21 Secrets Behind Viral Infographics


It’s no secret that infographic marketing works…

90% of information that’s transmitted to our brains is visual. So it’s not surprising that publishers who use infographics generate more traffic, shares and backlinks than those who don’t.

But just because you can whip together an infographic from a cookie-cutter template builder doesn’t mean it will go viral…

So if you want to guarantee your next infographic drives the results you’re looking for then you need to check out these 21 tips that I put together with Brian Downard over at BD Ventures. It’s a look under the bonnet of what is behind creating those viral infographics.

21 Secrets for Creating Viral Infographics

(Note: Don’t miss the bonus resources at the end of this post where you can get Brian’s entire 20-point infographic checklist and a step-by-step infographic “teardown” video.)

1. Number In Title

Numbers work because they make a highly specific promise of what’s in store for the reader and it can even keep their attention for longer. Why?

Because peoples’ brains love numbers, lists and organization. In fact, research showed that headlines with numbers get 36% more clicks than those without. They also found that odd numbers can boost your click-through-rate by 20% or more!

2. Powerful Headline

Sadly, most people who read your headline never continue reading. On average, only 2 out of 10 people will continue reading past the headline.

That why an attention-grabbing headline that promises a benefit is crucial if you’re going to convince more people to read past the headline.

3. Eye-Catching Header Image

Like the cover of a book, or the featured image of a blog post, your infographic’s header image is a powerful tool for grabbing and holding reader attention long enough to convince them your content is worth reading.

Content with relevant images even get 94% more views than content without.

4. Attention Grabbing Intro

Great, if you can get readers this far, most of the hard work is done! Now it’s your opportunity to hook them and set the tone for the rest of the infographic.

It’s smart to avoid using generalized questions for your introduction and go with something more specific like a rhetorical question, statistic, quote or quick story.

5. Simple Color Combination

I often say the most subtle, yet most important element of a creative project is the color combination. It’s subtle because when you get it “right” people will barely notice. It’s almost like they subconsciously expect brands to use appealing colors without considering how difficult that can be.

That being said, it’s very easy to get the colors wrong, and that’s when it becomes obvious. So my advice is to keep your infographic simple with soft background colors and then 1 or 2 “flat” colors that you can use different shades of for your primary palette. Check out a tool like Adobe Color so you can build a pallet around any color you’d like.

6. Easy To Read Typography

The first thing you should do is avoid fancy or intricate fonts… After you resize the infographic to a “web-friendly” size, fancy fonts can be extremely difficult to read.

Instead, stick with easy-to-read fonts like Arial, Open Sans, Courier and Verdana. Make sure that you’re not using any fonts below 16 pts as it becomes extremely difficult to read once you resize your infographic.

7. Numbered Navigation

Don’t let your readers get lost. Keep them on track by numbering each step or section of your infographic. This will help maximize the “flow” of your infographic and keep your readers engaged longer.

8. Quick Wins

For better or worse, technology has conditioned us to want things NOW. That why when you can make your infographic immediately gratifying and super practical your chances of going viral increase by 34%.

9. Distinct Sections

As discussed in tip #1 people love numbers and lists. Infographics are the perfect medium to cater to that desire. By creating distinct sections you’ll hold reader attention longer and keep them “oriented” while reading your content.

The best way to create these sections is by using different background colors and borders/dividers to break up content and increase scanability.

10. Features Influencers

Influencer marketing is word-of-mouth marketing at scale. When you mention or team up with social media influencers, brands, etc. you increase the chances that person will share your infographic with their fans.

11. Uses Data and Quotes

It’s important to incorporate 3rd-party proof to back up your argument and increase your credibility. This kind of external validation assures readers that you actually know what you’re talking about and that you’re someone who can speak with authority on that topic.

12. Visualizations

As the saying goes: “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” That’s why every successful infographic uses strong visual elements to bring words to life by “showing” not “telling” readers.

Charts, icons, illustrations, data visualizations, etc. are all ways you can get your point across faster and more effectively. But if you’re not a natural designer, I recommend checking out creative community markets online where you can purchase high-quality design assets for your infographics.

13. Logo and Branding

An important yet overlooked aspect of most infographics is the “Brought to you by…” section. This is where you get to add in your logo, website address and even a quick call-to-action if you want.

That way when your infographic is shared across the web you’re increasing brand awareness and getting the credit (and backlinks) you deserve from the people who share it.

14. Cited Resources

Unlike a blog post, people can’t click on individual links on an infographic because it’s a static image. That’s why it’s smart to include a section at the end of your graphic that clearly lists the URLs to articles and resources you cited in your infographic. Like tip #10, this gives you another great group of people to reach out and share the final infographic with.

15. Easy To Scan

Above all else, the most important part of your infographic should be that it’s easy to scan… Too many people end up focusing on fancy design elements instead of easy to read layouts.

The “design” is how your information looks. But the “layout” is how your information is organized and presented which is far more important.

In fact, content that’s easy to scan increases readability by 57%.

16. Basic SEO

Infographics make great tools for ranking your content on the first page of Google.

By simply targeting and optimizing for a specific keyword, you significantly increase the chances of getting your content picked up and ranked by Google which means continuous, free traffic to your website.

