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Why Services and Subscriptions Businesses Need A Promotional Holiday Retail Strategy

Black Friday is here.

Everyone is shopping.

It’s the time when you look at a bunch of deals and go buy stuff for your family and friends (and you) because of the deals! And everyone does it: Some type of shopping for gifts. At home or out and about, the Friday after Thanksgiving (and even now earlier with Thanksgiving) is the kickoff to the rush to get Christmas shopping done. Traditionally and expectedly, everyone things about what physical products they can get, but I think there’s an incredible missed opportunity for service and subscription businesses that needs to be taken advantage of around the holiday shopping window.

Last year, I was doing my 3am shopping on Black Friday and started thinking, “Hey, I wonder if any of these things I subscribe to have any deals.” So started going around, first with Evernote and then with a few other apps and services I pay monthly for. Interestingly not a one had an offering or deal or promo for Black Friday. In fact, there was zero recognition on any of these service or subscription sites that there was any seasonal event happening. Evernote bummed me out because they had nothing — for new customers or existing. Nothing. Like it was just another Friday.

But Black Friday is the most significant purchase period for a household. You need to be out there in a big way because everyone IS shopping. Not just for others — but for themselves. It’s the new era of loving others and oneself: The Giving/Getting. It is the one time people ignore their budget if they find a good deal. And even further, people use this time as a stock piling period for annual purchases…if the price is right.

I buy everything on Black Friday and get all my Christmas shopping done in about 3 hours. And everytime, I pick up a few more items myself — for now or under the tree. How convenient.

If everyone is shopping for someone, don’t you want it to be what you have to offer?

If everyone is also shopping for themselves, you want a share of their wallet.

So how do you take advantage?

Acknowledge the seasonality. This is the biggest time for shopping — the next three weeks, all gloves are off for purchases in every category.

Promote yourself no matter what. Deal or no deal? Deals obviously work better, especially if you never deal. But even without a deal, making your service or subscription available and extremely visible so it’s in the line of site of an open wallet, and that could be enough. You want a share of that wallet.

Because while the focus is been in physical products, there’s a huge advantage to be made for subscription and service businesses.

As a service or subscription business, you have two goals during this period:

  1. Get prospects who have been hesitant and move them to purchase

  2. Get current customers to lock-in for as long as possible (and profitable)

First, let’s talk about new customers.

How do you get them over the hurdle? If you have the major pain points or hangups on why they hesitate, now is the time to break through. See if you need to shorten your term, lengthen your term for the same price, offer a free trial, offer a longer free trial, bundle and discount, unbundle and discount, etc. Lots of options. If you are confident in your product, offer a trial and then offer a follow-up discount to sign up as a loyalty continuation.

Of course you don’t want to discount beyond your margin and this needs to be smart, so have a few offers handy to test or go with a single one that you promote everywhere so you can’t miss it.

Next, let’s talk about existing customers, next (Don’t be AT&T and only offer the good stuff to prospects).

I think you have two solid approaches here.

The first one is a current customer referral program. Word of mouth from happy current customers can help prospects get over the hurdle (see above). Or it may be the first time they are hearing about you in a non-media way. Sharing referrals to give something (to prospect) and get something (for the current customer) continues the magical mix of giving/getting of the holidays. Make it easy with gift card plus-ups (think about places that offer a $10 gift card when you purchase one for $50 — that $10 gift card is for you!) or tagging extra time into their current plan.

The second one is offering extensions. This can be a version of the new customer offers mentioned earlier but intended to create customer lock-in for longer time. Get them to re-up while they have their wallet out for everything else. All the same offers for prospects can apply here and push a current customer past their average subscription window. And that’s what you really want.

This needs to be efficient but we know it’s cheaper to keep a current customer than to go get a new one.

If Evernote had a current customer extension offer, I would have grabbed it in two seconds, even if a free 3 months or add 12-months for the price of 10 months. Instead, since they had nothing, I’m no longer a paying customer. I found it irritating that they would ignore their current users without a loyalty offer benefit and moved to the Free version (where I’m drafting this blog post).

