eggs or their non-animal tested beauty and hygiene products, Trader Joe’s is looking out for those furry little ones. They even encourage customers to bring re-usable bags and only offer paper ones that can be easily reused and recycled. By advertising and living up to their environmentally friendly antics, they never stop drawing in fresh customers.

2. As mentioned before, the store’s theme is also unique.

When you walk through those doors your spirits are automatically lifted with the tropical theme and super friendly employees. From the murals vibrantly painted on the walls to the colorful packaging, lots of customers opt for Trader Joe’s simply for the comforting vibes.

3. In addition to their unique cruelty-free food options, Trader Joe’s also has tons of funky international cuisine products that set them apart from their competition.

Shoppers skim through coupons and ads to decide where to pick-up their groceries for the week, and seeing an array of unique cultural options often sways their decision.

4. One of my favorite parts about Trader Joe’s is their customer service.

They have been known to treat their employees really well, and it totally shows! They are always incredibly friendly, patient, and eager to help you. This definitely weighs in on a returning customer’s choice of where to shop.

5. Their prices aren’t ridiculously expensive either.

They provide organic and GMO-free options at prices that are way lower than similar stores, such asEarth Fare and Whole Foods. Making it more affordable for everybody to have healthy food options is reason enough for people to head over there.

6. They have stayed consistent throughout the years and remain true to their values.

They have made slight changes in their logos to stay up to date, but they always have kept the same iconic font to make their brand easily recognizable.

7. They have an awesome little newsletter called the Fearless Flyer.

It highlights special products each month and provides delicious and easy recipes to make as well. In addition to all of the product information, the newsletters are also jam-packed with cool graphics and funny little cartoons, helpful for distracting children who’ve been dragged along while their parents run their errands.

Hat Tips:

Photo cred: Rend Creative

green beans blog millenials

Who To Hire: Millennials or Experienced Employees?

Who’s more valuable: millennials or experienced employees? As time progresses and technology continues to advance, companies need to take into consideration who they want to hire, and what it will do for their business in the long-run. Both types of employee bring many strong advantages to the table, but as society becomes more sophisticated, companies need to take into consideration who they think is going to be more prepared and qualified.

Millennials

Also known as Generation Y, millennials are the individuals that were born between the early 1980’s and 2000. This means that when technology started to evolve and the Internet became the next big thing, this generation got to experience it from birth through the present. As they grew with it, they are basically experts at the basics of technology.

Now, in 2016 the oldest Millennial is 34 and the youngest is 18; thus, many of them are just beginning their careers. So the question is, are these newbies qualified enough to beat out the competition of experienced employees?

The benefits of hiring a Millennial over an experienced individual are simple: we are younger; we are tapped into what’s popular and what is not.; we grew up in an era with constant accessibility to technology; we know how to establish trends and stay ahead of the game. Overall, we have a fresh way of thinking that could bring many benefits to any company.

Not only do we know how to detect these social changes, but we are the one’s creating them. Because we were able to grow up with technological advantages, we, as individuals, have evolved with it. We are now the engineers and creators of new apps and websites, and technology in general.

Any company that hires a Millennial over a more experienced applicant may be taking a leap of faith, but more than likely, they will not be disappointed.

The Experienced Employee

Just like the Millennials, an experienced employee has so much to offer. The benefits are obvious: they’re experienced, so they are the safest choice; they know what they are doing and need less training; they already have that professional mindset which fits in with your company’s needs. Experienced employees have also have accumulated references and contacts, and having a strong network of people that are relevant to your organization will only boost business.

The Crossover

As the majority of the Millennial generation is already in the professional world, there is a chance that the seasoned employee is also a millennial. If this is the case, the organization should be considered lucky. Each type of employee is valuable, but when the benefits of both are incorporated in one person, you should definitely not turn them away.

Generation Z

The real dilemma is not between Millennials and experienced employees, since, as the years pass, they are becoming one. What we should be concerned with is the generation that follows us.

Right now, Generation Z is consists of kids younger than the age of 18. We do have time to prepare them, but when they become old enough to enter the professional world, it won’t  take long until they replace us all. Will having years of experience really help us out?

These kids are technological monsters! There are 6 year old kids out there who are already creating their own apps and have more followers on social media than any millennial will see in their lifetime.