17. Loads Fast

It might sounds crazy but 47% of people expect a website page to load in 2 seconds or less. Even crazier is that 40% of people say they abandon websites that take longer than 3 seconds to load! Your infographic is no different.

That’s why you need to double-check that you’ve reduced the width of your infographic to 700-900 pixels wide and optimize it for fast loading the web using Photoshop or an online tool.

18. The “5:9 Rule”

Research shows that infographics which are 9X longer than they are wide receive more shares. That’s why effective infographics strike the right balance between long and short.

If your infographic is too long, try reducing the number of data points. Also limit yourself to highlighting only the best content.

19. Super Easy To Share

This is an obvious one. But if your infographic is difficult to share, then it’s going to be impossible for you to go viral. Use tools like social sharing plugins, “click tweet” links, Pinterest “Pin-It” buttons and custom calls-to-action.

These all make it easier for people to share your infographic with the world.

20. Content Communities

Some of the most underutilized places to share infographics online are content communities. Websites like Reddit, SlideShare and infographic directories.

These communities are the perfect place to get your infographic discovered by people who might want to share it on their website. There are dozens of these directories though… So instead of manually doing each one by yourself I recommend using Fivver to pay someone to do it for you.

21. Personal Outreach Emails

If you only take one thing from this post it should be this tip. Even if you have the best infographic in the world, if you can’t get it to the people who have the power to share with the masses, no one will ever see it.

Start with people who shared your content in the past and move onto relevant influencers and bloggers. Don’t forget the people you mentioned, quoted or cited in your infographic!

Need more help? Here are few bonuses to guide you along.

I want to make it ridiculously easy for you to create a viral infographic so I’m giving you several bonus resources to help:

First, Brian put together a PDF “swipe file” with his entire 20-step infographic creation checklist.

Second, there’s a “teardown” video where you can watch Brian reverse engineer an infographic (backstage pass to making a viral infographic)

To get both resources, enter the bonus area by signing up here.

Tell-Tale Signs You Aren’t Ready to Manage Yet


Small businesses don’t grow by themselves. Of course, that’s why you’re expanding. But stepping up to a management role requires a new and unique set of abilities.

Sheer determination will only take you so far. For this next phase of growth, exceptional communication and an intuitive ability to respond to difficult situations are needed. A manager is not only responsible for their personal growth, but the triumphs and failures of the wider team.

This can be a huge milestone for your business and an exciting opportunity to demonstrate leadership. So, are you ready to step up? And what if you aren’t, then what should you do? If you struggle with your confidence or are unable to manage your workflow, then maybe it’s best to hold off.

This isn’t a failure on you, just another part of your career journey. In the long run, it can be better to take the extra time to train yourself to lead a team, before you take the plunge. Check out the 5 key signs that indicate you should hold off on an expansion for now.

Do You Question Yourself?

Managing a small business is risky. It’s normal to have moments of self-doubt, but if you spend most of your time criticizing and negatively reviewing your work then it could suggest a much larger problem.

As a team leader, you need to be positive and approachable. If your coworkers have a serious question, chances are they’ll look to you for an answer. While no professional can claim to know everything about a business, large gaps in your ability to deliver a confident answer will not inspire enthusiasm.

Individuals (more so than ever in startups) need to rely on each other and bounce off each other’s ideas. You will need to lead this open communication by example. If you question your ability to carry out tasks often, then it might be time to step back and review if you’re ready to manage.

Can You Be A Team Player?

Your business is your everything. How will you handle it when you need to share? Ambition is a fantastic attribute. It is what sets apart the good from the truly great, but like all things should be balanced. Your drive to succeed should never negatively impact another employee. Individual triumphs will mean less in the bigger picture if your entire team fails by comparison.

Often, leadership is described as a display of strength which is true. But behind every effective leader is a broad network of individuals working to achieve a common goal. Without this united support base, it is difficult for any business to thrive. If you are still too focused on your own career to take responsibility for others, you need to acknowledge this.

Do You Know Enough?

Questioning your own ability is a bad habit. Knowing very little about people management? Even worse. Best practice is to not walk into the situation blindly. Skill gaps and misunderstanding in the workforce is a prevalent problem, as education backgrounds continue to vary.

In this case, knowledge is power. Understand your role, business structure and brand pillars inside and out before you start recruiting as manager. This will boost your confidence and shape your professional character for an effective, trustworthy leader.

Adult learning is integral to career growth. Enrolling in adult education courses is a simple method to expand your knowledge and management style in a friendly environment. Adult education offers the chance to learn everything from project management to people skills. Cultivating an open mind is a great step for you—and will attract the right people to your business.

Do You Love What You Do?

I pour my passion and commitment into my job. I work longer hours and am willing to take on the extra responsibility because I love what I do. Getting through hard times requires vision and determination, so if this doesn’t sound like you, it might be time to adjust your career pathway first.

Small businesses are built on the dedication and ideas of their owners. If you can’t achieve a sense of pride and belonging at your job, how could an employee? This is a lesson that every manager will need to learn before agreeing to a higher level of responsibility and commitment.

Do You Have Enough Time?

Work life balance isn’t always split half and half. It will mean something different to every professional. I might be happy to spend the weekend buried in spreadsheets, but if my coworkers prefer to spend time at their hobbies, should I be understanding of this?

