Act Like A Boss, Not A Friend

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If you have never been a manager before, you may feel as if you’ve been thrown into the deep end without a paddle. Becoming a manager for a group of people who you once worked alongside can be very stressful, it can feel incredibly awkward and first and you may feel guilty giving orders. The important thing to remember is that this is your career and you have been given a wonderful opportunity to spread your wings and prove what you are capable of as an individual and to grow your professional skills even further. If you don’t know where to start and how you are supposed to act as a manager, here are some tips:

Don’t become smug

The worst thing that people can do when they earn a position of slight power is to let it go their head and play it off as if they are better than everyone else. You are not better than everyone else, you have simply proven qualified and experienced enough to handle the responsibility of looking after a group of employees.

Act like a boss, not a friend

The important thing to keep in mind when you move up in the workplace is to balance your behaviour in a professional way. While you don’t want to buy yourself a crown and walk around the office calling everyone peasants, you also can’t have that same friend-to-friend relationship as you did when you were a lower member of the team. Now that you have found yourself responsible for the running of an office and you have to delegate tasks, you need to learn to distance yourself from the rest of the team in a way where they respect your authority without thinking of you as a dictator.

Discuss your new role

When you get promoted to the position of manager, make sure that you take some time to sit down with your boss and talk through the duties, responsibilities and actions you should be taking as a people manager. If you are worries about how to treat your staff and what to do in terms of talking to them and holding team meetings of your own- voice these concerns with your boss and they will be able to give you some advice on how you need to act in your new role. Take the time to also discuss what your goals are in terms of sales or KPIs within the office, and how best to delegate tasks amongst your team.

Learn the culture

Every company has a different way of working and different views. In order for you to find your place within the organisation and allow it to function well, you will need to take the time to work out how the body of the business works. Where is the brain, the blood and the heart of the business? What makes it tick and who are the key players?

Think back to your old managers

You may have had several managers in your time in the working world, and hopefully there will be at least one of those managers who you looked up to and saw as a good role model. Take on their ways and incorporate them with your own as you find your flow and get used to the role. Over the years you will develop your own way of running things- but when you start out it is helpful to have a role model to look up to.

Get to know your employees

If you have simply been promoted to the role of manager within the same team, then you will already know your colleagues pretty well; however, if you are moving to a new company to be a manager, you will need to take some time to get to know your employees. Make sure that you hold regular staff meetings when you first join and let each of your team members explain a little bit about the role they take on in the office and any projects they are currently working on. Continue to hold meetings each week or month to catch up and make sure everyone is happy with what they are doing and they aren’t struggling with anything. It may also be a great idea to take out some time to go on team-building exercises or even take the team out for dinner at the end of the month to get to know everyone on a more personal level. Although you do want boundaries, it is much easier working with people you know trust and respect.

Understand individual needs

You will be managing a group of people who are all unique in the way they think, work and who have individual personalities. You may find that you end up working with someone who suffers from dyslexia and struggles to read, or suffers with anxiety and struggles to talk. Making arrangements to accommodate and help these individuals will be what sets you apart as a good manager. Certain members of the team such as accounting may require a private office to work with sensitive information, so make sure that you cater to everyone’s needs.

Discuss your role with your team

When you are promoted to a level which is higher than your peers, it can be awkward and a little bit uncomfortable for everyone to get used to. Instead of staying quiet and beginning to act like a manager straight away, take an hour or so to sit down with your new team and talk to them about the new role you’ll be playing. They will understand that you have new duties and will be able to help you adjust to your new role with encouragement. Working with your friends is helping in this way because they can help you to air your concerns and feeling and reassure you that it won’t change anything with your friendship. You will then be able to transition to the role of manager with the full support of those you once worked alongside.

Your Online Efforts Will Be In Vain If You’re Not Offline Too

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We stumbled across an (outdated) fact today. There are 966 million websites in the realm of the Internet. The reason we said this was outdated because it has been a year since that figure was highlighted, which means there is likely a lot more than that today. Why are we telling you this daunting piece of information? That’s simple really; it highlights just how much competition you face online.

