Can Artificial Intelligence Improve Your Business?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools are now widely used to enhance human problem solving. They are changing the workflows of both – enterprises and small businesses.

For example, AI technology is helpful in situations where an employee has to process large amounts of complex data. Also, critical decision making can be more efficient using machines when humans are under extreme stress. In some cases, humans may also have problems recalling information required for decision making.

In summary, reliable AI tools help businesses manage daily tasks and finances.

But it can take years to build up a knowledgebase that can support AI in relevant problem solving in specific domains. Also, users need to develop trust so that they can be confident in the decisions generated by machines – the AI-based technology.

Advances in machine learning are reducing the time required for AI tools to acquire knowledge.
Still, humans are better able to take into account wider context and complex ethical situations.

What About Recommender Systems?

These systems get their domain knowledge by mining user behavior, including for example, user ratings and personal usage history. Recommender apps are available to help individuals make purchasing and investment decisions, arrange travel, manage fitness and so on. Recommender technology is also used to match ads to website user behavior.

Giving AI tools access to a brand potentially means giving customers that same access. Therefore, embracing the development of AI is crucial to marketing efforts.

The Potential of Wearable Technologies in Business Setting

People are slowly becoming used to wearable technologies that are currently mainly used as monitoring or scheduling devices. Smart watches are lighter and smaller than smartphones, but they are not living up to the hype. They are not replacing mobile devices as they are not better yet than smartphones at completing complex tasks.

Better interfaces are needed to enable effective communication between users with various needs and different types of computing devices and applications.

AI-based personal assistants will continue to get better. Business owners soon don’t have to juggle multiple devices and apps. The assistant will use the information it has about them and combine this with their user behavior and other relevant information to make recommendations.

Also, in the near future, managers may be able to send their AI-powered virtual assistants to attend meetings and take notes. This may free up time for research and innovation.

Content marketing is a journey, not a destination

Developing both – marketing and content strategies can be hard.

You need to re-evaluate your strategy through a fresh pair of eyes frequently. Couple of things I have learned:

1) Put Your Audience First

What do they want and need? Where do they hang out?

Consider personas, which describe the different customers you’re trying to reach. Personas should include the demographic elements such as age, income, and job title. Take into consideration personal fears and aspirations.

2) Talk to Your Prospects and Clients

This one is essential as you identify your audience and develop personas. The only way to nail down how to help your audience is to get to know them.

Your ideas need to be in sync with your audience’s reality. What are the biggest frustrations weighing them down?

3) Develop Content Themes

Creating a long-term strategy can seem difficult. If you’ve done your homework, this will be easy.

The more you chat with your customers, the more you’ll discover the same themes. You’ll recognize their pain points, problem areas, and resource gaps.

4) Establish Production Process

Have a framework. You may have many ideas, but they’re worth nothing if you don’t execute. The consistency of producing content that educates is also important.

Start small, then build on it.

5) Create a Plan for Every Piece

Choose a subject, headline, target audience, angle, pain points and a solution.

6) Focus on Providing Value

Your audience will only find your content relevant if they believe it provides value.

7) Showcase Your Expertise

Demonstrating this through examples and stories is the best way to serve both your audience and your goals. Look for unique stories and approach content as brand publishing.

Enjoy your content marketing journey!

Should You Focus on Social Media or Content Marketing?

Social networks are crucial to the success of content marketing efforts. Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare, YouTube and other platforms are used primarily as a distributor of links back to the content on the company’s, brand’s or organization’s website — not as containers of the content.

Social media can be effectively used for increasing brand awareness — generating discussions around the brand. Secondly, it is used for customer retention and satisfaction. Social channels can serve as an open forum for dialogues with customers, often around issues that they have.

The context of websites allows longer forms of content. Brands can publish blog posts, podcasts, infographics, videos, checklists and eBooks, etc.

The effectiveness of content marketing increases as the organization’s content marketing grows in maturity. Based on the B2B content marketing research, 64% percent in the sophisticated/mature phase state they are effective at content marketing, 23% in the adolescent phase say they are effective at content marketing, and 6% in the young phase say they are effective at content marketing. More information is provided on the Content Marketing Institute website.

Setting Priorities: Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization

Too many small business owners are too focused on increasing their website traffic and building links. I believe that business owners should refrain from any link building activity where the only reason is to build links for search engine rankings. Traffic that does not convert should not be the main focus of your web content optimization efforts.

It may be more beneficial to evaluate your existing customer base and step back thinking:

How did we gain our best customers? Did they find our company, product or service by searching the web or did we meet them face to face first?

Are we offering something that our website visitors can’t get anywhere else?

How can we get more web traffic to convert?

The first step to improving your website traffic should be writing relevant content for your site’s target audience and not ignoring any web platforms or hubs that Google owns such as Google+ or YouTube. In addition, use Pinterest or Instagram if you are in any business that can easily tell their story or showcase their products using visuals.

Optimize your site for mobile devices – people search a lot using their phones and tablets.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are alive and well, but these activities should align with your other goals.

Event Marketing 101

Two recent emails in my Inbox included questions about event marketing. In this blog post I’ll share some basic digital marketing tips. Hopefully your event website is up and running. If not, you could use Eventbrite to set up your website and sell tickets. You may also need an active PayPal account to accept payments. In addition, social media channels will help you amplify your message and engage with potential participants.

If for some reason you, your organization or business is still not active on social media, establish your:

Twitter presence (sample:
Facebook presence (sample:

Write a press release or an article about your upcoming event. Describe how this event is different from any other events and why people should pay attention / attend. Use descriptive images if you can. (Suggested platform: PRWeb)

Create a SlideShare channel for your organization or event – you can post PowerPoint presentations, and other documents (Sample).