Similarly, if you don’t have the time to recruit, train and retain your employees then maybe it’s best to step back from the recruitment process for now. The primary role of a manager is to guide, instruct and manage the employees of the business.

No decision is set in stone here. But giving up even more time could encourage you to resent your job or force an unwanted compromise. Stepping up to manage a small business is a tough gig. Challenging, new and like most things in life, it needs to come at the right time for you.

Author: Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning, she is passionate about adult and lifelong learning. She has designed, developed and authored many workplace leadership and training programs, both in Australia and overseas.

Small Biz Interviews: Cannonball Productions


As the adage goes: when one door closes, another opens. Kate Levenstien was laid off from her job at LivingSocial and was thinking on offers from various other companies. It turned out to be an auspicious moment in her career. She started Cannonball Productions having recognized a gap in the market while at LivingSocial, and since 2013 has been creating signature food and beverage festivals such as the Bacon and Beer Classic, which sells out crowds across the country.

The food and beverage industry is tough, but Levenstien and the team at Cannonball Productions has been scaling a model of festivals and private events across the country. Using local expertise and intensive research to determine vendors, Cannonball organizes thematic festivals with leading chefs, brewmasters, and others. The team does nearly everything in house—from concept to event planning to production to creative. It’s an intense workload, but the benefits are aplenty if you have the right team in place.

It also helps to have a strong concept. The Bacon and Beer Classic isn’t so simple as adding bacon to every dish and pairing it with a good brew: the vendors chosen have a craft approach to their food and drink, creating bacon-inspired dishes both subtly and explicitly. As Levenstien illustrates below, there’s also a strong commitment to food recovery programs to make sure that uneaten food doesn’t go to waste.

We talked to Levenstien about the process of starting up, the challenges they face then and now, and the ways that digital technology figure into Cannonball’s model of event production.


BOND STREET: How did Cannonball Productions get its start?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: It got started because I was laid off from LivingSocial. I used to run their live events team and they realized it wasn’t their area of expertise. They wanted to focus on what they did well, which was daily deals. There was about 30 of us on the team, and they started to get rid of the entire division. I really enjoyed what I was doing there and I think I was doing it pretty well. When I started looking for other jobs, there was nothing like it. There was a couple of companies that wanted to hire me full-time to run their events and festivals, but I decided to start Cannonball, and I actually took some of those companies on as clients.

BOND STREET: How did your time at LivingSocial influence your concept?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: I had just pitched a bacon and beer festival to LivingSocial, and they were very open to trying out new events but wanted me to prove it, so they asked me to put together a P&L and competitive analysis about such festivals across the country. A week later is when they decided to close the division. So, I had done all this research and I just knew that there was something there.


BOND STREET: Why the name Cannonball Productions?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: I like the idea that it was playful yet impactful. It indicated taking a risk and jumping in, trying something different. But also, the cannonball as a piece of weaponry is pretty powerful. I like the yin and yang of it: how it means to be free and creative but also strong and serious.

BOND STREET: The Bacon and Beer Festival is your cornerstone event—what other events do you do?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: All of our events are food and beverage focused. The Bacon and Beer Classic is what got us started, and we’ve had the opportunity to run it in different markets and venues across the country. After that we really wanted to diversify the type of events that we were putting on, so we’re currently launching a new festival series called Whiskey Fried Classic. It’s obviously a play on whiskey and fried foods, but it’s more of a backyard picnic BBQ vibe with whiskey inspired comfort food. Beyond that, there’s alcohol infused watermelon, corn on the cob, oysters and chicken. We also do an event called Lions, Tigers and Brews, which we’ve done at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and the Central Park Zoo in New York. We’re launching a few other events in the Fall as well. We also host dinners for our different clients, such as food summits and private parties.

BOND STREET: What was the biggest business challenge when you were first starting up?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: I can give you two. Cashflow was probably the biggest concern, especially in the first and second year. It was constantly on our minds. The second thing that I wasn’t expecting was HR. Figuring out recruiting and hiring: when is the right time to hire, who should it be and how you find that person. It’s hard when you’re a 1 or 2 person company to find and recruit the right people and pay them what they need to be paid. It’ll always be an issue as long as we’re growing, but it’s become more of a fun challenge, one that we’re excited about instead of being worried about. We’ve got a constant flow of candidates now too, which helps.

BOND STREET: Do you hire temp workers for the events?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: Sometimes. At first we were flying our whole team out to every festival to run it. We learned that it takes a lot of time and people get tired, and it’s hard to do back-to-back weekends. We started this year to hire local staff in addition to some of our core staff, they help with things like vendor load in and other tasks.

BOND STREET: And you do everything else in-house, right?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: Yea, we try to since it makes things easier. As a team our number one word is flexibility, being this young as a company. Not having a lot of clients to answer to means we can make and implement our own decisions and run with them.

BOND STREET: What are the positives of such an end-to-end business, by handling everything from planning to production to creative?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: The pros include the fact that it’s cost effective to keep it in house. It helps to keep things tight in terms of the brand and marketing. From an experimental side, we’re constantly testing our marketing tactics, whether it’s test emails or two different websites to test engagement. It helps to keep everything moving quickly and efficiently. The only thing we outsource is press, and we do this because we don’t need someone doing it full time. Also, it helps to have press people in local markets who have media contacts. It’s about having the right team in place who can handle the challenges.