We’re not saying you need to totally ignore the digital sphere because that would be the equivalent of marketing suicide. However, if you go the other way and totally ignore the real world – the physical world – then all your online efforts will be forgotten about with a half hour (Facebook ads have a lifespan of 36 minutes on average).

Of course, knowing how to market yourself offline is no easy feat, which is why we have pulled together a few ideas to help inspire your creativity. Enjoy.

Your Staff Are At The Center

Mmm hmmm. These are the people that interact with your customers. They are the people that personify the impression you are hoping your brand gives off and that is why you need to make sure there is an extra emphasis on how they work as marketing tools. If you want to impress customers, nothing beats having employees that are presented in accordance with your brand who are able to solve your customer’s problems. Period.

Your Printed Materials Should Be Special

There is a still a hugely important role to be played by direct mail, the kind that people can physically hold in the same way they can touch a banana, which is why you need to start collaborating with some printing and mailing services. The trick is to make something special, though, not something that will be put on the hallway table and added to the recycling on the next garbage trip. You want something that impresses, whether that is with evocative imagery, creative content or even a fancy leaflet where things pop out like a kids storybook. Make it worth them keeping hold of.

Branded Merchandise Lasts Forever

We’re not saying you need to put your logo on some pens, mugs and drawstring bags because this has been done so many times it now gets blocked out by people’s subconscious. Instead, what you need to do is create branded merchandise that people will actually use, and use in the places where you want your logo to be seen. That’s how to truly optimize your branding. If you have a protein shake company, then brand a filtered water bottle knowing it will be taken to the gym. If you are attending a trade show, then make your bags the biggest so that people are encouraged to put everything else they pick up inside yours, that way you will be seen most. Make cool branded artwork that offices may hang on their walls. That sort of thing.

People Can’t Resist A Giveaway

How many times have you seen those Facebook ads that say something like, “Like and share our page and you could win this helicopter”. No one is winning a helicopter. You know that, they know that, everyone knows that – but people can’t resist it. We’re not saying you should lie. But by offering a giveaway whether it be an RC helicopter or a Bluetooth speaker, you will grab people’s attention. You market this online and you give it away offline.

Are Your Office Computers Due for a Replacement?

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Technology helps a lot no matter what type of business you run. Whether you sell cakes at a food stall or create smartphones for consumers, there are plenty of different uses for technology. However, does it ever occur to you that your business might be using outdated technology that is due for a replacement? People don’t usually think about upgrading their computers because it’s already a hassle to install them. You need to worry about software, networking and even hire tech specialists to help you set it all up. With so many things to keep in mind, it’s natural to try and avoid upgrading your technology out of fear that you’ll mess something up.

Sadly, there are times when you do need to upgrade to ensure that your business remains productive and efficient. When it comes to technology, there are many different components that you’ll need to upgrade and it can be difficult trying to determine when you need to invest more money. To make this easier, we’ll be covering some examples of when you need to replace your computers.

Seek Advice

If you’re unsure whether you need to upgrade your systems or not, it doesn’t hurt to contact knowledgeable people such as Total Tech Team to seek advice. This is perhaps the best way to diagnose any potential issues that your computers are having in order to determine if you’re due for an upgrade or not. It sounds expensive, but when you’re faced with the task of upgrading your technology, you need all the professional help you can get.

Upgrade Mentality

You might think to yourself that there’s no point replacing something that isn’t broken. While this is true for the majority of cases, you need to think of tech upgrades as an investment into your productivity and efficiency. You’re not just upgrading for the sake of fixing something, you’re upgrading so your business can work better and so your employees have an easier and faster time dealing with their tasks.

Take Suggestions

Always welcome suggestions from the people that use your technology and computers on a regular basis: your employees. If they have complaints, then make sure you respond to them and look for ways to honor their requests. If they think that your office computers are sluggish, then it doesn’t take much time or money to add a few extra components to increase their productivity.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

You need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of replacing or upgrading your computers. Upgrades should only ever be considered if your company is in dire need of a productivity boost. For instance, if your computers are lacking in power then your employees will have a difficult time working so it’s important to put computer upgrades as a priority. If your hard drives have been failing recently and your data is at risk of being lost, then you should put hard drive replacements as a priority. The major downside to upgrading is cost. If there’s a slim chance that you’ll see a return on investment, then it’s probably not worth putting your money into an upgrade or replacement.

