16 things You can Learn About being Social from Richard Branson



Defying norms is what Sir Richard Branson does best.

At a time when most business professionals complain about being too busy  to be active on social, Branson has taken to it like a fish to water. He is devoted to his almost 4.7 million followers and keeps them engaged with his tongue-in-cheek updates. And, unlike most entrepreneurs who have a digital marketing team ghostwriting for them, Branson believes in doing his own writing. Also, very significantly, he allows and encourages his employers to be active on social. Not everyone does this.

Here are the top 16 things that we can pick up from this legend:

  1. Social media isn’t for selling
Branson doesn’t use his social media ID to give updates about his business.He uses social media to talk to the world. When you post, talk about what you stand for and your passions. Show everyone the part of you that isn't the CEO.

  1. Social is the best way get customer feedback
Being candid on social has its perks. Your customers will know that you take them seriously and that their opinions matter. As a result, you can ask them anything and expect honest, useful answers.

  1. Your social persona (photographs + writing style) should reflect your organizations’ persona and ideals
Let yourself be the voice of your organization’s ideals. Note that Branson always uses “we” instead of an “I” when talking about beliefs. That signifies that the whole organization functions as one big family, strongly affirming each other’s goals.

  1. Praise your team and employees on social
You will often find Branson bragging about the amazing staff that works at Virgin. He is all praise for the hard work and the success they bring to his brand. (Who doesn’t like a little appreciation from the boss?)

  1. Images speak
All of his tweets and  blogs are accompanied by vibrant images. You may not have those “happening” images of yourself scaling snow-clad mountains or scuba diving with sharks, but surely you have pictures that showcase who you are as a human being. It doesn’t have to be crazy unique, it just needs to be you.   

  1. Praise outside the organization
Do you appreciate some webinar that you just attended? Did a fellow entrepreneur accomplish some achievement and you truly feel happy for her? Go ahead and praise her. Congratulate her on the achievement or tell her that you believe in the cause she supports. This will not go unnoticed and will expand your voice in the community.

  1. Share your updates across all social platforms
When you update something, it is important to do it across all your social networks so readers across all platforms will know what you are up to. This also increases your visibility.

  1. Consistency
We all know that social media is tough to keep up with. Despite that, you need to be consistent with your updates. Don’t leave your readers and followers wondering about your disappearance for days on end. You shouldn’t  bombard them with endless posts about everything you do, of course. Just strike a balance.

  1. You don’t have to be a millennial to be social-savvy
Branson is the ideal answer to “I’m too old for social media”. Branson is 64. ‘Nuff said.

  1. Tell stories
People love stories, but hey don’t like advice or criticism. If you want to give advice about something, tell them a story of how you learned the lesson yourself. If you want to sell them something, tell them a story of how it changed someone’s life. (be careful, though. Blogs aren't for selling)
  1. Your social profile needs to be an extension of you
Branson’s social profile is what he is, without any apparent pretense. His thoughts and pictures are all a reflection of his flamboyant, go-getter, fun-loving personality. In order to create a genuine connection with your audience, remember that you have to be yourself.

  1. Social media is a two-way street
Social listening is just as important as talking. The value of social media is to hear  what people are talking about and what they expect from you. Doing all the talking doesn’t create any value for you or your readers.

  1. You are allowed to have fun
Make “having fun” an integral part of your social personality. Don’t be all serious and corporate-y in your updates and blogs. Let your hair down, and except for occasional official updates, keep your posts fun, friendly and informative.  

  1. Add a little humor
Make your posts fun enough to be share-able with other people.

  1. Encourage your employees to be social
Virgin allows almost all of its employees to be active on social sites. They are encouraged to do so because the more employees on social, the more listeners the company has. Don’t be afraid you will “lose” control. This is too valuable a public relations tool to be lost to fear. Your employees are another way to connect your company to customers and prospects. Don’t miss out.

  1. Continue to explore newer platforms
Don’t be content with just one social space. Your users are always seeking and exploring newer platforms, so don’t lose them

Who are your favorite social personalities? And what have you learnt from them? Share it with us below.

Have you enabled your sales team this holiday season?


A recent study by Adobe hints that online shopping will see a significant rise this year. It goes on to state that 31% of online sales will be generated via smartphones and tablets, up from 21% in 2013.


Over the last year, online shopping has received a major boost owing to a number of retailers working hard on their big data and personalization techniques. The giants have always been doing this, and now smaller retailers have joined in.


How are you going to sell better this season?


An all-round analytical view of the data you are collecting is going to be the source of change for you this year. For example, it can help you understand the kind of merchandise you should be stocking. Your website can give you excellent insight into the kind of customers you can expect this season. Which age groups are most likely to visit your stores? What is the most trending item in your inventory? Use these pieces of information to stock your store, because the last thing you want is to run out of stock in the midst of a high-demand sale day or have overstock that has to be remaindered come January.


Do you have the right tools?


