Mo Shehu, PhD
6 Early-Stage Career Tips For New Graduates - Mohammed Shehu

6 Early-Stage Career Tips For New Graduates

Launching your career after graduation can be daunting. From struggling to land interviews (“We regret to inform you…”) to negotiating a decent salary, there are plenty of mistakes that early-stage professionals can avoid with the right approach. Here are six of them to guide you:

  1. Focus on inputs (acquiring skills) over outputs (making money)
  2. Master presentation & public speaking
  3. Learn how to write – and write often
  4. Sell your value, not your skills
  5. Always be ready to leave
  6. Network like hell

Focus on inputs (acquiring skills) over outputs (making money)

It’s tempting to prioritize a higher starting salary over everything else. After all, you’ve got bills and student loans to pay off. But starting salaries for newbie jobs are never high enough to matter, as illustrated by the comments under this post I published on Linkedin.

As Nikhyl Singhal of The Skip brilliantly outlines in this piece on picking your first job, the salary you start off earning is often insignificant in the long run – whether you get an extra grand or two from negotiating. Negotiation brings you incremental salary increases – but gaining and honing new skills brings you exponential salary growth. Don’t aim to go from R10,000 to R12,000pm – aim to double or triple your salary each time you move. Expanding your skillset gives you that leverage.

When choosing companies to work for (assuming you have options), pick a company or team that has:

  1. A great boss. One bad boss can sour your entire experience at a company. Do your research on whom you’ll be working under: stalk them on LinkedIn, Google their name, and read about their previous works. Like a marriage, your boss will determine much of your happiness and growth in the workplace.
  2. Advancement opportunities. The more rungs on the company’s ladder, the higher your chances of getting promoted in a shorter time and earning a higher salary.
  3. Training resources. Pick a company that invests in your growth as a professional – whether through conferences, workshops, or allowances for books and courses. This is worth its weight in gold – you’re essentially being paid to learn and improve your value.
  4. Competent colleagues. Again, LinkedIn is your friend here. Stalk the people you’ll work with to see where they’ve worked and what they’ve done previously. You’ll benefit from their experience through proximity. Reach out to them online and mention that you’re applying for a job at the company and want to know what it’s like to work there. 
  5. An experimental and failure-friendly culture. Pick a company that lets you test lots of ideas and forgives failure. Experimentation breeds innovation, and companies that understand this don’t mind you ideating and executing wacky ideas. They know that if you succeed, they win, and if you don’t, you gain valuable experience (a win for them).

Master presentation & public speaking

Depending on your chosen path, you’ll need to express yourself often: to clients, colleagues, and the C-suite. This calls for sharp visual and spoken presentation skills. To improve these skills, you can:

  1. Take public speaking classes: If there’s a local Toastmasters club near you, sign up ASAP. You can also volunteer to speak at local events, offer to host/MC your friends’ events, and practice giving speeches or training sessions at work.
  2. Take design courses: You can sign up for design courses on Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and other learning platforms. You can also play around with tools like Canva and the Adobe Creative Suite. For corporate purposes, you’ll need to master presentation design as well – here’s a brilliant piece on how to craft a good one.

Learn how to write – and write often

Writing sharpens your thinking and is beneficial to your career. Master the art of writing concise proposals, summarized reports, and both internal and external memos. Practice makes perfect – a good idea is to blog often or write social media posts about topics you’re passionate about. You can also get guidance from courses, hire a writing coach, or offer writing services to improve your own writing (my favorite approach).

Up to this point, you’ve spent your entire life learning academic writing – long essays designed to fill up pages or word counts to appease your lecturers. As you start your professional career, master copywriting and business writing instead. The former teaches you how to convince and sell, and the latter teaches you how to inform and educate (there are overlaps, of course). Here are some excellent copywriting courses you can take online, plus courses on business writing.

Another thing: learn how to write better emails. You want to keep your emails short and sweet and provide as much context as possible. People should be pleased to receive and read emails from you, not put off your emails till later. Here’s a guide I put together (with examples) to help you write better emails.

Sell your value, not your skills

A common mistake new graduates make (and even mid-career professionals) is selling their skills, not their value, to the organization. They settle for ‘market-related compensation’ because they haven’t yet learned how to align their pay package with the value they bring.

As I wrote on LinkedIn:

If your role is single-handedly responsible for bringing in R2m/yr in revenue, don’t settle for less than R200k/yr (or more). Likewise, if you’ll be responsible for *saving* the company R2m/yr, levy a commensurate ‘tax’ on those savings as your salary.

By definition, this requires you to do your homework about the company and ask a million questions during the interview process.

Remember, the hiring team always knows exactly how much your role is worth to them, so the onus is on you to close that knowledge gap so you can effectively sell your ‘value’ and not settle for a ‘market-related salary’ (which is rarely in your favor).

– Mohammed Shehu

The above advice applies to freelancing and entrepreneurship as well. Not all clients are created equal, so not all services will be valued (and thus priced) equally. Adopting a value-based approach to compensation rather than a skill-based one will do wonders for your bank account.

Always be ready to leave

This advice applies before you get the job and once you’re in it. During the interview process, be enthusiastic about the opportunity to work for the company – but be ready to walk away from it. That mindset removes desperation. Pulling this off requires you to (a) apply for many positions to increase your options; and (b) ask piercing questions about the workplace, the resources available, your growth trajectory, and potential roadblocks to watch out for. The latter will be uncomfortable but necessary.

Once you get the job, never get too comfortable. Workplaces change: your fantastic boss may leave, your colleagues may turn hostile, the workload may increase unbearably, the company may lose clients and revenue, or COVID-19 may come along and lead to your retrenchment. Getting attached to a job is risky, and your mental health, psychological safety, and financial freedom must come first at all times. Understand that as much as your company values you, they can replace you at any moment.

Set firm boundaries at work, sharpen your skills, stay in the know about new opportunities, supplement your main income, and maintain professional connections outside your workplace so that you’re always ready to leave. This brings me to my next point:

Network like hell

As I wrote in Put Yourself Out There:

When a recruiter or hiring manager searches for candidates, their first port of call is their personal network. If they can’t find someone within their network, they’ll head to LinkedIn next. It follows that if you want to be found for that role, you need to be in their social circle or on LinkedIn—ideally both.

Your CV alone will not get you a job. Being on LinkedIn is a great start, but it will still not get you a job. Actively searching and applying for jobs is an excellent step forward, but you’ll need to go further than that: Befriend, Engage, Give. This is the only type of BEG-ing that gets you far in life.

– Mohammed Shehu

The opportunities you seek are in the hands of other people, and you’ll need to seek out those people and connect with them. These people are everywhere – but you need to be bold enough to approach them, curious enough to learn who they are and what they do, and generous enough to help them succeed so they can help you in turn. Easier said than done.

One more thing: kill your shyness. The phrase “I’m shy” implies that the world should cater to your social awkwardness instead of you stepping out of your shell. It’s also damaging – the more you tell yourself you’re shy, the more self-fulfilling it becomes. It’s been known for centuries that fortune favors the bold, whether in business, romance, or war. Being ‘shy’ in the corporate world is not cute – it’s a costly way to get run over, ignored, and set aside when big decisions – and big payments – are being made. The earlier you work on your social skills and self-esteem, the better your career will perform.

This goes back to mastering public speaking – it helps you get over your fear of talking to people and expressing yourself. Remind yourself whenever you meet new people that they just don’t know how awesome you are yet – so show them.

Start your career with a bang

Hone your skills, learn how to talk to anyone, write relentlessly, sell your value, always have options, and network like hell. That’s the secret sauce.

Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn for more posts like this.

remote jobs

How to land a well paying remote job

To land a flexible, remote job that pays well, you need to learn the right skills, improve your CV and cover letter, boost your online visibility, join the right communities, apply incessantly, and prepare for interviews. You also need to ensure you can get paid for your work no matter where you’re located in the world.


Learn the right skills

With remote working, certain skills are more lucrative and in-demand than others. A bricklayer can’t work remotely, but a software engineer can work from anywhere in the world – and get paid a lot more. To leverage this fact, you have two choices:

  1. Learn the lucrative, in-demand skills that will bring you the money and lifestyle you want; or
  2. Scan your current industry for roles that you can do remotely

#1 is pretty easy to do – there are plenty of well-paying skills currently experiencing high demand. These include:

  1. Writing (copywriting, email marketing, blog writing, etc.)
  2. Design (UX/UI design, graphic design, video editing, etc.)
  3. Social media (content creation and scheduling, paid ads and analytics, influencer marketing, etc.)
  4. Software (full-stack engineering, data science, QA & testing, etc.)
  5. HR (recruiting, training, wellness, etc.)
  6. Customer support (live chat or web support, community management, etc.)

You can learn these skills from places like YouTube, Codecademy, Khan Academy, Skillshare, and more.

#2 is more suitable if you don’t want to leave your field. Let’s say you work in hospitality. Certain aspects of the industry require physical presence: cooking, cleaning, restaurant management, delivery, and more. But there are other aspects that you can do remotely, like marketing restaurants, offering customer support for hotels, coding hospitality apps, and recruiting staff. The key is to find what you enjoy, that pays well, and that you can do remotely. You’ll need to search harder for remote jobs in that specific niche, but they exist. You can also speak to your current or prospective employer and ask if they’re open to a remote working arrangement.

Gain experience

Learning the right skills is just the first step – you still need to gain enough experience before employers and potential clients can take you seriously. This is where building a portfolio comes in. You’ll need to show that you’ve worked on similar projects in the past, and you can do this by simply working on free or paid gigs for friends, family, and colleagues in the beginning. Yes, it’ll be challenging and most likely unpaid, but it’s worth it. Try and negotiate lower rates (or payment in kind) when doing these portfolio-building gigs. 

Examples: 

  • Manage the social media presence of a friend launching their business.
  • Intern at a software development shop for a few months to learn all the frameworks, languages, and insider tricks. 
  • Create voiceovers for local businesses if you have a great voice

You don’t need to have an extensive portfolio: 6-10 good pieces are enough. Just make sure those pieces are your best work because competition is tight for remote jobs and you need projects that cast you in the best possible light.


Improve your CV and cover letter

Your CV is critical to landing a remote job. Hiring managers see hundreds of CVs a day, so they seek first to disqualify you before properly assessing your CV. Don’t give them any reason to chuck yours out of the pile.

Here’s how you can improve your CV:

  1. Keep it short and sweet – one-page max. Yes, everything can fit on one page. Add a link to your LinkedIn profile so people can always see the latest version of your employment history.
  2. Remove unnecessary info like your physical address, driver’s license number and postal address. It’s a remote job — the only thing they need is your name and email address. You can give them all that other stuff when you get the job. Also, remove anything related to high school — nobody cares where you matriculated.
  3. Include links to your website, portfolio, and social media profiles where appropriate.
  4. Keep your CV relevant to the types of jobs you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a management position in your sector, nobody cares that you were a waitress for two months in 2011… unless you’re applying for a hospitality job.
  5. Keep it simple design-wise, label each section clearly, and avoid fancy fonts. Most importantly, include the keywords most commonly used in job descriptions in your field to avoid getting disqualified by applicant tracking systems. For example, suppose you’re applying for content writing roles. In that case, many of the job descriptions will include role-specific words and phrases such as ‘creating content,’ ‘topic research,’ ‘editing,’ ‘SEO,’ and ‘promotion and outreach.’ Including those words improves your chances of making it past the ATS and catching the eye of the hiring manager.

Your cover letter is another crucial piece of your application. Many of the same rules apply: avoid generic templates, be concise (one page), talk about relevant experience, and show some personality. Your cover letter is your chance to shine and show them why they should pick you over the other 537 candidates who applied. You only have one shot at getting it right.


Improve your online visibility

There’s no point gaining skills and experience if nobody can find you. Improving your online visibility exposes you to potential employers and clients across different platforms, and your online profile works for you 24/7. There are three aspects to your online visibility: your website, social media channels, and content.

Website

Your website is your online home — it’s where your content, portfolio, CV, social media links, and contact details live. A good website indicates your commitment to your craft and speaks for you in your absence. You don’t need to pay thousands for a fancy website, either — just find a nice WordPress, Wix, Webflow, or Squarespace template and tweak it to your liking. Use a URL that’s easy to remember and unique to you. For example, my website URL is mohammedshehu.com. If you’re a copywriter in Johannesburg, you can use jhbcopywriter.com. Play around with different ideas until you find one that works. For consistency, use a site like namecheckr.com to find a username and URL combo that’s available across all major channels.

Social media

Your social media presence is an extension of your personal brand. Employers scan your social media profiles for two things: commitment to your craft (do you post about your job? Industry news? Tips and tricks?) and risky content that may harm their brand or yours (hateful comments and posts, lewd content, etc.). 

But before all that, it’s essential to have a presence on the right platforms. To land remote jobs, LinkedIn is non-negotiable — most remote job application forms will ask you for your LinkedIn URL. Beyond LinkedIn, you can choose to have a presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, and other channels, depending on the types of jobs you’re applying for.

For example, if you’d like to work remotely as a graphic designer, you’ll need a profile on LinkedIn and Behance, and maybe another one on Dribbble, Instagram, or Pinterest. If you can build a following on Facebook (through a Page), that works in your favor.

But merely having an account on these pages won’t land you the jobs you seek. It’s also essential to connect with the right people on those platforms. For instance, if you’ve just created a LinkedIn account as a graphic designer, connect and engage with creative directors, marketing managers, club owners, and other key people who are most likely to book your services or hire you to work at their companies. Curate your feed selfishly — make sure every new connection is someone who adds value to your career or business or someone you can add value to. 

Content

Content isn’t king; it’s the whole kingdom. Your content forms part of your CV, and the type of content you create (and how consistently you create it) determines whether or not people will trust you enough with their projects and money. There are plenty of guides online to creating content, but here’s a rough guide:

  1. Document what you’re doing. Working with a new client? Post about it. Learning a new skill? Share your learnings as you go along. When you get into the habit of documenting what you’re doing, content creation becomes exponentially easier.
  2. Share industry news that’s relevant to your audience. What’s happening in your industry right now? What are the implications of those events? How do you feel about them? Sharing current events helps you build credibility. 
  3. Share what your peers are doing or seeking. Did another graphic designer just finish a new piece? Share their post. Is a writer in your circle looking for work? Share their #opentowork post on LinkedIn. A little goodwill today can bring you potential business tomorrow.

Mix up your content formats: post text, images, videos, GIFs, and even audio on sites like Twitter and Clubhouse. I highly recommend experimenting with Stories and Statuses (depending on what platforms you’re on), as those can spark interesting conversations in your DMs.


Join the right communities

While you’re working on your online profile and portfolio, take some time to join the right communities in your field. This is one of the highest-leverage activities you can do, as it will give you first access to all the best jobs in your industry. People hire from within their networks first, so if you’re not in those networks, you’ve already lost. Certain professions lend themselves better to forming online communities than others (like marketing, sales, and software development), but every profession has a place where its members congregate. Find those places, join them, and engage with the people within.

For example, marketers hang out a lot on Clubhouse, Twitter, and Slack. You can join popular Clubhouse rooms on marketing, follow relevant #marketingtwitter conversations, and join Slack communities of other marketers like Superpath (for content marketers). Salespeople hang out a lot on Facebook Groups and Slack communities, so join groups like BAMF on Facebook or RevGenius on Slack. Developers have entire Slack communities dedicated to them and their different languages and frameworks, so join the ones that appeal most to you.

Your results are directly related to your effort in those communities, so make it a point to create content, not just consume it. People remember those who frequently comment and post in these groups and are more willing to contact them first when there’s a new opportunity.


Apply incessantly

Applying for remote jobs is a numbers game. There are hundreds of you applying for the same positions, so the only control you have over the application process is your profile (website, socials, content, CV) and consistency. If you’ve done the first part well, the second part should be a breeze.

There are plenty of online remote job boards that you can subscribe to for regular job vacancies. These include:

  1. WeWorkRemotely
  2. JustRemote
  3. ContentWritingJobs (for writers and content creators)
  4. Angel List
  5. Remotive
  6. RemoteOK
  7. Work In Startups
  8. GitHubJobs
  9. Flexjobs
  10. Arc (for developers)

A simple Google search will turn up even more sites to check out, but the above sites are great starting points. You’ll notice I’ve left out sites like Fiverr and Upwork. This is because while there are freelancers making decent incomes on those platforms, competition is much higher for relatively lower pay. Rather use that energy to build up your online profile and apply for higher-paying jobs.

Can’t find job boards for your niche? Create one to fill that gap. If you know a little bit about web design, marketing, and social media, you can create a platform for jobs in your field and charge companies to advertise their open roles on it. These companies currently pay anywhere from $49 to $299 for job postings, and not only will that give you first access to all the best jobs in your industry, but you’ll likely end up making so much money that you don’t need a remote job anymore. It’ll take you some time, effort, and money to populate your job board and build up an audience, but it pays off handsomely in the long run.

Track every job application in a spreadsheet like this one. It’ll help you know what the progress of each application is, how much the job is worth, and what to expect next. It’ll also let you know if you’re applying enough — because job-hunting is a full-time job. Aim for at least 50 targeted job applications each month. 


Prepare for interviews

If you’ve been lucky enough to get a positive response to your application, congratulations! You’ve likely beaten out hundreds of other applicants for that role, which means you’re doing something right. You’re still far from a signed offer letter, though, so your work has just begun.

Most companies have a few elimination rounds before you get to the actual interview. They may ask you to work on a hypothetical project, do a presentation, or analyze an existing asset and prepare a short report. You might feel that this is a lot of free work for a job you don’t yet have. Don’t think that way. Why? Because everything can be turned into content.

If you work on a hypothetical project for a company you’re interviewing with, you can discuss that on your social media pages or in your newsletter. If you assess and report on a company’s assets (like their website or app), you can add that analysis to your portfolio. It is, after all, something you did — whether you got paid for it or not. And each new addition to your portfolio strengthens your chances of landing the next job you apply for.

If they tell you that you can’t post your work or analysis anywhere else (e.g., by making you sign an NDA), then that’s grounds for payment. Send them an invoice before you start the work.

Once you’ve passed the test(s), there might be several rounds of interviews to get through. You’ll likely talk to the recruiter first, who will do a first pass on your experience and background. After that, you might speak to the hiring manager, the CEO, and a few of your future colleagues. All the rules of a standard job interview apply here, plus a few extra ones specific to remote job interviews:

  1. Come prepared. Learn about the company, the product, and your colleagues in advance — use LinkedIn for the latter.
  2. Check your equipment. Ensure you have a fast internet connection (or lots of mobile data), a working webcam, and a clear mic. While most employers will forgive minor hiccups during a remote call, it sends a better message when you come prepared. If you know your home connection is likely to drop during an interview, head to the nearest wifi-enabled cafe or coworking space to set up for the session, or have your phone on and ready to hotspot you.
  3. Arrive on time. A late arrival sends the wrong message. Communicate in advance if you’re going to be a few minutes late.
  4. Take lots of notes, and bring some along with you if need be. A remote interview means you can jot down notes and refer to them when necessary. No, that’s not illegal – you’re not in high school anymore. Nobody expects you to memorize every little detail of your past working experience. 
  5. Ask questions so you know what you’re walking into. What kind of resources will you work with? Who will you be working with, and what would improve the working relationship between you and them? How often does the company do performance reviews, and what would success look like in 6-12 months? What are the growth prospects for the role? Why did the last person get fired? (so you know what mistakes to avoid). Curiosity scores you brownie points and helps you decide whether the job is worth it.

Get paid

There are two aspects to getting paid for remote work: negotiating your pay and choosing suitable payment method(s).

There are many guides online on how to negotiate your salary. I won’t repeat the tips here, but suffice to say that your target salary should always make you slightly uncomfortable. This ensures that you’re not lowballing yourself, and also gives you room to negotiate if they can’t afford your initial rate.

You might be tempted to take the first offer they give you. Don’t do it. Unless they have a transparent salary calculator (like PostHog does), it’ll be up to you to decide how much you want to get paid and up to them to decide whether they can afford you. You can benchmark your ideal salary by looking at other vacancies for the same role and adjusting the numbers up or down depending on your level of experience, the scope of work, and the expected value you’ll bring to the company.

Remote work also means getting paid in different ways by different clients and employers. There are three main ways to get paid online:

  1. Through PayPal or some other payment platform like Payoneer, Skrill, or TransferWise. Create accounts on all these platforms so you’re always ready to receive payments.
  2. Via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT), also known as a digital bank payment. Always indicate your bank details (including your address and SWIFT code) on all your invoices.
  3. Through an Employer of Record or remote employment platform such as Deel or Rippling, which then pays it to you. You typically have to sign up for an account on the platform your employer or client uses.

Unless you reside in the same country as your prospective employer or one of their subsidiaries, remote companies will typically pay you a lump sum every month covering your salary and benefits (if any). It’ll be up to you to handle your taxes, medical aid, and insurance. Speak to a certified financial advisor in your country for further guidance.


Find a remote job today

Remote working offers flexibility and, in many cases, a lot more money than a local job does. Competition is high for these roles, however, so do everything you can to improve your chances of landing a well-paying gig. Follow the above steps to get started today, and connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok for more advice on remote working, running a business, and growing your brand.

Push and pull - switching costs

Understanding switching costs: Why it’s hard to get users to switch to your app

For every new product on the market, there are certain forces that conspire both for and against it when it comes to user adoption. This is because new products require users to change their behavior, and there’s a psychological and emotional cost to that.

You’ve probably heard of Newton’s First Law – the law of inertia – which states that an object at rest remains at rest until an external force acts on it.

Likewise, a user hooked on an existing solution will remain with that solution until a greater force (you) convinces them to switch over to a new solution (yours). There are many reasons for this, which we’ll look at next.

The 9x Effect

The 9x Effect states that customers overvalue what they already have by a factor of 3, while companies overvalue what they’ve built by a factor of 3. Multiplied, these forces make it harder for users to switch to any new product.

On the customer side, there are 3 things working against you:

  1. The Endowment Effect: People tend to overvalue what they already have, regardless of what’s available.
  2. Status Quo Bias: People will stick with an existing product even when presented with a better one. This bias gets stronger over time.
  3. Gains & Losses Theory: People tend to overestimate any losses in features or performance in their current product.

As a company, there are also 3 things working against you:

  1. Self-design: Products based on what designers or developers need have typically been hard for end-users to adopt.
  2. Over-serving the market: Companies improve products in ways that customers can no longer appreciate (a function of feature creep, which we’ll discuss in a bit).
  3. Missing the Job-To-Be-Done: Companies fail to understand the core job that users hired their product to do.

These switching costs are also why improving an existing solution by a little bit doesn’t get you many new users. For example, if you decided to create a Google Maps alternative that’s only 10% better (assuming you even had the resources for that), you wouldn’t suddenly see a mass exodus from their app to yours.

This is where the 10x rule comes into play. The 10x rule states that any new product has to be ten times better than existing solutions to convince users to switch. This improvement can be in terms of price, performance, or ease of use – but your value proposition has to be better than any existing solution to beat user inertia.

But to improve your own product innovation process, you first need to understand the invisible forces that control your customer.

Switching costs: push and pull forces

The forces we discussed in the previous section can be grouped into 2 categories: ‘Push’ forces and ‘Pull’ forces. These forces are emotion-based and offer insight into why customers stick to existing products – and how you can convince them to switch to yours.

On the one hand, customers will always find flaws with their current solutions and explore new ones. These are the ‘Push’ forces towards your product. On the other hand, customers get anxious around change because what if that new solution gives them the same problems as the current solution? They’ve also formed existing habits and loyalties to their current products. These act as “Pull’ forces away from your solution.

So how do you combat the ‘Pull’ forces and strengthen the ‘Push’ forces? This is where your marketing and messaging come in.

Your role as a SaaS founder is to do 4 things:

  1. Show how bad their existing options are.
  2. Show how much better your product solves their problems.
  3. Reassure them that switching to your app is quick and easy.
  4. Decrease their irrational and emotional attachment to the existing product.

The Mac vs. PC advertising campaign was an excellent example of this approach. By showing side-by-side comparisons of the two operating systems, Apple did 4 things:

  1. They showed how much worse PCs were, compared to Macs.
  2. They showed how much easier it was to switch over to Mac from PC.
  3. They presented PC users as bumbling buffoons; and
  4. They reduced people’s attachment to the PC.

In short, they created anxiety that could only be relieved by buying a Mac.

This is precisely the same playbook you need to follow for your product strategy. As a product manager or founder, do some digging around the push and pull factors your customers are facing and amplify the forces in your favor.

(Excerpt from the FMP blog – check it out to learn more about switching costs and how to market your product.)

Reinvesting in your business

11 Ways to Reinvest in Your Business For Long-Term Growth

That huge client payment just landed, and you can finally check your bank balance without seeing tumbleweeds. You might be tempted to withdraw that cash and blow it on new threads and toys, but pump the brakes for a second. 

You want more payments like that, yes? If so, hold off on the shopping spree and put that money back into your business. Long term-thinking is where it’s at, and with the tips in this article, you’ll be setting yourself up for more windfalls in the future.

Here are 11 ways to reinvest your profits for long-term, sustainable growth:

  1. Raw materials
  2. Equipment
  3. Quality control
  4. Marketing and sales
  5. Hiring
  6. Branches and space
  7. Products and services
  8. Website
  9. Training
  10. Insurance
  11. Paperwork

Let’s walk through each investment.


product
Use your profits to buy stock in bulk.

1. Raw materials

This point is especially relevant if you run a goods-based business. Stock gets cheaper when you buy in bulk, and a windfall provides an opportunity to stock up at a lower price. The less money you spend on inputs – cloth for a tailor, meat for a butchery, or massage oils for a spa – the more money you make on sales.

Meat is an especially salient example. The next time you’re at the grocery store, look at the price of beef, fish, lamb, pork, or chicken. You’ll notice that larger portions cost less per kilo. The difference of a few bucks might not seem like much, but multiply those savings across hundreds of kilos of meat and it quickly adds up. For a small business trying to keep costs under control, these savings make a big difference.

With digital businesses, the math might look a little different. Digital businesses spend more on software subscriptions, but these tools subscribe to the same laws of bulk-buying: the longer your subscription, the less you pay. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, a month-to-month subscription to all the apps in Adobe’s Creative Suite might cost you $79.49/mo. Sign up for an annual commitment, and the price drops to $52.99/mo. If you were making only $100 a month before, your margin more than doubles from $20.51 to $48.01. That’s a 134% price increase in your profits. What would you do with 134% more money each month?


equipment
Buying better equipment makes you more efficient.

2. Equipment

Every business uses specific tools to get the job done. A tailor needs a sewing machine, a music producer needs speakers and mics, and a food truck needs gas and a stove. As you earn profits from your business, invest in better equipment to help you serve your customers more efficiently.

Paying for these upgrades may dent your cash flow in the short term, but investing in the right tools pays off down the road. If you can’t afford the full, upfront cost of new equipment, pay it off in installments using the increased profits you’ll generate.

For instance, say you’re a food truck owner currently flipping one burger a minute with your grill and charging $5 per burger. In an hour, you’d make $5 * 60 = $300.

Now, say you spotted a better grill at the store that can cut the time it takes to flip a burger down to 30s, but it costs $1,500. With your current grill, you’d need to flip 300 burgers (5 hours of work) to afford that new grill. But if you bought the new grill and put it to work, it’d take you half that time – 2.5 hours – to make back your money. It often takes a small hit in the short term to set yourself up for long-term growth.


quality assurance
Quality assurance improves service delivery.

3. Quality control

Stocking up cheaply and buying new equipment is great, but it’s easy to skip over the basics in the process. No matter how fast you grow, you need to maintain high product quality and service delivery standards. Fortunately, more money means you can invest in quality control measures that free you to focus on what matters: offering better products and selling more stuff.

For example, if you’re a freelance designer, you could invest in stock photography or vector files to add to your design library. This makes your designs more dynamic and allows you to charge more for each project. An SEO specialist could invest in a tool like Hexowatch, which monitors websites for changes or errors. If you’re a writer, you could invest in an editor to improve your work, while a photographer could hire a photo retoucher to help them deliver high-quality pics. No matter your profession, raising your standards for both the work and customer experience is vital.


marketing
Marketing helps you scale your business.

4. Marketing and sales

When you first start your business, you likely earned your first few sales from friends and family. This isn’t scalable as you only have so many friends and relatives (unless you were popular in college or your relatives don’t use birth control). A solid sales and marketing strategy is crucial to attracting new audiences and scaling your business. 

Depending on what you sell, you can boost your brand visibility and revenue by investing in the right marketing channels. These include social media, search (SEO and pay-per-click advertising), email marketing, print ads, radio ads (where appropriate), outdoor advertising, and so on. 

Assess how you currently reach out to, engage with, and close new prospects. Do you have a channel strategy? Are you segmenting your target market? Is there a specific script you use to guide each sales conversation? How are you handling proposals and invoicing?

Map out your sales and marketing strategy and make improvements where necessary. If you need help on this, get in touch.


hiring
Hiring new workers adds capacity to your team.

5. Hiring

As your business grows, you will eventually need more hands on deck, whether hiring full-time employees or bringing on contractors and freelancers. While hiring can add new skills to your team and lighten your workload (especially if you’re a solopreneur), new hires mean higher monthly overheads and more admin. You can mitigate these issues by hiring slowly, in stages, and choosing the right person for each job carefully.

To kick off your hiring process, decide what roles you want to fill and the skills you’ll need for those positions. Create job descriptions that highlight the duties and KPIs of each role. 

With these job descriptions in hand, start searching for top candidates who are a good fit for your business. You can post your job ad on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Remotive (if you’re hiring remotely). You can also ask former colleagues, clients, and customers for referrals. Follow up by scheduling 1:1 interviews with your top candidates to narrow down your search and pick the best one(s).


space and business premises
More space allows you to scale your operations.

6. Branches and space

If your business is growing fast, consider moving to a bigger space or opening more branches. If you’re a retail or manufacturing-based business, more space allows you to set-up more equipment, hold more stock, hire more people, and accommodate more customers. If your customers arrive from afar to purchase your products, it might make sense to open new branches closer to them. The same applies if you’re a service business (e.g., a spa or a design agency).

The type of space you want to move into will determine your monthly rentals and lease period. If you’re moving out of your local café to that swanky WeWork in town, you might need to commit to a lease with more terms and conditions. Explore all your options and plan ahead of time to avoid getting stuck with a lousy deal on short notice.


products and services
Offering complementary products and services can boost revenue.

7. Products and services

You can also expand your product offering to give your customers more options to buy from you. For example, if you’re an auto mechanic, you could set-up a car wash on your premises. A photographer could start selling prints and frames, while a caterer could start selling appliances. Pick adjacent products and services that complement your existing line-up.

This type of expansion extends beyond just products and services into events. A book store could host an annual book fair that showcases its books, for example, while a designer could host her own fashion shows and feature her pieces. A writer can go on the speaking circuit to talk about their topic, while a wedding planner can host an annual wedding expo. Such extensions directly make use of your core products and provide you with additional income from ticket sales, membership fees, and consulting fees.


website, lead generation
A website can bring you more traffic and leads.

8. Website

Your business can benefit from having a website. If you don’t have one yet, consider developing a new website or refreshing your existing one. A modern, mobile-friendly website helps you attract and convert more prospects.

For most business websites, the following pages or sections will suffice:

  • A homepage/landing page
  • A ‘Services’ or ‘Products’ page (with pricing where appropriate)
  • A section showcasing your team (if you have one)
  • A contact page with your phone number, physical address, email address, and social media links

If you sell products online, you’ll want a website that supports online payments and inventory management. You can use platforms like Shopify, Squarespace, and WooCommerce for that. Available payment providers include PayPal, Square, Stripe, and PayFast (for South African businesses). 

Although each business is different, all websites need to consider elements like responsive design (to make it mobile-friendly), branding, user experience, and search engine optimization (SEO). Don’t forget to work on your content strategy as well. You can hire a web design agency or content marketing strategist to help you design an excellent website for your business.


training
Training helps you and your team perform at your best.

9. Training

As you expand your team or scope of work, set aside a budget for ongoing training to ensure you’re performing at your best. You might have started your graphic design business with basic knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite, but to take on larger clients and more complex briefs, you’ll need to deepen your knowledge of how those tools work. YouTube is your friend here, but for other types of businesses like legal services, accounting, and real estate, ongoing certifications (and re-certifications) are key to staying on top of your game.

The same goes for your team. Plan to train each member of your team at least once a year. You don’t have to do this through expensive, individual short courses either. You can bring in an expert to give a 3-day training and refresh your team’s knowledge on systems and processes. The more they know, the better they perform – and the more money your business makes. To get the best out of your training, follow these tips:

#1 ) Pick a good training program, even if it’s pricier

Price plays a big role when deciding where to go for further training, but you get what you pay for. Sure, you can fire up YouTube and spend a few hours learning how to make fancy dishes for your private chef business, but if you’re looking for something more structured and directed, find an expert and pay them for their expertise.

How to make beef bourguignon.

#2) Learn how to write

Writing sharpens your thinking. When you’re just starting out, good writing helps you craft better emails, ads, mission statements, product descriptions, and business proposals. As you expand your role and rise up the ranks, writing well helps you communicate better with customers, co-workers, suppliers, and investors. A team that can write better is also one that makes fewer mistakes and fleshes out ideas better, so build a culture of writing into your organization.

#3) Practice what you learn

It’s easy to go for a management training course and breeze through the modules, but applying what you learn to your business helps you benefit faster. For example, if your training program involves crafting a marketing strategy for an assignment, review your current strategy and use that as a case study. When you learn about a new sales model or technique, apply it to your existing sales processes. This sort of real-time application accelerates your learning and growth.


insurance
Insurance protects you in case anything happens.

10. Insurance

Insurance isn’t something most founders think about – until a camera breaks, a laptop gets stolen, or a critical machine breaks down. The tools and people you work with are prone to loss, damage or illness, and the more concentrated your work is on a small number of tools and people, the more critical it is to have insurance. 

This is especially true for freelancers and service-based businesses where a computer virus or theft can leave you unable to work and earn. Insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense (“we haven’t been robbed in forever!”), but it’s one of those things you’ll wish you had when something terrible happens.

There are different types of insurance to look into, such as:

#1 ) Business property insurance

Business property insurance covers your premises, the contents within, and income loss due to a claim. It protects you in case of unexpected fire, theft, water damage, or a building’s collapse.

#2) Product liability insurance

Product liability insurance covers your business against lawsuits and liabilities that may arise from how your goods are made, sold, or used by third parties. For example, if you sell a faulty printer to a customer and that printer ends up causing an electrical fire, you might get sued for damages. Product liability insurance can help cover the costs of defending yourself against such a suit and may also provide coverage if you’re found liable.

#3) Business interruption insurance

Business interruption insurance (or business income coverage) helps replace lost income if something interrupts your business activities, such as a fire, theft, or hurricane. If a virus spreads across the globe and governments shut down all businesses in your industry (ahem), this type of insurance would cover your lost income.

#4) Workers compensation insurance

Workers’ compensation insurance covers your employees in the event of an accident. If one of your workers falls in your shop and breaks their arm, this type of insurance pays for their medical bills and covers all or part of their salary.

#5) Professional liability insurance

Professional liability insurance covers service businesses like architects and software developers. Also known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O) or in some countries as professional indemnity insurance, it covers you if you’re sued by a client for technical mistakes or malpractice while performing your duties. An excellent way to avoid this? Training.

#6) Health insurance

Health insurance covers you from expensive medical bills if you get seriously injured or sick – like if you fall and injure yourself while working from home. This is doubly important if you’re a solopreneur, as surgery or a prolonged illness could leave you bankrupt *and* unable to work while you recuperate.

#7) Commercial auto insurance

If you own a vehicle used for business activities, get commercial auto insurance – especially if it’s your only vehicle. If your car gets damaged or stolen, this type of coverage will repair or replace it and may even provide a loaner you can use in the meantime.


paperwork
Getting your paperwork in order is essential.

11. Paperwork

Look, I get it. You started your business to make some cash on the side and never bothered to register it properly. But if you want to swing for bigger contracts with more established clients, you’ll need to get your paperwork in order. This means ensuring that your business registration is up to date, your taxes are paid up, and your financial statements are in order. To get this right, you might need to hire a business lawyer or an accountant as appropriate. A lawyer can also review your contract templates to remove or amend clauses that might open you up to liability later.


Reinvest in your business today

Growing a business goes beyond crafting and selling great products. It’s about continually improving your systems and processes. From buying new products and equipment to training new hires, every investment you make builds a stronger foundation for your business so it can make you money down the line. Prioritize the investments you need to make today so we can pop champagne on your yacht in 10 years.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I explained what SEO is and why it’s essential for your business. Read it:


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SEO

The Beginner’s Guide To SEO

A primer on SEO and how you can use it to boost your visibility and sales.

Here’s a quick exercise for you:

  1. Think about whatever it is you do professionally. Ex. ‘social media manager.’
  2. Add your city to that phrase. Ex. ‘social media manager Johannesburg.’
  3. Type that into Google.

Does your name come up in the search engine results pages (SERP)? If so, you’re doing great! Feel free to skip this post and go watch some Netflix.

If not, you’ve just witnessed a good reason why you should invest in SEO.

SEO is considered one of the most important aspects of marketing. Despite this, many freelancers and small businesses don’t invest enough in their online presence. 

Being understandably strapped for time, money, and resources, solopreneurs and small business owners simply choose one aspect of digital marketing (say, social media) and completely ignore the rest (like local SEO). This is a grave mistake.

If you’re trying to get new customers and grow your business without spending too much money, you can’t afford to ignore SEO. This blog post will explain what SEO is and how you can boost your online visibility through various SEO tips.

Let’s get started.


A brief introduction to search engine optimization (SEO)

Billions of people use the Internet to search for stuff every day. No matter what you’re looking for, chances are you’ll start your journey on a search engine like Google.

Search engine optimization (or SEO for short) is about optimizing your content and website to help you rank higher in those search results so that customers can find you.

SEO is an ongoing process of learning what your customers are searching for and delivering it to them. Every time you publish a new web page or blog post on your website, you need to ensure it is optimized for search.


Benefits of SEO for freelancers and small businesses

There are many benefits to implementing an effective SEO strategy for your business. Some of the biggest benefits include:

  1. Brand awareness and online visibility: SEO helps you build brand awareness and improve your online visibility. By getting your website to rank high on search engines like Google (and working on your link building strategy), you’re more likely to get organic traffic.
  2. Improved lead generation: A highly ranked website gets lots of traffic and conversions. This is because you can generate leads and drive potential customers towards your online shop, booking page, or YouTube channel. With enough effort, SEO can become one of the most effective ways of generating leads for your business.
  3. Cost savings on paid marketing: Although SEO won’t completely replace your need for paid marketing, it can help you save a significant amount of money on it. When done right, SEO provides the same benefits as paid marketing at a fraction of the cost.

Better rankings mean a better chance of gaining new customers and even stealing customers from your competitors. Solopreneurs and small business owners who invest in SEO basics gain an advantage over those who don’t.


Quick SEO wins: How to get found online

Before even diving deep into SEO, there are a few steps you can take to improve your visibility on the web:

  1. Fill out your business info on Google My Business. This lets you set your business location, trading hours, website URL, as well as add photos related to your products and services. Include lots of photos of the inside and outside of your premises so visitors know exactly how to find you and what to expect when they arrive.
  2. Get on social media. This is non-negotiable. Your customers are spending more and more time on social media, and if you’re not there when they’re searching for information on your products or services (or if you have no up-to-date content), you might lose out on valuable business. There’s no need to be on all 1,770 platforms, either – just pick two big ones and establish your presence on them. Check out my piece on social media content strategy if you’re stuck on what type of content to create.

Completing those two simple tasks will already put you far ahead of your competitors. Let’s now dive into SEO strategy and how you can improve your visibility online.


How to get started with your SEO strategy

There are 3 key steps to getting started with SEO:

  1. Identify the keyword phrase(s) you want to rank for
  2. Create good content around those keywords and apply on-page SEO tips
  3. Optimize your website for better rankings through technical SEO tips

Let’s look at each step in turn.

#1 Identify the keyword phrase(s) you want to rank for

The first step is to do some keyword research – identifying the keyphrases that are relevant to your business and the products and services you offer. You ideally want to rank for phrases with low keyword difficulty, i.e., little competition. There are many tools available that can help you carry out keyword research, such as:

There are others, of course, so feel free to Google ‘SEO tool’ and play around with a few. If you’re not sure what keyphrases to focus on, take a look at your website analytics. That will tell you what keyword phrase(s) people are searching for when they land on your website and will give you a clearer idea of what to focus on. You can also hire an SEO expert to carry out an SEO audit on your website (more on hiring an SEO expert later).

For example, if you run a bakery in Windhoek, you might want to rank for the following keywords:

  • bakery
  • bakery shop
  • cakes windhoek
  • windhoek bakery
  • how to bake bread
  • buy cakes windhoek
  • buy bread windhoek
  • best bread windhoek
  • best bakery windhoek

And so on. If someone is searching for any keyphrases along those lines, they either want to learn something or buy something. Your job is to capture that intent and turn it into a potential sale through content marketing and savvy SEO practices.

For example, in addition to writing blog posts on cake recipes, you can also shoot and publish videos on how to make a cake and link back to your website, online shop, or Instagram account in the video’s description.

Quick cake break.

#2 Create good content around those keywords and apply on-page SEO tips

Once you’ve identified the relevant keywords for your business and products, the next step is to create content around them that is optimized for search engines. When creating your content, keep the following SEO basics in mind:

  1. Create relevant and useful content: Don’t just create content for the sake of it. Your goal is to scratch an itch – to provide genuinely useful information for your target audience. A blog post on “How To Bake A Cake” is good content for a bakery. A blog post on the “History Of Cakes in 16th Century Vienna,” maybe not so much – unless you were marketing to cake historians.
  2. Aim for quality rather than quantity: It’s tempting to pad your content with filler material, but people eventually gravitate to sites with better, more concise content – and those sites end up getting all the SEO juice. A 500-word blog post that answers a visitor’s search query immediately is preferable to a rambling 3,000-word piece. Search engine results prioritize quality over quantity.
  3. Make sure your content is unique: Your content shouldn’t be found anywhere else on the Internet. This will help you avoid legal issues, satisfy the quality metric from the previous point, and gain an SEO boost for originality. This is not to say you can’t write about an existing topic – just put a fresh spin on it to avoid creating copy-cat content.
  4. Add images and videos: Adding images and videos to your content is an effective way to engage your readers. This means people spend more time on your content, which sends a signal to search engines that your website or blog is worth ranking.
  5. Use headings, lists, and subheadings appropriately: Headings, lists, and subheadings are a great way to break up your content so that it’s easier to read (or skim). They can also help search engines understand what the important points are. Notice how I’ve divided this post into separate sections using relevant headings.
  6. Write for humans, not search engines: Many people swing to the other extreme and write content that’s solely optimized for Google’s algorithm – which is a mistake. Your content needs to be readable and engaging to your human visitors.
  7. Include a meta description, meta tag, alt text, and title tag(s) where necessary: A meta description is what search engines show under your link in the SERP. Meta tags are little content descriptors that tell search engines what a web page is all about. (For example, one meta tag for this page would be ‘seo.’) A title tag labels your page for both human readers and search engines (the title of this blog post is right at the top). Alt text describes images to people with visual disabilities who might be using a screen reader.
  8. Regularly refresh and repurpose old content: Doing this will drive consistent traffic to your site and help you stay relevant among search engines for many years afterward. For example, if you wrote about “Why Freelancers and Small Businesses Should Invest in SEO in 2021,” you can come back the next year to add new sections, update any old stats, and change ‘2021’ in the title to ‘2022.’
  9. Get other people to link to your content: Getting reputable sites to link to your content (also known as ‘link building’) is a great way to increase your visibility and search ranking. The more prominent the sites linking to you are (called a ‘backlink’), the higher your content ranks. This means that a backlink from The New York Times is preferable to a backlink from some abandoned blog with only ten viewers a month.

#3 Optimize your website for better rankings through technical SEO tips

The tips in the previous section mostly apply to what’s called on-page SEO efforts – optimizing the content itself. The following tips relate to off-page SEO efforts – everything to do with your website and media assets. Let’s look at a few ways to improve your website for better search rankings:

  1. Optimize your images: Larger images mean that your content takes longer to load, which affects your search rankings. Compress your images to just a few kilobytes each (100-200 KB or less) and make sure to add relevant alt text for each image.
  2. Create clean URLs: It’s always a good idea to use shorter, cleaner URLs. A good URL example is mohammedshehu.com/seo-guide. A not-so-good URL example is everything I’ve been using before I wrote this guide and followed my own advice.
  3. Use keywords in your URLs: Use relevant keywords in your URL, like mohammedshehu.com/seo-guide for an SEO guide.
  4. Use anchor text: Anchor text is what you use to link out to another page within your content. For example, ‘Mohammed Shehu‘ is the anchor text in this sentence.
  5. Use long-tail keywords in your content: Long-tail keywords help you rank highly for specific search phrases (and might have a lower keyword difficulty score). A short-tail keyword would be something like ‘hire copywriter.’ A long-tail keyword would be ‘hire Johannesburg B2B SaaS copywriter.’ The more specific the keyword phrases in your content, the more likely you are to be found by people searching for that exact product or service.
  6. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly: If users can’t access your website properly on mobile, it’s going to hurt your site’s SEO. According to Google, a mobile-friendly site is one that displays text you can read without zooming, sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally, and places links far enough apart that you can tap the correct one easily. Site loading speed is another factor search engines evaluate when determining your site’s SEO ranking. You can test if your website is mobile-friendly by using Google’s own tool here.
  7. Set up redirects where appropriate: Setting up redirects for your URLs helps to avoid confusion and ensures you’re not losing organic traffic from old links. For example, if you had a blog post with the URL yourwebsite.com/2021 and you changed it to yourwebsite.com/2022, you can set up a 301 redirect so that anyone who clicks on the old link is automatically redirected to the new one. You can also set up redirects to capture user intent from related searches. For example, if you click on mohammedshehu.com/cv or mohammedshehu.com/resume, both will take you to the same page.
  8. Use HTTPS: It’s 202X, and if your website isn’t using HTTPS, you should get on board. You can easily get an SSL certificate from your domain or hosting provider for a few dollars a year – and not only does this boost your search rankings, but it also inspires trust and confidence in your customers that you’re a reputable business to transact with.
  9. Get on social media: Social media platforms naturally rank high in search engine results. If your business is on one of those platforms, your business name and profile page(s) might show up when potential customers search for you, leading to more organic traffic.
  10. Get to know Google Search Console: If you’re serious about SEO, you should get to know Google Search Console. It can tell you a lot about how people are finding you online, how much organic traffic you’re getting, and also alert you to any website issues that might be affecting your search engine ranking. You can install the free Google Search Console plugin on your WordPress website.
  11. Compress your server files: This can improve your website’s load time and search engine ranking. If you use WordPress, there are several free plugins that can do this in a few clicks for you – just search the WordPress plugin directory for a good one.
  12. Remove thin or duplicate content: If there’s a lot of thin or duplicate content on your website, it’s going to hurt your rankings. You can fix this by only using one unique piece of content per topic.
  13. Use canonical tags: Canonical tags are a way of telling search engines which version of a page is the original one, especially if you’re reposting content from elsewhere to your website. It elegantly solves the issue of duplicate content.
  14. Remove old pages: Review your website periodically and remove pages that aren’t relevant anymore or redirect them to their more updated versions. This helps you clean up your site and avoid ranking problems.
  15. Make sure your robots.txt file is set up properly: Your site’s robots.txt file tells search engines how they should crawl your website and needs to be set up the right way. If you’re using a hosting platform like Bluehost, IONOS, or GoDaddy, you might not need to worry about this.

Monitor and check all aspects of your site like site speed, broken links, redirects, etc. regularly, as these components are just as important as the content itself.


How do I get started with WordPress SEO?

Thanks to its legacy as a pillar of the web, WordPress SEO has gotten easier to manage over the years. If you use WordPress, you can download several tools (such as the Yoast SEO plugin) to help you optimize your content and website.

The Yoast SEO plugin performs a mini SEO audit on each piece of content and gives you ways to help it rank better. While it won’t replace a full SEO team, it can get you started on your way to better search rankings and increased organic traffic.


Should you hire an SEO specialist? Advantages and disadvantages

Looking at the above tips, you might feel overwhelmed at having to do all of that by yourself – on top of all the other business-critical tasks you have to accomplish. This is where hiring an SEO specialist comes in. 

An SEO professional can take the work off your hands and implement an ongoing, long-term SEO strategy that helps you rank as high as possible for your desired keywords. Below are some pros and cons to keep in mind when hiring an SEO expert:

Pros of hiring an SEO specialist

  1. Focus: Outsourcing your SEO efforts can help you focus on other critical aspects of your business, allowing you to get more done. A specialist can implement all of the tips in this article and save you a lot of work.
  2. Knowledge: Google’s algorithm changes from time to time, which means that SEO activities that work today might not work tomorrow. An SEO professional stays up-to-date with all the latest changes to Google’s algorithm and can advise you on the best SEO practices at that point in time.
  3. Tools: SEO specialists have access to tools and databases that you might not have, and can often help you rank better than you would on your own.
  4. Training: An SEO specialist knows what they’re doing right from the jump, so you don’t have to train them for months to understand how SEO works.
  5. Strategy and execution: An SEO expert can help you perform an SEO audit and map out your content marketing strategy to bring in more search traffic – two activities you might not have the time for or expertise in.

Cons of hiring an SEO specialist

  1. Cost: Hiring an SEO professional is not cheap, and it’s not a once-off payment, either. Successful SEO requires ongoing work to help you rank well for specific keywords, so ensure you have an adequate budget to pay for it.
  2. Trust: You have to make sure you hire someone who’s trustworthy and doesn’t engage in blackhat tactics. Otherwise, they could potentially harm your website’s ranking over time. Ask them about their SEO methods, request previous work they’ve done, and seek out referrals and testimonials before picking the right person.
  3. Time: SEO specialists need time to implement their strategies (think 6-12 months before you start seeing real results). This means you’ll need to be patient and wait (which isn’t always easy if your business needs immediate results).
  4. Alignment: An SEO specialist might not understand your business as well as you do, so you’ll need to work closely with them to ensure your SEO goals and their activities are aligned.

Takeaway: If you have the funds but not the time to invest in extensive SEO efforts, hire a reliable and trustworthy SEO specialist to take the work off your hands.


Get started with SEO

Successful SEO gets your business noticed, drives more search traffic to your website, and increases your conversions. It’s one crucial element of your marketing mix that you shouldn’t ignore.

I’ve listed several ways of ranking high on search engine results in this piece – all whitehat methods – but there are consequences to using shady tools or spammy tactics to get ahead (i.e. blackhat methods).

Search engines are quite strict about SEO and are quick to penalize any website they think is gaming the system. For example, they can penalize you by dropping your rankings significantly (have you ever reached page 56 of Google results?)

As long as you color within the lines, you’ll enjoy lots of SEO juice for years to come. Good luck on your SEO journey, and may the search be with you! 🖖🏽

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I wrote about apartment hunting and what it taught me about job hunting. Read it:


Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

What Apartment Hunting Taught Me About Job Hunting

How to pick an apartment

I’m apartment-hunting again.

This process usually drains me — not just because of the constant shuttling from unit-to-unit, but because of the mental pressure that hangs over my head throughout the whole process. Don’t screw this up, says the voice in my head. You’ll have to live here for the next 12 months.

I’ve got a bunch of friends who are also currently hunting for new apartments (coincidence? Or just Baader-Meinhof?). One of them laughed after I told her about my struggle to pick the right place. “Just pick a place that makes you happy.”

Sure. Super helpful, Lihle.

Thing is, lots of things make me happy in an apartment — and I’ve spent the last few days trying to nail down exactly what draws me to a place. Just like Tinder, there are certain things that make you instantly swipe right on a unit, and others that are instant deal-breakers. Here’s my Delighters vs. Dealbreakers list so far.

Delighters

  • Modern fittings and finishes. I’m a huge sucker for these. Sleek wooden cupboards, modern doors and door handles (ugh), glass stovetops, and chic lighting and taps. Instant right-swipe.
  • Space. A spacious kitchen (with plenty of cupboards), bedroom (with lots of closet space), and bathroom (with a nice, big mirror) are all important to me.
  • Height. The quickest way to get my attention is to mention that the unit is on the top floor. I equate that to great views, reduced noise from traffic, and no inconsiderate neighbors smoking in the unit above and blowing smoke into my apartment.
  • Windows and lighting. Beyond just indoor lighting, the place should have plenty of windows that I can stare out of, as it greatly helps me to think. This is easier with a top-floor apartment.
  • Distance to shops, the gym, and amenities. The unit has to be within 600m of a mall or shopping center, as I prefer walking to get groceries or lift weights. I learned the hard way in 2017 never to base your choice of location on having a car, as it can get totaled within weeks of you moving in. Always ask yourself: “Where would I choose to live if I had to walk everywhere?” You’ll make a much more sound decision.
  • A great street and building entrance. The street you drive out on can greatly influence how you feel about your day when leaving, or how you feel about coming back home. Your environment matters for your mental health and sanity, and it’s essential to pick a place that makes you feel happy coming back home to (or inviting people over to). Potholes, trash on the street, unswept leaves, and unpleasant smells can subtly poison your mood without you knowing it.

Those are my delighters — let’s now look at what might make me reject a place.

Dealbreakers

  • Cracks, holes, or old fittings and fixtures. Instant nope. Apart from an indication of lack of maintenance, cracks and holes are prime hiding spots for cockroaches.
  • Only having a bathtub. Gimme a shower, dammit.
  • Grass, trees, or hedges anywhere on the property. As soon as I see greenery, I hear leaf-blowers. You can’t think, sleep, or hear yourself talk when those noisy contraptions are at work — and the more trees and hedges the complex has, the longer and more often their blowing happens. Dear maintenance people: there has to be a quieter solution.
  • Only having one kitchen sink. Petty? Yes. A dealbreaker? Also yes. I like having two sinks to do the dishes in — sue me.

There are plenty of other things that would either delight me (grey or light brown interiors! 😍) or deter me (red cupboards 🤢) but I’m a lot more flexible on those than the above.

How house hunting is similar to job hunting

How we choose where to live is no different from where we choose to work. Your home and workplace are the two places you spend the most time in — and if you work from home like myself, it becomes even more important to pick the right place.

We’re in the new year, and some of you may be considering a job change. Everyone is different, and you likely have your own list of delighters and dealbreakers that help you navigate your options.

You might value a great, supportive boss and cool workmates, for example, and eschew a slavedriver who micromanages your every move. Or maybe you crave coming to work in a nice building with your own office and want to avoid another open-plan cubicle situation.

Write down whatever is important to you and use that as the benchmark for your next job application — but recognize that you might have to make trade-offs at some point. What’s important is that when you know what you want, the universe conspires to bring it to you. That’s not just a hokey-pokey, feel-good line — that’s a fact.

If you have your own weird house-hunting or company-selection criteria, I’d be happy to hear them in the comments! If you prefer only one kitchen sink, please unsubscribe immediately.

Just leave. 🤚🏽

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I wrote a guide on how to start conversations with prospects on LinkedIn. Read it:


Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Tinder

LinkedIn Lead Generation Outreach Tips: Lessons from Tinder

Tinder is a fascinating app.

When you view it as a social experiment, Tinder reveals how people project themselves onto the world, engage with other people, and mask and reveal their true intentions. It offers a compelling window into human nature and societal structures once you see past the humorous one-liners and carefully edited selfies.

Most people, however, struggle with something more pressing: starting and holding a conversation on the app. Whether due to shyness, anxiety, or fear, they might seek out the best openers to kick off a chat and hope it leads to something more. A simple search for “best Tinder openers” returns close to 800,000 results — plenty of templates to choose from.

With all these results, how are you still struggling to start conversations on Tinder?

The problem is that many of these message and bio templates get abused to death. If you use a template as-is, someone else has probably done that too — and that takes away one of your biggest advantages on any dating app: your originality.

Nowhere is this more necessary than on LinkedIn, a massive platform hosting over 700 million professionals, contractors, and owners. The platform attracts salespeople who try to drum up new business for their companies by reaching out to prospects to set up meetings, demos, and sales.

Being the largest online concentration of corporate cash on the planet, it’s no surprise that there are entire playbooks on how businesses can succeed on the platform. I wrote a piece recently on why and how business owners should leverage the LinkedIn platform for lead generation — come back and read it after this.

There are many approaches to leveraging LinkedIn for lead generation, but most salespeople rely on outdated outreach templates, copying and pasting the same messages for each prospect.

No, Mr. Salesperson, I don’t want to tell you what I’ve been “working on lately” (you don’t really care anyway), nor do I want to “grab a time” on your calendar so you can “learn more about my business” like the last 15 reps before you.

Business owners and sales reps need to be smarter about their outreach. There’s a better way to do it, but it will require more effort from you, and you won’t be able to automate it easily.

How to nail your first LinkedIn outreach message

LinkedIn outreach boils down to 2 P’s: personality and personalization.

Firstly, your personality needs to shine. If you sound like a spammy marketer or salesperson, prospects will ignore you. If you come across as authentic, they will respond positively. 

A good rule of thumb is to write outreach messages the way you’d text a friend or long-time colleague. You wouldn’t pepper your message with unnecessary! exclamation! marks! (what are you so excited about?!). You wouldn’t hype up a chilled conversation, either — and make no mistake; an outreach message should be low-key enough to come across as authentic. At the slightest whiff of you trying to sell me something too early, I check out of the conversation.

Secondly, you need to personalize every message you send a prospect — and I’m not just talking about including their name in your message. Your messages have to be personalized to their history, content, and interests. You can’t just slide in and immediately refer them to some random article you “found” simply because that’s the first step of your carefully crafted outreach sequence. Instead, try and relate your message to something they’ve been, done, shared, or commented on.

Start off by building rapport before trying to sell anything.

This is where most LinkedIn outreach efforts quickly fail. Unless you spend some time to get to know someone, you won’t be able to send them the kind of personalized message that says, “I see you. I took the time to know what you like, engage with your content, and craft a relevant message you’d want to respond to.

I can already hear you saying, “But that’s not scalable! I can’t spend hours going through each profile trying to find common ground!” And that’s why your success rate is so low. 

Besides, there’s another platform where you already personalize everything by default: Tinder.

How to send an effective message on Tinder

Tinder is an excellent proving ground for any salesperson who wants to master the art of attracting and convincing a prospect. On LinkedIn, you might be selling products, services, courses, and events. On Tinder (or any other dating platform), you’re selling a much more expensive product — yourself — to a random stranger. 

You could be the best thing that ever happened to them or turn out to be their worst nightmare — and they have no way of knowing that. But just as with any other type of sales and marketing effort, your job is to convince them that you’re ice-cream in summer.

Below are 2 examples showing the start of different conversations:

Best Tinder openers
Yes, pineapple belongs on pizza.

In the above example, my bio called for jailing people who oppose pineapple on pizza — quasi-contentious enough for her to kickstart the conversation. Here’s the second chat:

Best Tinder openers
She was a self-proclaimed foodie.

In the above instance, the lady was a self-proclaimed foodie, so I kicked off with that. It’s always great when people have interesting profiles that give you something to work with.

Profile optimization is a big thing on both platforms, and there are entire guides for that (Tinder, LinkedIn). All of them boil down to the same point: make your profile attractive enough for people to swipe right or click on.

Ask yourself: what’s the “hook” on your Tinder or LinkedIn profile that would make someone want to learn more about you or your product? What’s the one thing that would help them overcome their shyness (Tinder) or hesitation (LinkedIn) enough to text your first? In other words, would *you* DM yourself out of the blue?

Don’t be boring — show some personality. And try to avoid weak openers like these:

weak Tinder openers
How not to start a conversation on Tinder — or anywhere else. (Source)

Also, note that I personalized my responses to each conversation. I didn’t use any “5-step Tinder messaging template” to drive the conversation forward — that would never work. Conversations are dynamic, and you have to be able to adapt on the fly. Just act and speak normally — they’re humans like you.

Coming back to LinkedIn, does this mean that your automated outreach sequence will slow down a bit? Yes. The truth is that no customer will walk a straight line through your perfectly curated 5-step sequence — just like the idea of a straight-line sales funnel is laughable at best.

They might take a detour, pause for a bit, maybe even take a step back. They’ll ask you questions, ponder your offer, and ask their friends for advice. You need to be able to adapt to each situation.

Your LinkedIn outreach efforts need a deft, human touch. Software is good for kickstarting the conversation or priming them to visit your profile — but you need to be hands-on afterward to close the sale.

And if you want to sharpen your LinkedIn sales skills, download and master Tinder. You’ll learn more from being in the field than from reading a thousand online guides.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I wrote a guide on how to start a blog. Read it:


Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Blogging

How to Start a Blog: Easy-to-Follow Advice for Total Beginners

Blogging is one of the best ways to improve your thinking, hone your writing, and grow an audience. But many people don’t know where to begin, what they’ll write about, or how they’ll get people to read their work. So I set out to write this post as an easy, step-by-step guide for anyone who’s new to the game.

I’ve split this post into two parts: planning and publishing

The planning phase has 4 steps:

  1. Nail your niche and audience
  2. Pick a platform
  3. Build a community
  4. Monetize your blog if you want to

The publishing phase has 3 steps:

  1. Pick a cadence
  2. Build a topic web
  3. Write, edit, and publish
  4. Promote your writing

Let’s get started.


Part A: Planning

Before you write a single word, you need to map out a few things about your blog. This includes deciding what you’ll write about (and for who), picking the right platform and building a community around it, and deciding whether or not you’ll monetize your blog. Let’s explore each of these in turn.

#1 Nail your niche and audience

The first step is to be crystal clear about two things:

  1. What you want to say
  2. Who will read your work

What you’re saying needs to be interesting enough to warrant an online existence, the energy to crank out content, and the sheer drive to promote it. If you’re not passionate about your content, you’ll quit sooner than you need to.

Secondly, that content needs to be relevant to a specific audience — whether that’s stay-at-home moms or mid-career PR practitioners. Knowing your ideal audience helps you write content that’s relevant to them.

What if I don’t care about amassing a readership and just want to write my thoughts down?

That’s fine, too. Use your blog as a safe space to think and write — you might just discover others out there who think along the same lines as you.

#2 Pick a platform

There are many options out there, but to simplify things for you, choose between WordPress and Substack.

  1. WordPress is the most well-known blogging platform, powering about 40% of the web. A powerful tool for pro bloggers, WordPress lets you add extra functionality (like sending emails, backing up your blog, tracking your visitors, and changing your blog’s appearance) through plugins. It’s also free (well, ad-supported, with an option to upgrade to a paid plan). It’s what I use for my website blog (through my hosting service).
  2. Substack is free, has a clean UI, lets you set up paid memberships, automatically builds your email list, and doesn’t show ads anywhere on your content. It’s what I use for my email newsletter.

How to choose: If you have a domain and hosting package, install WordPress. If you just want to start writing without worrying about domains, hosting, plugins, and all that jazz, use Substack.

writing online with Substack
Substack lets you start writing right away for free.

#3 Build a community

There are several advantages to building a community around your content:

  1. You have guaranteed eyes on every new blog post you write.
  2. Your audience shares your content and brings you new readers.
  3. You can monetize your community through books, courses, products, etc.

You can build an audience over email, on social media, and on mobile:

  1. Email is the most crucial element of your audience-building and promotional efforts. Having email subscribers means that they get your content as soon as it’s out, and you don’t have to hunt for new readers every time you publish a new post. My newsletter is an example of that – subscribe now.
  2. Social media expands your potential reach and allows for community engagement in a way that email simply doesn’t. You can create threads on Twitter, run competitions on Instagram or Facebook, run polls on LinkedIn, create rooms on Clubhouse, and more. Consider establishing a presence on one or two of the major social media platforms as you go along. See my guide on how to improve your online visibility.
  3. Mobile makes it easy for people to share your work with their contacts. You can create WhatsApp groups, Telegram channels, and Slack communities to promote your content in.

There are plenty of other channels and platforms you can consider, but these are all you need to start with.

#4 Monetize your blog if you want to

You don’t have to monetize your blog at all (I wouldn’t even worry about that initially). However, as you grow your writing portfolio and audience, opportunities to make money will present themselves. There are many ways to turn a buck from blogging — here are 11 of them:

  1. Banner ads: You can place ad banners all over your blog and earn a few cents whenever someone clicks on them. If you have high traffic, this can be a great way to earn passive income — but never sacrifice the reading experience for ad revenue. Readers hate spammy blogs.
  2. Affiliate marketing: You can write about stuff (products, courses, services) and earn a commission whenever someone signs up under your affiliate link. Affiliate programs want to partner with bloggers who have decent traffic, great content, and loyal readers. For example, if you blog about gourmet meals, a kitchenware retailer might give you a unique URL to include in your pieces about cooking classes. For each reader that buys a set of pots using your link, you get a commission.
  3. Memberships: This involves creating lots of great content and putting some of it behind a paywall (“gated content”). Readers have to sign up to view your premium content, and you can charge them a one-off fee or a monthly/annual subscription.
  4. Partnerships: Here, a brand pays you to post about them, their products and services, or their upcoming event in exchange for cash. Again, brands will want to see traffic and loyalty to your blog before they ink any partnerships with you. For example, if you blog about beauty tips and have a sizable social media following or decent blog traffic, an international beauty brand might pay you a certain amount of money to post about their new lipstick range.
  5. Courses and training: Courses allow you to package your knowledge once and sell it infinite times. For example, if you blog about digital marketing, you can create a course for your readers and use it as a lead magnet to grow your email list and expand your online community.
  6. Consultations: Writing establishes authority on a topic, and over time, people want to tap into your expertise. If you blog about the law, you can include a call to action at the bottom of each article to contact you for legal advice. Every blog post thus becomes a sales tool for your services.
  7. Speaking gigs: Your readers come from different backgrounds, and some of them might work in companies that need speakers on the topic you write about. The more you write, the more likely you are to be invited on stage and paid to speak.
  8. Events: With enough blog traffic, you can turn your readers into attendants at your next event or conference. For example, if you blog about the music industry and have built up a sizable readership, you can launch a music festival and sell tickets, merchandise, and backstage passes through your blog. Rinse and repeat every year.
  9. Merchandise: Readers who love your content typically want more of you than you can provide. One solution is to create branded merchandise like clothing, accessories, and stationery. Your blog content then powers your shop, which allows you to hire people to write full-time for you, leaving you to make more merchandise and earn more money, ad infinitum.
  10. Book opportunities: After writing for a while, you can compile your content into a book or series of books. You might need to update your content with new data, hire an editor to clean up the text, and speak to a publisher about getting your book out there — or simply self-publish on Amazon. The book then becomes a way for new readers to find your blog.
  11. Freelance writing opportunities: When you publish good work, other people will want you to write guest posts for them for a fee. These arrangements can be highly lucrative depending on how well-known you are within your niche.

There are other ways to earn money from blogging, but these 11 options should keep your coffers full whether you pick one or more to explore. 


Part B: Publishing

After deciding on what you’ll write about, who you’ll write it for, where you’ll publish, and how you’ll monetize it (or not), it’s time to write. There are 4 steps here:

  1. Pick a cadence
  2. Build a topic web
  3. Write, edit, and publish
  4. Promote your writing

Here’s a little more detail on each:

#1 Pick a cadence

The idea of blogging on a schedule can be intimidating for new writers, but picking a cadence (frequency) can help you build your writing muscles much faster. 

Consistency breeds results, and when you decide to publish once or twice a week — every week, no excuses — the quality of your writing improves significantly. Decide on a cadence that works for you and commit to it for the long haul — it’ll pay big dividends.

#2 Build a topic web

You’re not a blogger; you’re a spider whose job is to build a web of content so deep, wide, and sticky that your readers can’t help but happily get lost in it.

Take finance, for example. 

You can begin by writing about How to Set a Budget (article #1) then write about How to Clear Your Debt (#2) and link to it in #1. 

You can then follow up with a piece on How to Prepare Tax Returns (#3) and link to in #1. After that, you could write an article on How to Pick the Right Credit Card (#4) and link to it in #2 (on debt). 

This is called a “topic cluster,” and Google loves that stuff. Topic clusters help your readers find related information, help you build your authority as a writer, and increase how much time people spend on your blog.

#3 Write, edit, and publish

Writing is the easiest part — you’ll actually spend most of your time on research. Start by Googling the topic you want to write about and scanning the top 5-10 results to see how they’ve structured their content, the topics you need to include, and what you can improve upon. Then, create an outline and flesh it out.

You can also reverse the process and start by writing your own thoughts, then seeing what others have written about the topic and adding their insights to yours. If you’re suffering from writer’s block, use a tool like Copy.ai to generate blog intros.

online writing prompts using copy.ai
Sound familiar?

#4 Promote your writing

Blogging is primarily about getting others to read your work (otherwise, you’re just writing in a diary — and you don’t need WordPress or Substack for that). You can promote each piece in different ways, such as by:

  1. Posting it to social media
  2. Emailing to your subscribers
  3. Posting it to relevant groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reddit
  4. Sending it to other bloggers in your space to share with their readers

Revisit each piece after 3-6 months to promote it again for new readers, email subscribers, and followers (assuming it’s evergreen content).


Start writing online

When I started writing this, I meant for it to be a quick 600-word piece on how to start blogging. But the more I wrote, the more I thought about new things to add that would help make this a definitive yet concise guide to starting a blog. That’s one of the benefits (and curses) of writing — you’ll never run out of things to write.

Another benefit of writing this post is that I’ll never again need to explain the process of starting a blog to anyone — I can just point them to this post. By parking my thoughts online, I’ve made it easy to reference myself whenever I need to. This is a massive timesaver that you’ll come to appreciate as you blog more often.

A word of warning, though: beware of The Dip

Post #1 will be easy to write. Posts #2-5 will test you — and you’ll feel like quitting the journey halfway through. Hang in there — that’s Resistance trying to dissuade you from Mastery. By the time you get to Post #6, you won’t even recognize your writing from Post #1 because you’ll have improved so much. That’s the beauty of consistency.

You now have the tools to start your blog. Go forth and write.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I gave 14 tips on how to improve your CV and land a job. Read it:


Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Robotic process automation

RPA Healthcare Guide: 6 Use-Cases for Healthcare Leaders

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a hot topic today, but many healthcare leaders haven’t yet grasped the potential of this powerful technology to accelerate digital transformation within the healthcare sector.

Automation solutions have the potential to save millions of dollars in costs while improving patient satisfaction scores. Yet, there are many healthcare professionals who have never heard of RPA or don’t understand how it can be used in their organization.

In this article, I’ll explain why RPA technology is good news for the healthcare industry – and outline 6 ways it can help improve critical healthcare workflows and slash costs.

Let’s dive in.

But first: what is Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to automate routine tasks. RPA software is used in many industries including healthcare & pharmaceuticals, insurance, and government.

Business process automation isn’t new. It’s been around for decades, but until recently it was an expensive and custom-made solution that few could afford.

The use of robotics in factories has increased operational efficiency and flexibility in the manufacturing sector, making it possible to improve production without adding headcount or increasing over-time. Today, that same technology is being re-worked to perform routine office tasks in a way that benefits businesses all over the world.

robotics automation
Robotics have improved operational efficiency and flexibility.

And the results have been staggering.

The market for robotic process automation has exploded over the past few years, with Grand View Research expecting revenues to surpass $25 billion by 2027. Adoption is also rising fast among many businesses, with a recent Deloitte study reporting that 53% of respondents have already started their RPA journey. 

In order not to miss out on these massive gains, it’s imperative for healthcare leaders to start exploring ways to leverage RPA technology in their organizations.

Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare

The US healthcare industry is large and complex. Every year, hundreds of healthcare companies collectively spend billions of dollars to keep the healthcare system running smoothly. 

Throw in changes to the reimbursement models for Medicaid and Medicare patients, and the healthcare industry has seen an increase in data volume with different parties needing to share patient data seamlessly and efficiently. 

This barrage of information can result in significant bottlenecks when it comes to verifying patient data for regulatory compliance purposes or clinical research efforts.

Enter RPA software.

RPA tool
Increasing patient data volumes can result in significant bottlenecks.

Most healthcare leaders have the wrong idea of what software robots can do for their organization. The common view is that RPA software is only useful for automating back office or administrative tasks — but it’s much more powerful than that. 

In a healthcare organization, RPA technology can streamline critical operations and save time, which means improved care, less waste, and greater operational efficiency. To help you understand just how impactful RPA software can be to healthcare processes, here are 6 use-cases in no particular order:

  1. Simplifying appointment scheduling
  2. Settling accounts faster
  3. Streamlining claims processing
  4. Monitoring patients after discharge
  5. Logging audit procedures
  6. Mining insights from data

Let’s look at each one in turn.

RPA bots for doctor's appointments
Setting doctor’s appointments can be simplified using RPA bots.

#1 Simplifying appointment scheduling

Scheduling appointments can be a tedious manual process for most doctors and patients. A lot of information also needs to be collected, including the patient’s personal information, diagnosis, and insurance details.

RPA bots can automate this entire process by doing two things: scanning patient data automatically and scheduling optimal appointment times based on dates, location, and availability. They can also maintain communication between both parties with timely notifications.

#2 Settling accounts faster

Billing and revenue cycle management are complex processes for the average healthcare organization. Revenue cycle leaders have an ongoing need to monitor, calculate, evaluate, and verify costs incurred and payments received by each patient. Apart from the significant time costs, such a manual process also invites human error and delay.

An RPA solution can streamline and speed up this entire process by automatically and accurately calculating costs based on treatment type and duration, patient insurance information, and doctor’s fees. This ensures billing records are always up to date and gives greater insight into the revenue cycle.

RPA expense claims
An RPA tool can help speed up the claims process.

#3 Streamlining claims processing

Claims processing involves lots of data entry, evaluation, and appeals. Doing this manually can result in human error and poor patient satisfaction. Throw in outdated insurance claims and the revenue cycle could be affected.

An RPA tool can help speed up the claims process by processing data faster, identifying compliance-related exceptions sooner, and minimizing errors in the claims process.

#4 Monitoring patients after discharge

After consultations or operations, patients may receive medication with instructions on how to manage their symptoms. However, healthcare institutions are unable to monitor patient compliance with these instructions, which may lead to repeat visits and poor patient outcomes.

RPA bots can send patients reminders about discharge guidelines, upcoming appointments, and medication schedules to ensure treatment compliance, enhance patient care, and reduce readmissions.

#5 Logging audit procedures

Audits for patient safety and service quality involve assessing risks and generating multiple reports. These reports need to be collected, reviewed, and approved by different people within the organization, and any delays or errors could result in non-compliance penalties.

An RPA bot can record relevant data, generate accurate reports, send them to relevant parties, and track any pending reviews, approvals, and non-compliance events.

RPA medical analytics
RPA gives healthcare leaders insights into operational bottlenecks.

#6 Mining insights from data

The sheer volume of patient data collected from disparate systems makes it hard to extract useful insights when needed. Plus, patient data increases every day with each new patient served, so the problem compounds into an administrative burden over time.

RPA software records and monitors growing volumes of data in real-time, helping to optimize and extract relevant data on demand. Leveraging these analytics gives healthcare leaders insights into bottlenecks in their healthcare processes and supply chain.

Get started

Managing a healthcare organization involves many moving parts, from patient care and remote monitoring to service assessments and revenue cycle management. These tasks need to be done quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively to reduce the administrative burden for healthcare staff.

RPA implementation helps healthcare workers to automate these workflows and enjoy faster, better, outcomes. And with these automation solutions improving every day through machine learning and intelligent automation advancements, there has never been a better time for healthcare leaders to tap into the possibilities.

Cybersecurity

5 Hottest Jobs In Information Security (InfoSec) in 2021

Internet security professionals stand high on the demand pyramid. They are in demand by IT organizations, consulting firms, government agencies, and other domains due to ongoing digital transformation initiatives.

The rapid growth in the number of internet-connected devices has driven a need for defense against new and emerging cyber threats. To meet this need, recruitment for information security specialists is happening at an aggressive pace.

This article looks at some of the most sought after jobs in the information security domain in the coming years and highlights skills you should acquire to find a dream job in this sector.


Is the information security job market saturated?

The information security (infosec) field has exploded over the past few years, but there’s still plenty of room for growth. With estimates of 3.5 million unfilled job openings over the next few years and a famous zero percent unemployment rate, there has never been a better time to build a thriving and fulfilling career in infosec.

Depending on which aspect of the job you fancy, you could find yourself doing everything from building security systems to trying to penetrate those same systems (with full permission, of course).


Which industries need cybersecurity specialists?

The world is generating more data each year, and a growing number of experts are needed to secure that data from leaks, theft, and erasure. Information security specialists are needed in both the private and public sectors and military settings. 

A cybersecurity certification gives you a vast selection of employers to choose from. As an infosec professional, you can expect to work for the following entities (and more):

  • Government agencies and ministries
  • Military bases and research labs
  • Social media companies
  • Industrial manufacturers
  • Cybersecurity startups
  • Medical research labs
  • Insurance companies
  • Antivirus companies
  • IT companies
  • Airlines
  • Banks
  • NGOs
  • Mines
Cybersecurity certification
A cybersecurity certification gives you a vast selection of employers to choose from.

Which qualification or degree do I need to get a job in cybersecurity or infosec?

Infosec is a highly technical field, so you will usually need a degree or certification in one of the following subjects to qualify:

  • Network security and network design
  • Computer information systems
  • Computer engineering
  • System administration
  • Computer science
  • Cybersecurity
  • Informatics

Through self-study or certification from a university or trade school, can familiarise yourself with the following core aspects of infosec:

  • Networking (TCP/IP, switching and routing protocols, etc.)
  • System administration (Windows/Linux/macOS, Active Directory, etc.)
  • Software programming (scripting, object-oriented programming, etc.)

Is information security a lucrative field?

Most definitely. Data from PayScale.com shows that the US’s average salary for an information security analyst is USD 72,510. Similarly, a network security engineer can expect to earn an average of USD 85,940 per year. 

The pay range will depend on the sector you’re working in (public, private, or military), the level you’re entering at (junior, senior, executive, etc.), location, level of experience, and more. And if you want to earn even more money, you can always start an infosec consultancy.


5 Hottest Jobs In InfoSec in 2021

Now that you know what you’ll need to launch a career in information security, let’s dive into some of the hottest jobs in the information security sector.

#1 Systems Administrator

As a SysAdmin, you’ll be planning, implementing, and maintaining computer and server systems. This could be for a school network to a large law firm holding terabytes of sensitive client data. 

Keeping your servers and network devices free of malware and safe from cyberattacks will be your daily task, and specializing further will allow you to earn more and climb the infosec ladder. Expect to work with different operating systems and antivirus programs in this role.


#2 Information Security Analyst

In this expansive, foundational role, you’ll be working on everything from data security to devising new security systems. You might spend your days configuring robust firewalls and installing antivirus programs while testing the security of your network. You’ll suggest strategies to beef up system security and write reports on your findings. 

A CompTIA Security+ certification or relevant computer science or networking degree helps you get your foot in the door. This role also allows you to springboard into a new gig as a Certified Ethical Hacker. Further promotions may require more specialized training, so keep upskilling yourself to boost your earning potential.

Infosec analyst
You’ll work on everything from data security to devising new systems.

#3 Penetration Tester

A penetration tester (or PenTester for short) is authorized to attack a network system and spot security flaws that need patching. In other words, you get paid to try and break into things! You’ll do this to simulate how the network will hold up under a coordinated cyber attack. As a PenTester, your goal is to fail to get in—because gaining entry means there’s a flaw that needs fixing. 

This exciting role is often confused with Ethical Hacking, a more informal (and sometimes more destructive) version of penetration testing—and isn’t always authorized. PenTesters need a solid understanding of network design, security, and programming.


#4 Forensic Computer Analyst

A forensic computer analyst collects evidence from hard drives and network devices to investigate digital crimes. Working closely with law enforcement officials, FCAs write reports, give expert testimonies in court, and offer security training. To embark on this path, you’ll need to know how to recover lost data, write software programs, work with different operating systems, and understand encryption.


#5 Independent Security Consultant

As an independent security contractor or consultant, you’ll work with companies to devise new security systems, test for security flaws, write security policy documents, and ensure your client’s systems or networks are fully secure. This role is perfect for the infosec professional who wants to maintain autonomy and work for various clients—either on retainer or paid on a per-project basis. 

Your area of expertise will determine your earning potential, so focus on an area that interests you and start reaching out to clients to offer your services. Here’s more information on how to start a computer security consulting business.

Independent security consulting
Independent security consulting will remain a lucrative field for years to come.

Get started

You may have toyed with the idea of becoming an information security consultant or escalating your career in information security. With organizations worldwide becoming more concerned about cybersecurity, infosec skills are more in-demand than ever.

There are plenty of jobs in the infosec field — too many to list here — and they all have promising salary scales and lots of career growth built-in. However, you will need to understand coding, network design and security, and system administration to climb up the ladder and increase your earning potential. 

To get started in this field, check out open infosec jobs here and here.

One-Page Resumé

14 Tips To Improve Your CV and Ace The Job Interview

It’s the beginning of the year, and some of you may be making the leap to a new employer, career, or role this year.

Over time, I’ve seen many job seekers repeat the same mistakes when it comes to their CVs and the interview process. In today’s post, I want to share a few tips on how you can increase your chances of landing the job.

Let’s dive in.


1.

Remove your home address from your CV. Not only is it unnecessary, but it can also work against you depending on the biases of the hiring manager.

It’s also not safe to share your home location willy-nilly (identity theft, anyone?). They can know where you stay once they’re actually helping you pay rent.

2.

Unless you were a straight-A student, remove your GPA and high school grade marks from your CV (remove anything related to high school). Seeing those D’s and E’s can negatively alter their perception of you.

Furthermore, nobody cares that you got a C in English or Setswana — and unless you’re applying for a scholarship, nobody in the real world will ever ask about your GPA. I promise.

3.

Include links to your website, portfolio, and LinkedIn profile where appropriate.

Linking to your website or portfolio — especially if you work in the creative arts — shows that you have actual experience and boosts your chances of getting the role.

Linking to LinkedIn ensures that whoever lands on your CV can always view your latest work profile no matter what your resumé says.

4.

Clean up your social media accounts and set everything to “Private.” Employers can and will check your social media profiles — it doesn’t matter whether you think this is “unfair” or “unethical.”

You can complain or beat them at their own game. Your choice.

5.

Get active on LinkedIn. It’s one of the best ways to establish your voice as an authority in your industry. See my previous piece about improving your online visibility.

6.

Nobody cares about your hobbies, Linda. We all like to swim and “hang out with friends.” Unless you have interesting hobbies that’ll spark up a conversation with the hiring manager, save the space for something more important because…

7.

It can all fit on one page. See my content marketing resumé (PDF) for inspiration.

8.

Keep it relevant. If you’re applying for a management position in your sector, nobody cares that you were a waitress for 2 months in 2011… unless you’re working in the hospitality industry.

If necessary, create multiple versions of your resumé with related roles grouped together. For example, you can have one for Finance and one for Media if you’ve spent some time in both fields.

9.

99% of the other applicants will submit uninspiring Word templates, and HR has seen them all. A different design will catch their eye immediately.

Keep it simple design-wise, label each section clearly, and avoid fancy fonts. Most importantly, include the keywords most commonly used in job descriptions in your field.

Why?

Because many companies today use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to filter out CVs and decide which ones to move forward with.

From the linked article:

“If a recruiter is hiring for an Administrative Assistant position out of 400 resumés, their first step will probably be a search for “Administrative Assistant.” This will [return a list of] candidates that have done the exact job before. Anyone that doesn’t have that exact term in their resumé is out of luck.”

You don’t want these programs tossing away your CV because they couldn’t find the right keywords.

Here’s how to optimize your CV (and LinkedIn profile) to beat the ATS:

  1. Type [your role] + vacancy into Google. E.g. “finance manager vacancy”
  2. Scan the results and take note of which keywords keep cropping up.
  3. Include those words in your CV.

10.

Go the extra mile. Gunning for that web design position? Do an audit of their website. Applying to be a social media manager? Gauge their engagement, content strategy, and competition.

Show up to the interview with questions about the company, their processes, their big wins, and their bottlenecks. This shows that you’re a smart, diligent candidate who does their homework. This will 100% improve your odds.

11.

Track every job application in a spreadsheet like this one. Doing so helps you know which applications are active, inactive, or declined.

12.

Always tie your pitch to their bottom line.

If you have a plan to increase sales, they will listen. If you have a plan to improve their marketing, they will listen. By definition, this requires you to do your homework about the company. See #10 above.

13.

They can smell desperation. Know your worth — and never accept the first salary offer. They expect you to negotiate, so take advantage of that.

Take whatever number you think you’d be comfortable with and add 30%. The final figure should make you feel uncomfortable. That’s your impostor syndrome rearing its head.

Read this excellent piece on how to negotiate compensation during a job application.

14.

It’s a number’s game. In marketing, we work with a 3% average conversation rate. This means that for every 100 applications, you might get a positive response from just 3 (unless you’ve got connections within the industry, in which case your success rate will be much higher).

This is why having a spreadsheet is so important — you can know at a glance whether you’re applying enough. Remember: finding a job is a full-time job. Treat it as such.


Good luck with your job search!

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I talked about how to create content purposefully. Read it:


Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Sales Funnel Simplified

Don’t Just Create Content Blindly

Coming up with a good content strategy is hard for most entrepreneurs.

You already know that you need to create content.

You also know that it needs to be relevant, well-crafted, and published regularly to keep your prospects engaged.

But how do you create content without wasting your time or boring your readers?

In this article, I’ll give you a simple way of thinking about content creation that adds directly to your bottom line.


Let’s talk about sales funnels

If you’ve spent any time around marketers or salespeople, you’ve likely heard about “sales funnels” or “the customer journey.” Here’s what that looks like:

(Source)

There are a million versions of this diagram and this is a highly simplified version, but the basic concept is this:

  1. You make prospects aware of a problem
  2. You make them aware of a solution
  3. You make them desire your solution
  4. You make them buy your product

It’s called a “funnel” because not everyone who consumes your content will buy your product, and your job is to move prospects down your funnel to eliminate those who aren’t interested. Kinda like dating, where you go on 50 dates and only marry 2 of them.


Creating content for your funnel

So what does any of this have to do with your business? I’ll explain with an example.

Let’s say you sell car insurance. To get more clients, there are 4 steps you need to take:

  1. Make your prospects aware of a problem. Most people don’t know that they need car insurance, even though car accidents kill more people than AIDS and tuberculosis. I bet you didn’t know that, either. Thanks to this article (content), now you do.

    As a car insurance salesperson, you could create content (social media posts, blog articles, TikTok or YouTube videos, etc.) around Shocking Car Accident Statistics in [Your Country]. To really drive home (heh) the message, touch on the devastating impact a car accident can have on the life of the victim and their family.

  2. But what’s the solution to the problem? Well, for everyone to drive more carefully, for starters. But a drunk driver could T-bone your car through no fault of your own. What happens next?

    You’d want someone to take care of the hospital bills and pay for any damages, disability, or lost income you might suffer. Worst case scenario, you’d want your funeral costs to be taken care of. That’s the benefit to your customer of getting car insurance.

  3. But why should they take your car insurance package? What makes you different from the rest? Well, perhaps your premiums are lower than the competition. Maybe you pay out faster, too. You might even offer extra bonuses that other providers don’t. Explain all of this through your content.

  4. Lastly, for each of these content pieces, add a CTA (call to action) to either visit your website to learn more, subscribe to your channel or newsletter, or contact you to make an appointment. This is how you drive action and transactions.

Get started

When you think in terms of funnels, content creation becomes much easier.

No longer are you just creating content because some guy on the internet said you should. You’re now creating content to accomplish a very specific goal: getting people to buy what you’re selling.

You can even schedule your posts according to the stage of the funnel you want to target. So for example, Mondays can be for Awareness Posts, Tuesdays for Solution Posts, Wednesdays for your solution, and Thursdays for calls to action. Fridays are for memes.

Now get to it. You have 11 more months to make your first million.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I talked about how to improve your online visibility. Read it:


Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

How To Improve Your Online Visibility In 2021

My mense,

I’m back in the land of the Rand, and I wanted to kick off this year’s first issue of Mo’s Letter with some tips on how to improve your online visibility this year.

We’re all trying to achieve more: more career success, more revenue, more opportunities. A large part of that comes down to how visible we are in our respective spaces.

It makes no sense to want to be the most sought-after speaker in the country if you barely post on social, have zero marketing collateral, and don’t bother to network with others in your industry.

Ditto with law, fitness, therapy, counseling, finance, investing, catering, consulting, media production, and every other profession you can think of.

So to help you out, here are 6 quick tips to improve your online visibility in 2021.


#1 Set up your socials

You’ll need a LinkedIn account (non-negotiable), an Instagram account (if you’re a performer, entertainer, or creative), and maybe a Twitter account for good measure (that’s where all the smart people live).

Upload a professional photo, add a few accolades, and list your current projects, employment, and interests. After you’re done…

#2 Connect with others in your space

Search for organizations doing cool things in your space and connect with their founders and leadership team.

Social media allows you to share the same space with celebrities like Elon Musk, Barack Obama, and Mohammed Shehu. Seriously, take advantage of it.

When you’re done, you should probably…

#3 Set up a website

To really stand out from the pack, you need a website. Setting up your socials requires little effort — anybody can do it in 30 seconds — but a website signals seriousness. Besides, if you have a unique name like mine, I’m almost certain your domain name is still available.

Keep things simple: have an “About Me” section, some previous works and clients you’ve worked with, and a list of services you offer. Link to your socials for easier access, and add one or two professional photos.

See my website for inspiration, and reach out if you need yours done for you. When you’re done, it’s time to…

#4 Share content

Personal branding is not about you; it’s about your content. Think about what you already know and write about it. Try and post at least twice a week (preferably more).

If you’re into fitness, tell us how to get bulging glutes in 3 weeks. If you’re into journalism, share some tips on how to get a job in your field. Perhaps you’ve survived a lawsuit before — give us tips on how to navigate one. Start with short tweets and experiment with longer blog posts as you go along.

Everybody is an expert on something — you just need to figure out where your expertise lays. And when you share your knowledge, it gives others an incentive to connect with you online and offline. While you’re at it…

#5 Offer something for free

Being a good netizen (internet citizen) is about giving more than you take. To that end, offer a small resource for free to attract new followers.

This could be a guide to better budgeting (if you’re into finance), some links to cool artists you like (if you’re a DJ, musician, or producer), or a list of places that offer free health checkups (if you’re a coach, therapist, etc.).

Figure out what would be most appropriate for your profession and brand, and put together a quick resource to help others (like this one I made). The benefit is that you can create it once and share it forever.

Lastly, don’t forget to…

#6 Be accessible

Make it easy for people to reach you with comments, queries, and opportunities. If you prefer email outreach, paste your email address on your website and/or socials (you can create a separate one just for this). If you prefer DMs, say so in your bio. If you prefer carrier pigeons, specify the color of the bird that should carry the message. Just be clear.

You can also reach out directly to prospects for new business. I explain how to do that in this thread — click to read it in full:


That’s it for now — get started on those tips and send me links to connect with you once you’re done.

Till next week,

Mo

(P.S. I’m transitioning to Telegram and phasing out WhatsApp for these reasons. Download the app from your app store and send me a message.)


Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Mo Shehu - Sandton

Year in Review: 8 Crucial Lessons I Learned In 2020

It’s been a hell of a year.

From navigating a break-up on a road-trip across three countries (fun times) to losing a major contract due to COVID-19, 2020 was like one of those toxic exes you’ll still think about five years into your marriage.

And yet, this has been the most fruitful year of my life so far.

Throughout this global upheaval, I learned more about myself and how life works. I’ll spare you the kumbaya moralities — our situations are different — but perhaps you can use what I’ve learned to improve your own life, career, and business.

Here are 8 crucial lessons I learned in 2020:


#1 Find better opportunities

After years of feeling like I’d hit a ceiling where I was, I started looking for greener pastures. Being in limbo messes with my psyche, so after months of careful planning, I finally packed up, sold my studio, and moved to another country.

As a young, educated man with ample savings and no undue financial burdens, I recognize my privilege in being able to make this kind of major life change. It’s why I’ve spent the better part of my life and career trying to show other people how and where to find lucrative opportunities — not just because I believe there’s enough to go around, but mostly because I need you to be rich so I can send you hefty quotes.

Take advantage of every opportunity around you and use the ideas in your head to build the life you want. All knowledge can be commercialized.


#2 Stay the course

The first few weeks after getting back in the gym were discouraging. I’d look in the mirror and see no gains and start doubting the process. But I know myself — competition is what drives me. My gym is stocked with ridiculously buff men whose back muscles rotate visibly as they do chin-ups. These gents never dress fully, either — they want you to see every pound of muscle they’ve worked hard to sculpt. It’s exactly the motivation I need to keep at it so that one day I can also wear a g-string vest and flex my man-titties in the mirror.

Pec Flex GIFs | Tenor
That’s me on the left. (Source)

A few months in and I’m starting to see some results: I’m sleeping better, more focused, and gaining mass around my upper body. The gym has also been a wonderful excuse to eat any and everything under the sun in the name of “gains.” Why yes, Mr Waiter, I’ll have the large steak.


#3 Connect with people

Whether online or IRL, connect with people from all walks of life. Your weak ties are where the money lies — and past a certain point, your success depends on your ability to seek out, talk to people, and ask for what you want.

I’m not saying you should drop your boundaries and let everyone in — that’s poor social hygiene — but you should definitely step out of that shell you’re hiding in. The world isn’t out to get you, I promise.

How to overcome shyness (Source)

#4 The internet is your friend

I honestly can’t say this enough. You can learn anything on the internet — and also sell anything on it. You can find the most wonderful people and be found, too.

Your socials and website are the first things people come across when they look for you — but are you visible and presentable? Do your posts make people think “this is someone I want to befriend or work with”? How are you leveraging the greatest tool of our generation to land new opportunities?


#5 Writing brings opportunities

The single greatest lever to my success this year has been my writing. I can’t count how many times my blog, newsletter, or website have tipped the scales in my favour. Recruiter after recruiter mentions my writing in interviews, and I’ve made friends who connected with me online simply because one blog or another resonated with them.

Writing online is a powerful way to establish yourself personally and professionally. This tweet by David Perell sums it up perfectly:


#6 Your income and location are not tied

If you can learn anything from anywhere, you can sell anything from anywhere. COVID-19 pushed all of us online — and people are now running entire businesses from their laptops. The rise of remote working has been well-documented (see here, here, here, and here), and you can now find new jobs and clients with a simple Google Search. No matter what you enjoy doing, there’s a way to monetize your skills and knowledge online (*cough* OnlyFans *cough*).

Kanyi Maqubela, a South African from Soweto who has worked with Barack Obama and now runs a venture capital fund in the US, put it succinctly:


#7 Focus on your strengths

If you’re like me, you suffer from the curse of curiosity. You’re excited to learn new things — but it also means you’re spread thin across different interests with no clear way to improve or monetize them.

One of the key lessons I learned this year was to hone in on my strengths (content marketing) and find a way to deepen my knowledge on it to become a T-shaped marketer. Here’s a quick video that explains this concept in more detail:

How to become a T-shaped marketer

Here’s the main image from the video:

Skills required to become a T-shaped marketer. (Source)

No matter what field you’re in, it helps to specialize while improving your foundational knowledge. For example, you might want to become the best chef in the country — but you’ll still need to understand basic wine pairings, how to source ingredients, how restaurant finances work, the basics of hospitality hiring, time management, and more.


#8 It gets easier

Your first cold call will feel like swallowing nails, but the second will only be half as hard. Your first interview will induce anxiety, but the 5th one will feel like a bar conversation with an old friend. The key is to do everything twice.

Today marks Day 42 of my interviews with clients and companies all over the world. I’ve had 21 interviews so far — one every ~2 days — and I’ve been tracking every round in a master spreadsheet. The process gets exponentially easier after each round. You learn how to improve your applications, what to say, and what not to say. With that said, let’s just say 2021 will be a great year.


On to the next

2020 was a rollercoaster ride that I’m grateful I got to experience. 2021 promises to be a smashing year, and I can’t wait to dive in. This will be my last post for 2020 — I’ve now written 30 Letters! — and I’ll see you all in Jan.

Till next year,

Mo


In my last post, I gave some tips to help you crush your next sales call. Read it:


Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.

Sales call tips

Sales Call Tips: How To Close More Deals Over The Phone Without Embarrassing Yourself

The sales call. 📞

The one activity most business owners dread — yet highly effective when done right.

It’s not hard to see why people avoid sales calls. If you’re shy or anxious, you might be afraid to lose control of the conversation. Maybe you’re scared you won’t sound convincing enough to pitch your product properly, or that they won’t have time to listen to you.

And yet, you can’t afford to ignore this sales channel. 71% of buyers want to hear from you early in the budget planning process, and it takes an average of six calls to close a deal.

More importantly, C-level executives prefer to be contacted by phone (57%) — even more than directors (51%) or managers (47%).

In short, those who control the money want to hear your voice. Skip the email and pick up the phone.

“Hi, I’m calling to sell you the COVID vaccine and just wanted to—hello?”

As I wrote in You’re Wasting Your Time Advertising, you can conclude a lucrative deal in 10 minutes of conversation than over six months of running an “end-to-end campaign” over Facebook and email.

Your voice — and the humanity behind it — can be far more effective than a written proposal. As my friend Karabo Banda of Coolcumba Communications says, “My email to you is merely a formality — I only send it after we’ve spoken over the phone.”

The good news is that there’s a formula for nailing sales calls which I’ll share with you today. I’ve broken it down into three sections: prep, in-call, and next steps.

Let’s dive in.


#1 Prep

Long before the call, you should research your client as much as you can. This shows effort and helps you quickly build rapport with them.

Firstly, find out everything you can about the company. Let’s say you were trying to pitch food delivery services to a new pizza joint in town. Some things to find out include:

  • What industries do they play in? (The restaurant/food business)
  • What audiences do they sell to? (Families and individuals in the Randburg area)
  • Who are their top 3 competitors? (Debonairs, Pizza Hut, Roman’s Pizza, etc.)
  • Have you worked with any other clients in their space?

Then, gather as much intel as you can about the person you’ll be talking to. LinkedIn is a good place to start.

  • Where do they live and/or work? (“Your office is right around the corner…”)
  • Which college did they attend? (“I see we both went to Wits…”)
  • Do you have any mutual contacts or interests? (“Looks like we both know Stella…”)
  • What’s their background like? (“We’re from the same hometown!”)
“OMG remember Mr. Du Plessis from math class? He’s a pole dancer now.”

Lastly, understand their role in the company. Some things to suss out include:

  • How long have they been working in that role? New hires might be more open to exploring a new service. Use LinkedIn to check their current tenure.
  • What challenges do people face in that role?
  • What are the common KPIs for that role? What does success look like?
  • How would your solution help them?

When you understand the company, the client, and their context, you’re better prepared for the phone call. Let’s look at what to say next.


#2 In-call

You only get one chance to make a good first impression. This means you shouldn’t rush through your pitch. Take your time, talk slowly, be polite, and smile a lot (they can hear it in your voice).

Hi, me again. We’re selling pizza delivery services. Delivered in one shot. 💉

Remember, they’re taking their time to listen to you. Respect that privilege.

Here are a few ways you can open the call:

  • “Thank you for taking the time to chat today…”
  • “I’m calling you to understand your needs better and see if what we offer might be of use to you…”
  • “You might already know a bit about our product, but here are the key features and benefits…”

The next step on the call is to ask them questions and take notes. They should be talking most of the time — 69% of buyers just want you to listen. A few questions to ask include:

  • “How are you currently handling ______?”
  • “What is your biggest challenge with ______?”
  • “What do you like about your current solution?”
  • “What are your main goals for the next month or quarter?”

Their answers to these questions will help you tailor your product to their pain points. Chime in from time to time with:

  • “Hmmm, that’s a great question.”
  • “I’m glad you asked that. We actually offer…”
  • “A few of our clients asked us the same question. The short answer is…”
  • “Let me write that down — that’s a great point.” (Makes them feel like Kim Jong Un)
“Beef, milk, honey, Nutella, cigarettes, and a new gun. Also Domestos.”

#3 Next steps

So far, you’ve done your research, hopped on a call, and had a productive conversation with your prospect. What’s next?

Simple: End with a clear call to action.

Before you hang up, agree on what will happen next and what they can expect. A few options include:

  • Sending them some materials to assist with internal discussions
  • Scheduling a follow-up call with them or their supervisor
  • Sending them a proposal with the discussed terms
  • Sharing a link to your previous work

It’s important to know who their key decision-makers are. This ensures you’re talking to the right people and speeds up the process.

Other things to figure out include:

  • Are they considering other options?
  • What’s their budget? Is it flexible?
  • What’s their timeline? Is it urgent?

Once you’re satisfied with their answers and have discussed next steps, it’s time to end the call. Use any of these lines to close off:

  • “Thanks again for your time today. It was a pleasure talking to you.”
  • “Now that I understand your needs, we can align our solution to your goals.”
  • “As discussed, I’ll send you a _____ by close of business.”
  • “Let’s schedule a follow-up call with your director later this week — how does Monday sound?”
  • “I look forward to connecting with you again next week!”

And that’s it. Use these tips to nail your next sales call.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I talked about the 4 crucial skills that make a great marketer. Read it:


Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

These 4 Crucial Skills Will Make You A Better Marketer

Back in the day, before my voice dropped and I discovered the joys of paying my own bills, my brothers and I spent a lot of time on outings with our dad. Pops would take us to the mall to buy everything from groceries to clothes and everything in between. One of his favourite pastimes was dissecting random ads on billboards, posters, and in-shop ads.

See, they put a pretty lady next to a car to link her to the product. There’s no correlation between the two, but it’s a trick to get you to focus on the lady and think positively about the car.”

Prof. Shehu, c. 2006

It’s incidents like these that stoked my early curiosity about how advertising worked. “Why would anybody fall for that, can’t they see they’re being manipulated? Why does 9.99 pricing work so well? Black Friday doesn’t even make sense; why are people urgently buying things they didn’t need just a day before?”

Those early teaching moments also vaccinated me against much of advertising’s seductive effects—I’m now hypersensitive to anything that sounds even remotely like a pitch. I’m more likely to call you out on your attempt, especially if I’ve already decided to buy your product.


The 4 Crucial Marketing Skills

Over the years, I’ve become exposed to many aspects of marketing, advertising, sales, consumer psychology, cognitive behaviour, and neuropsychology. Our brains are fascinating tools but easily manipulated once you know how they work. I’ve also binged on the works of advertising greats from David Ogilvy to Les Binet and even Don Draper. In that time, I’ve come to assemble a list of skills I think are crucial to anyone who wants to get better at marketing, advertising, and sales.

In order:

  1. Empathy
  2. Curiosity
  3. Seduction
  4. Tracking

Let’s get into it.


#1 Empathy

Perhaps the most crucial skill any marketer needs to have is empathy. The idea of pain points is a central tenet of marketing. People are going through things, as every Twitter armchair psychologist likes to remind us—and as a brand owner or marketer, your #1 priority is to figure out those pains and solve them profitably. To succeed in that, you have to get used to the idea of stepping into other people’s shoes to see things from their perspective.

If you’re the type of person who agonises over how an email, text message, or voice note should read or sound like, you’re well on your way to mastering that skill. Marketers (especially copywriters) tend to obsess over each word and how it might come across.

This obsession is important, as you’re trying to figure out how another human being (often one you’ve never met) might think and react to your messaging. It’s mind-reading at its core, and it’s what marketers do daily. Brush up on those telepathy skills, Professor X.

Trying to figure out how to cancel tonight’s plans.

#2 Curiosity

I read somewhere that “best practices are past practices”. I want to add a corollary to that: “Know the best practice but test the next practice.” A key trait of marketers is curiosity: “What if we tried this instead?” You’ll need to be comfortable changing, tweaking, and constantly inventing new ways of landing a message. If you do what everyone else does, you’ll get what everyone else gets.

To this end, marketers never assume that anything works 100%. A marketer might write three headlines to test which one’s the best or use a different image when creating a poster. For example, read these three headlines and let me know which one would get you to open the email:

  1. Thank you for applying to Coca Cola
  2. An update on your application to Coca Cola
  3. We’ve found a Coca-Cola opportunity you might like

You most likely picked the third one. Now, what if I told you that these were all rejection emails?

The first two are tell-tale signs of an incoming rejection. As soon as I see those, I archive your email immediately (because humans are pain-averse, and no one wants to read about how the selection process was “so hard” for you and how you decided to go with another candidate).

“It took us so long to pick the person we already knew we were going with.”

That third one, however, sparks your curiosity: “Did I get the job? What opportunity is it?” The body of the email itself can say something like “While we’ve decided to move forward with stronger candidates at this time, we’ve found a similar opportunity at one of our branches that you might like.”

This goes back to our first point about empathy—putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to figure out how best to land a message (or a stinger). “We didn’t go with you this time, but we didn’t want to leave you hanging, either—so here’s a lifeline.”

I’ve seen smaller companies use tactics like directing candidates to their social media pages to get updates on future jobs, or the founders themselves connecting with you on LinkedIn to stay in touch. These little actions go a long way towards building positive brand equity.


#3 Seduction

Shortly after my voice dropped, Pops came home one day with three books by Robert Greene: the 48 Laws of Power, the Art of Seduction, and the 33 Strategies Of War. I read them all in 3 weeks. These books had a profound effect on my psyche as a teenager, and I’ve applied many of their rules over the years.

The seduction book, in particular, is a must-read for anyone who wants to be a better marketer. Marketing, you see, is simply seduction at scale: you’re attempting to convince total strangers to not only notice you and your product but also to trust that you’re credible, believe that your product won’t harm them, and part with their cold hard cash for it. None of this is as easy as it sounds.

If a big, burly man in a black jacket and a balaclava walked up to you, pointed to a van written “Joe’s Plumbing” and asked you to jump in, you’d (rightly) run off. He could be the sweetest Samaritan in town, and maybe he wanted to whisk you off to a secret party that the President was attending, but it wouldn’t matter. He didn’t inspire trust, safety or credibility.

“I don’t see any plumbing tools in your van though.”

I see this all the time with people trying to market their goods. You’re asking me to hire you for graphic design, but your poster looks like you coughed into Photoshop and called it a day. You’re selling your car, but you used terrible photos to advertise it. You’re an accountant, but there are spelling mistakes in your copy (so much for “detail-oriented”). It’s the little things.

Now, what if Joe approached you wearing a nice suit, flashing a big smile, and holding flowers and an envelope? Perhaps he then tells you that because you recently bought a bottle of wine at Spar, they’ve chosen you as one of the winners of their Secret Wine Party competition.

He points to the limo behind him (where a nice lady is waving at you from inside) and assures you that they’ll handle your hair, makeup, and outfit if you went with them right now—or, you could go home, get dressed, and call them to pick you up later; no pressure. And if you’re not feeling it, you could also politely reject the invitation, and they’d keep you on file for the next party—he then hands you his official business card. Would you be more willing to hear him out then?

“Yes, there’ll be lots of wine—just get in. You alcoholic.”

This second scenario is how seduction (and marketing) works. You put in the effort, make them an irresistible offer, and make it easy for them to say yes.

  • There are safety markers all over (nobody would rent a tux and a limo to kidnap you);
  • There are credibility markers (he gave you his Spar business card and came with a colleague);
  • They addressed your objections (“Who are you? Why are you talking to me? Where are we going? Am I even ready to appear in front of the President?”); and
  • They let you decide a way forward on your terms (go with them now, later, or never—with no penalty attached either way).

People notice effort. If you’re going to seduce your customers, you’ll need to show them that you’ve done your homework, you’ve put in the work, and that you genuinely want their business. Going the extra mile with a smile makes it worth their while.


#4 Tracking

You can’t change what you don’t track. Marketers obsess over numbers: “How many tickets did we sell this month? Is it lower or greater than last month’s sales?”. To this end, good marketers set up ways to track things like how many people open their emails, visit their website, download their e-books, like and share their posts, etc. They’re always watching the numbers.

Without checking, how much money did you spend last month? How much did you make? What is your monthly income after tax? Is this number rising or falling? Did you spend more on food in November vs October?

“All of the above.”

I’ve written before about the need to track your budget. Building this valuable habit will translate to other parts of your life. If your child is in school, what are their grades like? How much fuel are you buying each month? What’s the exchange rate of the dollar to your local currency? Do you even know the price of bread?

Knowing your numbers is a handy skill to cultivate.


Wrapping up

There are many other skills a marketer needs to have: an eye for design, a creative streak, persistence, communication skills, and more. But if you analyse each of these other skills, they almost always come back to the main four above.

A master copywriter is simply an empathetic seducer with a pen. Brand management requires seduction and a knack for numbers. An e-commerce or social media professional obsesses over metrics and tries to sell things in new ways. The building blocks are the same.

Life is sales. Whether you’re applying for a job, selling cars, or asking someone out on a date, you need to know how to package a product and sell it to your audience. It gets easier with time and practice.

Just stay away from Joe.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I talked about why you’re wasting your time advertising. Read it:


Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

You’re Wasting Your Time Advertising—Here’s Why.

When I was writing a piece for a now-defunct magazine back in 2017, I interviewed an elderly woman who sold cars for a living. She was in her 60s at the time, with a deep voice and the self-assured air of a woman who had seen life.

She told me she’d been in the game for close to thirty years and was the highest-grossing salesperson at her dealership. The sales leaderboard in the showroom confirmed her stats: she was selling 100+ cars per month. I wasn’t surprised.

Thirty years is a lot of time to build compounding relationships. During that time, she would’ve helped most of her clients buy two to three cars and stayed in touch with them over the decades as they changed jobs, got married, and had kids.

She’d have gone to parties, churches, and weddings where she’d have met others in her community and formed lasting relationships. As some of those kids grew older and got jobs themselves, their parents would’ve referred them to her for help with buying their first, then second, perhaps even third vehicle. There are some professions where trust eventually becomes the biggest asset you’re selling. After all, you’re probably still going to the same doctor from five years ago.


One of the things I love about the photography business is how you form deep relationships with people at their most pivotal moments: a baby shower, graduation, or wedding. Throw in the deep vulnerability of a photoshoot—trusting a total stranger to capture you, warts and all—and you tend to bond in a way that lasts beyond the hour or so you spend together.

I’ve captured pregnant brides whose kids are now old enough to be in kindergarten. They’ll call me when they’re pregnant with their second child, when their kids graduate, when their friend is getting married, etc. From one shoot, you end up getting repeat business without advertising further. This is the power of relationship marketing: where they’ve seen your work and are willing to turn to you again and again.

Beyond a certain point, whether in business or in your career, you can only unlock new opportunities based on the relationships you’ve built or the communities you’ve joined. We’d all love to live in a strictly merit-based world, but the truth is that people buy from people they know and trust.

Some of the juiciest jobs are never advertised—they’re concluded on the basis of a WhatsApp chat, a Facebook DM, or a private email exchange. Hiring managers routinely search within their networks before an ad is ever placed in the paper or on LinkedIn. If you’re not in those networks, you’ve already lost.

So which networks are you part of? What chat groups or online communities are you in, and who is in those groups? Who is on your Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin feed—and most importantly, which new people are you actively connecting with?

When there’s a relevant (COVID-free) event in your community, do you go or do you find an excuse to stay home? Are you actively meeting new people, grabbing coffee randomly, going to their events, and staying in touch digitally? I’m not religious by any means, but even I understand the role of churches, mosques, and temples as places where lasting business and career connections are made.

Remember that you can conclude a lucrative deal in 10 minutes of face-to-face conversation than over six months of running an “end-to-end campaign” over Facebook and email. The opportunities you seek are in the hands of other people—this has always been the case. Find and connect with those people wherever you can—preferably in real life.

The meek shall not inherit the earth; the extroverts will.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I talked about some things I’m thankful for. Read it:


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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

As the world celebrates Thanksgiving this year, I wanted to go down memory lane to remember some things I’m thankful for.

School

I’d like to thank Ayobami from primary school, a young boy whose life was cut short by illness but whose brief time at our school showed me that you don’t let anyone bully you—ever. You fought back in more ways than one, Ayo.

I’d like to thank the high school friends who, amid adolescent status-seeking and a premature understanding of the world, abruptly decided that the smart foreign kid in their midst didn’t align with their brand anymore. You were all single-handedly responsible for my drive to finish high school early, and varsity, and graduate school. I think I’ve put enough distance between us now.

While we’re here, I’d like to thank that pesky ‘C’ in Computer Studies for blemishing my high school report card. It inspired me to study Computer Science at the undergraduate level, then Informatics at PhD level. I even taught it to other kids so they’d never have to feel like failures because they didn’t know what a pivot table was.


Work

I’d like to thank the bosses that let me go two weeks into my first job in comms because I made a few typos in an email one time. You inspired me to start my own company that day, and I now get to add “Copywriter,” “Photographer,” and “Social Media Manager” to my resumé. These three skills alone bought me the car I’ll drive to the gym after I finish writing this.

I’d like to thank the colleague who told me that if you’re not happy at a place, just leave. It sounded like such simple advice at the time, but I’ve kept those two words in my mind ever since. You left a few weeks after that conversation. I followed shortly afterwards.

(But like, without the suit.)

I’d like to thank the Cape Town interviewer who, within the first 60 seconds of our call, asked me why I was even applying for a local job with the kind of CV I have. Well, sir, I took your advice, and I’ve now had more interviews in the past month than I’ve had in my entire life—almost all of them with remote-friendly companies around the world. I don’t know how to tell people that there are more opportunities out there than they can ever apply for in a lifetime. They don’t seem to believe me.


Life

There’s more, of course. The girl who taught me patience and understanding over a three-year relationship—and that you can love a child who’s not yours. The younger brothers who inspire me to be the best I can be—if only to show them what’s possible. The parents who, in their own way, showed me that if there’s a hundred per cent of anything to be had, aim for it all.

The people I’ve met who’ve shown me that privilege is a thing, and that we haven’t all had the same advantages in life. The friends I’ve made who taught me that while independence is an attractive trait to have, companionship is sweeter. The colleagues and clients I’ve had the pleasure of working with and delivering great work for.

Rejection is redirection.” I read that in a tweet recently, and while I’m loath to take life advice from 280-character sources, this one struck a chord with me.

https://twitter.com/deepicam/status/1211543740894130176

Every “no” has surprised me with the “yes” that followed afterwards. It’s almost as if there’s a voice laughing behind the scenes when I despair at the things that don’t work out.

There’s better coming,” it says. Words I now live by.

Ever thankful,

Mo


In my last post, I talked about obsolescence and how you can get ahead in the job market by acquiring 10 specific skills. Read it:


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I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Cloud horsepower and obsolescence

Here’s Why You’re Still Unemployed

If you were a horse living in 1224 during the time of Genghis Khan, you were a useful creature. Your owners rode you into raids, galloped you down the steppes, and trotted you around their yurts during night patrols.

You were assured of food, water, shelter, grooming, and the appreciation of a human whose warm bum heated your back on a daily basis. As time wore on, your job scope would expand to include drawing carriages in the Victorian era and pulling ploughs in various farms around the world. You helped people travel to places, carry and deliver things, and even pay for things as legal tender. You never had to worry about being out of a job.

Until 1875.

That year, in Michigan, USA, a 12-year old boy witnessed the first road engine driving past his father’s farm. He was awestruck. Seventeen years later, he would build his first motor car and go on to invent the world’s first motor assembly line. His name was Henry Ford, and he was mass-producing these black, heavy iron carriages that drank oil and gasoline instead of water and carrots—and these carriages didn’t need you to pull them. They were still pretty expensive at first so you didn’t worry too much about the future of your job.

Fast forward to today and nobody rides horses anymore. There are children who have grown up never seeing a horse up-close. You have been relegated to equestrian tournaments, faraway farms, and storybooks.


Virtualization and automation

Humans and tech have always had a tenuous relationship. Whenever tech appears, humans somewhere lose their jobs and livelihoods. This leads to resentment, dissent, and sometimes revolt—but you can’t stop technological innovation, only delay it for a bit. Over the decades we’ve virtualized everything: there are now virtual cities, virtual characters and avatars, virtual communitiesvirtual influencers, and now, thanks to COVID-19, virtual meetings, concerts, and conferences. Where human workers were once a dime a dozen, tech has now taken over.

In other words, humanity is becoming rarer.

As more of our world becomes virtualized and automated, human skills are in greater demand. Everything that a machine can do better will undoubtedly be automated away—but the list of skills that the most in-demand jobs of the future will require all have the same quality to them: they need a human touch. Here’s the full list of required skills:

  1. Creativity
  2. Negotiation
  3. Critical thinking
  4. Service orientation
  5. Cognitive flexibility
  6. People management
  7. Emotional intelligence
  8. Complex problem-solving
  9. Teamwork and coordination
  10. Judgement and decision-making

In short, the fastest-growing jobs need someone who can work with humans, or work with tech and data to make life easier, cheaper, and better for humans. Right now you’re a horse staring at the writing on the wall. If you don’t upskill yourself, you’ll soon be out of a job.


Obsolescence

One of the core roles of a copywriter and social media manager is writing posts for different channels. Last month, I discovered a tool that essentially generates endless variations of copy based on a simple product description. You feed it a product name (e.g. “Lovely Farms”) and a description (“We sell fresh produce from farm to table for customers in the Gaborone area”) and it generates pages and pages of content you can use for ads, social media posts, and product packaging.

It was eye-opening. There I was, being shown with every click how redundant that aspect of my job was about to be. It was funny and depressing at the same time.

But I know how to read the writing on the wall. I promptly signed up for the service and got in touch with the founders to discuss how to make it better. The tool makes my job faster and easier, and I can now focus on other aspects of my role that deliver greater value for my clients.


Pivot

I’m one of the lucky ones—I can pivot easily. Years ago, my father (who is reading this) showed me a similar list of in-demand degrees and Computer Science was at the top of that list (itstillis).

I have a BSc. in Computer Science and a PhD. in Informatics, which translates to an aptitude in tech and data (the “new oil”). Three of the top ten in-demand jobs have to do with tech and data. I’ve been rediscovering my love for coding over the last few weeks (via Codecademy) and building up my skills in an area that is hot on the job market. With my background in coding, marketing, creative communications, and academia, I hit at least six or seven of the ten future skills requirements. In short, I’m sorted.

Are you?


What to do

For those of you working in roles that can and soon will be automated, you have a few choices:

  1. You can double down and become a specialist in your field and ride out the wave while you can. For example, nobody gets their watches fixed anymore; but the kind of person who needs a watch fixed is usually willing to pay top dollar for it.
  2. You can apply your current skills to a different field where there’s greater earning potential. A schoolteacher has several critical skills: empathy, people management, creativity, emotional intelligence, and more. The world will always need teachers—so why not teach corporates instead? Find a skill that’s in-demand in the workplace and learn what it takes to offer such training. They pay much more, and you don’t have to mark homework.
  3. You can learn a new skill altogether. If you have the aptitude for it, learn to code or analyze data—you’ll never be out of a job. Beyond that, pick up a vocational trade. Electricians, mechanics, plumbers, fitters and turners, painters, and other professionals who use their hands will never go hungry.
  4. Invest in businesses or systems that incorporate one or more of the above. Start a coding school and hire instructors to teach young students, whom you then place in big companies and take a cut of their salaries. Or pull together your unemployed relatives and start a services company: plumbers, mechanics, painters, etc. Handle the marketing and sales (you can automate much of this) while they handle the work, and pay them a cut while you keep the rest. You don’t need to know how to do the work if you’re good at managing people.

The job market is changing and software is eating the world. Be the chef, not the meal.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I touched on clarity — how you can neutralize your fear of failure, rejection, and abandonment by simply asking clarifying questions. Read it:

Find Out Where You Stand


If you need a consultation around your brand, career, or project, get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Find Out Where You Stand

Anxiety is a weird way to suffer twice for something you have no control over. As I wrote in And That’s Ok, “a small part of anxiety stems from our fear of failure, rejection, and abandonment”—and one of the easiest ways to neutralize this fear is to simply find out where you stand.


You must aks

You sent in that application a week ago and they promised you feedback this week, but it’s now Friday and you haven’t heard from them. You could spend days agonizing over whether you got it or not… or you could just call or email and ask them for feedback. It’ll take you all of 60 seconds.

Your carefully prepared proposal was sent in with your best English (“warmest regards”) but they haven’t reverted yet. Follow up with them. No lie: I’ve had clients who “forgot” to respond to my email and then signed the contract and paid the deposit on the same day I followed up. Life happens, and minds get distracted. A gentle reminder is all it takes.

A few Netflix movies in, you might be wondering where the two of you stand. Sure, you could bide your time beating around the bush and hope they see what a wonderful person you are. That works about 5% of the time. You could also gather courage and ask them directly. Don’t feel the need to soften the question, either—that’s just giving in to fear and making it easy for them to keep stringing you along. “What are we?” isn’t awkward if you both know what you want.


Be ready for the response

Clarity is a double-edged sword. Perhaps you never follow up or ask for clarity on things because you’re afraid of the answers you might get. That’s perfectly understandable. It’s also not an excuse. If you’re going to ask clarifying questions, prepare to receive clarifying answers—and take it on the chin. A “no” is liberating because it frees you from wasting energy on a dead end.

And if you’re on the other side of that question: be beneficially blunt.

  1. “We’re moving forward with another candidate who is a better fit at this time.”
  2. “We’ve read through your proposal and don’t feel this is something we can fund right now. Check back again in six months, or consider taking an XYZ approach instead.”
  3. “You drool bruh, we can’t date.”

I’m obviously kidding about that last one (I’m not) but you get the point. Give people closure early and often—but most importantly, be ready for whatever action they take afterwards. Don’t string someone along because you fear they might move on. They’re supposed to.

The system only works if we’re all willing to be straight with each other.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I explained the concept of “pivoting” — why there’s no shame in repositioning your original idea or even jumping into a new one. Here’s why:

Pivot


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Pivot

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a series of essays by Dr Mo on personal growth and professional success in a digital world. Today’s essay is about pivoting.


When I started Grammar & Flow as a business writing company, I had grand ideas about how it was going to revolutionize business writing and language translation in Africa. I made a long, fancy post about the launch on social media and got a ton of likes—gassing me up to believe that the idea was a sound and profitable one. With a year’s worth of social media content ready to go, I set out to prospect for new corporate clients (my target market).

No dice.

I kept at it, believing that corporate marketing and comms departments just needed to get used to the idea of outsourcing their content writing to an external agency. In hindsight, this was a massive oversight on my part for one simple reason: those who can afford *not* to write and edit their own internal and external documents already have an agency (with numerous copywriters), and those who can’t outsource simply do it themselves. In short, the particular service I was offering was of little use to the target market I had identified.

Meanwhile, I kept getting the same weird requests from individuals (not my target market):

  • “Can you edit my CV?”
  • “Can you design my company profile?”
  • “Can you help me register my business?”

It seemed weird that people kept asking me for a service that I clearly didn’t offer. I considered the services I offered under Grammar & Flow to be above these trivial requests (both time and revenue-wise), and I would politely decline each request. But the projects I wanted still weren’t materializing.

It slowly dawned on me that I was ignoring an actual problem in favour of an imaginary one. I was selling flavoured mascara when people wanted jackets.


Shame

As founders, it’s easy to get attached to your baby—to want to stand by it through thick and thin and defend it against naysayers. After all, you made such a big show of launching the service so you can’t afford to just kill it, innit? This shame and guilt force us to remain in abusive relationships with ideas that aren’t working. We believe that people will think less of us if we decide to quit—as if our worth is tied to our business. Nobody wants to be seen as a failed entrepreneur—even though 80% of businesses fail in their first year.


Business survival rates chart


From the same article:

Entrepreneurs are by nature highly confident. Business owners frequently underestimate how much money will be needed to fund operations. At the same time, they can overestimate how quickly their products and services will catch on in the marketplace. — The Motley Fool

Here’s a secret: if your business concept isn’t working, you don’t actually have a business—so there’s nothing for people to laugh at (or for you to feel bad about). You might be precious about your “brand” but if that brand isn’t bringing you any money, it’s worthless. If you binned it and came up with another one, nobody would even notice.

None of this is to say that you should quit whenever you hit a low-revenue period. Just as with investing, the longer you remain in the market the higher your chances of success. Keep testing new offerings, pricing models, markets, and marketing strategies. Repeat what works and bin what doesn’t. But no matter what, stay the course. You don’t disown your child because they failed one test at school.


Pivot

Since the launch, I’ve expanded my original offering from strictly corporate writing (sniper) to more general writing services (shotgun). This allows me to earn more money, advertise the brand, and gain new clients—which leads to a virtuous cycle of profit that I can use to save up for the sniper I really want.

I’ve also started looking at clients abroad because I realized that the market I was playing in (Nam + SA) doesn’t really have a need for extensive business writing. Most local companies don’t have an active blog. They don’t engage in email marketing (nor see much need for it), and their social media channels remain empty for weeks at a time.

Content marketing is a powerful driver of inbound leads, but the time and energy it would take to educate local clients on its importance is time I could be spending on reaching out to global clients who already understand, appreciate, and have a pressing need for content marketing services. I haven’t yet quit; I’ve simply gone where the money is.


Solve existing problems

Many of us have started businesses based on problems we think people should have. You started a gourmet pizza business in a small city but quickly realized that the local market is just fine with normal (read: cheaper) pizzas. You launched a drone piloting service in your hometown but can count on one hand how many people actually need such services—turns out most of them are just fine with normal photography. Maybe you started a staff training business but are struggling to find clients because the market still isn’t aware of the importance of such training.

Introducing innovation takes time and energy, and you’ll often feel frustrated. To counter this, you have a few options:

  1. Offer a wider range of goods and services.
  2. Enter a different market that already needs your services.
  3. Drop your concept and offer a related or totally new service.

Either way, there is no shame in pivoting. Nobody is paying much attention to your internal business decisions—they only care about whether you deliver. And you won’t be seen as a failure by other entrepreneurs because they understand the struggle, too.

So go ahead and pivot to save your business. Solve real-world problems, not the ones in your head.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I touched on connections — why you should put yourself out there if you want new opportunities. Take a look:

Put Yourself Out There


I help brands become rockstars on all major social media platforms. Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Hit the heart ❤️ button if you liked this.

Put Yourself Out There

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a series of essays by Dr Mo on personal growth and professional success in a digital world. Today’s essay is about connections.


Growing up, certain professions seemed “necessary” to me: engineer, doctor, nurse, astronaut. Others, like marketing or sales, seemed superfluous at best—and I couldn’t understand why people would try and make a career out of them.

Years later, as I’ve ironically found myself deep in a comms and advertising career, I’ve come to realize that marketing and sales are perhaps two of the most important skills anybody can ever learn—not least because you will have to “tell and sell” yourself every day of your life, but also because so many people struggle with these fundamental skills. You tell and sell when applying for a job, looking for a romantic partner, seeking funding for a project, rousing your community to action, and more.


Coffee

Over the weekend, I was grabbing coffee with some friends and a co-host who all live an hour’s drive away from me. It was the first time we were all meeting in person, and it was through an event Kena (my co-host) and I had brainstormed a few weeks prior: Meetup ZA, a concept born out of our mutual need to get out of the house and make new friends. Long after everyone else had left the coffee tasting, Kena and I spoke for hours about everything from family and careers to the strange phenomenon of trying to expand your network as you hit 30. There were more than a few things we agreed upon.


Be active and visible

Friendship (and love, and money) are all verbs—they require conscious action to materialize. #NoNewFriends is not life advice. It’s a catchy line, no doubt; but in the real world, the money, companionship, opportunities, and fulfilment you seek are in the hands of other people. This is how life has always worked.

Hiring managers mostly recruit new candidates based on referrals and recommendations—it’s just an easier heuristic to go by. Tinder is a great app (I would know), but on the whole, people still prefer to date people who know people they know.

If you’re single and actively searching, your best strategy for finding someone would be to tell your friends that you’re in the market. They’ll find someone on your behalf who is a good match for you (and who would fit into your social circle). And if you don’t trust the matches your friends would make for you, you probably need new friends (or need to deepen your existing friendships).

As social beings, we’re always vetting people based on how many other people know and trust them. Building solid relationships, then, is probably the most important thing you can do for yourself—but it requires putting yourself out there. Set up those coffee dates, make that first move, and attend that event. Nobody is going to magically find you otherwise.


B.E.G-ing for opportunities

One of the cardinal rules of marketing is that “you are not your customer”—you have to meet them where they are. It’s amazing how often people forget this rule. As an example, when a recruiter or hiring manager is searching for candidates, their first port of call is their personal networks.

Hey, I’m looking for a copywriter; know anyone?

If they can’t find someone within their networks, they’ll head to LinkedIn next. It thus follows that if you want to be found for that role, you need to be in their social circle or on LinkedIn—ideally both.

Having a PDF of your CV will not get you a job. Being on LinkedIn is a great start, but it will still not get you a job. Actively searching and applying for jobs is an excellent step forward, but you’ll need to go further than that: Befriend, Engage, Give. This is the only type of BEG-ing that gets you far in life.

Befriend, Engage, Give. Make it a habit to get out of your small, smelly comfort zone and meet new people. Be interesting and be interested. Ask questions, help genuinely, and give value over and over—then give some more. This is how you deposit precious wealth into your friendship accounts. When it’s time to ask for that job referral or project sponsorship or to find your next lockdown bae, you’d be surprised how much people are willing to bring to your table. The system only works if we all invest in each other.

While you’re at it, cut out the selfish, emotionally draining leeches. Ain’t nobody got time for those.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I touched on curation — how to build a community, business, and marketplace around your passions. Take a look:

Be a Resource


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Be A Resource

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a series of essays by Dr Mo on personal growth and professional success in a digital world. Today’s essay is about curation.


Before we start: I recently put together an e-book on “Unlearning” — 11 stories and articles from women who have overcome anxiety, depression, fear of failure, and impostor syndrome. Take a look: https://bit.ly/UnlearningVol1


I follow a guy on Twitter who posts job vacancies every day. Naturally, he has amassed a sizable following in a country with rampant unemployment and has managed to become a sort of “recruitment influencer.” What I can’t help thinking about, however, is how perfectly positioned he is within the job market.

This man will get first-pick of every juicy job that comes his way.

Not only that, but he also has access to the salary range for each role so he can negotiate and maximize his compensation in every interview he walks into. If he so chose, he could parlay this knowledge into starting his own recruitment agency: he has a large database of jobs, and followers, and thus CVs. Getting corporates to sign on would be a breeze.

In short, he has become a resource for job-seekers and created a potentially profitable resource for himself.


Curate

In many ways, helping others directly helps you by compounding the benefits upwards (where you’re positioned). I’ve talked a bit about the 2 Cs of online content strategy (creation and curation)—and while you can see success with either approach, it’s the latter that places you at the epicentre of newer, better opportunities thanks to selection and scale.

If you like jewellery, for example, you could create and sell your own pieces for instant profits. In the beginning, at least, scaling will be slow (because you have no audience) but you can start making money on Day 1.

However, starting an Instagram page of the best jewellery pieces you come across (curation) will help you build your following quicker. If these pieces are made locally, you can then bring the creators visibility, connect them to buyers, and create a marketplace out of thin air.

Formalize this into an e-commerce store and you can take a small cut of each transaction that happens on your platform. It’ll take much longer to get there, but once you hit a certain point you’ll be raking in profits without having to create a single piece of jewellery yourself. Plus, you’ll have first dibs on all the best, cheapest, or rarest pieces that come onto the market. You can rinse and repeat this strategy for housing, clothing, cars, and more.


Be a resource

Being a resource allows you to create an audience, generate a marketplace, and monetize the reach and access you’re bringing to both buyers and sellers of the product you’re curating.

In this era, there’s nothing more important than building an audience as this will become a ready-made market for your future products. Curation also positions you as a thought leader or authority in your field, which is a level of credibility you can parlay into speaking gigs, consultations, book deals, job opportunities, and more.

Collecting and curating things is just one way of being a resource. You can also write helpful content on a subject, link people to resources, facilitate introductions, and more. Whether you’re a podcaster, a therapist, a farmer, an animal trainer, or a social media manager, find something within your field that you can be a resource on—and start building your audience early.

A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I touched on content creation — how to win customers over by using the WWW-WWH method. Here’s what I mean:

WWWWWH


Need help with content creation and social media management? I help brands become rockstars on all major social media platforms. Get in touch.

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Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a series of essays by Dr Mo on personal growth and professional success in a digital world. Today’s essay is about content creation.


Before we start: I recently put together an e-book on “Unlearning” — 11 stories and articles from women who have overcome anxiety, depression, fear of failure, and impostor syndrome. Take a look: https://bit.ly/UnlearningVol1


Let’s say you sell dildos.

Look, I could’ve used shoes, baby formula, or bungee jumping as alternative examples, but I prefer testing my content formulas on far-flung products and services to see if they hold up. So for the sake of this Letter, let’s say you sell dildos and vibrators. Dee’s Dildos, to be exact.

After setting up your socials, the question becomes “what should I post?”

The WWWWWH model I’ll outline today makes it dead easy to advertise your product. This model gets you up and running in no time and keeps your pages humming overtime.

Let’s jump right in.


Who

“Made for the busy woman with an active lifestyle, Dee’s Dildos are discrete and fit into your purse or bag for pleasure on the go. Whether you’re a curious gal or a seasoned pro, there’s something in our range for everyone. Grab yours from www.deesdildos.com.”

What

“Dee’s Dildos are premium sex toys designed to please with ease. Taking in two AA batteries and curved slightly for your pleasure, each dildo packs power and stimulation right where you want it: inside and out. Now available in black, brown and beige.”

When

“Play with Dee under the sheets, in the bathtub, or during sexy-time with bae. Wrap your hands around Dee’s swollen shaft and stimulating veins and treat yourself to a throbbing finish.”

Where

“Grab your Dee from our adult shop on 69 Pound Avenue (open 7 days a week) or order it online from www.deesdildos.com. Not for sale to persons under the age of 18.”

Why

“Dee’s Dildos deliver discrete pleasure on your terms. For toe-curling orgasms in minutes, there’s simply nothing better. Dee is easy to clean, too — simply wipe softly with soap and water and pat dry when finished.”

How (to use)

“Pick from our Monster Range or start with a smaller stub from our store. Each dildo comes with a bottle of lubricant for maximum pleasure; so squirt generously and pick a comfortable position for penetration. Check out our step-by-step guide to using a dildo: dontclickthislink.com.”

How (much)

“Dee Dildos start from just R500 for the Bullet Range — perfect for the first-timer. Take it up a notch with a straight Monster from R600, or go Bananas with curved pleasure from just R700. Our exclusive Pinocchio range is invite-only. See more at www.deesdildos.com.”


That’s seven quick posts to kickstart your social media marketing, and each of them is literally tweet-length or shorter. Rinse and repeat for your own brand.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I touched on the concept of niches — how you can find success by carving out your own little corner of the market. Here’s how:

Your Own Little Corner


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Hit the heart ❤️ button to see Pinocchio. 🤥

Your Own Little Corner

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a series of essays by Dr Mo on personal growth and professional success in a digital world. Today’s essay is about niches.


In varsity, forever bored with my allocated PowerPoint Pastors, I spent a lot of time scribbling notes into my “Idea Bank,” a notebook that held pages upon pages of half-baked moon-shots.

These were the desperate attempts of a 17yr old boy to stay awake in classrooms that sapped him of intellectual stimulation. Of course, I never got around to executing any of them. The ideation process was far more enjoyable.

At the time, I thought I needed billions of dollars to live comfortably. I figured that since life gets ever more expensive and inflation is a thing, the only way to reach a point where you never need to work again was to make a billion dollars.

Years later, after a sobering round of adulting and a keener understanding of “mo’ money, mo’ problems” I’ve revised this number down to a lump sum of about R30m. Assuming you settled in SADC, you could comfortably live off the annual ~8% interest forever.

But back then, I still needed a way to get to those millions.

The great thing about life is there are a thousand ways to make money. The terrible thing about life is there are a thousand ways to make money.

You’ll never be able to do all of them (and you wouldn’t want to). The trick, as ever, is to find and dominate your own little corner of the market.


Nail and scale

There’s a guy I know, a former student of mine who ventured into the cleaning business. He offers the standard fare: house cleaning, mobile laundry, and other assorted services that lean heavily on detergents and bleach.

His marketing is top-notch, his customer service is great (I’ve hired them before), and most importantly, he’s been consistent with it for the last few years.

He’s staked out his own little corner of the market — and he’s owning it.

COVID-19 brought about increased demand for deep cleaning and constant sanitation, which I suppose was a boon for him. It also revealed to me the sheer scale of the cleaning industry, which spans everything from the detergents themselves (and all the value chains that aspect comprises) to the cleaners, the laundry delivery guys, the apps, the marketplaces, and all the other services surrounding the industry.

In time, when he gets big enough, he’ll be able to invest and play in all those other niches. But for now, if you need someone to clean your house or do your laundry, his team stands at the ready.

The lesson here is obvious:

For you to make a lot of money doing everything, you need to make enough money doing one thing.


Writers

I consider it criminal that my high school teachers never showed me the sheer scale of career opportunities within the writing profession. There’s almost nothing on this planet that doesn’t make use of a writer at some point. Books are the obvious use-case, but there’s more.

All marketing campaigns start with a brief, which is then expounded upon by a copywriter. Musicians write lyrics (as songwriters) or notes (as composers). Public speakers write speeches and keynotes.

Politicians and lawmakers write legislation. CEOs and executive teams write strategy notes and policies. Engineers write specifications and instruction manuals, and journalists write about everyone above.

Writing itself is an easy skill to learn. You do it every day on your phone, and if you’re reading this then you’ve probably spent the last fifteen years or so cranking out words at school.

However, mastering and monetizing this crucial skill is a whole different ball game. Without a concrete starting point, you’d suffer from the same problem 17-year old me did: wanting to be everywhere without know where to start.

The answer is deceptively simple: find your own little corner and set up shop.

If you like writing about video games, then do just that. Play as much as you can, find tech and entertainment publications that are looking for new content, and offer your services. There’d be time to write about PCs, cellphones, and other gadgets later; but you need to have your own little corner that nobody can take away from you.

You need to be known for something.


Everything is extendable

Your own little corner is what will generate you infinite wealth. One of my mottos is that “everything is extendable” — meaning you can take anything and scale it up or niche down even further. You can “extend” it in either direction.

I call it “choosing between space and the sea” — here’s why:

Humans are obsessed with what’s “out there” — we wonder whether there is extraterrestrial life or other planets suitable for habitation like ours. We pump billions into space programs, fire rockets into space, and write endless streams of words and lyrics in the form of films, songs, shows, and books about space.

Space represents “the final frontier” — humanity’s opportunity to scale our existence infinitely.

However, the sea contains multitudes.

Deep down in the oceans, there are creatures we’re just yet discovering; creatures with wildly unimaginable strengths, features, and implications for research and the advancement of the human race. There are corals and reefs, treasure troves, and pockets of enormous value waiting to be unlocked in those watery depths.

The oceans are humanity’s chance to niche down and focus on ever-smaller aspects of our existence; things related to the very origins of our species. You could spend a lifetime learning about sharks and still not know everything about them.

Similarly, you can choose to scale up or niche down your business — and you could make billions in either direction.

A medical student could decide to practice as a GP after their residency. In time, they could make enough money to open up new branches of their practice, leveraging their scale to pull in ever-higher profits. The more they expanded, the greater their income potential. Scale increases profits.

Or they could go the other way and specialize in treating certain cancers. They could niche down even further to focus only on skin cancer. Or go even further and only specialize in skin cancer for elderly women.

The more they specialized, the greater their income potential. Specialization reduces competition.

Pick a direction and hit the gas.


Finding your own little corner

I refer a lot to the Japanese concept of ikigai because it helps in choosing what to focus on — at least in the beginning. What do you love to do, that you’re good at, that the world needs, that you can monetize?

Once you’ve identified your One Thing™ (or several related things), get to work putting together your gift (product) and telling the world about it (marketing).

The solution doesn’t always have to come from within, by the way; you can also discover an existing unmet need and fulfil it profitably.

As you get better at offering this One Thing™ and getting paid for it, consider whether you’d prefer to scale up or niche down even further. But whatever you do, ensure you can always identify your own little corner of the market.

Make sure they can’t take it away from you.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I touched on the concept of disappointment — how it’s ok if we don’t always get the things we want. Here’s why:

And That’s Ok


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I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Hit the heart ❤️ button to light up your own little corner.

And That’s OK

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a series of essays by Dr Mo on personal growth and professional success in a digital world. Today’s essay is about disappointment.



So here’s what’s gonna happen:

You’ll apply for that scholarship and send in your CV, certifications, and 3 references from people you barely speak to. The university programme you applied for will demand the same, which you’ll dutifully send.

The selection committee on both sides will look at your carefully crafted application, confer among themselves, and send you a polite letter thanking you for your interest. You’ll spot the tell-tale keyword (“regrettably”) and quickly close the email to minimize the sting of rejection.


Meanwhile, that other vacancy you applied for is perfect: they’re not asking for too many years of experience, you can do 90% of the duties and responsibilities, and you even have a higher degree than what they’re asking for. It’s in a company that’ll look good on your CV, they’re big enough to pay you enough, and you tick all the boxes.

But after careful consideration, they regret to inform you that you won’t be getting this job. Or the next one. In fact, your inbox over the coming weeks will be a wasteland of rejection emails by the time the job market is done with you. It will hurt each time.


Twitter has taught you to shoot your shot because good people get snapped up fast. You’ll slide into that DM with a killer line tailored specifically to a post they just made. They’ll “haha” and respond. You’ll go back and forth with them, eventually setting up a casual meet-up at that restaurant that serves nice burgers with chilli-cheese chips. The meal will be magical. The banter will be better. The Netflix movie at their place that weekend will remain unfinished, for scientific reasons.

Three movies later, the texts will dry up and the convos will stall and your video calls will go unanswered as they repeatedly remind you that they’re busy. You’ll read between the lines, of course, and remove yourself from their lives — perhaps swearing they’ll never find someone else like you, or that they’ll never find happiness. Well, they will, and they will. They’ll be happier without you, even.

And that’s ok.


A small part of anxiety stems from our fear of failure, rejection, and abandonment. A small part of depression stems from taking said failure, rejection, and abandonment too personally.

But the root cause of both of these states is the expectation that things have to go right. That because you applied for a job, they have to give it to you. That because you started a business, it has to work out. That because you like someone, they have to like you back.

Optimism, in a sense, is built into the human psyche — without it, we’d quickly lose our will to live. But failure and rejection are also built into the fabric of life, and as we apply for opportunities, send in our documents, and shoot our professional and romantic shots, we need to accept that we may not always get what we want — at least not right now.

And that’s ok.

Because better will come.

— Mo


In my last post, I explained the concept of “affirmations” — how the things we tell ourselves can help or harm us down the line. Here’s why:

Affirmations


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Affirmations—Afro girl travelling in foreign city

Affirmations

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a series of essays by Dr Mo on personal growth and professional success in a digital world. Today’s essay is about affirmations.


After ten years, I finally got around to watching Inception again (first released in 2010) on Netflix. Like most people, the movie didn’t make sense to me the first time around—but after a decade of letting the confusion marinate, I was finally able to understand its plot, themes, and ending.

Inception (2010) Official Trailer #1 – Christopher Nolan Movie

The film explores some fantastic themes around dreams, reality, and the nature of the mind. In the story (no spoilers), an extraction team attempts one of the most dangerous mental experiments ever devised: “inception”, or the planting of an idea into someone’s mind to influence a future decision. One wrong move would spell disaster.

The lead character, Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) calls ideas “the most resilient virus known to man.”

I agree.


Impostor syndrome

Four times now in the past two months, I’ve been asked if I suffer from impostor syndrome (I don’t), and why not. After some thought, my first answer was “achievement.” I’ve achieved a few personal academic records: like completing Grades 2 and 3 in one year, then Grades 11 and 12 in one year, then starting my Masters at 21 and graduating with a PhD at 26 (the first in the country to do so).

“Achievement” seemed like a tidy answer until I realized that my general lack of impostor syndrome extends beyond academia. I have sat with presidents-elect and talked to them like peers. I can hold a conversation with anyone on the planet—from professors and ministers to business titans and celebrities. I go into any new business venture with a clear view of how it will evolve, how I’ll get customers, and what I’ll charge. I love having older, wealthier, smarter, and more famous friends—precisely because I want to learn their secrets and apply them to my own life.

So I dug deeper. And one particular memory stands out.


Inception

A few years ago, in the dining table of our apartment in Gaborone, my brothers and I were having a conversation with our dad about wealth. “Wealth is a good thing to have and pursue,” he said. This was one of the positive ideas about money that he planted in our heads—rather than the prevailing narrative that money is the root of all evil. But it was what he said next that truly stuck: “You will achieve so many big things in life.”

There’s a certain calm that follows you in life when you’ve been planted with the conviction that your goal in life is to win, succeed, and conquer. The idea that I could ever fail at something now feels so… strange. The virus of achievement has thoroughly infected my entire psyche—so much so that I sometimes wonder what I’ll be up to at 50. I struggle to picture myself at that age because my rate of achievement and knowledge keeps doubling each year. I can’t wait to meet my future self.


Affirmations

This brings me to the concept of affirmations—the things we tell ourselves (and others) that shape our reality and perspective on life. Our internal affirmations can make or break us. We affirm things all the time; from telling ourselves simple things like “I can’t sing” or “this is just how my body is”; to slightly more worrisome messages like “I’m just not good at relationships”; to even more dangerous messages like “all (blacks/whites/men/women) are <insert silly generalization>.”

These internal convictions then colour our interactions going forward—from how we engage with others and ourselves to opportunities that come our way. And the problem with affirmations is that they are self-fulfilling.

An email arrives asking you to bid for a project in your field and you dismiss it because “I’m not experienced enough.” A friend mentions a scholarship to study in the UK and you discount it because “it’s cold there and expensive anyway.”

Someone tells you about job opportunities in another city and you dismiss the idea with “I can’t leave my mom alone”—as if your experienced and mature mother will perish without your almighty presence. You weasel out of romantic entanglements because you’re “just not good at relationships.”

For some of you, the idea of “marriage” or “having kids” or “moving to another country” gives you chills, as does the idea of “starting a business” or “quitting your job”.

Some of these reactions are simply due to convictions you haven’t yet confronted.


Origins

With time and a bit of introspection, you can usually piece together the origins of your convictions.

Perhaps your parents’ divorce put you off marriage forever. Maybe a friend’s difficult pregnancy turned you off the idea of having a baby. You watched a friend’s business struggle to gain traction and told yourself you’d never go down that road. A relative moved to Europe or Asia and experienced racism, discrimination, and financial hardship, so the idea of leaving your home country fills you with dread.

Once you recognize where your convictions come from, you realize that what happened to others won’t necessarily happen to you.

Kids from broken homes can end up being loving parents. A 9-5’er might find success in entrepreneurship—and vice versa. The dating game might be rough on your friends but kinder to you. The fact that you sucked at sport, or couldn’t talk to people, or always got in trouble as a kid, doesn’t mean you’ll be that way for life.


Kill the virus

Convictions are like viruses, and there are two main ways to kill a virus: vaccination and antiviral medication.

Vaccination is you feeding your spouse, child, sibling, relative, or friend positive affirmations—messages that will bury themselves in their psyches and innoculate them against the fear of failure, impostor syndrome, anxiety, depression, or a crippling inferiority complex.

The same way we all have the power to infect people with bad narratives (sometimes unwittingly), we can also vaccinate them with strength and determination. Do more of the latter. It costs you nothing.

The second method is by administering antiviral medication. This entails confronting and eliminating the negative convictions you carry within you. While this is best done by a therapist, you can start killing those negative viruses by simply changing what you tell yourself.

You’re not “bad at relationships,” you just need to work on yourself a little more and pick better partners. You’re not “afraid of marriage,” you just haven’t seen many positive examples of it.

White people aren’t all racist or evil, you just haven’t met enough of the good ones yet. Black people aren’t all lazy, greedy, or vicious; you just need to expand your circle a bit more. Men aren’t all trash, women aren’t all parasites, babies aren’t all hard work—you just need to keep an open mind.


Time

Vaccines are only useful after your body has encountered, battled, and learned from the weakened viruses they come with. Likewise, antiviral medication only works after it has circulated your body for a few days or weeks. Even ARVs take a few months before you start seeing results.

The key function here is time. Whichever method you pick—whether you’re trying to kill a biological or mental virus—give it time and be patient with the process.

It usually works out.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I explained why you should “bee the flower”—getting people to come to you instead of you seeking them out. Here’s why:

Bee The Flower


Need help with content creation and social media management? I help brands become rockstars on all major social media platforms. Get in touch.

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Honey bee on a flower

Bee The Flower

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a series of essays by Dr Mo on personal growth and professional success in a digital world. Today’s essay is about attraction.


The average worker bee spends its days fetching water, feeding the hive’s young, and making honey. That last part requires several trips into the field to search for, taste, review, and fly back to the hive to report on new food sources. This process costs energy and can sometimes lead to the bees dying from stress and burnout.

A flower, on the other hand, spends its days soaking up sunlight and dew and using both to produce nectar, which is the sugar source for honey. This nectar draws bees from all over to feed, who then get some pollen stuck on their hairy legs as they fly to other plants, pollinating them.

If the flower was a firm, it would be spending a lot on R&D (to produce the best nectar) and letting word-of-mouth marketing bring it new business. By focusing on “product” and outsourcing its marketing and distribution, it would cut costs and double profits with each satisfied customer (since pollination ≈ duplication of the firm).


Turntables over taxes

Like a bee, a busy accountant who is single would need to spend a fair amount of time, effort and money going out to meet and woo potential candidates: from looking good, buying data, and spending on fuel/cab money to buying wine, restaurant meals, and booking nice activities.

A DJ, on the other hand, has no such issues. With a career that puts him smack dab in the middle of attractive people each weekend, his status as the life of the party makes his dating life a breeze. If you want an easier time meeting attractive people, DJ’ing beats accounting hands down.**


Make them come to you

And so in life, as in business, the winning strategy is to make them come to you. In short, bee the flower.

Sure, you could spend hours cold-calling and emailing random people and asking if they’d like to buy your product — and that approach certainly has its place. The smarter play, however, is to work on the aspects of your business that will attract warmer leads to your door repeatedly without you having to do any extra work.

This is why content marketing is so powerful. By creating compelling content around your brand, products and services, you make it more attractive for bees to stop by your flower and drink your branded nectar.

This nectar can be in the form of social media posts, web articles, webinars and seminars, digital newsletters, reports, YouTube videos, and downloadable templates. I create all these and more over at Grammar & Flow.

As the bees get drunk on your content, your pollen sticks to their legs and gets flown to other flowers for floral fiki-fiki. This process is sometimes called organic marketing. The alternative — paid marketing — would be like if each male flower spent all day lobbing their potent pollen into the female flowers, Angry Birds-style. Don’t think too much about that image.


Make it irresistible

The sweeter your nectar, the more bees you attract — which means more pollen spread around, more flowers fertilized, and a bigger field to work with. Each satisfied bee flies back to the hive to inform the other bees of your existence, thus bringing the whole party to your petals. Like a good DJ, when you make the queen bee happy at the club, she invites the rest of her friends to slurp up your nectar.

Creating content is half of what I do for a living. I got into this game because I realized most brands struggle with this stuff and end up posting boring, disengaging content on their feeds (or worse, no content at all). Content creation is an art — one that brings bees and creates a buzz when done right. So if you’re done darting around looking for your next customer and ready to build beautiful blooms, get in touch and let’s make magic.

Till next week,

Mo


** Obviously, do both. Help them sort out their money, then get them to blow it at the club so they keep coming back for help sorting out their money. ☕


In my last post, I explained the concept of your “daily debt” — how you owe money as soon as you wake up each day. Here’s why:

Your Daily Debt


Need help with content creation and social media management? I help brands become rockstars on all major social media platforms. Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Hit the heart ❤️ button to squirt nectar.

Your daily debt

Your Daily Debt

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a series of weekly essays by Dr Mo on personal and professional growth in a digital world. Today’s essay is about debt.


Let’s say you spend R15,000 per month on expenses.

Your budget may vary of course, but I’m using this number to depict a young person (single, obviously) who rents a bachelor pad in the city and pays the bills (utilities + WiFi), buys groceries and fuel each month, and enjoys small creature comforts: restaurant meals here, movie tickets there, some drinks with friends every now and then.

Dividing this figure by 30 days gives you R500. This is your daily debt.

When you wake up in the morning — before you’ve brushed your teeth or washed your face or checked your phone — you already owe R500.

You’ve got 24 hours to determine how you’re going to make that R500 and pay yourself back.

If you have a job and your monthly salary divided by 30 days gives you R500/day, then you’ve just barely paid back your debt. Of course, this means you’re spending all your earnings each month, and it’s only a matter of time before bankruptcy beckons.

If you’re self-employed, studying, or both, then you need to figure out how to pay your daily debt each morning. The sooner you can do this each day, the better your bank balance will look month-end.


Sell stuff

Unless you have a trust fund or generous parents bankrolling your lifestyle, the standard way of paying down your daily debt involves selling something. This could be a product you make, a service you offer; maybe a few hours of your time each week.

If you make dresses that sell for R250 each, it means you need to sell at least two dresses each day — just to break even — and then one more for profit.

If you are an amateur graphic designer who charges R200/hr, you’ll need to find three clients (or one client who needs three hours worth of work) to pay down your daily debt. If you’re a skilled graphic designer, you could charge R500 and only need to deliver one job a day — preferably two for profit.

Naturally, the more jobs you can do in a day, the better off you are. The smarter move, however, is to go for bigger jobs that pay your debt for several days in a row.

Instead of fishing for small daily graphic design jobs on Upwork, position yourself to land bigger projects — these will pay you a large amount of money (say, R5,000 to design a brand CI) and earn you breathing space for several days at a time (ten, in this case).


Breathing space lets you think

Thinking and planning ahead both allow you to invest more time and effort into fine-tuning your growth engine (marketing, branding, business management, and investments) rather than spending it all on fuel (the energy used to complete the actual tasks).

For any of this to work, however, you need to know how much you spend on monthly expenses; down to the last buck.

There are many apps that can assist you with this: I use Money Manager on Android. After a few months of tracking your transactions, you’ll have a rough idea of your daily debt.


Living is not free

As your alarm disrupts your dreams and pulls you into reality each morning, you likely already owe several debts to yourself: your student loans (for the past); your car loans, rent/mortgage, and living expenses (for the present), and your planned trips, startup capital, kids’ college funds, and retirement fund (for the future).

You’re always accruing debt with each breath you take. Forgetting this crucial fact leads people to make silly decisions that eventually add up.

When your friends call you out for drinks, have you already paid your daily debt for that day? As you consider buying that new iPhone, how many daily debts will it cost you? Have you landed any gigs yet to justify that purchase?

By the same token, assess every new opportunity or activity you venture into in terms of its ability to pay your daily debt faster.

  • New course? Beneficial. Sign right up.
  • Coffee date with a potential client? Beneficial. Invest the R100 into cappuccinos to get a juicy contract.
  • Hot, “urgent” opportunity to invest in forex or bitcoin? Slow down. That’s just you paying someone else’s daily debt.

The numbers must always add up. Don’t take on more daily debt than you can stomach (live within your means) and always aim for bigger, better-paying jobs and gigs.

Now, how much do you owe yourself today?

You’ve only got a few hours left.

— Mo


In my last post, I explained the concept of “selling hammers” — why you should sell the tool and not the product. Here’s why:

Sell Hammers, Not Houses


Need help with social media management? I help brands become rockstars on all the major social media platforms. Get in touch.

I’m also available on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Sell hammers, not houses

Sell Hammers, Not Houses

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy and career development. Today’s post is about supply chains.


In the video above, Vusi Thembekwayo touches on value chains (around 11:23 minutes in). He makes a salient point about moving up the value chain of a business in order to realize greater profits.

He gives an example of the paper industry: owning a retail paper business is a high-competition game, but owning the pulp factory is more profitable because all the wholesalers and retailers have to buy from you.

You can extend this phenomenon to any industry. If you live in a town with no chicken in the supermarkets (say, Antarctica), your best bet is to sell frozen chicken. Once competitors converge on that space, your next best move is to sell eggs and incubators.

Similarly, if there are no chartered accountants in your city, you should study accounting and become one of the first. When the number of CAs starts rising faster than the number of jobs, take a step back and sell tutoring, training and exam prep for CAs.

I call it “selling hammers”:

When everyone is building or buying property, sell hammers, not houses.

In a growing real estate market, the winners aren’t the real estate agents, but those who help build the houses: the architects, contractors, sand and cement companies, painters, and interior designers. They’ll never be out of work.

The real winners, though, are the hardware stores.

They sell the drafting tables the architects use; the buckets, pails and wheelbarrows the builders use; the paint for the painters; and the glue, hammers, nails, drills, bolts and nuts used by everyone else. They’re further up the value chain and everyone below has to buy from them.


Sell hammers, not houses

The idea behind this is simple: there are more attempts than achievements in any field.

  • 100 students might enrol in a program each semester, but only 40 – 50 will graduate.
  • 1,000 people might apply for a job, but only one will be hired.
  • 50 companies might apply for a tender, but only one will get the project.

However, those 100 students all need bags, pens, books, and laptops.

The 1,000 candidates all need their CVs written. Some would also pay for interview coaching, corporate photography, and LinkedIn overhauls.

The companies all need their businesses registered and their tender documents compiled, proof-read, and formatted. They’ll also need envelopes.

The goal is the “house.” Everything needed to get it is the “hammer.”

Sell hammers.


Sell on both ends

The best part of this strategy is you can sell to them, very lucratively, on both sides of the “pipe”—on the attempt (going in) and on success (coming out of the pipe).

After selling the students stationery and laptops, you can sell the graduates gowns. After making money drafting CVs, you can sell the winning candidate a suit, some new shoes, a laptop bag, some dress shirts, and other nice things they’ll need at their new job. And if you’re a bank, you can simply sell them a car or house loan, payable from their new salary over the next 30 years. Think about that.

After winning the tender, the company that paid you for business registration will need service providers for payroll, tax compliance, service delivery, and more. Which of those can you offer?

Own both ends of the pipe.

Here’s one more: humanity has an innate need to reproduce. Following the hammer theory, it’s more profitable to sell nappies than to build a primary school. But if you can, do both.

Better yet: sell condoms.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I explained why your logo is not important in the beginning — and what you should focus on instead:

Read the article


Need help with social media management? I help brands become rockstars on all the major social media platforms. Get in touch.


Hit the heart ❤️ button for unbreakable condoms.

Start With Sales

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy and career development.


Your startup is a baby

There are plenty of clothing options you can choose from—from snuggly blankets to cute little hats to tiny adorable shoes. You’ll want to splurge on PJs and toys and a super-fancy pram that’ll turn heads on the street. All of that is nice to have, but ultimately unimportant.

What your baby needs is milk.

Your startup is no different. In the beginning, you’ll meet people who will preach about the importance of a logo, or brand colours, or a fancy design. They’re both right and wrong—but in the beginning, they’re mostly wrong.

Your business doesn’t need a fancy logo; it needs sales.

Start with sales

Figure out whom you’re serving and what you’re selling to them, and reach out directly to close the sale. You don’t need a fancy proposal or company profile—simply tell them what you’re selling. If they like it, they’ll buy it. If they don’t, you’ll know why.

You might obsess over the packaging and the “brand identity” and your “positioning.” That’s like worrying about the baby’s career choices or which college it will attend. Those are all important in the long run—but your baby is hungry right *now.*

So feed the baby.

As it grows, you can turn your attention (and time, money, and energy) towards dressing it up in fancy clothes, distracting it with mesmerising toys, and deciding which school it should attend.

But right now, feed the baby.

Till next week,

Mo


In my last post, I explained why social media is only one aspect of your digital medication. It’s a bitter—but necessary—pill to swallow; and here’s why:

Take Your Pill


Need help with social media management? I help brands become rockstars on all the major social media platforms. Get in touch.


Hit the heart ❤️ button to feed a baby. Get more of these gems on Twitter.

Social Media Is Not A Magic Pill

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy and career development. Today’s post is about accountability.


Dear business owner or manager,

This is your annual reminder that:

  1. All branding is personal branding. There’s no difference between your company Page and your personal profile—they’re both an extension of your brand.
  2. Social media is not a magic pill—it’s just one aspect of your digital medication.
  3. A good social media presence won’t fix a bad product or terrible service—it will only amplify your failures.
  4. You 👏🏽 Still 👏🏽 Have 👏🏽 To 👏🏽 Promote 👏🏽 Your 👏🏽 Social 👏🏽 Media 👏🏽 Content 👏🏽. I see so many business owners or freelancers creating pages, dumping one or two posts on them, and calling it a day. That page by itself won’t bring you any business (at first)—it’s simply a destination. Think of it like building a hotel: you still have to tell everybody about your hotel, show people what your hotel provides, generate massive FOMO, throw events; and most importantly, you have to do all of this in a relevant way, at opportune times, to the right people. That newly married couple that just bought a house isn’t interested in your hotel—but the tourist is. Promote your new hotel to the right people else you’ll be wasting both time and money.
  5. You get out what you put in. Success boils down to you and the amount of time you spend creating your content, the effort you put into promoting and sharing that content, and the money that you invest in reaching more people through ads. It’s not rocket science.
  6. You can’t outsource your marketing to a third party and then abandon it. You still have to be involved in the process. Share your plans so your social media manager (SMM) can craft content. Give your SMM the required resources they need to do their job. Do what they ask you to do when they ask you to do it. You’re paying them for their expertise; so listen to what they tell you.
  7. Your personal profile is the most important social media asset you own. You can have a million brand accounts, but the people who know you, trust you, and are willing to spend money on you (your “first customers”) are found on your personal profile. If you’re neglecting your personal profile, hiring an army of social media managers will not save your business. See #1.
  8. Babies don’t grow overnight—they take years to mature into independent adults. Just as your hotel won’t be a hit with tourists on Day 1, your social media pages won’t go viral overnight. It takes plenty of time, effort and investment—so be patient and keep feeding that baby.
  9. A baby raised with love and care will support you for the rest of your life. Likewise, a social media presence built with focused intent will yield major dividends down the line. You’ll be able to leave the hotel and have it make you gobs of money in your absence. Aim for that goal.
  10. Think long-term. When you hire a social media manager, do so with an expected timeframe of at least 9 months (heh) before you start seeing results. You will not go viral in the first week. In fact, if you’re not boosting your pages or posts, you’ll likely hear crickets for the first 2 months—that’s normal. Keep creating content, sharing it, and inviting new people to follow the Page—it will compound. See #4.
  11. Consistency is not the name of the game—it’s the whole game. You can’t fall off the radar and come back two months later expecting to pick back up where you left off. The algorithms punish such inconsistency—the same way children never forgive you for abandoning them. Be a consistent parent.
  12. Spread the effort—feed your other kids. You can’t rely solely on social media (your favourite child) and ignore other marketing channels (its siblings). You still need to get your brand featured in print. Throw events and grow attendance. Deliver great service for word-of-mouth marketing. Build a community of loyal fans. Jump on relevant podcasts and talk about your offerings. Make videos and animations about your offerings. Design great posters about your offerings. Get on radio and TV if you have the budget—and talk about your offerings. Is this beginning to sound repetitive? Keep 👏🏽 Talking 👏🏽 About 👏🏽 Your 👏🏽 Offerings 👏🏽.
  13. Social media is a powerful amplifier of all your other marketing. But as you learned in high school, you can’t multiply by zero. See #3.
  14. You are your biggest brand ambassador. All the influencers in the world won’t save your business if you don’t believe in it yourself. See #4.
  15. Social media is not a meal—it’s a supplement. Just as you can’t subsist on vitamin pills, you can’t lean solely on social media with no sound marketing plan or business model beneath it. Get the fundamentals right, and social media will bring out the best in your business.

And remember: if you’re not playing and having fun with your baby, you’re doing it wrong.

Yours sincerely,

Mo


In my last post, I revealed a cool way of turning pesky salespeople in your DMs into profitable leads for your own business. Here’s how to pitch the pitcher:

Pitch Them Back


I help brands become rockstars on all major social media platforms. Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Hit the heart ❤️ button to make a baby.

Pitch them back

Pitch Them Back

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy and career development. We publish every Wednesday morning.


If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes on LinkedIn, you’ve probably gotten a DM by now from a random stranger trying to sell you something.

Ugh,” you think to yourself. “Another sales pitch. You don’t even know me, dude!

Countless LinkedIn “gurus” and sales webinars have extolled the virtues of “cold pitching” — sliding into a stranger’s inbox to pitch them something. For many of these salespeople, they’re merely following the script.

Today, I’m going to show you how to flip that script to your benefit.


Perspective

Think of a salesperson in your inbox like a knight going to a jousting tournament.

Every day, they need to don their armour, get on their horse, and ride for victory (sales). If they can knock their targets off their horses (you being one of them), they win.

Instead of getting peeved that they see you as a target, think like a local smith watching from the sidelines. Appraise the knight and see what you can offer him to make him more battle-ready.

For example, let’s say you’re a copywriter.

When a salesperson lands in your inbox, here’s what you should do instead of dismissing or blocking them.


1. Appraise their brand

Immediately go to their profile and check out their bio, LinkedIn page, and website. Follow all the links to their social media platforms to see what type of content they post and how you can improve it.

Nine times out of ten, you’ll spot an opportunity to either write a new batch of copy, or rewrite existing text for their landing page, blog, social media accounts, company profile, or brochure.

And because you’re the expert, you’ll know where they can improve, why they need to do so, and how it will benefit them. This forms the basis of your counter-pitch.


2. Link to a company asset

Your counter-pitch needs to be more compelling than theirs. To build credibility, make sure you’ve designed your website (get one), set up your social media pages (get it done) and your company profile (get one written).


3. Prepare a thoughtful response

A pitch, at its core, is simply someone asking you “Hey, do you need this thing I offer?”

The correct response, in this case, is “No thanks; but I see you might need this other thing I offer — and here’s why.”

Your goal with a counter-pitch is to acknowledge their effort, point out the gaps in their marketing, and offer a solution. Here’s how that conversation might go:

Salesperson:

Hi there!

Thanks for accepting my connection request.

Our joinery, Hammer & Blow, builds custom furniture for offices around the country. We’ve served over 75 happy clients countrywide and would love to help you redesign your workspace.

You can contact me on 081 xxx xxxx or email me at info@hammerandblow.com. Our portfolio is available at our website.

Regards,

Mr. Henry Ammer / Sales Director

You, copywriter extraordinaire:

Great pieces Henry; thanks for sharing. BTW, I noticed your LinkedIn page is empty?

I’m a copywriter over at Grammar & Flow and we specialize in crafting social media content for businesses like yours.

Let’s schedule a 10-minute call to discuss writing content for your LinkedIn page, website, and company blog with winning words — and to also boost your ranking on search engines.

My number: 081 xxx xxxx

I’ve attached our company profile for you to check out — feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.

Chat soon,

Mo @ Grammar & Flow

P.S. Check out https://grammarandflow.com/articles for our latest content!

That’s it.


You can adapt this script depending on who you’re talking to and what you sell. If they pitch you event tickets, pitch them catering services. If they pitch you team building services, pitch them branded t-shirts. The key is to keep it light and conversational but still focused on the benefits they’ll get from you.

Worst case scenario, they’ll leave you alone. Best case, you gain a new client.


Recap

The “knight” analogy changes your perspective on sales pitches. Instead of getting annoyed at the jousting knight coming at you with a lance, you realize he could actually use a stronger, faster horse. Maybe his lance breaks easily — and you just so happen to sell premium lances. Perhaps his horse needs new livery to make him stand out, or he could protect himself better with a new helmet.

In short: you go from turning him away to (profitably) helping him become a better salesperson through your products and services.

Always pitch the pitcher. It’ll make you a better knight yourself.

Till next week,

Mo


Light reading:

  • Learn about the 4 things your company profile should have

In my last post, I discussed a powerful motto for dealing with stress—and how to frame it in a positive light. Check it out:

A Powerful Life Hack


Need help with social media management? I help brands become rockstars on all the major social media platforms. Get in touch on my website:

ShehuPHD.com


Hit the heart ❤️ button to feed a knight.

This Will Not Matter

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy and career development.


I’m preparing content for a client’s brand and they’re quite anxious about its success.

It’s a big campaign — they need to make a splash. Sales have taken a hit since COVID-19 began, so they need to squeeze every dollar of profit they can out of this. Naturally, that pressure trickles down to their comms team, with whom I’ve been consulting.

The copy is pored over meticulously. Each image must be pixel-perfect. The content calendar is revised and rearranged repeatedly. There are Stories, GIFs, videos, and email sequences to tweak, chuck out, amend, reinstate and track.

It’s been a hectic week.

The stress has taken its toll on everyone, from product to comms to sales and management. It’s a D2C brand, so everything depends on social. I observe angry, elated, stressed, and accusatory emails flying back and forth in email CC. The WhatsApp group is a hive of activity. I love it.

None of this will matter.


Ephemeral

In a few months, when the company has moved on to a new campaign pushing a new product, nobody will remember this period. They’ll have new stresses to deal with; stresses they’ll forget just as soon as those ones end, too.

Without checking: What did you post on your wall on 05 August last year?

Not only do you not remember, you likely also stressed about how many likes and retweets that post would get. You obsessed over the numbers and watched as Big Blue dutifully deducted its advertising costs from your account at month-end. Maybe you made a few sales or gained a few new followers. Maybe you didn’t but learned how to create better ads.

Either way, none of that matters anymore. It’s in the past.

The customer on the other end of the screen never knows how much work goes into making the posts they double-tap on, or the Stories they swipe up on, or the lead-gen forms that invite them to drop their contact details in exchange for 5 Powerful Poses to Practice for Pilates.

They simply scroll, stop, tap-tap, and scroll on. The interaction ends in a few seconds, never to be remembered again.


Perspective

Today is my birthday. As I write this, watching the notification bar blow up with birthday wishes and new messages about this post revision or that content edit, I remind myself that life always seems so hectic when we’re in the moment.

Humans aren’t particularly good at long-term, big-picture thinking. We get so bogged down in the now, forgetting that life only requires us to do our best and trust that the rest will take care of itself.

As an imperfect species, we are weirdly obsessed with perfection.

The trick is to reverse-engineer the detachment. Instead of waiting for a year to pass before you can enjoy the benefit of hindsight, train yourself to see each day, each task, each interaction as just one of many, many more to come.

To stress is to suffer twice. Knowing this, treat each task you add onto your plate as something that will resolve itself with time. They usually do.

They may seem important now, but they won’t matter in five years. And that’s a very comforting thing to know.

Life is so rich,

Mo


Working on your brand? Contact me for social media services:

Get help with social media


Hit the heart ❤️ button to send me cake.

Automate Everything In Your Business

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy and career development.




Content creation

When it comes to social media, the key is to automate everything. Instead of sitting down multiple times a week to come up with content, generate 12 topics for the whole year and build helpful, relevant content around them.

Have a formula for how you will flesh out each topic. Break them down into a series of posts you can publish over each month.

Feed posts, Stories, threads, videos, memes — switch it up and see what works for your brand. Click the pic below to get some ideas.


Design

For content design, grab some sweet templates from creativemarket.com — or use good ol’ Canva to design your posts for free.

Sit down and design everything in one go. The first time you do it, it’ll take you the whole day. The fourth time you do it, it’ll take you two hours tops. It gets faster each time.


Publishing

Instead of posting everything manually (who has the time?), sign up for Buffer, Hootsuite, Lately, Later, or any of the numerous social media management tools out there.

Yes, it will cost you. Invest in the one you can afford. Contrary to popular belief, the best things in life are not free. Even breathing costs energy, which requires food, which requires money.

Link up all your platforms and set your posts to auto-publish on specific dates. Nothing hectic—two to three times a week is good.

Depending on how much content you prepared beforehand, this has just freed you up for the next 3-6 months.


Messages

Have a script for how you’ll respond to the most common questions — a sort of FAQ:

  • “What products do you sell?”
  • Where are you based?”
  • “How does payment work?”
  • “What are your bank details?”

Having a script handy will shorten your lead time. Write these answers in your note-taking app and copy-paste them as needed.

Tutorial] How to write with Fleksy gestures? – Fleksy

If you use Facebook, this is dead easy to set up. You can have them answer automatically-served questions and simply collect their contact details at the end.

I use this on one of my pages:

https://facebook.com/grammarandflow

DM the page to see how it works. Again—it’s all about shaving precious time off repetitive tasks.

Invoicing

Stop messing around with manual quotations and invoices—we’re in 2020. Register an account on Waveapps.com and never worry about calculating tax again. It’s free, and I’ve been using it for years now.

You can generate quotations and invoices, save your customer’s details, pull customer statements, get a balance sheet report—it’s really one of the most useful tools on the web.

Automate your backend business processes—how fast you work, how you prepare the delivery, how long it takes you to send it, what tools you use, etc.


Sending files

Stop sending files over email—use Google Docs or Google Sheets for documents and spreadsheets, respectively. Both are free.

For digital freelancers, use WeTransfer or Dropbox to transfer files or designs.


Contracts

Get electronic PDF signatures. You can email your client a template (available freely online) and when they e-sign it, it’ll update on your end in real-time.

Always think like a lazy person—it’ll save you time, energy and fuel.


Outsource it

If you do all of this consistently, you’ll be spending more time doing business and less time on admin.

Automate, automate, automate. Nail the formula and replicate.

And if you can’t automate or delegate, outsource it to someone who can do it better than you—at lightning speed.

Someone like me.


In my last post, I covered why the old ways of social media marketing are no longer effective. Here’s why:

The New Normal


Hit the heart ❤️ button if you liked this.

Social Media Strategies For A New Normal

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy and career development. Today’s article is about adaptation.


Back in precedented times, options were plentiful and people sought out different service providers to fulfil their needs. In this new normal, purses have tightened and people require greater value for money before spending on your product or service. With terminations and lost income now the norm, most of your customers could use a little help at the moment.

To stay in business and keep selling stuff, you need to show people why you are the best option to buy from and spend time on.


Review your social media strategy

As a business owner or freelancer, now is the time to review your social media strategy and ask yourself the following:

  • “Does this content add value to my audience?”
  • “How will this content help my target market navigate their current situation?”
  • “How can I structure the sale to result in a win-win situation for everyone?”

More than ever, your social media strategy needs to be relevant, insightful, and genuinely helpful. In this article, I’m going to share a few ways you can improve your social media efforts.


Think serially

Social media and digital consumption have both increased significantly over the last few months. This means people are consuming more content from a lot more sources. As such, your brand risks being just another voice in the din.

One way to stand out is to give your fans a reason to keep coming back. In business as in romance, repeat visits are a good sign you’re doing something right.

On Twitter, threads are a great way to get people invested in a topic – and to keep them looking forward to your next one.

On Facebook, publishing weekly series on selected topics can boost engagement and drive lead generation. On Instagram, consider posting carousels and IGTV episodes. On YouTube, split videos into shorter instalments that people can snack on.


Build a community

Social media is primarily about building and growing communities. Whereas we used to create a product and build a market around it, we now grow communities around specific topics, themes and interests — then monetize them. This makes it easier to sell related products, services and tools without having to find new audiences each time.

How To Leverage Community To Build A Great Brand

For example, if you love dogs, you could share your canine obsession on Instagram and attract like-minded people—dog memes and photos tend to do pretty well on the ‘gram. Once your community grows large enough, you could monetize it in different ways such as:

  • Customizing and selling dog grooming products and merchandise (collars, tags, toys)
  • Promoting local dog-sitting services
  • Earning affiliate sales from dog food brand recommendations, etc.

Beyond that, other community-based initiatives could include:

  • Your local SPCA partnering with you on a campaign to get more people to adopt strays
  • Disability-focused organizations asking you to recommend the best guide dogs to your audience
  • Parenting associations asking you to recommend the best pets for kids, etc.

In this new age, the phrase “build it and they will come” refers to the community, not the product.


Elicit user-generated content

Ask for user-generated content (UGC) to populate your pages and generate engagement and visibility. Find fresh ways of highlighting your fans to each other. In our previous example, you could create all the dog-related posts yourself (which is time-consuming) or you could ask your fans to submit their best doggy photos for a feature.

Pet Ownership Disputes Couples Have | Page 5 | MadameNoire

UGC has the added benefit of tapping into indirect networks. Here’s an example:

If Doggy Daily (a hypothetical Vogue Magazine for dogs) posts a photo of a Dalmatian on Instagram, I might simply like it and scroll on.

But if Doggy Daily posts a picture of me and my dog, best believe I’m liking it, commenting on it, adding it to my Story and sharing it to my WhatsApp groups, Facebook feed and Twitter profile. The world must know.

Magazines, radio stations and newspapers often use this tactic. They know that if they feature you in the paper or on-air, you’ll badger all your friends to grab a copy or tune in. Your goal is to become the Doggy Daily of your industry and receive unlimited content from your adoring fans.

Get help with Instagram growth


Ask for help

If you’ve been growing your community diligently before now, there’s a good chance you can reach out to them and ask for help landing new business. They understand that you need to make a living—and weak ties are your most potent source of new opportunities. They might know someone who knows someone. That’s why it’s so important to establish (and grow) your presence on as many relevant platforms as possible.

Top Industry Tips on Mastering Networking in Insurance | TalentEgg Career  Incubator

Tap your Twitter followers for new leads. Highlight your past successes on LinkedIn and indicate you’re looking for new gigs. Take a break from Facebook memes to talk about what you do and how you can help people. Ask your friends to recommend you to anyone who might need your services.

Ask and ye shall receive.


Remain visible

We’re all homebound—but things are still happening online. Podcasts, webinars, radio shows and vlogs are still humming along, many of them now thriving in this new normal. With media consumption levels rising, now is the time to seek out that podcasting friend of yours to discuss coming onto their show. Present something relevant to their audience which your business can provide.

It brings them a new crowd (yours), gives them content to talk about (your business), and exposes you to a new audience (theirs). Win-win-win.

And if you can offer their listeners or viewers a special discount, promo code or some other value-add, you can drive traffic to your own social media channels and boost sales. So collaborate. Synergize. Find ways to make everyone win.

Top 12 Best Podcast Plugins For WordPress (2020 Expert Picks)

To repeat the cliché, we are all in this together. The only way we’ll win is by helping each other succeed.


Recap

The need for value-addition and community-building hasn’t changed—it has only become more relevant. Social media can help you find new customers and learn more about the audiences you want to reach. But you have to emphasize value at every turn and genuinely help people navigate their current situations.

Amidst a growing din of social media content, giving them a reason to come back to your channels is a sound strategy. Highlighting them through user-generated content and asking them for help scoring new business are both beneficial ways of keeping them invested in your brand and its success.

Finally, collaborating with other online community builders helps cross-pollinate your audience—and bears the sweet fruits of mutual sales and profit.

Experiment with new ways of doing social. And as always, if you need a hand with your social media strategy, content creation or brand planning, reach out to me.

Get help with social media

Chat soon,

Mo


In my last post, I broke down why likes are the wrong metric to optimize for. Here’s what you should aim for instead:

The Most Important Metric


I help brands become rockstars on all major social media platforms. Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Hit the heart ❤️ button to cure world hunger.

Stop Chasing Likes—Aim For This Instead

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy and career development. Today’s essay is about metrics.


You’ve probably written a post before that got zero or very few likes… which you promptly deleted.

We’ve all been there. Social media has conditioned us to judge the value of our thoughts by how many likes we get on them.

It wasn’t always like this. Years ago, the people on my feed optimised for comments and meaningful conversation instead of likes.

Somewhere along the line, however, our incentives skewed towards accumulating digital nods of approvals: likes, retweets, faves, hearts or whatever other metrics you’ve become addicted to.

In this post we’re going to explore why you, dear digital druggie, are chasing the wrong high.


Reach, Frequency, Impressions and Reactions

In social media, there are four main platform metrics that people use to determine how well they are doing.

Reach

Reach refers to the percentage of your audience that sees your content.

If you have 1000 fans on Twitter, perhaps only 5-10% of your audience might see each tweet.

This figure goes up depending on several other factors such as the quality of the tweet, the time of day you posted it, the number of times it was shared, etc.

This is why you should always post with intent.


Frequency

Frequency is the number of times a person has seen your ad or post.

Depending on your campaign goal, you might decide to show an ad to your audience once a day, twice a day, once a week, etc.

A higher frequency increases ad recall and the chances of a sale. However, show it too frequently and people might mute, hide or block your ad.

Why frequency matters for your Facebook ads | Brafton


Impressions

Impressions refer to the number of times your ad or post was displayed, whether it was clicked on or not.

If you post something and I see it, that’s one impression. If my friend shares your post and I see it again, that’s another impression.

The more impressions your post gets, the more eyeballs it was served to, and the more conversions or engagement you can expect.

Digital Media: Reach vs Engagement | Just Perfect


Reactions

Reactions are the digital nods of approval that people use to gauge how popular an ad or post has been.

On Facebook, for example, there are seven reactions:

On Twitter, you have likes (or “faves”). On LinkedIn, there are five main reactions:

Introducing LinkedIn Reactions: More Ways to Express Yourself ...

(UPDATE: There are six of them now — a “care” reaction has been introduced).

Ordinarily, likes are an easy way to gauge the type of interest people have in your content.

But from a sales and marketing perspective, they are almost meaningless.


Why likes don’t matter

Ever posted something that got no reactions, yet someone still DM’d you about it?

Publicly, the ad was a “flop”. But in your DMs – where it counts – someone took action.

You reached the right person, at the right time, with the right message. They didn’t need to “like” your post to engage you on it.

Conversely, Instagram is a platform where your ads and posts can garner hundreds of likes without a single DM or follow.

In Bowl-of-Likes, social media likes are equated to the addictive power of sugar. Artworks: Neo Mahlangu

Likes don’t matter because they track “approval”, not “intent.”

They don’t necessarily lead to further engagement or action.

Here’s another example: you buy certain things every month on your grocery runs.

Juice, razors, rice, lotion, milk, soap, and muesli.

84,918 Groceries Stock Illustrations, Clip art, Cartoons & Icons

How many times have you “liked” Danone’s Facebook posts? What about Liquifruit’s Instagram pics? When was the last time you scrolled through Dettol’s Instagram Stories?

Now ask yourself: how much money have you spent on these products in your lifetime?

These brands frequently reach you on various platforms: TV, social media, billboards, magazines and radio, just to name a few.

Their goal is to camp in your head for as long as possible and influence your choices on your next trip to the store. They don’t care about your likes; they care about your money.

It’s primarily about reaching you with the right message, not getting Instagram likes.


Write for the right reader

The goal, then, with any business-related post on social media is to write for the right readers.

These are the ones who actually want your services, not just to donate drive-by likes.

If you offer legal services, for example, most of your (organic) posts will be dryly received compared to memes. Don’t worry too much about this.

Your goal is to get people contacting you to learn more about your services, not to get a hundred likes (although that would be nice).

Likewise, if you sell financial services, or counselling, or social media management services, none of your business posts might ever go viral. That’s to be expected.

But all it takes is one DM to win new business that sets you up for months.

Your target market won’t always like and comment on your posts. They’re reading, though.


Focus on reaching the right people

You first need to reach as many of the right people as possible.

If you offer legal services, build a community of professionals and business owners who can likely afford you.

Adding students to your network who only post and “like” memes is pointless.

Focus on those with the money.

And build a long-term relationship with them through relevant, regular content.

How to make money on social media - Quora

If you’ve been gathering the right people in your network (reach) and posting regularly about your services (frequency), you will have made a positive impression on your target audience.

(Reach x Frequency) 👉🏽 Impressions 👉🏽 Sales.


Optimise for intent

Optimise for intent rather than approval. Get people messaging you and commenting under your posts.

Pose open-ended questions to get conversations going.

Incorrect:

Divorce can be difficult. Many families get disrupted when this happens. It’s important to put the kids first.

Correct:

Have you been through a divorce or currently planning one? What was the hardest part of it for you?

Such questions can generate a lively comment section with only two likeswhich is far preferable to the opposite.

As you engage the commenters, those thinking of getting a divorce will see that you’re knowledgeable in that area and privately DM you. Proceed to close the sale.

Focus on generating conversations, enquiries and sales—not “likes”.


Recap

Not all professions are created equal.

If you are in fashion, art or photography, your output is visible – which makes it easier to generate sales just from posting your work.

But if you work in professional services like business analysis or accounting, nobody can “see” a tax submission or a finalised business plan.

You have to repeatedly educate and inform your network about what you do and how you can help them.

These posts won’t always be entertaining, so you won’t always get likes.

But the potential pay-off is much larger: hard cash in your pocket.

So since you can’t pay the bills with likes, focus on what matters.

And if you need help with your content strategy, get in touch.

Till next time,

Mo


Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Hit the heart ❤️ button if you liked this.

NO! - Stop asking people to DM you for prices

Stop Asking People To DM You For Prices

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy and career development. Today’s post is about pricing.


We’ve all seen it.

Someone on social media posts a few pictures of something breathtakingly beautiful. An outfit. A photo they shot. Some furniture they made.

Amidst the chorus of praise in the comments, a few voices inevitably ask: “how much?”

And under each such comment, the budding entrepreneur invariably responds: “DM for prices.”

Cue groans, eye rolls and the sound of money leaving the room.

Today, I’d like to address that entrepreneur.


Why do you do it?

Some people will say it’s down to lack of transparency. They’ll say business owners want to charge people different prices based on their names, backgrounds, skin colour, or how nice they’re dressed in their profile picture.

I’ve personally experienced this in real life. Recently, in Johannesburg, I walked into a ceramics shop and asked the guy for the price of one of his stunningly crafted mugs. The man looked me up and down before quoting me an eye-popping price.

When I casually called him out on his visual pricing strategy, he conceded that making a living from art is hard, and you have to get as much profit out of your art as possible. Sometimes, he said, that involves making snap judgements on affordability based on superficial factors.

“I see you’re well dressed,” he said, “so in my mind, you can afford a higher price.”

Obviously, this isn’t ethical. We should rightly call out such deceptive practices. But sometimes, in real life and on social media, I look at the object(s) being displayed, and the praise the artist is getting, and I understand why they might hide their price.

It’s fear.


You’re afraid

You’re afraid that these nice people, who really love your work and seem like they want to support your business will run away once they hear how much you’re charging. You’re afraid they will think you are too expensive. You’re afraid other people reading the comments will be put off.

Homer simpson bush Memes

So you do damage control. After all, if they really like your work, they won’t mind searching for your Page and sending you a DM, right? I mean, if you can just talk to each person privately, you have a better chance of making a sale, right?

To you, it’s a good strategy. To them, it’s highly frustrating. And to your business, it’s damaging in the long run.


Why you’re shooting yourself in the foot

Hiding your prices causes two problems:

  1. It ensures you will keep getting the same question forever; and
  2. It passes up an opportunity to establish your value right from the beginning.

what if i told you you could post your asking price and still ...

Let’s pretend you’re a skilled joiner who has spent many years learning how to create stunning pieces. You work hard and you are immensely proud of each piece. You also love showing off your work on social media, as the praise you get encourages you to keep making stuff and the money you make sustains you.

Why, then, are you ashamed of putting a price on your work? Do you think you’re not good enough? Do you think people won’t see the same value in your work that you do?

If so: Why do you continue entertaining such thoughts?


Price your value

When you ask people to DM you for prices, all we see is someone who doesn’t know how much they are worth. That’s not a good look for your brand.

By not stating your prices publicly, you’re chasing away the very customers who are ready to pay for your work.

I’m not going to DM you the same question just so we can play Price Ping-Pong in your inbox. It shows you don’t respect my time; but most importantly, it shows you don’t respect yours.

Think about it: When I walk into a Ferrari dealership, I expect the cars to be expensive. I know that if I ever want to own one of those fast horses, I better pony up the money and be financially stable enough to survive the transaction.

I don’t waste my time asking about prices, because they’re all on display. And they don’t waste their time haggling with me, because they know what they’re worth.

The best things in life are actually pretty expensive

The following tip will serve you well in life:


Focus on those with the money

Don’t bother with the ones who think you’re too expensive. They were never going to pay your price anyway.

They complain about your price because they don’t know how much it costs to do what you do. They say things like:

  • That much money just for this?!”
  • “It won’t even take you that long!”
  • “I know someone who does it cheaper”

Your job is not to educate them.

If you’ve priced your value well, those who can afford it will contact you. And after spending money on your work, they will love it even more because they’ve invested in it.

And they will recommend you to others who would love your work and can afford it. And those clients will pay, and love your work, and recommend it to others just like them, too.

See how it goes?

But if you’re jerking your dream clients around by sending them from pillar to post, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Remember: Those who have money to spend don’t have time to waste. They can easily take their money elsewhere. So respect their time and respect your value.


A better way to say it

First, figure out how much you need to charge to break even. Then, recognize that the final price may change due to many factors.

Let’s go back to our joiner example.

  • Say a client loves your coffee table, but they live far and need it delivered. This will raise the price.
  • Maybe they love that cabinet you posted, but they want it in a different colour. They know this will cost more.
  • Maybe they like that pattern, but they want you to apply it to a TV stand, or a dinner table, or some royal chairs for their secret sex chamber. That’s extra wood and lube. The price goes up again.

dream home, dungeon included | Dream house rooms, House rooms, House

So, how should you respond when people ask for your price?

Simple:


“Prices start from X.”

Four words. Instant meaning.

By responding that way, you’ve priced your value and clarified that the final figure is flexible. It also prevents you from constantly repeating yourself in the thread. Those who can afford your price will reach out to you. You have to trust this.

Those who can’t afford it will continue ooh-ing and aah-ing under your posts. That’s fine, too. Keep nurturing them; they will be your clients one day. Those who were never going to pay you will say stuff like “Eish, can’t you do half-price? Money is tight, man.”

Here’s how you respond to such people:

“I’d be happy to recommend you to someone else.”

Boom. In one sentence, you’ve let them know that:

  1. You’re aware of your value
  2. You won’t budge on your price; and
  3. You’re willing to help them find the same product elsewhere (if it exists). No hard feelings.

Jonah Jameson there's the door - Imgur

More often than not, they’ll get the message. They’ll either pay your fee or kindly excuse themselves. Either way, you win.


Conclusion

In hard times, it can be tempting to lower or hide your price just to win business. I get it. But in the long run, you’re harming yourself and your customers by doing that. How?

Simple:

If you hide your prices, you won’t get (the right) customers. And if you can’t make money, you’ll go out of business.

People People We Need Your Money | Make a Meme

So when you state your prices publicly and stand your ground, you’re actually protecting them. You’re saying:

“This is how much it costs me to bring this to you. I’m charging this price so I can eat and afford to keep serving you.”

It’s in everyone’s best interests.

To recap:

  1. Price your value and respect it.
  2. Focus on those with the money.
  3. Be upfront with your prices so the right clients can find you.

And trust that people will pay for your work.

Good luck.


Get in touch for social media management services.

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How To Survive Losing Your Job

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication about social media, business strategy and career development. Today’s post is about retrenchment.


I recently watched The Occupant on Netflix — a gripping film that I highly recommend. Watch it in the original Spanish if you can, with English subtitles. Here’s a trailer:

A family man loses his swanky apartment and is forced to take on menial jobs for survival. Things get dark real quick—seriously, watch the whole thing—but while I was watching the first part of the movie, I instinctively asked myself why he didn’t have a backup plan.

It dawned on me that most people are in the same position.

They invest years into their careers, betting that they will have their jobs forever. When they lose those jobs, things go downhill fast.

Today we’re going to look at what you can do before and after retrenchment.


Diversify your income

As you advance in your career, start thinking of how to supplement your income; no matter how sufficient you feel it is. A corporate job does not guarantee lifetime earnings, and there are too many factors outside your control to determine when or how it may end.

Many people live paycheck to paycheck – sustaining their lifestyles with a monthly salary they cannot afford to lose. With bills, debts and other familial obligations, a job loss very quickly becomes a nightmare.

Controlling your financial health helps guarantee your freedom: the freedom to move cities, to switch careers, or to take a break when needed.

Quick question: If you lost your job tomorrow, how many months could you survive based on your current expenses?

Would you be able to maintain the same lifestyle for at least six months as you searched for a new job? Are you earning any secondary income?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no”, you have some work to do. Let’s look at a few ways of reducing your risk.


Upskill yourself

No matter how talented you think you are, there’s always room for improvement. Whether you take short courses or sign up for training programs at your workplace, you have to keep supplementing your knowledge.

To know what to study, look at the job descriptions for positions above your level. If you’re currently a marketing officer, what would it take to become a marketing manager?


Sharpen your writing skills

Writing well is a skill that will always be in demand. The job market prizes the ability to structure thoughts coherently especially as you rise through the ranks.

As with any skill, writing well requires constant practice. You can sharpen your writing by blogging, enrolling for writing courses, or sharing your thoughts on social media.

Keyword: “constant.” You can’t write one article and call it a day.


Improve your speaking

It is criminal that public speaking isn’t a more emphasized subject at school. The number of adults who struggle with public speaking is too high given how important this skill is to career advancement and business success.

your level of anxiety is too damn high - Memebase - Funny Memes

Again, practice makes perfect. You can Google helpful tips to get better at public speaking and practice those tips at your local Toastmasters club.

You should also take on a role that requires you to speak in front of people. Teaching a class in any subject will boost your confidence in front of crowds. Starting a podcast is an excellent way to practice your voice modulation and pronunciation. Even shooting YouTube videos forces you to improve your speaking game.


Learn marketing

Marketing skills are more in demand than ever. Knowing how to sell something profitably has never been more critical.

Lots of institutions offer short courses on marketing. It is a broad field, but the tenets are the same: generate Attention, capture Interest, stoke Desire and drive Action (AIDA).

Familiarize yourself with print, digital, broadcast, outdoor, and social media marketing. The latter is especially important to showcase what you have to offer.


Network relentlessly

Networking used to mean schmoozing at fancy events with over-fingered finger foods. You’d arrive with a stack of business cards and hand them out like candy.

Put the Work, in Networking - Average Joe Solutions

In the age of social distancing, however, networking has moved onto social networks. Focus on showing value through your website, YouTube channel, email, and social media accounts. Share your thoughts, ask questions, offer advice, and give value before asking for it in return.

In short, do all the things you’d do at a fancy networking event, only this time on LinkedIn instead of at the Hilton.


Start a business

Starting a business requires the skills I’ve just described above, in addition to one or two other important ones.

For example, you need to understand how to package a product or service—as well as how to price your products effectively, target the right audience, and maintain positive cash flow.

You are already using some combination of these skills in your daily job. Why not apply them to something that will never fire you?

Just as you learned how to be a good employee or manager, you can learn how to be a successful business owner. Just start somewhere.


Cut costs

Life happens, and you need to prep accordingly.

While you still have a job, assess your current expenses and cut costs where possible. You don’t need that extra subscription or those fancy new clothes. You can also take a cheaper vacation or move into a more affordable apartment.

While you’re at it, set aside enough money for the basics. Ensure you can cover your rent or bond for at least three months while unemployed, and that school fees or medical aid premiums won’t be a problem.


After the termination

After you get retrenched and drop a goodbye GIF in the office WhatsApp group, steel yourself for a few months of reduced spending. Your lifestyle may take a hit, but you’re in survival mode now; act accordingly.

Spruce up your CV and contact your networks to see who is hiring. While awaiting feedback from interviews, start exploring ways to earn extra income. The below graphic will help you determine what might work for you:

Ikigai — The Japanese secret to a long and happy life

You can take a small part of whatever it is you did before you got laid off and turn that into a service. If you were an architect, offer house plans. If you worked in PR, help businesses with their marketing. If you were a chef, offer custom meals delivered straight to people’s homes.

You only need a logo and a few posters from Canva to get started. It’s all free.


Recap

You’ll notice I’ve focused a lot on preventative measures. That’s because the best antidote to retrenchment is preparation. It doesn’t hurt as much if you have a Plan B.

Unemployment is a daunting prospect — but there are ways to prevent it, cushion its blow, and bounce back.

If you’re still employed, shore up your cash reserves and upskill yourself to increase your worth. If you’ve just been laid off, recognize this as an opportunity to recalibrate your future and invest in a brand new start.

But first, wine.

After you’ve drowned your sorrows, polish your CV and get to work. The key to employment is visibility. Some will say it’s connections, but connections come from people knowing you exist.

Put yourself out there like a swelling pimple. Make sure people can’t miss you.

Write, blog and showcase your skills, thoughts and portfolio. Keep yourself busy while handing in those applications.

Network like hell—connect with all the movers and shakers in your field and keep an eye out for opportunities where you can add value.

It’s far more effective to ask the CEO for a referral if they’ve already been reading your LinkedIn posts than it is to upload your CV to a random job site.


It’s temporary

You won’t be broke or unemployed forever. It’s easy to forget this when you’re financially drowning.

As you’re navigating unemployment, you may think things will never get back to normal. But unemployment is simply a period of “required change.”

The old normal didn’t work out, so a fresh start is needed.

Invest in new knowledge, network with old and new contacts, work on secondary income streams, and relentlessly put yourself out there. These are still the best ways of ensuring good financial, social and professional standing.

And remember: this too shall pass.


Need help with content creation and social media management? I help brands become rockstars on all major social media platforms. Get in touch.

I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

#ThinkTwelve—A Guide To Creating Social Media Content

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy and career development. Today’s article is about content creation.


Creating social media content can be time-consuming. Many social media managers, marketing professionals and business owners struggle to post relevant content to their social media platforms; but brands need engaging content to captivate their audience, reach new people and successfully sell new products. The key, therefore, to success with social media content creation is finding a formula that works for you and automating it as much as you can.


Base Content

One way of keeping your social media accounts filled and busy is with what I call base content. This is simply content that runs in the background, giving your fans something to interact with year-round.

Think of it like buying groceries. When you’re at the store, you tend to buy staples. These include your starches (rice, pasta, flour), your grains (bread, oats, muesli, cornflakes), your proteins (milk, chicken, meat, eggs) and your fats (oil and butter).

Every day, your meals will need one or more of these ingredients. You thus buy them in bulk to save money and avoid making multiple trips. But every once in a while, you buy chocolate. Once in a blue moon, you pick up a frozen pizza, or cake, or Doritos and dip.

You don’t need these products. They are occasional treats you use to spice up your diet. You don’t buy them in bulk, and they usually don’t last very long at home.

Base content is your staple food on social media.

Base content is what your audience can look forward to each week. It forms the basis of your long-term content strategy.


EMEI: The 4 Ways of Interacting on Social Media

As I mentioned in How To Go Viral On Social Media, there are four main ways of interacting with your social media audience. These include:

  • Educating people
  • Motivating people
  • Entertaining people
  • Informing people

Ideally, you want some combination of the above. The more blended your content is, the more nourishing it is to your fans.

In this post, I’m going to share with you a strategy I use for creating long-term social media content called #ThinkTwelve.


What is #ThinkTwelve?

#ThinkTwelve is a formula for creating base content. It is based on a few tenets:

  1. You only need 12 pieces of content for any subject related to your brand; one per month.
  2. If you apply the EMEI principle, you can create enough weekly content for a whole year.

To put that second point in perspective, think of each tenet of EMEI as corresponding to one week each month:

  • For Week 1, an educational post
  • For Week 2, a motivational post
  • For Week 3, an entertaining post
  • For Week 4, an informative post

#ThinkTwelve is all about applying structure (EMEI) in order to automate content creation and free up your time significantly.

Let’s see how #ThinkTwelve works in action.


Avocados

Anyone who knows me knows I’m averse to avo. I believe it is an overhyped, overpriced food that tastes like warm Vaseline.

Don’t ask.

But as the video below shows, avocado has a pretty interesting history for a berry that tastes like petroleum jelly. So we are going to find nice things to say about this fruit to generate enough content for a year.

Let’s start with an EMEI breakdown. How do we educate, motivate, entertain and inform people about avocados?

We can do it as follows:

  • Educate – post facts about avocado’s health benefits (ugh)
  • Motivate – help people stick to a greener diet with avo-based recipes
  • Entertain – post avocado memes, competitions and quotes
  • Inform – tell people where they can buy avocados, as well as where it’s grown

Looking at our list, #ThinkTwelve tells us we only need 12 of each. A simple Google search should provide enough content for each line item.

Let’s take the first one: educating people about avocado’s health benefits.

When I searched for “benefits of avocado”, the first article that came up was titled “12 Health Benefits of Avocado.” This article gives us enough content for each month of the calendar.

You can do the same with the others. There are articles on how to stay motivated on a vegan diet, the best avocado recipes, the best vegetarian restaurants in Johannesburg, lists of countries that export avocado (we only need the top 12), as well as the best avocado memes. As always, Google is your friend.

Once you’ve gathered enough content, shorten each post to the length of a tweet. You can link the recipe posts to their online sources.

Next, grab appropriate photos from UnsplashPexelsNappy.co, or a subscription site like iStock. If you have the money, you can spring for stock videos from sites like Storyblocks and VideoHive.

After that, design individual image posts using Canva or Adobe InDesign (my go-to software), and add your logo to each graphic.

That’s it: your content is ready.


Creating a content calendar

At this point, you’ve crafted your copy and collected your graphics. It’s now time to compile a content calendar with those assets.

Let’s first tag our prepared content for easier identification:

  • Educational posts get tagged ED-1 to ED-12
  • Motivational posts: MO-1 to MO-12
  • Entertainment posts: EN-1 to EN-12
  • Informational posts: IN-1 to IN-12

Assume we publish new posts every Monday. Our content calendar for the entire year will look like this:

This gives us 48 pieces of content in total, based on a posting schedule of one day a week. If you wish, you can create similar content streams for say, Thursday, so that you have content to publish twice a week.

With a calendar like this, you can now afford to focus on other aspects of running your business without worrying about whether your page has fresh content.

How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business


Schedule your content in advance

The final step is to schedule your content in advance. You can do this with tools such as HootsuiteLatelyLaterBuffer or Planoly. Compare pricing and features to find the best platform for you.

Once you’ve signed up for one, link all your brand’s social media profiles. Proceed to schedule all your posts according to the calendar you’ve compiled.

Completing this now lets you devote more time to community management, customer enquiries, order fulfilment and planning short-term campaigns such as competitions, holiday posts, and more.


Conclusion

Social media content creation becomes easier when you have a formula for generating content. You can then apply that formula to any platform, for any type of business.

#ThinkTwelve helps you plan your long-term social media strategy. You work for a day or two to create enough content for a whole year. This efficiency buys you an immense amount of time to devote to other business activities.

Because in our busy day-to-day jobs as social media managers and business owners, nothing is more precious than time.

Till next week,

Mo


Contact me for social media services via my website.

I’m also on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Hit the heart ❤️ button if you liked this.

Your CEO Should Be On Social Media For Thought Leadership

Your CEO Should Be On Social Media

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy, and career development. Today’s post is about thought leadership.


Thought leadership makes for great social media content, and a sizeable organization can generate ample content. From marketing and finance to product and HR, each departmental leader within your organization can create relevant, evergreen content to establish thought leadership.

Startups can also benefit from having their founder(s) and team members creating relevant content for social. In today’s letter, I’m going to walk you through how to achieve this.


How to create thought leadership content

Let’s say you’re the social media manager of a large bank called FMB – First Monetary Bank (I know, I know).

On FMB’s social media platforms, you’d have your usual “base content” running year-round. These are posts that educate, motivate, entertain, and inform, plus a few sales posts to drive action. But you could also tap your company’s leaders for brand- and industry-related content. For example:

  • The marketing manager can talk about the new ways people compare banks. Perhaps a recent survey showed that people check out a bank’s Facebook comments to determine responsiveness, so FMB has invested in a robust community management team to handle complaints. Possible formats: podcast, vlog, infographics.
  • The home loans manager can give their perspective on the best ways to manage your spending, so you don’t miss your mortgage payments. They can base this information on quarterly payment reports the department receives. Possible formats: podcast, vlog, infographics.
  • The finance head can give a broader view of the stock market aimed at individual and institutional investors. They can discuss how revenues have risen or fallen over the past quarter. Possible formats: podcast, vlog, infographics.
  • The HR manager can give tips on how to launch a career in banking. They can include things like what your CV should have, the traits you should possess, and the different departments you can work in. Possible formats: vlog, photos of current staff members.
  • The facilities manager can talk about how FMB is making banking easier through branch upgrades. Perhaps the bank is adding more self-service terminals to new branches, or protecting customers from COVID-19 exposure through virus-zapping doorways. Possible formats: videos, photos.
  • The sponsorships manager can give regular updates on which local initiatives FMB is funding, what they’re aiming to achieve, and the progress they’ve made so far. Possible formats: videos, photos.

And so on. Brainstorm with your company’s leaders to come up with relevant topics.


Schedule

Your company’s leaders can plan out their topics ahead, especially where content is not predicated on current events. In some cases, like with the HR manager, they could record, edit and design everything in one go. They can then schedule this content in advance. These perspectives can be published weekly, monthly or quarterly. If FMB already produces a monthly newsletter, it can simply repurpose that content for social media.

The key here is to think of your company’s leaders as an editorial board, crystallizing their work into actionable insights. Writing monthly articles also builds better leaders through literary reflection.


Formats and platforms

Depending on the available budget, these monthly posts can be recorded, transcribed or designed – ideally all three. Set up a tripod and a camera (a DSLR or iPhone) and record the manager speaking. If you’ve got the budget for it, spring for a production company to shoot and edit something more polished for you.

Then, transcribe the edited footage using a writing and transcription service like Grammar & Flow. Design key points into infographics sized for social and publish the content to appropriate platforms depending on the topic. For example, COVID-19 content can be posted to Facebook and Instagram, while career-related content can go on LinkedIn. Track engagement to see what works.


Conclusion

Tapping company leaders for thought leadership content isn’t expensive. Company managers already release this information in the form of reports and memos. All you have to do is repackage it for social media. In the end, having your executives communicating with the public is a great way to humanize your brand.


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The Manager's Guide To Work-Life Balance

The Manager’s Guide To Encouraging Work-Life Balance

Welcome to Mo’s Letter, a weekly publication by Dr Mo about social media, business strategy and career development. Today’s post is about work-life balance.


The term “work-life balance” has gone mainstream over the last few years. Put simply, it refers to how much time and effort one spends on office work versus personal stuff outside the office.

A healthy work-life balance leads to happier, more productive, and more loyal employees. A happy workplace, in turn, contributes to a more compelling employer brand.


What is an employer brand?

Your employer brand refers to how former, current and future employees feel about your organization. It influences the memory, experience and prospect of working there.

There are many ways of building a strong employer brand. One approach involves touting comprehensive healthcare and generous leave policies on your careers page. Another way is taking a stand on social issues, both online and offline.

Employer branding determines why people choose to work at specific companies. While other elements like salaries, perks and prestige are considered, people also want assurance that they won’t be working from 8 to 5 and thinking about work from 5 to 8.

Employees have lives outside the office. These lives should be enabled, empowered and encouraged for greater fulfilment.


Better work-life balance means easier hiring

A happy employee is like a walking recruitment ad for your organization. If a company wants to attract the best talent, it can boost its appeal by showing how its current employees enjoy their time out-of-office (OOO).

Who is the musician in your department who takes on gigs after hours? Who is the aspiring writer with a growing body of work? Is there a painter, designer, or race-car enthusiast in your office? What about that co-worker working on her Masters, or the entrepreneur who runs a gourmet food business on weekends?

As a company leader, what are you doing to unearth these talents, encourage them, and give them the recognition they deserve?

Simple acts can make a world of difference. Sponsoring tickets for the office to attend a co-worker’s next show makes for excellent workplace bonding. Similarly, buying a few copies of the office author’s book, or decorating the walls with art created by your talented accountant, can both instil a sense of artistic pride and immense gratitude.

These are all tangible ways of saying “we believe in your talent, and we are willing to invest in it.” It makes people look forward to creating more and better work for the benefit of themselves and the pride of their organization.

But there’s more.


Show it on social media

When you help your employees harness their talents, you directly contribute to building your own employer brand. In addition to improving office culture, showcasing your employees’ OOO activities makes for great social media content.

While current employees have firsthand experience, future employees mainly gauge your company’s work-life balance from two sources. The first is what past and current employees say about you both online (Glassdoor, etc.) and offline (through the grapevine). You may not be able to control this, but you can influence it by improving your workplace culture going forward. This will take time and effort.

Dealing with BS corporate culture in 20 memes

The second is what they see on your website and social media accounts. Fortunately, this aspect is entirely within your control. I believe every company should have a LinkedIn Page and Instagram account. Such platforms allow you to post everyday snapshots of your people, your processes, and the products you peddle. It shows future employees what they can look forward to.

But it’s also the perfect opportunity to showcase photos, videos and other elements of your employees’ OOO activities. When someone in the office gets their Master’s degree or arrives at a far-off country for a volunteer mission, get some pics and show the world. Likewise, if they’ve just released their first book or landed a speaking gig, this is cause for celebration.

A quick caption and tag can send traffic to their accounts as well. Helping them grow their personal brands directly helps improve yours, and this can leave a positive, lasting impression on future talent. It shows that you celebrate your people beyond the workplace.


Bring it into the office

You can take it further by having your employees apply their talents to the workplace. I’ve seen illustrators painting murals for their office walls, caterers preparing weekly catered lunches for the office, and musicians composing office anthems. All paid for by the company, of course.

These creative superstars are already within your ranks. You simply need to show interest in what your employees do outside the office and find a way to leverage it. Enabling, empowering and encouraging your employees’ interests shows that you care about the human behind the position. This recognition makes employees feel happier, included, and less likely to jump ship to a better organization.

In short, it’s just good for business.

I’ll leave you with this quote by Richard Branson:


Cool links:


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How To Go Viral On Social Media

Ever seen one of those tweets with a million likes?

Time and again, I’ve wondered why a tweet with 1m+ likes did not correspond to more followers for the poster. Surely, even just 1% of that traffic should convert to 10,000 new followers for them.

But when you scroll down their profiles looking for other gold nuggets, all you find are utterly banal tweets.

Tweets about the weather. Their cat. Their missing phone charger.

Conclusion: they simply got lucky.


Virality is a science.

Virality, at its core, is about odds. You can do certain things to increase the probability of going viral – but you’ll never be able to fully control when or how that happens. In this post, we’ll look at the things we can control and how to strengthen our chances of going viral.

Let’s take “1 million likes” as the benchmark of virality (we’ll use Twitter as our sample platform in this post). Generally speaking, you can go viral on social media by: 

  • Actively broadcasting your content to many people at once
  • Passively delivering it to one person at a time
  • Waiting to get lucky with That One Tweet™; or 
  • Posting good content regardless of how many followers you have

The first and easiest way to go viral is publishing your content to many people at once (“broadcast diffusion”). If you have 50,000 followers, going viral will be easier for you than for a person with only 1,000 followers.

I have more than 100 followers on Twitter So I guess you can say ...

Having many followers increases the odds of you going viral. Celebrities fall into this category. If you post a pic of yourself baring your bum, maybe your Aunt Jemimah sends a screenshot to your mom. When Kim Kardashian does it, she “breaks the internet.

Secondly, you can try passively showing your content or message to a million people individually. This is the equivalent of posting content with the right hashtags or applying SEO techniques to your blog posts.

There are always people searching for content on the web, and your content might get shown to them repeatedly if it is tagged correctly. 

The more views you then get, the higher your content is ranked, which exposes it to more people, which leads to more views, etc. This is essentially how the Instagram “Explore” page works.

Thirdly, you can wait to get lucky. This seems to be the strategy of most people hoping to go viral on the internet. They post random tweets and hope Lady Luck smiles on them one day with That One Tweet™. This is obviously not a viable strategy.

Want to Go Viral? Why Your Answer Should Be No... - GCFL Productions

Lastly, you can try posting consistently good content for your ten followers, and nothing else. However, good content is worthless if nobody knows it exists.

So, how can you increase your odds of going viral on social media? Let’s explore a few options.


1. Consistently post excellent content.

This is the most basic requirement. Your social media account(s) should be a source of consistently valuable insights.

There are four main ways of achieving this:

  • Educating people
  • Motivating people
  • Entertaining people
  • Informing people

Ideally, you want some combination of the above. This will depend on your skillset, personality and profession.

Some professions lend themselves more easily to a combination of the above. Journalists and anchors, for example, inform people daily. 

And if they’ve got a sense of humour, sharp wit, or both, they can build a massive following by spinning the news into comic relief. Think Trevor Noah here.

Conversely, comedians entertain people by profession. If they can also use their material to inform people of what’s happening, their odds of going viral shoot up. Think Sarah Cooper here, a comedian who shot to fame with her hilarious lip-sync videos of Donald Trump’s bungling responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Finance professionals are another easy group. Minor South African celebrities like Nicolette Mashile and Koshiek Karan employ several of the above strategies:

  • They inform people about financial news
  • They educate people on making sensible financial decisions
  • They motivate people to cut their cards and stay debt-free
  • They entertain people with funny quips and witty takes on cultural events

As a result, both of them have significantly grown their audiences over time.

The likes of Melusi Tshabalala and Joe Human also seemingly “went viral” overnight. However, if you look deeper into it, you’ll discover they’ve been helping people for a long time. 

Melusi was teaching people isiZulu one day at a time before he was “discovered.” And for a long time, Joe had been handing out branding advice to small business owners who needed guidance.

Their recipe contains the same sauce: helpful, consistent advice over time. 

In other words, it took them years to be “overnight” successes.


One post at a time

Think of it like building a pile of dry wood and dousing it in petrol. Every day, you add a piece of kindling to the pile.

Going viral is the equivalent of someone accidentally throwing a lit cigarette into your pile and lighting it up (“discovery”). But if your pile of wood wasn’t already flammable (you were piling up rocks instead), that one moment of discovery won’t achieve anything.

To determine if your posts are flammable, ask yourself this: are your tweets from a year ago still valid? Relevant? Insightful? Funny?

Or are they the ramblings of a bored social media user?

In a world of limitless options, nobody will follow you if they aren’t deriving any value from you.

Post with intent. If you set out to genuinely help people, your odds of going viral increase significantly.

Get help with content


2. Interact with your network.

Imagine you’re a new student at school.

Your goal is to make as many friends as possible and become popular. What would get you there faster? Is it:

  • Meeting and befriending as many people as possible; or 
  • Sitting by yourself in the cafeteria and hoping you spontaneously get elected a Prefect?

The truth is, you’re going to have to get out of your shell and approach other people. Strike up a conversation or two. Show them just how awesome you are.

You then befriend them one by one, grow your network and expand your influence.

Do that well enough, fast enough, and consistently enough, and you might just make Prefect by the end of the term.

It’s the same with social media.

You can’t sit in your own little corner of the internet and “hope” you randomly get discovered and go viral.

You have to relentlessly seek out others in your network and interact with them. Engage with their posts. Share the good stuff. Introduce cool people to other cool people (and cool things).

Just like in high school, the outgoing kid who knows all the cool hangout spots gets invited to parties. The wallflower, meanwhile, sits at home moaning in their diary about how nobody takes them seriously.

Put yourself out there. Be a well of discovery.


3. Promote yourself.

The social kid in our fictitious high school is almost definitely on Instagram. They’re also on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitch, TikTok and other as-yet-undiscovered platforms. 

Obviously.

They waste no time asking new friends to check them out on these platforms. They know you’d like their content. They are awesome, after all.

Similarly, you need to adopt a mentality of relentless promotion – tactfully done, of course.

If you write a blog, link back to your social profiles. Add it to your business cards. Mention it after speaking gigs or performances. Ask to connect with other people on LinkedIn or Twitter while networking. This should be an ongoing aspect of building your personal brand.

Regularly inform people where they can find you on the web. Make it easy for them to click over to your profile using nice links like this one:

Connect with me on Twitter

Now let’s say you’re posting great content, handing out your social media handles, and following everyone in your network. What if you still haven’t gone viral?


4. Interact with the stars

Celebrities tend to go viral more quickly by having one thing you don’t: traffic.

As such, engaging with a celebrity’s tweets is a form of boosting your own discovery. This is where the 10% rule comes into play.

Let’s say Obama posts something insightful and gets 100k likes. If you are the first to reply with something insightful, 10% of that traffic accrues to you (10k likes).

Of those 10k likes, 10% of them (1000 people) will check out your profile. And if they find great content on your profile, 10% of that number (100) may convert to followers.

But if all they find are random tweets about your cat, the weather and other assorted brainfarts, they will leave.

This is why people with viral tweets don’t always see a corresponding increase in followers. People landed on your profile and weren’t impressed.

Nobody likes flukes. That’s why “one-hit wonder” is still a pejorative term.

You don’t always have to agree with the celebrity, by the way. Sometimes, being contrarian can be an effective strategy.

If Donald Trump posts something you don’t agree with, you can reply and vehemently disagree with him. Those who disagree with your views will either retort, ignore or block you. 

highly disagreeing meme || pls don't reupload! enjoy your meming ...

But those who agree with you will head on over to your profile. And if these curious viewers like what they see, there’s a higher chance of them converting.

Twitter is full of celebrities, so you can play this game all day.

But in the end, it all comes back to the quality of your own content. 

Post with intent.


Be ready for fame

Say you’ve been posting golden nuggets for years, connecting with everyone in your network, and squeezing the juice out of every hashtag. One night, you tweet something innocuous, go to bed, and wake up the next morning to a billion notifications.

Congratulations: you’ve gone viral.


it's gone viral?

How do you leverage this new-found fame?

On Twitter, most people post a proverbial “Soundcloud” link under their viral tweet. This directs people to their music, blog, Etsy shop, Instagram account or YouTube channel.

But the same rules apply: if people don’t like your linked content, they will not subscribe to it.

Remember: virality doesn’t grant legitimacy.

All it does is shine a light on you. You still need to impress people with stellar content to make them stay.

But there are ways to prepare for this. The most obvious is including relevant links in your bio to the work you’d want people to see first.

You won’t always be awake (or next to your phone) while you’re going viral. A well-written bio with links to your work can direct incoming traffic on your behalf.


What about paid social?

You can spend money on boosting selected content or promoting your entire profile (or Page, if you’re on Facebook). Still, the same rules apply:

1. If you don’t have a wealth of consistently good content, your paid reach won’t convert.

Let’s go back to our high school example. Paying to put up a banner in the school cafeteria with your Instagram handle on it might get you some traffic. Still, if all you have are boring, grainy selfies then nobody will follow you.

2. If you don’t regularly interact with your desired network, your content will feel foreign. Your new followers will eventually unfollow you in favour of someone more relevant.

Sending everyone to a profile with irrelevant content (or worse, no content) will lead to high churn. Ensure the content you post is tailored to your audience.


Conclusion

Social media virality is a function of consistency, promotion, targeted distribution and luck.

That’s probably not what you wanted to hear.

sorry, not sorry – Biz Talks

As in business, success is the function of a compelling product married to masterful marketing.

A time-machine you invented that only your mom knows about won’t sell. Similarly, a Superbowl ad for a buggy, poorly designed mobile app is a colossal waste of money.

It’s the same with social media.

You need to have A-grade content on your timeline. Prune the least-performing posts and highlight your best ones.

You also need to interact with like-minded people in your network as much as possible. This habit increases the odds of your content being discovered and shared.

You can also interact with social media celebrities and ride popular trends to drive some traffic to your profile.

And if you do all of this consistently, the odds of you going viral increase. 

It’s never guaranteed, of course.

But you’ll be ready when it happens.

Good luck.


Cool links:

  • “Hit Makers” by Derek Thompson dives deeper into the concept of virality and how to achieve it. I heartily recommend it.
  • Need help managing your social media presence? Learn more at my website and pop me a mail.