Share links to your press release, articles and presentations on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) – engage with your followers. Create a tweet schedule – you could post tweets about different speakers and presentations.

Take and share photographs at your event (Eventsagram).

Social Media: Why Am I Here? What Are My Goals?

I had a chance to share my thoughts on social media and meaningful participation in social networking with some University of Montana students yesterday. It warmed my heart today to read the following Guest Speaker feedback:

“I felt our guest speaker really helped me understand how passion and
listening is the basis of social media. Her commentary on
understanding your personal social media strategy – why am I here?,
what am I planning?, what are my goals? – gave me a good basis for how
to start any project. Also, I felt like her advice to “listen!” was so
helpful. Although listening seems like an obvious part of the social
media world, I think it is often overshadowed by the “doing!” aspect.
We want our ideas to be heard, so there are so many people talking. By
stepping out of that and listening, you can better choose your message
to acknowledge the things people talk most about. Furthermore, I
learned a lot from her discussion on getting news to the masses.
Starting with a press release, then working your way down the social
media platform list, each time revising your message for the audience.
I had never looked at spreading the word in that way before. I really
enjoyed listening to her speak, thank you for giving us that

Thank you, Brittany!

What Happens in Vegas Does Not Have to Stay in Vegas

I am attending New Media Expo 2014 in Las Vegas. Enjoyed all keynotes and sessions today – posting some notes that may help other aspiring writers (bloggers).

Lee Ogden’s 10 Lessons Learned from 10 Years of Blogging:

1. Be specific – stand for something.
2. Know your readers / customers. Discover their pain points.
3. No plan = plan to fail.
4. Optimize and socialize the journey to your content. Validate. Think how your blog visitors find your content.
5. Great content isn’t great until it is discovered and shared. Be the best answer.
6. Use content to bond with your audience.
7. Look beyond yourself. Leverage community for content.
8. Whatever can be found in search can be optimized.
9. Your blog is as interesting / useful as your audience thinks. Ask. Recognize. Think.
10. Optimize for customer – attract, engage, convert.

Intentional Leadership Expert Michael Hyatt (5 Elements of a Powerful, Personal Brand): Make invisible visible, use descriptive images. Create a consistent experience. Have a compelling brand slogan that communicates what you do – how you solve problems.

Paula Pant (The Art of Crafting Jaw-Dropping Content): Use “sandwich model” for writing blog posts. Provide a close-up, then wide angle (data), and end with a close up (face of your story).

Great advice – keep learning.

Lessons Learned: Managing the Digital Marketing Beast

We all are constantly obtaining new skills and learning life lessons – often through challenges or failures. Here are some things I was reminded of in 2013.

If at all possible, small businesses should avoid the following:

  • Only one person assigned to marketing
  • Sales and marketing professionals not sharing information
  • Not addressing feedback received through social media channels
  • Lack of commitment and consistency.

Keys to success:

  • Be flexible, adapt to change
  • Listen and learn
  • Align social media and digital marketing goals with overall marketing goals
  • Review and frequently improve website content
  • Create a content development calendar
  • Assign priorities to creating content (high, medium, low)
  • Establish efficient workflows for content creation and sharing
  • Use social media wisely for sharing your news and  useful content
  • Commit to posting frequency / based on staff availability and skillset.

Things to remember:

  • Focus on impact and reaching your  marketing goals, not on the number of likes, followers and tools
  • Automated social media and e-mail marketing tools can make your digital marketing efforts look lazy, decrease authenticity.

Give and you will receive in 2014!


Leaning In Requires Sacrifices

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, a bestseller by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, is the tech icon’s “feminist manifesto,” one she hopes will end a 10-year stall for women in top positions, as well as change stereotypes. Perhaps incidentally, the book comes out in the 50th anniversary year of Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique.

Sandberg is highly respected in Silicon Valley, and she’s very direct about the state of American women in upper management.  She raises a question why women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that affect our lives.

Though some critics have called her an elitist giving advice that is not relevant to most women, some of her suggestions are pertinent to everyone. She advises women to stop trying to “have it all.” Being a working parent means making adjustments, compromises and sacrifices every day.

During her first weeks at Facebook, she followed  Mark Zuckerberg’s practice of working into the night. In doing so, she gave up several dinners with her kids. She later decided to leave at 5:30 PM every day, no matter how important project she was working on. She discovered that she could, and her work didn’t suffer.

Sheryl Sandberg believes that when a woman excels, she may be viewed as too aggressive or not a team player, while men who behave in the same way are considered to be good leaders.

It has definitely been challenging to balance parenting three children and a career, but I meet amazing women who are not afraid to take on this challenge, every day. In addition, I am raising a daughter who believes that women can excel at anything and become effective leaders.


13 Tips for Building a Total Online Presence

Now as you are focused on your new year’s resolutions, here’s one more list:

1.   Use Quora to find questions people in your industry are asking.
2.   Create a listening station – read blogs and listen to podcasts to find great content ideas.
3.   Create landing pages and capture leads.
4.   Write good content that includes keyword phrases to improve SEO and network to get relevant sites linking back to your site.
5.   Email isn’t dead. Lead capture plays a big part in your email marketing efforts.
6.   Build a full Google+ profile and claim your +Local (Place) page. Focus on small circles in Google+. Promote with +1 button.
7.   Use online advertising and face-to-face networking to drive people to your website.
8.   Your audience will tell you if you are oversharing on social media. Make adjustments.
9.   Always use analytics (data) as a checkpoint for everything you do.
10. Use your e-newsletter to promote quality content.
11.  Schedule tweets to share them throughout the day (Buffer).
12.  Create Twitter lists of customers and add their social profiles to your CRM tool.
13.  Optimize your website for mobile devices.

Total Online Presence = Your Online Identity.