BOND STREET: How did you raise the initial startup capital?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: We’ve never taken any outside investment. We feel very fortunate for this. We started doing fun day trips—winery tours and river trips for people who live in Downtown Chicago—when we first started in 2013. That allowed us to have the cash flow that was needed to secure a venue for the Bacon and Beer Festival, and from there we were able to leverage ticket sale revenues as cash flow. The venue that we worked with initially was CenturyLink Field in Seattle and Citi Field in New York. They were really good partners, and were very understanding of our payment schedule needs, how we needed to pay closer to the event, once the tickets were sold.

BOND STREET: You’re New York based, but have a lot of Chicago programming. How do the two markets differ in terms of events and customers?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: I used to live in Chicago when I ran the LivingSocial division, so I had developed a lot of contacts for events there. I also worked with a lot vendors there, so there were all these pre-existing relationships. It was a very good turnkey solution to get off the ground quickly. In terms of the customers, all of the markets we go to have a great base of people who are young and who want to get out and try new things, who love food and drink, and who want to get to meet their favorite chefs and brewmasters. Across all our events, they look and feel very similar—there’s continuity across the festivals, but at the same time one of our biggest pillars is the local community.

BOND STREET: How about the vendors that you work with?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: All of the food is sourced locally, all of the chefs are local, and the beer is local or regional, and craft. It does feel different and taste different since each chef puts their special spin on each dish. We also always work with a local nonprofit, hire local musicians to perform, and work with local vendors for things like photobooths. We really try to support the local community in that way. It makes our jobs a little harder because it means starting from scratch in each new city, but we strongly believe in supporting local communities.


BOND STREET: Who are some of the nonprofit partners you’ve worked with to develop events?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: Charity is very important to us. We’ve worked with Citymeals On Wheels and City Harvest here in New York. We also always work with a food recovery program because we never want any of the food to go to waste after an event is over. I used to work in the restaurant industry when I was younger, and after a private event or dinner and seeing all that food get thrown away sent chills down my body. It made me angry and I felt that so many people across America would do so much to have that for dinner. Last year we donated over 4,600 pounds of food. The chefs are great about this too—sometimes they’ll bring extra food for donation. We’ve also worked with different foundations for various causes in each market.

BOND STREET: What’s your most effective marketing channel?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: Social media is number one. We have a pretty large social media following, about 50,000 followers of the Bacon and Beer Classic Facebook page, and about 18,000 followers on the Instagram. That’s a significant way we target and communicate with our fans. In any new market we usually work with 3rd party marketing platforms, like LivingSocial, to help expose the events to a more mass audience. We also have a pretty substantial email list in every city that we operate in. Sometimes it’s relationship driven, but we realize that our partners have a lot of other things going on, so we’re not dependent on the restaurants and the breweries to help us get the word out, though they definitely help to do this.

BOND STREET: What’s the biggest business challenge that you face today?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: Saying no is really challenging, even though that sounds ridiculous. It’s important to stay focused and not spread ourselves too thin, and continue to grow and hire and scale while trying out new events. We’re kind of back to square one with these new festivals that we’ve got coming up, so that can be difficult. But I would call them opportunities, and that’s why it’s difficult to say no. I think there’s also the consistent challenge of just looking at our bottom line and trying to figure out how to lower costs, and how to increase media sponsorships.

BOND STREET: How do you use digital technology in your event planning and marketing?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: We have a mobile app for the Bacon and Beer Classic and will have one eventually for all of our festivals. We’re re-launching it in the next few months with updates for a better customer experience. It’s a really great way to showcase sponsors and vendors and to have people vote for their favorite dish or beer. We always use the jumbotrons at big stadiums, where we show real time tweets and Instagrams or real time voting on favorite dishes. We also use it to show announcements about getting certain dishes before they’re all gone.

BOND STREET: What’s the process of selecting vendors?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: It’s daunting working in outside cities since we’re not local to that market. We depend on our audience to let us know which restaurants they want to have at the festival. We’re constantly reaching out to local attendees and asking “Who did we miss?” There’s also obviously a lot of research that we do online with Yelp and different local media. During the festival, we actually send local judges who are authorities in their market and have them vote on their favorite dish, and we send that vendor to the World Food Championship. It’s a great experience for vendors to compete in a little friendly competition. This leads to a lot of opportunities for exposure too for those who win.

BOND STREET: Do you have a 5-year plan for Cannonball Productions? How do you plan to scale up the business?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: Our goal right now is to diversify. There’s a hole in the food and beverage industry; there are many pop-ups and one-offs, but there aren’t many companies that do numerous events across the country the way that Cannonball does. Part of our 5-year plan is to take some of these events overseas and to continue to grow different festivals in the food and bev industry. Last year I didn’t want a team over 6 people, and now we have 14! Which is a good thing, so who knows what it will be like in 5 years.

BOND STREET: What’s the best part of running your own business?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: Getting to decide what to work on and who to work with is the best part. Seeing your team grow and mentoring one another is really fun for us. Everyone who works for us has a voice in the company and helps to determine the culture of the company.