Big data can prove highly beneficial when your sales reps have access to it. Sales enablement solutions can help you to effectively slice and dice the data and present it to your reps in an articulate way that helps them to analyze and act upon that data. Provide them with real time analytics that will provide awareness of the kind of buyers to expect.


Your sales reps are your front line with the customer. Make sure that they are well-trained for this season. Also, this is a season when retail hires extra reps to meet the high demand. But these newbies will only be effective if  you are on-boarding and training them the right way.


Your reps need a tool that is all encompassing, covering every stage of the buyer’s cycle from prospecting to cross selling or upselling and even beyond.
Are your reps ready to face any and every kind of customer that walks in?

The Swiss Army Knife Approach to Sales Enablement




In the new sales cycle, where the buyer is in a position of power, the role of a salesperson has undergone a paradigm shift. Salespeople can no longer afford to just focus on selling their products and services. Instead, they are expected to be advisers and guides to buyers, helping them make the right purchase decision. In order to fit into their new role, salespeople today need something much more than the basic sales collateral. What they really need is a whole new range of sales enablement tools fit onto a single platform.



Here’s what the Swiss Army Knife for sales should contain:

360-degree Lead View

Help your salespeople understand what their prospects are looking for, so that they are able to present your products and services effectively. Your sales enablement platform should offer the sales team a syndicated prospect overview across all channels of interaction including websites, landing pages, emails, PPC campaigns, direct mails, etc.

Lead Segmentation

A good lead segmentation module will help your sales team chart out different marketing and sales strategies for each key segment--which in turn makes them more effective. Make it easy for your salespeople to classify their leads into meaningful sectors on the basis of their position in the sales cycle, their industry, their existing IT infrastructure, or whatever other criteria that works for them.

Lead Scoring

Having a lead scoring mechanism in place helps you prioritize your sales efforts. A lead scoring tool will grade your prospects based on multiple pre-defined parameters tied to their attributes and behavior. This will provide you with  an accurate score for your leads. It also ensures that you don’t spend your time on leads who are not yet ready to sign a contract with you.

Lead Nurturing

Help your salespeople stay in touch with other leads even as they focus on leads most likely to close. Invest in a sales enablement platform that has strong lead nurturing capabilities. It should also automate follow-ups and lead nurturing efforts so that they continue to happen even while your sales team is busy dealing with active, hot leads.

Personalization

Offer personalization tools that enable your sales teams to engage in high-level personalization that cuts across both print and digital communication channels and helps them build a strong personal relationship with every  prospect.

Collateral Creation

Give your salespeople complete control of their sales collateral by investing in a sales collateral creation tool. With a template-based approach to sales collateral creation, this convenient content management system will allow your sales team to make modifications to the final output using a built-in, pre-approved template. As a result, your sales team gains control over the sales materials without having to depend on marketing. At the same time, your corporate branding standards remain undisturbed.

Asset tracking and Analytics

Provide your salespeople with all the insight they need to know how their sales efforts are faring. Investing in a system that offers sales asset tracking and campaign analytics will help your sales team realize what sales pieces work and which ones don’t. Based on this knowledge, they can tweak their sales campaigns and assets for optimum performance.

Mobile Apps

Enable your salespeople to ‘go-mobile’ by offering on-demand access to their leads through any internet-enabled mobile device. It will alert them to key lead behavior such as newsletter sign-ups, appointment requests or whitepaper downloads so they can respond quickly even if they are away from their desk.

Sales Playbooks

Using sales playbooks, give your sales team all the information they need to have and share with prospects when making a sales call. That way neither  you nor they have to worry about saying the right thing at the right time. Nor will they have to spend time looking through the sales asset database for the right sales material. One-click access to the sales playbook can make your salespeople more efficient and effective.

CRM Integration

For your sales team, the CRM is an information bank about their leads and existing customers. Hence, make sure that any sales tool they  use integrates smoothly with the CRM that is already in place.

Social Media Integration

Social selling is fast catching up. However, building your brand on social media takes consistent effort. Your salespeople will find it challenging to make timely updates across all social media channels when they are busy juggling client meetings. Empower them by offering a social media automation tool so that they can be active on all social media channels, even as they are busy taking care of the more important stuff. Look for a social media automation tool that allows you to post relevant content across all major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Wordpress, Blogger, etc.




What prospects want today is a value-adding partner they can count on to provide the best possible purchase advice and assistance at the right time. And the Swiss Army Tool-kit for sales will help your salesperson make a smooth transition from being just another seller to a sophisticated sales advisor.

Interested in the Mindmatrix Sales Enablement  platform? You can visit our website here.


The Beginner's Guide to Blogging


Blogging doesn't come naturally to everyone. So if you think you don’t have what it takes, you can relax.

With nearly 40% of US companies using blogs for marketing purposes, it is safe to conclude that blogging is to business what cheese is to hamburger, what beer is to Superbowl, what controversy is to Miley Cyrus, what.. well, you get the picture. 

If you've been giving blogging the cold shoulder until now and wish to make peace with it, you need to read and follow this blog post right now.


What you will need for this exercise (in no particular order)

  1. A blogging platform- where else are you going to post it, right?

  1. Friends/ connections to share it with - how we wish search engines were generous enough to automatically list our blogs on the first page of search results for everyone to read! However, as long as that isn’t happening, we continue to share our blogs on social for maximum readership (AND search engine rankings, of course).

  1. Good eye for research - apart from a flair for writing (natural or developed), this is a must-have for any aspiring blogger. More on this later.

  1. Good intent - of course, everyone knows that blogging is a subtle form of advertising and the expected end result is ROI. However, this is no reason why you shouldn't be writing stuff that will benefit your audience in some way.  

  1. Sense of humor (it’s a bonus) - a sense of humor is like the garnish of grated cheese and red sauce on your spaghetti and meatballs. Just like the right garnishing  can tantalize your senses, a little dash of humor can make your blogs much more appetizing.










Generating a blog topic


  1. List posts: One of the first hurdles to blogging is generating the right topic. For starters I’d recommend you stick to list posts. Examples of lists post: 5 tips to turn leads into sales, 6 steps to master personalized selling,  etc. You could take a cue from Buzzfeed, which does an excellent job of making list posts.


  1. Depend on keywords: Blogs are usually written around keywords. Keywords are words that are often searched for by your audience. You can use any of the free keyword tools like Wordstream, Google keyword tool or the Bing keyword tool.


  1. Resort to social media hashtags/news feeds: I like to personally start my day with a healthy dollop of social media. Why? Because over time I have realized that the trendiest and most happening news and discussions happen first on social sites. I choose to follow people and influencers from my field which let me understand what the others are talking about. Oftentimes, these blogs serve as an inspiration for a new post.
  1. Newsjacking: Close on the lines of the previous point, newsjacking means to catch on to the most “trending” topic currently and using that as a base for your new post. Your trending topic may not necessarily be related to your industry, but with a little cleverness  you might find a way to relate the two.


  1. Something that you feel your prospects need but your company hasn’t covered yet? No matter how often your company blogs, there is the possibility that some general topic area has been missed. Find out what it is and get crackin’ on it.  


Creating an outline


  1. Feel free to write anything that comes to your mind when you first pick your topic.
If you are anything like me, then having your topic out of the way is like accomplishing the biggest hurdle in this whole process. Once you have that in place, feel free to jot down whatever you can think of related to that topic. You don’t need to focus in on any specific aspect of your topic yet, just jot down whatever strikes you. If you’re falling short of ideas,  have a random conversation with colleagues/friends/ family about the topic, you’ll be surprised by what you get.   


If I choose to write about Christmas and I sell Christmas decor, I’d probably choose a topic like “How to decorate your house for the holidays”
Possible general topics: which things to put up first, halloween decor, christmas ornament, decorative lightings, how to save time on decorating tree, wrapping gifts, funky sofa furniture covers, faux floral arrangements.   


  1. Create a flow
The points jotted above are a kickstart to your writing. The next step requires you to choose the ones that are most relevant to your topic and discard the ones that aren't. (Tip: Don’t discard all of them, some of them can be developed into a whole new post in the future). Arrange the points sequentially in order to keep a flow for your readers. Jot down every related topic randomly, arrange them in a sequence.


  1. Research
Make sure to do plenty of research when you start writing about anything, even if you are a subject matter expert. When you research, you are going to come across stuff that you may have missed or a point of view that you hadn’t known before. Another benefit that research offers  is adds greater depth to your content. Google is your best bet for researching purposes. However, depending on what you want to blog about, you can also access research articles and ebooks from Aberdeen, Forrester, Ezine Articles, google scholar, etc.  

The draft
Once you have got your topic, outline and research in place, you are done with most of the hard work.


Now you need to articulate your thoughts and connect the dots. This isn’t as hard as it seems.
You will often find that you have a lot on your mind, but when you write it down, it doesn’t make sense. Happens all the time. Yes, even to the best of bloggers. The only way to get out of it is to keep writing till you are satisfied with what’s on paper. Don’t be too hard on yourself the first few times (note: by first few times, I mean at least a few months till you actually start liking what you write).


Here are some tips to help you blog effectively. A common error that most bloggers do, is to publish the blog without proofreading it. By doing this, you could be committing the gravest error in the blogging world. You need to proofread your post at least twice, before you pass it on to a trusted friend or colleague to proofread it for you one last time. No one likes to read poor grammar with punctuation in the wrong place. This will only deflect attention from your messaging to your grammar.

The key to being a successful blogger is to stay consistent and being passionate about what you blog about.


“Successful blogging is not about one time hits. It’s about building a loyal following over time.” - David Aston


“If you want to continually grow your blog, you need to learn to blog on a consistent basis.”- Neil Patel

“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.” -Jason Calacanis