Is something missing from your development strategy?
Many of us unfortunately stay in the dark when it comes to improving the way we do things. After all, we can never know that we’re doing something “wrong” until it is pointed out to us. If you feel like you are doing everything “right” in your software development and yet frequently come up against dissatisfied customers or blasé reviews, you’re certainly not alone. Although it’s tempting to look for one or two quick fixes, perhaps what’s really needed is an overhaul of the way you approach a project from day one.
That’s where agile software development comes into play.
Customer Satisfaction is the First Principle of Agile Development
Customer satisfaction is at the root of agile development. As the name “agile” implies, flexibility and a willingness to adapt to changes quickly is one characteristic that sets agile developers apart. Among the core principles set forth by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, customer satisfaction is listed first, highlighting its importance. After all, customers are the driving force behind software development. If the software doesn’t meet the needs of the end user, what purpose does it serve?
How to Keep Clients Happy During the Development Process
Listening to and understanding clients’ needs and then translating them into valuable software is certainly an art form. But building relationships with clients is an ongoing process, one in which you have countless opportunities to satisfy them and keep them happy. Here are some small but powerful ways to make each of your clients feel respected and valued.
Ditch PowerPoints, handouts and diagrams.
In progress meetings, present your clients with a working sample of the software. This reduces confusion, allows questions or concerns to be raised in a more timely fashion, and builds trust between the client and the developers. Diagrams, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations all attempt to provide a visual representation of the software, but nothing beats the real thing. Plus, demoing the software itself, even if it is a work-in-progress, saves the developer time in the long run. Who honestly has time to create a PowerPoint when sitting down with the client and the software is more effective and efficient?
Don’t be on-time; be early.
Many clients have reasonable expectations about the time it takes to develop a superior product. But at the same time, everyone loves to be surprised with early delivery. One of the key ways in which agile developers can create satisfied customers is by delivering updates earlier than expected. Set a realistic timeline for project deliverables, but build-in an extra day or two (or even longer) to guarantee that things are done before your client expects them. This underscores the fact that you’ve been working hard and gives the impression that this client is one of your top priorities. And from a client’s perspective, that feels good!
Collaborate closely with clients.
This means meeting often to show the latest progress made to the software and embracing changes that need to be made, regardless of how late in the process they are brought to light. The founders of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development recommend delivering working software on a weekly basis rather than monthly. Even if your client has concerns or negative feedback, handling them in a collaborative and constructive way helps you turn them into satisfied (and hopefully repeat!) customers.
Developer Satisfaction is Also Key
The agile development framework seeks to make developers’ lives easier and more fulfilling, resulting in happy partnerships around the office, not just with clients. What makes a work environment satisfying can vary on an individual basis, but the following generally produce good results:
- A collaborative environment, not an isolated one
- Micro-managing is avoided in favor of building confidence and trust in employees, and to allow them to create their own workflows
- Over-documentation is avoided to allow developers to focus and be efficient
- A sustainable work pace is maintained to avoid employee burnout
At the heart of an agile software development framework is a responsiveness to the needs of both clients and developers. If you and/or your employees often feel fatigued and dissatisfied, don’t try a career change just yet. Instead, learn more about agile software development. It could alter the way you approach a software development project for the better—from beginning to end.
About the Author: Dave Thomas covers marketing and business topics on the web.
Doing all you can to market your company’s website should always be a top priority as a business owner. Pre-Internet; most business owners relied on word-of-mouth and marketing to get business. When turning the clock forward a couple of decades ago, the debut of the Internet literally changed the business world. For many business owners, this meant marketing in a different way, one that’s helped countless businesses succeed.
If you have been wondering how to go about better marketing for your website, it is not all that difficult. With the right focus on spreading the word, your business can reach to new heights. Those heights can end up being quite lucrative at the end of the day.
Make Your Website Stand Out
When it comes to making your website stand out from that of the competition, it all begins with a plan. For individuals entering business in the last decade or two, were they thinking no website was necessary? If so, you’ve likely woken up to the reality of the situation.
In starting a business, one of the first things business owners need to focus on is having a quality website. This starts by looking at where to buy domain names. It is important to remember that the right domain name for your company is crucial. Not only do you want a name that differentiates you from competitors, also have one easy to remember. One of the great things with domains is you won’t pay an arm and a leg for them. Shop around, searching for the best domain provider out there.
Once that important chore is behind you, the next big task ahead is marketing your new website. Stellar marketing has to be a top priority. If it isn’t, you will find it hard for your site to rank high on Google and other search engines. In turn, you will make it harder for consumers to locate you.
Market Like There is No Tomorrow
In marketing your website, zero in on these four keys:
Use any and all resources to market your site. Although some marketing campaigns will cost money, others are free. Should you decide to work with an outside marketing firm, be sure to research them ahead of time. Even though there are some fantastic marketing firms out there, you want only the best.