Working In A New Country – Survival Hacks

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Moving to a new country is a daunting and exciting thing, with, probably the hardest task is getting a job. Or if you already have one secured, it will be the language and cultural barriers that you must cross. If you have moved to a new country that speaks the same language as you, then you have a good step up, but there are always new things to learn in a new country. Before you move, prep. Use the internet to research where you’re going, have a vague idea of the layout of the town or city, and start to get to grips with the money, laws and traditions.

Language

The language is going to be the hardest barrier to face. The hope for most moving to a new country is to learn it and be as fluent in it as their mother tongue. And living in a different country is the easiest way to learn a new language, if only because you have no choice but to learn to speak it. You can find schools and teachers in any country, and, hopefully, they will do as the Effortless English Club in the US do, and teach in a modern and flexible way, and not like going back to school. You can also kick off your learning with apps like Babel so that you can get the basics down before moving.

Socialize

With neighbors, colleagues and anyone else you meet – make an effort to socialize, not only will you become more fluent when speaking, but you’ll learn more about the place you’re living. There’s no point moving somewhere new and shutting yourself away all the time. Explore and enjoy the place that has become your new home, don’t let work take over. Hanging out with people gives you the chance to learn about the local culture too – about the socially accepted rules, and the things to avoid. About any festivals or celebrations, any national holidays that you can get involved in and enjoy. One of the easiest things to do in a strange place is to shut everything out, causing you to feel homesick and even depressed.

Help

If you’re struggling to grasp an aspect of your new job, having a problem with the language barrier, or an issue with anything really – you just need to ask for some help. Ask your boss or one of your new found friends. Don’t sit there and let it become a much bigger issue down the road. There is no harm in asking.

Live Like A Native

There maybe things you’re used to back home that are very different in your new country; rather than buying your food at a store, you might have to go to a market. Cooking might be different, the food you’re used to not available. And where you might miss it, think about the new skills you’ll learn, the exciting prospects of trying new things, and how amazing food will taste when you visit home again. Try and integrate some local culture into your daily life and appreciate the new land you live in.

You Can’t Be Successful Without Growth

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Everyone starts somewhere when it comes to business. So unless you’ve inherited one, or worked your way up through an existing company, you’re going to start at the bottom. So, if you are a new business owner that’s starting from the bottom, then fear not. It isn’t that hard to actually start growing your business, you just need to know where to start and what to do. Because without steady growth, you’ll never truly have a successful business. But the thing about business is, you always need to be pushing for growth in order to stay ahead of your competitors. If you’re struggling at the minute, then have a read of these useful tips to help growth.

Loyal Customers

No matter what business you’ve got, you need to have a set of loyal customers to keep your business afloat, let alone support growth. One thing you’re bound to soon notice is the spike is sale due to ‘seasonal customers’. This is where you can make the most money, but it is also where you can gain the most customers. In order for them to stay longer than the seasonal period, you need to catch their attention. Here’s 6 tips for converting seasonal shoppers into repeat customers if you’re looking for help. Most businesses issue is this. The customer will purchase a product from them once, but they’ll never market themselves towards that person again. If you’re a small business, they’ll likely never remember you either. Another vital way of building loyal customers is to treat them with the respect they need. If they have complaints, deal with them in a professional manner. If there’s issues with your product, offer them a full refund or replacement. You need to give them what they want to keep them loyal.

Better Products

If you aren’t constantly improving your products, you aren’t going to be constantly growing your business. As technology evolves, so does the rate that products become better. They become more durable, interesting and innovative. If there’s one way to improve your products, it’s to see what your competitors are doing. This information is invaluable in terms of growing your business. You could also look again at what your customers are saying. Reviews on websites such as Amazon showcase all the bad and good points about products that customers have purchased. Leave a review section on your website and take every comment on board, it could be the difference between the make or break of your business.

