In early December, Cogito published some new research designed to capture consumers’ understanding of artificial intelligence (AI), their overall perception and utilization of it, and any apprehensions they had with their utilization of it related to data privacy and regulation.
While the study found that most consumers don’t think that AI is a threat to jobs and can help make the lives of employees easier, they expressed a lingering mistrust surrounding brands’ use of their data, privacy and the overall use of AI.
In fact, of the consumers surveyed, 72% said that they had concerns about data privacy and what AI-enabled tools are tracking.
That number represents a significant trust gap.
But, what should companies be doing in the face of that level of concern?
Well, additional findings from Cogito’s research offers up some clues.
Their research found that:
On the first data point, I think there is little doubt that regulation of the use of AI will happen at some point.
But that will take time.
By way of comparison, the EU’s GDPR legislation came about after more than four years of discussions and negotiations.
But, customers concerns about data, privacy and the use of artificial intelligence are real, present and should not be ignored.
Brands would do well to leverage the insight offered by the second and third data points: produce and live by a clear customer code of practice and be more explicit about how they use AI, what data they collect and how it is used.
The value of adopting a customer code is something I highlighted in Punk XL, where I told the story of Hubspot who following a period of explosive growth where they went from zero to nearly $700 million in sales per year, and over 3,000 employees and 114,000 customers in over 120 different countries in 15 years, they realized that their growth rate had gotten in the way of them delivering the experience their customers deserve.
To remedy that situation in 2018, they created what they call their Customer Code. It is made up of 10 tenets that act as both a set of guidelines for their conduct and a bunch of promises to their customers:
In 2018, they gave themselves a score of 7.1 out of 10 across all of the tenets, with numbers 2, 3 and 8 being the areas that they identified as those that require the most improvement.
They also said they were committed to living by these tenets and promised to repeat the exercise and publish the results every year.
Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have followed through on that promise.
That’s a shame because, amid rising demand for personalization and empathy from customers and concerns about data, privacy and security, as well as ethical and bias concerns with the use of AI technology, a customer code looks increasingly helpful and powerful.
Josh Feast, cofounder and CEO at Cogito, agrees and says “A customer code of practice effectively communicates an organization's values, as well as the standards they hold themselves to and the expectations consumers can have as a result. This also poses a good opportunity for these organizations to better educate consumers around AI to minimize any fear or concerns they may have around its use. However, as concerns for data privacy and the use of AI continue to be top of mind for consumers, it’s pertinent that establishing a customer code of practice is a top priority for business leaders in the space.”
Some brands will say that they already have such a thing in place.
They’d be wrong. The number of examples of brands that are being explicit, in a customer-friendly way, about how they approach customer data, privacy and the use of artificial intelligence is low.
However, these concerns are not going away, and it’s becoming increasingly likely that transparency and accountability could become a competitive differentiator for many brands in the coming years.
Blogging can serve a huge array of purposes for a small business. You can use it to promote services, build your brand, or increase your revenue. But before you accomplish those goals, you need to get your blog in front of readers. Below, members of the online small business community share the ingredients of a successful blog.
Promote Your Services By Blogging
A blog allows space for more copy than a social media post or website blurb. So it’s the perfect place to share more information about your products or services. To make the most of this strategy for your small business, read this Startup Professionals Musings post by Martin Zwilling. Then visit BizSugar to see what members are saying.
Get Started with Viral Blogging
Not all blogs get the attention they deserve. But sometimes, content gets so much traction that people say it has gone “viral.” You can’t always control this. But there are some ways to increase the likelihood. Check out this Digital Millions post by Tamal Kr. Chandra for more on the subject.
Help Your Blog Posts Rank
The success of a blog post is largely dependent on how highly it ranks in searches. Your writing strategy can make a major impact in this area. So learn the basics of writing a highly ranked article in this Mostly Blogging post by Janice Wald.