Anyone who knows anything about websites understands the important aspect content plays. If lax on writing and posting marketing content, you’re already behind the eight ball. Once again, you may end up having to go outside of your company, seeking the help of a freelance writer. If that is the case, review them as you would any other firm you think about doing work with. Also make sure that any and all blog content written gets promoted on social media.
3. Social media
In putting social media to work for your website, remember social networking is available to you 24/7. As a result, there is no reason you should not be using it. Another important factor with social media is that quantity overrides quality. This means you do not have to be on half-a-dozen or more social sites to get the full impact of it. You are better off when you focus in on one or two sites that make the most sense for your business, and then put all your time and effort behind them. Often, you are best-served on Facebook or Twitter, the number one and three sites worldwide.
Never forget the important role your customers can play in helping to market your website. It is your customers that oftentimes know you better than anyone else. Let them help market you and your brand, especially to their family members and friends. In case you worry that many of your customers won’t be too excited about marketing you, give them some incentive. By offering different specials and deals, you will have more energetic customers. Marketing your website is something that isn’t a choice, it is a necessity.
When you put your mind to it, the possibilities are literally endless.
About the Author: Dave Thomas covers marketing topics on the web.
Whether you guest post regularly or it is something you truly need to do more of, knowing the various benefits that guest posting offers is something you should definitely be on top of.
That said is your brand doing all it can with guest posting? For instance, have you reached out to countless blogs to see if you can guest post to them on a regular basis? If not, why is that? Some business owners will state that they do not have the time (or patience for that matter) to do all that reach out, only to have many publishers come back and respectfully decline. In the process, the former are denied yet another opportunity to promote their brands.
In the event guest posting has not been a big priority for you up to this point and time, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to change that thinking moving forward, allowing you to grow your website traffic. So that you know how to best take advantage of guest posting for your brand, remember these four tips:
1. Identify a message
What exactly are you looking to accomplish with guest posting in the first place?
If you’re on top of your game, you know that guest posting can direct more eyes towards your website–traffic that very well can turn into dollar signs sooner rather than later. That said make sure your message is loud and clear. When guest blogging; don’t make it all about your brand.
For one, there’s a good chance many publishers will not run your guest post if it comes across as too self-promotional. Google and other search engines are likely to penalize too, so be wary of posts where it is heavy on the “me” factor and light on the “we factor. Rather write the posts to help consumers learn more about your general industry, giving them information they may have trouble finding elsewhere.
Lastly, you can still run a link back to your website, one that doesn’t come across as spam.
2. Write with Authority
Keep in mind that both publishers and consumers like reading articles with some meat to them. That said, always look to write with authority when providing guest posts to others. While guest posting for your marketing needs, you still need to consider the needs of those you are talking to.
What can your audience learn from each and every guest post you craft? Will they have a guest post to read that they simply can’t find anywhere else? Finally, will your post resonate with them months after it has gone live?
When you write with authority, you stand a much better chance of being recognized as authoritative and relevant, two keys to success oftentimes in the business world.
3. Promote your posts
When you guest post for other sites, you can’t fall down on the job in terms of promoting those efforts on social media. Be sure you promote those posts without any reminders from publishers, doing it on your own because you know about the benefits that will come from it.
As an example, if you tweet out a guest post on Twitter that you (or your company) have authored, it stands to reason that other folks on Twitter (some following you and those seeing the relevant hashtags) will retweet your post. With that occurring, your post (and your brand) now gets more attention.
4. Keep chugging along
Last but not least, guest posting takes time and effort. Yes, that also translates into being committed. It can be easy after doing a few guest posts to figure you made some inroads, so no need to write for a period of time.
Unfortunately, guest posting doesn’t work that way. In order to have a real impact with guest posting, you have to keep hammering away time and time again with the articles. Always do your best to not only keep the ideas and the posts coming, but also to know what your message should be to those consumers you haven’t reached just yet.
About the Author: Dave Thomas writes about marketing and business topics on the web.
How much time and effort (including money) do you invest in outdoor advertising for your brand?
While you may be doing just fine with online ads, newspaper and magazine promotions, even television and/or radio ads, getting your brand’s name seen and heard outside on billboards and other advertising vehicles is quite beneficial.
That said where do you start when it comes to outdoor advertising for your brand?
Finding the Right Messenger
In order to get your outdoor advertising game headed in the right direction, the first key is finding the right messenger.
While there are many marketing firms out there with which to work with, finding the one you truly click with is important.
Among the factors to take into consideration when sizing up different firms:
- Experience – How long have they been in the marketing business, specifically outdoor advertising? Do they create billboard messages (see more below) that resonate with consumers?
- Pricing – If you are working with a tight advertising/marketing budget, getting the most for your dollar is important. That said don’t automatically go with the cheapest firm out there.
- Service – Like any company you work with, customer service can’t be compromised. Look for a firm that has a stellar track record in this area.
Lastly, talk to other friendly businesses you know, getting their two cents on which marketing firms they would recommend.
In many cases, those conversations can yield a lot of good information, information that may very well help you in selecting the best marketing firm out there.
What Will Your Message Be?
Once you have the right marketing firm to serve as your messenger, what will your message end up being?
For instance, if you work in the real estate business, you know all too well what a grind it can be in moving homes etc. With that in mind, your outdoor advertising needs to hit home with potential buyers and sellers.
Whether you are using billboard ads, ads at bus stations or on buses and taxis, even ads on Uber or Lyft vehicles, you need to make the most of the available space.
While many outdoor ads end up being rather mundane when all is said and done, be creative with your efforts.
Certain images (children, puppies etc.) tend to resonate with consumers, so see how you can work something into your message that will make your brand easy to remember. Although you are limited in the space you have to work with, creativity will oftentimes win you points (and hopefully business) with many consumers.
Lastly, key items to get on those ads would of course be your business name, phone number, and certainly a website address.
With millions and millions of consumers using the Internet these days to search for just about everything, don’t leave your online business card (your web address) off the ad.
Don’t Forget About Placement
Finally, where your outdoor ads are placed is as important as anything else you will do.
In working with a marketing firm, get their feedback on where your ad will likely get the most notice.
Going back to the real estate example a moment ago, having your billboard or other outdoor message situated just before people come into town is a good idea.
In many cases, people (oftentimes individuals and families not from the area) will drive through a town with the idea of looking at homes and the town in general. If they see your creative real estate ad just as they are coming into town, it gives them a Realtor with which to consider doing business with.
When it comes to getting your marketing message heard and seen by countless consumers, outdoor advertising should definitely be in the cards for your brand.
Photo credit: Google Images
About the Author: Dave Thomas covers marketing items on the web.
So that your brand can do its best to out-distance the competition time and time again, you need a well-rounded marketing plan in place.
That plan should not only receive a fair amount of time and effort, but it also needs to encompass all there is in today’s brand promotional world.
While you may be wondering if you have the right resources to pull off a sound marketing approach, you may also be pleasantly surprised to learn you do. In the event you don’t have it just quite yet, it really is not as hard to achieve as you may think.
That said, will 2017 be the year that you finally get your marketing practices where you want them to be?
Avoiding Complacency in the World of Marketing
In order for your brand to get the most possible out of marketing, one of your top priorities is avoiding complacency.
You might feel like your marketing techniques are second-to-none, therefore meaning you don’t tweak them on occasion. You also might be of the opinion that if the real competition isn’t putting lots of time and effort into marketing, you do not need to either. Both ways of thinking can spell trouble for your marketing initiatives.
Another bad thought that may creep into your head is that your marketing budget is limited, so you therefore can’t achieve much. If that thought is there, remove that pronto.
Even with a small marketing budget, there is so much you can accomplish over time in promoting your brand. Remember, small pockets of promotions from time to time are much better than none at all.
Work with Others to Benefit Your Brand
Assuming you already have a blog on your website, what are you doing with it?
Unfortunately, too many companies essentially let it go to waste. In doing so, they fail to capitalize on what can turn out to be one of their best resources.
If you have a blog on your website, do everything in your power to nurture it and of course promote it. By doing so, you open so many possibilities to gaining new business and of course adding to your revenue stream.
As part of your blog promotions, do all you can possible when it comes to guest blogging.
With guest blogging, you are able to reach many more consumers than if you just stuck to your own base. If others are allowing you to guest blog on their business sites, by all means do the same in return (assuming that is that you are getting quality articles to place there).
Lastly, be sure to include guest blog content that are both relevant and informative to your reading audience. When others (notably consumers) see you coming across as an authority in your industry, you stand to gain much from it, including an enhanced revenue stream.
Socializing Your Marketing Efforts
If social media has literally been a foreign concept to you up to this point and time, change that as 2017 nears.
Much like your blogging efforts, social media really doesn’t have to financially cost you an arm and a leg over time. If you play your cards right, you can come up with a social media strategy that allows your brand to expand and catch more ears and eyes.
One of the keys to a successful social approach is listening to what others are saying about your brand.
For instance, you will undoubtedly have some customers (perhaps even some consumers not truly familiar with your brand) that will speak ill of you. Instead of lashing out at them, take the time to understand what is causing this reaction. As you truly listen to them, you may very well be able to turn a former customer or consumer thinking of going elsewhere around.
Marketing Your Brand for Success
As you wind down the final weeks of 2016, now is a great time to review your marketing approach over the last year, seeing what did and did not work.
In doing so, you may very well be setting you and your brand up for a fantastic 2017.
Photo credit: Pixabay
About the Author: Dave Thomas covers marketing topics on the web.