Employees

Employees are going to be at the forefront of your business, so you need to hire people who are going to do good for you, not make production drop. When conducting interviews, try and hire people with relevant qualifications and who seem to have a real passion for what your business does. Make sure you’re giving regular incentives to try and spur them on to work harder. Treat them with respect and they’ll help push your company and give it the growth they need. Your employees can mean the difference between failure and success.

Can You Use Flexible Working Arrangements to Benefit Your Business?

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For many people, life changes as we get older and so so our needs when it comes to our work life. Yet in many instances, jobs aren’t changing or adapting to the changes that we need in our lives. A lot of it can be down to employer attitudes and the need for a mass shift in the traditional way of working. Being able to get a better work and life balance is going to the thing that helps you to hold onto the employees that you have, as well as an increased work morale and an allowance for more creativity in the workplace.

For a long time, working flexibility has been seen as a perk of the job, not the standard. A lucky thing that moms can do once a week, while the rest of the week they need to be in the office. But the question is, can flexible working benefit everyone in the workplace? Parent or not, most employees are going to welcome flexible working if it means a better work and life balance, surely?

Many employers are still somewhat ‘on the fence’ when it comes to flexible working. With campaigners calling for it more and more, is it just a fad that will shortly die out? When you break it down, it can’t really be a fad. Is it a fad for people to want to have a better quality of life? So if you’re currently on the fence, then it is time to hop off and get on board with flexible working. Where it is possible in job roles, it will be sticking around for a while to come.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of flexible working:

For one thing, it can reduce costs. Studies from companies that have already adopted the stance that work is a resource, rather than a place, have already shown the same, if not more profit than what they have had previously. Office spaces can be downsized, as well as bills be reduced. It means less sick days and people can setup virtual mail with mailbox forwarding when they are on vacation or sick, for example. So things don’t get missed, and people can work when they are abroad, without having to take time out off the business.

It can mean increased productivity as you don’t have to cater for people’s lunch breaks, sick time, or having the morning off for an appointment. If they needed that but are at home, they can get up earlier to do work before their appointment. That doesn’t work the same when it comes to going back and forth from an office. Plus, as a rule, employee satisfaction and happiness is going to be much higher when they have a better work and life balance, so they are likely to work harder, and get more done. And at the end of the day, that will have a positive impact on the business’s bottom line.

Has your business embraced flexible working yet? Be interested to hear what you think.

Freebies Which Pay Their Way

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Many business owners are wary of the word ‘free’. When money is tight, why make matters worse by giving things away with no return? It’s madness, and certainly not the way to make a success of your business, right?

Perhaps not. But, with so many companies offering freebies, you have to wonder whether there’s something to the method. It’s working for them, after all. The first thing to get your head around is that nothing is free. As such, you’re sure to see a return on anything you give away.

How, you ask? Well, for one, by working with companies like Pro-Motion on labeling systems, you can ensure that your brand and logo is shouting loud and proud from any freebie offers.
As such, those products draw more attention to your store and thus increase your earnings. So, you see, the receiver may not pay, but someone does. Plus, giving things away for free creates loyalty, which again leads to future sales.

Of course, this only works within reason. If you’re giving away $300 of stock each time, you probably won’t see a return. But, giving away small bits and pieces is a sure way to increase your money. Here are some items worth considering.

Stationery

Branded stationery is a fantastic marketing ploy, because you can guarantee your customers will use it. Everyone needs pens, and there will inevitably come a time when they turn to the one you gave them. Hence, you’ll stick in their minds, and make an impression on those around them. Plus, pens and pencils are relatively cheap to buy in bulk. Bear in mind that opting for the most affordable selection may not be best. Pick pens you’d be happy using, which will last a long time. You’re making an impression here, remember. Good pens = good business opportunities.

Tote bags

In recent years, tote bags have become a staple freebie for many companies. Again, these are incredibly cheap to produce. In fact, if you’re printing in bulk, this will be one of the most economical advertising methods you can think of. Even better, you can be sure that these will have a broad reach. If customers take them out and about for a shopping trip in town, crowds of people are going to see your logo. Make it bold enough, and they won’t be able to resist popping in to take a look at what you offer.