Use Google Trends in Marketing
Blogging isn’t just about your writing skills. The subjects you use to cover can also help your posts gain more attention. Google Trends is a unique tool that can help in this area. Neil Patel outlines how to use it in your blogging and marketing strategy here.
Clean Up Your Blog
If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you likely have some content, links, and spam that no longer fit. These can negatively impact the impression you make on visitors, and may even make your site less searchable. Marie Leslie shares how to clean up your blog in this Small Business Simplifier post.
Find the Best Ways to Monetize Your Blog
Blogging isn’t just a marketing tactic — it can also be a source of revenue. There are actually multiple ways to monetize a blog. So you need to find the options that work best for your business model. Adam Connell shares several in this Blogging Wizard post. And BizSugar members offered their comments here.
Make Money on Your Blog with Ease
Blogging and monetization don’t have to be complicated. There are ways to make more money online without expending a ton of effort. Bloggers should read the tips in this Platter of Gold post by Anthony Williams for specific tips.
Upgrade Your Visual Storytelling
Visuals are often an important element of blogging. Photos are the most common way of doing this. But they’re not the only option. In fact, visual storytelling often includes multiple components. Robert Rose explores the concept further in this Content Marketing Institute post.
Create Copy That Drives Conversions
Your website and blog copy isn’t just about making a positive impression on visitors. It can also convince more people to actually make purchases. Learn how to drive more conversions with your website copy in this eLearning Industry post by Moss Clement.
Invest in SEO for Your Small Business
SEO is a powerful tool for small business websites. And blogging can be an effective way to upgrade your strategy. But many businesses also benefit from investing in SEO. Whether you plan to hire or outsource, this Inspire to Thrive post by Lisa Sicard may help.
If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image Credit: Depositphotos
Knowing what to say is a big part of being successful at a networking event. Opening lines are important conversation starters. But that’s just one way to start an interesting conversation with a stranger. Here’s everything that you need to know that leads to a business connection.
Why Conversation Starters are so Important
An effective conversation starter establishes common ground with that other person. This is small talk that can lead to more B2B networking for you. If done right, a conversation can generate genuine interest in what you’ve got to sell.
The right conversation starters are sales techniques.
Tips for Starting a Conversation at Networking Events
But you need to know how to start a conversation at one of these events. Following are 7 things that will lead to a good first impression.
The Right Body Language Leads to a Conversation
Non verbal cues foster an engaging conversation. Research suggests stance is essential. Don't slouch. You’ll look tentative. Body language compliments your conversation.
Proximity is important for good conversations. You need to be close enough to talk but not crowd.
Finding Common Ground
Getting over that first awkward silence is easier with some small talk. Talk shop with the other person to get started in your conversation.
Maintain Eye Contact For Great Conversations
An important part of any engaging conversation. If you maintain eye contact, it shows genuine interest. An important physical conversation starter.
Asking Follow Up Questions
Establish meaningful connections with great conversation starters. Then a further conversation includes follow up questions. Ask the other person about their experience and background.
An excellent conversation begins with mutual interest in each other.
Steering Clear of Conversations on Conversational Topics
Avoid a bad conversation starter. Like these topics that foster social anxiety.
Generally don’t talk about things you don’t like. Not a good way to jump into a conversation. Don’t jump in with deep topics right away. Leave those peer reviewed studies alone at first.
Ways to Start a Conversation at Face to Face Networking Events
It makes sense to focus on the best conversation starters instead. Following are 8 ways to start a great conversation when you’re face to face.
1. Introduce Yourself
This is a great conversation opener. The easiest way to get another person talking is to have a quick description ready. This is the beginning of a normal conversation.
Hi, I’m so and so. I’m from Chicago and my company is ACNE widgets.
2. Go For A Walk
Deep conversations start when people walk together. Especially on the way to the next panel or discussion. This is a great way to get to know the other person.
I’m on my way to the noon panel. Care to join me?
Comment on the decor on the way. It’s another way to start a conversation.
3. Mention A Favorite Food
You’ll have one thing in common with every other party at an event. The food. It can make for excellent conversation.