In closing, analysts will say it’s dying, but Black Friday is less an actual day and more a time period starting with Thanksgiving Week through Christmas that the majority of household spending moves into the marketplace. If you are a service, an app, a paid subscription, personal training, or some other type of recurring model, pay attention and focus on your offers for Black Friday and the entire period through Christmas where you could create a massive continuation lock-in through next Black Friday for your current customers. And find a ton of new customers courtesy of your loyal base through rewarding both groups with thoughtful offers.

Because everyone is shopping, not just for products. And they should be shopping for you.

Follow me for more thoughts and fun on instagram.com/tuckross

Add Your Best Profile Pic | Make Your LinkedIn Profile Awesome

Get your LinkedIn profile pic right!

One of LinkedIn’s three strategic business pillars is that they want to own your online, searchable professional identity.

LinkedIn wants to be the professional profile of everyone’s record online. If members are going to be maintaining a professional record online then LinkedIn want to be the primary place where people create, update and access those records.

Nearly every industry uses LinkedIn to find and vet job candidates, and over 94% of recruiters rely on the site, according to data from the Society of Human Resource Management. So your profile can’t just be a storage unit for career contacts, it’s not a Rolodex — it needs to be a living, breathing record of your professional life. It is your living, breathing resume.

A robust LinkedIn profile opens the door for new opportunities like partnerships, new business, mentorships, or speaking events. It represents you as a professional — and refining it is easier than you think.

I am still amazed by how many career-minded professionals don’t have a LinkedIn profile or haven’t updated it in months or even years. As the work world continues to embrace the virtual world, your LinkedIn profile is you to those who don’t know you; it’s worth spending some effort to get it into shape.

LinkedIn has three main focal points for your LinkedIn Profile. The Big 3 are: profile pic, current position, and summary. These are highly visible and instantly identify you as a unique and interesting person, helping you attract the right opportunities.

First up, let’s start with your profile pic.

Your profile picture is your calling card on LinkedIn — it’s how people are introduced to you and (visual beings that we are) it governs their impressions from the start.

Think about it this way: You are at a networking event, a party and you walk up to meet someone or someone says hi to you…the first thing you see is their face.

In the middle of the sea of LinkedIn blue and white fields filled with text, your photo is the first impression for every potential contact, the main personality of everything in your LinkedIn identity.

That’s why profiles with a photo get up to 9x more connection requests, 21x more views and up to 36x more messages, according to a LinkedIn.

Profiles with a photo get up to 9x more connection requests, 21x more views and up to 36x more messages.

Here’s the tips for an awesome LinkedIn profile pic:

  1. Use a professional photographer for a high-quality, well-lit headshot. Invest in a professional portrait that you can use again and again.

  2. Take a pic that is appropriately professional. No selfies…unless you are really good at selfies. Not sure what “appropriately professional” means? Take a look around at what the people in your target company, industry sector, or business level are wearing. Match that.

  3. Make sure it fits your personality, looks like you like to look, and you are wearing something that people would expect you to wear at work.

  4. Keep the background solid.

  5. Make sure you upload a photo use a that’s at least 200 x 200 pixels. Don’t use a photo with dimensions smaller than 200 x 200 because it will become pixelated and blurry. BTW, that’s a square. LinkedIn lets you arrange the photo a bit, but if you have it square-cropped, it makes it easier to center in the bubble circle they give you. As a note, I upload as large as possible.

  6. Make sure your face takes up around 60% of the frame (long-distance shots don’t stand out), wear what you would like to wear to work, and smile with your eyes! Pro tip: Make sure you post your face. No company logos or other images — save that for your Company page. Profile Pages are for people — everyone wants to see you!

  7. Make sure the picture is recent and looks like you. Pro tip: “If you can show yourself in action, do it,” says a blogger who experimented with multiple LinkedIn photos to see which garnered the most attention. “A photo can go a long way to convey passion, energy, charisma, empathy, and other soft skills that are hard to write about.”

