You Better Be on Instagram

The dos and don’ts of social media marketing are always evolving and it can be tough to stay informed.

We were surprised to learn recently that Instagram is the new “top” social media site for businesses to use.  Here are some statistics from Instagram and a study by L2 Think Tank that argue your social media marketing efforts are best spent on Instagram.

Instagram social media marketing infographic

Five Sure Fire Ways to Create A Viral Post

Ok, our headline was a bit misleading.

We don’t have five ways to create a viral post, we just have one.  A visual list.

List posts and infographics are always a hit. Readers are drawn in by the catchy headline and they know they are in for an informative read. And if your content is truly interesting, the reader will be more likely to share it.

viral infographic

viral infographics

Don’t know where to start?

Begin with our “10 Things” template and customize it to make it your own.

10 things you didn't know about the internet

 

 

Brilliant Business Idea? My Mom Said So.

You have a great idea. It’s a million dollar idea. A sure thing.

Stop yourself right there.

What you have is an assumption based on your opinion.

your opinion while interesting is irrelevant

Before you, me, or any entrepreneur takes the leap of faith and invests in the development of our big idea, we need to perform a little (actually a lot) of investigating.

We have a hypothesis: the market will value this idea and pay a price that will allow for a sustainable business model.

The next step should be to gather relevant evidence that either supports or refutes that hypothesis. Yes, this can be scary, but wouldn’t you rather know that your idea is a dud before you invest time and money?

Truth be told, Zanifesto is in this phase right now. We invested a tiny little bit to develop just enough of a product to gather feedback. We love our baby, but are prepared to have it ripped to shreds. Then we’ll put it back together in a way that is even better.

Let’s break this down:

The Market…

milhouse mom says im cool

You need to talk to your target market.  You and your family are not the target market. You, your parents, and your spouse are biased.  Obscenely biased.  They think your idea is amazing and will surely be a great success. (Ours do!) But they aren’t the ones who will ultimately buy your idea.

Instead, use their cheers as motivation to keep you going through the tough times as you bootstrap your idea into a business.

You need to get outside of your comfort zone and talk to the people who would actually buy and use your idea.  Set up meetings with strangers. Visit them in their offices. Have a casual conversation or give a presentation explaining your idea.

Gather so much evidence that a clear trend begins to emerge.

…Will Value Your Idea…

market research

You’ve identified your target market. Now you need to know what they think about it. Does your idea solve a problem? Does it solve the problem well? Does it solve the problem better than your competitors? Is that problem pervasive? Is that problem urgent?

Yes, you are gathering individual opinions, but they are relevant opinions and in large numbers. They are coming from the people who will buy and use your idea, and the large number of opinions begin to uncover trends and shed light on consensus, which you can consider a fact.

…And Pay a Price That Will Allow for a Sustainable Business Model.

pricing formula

Your target market likes your idea. It solves a problem and would be a useful solution.  But how much are they willing to pay for it?

Sometimes, the answer is nothing. Sometimes it is not enough.

Keep this number in mind as you develop your business plan and refine your business model. In order to maintain a successful business, you have to make more than you spend. Is the price tag determined by the market enough to keep your business thriving?

The results may be a let down, but the earlier you know, the sooner you can pivot, iterate, or start anew.

Visual About Us Page

No one wants to read a half dozen paragraphs on your About page. Well, maybe your mom, but the rest of us will skip it.

Keep your stats simple and quick to consume, like this template we offer through our tool.

Zanifesto - Blockhead

 Follow these rules to attract more readers:

  • Reduce unnecessary words
  • Pair concepts with images
  • Highlight key words and numbers with different fonts and colors

We’d love to see what your About pages look like. Share a link to your site in the comments!

Rising Cost of Skipping College

Whether or not you should go to college is not an easy decision to make.  Yes, we know about the burden student loan debt can have on graduates, and that a post-graduation job offer is no longer a sure thing, but is there a cost to not going to college?