Loyalty gifts

Many companies also opt for loyalty schemes, where they offer cash or free gifts to customers who visit a set number of times. Done right, this is another excellent way to boost your earnings with ongoing custom. Sure, you may have to fork out $10 in the end, but the customer will have to buy from you ten or so times before that. And, once they’re into the habit, you can be sure they’ll come back after as well. When you think about it like that, $10 doesn’t seem like such a loss, does it?

Where’s The Remote? Does The Remote Working System Really Work?!

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It seems to be one of the key aspects of growing a business now, especially because it’s viewed as a very cheap way of growing your empire, remote working is proving extremely popular from both perspectives, from the employer, as well as the employee. We’ve all thought at some point how we would like to work from home, neither because there are certain strains in our life that we could do without, such as the dreaded daily commute, but does the remote work model actually benefit anybody? Let’s have a look at it from both sides.

The Employer

The main issue that employers have with remote working staff, once you take into account the reduction in cost, is the communication aspect can be very trying. Depending on your business, such as if you’ve got people working for you all over the world, this can add another layer of frustration to the issue. Time zones, not replying to emails as soon as possible, as well as trying to liaise even once a month with an employee, can be a bit like pulling teeth. Another frustration to add on top of this is all dependent on if you are working with very specific programs. Lots of companies communicate with their workers via commonly used tools, such as Hangouts, or use Google Docs for sharing documents and so forth. But if your company is niche, and requires the use of a specific program, or you need to develop software, it is vital that you have the adequate protection in place. There are business resources, such as Network Solutions, that you can utilize, to protect your servers, or to implement a sophisticated server that you would use for remote workers, but also you need to think about the impact of the amount of devices that are being used for this work. One small virus on a smartphone that uses the software, and potentially your data will be stolen, and your business will crumble soon after. Remote working has a lot of benefits, but communication, as well as computer usage, are the two problems that need addressing at the outset.

The Employee

There have been various debates on the work from home setup from the perspective of an employee. And while it is down to the person themselves to set up a productive working pattern, every person who works from home, regardless of their stance within a company, whether they are at the bottom of the pecking order, or they are running the company, can benefit from some strict measures to ensure they work productively. Anybody working from home needs to set a specific working pattern, and although the draw of sitting at home in their pajamas on the couch does sound very appealing at the outset, it soon loses its charm. From the perspective of an employer, you should instigate a two-way system of communication, one where they are able to check in on you first thing in the morning, or they are contactable throughout the day. This is one issue that will not only help the employer keep tabs, but it helps the employee to remain productive.

The idea of remote working is very popular, and it can work, but you do need to think hard about if it’s a structure that, firstly, lends itself well to your style of business, but also if it lends itself well to you as the employer. Would you rather people work in this disparate fashion or do you want a team of people that gel and work together?

Is Business Tech Giving You A Headache?

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Almost every aspect of business has gone digital in the last two decades. Used correctly, this technology can speed up the rate in which we conduct business and even help to save costs. Keeping us with digital trends is essential for any company wanting to compete with its rivals. However, there’s so much out there nowadays that it can be exhausting getting one’s head around it all, especially for those that aren’t computer savvy. This technology doesn’t have to be confusing and there are ways to make things simpler. Here are some ways that you can help yourself to keep up to speed.

Take a course

It’s possible to learn many digital skills by taking a course. There are day workshops that can teach you’re the basics of WordPress or how to use Quickbooks. Alternatively, you may want to take a longer course in something extensive such as social media marketing, analytics or even programming. Many of these courses can be completed online in your own time so you don’t have to attend a college or sit in a lecture hall. They could help to teach you everything you need to know and save you having to outsource someone.

Outsource support

Alternatively, those that don’t have the patience to take a course may simply prefer to outsource guidance. There are generic IT support companies that can advise on all things digital including which organizational software you could be using, as well as ways of safeguarding your business with digital security. Meanwhile, there are also support services for individual software such as sharepoint consulting services. Many of these companies charge for hourly consultancy sessions, whilst others may constantly be on hand to help and charge a small monthly fee.