Though Millennials grew up with new technology, we still had somewhat of childhood that consisted of playing outside and using our imagination to do things. But generation Z has grown up with a technology-takeover. They were using laptops and tablets at the age of 3, and they all have smart phones by the time they’re in the 4th grade. It’s intimidating.

So when the time comes for generation Z to start competing for positions, let’s just hope that our knowledge and ability to learn technology quickly is still relevant. If not, then let us be optimistic that this new group of youngster won’t be too cruel and kick us to the curb.

Hats Tip:

Pew Research

green beans blog mobile email

Creating Mobile-Friendly Emails

As the world continues to mobilize, more and more people are ditching their computers and working straight from their smartphones. Everything is so fast-paced today, professionals need to access their business on the go, and their phone is the easiest way to do so. Email is the top reported activity that individuals take part in on cell phones, and as a result, organizations and businesses need to understand how to create mobile-friendly emails in a professional manner.

First things first, you need to choose an email marketing approach. With over half of emails being opened on mobile devices, there are three effective approaches that marketers should take when designing these mobile-friendly emails. All are effective, but should be chosen based on what your email contains and what resources you have.

Scalable Design

This design, also known as mobile-friendly, can be used on all platforms. It is the most simple to implement, and also the most common. The attributes of this design include: a single column that is easy to navigate, large font that can be read on all devices,  and large touch-friendly links, buttons etc. This approach is best used for start-up businesses and teams with limited resources.

Fluid Design

Also known as a liquid layout, this design doesn’t alter the content, but instead has a good flow throughout the page. Because of this, it has an appealing look on all different devices. It works best with heavy text, and is best used for simple layouts, emails with lots of text, as well as teams with limited resources.

Responsive Design

This layout is best used for marketers who have the resources to implement it. It is far more complicated than the other approaches, as it detects and conforms to the specific device it is being used on. This approach is best used for larger mobile audiences, teams with the right skills and knowledge, and to have maximum control over the layout.

Steps to Creating

After selecting which design layout is right for your team, be sure to follow these steps to make your emails perfect for your audience.

Simplify

Be concise with your information, and put the most important parts at the beginning. Make sure to keep the design clean and simple, and focus of the essentials. Using the single column is the easiest way to accomplish this, as it will be easier for the user to navigate through and more flexible for all devices.

Remember Thumbs

When using smartphones, people explore with their thumbs, not their fingers. Thus, the buttons and links need to be larger so there is no zooming or scrolling. If people have to search for the action you want them to take, they’re more likely to shrug it off and just delete the email.

Sender line, Subject line, and Pre-header

The sender line displays who your emails are going to be “from.” This is the most prominent aspect of  your email, so be sure that it is recognizable and consistent. The subject line is the next aspect your audience will see, so make sure that it is short, sweet and to this point. Many devices will cut off a subject line that is more than 25-40 characters, so it is important to keep it within range.

The first three words of any email are what grabs the readers’ attention the most. The pre-header would be the “hook” of your email, usually as a sub-title. It’s the next thing you see after the subject line. It is important because if your reader doesn’t show interest this far, then odds are they won’t bother to read the rest. This sentence should be kept under 100 characters.

The Format

When deciding on colors, text, contrast, and more. there are rules that need to be remember The colors should obviously correlate with your organization, and be consistent with how it looks on multiple devices. The text in your emails should be large; the typical size is 14pt, but the minimum is 11pt for the content and 22pt for headers. Additionally, recall that many people have the brightness turned down on their phones, and continue to read messages even when outside. So when it comes to contrast, do not use the reverse type. The fonts should be written in a darker color on a light background, which helps from straining the reader’s eyes.

Images

Pictures, and graphics are an important and common aspect of emails. But before going picture crazy, do some research. When sending out emails, you won’t be sure which devices people are going to be using (Apple, Android, etc.) and the settings are different for each one. For example, Apple devices automatically enable images to display by default. However, Android’s are the opposite; their default setting is to turn images off. Because of this, ensure that you have descriptions of what your images are. This will help those who can’t see them be aware of what you are portraying.

View For Yourself

It is always best if you check out your own work before you send it out. There are plenty of free and cheap websites that you can use to help determine if the emails you prepare are professional and effective.

  • MailChimp’s Inbox Inspector is free and lets you preview what your designs will look like on multiple devices. This is great for  when you have a wide audience.
  • Litmus’s Email Previewer is very popular, as it not only shows what your email will look like for multiple clients, but it also checks for mistakes and errors within your email and gives you alternate options. This is useful for when you have writer’s block.