Have you tried these sandwiches? They’re delicious.
Start a conversation on your other favorites.
4. Share a Light Headline
A few tips for using this one. News about a sports team can work. Great conversation starters leave politics out.
Did you read about that game last night?
A positive current event is another great conversation starter.
5. Compliment the Other Person.
These are great conversation openers. A sincere compliment works when it’s specific.
That coat looks really great on you.
6. Mention a Detail
A positive remark and/or positive comment about the event works. A new conversational partner might be a stranger. Except for the fact you belong to an entire group. Here’s how to get a conversation going.
That last speaker made some good points. What do you think?
7. Keep Your Right Hand Free
Any conversation needs to include a handshake. Keep your right hand free when landing a new conversation partner.
Hello. It’s nice to meet you
Most people will admit they paid attention to someone starting conversations this way.
8. Begin With the Weather
Pay attention to what’s going on outside. Real life situations like the weather are a great way to get a conversation started.
This rain is really something, isn’t it?
You can even reference a previous conversation.
I was just talking with someone about how cold it is.
How to Start a Conversation at Online Networking Events
A conversation flow naturally happens when two people are face to face with some help. But more and more people need good conversation starters as well as small talk and business networking tips for internet meetings. Here’s eight ways to start a conversation at an online event. These are digital small talk tips to engage a conversation partner.
9. Do Some Research
A little research will help you start a conversation. Get a list of attendees to the virtual event before hand. Below is one of the best conversation starters.
“Hello—. I read your profile before the event and wondered if we could have a conversation. You did a great job on your recent project."
Flattery leads to a conversation.
10. Make Sure To Engage
Online events have discussions and even quizzes. Start a conversation by asking open ended questions like:
“What do others think of that last speaker? I’m interested to know.”
Starting a conversation can focus on what attendees do in their free time too. Remember, don't get them talking about controversial topics. Get the other person to talk about their hobbies.
What is everyone’s favorite TV show?
11. Ask A Day to Day Life Question
There’s room for talking and conversation with a person before a meeting starts. Ask a question to get a conversation started around personal information.
What family members do you respect the most?
A person’s family is a good conversation starter that works. Most people like to talk about the person closest to them.
12. Ask About Social Events
A decent conversation can start around a favorite movie. Or get attendees talking about music.
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been too?
The arts are excellent conversation starters. Especially if a person has a business that focuses in that area.
13. Ask Them To Describe Their Mood.
Digging into their expert knowledge comes later in the event. Asking new friends about their mood breaks the ice. A conversation starter works with them talking about their social life. Or sharing their own writing about how they feel on a Zoom whiteboard. Not really a conversation but an effective ice breaker.
“Who is in a good mood today? Take a deep breath and describe it.”
This conversation works wonders. It gets the other person to talk about themselves.
14. Register on the Community Board
Find a new conversational partner to talk with before the event starts. A community board can lead to a personal text conversation. People also love “talking” through messaging on the boards too.
“I’m looking for some more tips on how to get the most from this event. Contact me at ….”
15. Post on Your Website Pre Event
Put a notice up that you’ve registered for the event and are looking for a conversation partner. Look for someone to talk to on Twitter , LinkedIn and Facebook too.
16. Take Advantage of Real Time Messaging
Use real time messaging as topics are presented to get more details from another person. This way of starting a conversation builds trust. You show the other person you value their opinions. Mutual respect is a great conversation starter.
Use these Conversation Starters to Have a Great Networking Event
Now you have an overview on how to start a conversation. Talking with another person at an online or brick and mortar event can make a difference. Maybe you’re looking for a new job. Or have a person talk about their needs so you can make a sale.
Either way a conversation helps to further your goals. The more people at events talk, the more the conversations benefit your business. And if you have a hard time doing so, look into ways to help you, such as networking for introverts.
Image Credit: Depositphotos
As a new entrepreneur, getting your product out into the market is hard enough, but when there is a lot of competition in your market, it can make things even tougher. When trying to differentiate their products in a situation like this, entrepreneurs are bound to make mistakes along the way.