According to a recent Pew study, there is.

image

6 Free Resources for Every Start Up

You’re bootstrapping your business. In other words, you’re frugal, cheap, or scrappy.  And we mean that in a nice way.

Starting a business does not need to be a scary financial investment. Some people don’t have a family or a house to worry about and are willing to go all in. Others are comfortable mortgaging their house to finance their big idea.  You, not so much. And that’s ok.

There are plenty of free and affordable resources to help you transform your idea into a successful business.  As with any DIY project, you are trading money for your time by foregoing professional assistance and tackling it yourself. Yet for many entrepreneurs, the possibility of losing time is much better than the possibility of losing money.

Here are a few suggestions on how to establish and grow your business with minimal funds.

1. SCORE

SCORE is a nonprofit that helps small businesses get started and grow by providing education and mentorship support. It is supported by the Small Business Administration and thousands of volunteers so SCORE provides these services at no charge.

They have many local branches through out the US.

score

2. Local Incubators

Many cities have organizations called start up incubators. These are groups of local professionals who provide resources and mentorship to start ups and entrepreneurs. They can provide assistance from the beginning or help if you find yourself stuck at some point.

Arrangements between the incubators and the start ups may vary, but often times they will provide advice for free.

During the initial research phase, Zanifesto received guidance from a local Boise-based incubator, the Watercooler. Yes, even little Boise has start up incubators. In fact, we have several.

3. Nolo

Nolo offers legal materials for non-lawyers. These are not free, but are much more affordable than hiring a lawyer.  You can find resources on contracts, employment issues, tax, and incorporating, among other topics.  Their books come with samples that you can modify and use for your business.

(Author’s note: These are more legitimate than the “Dummies” books. My professors actually used these books in several of my classes in law school.)

diy llc

4. Trello

Trello is a free project management tool for individual or team use. It helps you keep track of what needs to be done, what’s in progress, and what is complete. Multiple people can access the same board, which keeps everyone in the loop on the project’s progress.

trello1

5. Zanifesto

Graphic designers and marketing teams aren’t always a reality for start ups. But professional digital marketing is a must this day and age.  That is why we created Zanifesto.

Zanifesto’s graphic builder lets bootstrapping start ups and entrepreneurs create high quality digital marketing material for free. With this easy to use tool, you can create custom infographics, manifestos, and other graphics to market your business.

6. Mail Chimp

Once you have your marketing content created, it is time to start an email marketing campaign.  Mail Chimp‘s free and intuitive tool lets you create a snazzy email to send to your contacts and track a campaign’s success.

You can even create a “sign up” space on your website that will automatically add inputted email addresses to your contact list.

mailchimp

Try a Visual Media Kit

infographic media kit

For entrepreneurs, small businesses, and bloggers, media kits are a must-have tool for attracting investors and advertisers.

Your media kit helps these potential investors and advertisers evaluate your business and make an informed decision on whether they will receive a positive return on investment.

The visual media kit above facilitated the sale of my wedding website by clearly demonstrating the value the buyer would receive. In fact, there was a bidding war during the sale process because multiple buyers wanted to invest in this opportunity.           – Jen Benz

Here are a few tips to create your own effective media kit.

1. More Visual, Fewer Words

Your audience will be skimming this document. Make it easy to find key characteristics with images and a graphic format.

If investors and advertisers see a page of text, they are less likely to start reading and less likely to locate the key statistics.

Instead, create a visual media kit or an infographic media kit to successfully connect with investors and advertisers.

2. Include the Most Relevant Facts

When deciding what to include, keep the needs of the investor and advertiser in mind.  For example, if you have a blog, advertisers want to know:

  • What is your site about?
  • How big is your audience?
  • How big is your social media following?
  • How do readers get to your website?
  • What are some popular keywords?
  • What is the average gender and age of your readers?
  • Where in the world are your readers located?

3. Make Your Media Kit Easy to Find.

Your media kit won’t do any good if investors and advertisers can’t find it. Common locations are within the Contact or Sponsor sections.

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