  8. Lastly, update your photo every 6 months at least — put a reminder in your phone or set it on your calendar. Keeps your visual identity current and stays pace with your seasonal appearance.

Your LinkedIn photo shouldn’t be from 20 years ago. It shouldn’t look like it belongs on a dating site, stock photo site, or social network (e.g., Facebook or Instagram). And don’t feature your pet or significant other. Just. No.

LinkedIn is for professionals. Be one.

My newest profile pic is one I got for FREE at a conference. It follows the rules above and is accessible and a bit casual while maintaining my professional personality.

And for a bonus round, most of us know about the profile photo but many others don’t have a strong background photo for their profile. Add that a background photo. It’s an instant way to differentiate your profile and brand it the way you want with a large, high impact canvas.

Your background photo grabs people’s attention, sets the context and shows a little more about what matters to you. More than anything, the right background photo helps your page stand out, engage attention and stay memorable. Give your profile page a bit more personality, or branding, with a visually appealing background image.

LinkedIn advises users to use an image (PNG, JPG, or GIF but not animated) with a resolution of 1400x425.

Get your photo(s) right and get it current now.

Your profile photo is the most critical part of your LinkedIn profile, the core to your professional identity and the best way for you to stand out from the rest.

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Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter at @tuckross

Why You Hate Avocado Toast

Text your friends. Pew Research put their Ugg-clad foot down and said this is where a Millennial begins and ends.

If you’ve always wanted to be a Millennial, you win if you were: “…born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22–37 in 2018)…”

“Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22–37 in 2018) will be considered a millennial

“In order to keep the millennial generation analytically meaningful, and to begin looking at what might be unique about the next cohort, Pew Research Center will use 1996 as the last birth year for millennials for our future work,” Pew noted.

According to Pew, here’s the new lineup:

  • Silent generation (wasn’t this the Greatest generation??) — Born between 1928–1945, current ages 73–90

  • Boomers — Born between 1946–1964, current ages 54–72

  • Generation X — Born between 1965–80, current ages 38–53

  • Millennials — Born between 1981–96, current ages 22–37

  • Gen Z — Born 1997-??

According to Pew, here’s rationale:

“Most millennials were between the ages of 5 and 20 when the 9/11 terrorist attacks shook the nation, and many were old enough to comprehend the historical significance of that moment, while most post-millennials have little or no memory of the event,” Pew noted.

That election was the first where “the force of the youth vote became part of the political conversation and helped elect the first black president,” Pew said.

If the years alone aren’t enough for you, you also might be a Millennial if you:

  1. Love $14 avocado toast

  2. Are having a life crisis about how terrible the new Beyonce track is

  3. Are generally lazy and unmotivated in the workplace

  4. Still live at home with your parents

  5. Are reading this on your phone, like everything else you do besides sleep

  6. Have #fomo

  7. Are destroying the traditional model of retail…and restaurants…and banking.

  8. Run a side hustle as an Uber-driving, Upwork-gigging, fashion Instagram influencer

If this is you pick up your trophy now: You are a millennial! You weird, odd creature, ever elusive to media and brands. Every CEO hates you and wants to meet you at the same time.

Let’s go get brunch.

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Like this? Follow me on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter at @tuckross

Six Things to Set to ‘Monthly Recurring’ on Your LinkedIn Profile

Most professionals are on LinkedIn everyday (not just guessing, I asked around).

Whether you are working on your personal brand, consuming content, or developing your career path, LinkedIn is a powerful tool when you have a strategy for when and how to use it.

Like any relationship, LinkedIn is maximized when you are interacting on a daily or weekly basis. As you build out your path in LinkedIn, there is also the need to take a few actions to keep your profile current and protect your investment. Monthly at least, but remember, if you are working on LinkedIn daily, you are potentially being seen daily so keeping your profile current and fresh is critical. Also, things could change at any time, so making sure you have backups and redundancy is helpful in case the need arises.