As of right now, more than half of people are using their mobile devices to check, respond and forward emails. That being said, having a mobile-friendly website and email strategy can greatly effect responses, and business overall.

Hat Tipcs:

Web Designer: Do I really need one?

So you’ve started your own business, and you’ve finally come to terms with the importance of a digital presence. Now you’ve realized…your website needs some work. Your options are to settle for an amateur site and finish it yourself, or fork over loads of cash to have a web designer do it for you. At the get go, it may seem best to tackle it on your own. You’re feeling ambitious, you want to save a few bucks, or you just wonder how hard could it really be?

What does a professional have that you don’t? Well, more things than you think,  but we’ve narrowed it down for you. Regardless of how professional and appealing you may think the site is that you, the inexperienced and untrained web designer, whipped up in a few hours, viewers can almost immediately tell if a site has been constructed by a professional or not.

Here’s what a designer will bring to the table:

1. Professionalism

A professional designer will make a professional website. Simple enough. They know how to create a website that is attractive, effective, and creative. All three of these aspects will amp up the credibility of your website, as users will feel a sense of security about your services. A business gains such credibility when its website looks legitimate. It should have a trustworthy feel to it and appear to have intelligent business professionals behind it. A user wants to be assured that there are humans on the other end,  so they can trust the products and services they purchase are legitimate.

2. Save time, energy, and frustration

A professional is educated in the craft of web design. They not only know the basics, but also current trends when it comes to changing environments of SEO, JavaScript, Photo Optimization, Communication, Languages (Flash, PHP, etc.), you name it! Designers know how to adapt your website to user receptiveness, navigation, search, etc. Learning all these aspects from scratch will require a lot of time and energy, and is more complicated than you’d think. The difficulty can lead to unnecessary frustration, which can be avoided by seeking professional assistance.

3. Avoid the faults of templates

Maybe you’ve considered using a pre-made template for your website instead of hiring designer. The problem them is they limit your business’s singularity. Pre-made templates harbor no uniqueness for your business. They hinder your ability to customize your website, as many do not allow for certain features such as galleries, contact forms, special scripts, etc. They also limit expansion, which is important to think about as your business itself may expand.

If you want any of these elements, just forget about using a pre-made template. Additionally, templates limit expansion. Even if you think you can do without them, if you change your mind later on, it becomes virtually impossible to add these things using a template. At this point, you would have to bring in a designer anyways. It would be smart to have a designer work on your website from the get-go, allowing the ability to add features as you see fit.

4. Designers are communicators

Designers know how to communicate. They do so with font, color, shape, and layout utilization. Designers make websites easy to navigate and an enjoyable, interactive experience for the user. They make websites clear and consistent, which will make you look like an business expert. Designers also know how to create a website in a way so that search engines can easily read and rank your page. This is important, as your website exists to attract existing and potential customers to it. If the SEO is weak, there won’t be a lot of user traffic.

5. Browser compatibility

It is important that your website can be accessed easily across multiple browsers. A high percentage of people search using mobile devices, so your website needs to be mobile friendly. A designer will test the layout of your website across multiple browsers to ensure that there aren’t any issues, whether you’re a fan of Google Chrome, Safari or Firefox. There shouldn’t be any variation between browsers, and designers specialize in guaranteeing a crisp website no matter what browser the user prefers.

6. Fight competition

There are at least a billion websites floating around the internet today. It is important to have a website that is distinguishable from the rest. A designer will create a unique website for you. If your website doesn’t stand out, it won’t gain attention from users. Designers focus on launching a more effective website than your competitors. In doing so, your business will be chosen over the next best.

 

If you’re still pondering the idea of building your site yourself, consider the product you could create compared to something a professional would. There are endless advantages to having a professional, custom site built for you, and they almost always outweigh any financial burdens.

colo

Brand Recognition: The Importance of Color

When it comes to choosing the colors for your brand, logo, and website, it’s not as simple as picking out your favorite color combination. In the world of marketing and advertising, color holds a lot of significance. The consistency of your color palette in visual marketing materials is important to create better brand recognition. Did you know 80% of brand recognition has to do with color? Colors can invoke certain emotions and moods (both consciously and subconsciously), and even hold cultural meanings. Studies show that visual appearance is 93% responsible for customer buying decisions. Ever wonder why red is used in almost every fast-food logo? Studies have shown that the color stimulates your appetite and creates a sense of urgency.