Many members of Young Entrepreneur Council have gone through this themselves and have learned some valuable lessons from the experience. Below, eight of them explained the most common mistakes entrepreneurs tend to make when trying to differentiate their products in an over saturated market and offered advice for how to remedy this situation.
1. Forgetting About Post-Sale Services
Many marketers focus only on selling their products, but when it comes to offering post-sale services, they fail to meet their customers’ expectations. This upsets your customers, promotes a bad reputation for your brand and drives your users away. If you don't want that to happen, stop making this mistake. Make high-quality customer service your top priority and train your support team to treat your customers with respect, compassion and patience. This will help you stand apart from your competitors in a much stronger way and drive more conversions too. - Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite
2. Overcomplicating Your Product
The biggest failure when differentiating your product is in over complicating it. Customers want to feel confident in the solution while also being able to understand it. The more complex something is, the harder it is for consumers to process the information in order to make a positive purchasing decision since their lack of understanding may be a reason that drives doubt or delay. While it might seem appropriate to use scientific jargon or technical wording when explaining your products and services, it makes the most sense to speak to your audience's needs and use the terms they are most familiar with. In instances where unique vocabulary is required, add videos and graphics to help better communicate those points. - Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress
3. Not Conducting Market Research
Many entrepreneurs go to extremes to help their product stand out, which is not generally a bad idea. The problem is when the extreme angle they take for their products isn’t well thought out or researched for compatibility with the target market. If you are going to push the envelope in terms of naming, copy, imagery or anything customer-facing, you want to do so in a way your prospective customers will enjoy and appreciate; otherwise, you risk simply offending or pushing them away. Do market research and focus groups before choosing your method of standing out in a market. - Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC
4. Failing To Choose A Niche
Many entrepreneurs want to help everyone, and this waters down their messaging. Entrepreneurs who market well are clear, specific and differentiated. Those who are convinced they can save the world instead of focusing on one segment of the market struggle with branding. Entrepreneurs who learn how to differentiate via choosing a clear niche market have an easier time creating content and attracting a specific segment of the market. - Libby Rothschild, Dietitian Boss
5. Not Actively Building A Reputation
The problem that many young business leaders run into is they don't actively build their reputation as they are building a product. If you want to secure sales, build trust and see engagement on your site, you need to prove that you're an expert in your industry. There are quite a few ways you can accomplish this task. I recommend publishing detailed blog posts that include plenty of relevant statistics from trusted sources. I also suggest breaking into the social sphere and engaging with established experts before, during and after your product launch to continue building your reputation. - John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC
6. Not Explaining Why You're Unique
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of stating that they are unique without explaining how. You can make yourself distinct by creating a series of blog posts that compare your offerings to your competitors’ and making sure that you create meaningful and fair comparisons. As you build content and bring more people to your website, you'll stand out by offering useful blog posts. - Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
7. Relying Too Much On Branding
One common mistake is relying too much on branding tactics such as a logo, catchphrase or brand mascot without having a solid product that really sets you apart. High-profile brands can get away with this because everyone already knows who they are. When you're smaller and newer, however, clever marketing gimmicks don't really work unless you can back it with solid products or services. You should aim to have a quality and eye-catching logo and graphics. The point is that these alone won't differentiate you in a competitive market. You need to identify what you actually offer that's different from the competition and get that across to your market. - Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
8. Not Going The Extra Mile
When setting your products and services apart from the competition, it's important to consider how you can go the extra mile where other companies don't. How can you be there for your customers more than other businesses are? What do they overlook that you can pay more attention to? Providing for your customers in ways that other businesses don't will easily set your business apart in a positive way. Figure out how you can make them feel heard and apply their feedback to improve your strategy. - Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
Image Credit: Photo by fauxels from Pexels
Membership is open to businesses and organizations interested in increasing visibility and brand awareness in Westchester County and surrounding areas.