Here’s six things I do on a regular basis to make the most of my effort on LinkedIn:

  1. Check all the links in your Profile. This one can make you look out of date in a second. Go into your profile and review each of your position listings and any related web or media links for Skills, Awards, or other links you have attached to each position. Related to previous roles, I’ve had videos and websites be removed or links changed without notice. These are unclickable and appear as blank boxes which detract from the strength of your presence. Remove or replace asap. Add new links as you have them available. Frequency: Weekly

  2. Export your Connections list. Contact management is an ongoing effort of maintenance and care If you have been adding connections regularly while adding in contacts from phone and other social networks, you ideally have your whole network in one place. This is where the strength of LinkedIn comes in because you can connect all your professional relationships and the more you add, the more connections LinkedIn can discover and recommend for you. Accordingly, you need to protect it. It’s good to make an export copy to act as a backup or if you want to move them to your other address books from LinkedIn. Here’s how: Click on My Network from the homepage, then click on Your Connections in the left column. On top of the right side of the page you’ll see Manage synced and imported contacts. Click that, then choose Advanced Actions on the right side toward the bottom of the page. When you click Export contacts, you’ll download a CSV file in your email. Frequency: Monthly

  3. Make a copy of your Profile. This will give you access to the latest version of your profile. Since you update different elements of your profile as your career changes and grows, it’s likely that you don’t have a backup copy of the latest version of all the elements of your profile anywhere except in LinkedIn. From the home page, click on your profile in the left hand column. Then, to the right of your photo, click on the three dots and choose Save to PDF. Frequency: Monthly or as you make changes.

  4. Review Endorsements. As a good citizen of LinkedIn, you should regularly be sharing the endorsements for the connections you know well and believe in. Your Endorsements (showing as Skills), help convey what your personal brand is all about. Ideally, you have a focused set of Skills to demonstrate and communicate your strengths in a focused field. Like a major brand, you are better known for something, than trying to be everything. This is your opportunity to be laser focused on who you are, what sets you apart, and what makes you compelling to your target audience. Only 3 of your Skills appear in your Featured Skills set on your Profile and those are the ones that show off who you are. Take a Post-It and write down a list of your Top 10 without looking at your profile. Then go back into your profile and look at the Endorsements you have received: How close are the two separate lists? It may feel odd, but you can even delete endorsements for skills that aren’t part of your brand. Next, reorder your Skills (yes, you can put them in any order you want) to emphasize the ones that are important to your career goals if you don’t like the default order. Frequency: Monthly.

  5. Clear your Inbox: Between networking, friend emails, spam, and InMail, you may get a good volume of messages in here weekly. With everything else going on, I’ve realized that I need a dedicated window to clear my LinkedIn inbox: respond, delete, archive, and initiate some new conversations. Getting to or close to inbox zero on a weekly basis helps make sure you are being responsive and timely with your communications, which again, is critical in this professional environment. As a tip, I found that Mobile is the best place to quickly cull emails into Archive (swipe left and Archive), instead of deleting, to shorten your list of follow-ups that may need a keyboard to fully compose. Frequency: Weekly.

  6. Review your notifications: Related to #5, I hit my Notifications daily to touch back on news, who’s viewing my profile, networking, responding to comments, etc. What I found is that when I’m on the go during the week, I miss some of the specifics, especially if there’s a post with multiple comments or if I want to drill down into profiles and connections. Best time to do this? Grab a drink and sit down on the weekend to browse through on Desktop LinkedIn to make sure you are fully covering the bases on the depth of what your Notifications are giving to you. Frequency: Weekly.

Whether you carve out 15–30 minutes a day or tackle the bucket on a regular interval, assign yourself a calendar or to-do list reminder to help develop the habit of performing these tasks on a regular frequency. Committing to your professional profile above any other social network only will benefit your personal brand and career in the long term and earn you that ‘All-Star’ profile status on LinkedIn.

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Love this content? Follow me here and on Twitter and LinkedIn at @tuckross