BOND STREET: What’s one book every entrepreneur should read?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

BOND STREET: What’s one brand that your admire?

KATE LEVENSTIEN: TOMS®                                                                                                                    

BOND STREET: What are your favorite independent businesses in NYC or Chicago?


  1. theSkimm
  2. Splash
  3. ClassPass
  4. Trunk Club
  5. Warby Parker

The True Cost of Small Business Mobile App Development


There are 258 million people glued to their mobile devices for approximately 174 minutes each day. To an entrepreneur, that’s a math problem that yields a profit potential of, well, a lot. To a business owner that means close to 750 million hours of marketing time is available each day if you can break into the mobile market.

To put things in simple terms, there’s no doubt that your company needs to begin to develop its mobile presence. And the channel it needs to use to grow that mobile presence is a mobile app.

To small business owners, a shoestring budget is the reason that mobile channels are not being tapped. But, in an age when technology is changing faster than the weather, there’s always an affordable solution. In the infographic below we go over the true costs of developing a mobile app for your small business.


andrew-gazdeckiAuthor: Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps—we make mobile apps affordable and simple for small businesses. We’re a do-it-yourself iPhone, iPad, Android & HTML5 app platform that allows any small business to simultaneously create, edit, and manage mobile apps without any programming knowledge needed. Think of us as “WordPress for mobile app creation.” Many of our customers are marketing or design agencies that use our platform to cost effectively build mobile apps for small business clients.

Is Cold Calling Contrary to Being a Go-Giver?


A reader recently emailed me the following:

“Hi Bob, I love being in sales and want to make a difference. The company I just started working for is very focused on cold calling, and closing on the first appointment, which seems contrary to the approach in your and John’s book? I love this company but how do I reconcile this with the Go-Giver principles?”

My response:

Actually, cold-calling is a very legitimate part of sales. It’s certainly not as productive (or fun!) as when you have tons of referred prospects who are predisposed to buy from you. However, when there’s no other way to obtain these qualified prospects other than through cold-calling then that is the way to go. There’s certainly nothing inherently “contra Go-Giver” by doing so; not if what you’re selling is adding significant value to them.

Regarding a one-call close, the same principle applies. Remember, a sale, whether one-call or multi-call is a matter of communicating value to your prospect in such a way that they understand that they are receiving more in use value than what they are paying. When that’s the case they will buy from you whether it’s one call or after many calls.

At the same time, if they never feel they are receiving sufficient value in exchange for what they are paying, they will never do business with you, again, number of calls aside.

Some businesses lend themselves to a one-call close. {Note: the questioner’s business falls into this category.} Others do not, and to try and force that would be counter-productive, manipulative, and sale-focused as opposed to customer-focused.

Understand that with a one-call close type of business you’re going to have to — within that call — establish the know, like, and trust feelings as well as ask the right questions in order to successfully discover what they are looking to accomplish. Then, assuming they understand how the benefits of your product or service can fulfill their wants, needs and desires, they will take ownership.

The Go-Giver framework is all about focusing on bringing value to others. Do that effectively and you will prosper greatly in your business, regardless of how you find your customers and how many calls or visits before the sale occurs.

How to Land Big-Name Contracts (Regardless of Your Company Size)


The secret to landing big contracts isn’t deeper pockets or more manpower—it’s getting prospects to trust you. Understanding this fact has not only helped our startup marketing company land on the Inc. 5000 list, but it has helped the roughly 2,000 small businesses we’ve coached to compete with the world’s largest financial institutions. Based on our experience, here are six ways you can jump-start your credibility.

Pay Attention to Branding

Branding lends an air of credibility and professionalism to any company. Small businesses can implement a successful branding strategy from the outset by ensuring that all visual assets, such as company colors and logos, are complementary and present across all marketing communications. I suggest working with an experienced web or graphic designer who can help you achieve a consistent look. Social media profiles, in particular, should be custom tailored to match your professional website. To date, our design department has rebranded over 230 separate companies, and in every case, there has been a measurable increase in their lead volume as a result.

Apart from consistency in design, large companies understand the importance of using a specific tone in all marketing copy. With a bit of research, small businesses can adopt this practice just as effectively. Whether your company’s tone is hip, informative, corporate, or otherwise will be dictated by your target demographic and the language they speak.

Partner With Established Businesses

One of the greatest advantages large companies have over small businesses is longevity. Fortunately, late bloomers don’t have to be left in the dust—they can borrow some of this credibility by teaming up with businesses that have already earned the trust of customers.

It’s not necessary to enter into partnerships that are long-term or legally complicated. Instead, focus on targeting established companies that complement your product line and offer to promote their products or services in exchange for an endorsement.

Besides cross-promotion, other partnership opportunities exist, particularly online. For instance, it’s common for influencers to team up and publish an opinion post or a special report on a trending issue. These posts have a tendency to go viral, and everyone involved benefits from the publicity.

Alternately, you can form partnerships with trusted nonprofits by volunteering services or helping to raise funds for community initiatives.

Pitch Prospective Clients Like an Expert

Larger companies are often jacks of all trades, masters of none. Small businesses can exploit this by specializing in underrepresented segments of the industry and using that as an angle when pitching clients.

Another pitching strategy is offering extras. The key to making the right offer is to do your research beforehand. In particular, look for areas where your prospect is weaker than their competition, and approach them with tactful suggestions for improvement. Then, follow through by offering an easy solution, such as a free consultation. One of the ways we’ve done this is by giving prospects a copy of our free “website report card” that shows where their online presence is both strong and weak. The sum of these parts is tallied into a grade of A, B, C or D, and presented to the prospect in a way that shows how we can help them.

If all else fails, it’s relatively inexpensive to produce and offer an industry report that can be used as leverage when pitching clients.

Focus on Getting Quality Testimonials

If you’re a small business or are starting a new venture, landing your first significant contract can seem like a catch-22. To persuade clients to work with you, they want proof that you can deliver. The most valuable kind of proof comes in the form of video or written testimonials from trusted businesses. The video testimonial section of our website is one of our most visited pages.

New businesses can bypass the slow grind and quickly build up a slew of testimonials by offering prospects a bargain so good they’d be foolish to turn it down. For instance, you might offer a fully featured trial version of your product or service in exchange for a favorable review. And don’t forget to offer a rewards program for clients who refer your services.

Use Trust Signals

Your company website is often your first point of contact with potential clients. To earn their trust, transparency—much more so than slick web design—is crucial.

Here are a few simple ways you can put visitors to your website at ease:

  • Obtain SSL encryption for pages that require users to fill out a form.
  • Optimize your site for speed and easy navigation.
  • Hire a professional copyeditor to polish all site content.
  • Include a complete privacy policy.

The more detailed and up to date your contact information, the better. Besides a web contact form, include a toll-free number and information about office hours and estimated response times. If you run a location-independent operation such as an e-commerce store, get a virtual office address. Use departmentalized email addresses for maximum professionalism.

On the About Us page, include clear headshots of each team member along with a brief bio detailing any relevant credentials or experience. In our case, the investment we made in professional photography has paid rich dividends. We now feature our staff photos on our homepage, in email signatures and in the place of overused stock photos. This has allowed us to humanize our online company, and our members have expressed that they feel connected to us even though we haven’t met in person.

Finally, consider adding a short video clip or animation to your homepage that describes how your product or service works. Professionally edited videos can be outsourced for relatively cheap, and this is a great way to add a large-company vibe to your website. As soon as we added a video like this, our conversion rate increased 34 percent.

Maintain a Great Digital Reputation

Whether most of your business transactions happen online or offline, one of the top indicators of your company’s credibility is its presence on the web, and particularly its position in search. Commit to reinforcing your company’s image on the web with the following game plan:

  • Make SEO a priority. Keep Googlebot coming back to your site by adding a newsfeed that keeps the public abreast of recent developments in your company, such as contracts you’ve landed.
  • Maintain a daily presence on major social media channels.
  • Become a regular contributor to online and trade publications. Regularly pitch editors with valuable content that demonstrates your expertise to your target market.

Remember, without the budget or staff that large businesses possess, credibility becomes your most valuable asset, so don’t neglect to flaunt it at every opportunity.

Author: Robert Sofia is a best-selling author, award-winning public speaker, and financial industry marketing entrepreneur. His tactics and strategies are used by thousands of financial institutions nationwide including INC 5,000 and Fortune 500® companies. Robert’s work has been featured in dozens of national publications and financial industry journals, and he has keynoted conferences for world-renowned companies including Ford Motor, Adobe, TD Ameritrade, Prudential and many more. 

7 Core Website Ingredients You Should Never Mess Up


Building a website that is able to drive visitor engagement, lead generation and conversions isn’t easy these days. Blame it on the number of sites that are competing against each other to get a slice of attention from their target audience. According to Internet Live Stats, there are 1,063,766,000 websites online right now; that is right now when I am writing this post. This figure will increase dramatically by the time you get down to reading this post.

This figure gives you a sense of perspective about the challenges involved in making a website, and not just a website but a successful site. Irrespective of your business niche, you are going to have a tough time attracting the attention of your target audience with your website. This is why you need to get your website setup absolutely right. There are no half chances here.

There are certain things about your site that are you just cannot afford to mess up. Do that and you will have failure on your hands, but get these ‘ingredients’ right and your website’s chances of making a mark go up considerably.

Let’s take a look at 7 such ingredients:

1. Usability

Usability essentially means keeping the users’ needs in mind while designing a site. What you are essentially doing is making design decisions driven by user expectations. A usable website:

  • Enables users to achieve their goals on your site.
  • Makes browsing an enjoyable experience.
  • Ensures website recall.
  • Drives repeat visits.
  • Increases word of mouth of your site and improves its chances of going viral.

Usability directly impacts the ability of the site to engage visitors and acts as conversion catalyst. In order to come up with user-driven design, you first need to understand who your potential visitors are, what do they want, what will they appreciate on your site and what will make them want to spend more time on your site. Once you get your target audience sorted out, planning and implementing ‘usability’ into your web design will be much easier.

Examples of sites with amazing usability:




2. Color Scheme

Choosing the right color scheme for your website is both an art and science. Yes, you must choose a set of colors that look good but you should also check whether they are aligned with the core messaging of your site and will drive the actions of your visitors.

This graphic by Kissmetrics makes for interesting reading to get an idea about gender based color preferences. It offers some interesting insights including:

  • Men don’t like Brown; women don’t like Orange.
  • Men like bright colors; women like soft colors.
  • Men prefer shades; women prefer tints.

There are some other facts regarding colors that are quite interesting too:

  • Blue symbolizes trust, credibility, and stability.
  • Green symbolizes growth.
  • Yellow symbolizes energy.
  • Red reflects strength and war.

(Source: Color Wheel Pro)

The colors you use on your site have a huge psychological impact on visitors; although they don’t realize it, many of the emotions they are feeling when they visit the site result from the color scheme used. If you don’t use colors to your advantage, you are missing out on capitalizing an important element that can drive website conversions.

The next time you visit a site you know is successful, take a good look at its color scheme. You will realize that the color scheme in itself acts as a call-to-action.

3. Textual Content

There is one thing common amongst all effective website content – It is persuasive. Great website content persuades people to know more about the site and increases the time spent on the site. It is also direct, self-explanatory, easy to read and accurate. It’s important you don’t try tricks with textual content on your site. Web users behave like animals (when they forage for food) when they are foraging for information. The site/source offering the information they need quickly and easily is chosen over sites that make it difficult to get information.

So, in order to make your website’s textual messaging instantly appealing to visitors, make sure:

  • You use short paragraphs.
  • Write in easy to understand English – Don’t use difficult words.
  • Ensure messaging is direct and in the active voice.
  • Don’t repeat the same point again and again.
  • Use short sentences.

A few examples of content heavy sites that excellently weave content into their designs:



4. Images

Most successful websites have great imagery. There is a real effort to ensure that the images are of very high quality, unique, impressive and relevant. What’s more, the images are used to enhance the brand message. If you don’t choose the right images, your website will suffer from the engagement point of view and will look boring. Nobody likes a site that uses common imagery that visitors will find across many other websites on the internet.

The key here is budget. You need to factor in a specific budget to buy exclusive images or hire a photographer to shoot the kind of images you want. I know this sounds difficult and there are businesses who can’t invest a lot of money to create a website, but the importance of images necessitates some monetary investment. The use of right images on your site can improve conversions, isn’t that the primary objective of your site?

A few examples of websites that have used images the way they must be used:




5. Call- to-Action Buttons

Another important ingredient of a successful website is an effective call-to-action button. Strategic call-to-action buttons (CTAs) are cardinally important for a website as they drive lead generation and increase conversions. Imagine the number of times you have actually filled in a website signup form without realizing that it was the CTA that was the cause of your action.

Effective CTAs have actionable content, the right color, large text that is easy to read, are easily visible and have a sense of urgency. If your website’s CTAs are a coming together of these qualities, they won’t fail. There is something else you need to keep in mind. Don’t pack a web page with multiple CTAs; less is always more when it comes to such buttons. More buttons will just confuse the visitor, so keep it pretty straightforward. Also, while you can get creative with your buttons, it’s imperative you don’t go overboard with your creativity. Visitors aren’t looking for creativity when it comes to CTAs; all they want is that these buttons are woven seamlessly into the website setup.

A few examples of great CTAs:




6. Visual Harmony

Unity and consistency are the hallmarks of all great web designs. There should be harmony between all the elements on a website, which means they should all work together to achieve website goals. What you are essentially doing is ensuring that each ‘ingredient’ mentioned in this article is supporting the other and working together towards a common goal. There is one clear message delivered to website visitors, which essentially means they know what to do, where to go and what to understand on your site.

If there is no visual harmony on your site, it will look like all elements are placed in a haphazard manner. This gives an indication that there wasn’t a lot of thought given to the website’s creation, which can be taken as an insult by your website’s audience.

7. Sense of purpose

This is an extension of the earlier point. Your website should have a clear sense of purpose meaning it must be clear about the message it wants to deliver. Therefore, before thinking about building a website, think about why you want to build a website and what you hope to achieve. Once you answer these questions, you will have a clear idea about how you want to make the website and the core ingredients you wish to use.


The whole idea is to give the website building process enough time to ensure you get your website absolutely right. Don’t rush it All good things take their time and so does a website. This way you can guarantee that all the ingredients mentioned here, do their job perfectly on your site and deliver high ROI.

Author: Aigars Silkalns is CEO and founder of Colorlib, a company that develops website templates, WordPress themes and is behind several best-selling products. He has been in web development for 3 years and internet marketing for 7+ years, and that’s just the beginning.

Be a Winner of “The Waiting Game”


A recent family illness sent me to a place where I haven’t been in a while—a doctor’s office waiting room. There I was grouped with many people sitting and patiently waiting their turn to be seen by the physician.

Such a situation gives you plenty of time to think about where else might people be waiting and what can be done to make their waiting time more comfortable.

If you’re a small business where customers—or patients—find themselves waiting for you, here are some suggestions to make things more pleasant as they pass the time.

  • A comfortable environment. Please don’t blast the air conditioner in the summer or fire up the furnace in the winter. Be sure to keep a watch on the thermostat, no matter what the season.
  • Simple comforts. Our doctor’s office offers a water cooler and a self-serve coffee machine. No need to overextend yourself; just keep things refreshed and surfaces clean.
  • Speaking of which… Clean facilities. A frequently-monitored and cleaned restroom is always appreciated.
  • Cheerful surroundings. A new coat of paint brightens every room – waiting or otherwise. If you have simple paintings or photos on the wall, even better for visual stimulation. One doctor’s office even had a flat screen TV spotlighting scenic views of the United States.
  • Background music. Upbeat and cheerful is the way to go, but be mindful if you cater to an older generation. And please, don’t crank up the volume.

It’s really quite simple: Just a few touches can make your waiting room or area popular with those who visit your establishment. And, since waiting is often the hardest part, comfort is key.

Eye of the Needle? Why to Worry Over Your Bottlenecks


Think for a minute whether there is any process or person that could be classed as the eye of the needle in your organization.  Is there anything, process or person, that stalls the flow of work from start to finish?

A CEO once told me that she was ‘the eye of the needle’ in her organization, purposely controlling quality of service and making sure all of her direct reports let her know of each decision and action they undertook. Her intentions were pure and admirable. She wanted only the highest quality for her organizational reputation.

But the unintentional effect was that she inserted herself into every process as the bottleneck that actually defeated her goal of making her organization a model of efficiency and quality. Such behavior removes individual incentive to innovate, and lessens the chance that her direct reports will grow through learning to manage and in turn delegate effectively.

Sure, you should worry over quality and speed of service. And sure, you should worry over bottlenecks that reduce the speed of completion of the total task. But the worst way to do that is to micromanage, to become the bottleneck in the process, to discourage individual creative thinking by others.

It is a fine line for young or first time CEOs to walk. Removing bottlenecks is one of the more important tasks for a senior manager. But never should that happen at the expense of creating just such a bottleneck in the process by being one.

How Can Small Businesses Deal with Big Data?


The term ‘big data’ may sound intimidating, particularly to small businesses. Still, big data can give small businesses powerful leverage over larger companies.

In today’s modern world, businesses have access to a large amount of structured and unstructured data that enables them to solve problems and enhance their efficiency. What’s more, big data allows small businesses to detect gaps in the market.

As a small business leader, you can leverage big data to identify new trends, but also assess the risks in your marketing strategy. To evaluate the data, you can use affordable cloud solutions instead of expensive software.

Big data obviously has its many benefits, but a lot of small businesses find it hard to analyze and comprehend such large quantities of data. If you want to make big data work for you, get your team on board and follow these steps:

Identify the Question to be Answered

In order to solve any problem, you need to define what it is that you wish to accomplish. The same principle applies to working with big data.

Firstly, identify your specific issue. Be as detailed as you possibly can. It is crucial that you understand exactly why you need big data and what you think it can do for you.

Next, establish specific milestones and long-term goals so you can gauge progress and effectiveness. With access to big data, you should have a clear learning agenda. Start the process with a single question, come up with a hypothesis, and test it through data analysis.

Leverage Online Sources to Gather Data

To gather business-relevant data, you don’t need extensive programming or IT skills. Instead, use widely available tools such as Google Analytics and social networks. In addition, many states have online state and regional industry databases that can offer valuable insight.

Free online sources will give you enough relevant data to analyze demographics, professions, habits and interests of your customers. Once you have enough data, it is time to check data quality.

Ensure Data Quality 

Big data is not only supposed to be big. In fact, data quality is more important than its quantity. Your data needs to be reliable, current, and consistent in order to provide valid insights.

Make sure there are no gaps in your working dataset. There are various ways of scrubbing data to remove irrelevant, outdated, or poorly formatted junk data that can throw off results. As a general rule, you should always know the source, age and hygiene of your data.

Find the Right Business Intelligence Tool

Large enterprises typically use specialists and complex intelligence software. These tools are usually quite costly and require a certain amount of expertise.

Small companies can make use of popular cloud-based services such as Office 365 or Google for Work Apps. Be sure you understand the features of the tool you choose and how it can be used for your business concerns.

In general, your BI tool will help you structure, analyze and visualize the data that you gathered online.

Define the Appropriate Metrics 

You can’t neatly measure all information. Before you start analyzing the data, focus only on data that is relevant to your question and fits your hypothesis.

It is important to identify and develop the right KPIs (key performance indicators) that will be useful in describing progress. Metrics should be selected only if they provide insight. Finding the right metrics may require a little discipline, but it also focuses effort and offers more accurate results.

Get Your Team Involved

Data analysis can improve team relationships when your employees discuss the analytic hypothesis and review results together. Working on big data together increases team collaboration, but only if everyone measures and analyses the same metrics.

Analyze the Results

After you analyze your data, it is time to review the results. The insight you gain from quality data will help you determine the direction in which your business should be going.

Big data analysis is an on-going process. You should continually gather new data based on your metrics and compare the new data to your previous findings.

In conclusion, all businesses want to increase revenue by understanding their customers’ behavior better. With access to big data, small companies can compete with large enterprises more easily, eliminate inefficiencies and get tangible results. This is why small businesses should not shy away, but rather embrace big data analytics and its perks, knowing that big data pays off big time.

heather-readdingAuthor: Heather Redding is a part time assistant manager and freelance writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is a coffee-addict who enjoys swimming and reading. Street photography is her newly discovered artistic outlet and she likes to capture life’s little moments with her camera. You can reach Heather via Twitter.

Most Popular