Hire tech-savvy staff

You could alternatively hire in-house staff to take charge of various digital tasks you don’t understand. This could include managing social media, looking after your website, fixing bugs and keeping the network secure. There are pros and cons to doing this – whilst it may save you a headache and free up a lot of time to do core tasks, simply ignoring digital tasks you don’t fully understand could start to make you more oblivious as to how certain parts of your business operate. If you are hiring staff to take care of digital tasks, use them for guidance and make sure they keep you in the loop.

Build your own software

If you’re having a hard time getting to grips with certain software, or you find that there’s a confusing number of programs on your network, you could try to simplify things by creating your own software that handles all the tasks you need. Rather than having rota apps, workload management programs, accounting software and pay-roll programs, you could pay a developer to create a piece of custom software that combines all the features you need. By having everything organized in one place, you could find it easier to keep on top of the digital running of your business.

How Do You Market Yourself Without Being Unbearable?

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We all get it. There’s an entrepreneur around every corner these days it seems, and they’re always too passionate in telling you about their bright new idea. From random business accounts which follow thousands of users in order to gain some cheap exposure to people dressing up ‘insight’ and ‘free ebooks’ as a valuable business tool which really only serves to promote their brand.

Consumers understand exactly when and where they are being sold to, and if they are intelligent (many are,) they despise it. People simply know that when they want to spend their money, they will search the market for the products they want, check the reviews, and make their choice then. It’s very rare that consumers will purchase a product directly off the back of what an advertisement tells them. The marketplace is simply too aware, too experienced, and too knowledgeable in all of the tricks businesses small and large employ to separate them from their money.

With winter coming up, this can be even more difficult. Consumers are on hyper-alert, and will react to any cheesy marketing with stifled groans.

There are ways around this however. Here are some tips to help you become better embedded in the cultural consciousness of your potential consumers, to the point where they don’t suspect a marketing tactic on the horizon.

SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is often the most effective and most subtle meanings of marketing your brand. Hosted through articles and affiliate linked content, targeted, specific and insightful commentary is generated which paints your product or service in a positive light. The great thing about this is that often, there is no deception taking place here. The articles written are often genuinely helpful and insightful, and therefore the fact that your product is linked seems like a natural fit.

Not only does this allow consumers to find content they are actually looking for, but they won’t feel forcefully sold to in any way, shape or form. Using the right SEO agency will naturally help promote your article to the top of Google’s search ranking algorithms, potentially giving your product or service a truly massive amount of exposure a half-tuned out radio ad could only hope to achieve.

Pure Honesty

In all of the refinement in marketing development over the years, the market is saturated with too-sharp video advertisements and beautifully graphically designed ads. Keeping things simple and explaining to your audience (with brevity,) what your product does, who you are and why they should care can be a breath of fresh air in an industry mostly concerned with image. People aren’t used to being given an entirely honest picture of a product; they are used to being sold a fantasy ‘always best,’ version of it.

If you can manage to separate yourself from all of this superfluous marketing, you can be sure that turning a few heads will be child’s play. At the very least, the image of your firm will start on the right footing, opening a frank and honest dialogue with your consumers. This doesn’t mean that you can’t sell the positive points of what you are offering. It simply means you’ll go about it in a much clearer, less ‘shiny’ way. Sometimes, that is all an intelligent consumer is looking for.

Sponsorships

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the power of social media marketing. A huge percentage of smartphone users are now in possession of Instagram and Facebook accounts. Personalities within many disciplines reign supreme here, as they boast the largest amount of followers and as such, have a giant platform for exposure. Sometimes, a consumer doesn’t care in the least about what you as a company can offer. They are used to the sales pitch. Sponsoring and sending free products to a notable person in the demographic you are trying to target can naturally and more approachably present your products to a wider audience.

Sometimes, you needn’t even pay them for an outright endorsement. The fact that they are using your product can serve to generate a massive amount of interest in your brand. Depending on how you want to play this, you could actively have users searching for your product themselves based on the back of what they’ve seen from your sponsored personality. Again, this way no one has been deceived. A natural connection between your firm and client has been developed, something that businesses would do well to learn from.

Over time, these tips will prove to be much more effective than hoping that new marketing campaign goes viral. These tips treat your consumer with respect, and as such, that respect is returned.