Before picking your brand’s colors it is important to identify the atmosphere and purpose of your business, and then decide which color palettes and schemes would be the best fit.

Know the Color Wheel

  • Analogous: colors that are next to each other on the color wheel (ex. yellow, yellow-green, green)
  • Monochromatic: tints and shades (lighter and darker versions) of the same color (ex. light blue, royal blue, dark blue)
  • Complementary: colors that are directly across from each other on the color wheel (ex. orange and blue)
  • Triad: three colors that are equidistant from each other on the color wheel—forming a triangle (ex. the primary colors and the secondary colors)
  • Neutral/Neutral with one accent color: using mostly shades of brown, gray, and black and white, but one color to make things pop (ex. the classic black, white, and red color combination)

Know what Colors Represent

  • Warm: These are your oranges, yellows, pinks, and reds.

These colors generally bring lots of energy and excitement to your logo, website, etc. They are very attention grabbing, spark creativity, and playful.

Often seen in: restaurants, toy stores, and technology.

  • Cool: These are your blues, greens, and purples

These colors generally create a relaxing and calm feel.

Often seen in: coffee shops and spas.

  • Neutral: These are your browns, tans, grays, and white and black.

These colors are often associated with the earth and outdoors or for more formal/sophisticated businesses and organizations.

Often seen in: outdoor gear stores, funeral homes, law firms, government agencies, etc.

It is important to note that the emotions provoked with these color categories change when paired with another category. For example, you can pair a warm color with a scheme of cool colors, but your business may not quite align with the principle emotions associated with these choices.

Additionally, you should pair warm or cool colors with neutrals, to create more interest and help with brand recognition.

Know Where your Content will be Viewed

After finally picking your color scheme, it is important to be aware that the colors may appear differently on computers or mobile devices. Make sure the colors will be easy to see and read whether printed or on a screen. Don’t use a pale yellow for a long body of text, and don’t alternate fonts with two colors that are hard to see.

Despite how simple a color scheme may seem, choosing what colors represent your brand is a huge deal. Colors have a lot to do with brand recognition, and can truly make or break a company.

For more scientific information on the topic check out this blog!

Hat Tip:

Small Biz Trends
The Branded
YFS Magazine
Write On Track
The Ultra Linx

 

social media for startups

Social Media for Startups

Social media for a small business is a full-time job in itself. Many startups must acknowledge the importance of incorporating social media into their marketing plan, and the do’s and don’ts of utilizing it. A young business ourselves, Green Beans is here to give you our top 3 tips on using social media for business.

Less is More

It’s always been quality over quantity, plain and simple. This goes for social media posts as well. Businesses should always avoid overwhelming their customers, especially online. Lengthy emails will end up in the trash, 10 Instagram posts in a row will be scrolled over, and excess Facebook updates will be ignored. The goal is to be informative and concise, and always stay relative.

Some businesses, in effort to connect with customers, post too much unnecessary material. It is ok to be chummy with your customers and post funny images occasionally, but doing so every day is overkill. You want to be able to balance humor with serious business. If you joke too much, customers won’t take you seriously. If you’re too serious, you will be perceived as boring. All small businesses should work to find a happy medium.

In general, don’t post too much. Find a daily number that works for you for each platform. For example, 1 Instagram post, 2 Facebook posts, and 3 Twitter posts per day. Monitor the traffic on each social media outlet and figure out which numbers are drawing in traffic. Posting too much content will lead to unlikes, unfollows, and unsubscribes. You never want to be a nuisance, and you want your customers to look forward to hearing from you.

Promote in Moderation

Promoting your business is great, but shouldn’t be your only focus online. Posting content that is strictly promotional will result in a disengaged audience. It has been suggested to only allow for 20% of your information to be promotional. The remaining 80% can be fun, interactive, and engaging. There is a time and place for sales information, and that isn’t 24/7.

Strategize

Having a content strategy will help your business excel. A posting plan will allow you to to publish content at the most effective times and keep track of how often you post, to avoid flooding newsfeeds. Having a plan is much more effective than randomly posting material, and can save time and stress in the long-run.

Overall, every business will utilize social media in ways that are most effective and beneficial for them. Just because one business posts once a day on Instagram doesn’t mean it’s bad if you post three times. Balance and organization are all you need to use social media appropriately for your business. It all comes down to staying relative, being clear and to-the-point, and allowing customers to engage.

Hat Tip: