Sunday, April 30, 2017

4 Ways to Resonate with Millennials

The millennial generation is arguably the most important client base to current business owners. Millennials, the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, account for roughly 30% of all retail sales in the United States. This amounts to about $1.4 trillion annually; as a result, it is now imperative for business owners to understand and cater to millennial interests and concerns. Here are 4 ways to connect with a millennial client base and increase your appeal with this generation.

Social Trust

One of the most important considerations when trying to reach out to millennials is that many won’t trust you. That is, rather than trusting claims by a brand or conventional advertising, millennials are going to listen to their social circles. Roughly 89% of millennials trust family and friends over claims in advertisements, and around 84% don’t buy into traditional advertising at all. This is not to say that millennials are unreachable through advertising – marketers just need to amend their approach.

One way a brand can gain social trust among millennials is to advertise on social media. Advertisements that are similar in tone and presentation to user-generated content (content that millennials create and post on their friends’ social media), will be received my millennial consumers with trust and curiosity. If your advertisements appear to be naturally posted content rather than pop-up style ads, millennials will respond to your campaign and possibly even share your product within their circle of friends on other social media platforms.

Social Good

In addition to being trustworthy, socially responsible and moral behavior is also important to millennials. 61% of millennials are concerned for the future of the planet and feel personally responsible to make a difference. However, not all millennials feel capable of making a significant positive impact and believe that businesses should contribute to social good.

Numbers demonstrate that businesses that identify social issues and implement socially conscious solutions do well among millennial consumers. For example, a Detroit-area cleaning business tripled their earnings in 2 years, partly due to adopting a social mission and giving to charity. Other brands such as TOMS have taken on similar missions on a worldwide scale and have done very well as a result.

Working to improve an immediate issue is not the only way to demonstrate that your product is socially responsible. There are other social issues that are more perpetual or figurative, like body positivity and equal rights, that millennials care about as well. If your company can portray itself as a crusader or advocate for continued social good, millennials will respond.


When thinking about how to reach out to or connect with millennials, businesses cannot ignore the importance of smartphones and other smart devices. From dating to shopping, millennials rely on their smart devices like no other generation ever has: over 85% of millennials own smartphones and consider them necessities.

It’s estimated that millennials check these devices roughly 43 times a day, so mobile optimization and advertising are extremely important. If businesses want to connect with millennials through their smart devices, your ads need to be carefully curated and optimized to function on millennials’ various smart devices. If your content isn’t formatted correctly, millennials will not hesitate to overlook your ad or website.

If you’re an online retailer, the same can be said for ease of checkout and purchasing. Millennials won’t hesitate to make purchases with their phones, but millennials won’t use your service if the process is convoluted or overly time-consuming.


Millennials are always looking for their next great story or memory that they can share with their friends for months or years to come. As a result, focusing your brand on experiences is important to tap into this mentality. Advertisers should present their products as an experience to millennials to resonate with this generation.

A significant amount of millennial-focused content discusses taking trips and learning new things, among other experiential themes. Further, 78% of millennials are more inclined to engage with a brand if they have face-to-face interaction with it. This shows that companies should engage more in experiential marketing when targeting millennials.

Coca Cola, a brand with which millennials consistently engage, has successfully adopted this concept multiple times. Coke regularly associates their product with social interaction and events, which facilitates an “experience” for its millennial consumers.

It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t treat all millennials the same; there are cultural and other differences within the generation to pay attention to. However, by paying attention to certain themes and catering them to specific audiences, you can increase your brand visibility among this important generation.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How To Rock The Freelance Lifestyle (When You Have Real Responsibilities)

One of the great things about being a contractor and a writer is that I can work from wherever I want. If I want to travel up the coast, I can. If I want to even go abroad, I can. I am limited only to wifi - but I was never a big camper anyways.

If you’re like many Americans and find that you’re given lots of flex time, or have even started working from home consistently, you too can rock the freelance lifestyle. However, I won’t say that it doesn’t require some foresight and planning - especially if you own property, have a spouse or children, or are committed to any other responsibilities. But it can be done.

To be clear, I’m not specifically advocating that you travel if your lifestyle doesn’t allow it - in fact, quite the opposite. This post is written for anyone who works from home, most especially those who are contractors or have a large amount of autonomy in their workflow. There are certain things that are just, well, difference for us than for your normal office employee, and it's time to talk about it!

Here’s what you need to know to rock that freelance lifestyle without neglecting responsibilities or stressing out:

Invest In Social

No, I don’t mean social media - though that definitely is important as well for most businesses. As a freelancer, you have so many benefits that office workers don’t have, but there’s one thing that you miss out on that I find myself pining for an embarrassing amount: the office water cooler.

Whether literal or hypothetical, there’s a lot to be said for having guaranteed social time, every day, without having to have an “occasion” for it. Find what works for you - that may be a friend that lives nearby that you can chat with a few days a week, or striking up conversation with regulars in a local coffee shop (if you’re braver than me). The only wrong way to invest in your social life as a freelancer is to ignore it until you feel like you’re turning into a hobbit.

Outsource Maintenance

A big challenge for travelling or even spending several days away is staying on top of home maintenance. I’m a big proponent of outsourcing as much as I can, both at work and in my personal life - which is why I find reliable workers to help me when I want to spend some time away from my property.

Depending how long you’re gone, and how much real estate you own, this may be a simple cleaning crew to reduce some of the load on your spouse (especially if you have several children), all the way to a part time manager if you and your family will be gone for a few months.

Even if you aren’t planning on travelling much, outsourcing banal tasks will improve your quality of life immensely, especially if you’re a contractor. As most entrepreneurs know, some months will be slow, but some months will be so busy you feel like your head is spinning - so waking up to a clean home and your laundry all in order can help you celebrate those months as victorious, instead of just stressful.

Set A Schedule

The third and last piece of advice I’ll impart on you is that even though you don’t have to set a schedule, you really should. Believe me, I’ve gone through waking up whenever I feel like it, and going to bed whenever it's convenient, and it really loses its appeal after a month or so! Not only is it difficult to get quality sleep when you’re going to bed at a different time each night, but it’s hard to get focused in the morning when you don’t have a solid routine.

As you embark on your new lifestyle, keep tabs on how you’re feeling - and know that any reaction to your new habits is fine. It’s understandable to feel lonely, or disorganized or even chaotic at first - just make sure you address the problem head on. With a little planning, your life will be infinitely better than when you were tied to an office desk all day.

4 Ways To Be More Productive

As the lines between work and our personal lives become increasingly blurred, it’s easier to become overwhelmed with assignments and professional communications that never seem to end. If you’re comparing yourself to your star coworker or your role model and wondering how they get so much done in the amount of time it takes for you to just get your brain started that day, you’re not alone.

Whether you’re looking to go farther in your career or just make time for your hobby, up your game and get more done today with these 4 tips for increasing productivity:

Find The Music That Works For Your Brain

If you’re trying to work but find that the distractions of your home office, workplace or the internet (or, let’s be real, all of the above) are making it impossible, experiment with different kinds of music. It’s proven both by science and by my own personal life experience that the right sounds can help center you into a task, either by helping you drown out everything else, or set a rhythm your brain can latch onto that helps you work better.

Think Inside The Box

Keep falling flat on creative work? Whether you dub it “writer’s block” or have another name for it, it’s all the same - you can’t think of a new idea without lots and lots of effort. If this is holding back you work, consider if you really should be trying to think of something totally different, or if you can build on what you’ve done before.

There’s a significant body of proof that shows real creative ideas are almost always built on prior experiences and successes, instead of pulled out of thin air. Game of Thrones? Based on the real life Wars of the Roses (House Tyrell forever!), and seasoned with some traditional dragon lore. Cell phones? Inspired by the communicators in Star Trek decades prior.

When you reach into your mind, look for stepping stones that will lead you to the path of success, instead of trying to forge through a thicket of new territory with no direction.

Write Down All Of Your Tasks

You already have plenty to do - don’t make remembering it all one of them too! Writing down everything that needs to be done not only will help you keep track of what’s left, but it will also help you prioritize your list.

If you find that you have more than can realistically get done in a day, start ranking tasks in order of importance. What really needs to be done? What can wait until tomorrow? Even better, what can you delegate or nix entirely?

Writing it all down and ordering it will make even the most hectic schedules a bit more manageable.

Create Deadlines - And Keep Them

It’s really, really difficult to get something done if you don’t have a deadline. While this may not be a problem if you have too much to do, if there’s a project (especially a personal or optional one) you want to get done but keep putting off, maybe the problem is a lack of urgency. For most of us, there’s always some other small task that should get done beforehand, from cleaning the house to making your next doctor appointment to… the list goes on. Once you’re through all the little things? Man, you’re so tired you couldn’t even think of doing more!

If you’re struggling to be more productive, the key may just be being honest with yourself. From acknowledging you have too much on your plate and you need to ask for help, to forcing a deadline on yourself to accomplish a goal you’ve been procrastinating, the best thing you can likely do is question what’s really holding you back.