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Is NOW the right time to expand your business Internationally?

Expanding your business Internationally is a monumental task but, if done right, can be a significant driver of growth. We are proud to say that we now have coverage in 190 countries, with a small team and no outside funding.

Invest in a scalable infrastructure

Build a platform that is designed to scale from day one. For example, we made sure that Advisory Excellence was set up with infrastructure where it was easy to add new countries, and track KPIs globally.

A focus on marketing channels that can scale, such as Google, Youtube, Pinterest and Linkedin, can also prove useful in building a strong foundation for future growth. Whatever your budget, these platforms allow you to test the waters as knowledge of your market increases. As campaign metrics demonstrate positive growth, your company can expand budgets to grow reach Internationally.

Think globally, act globally

Being in hypergrowth mode is exhilarating but there are plenty of opportunities to learn from mistakes. When you scale very quickly, there is no time to micromanage locally. Only tailor locally what has been proven to make a significant impact.

Build a small but mighty team

Crafting a small but mighty team is key to moving forward in a positive direction. Even if there are only a small number of individuals, a dynamic team can move mountains when the focus is right. Create a high passion and energetic team which is invested in the future of the business.

If you instil one motto in your team, it should be: fail fast, learn and improve. We love trying new ideas and encourage the whole team to continuously test, especially when it’s outside their comfort zone. The only requirement we set is to approach it methodically, to document the results and to share learnings with the team.

Stay community-focused

Nurture your brand ambassadors; your first and most loyal members or customers will be your strongest voices if they can be involved. We’ve been around since 2013 and have built a community that continuously stays engaged. Listen to your members or customers, speak with them every week and make changes based on your insights. As a result of listening to our members, we decided to start hosting events. There is nothing stronger than a real-life experience and it really makes us stand out from the crowd in a competitive market.

Getting more feedback from your audience can push your business to new heights. We collaborate with our members, so a lot of our content is member-generated.

Work smart

Automate time-consuming tasks. We believe we have a strong proposition for individuals around the world and (while there have been many lessons along the way!) expanding into new markets has been one of the most rewarding things we have done.

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Exclusive: A lawyer’s guide to keeping it professional on social media

In today’s environment, social media allows people to instantly share their opinions with the world. However, given the many heated issues that dominate our national discourse, there can be a tendency to post (or tweet) in anger or passion, which can lead to regrets later.

This risk is especially dangerous for attorneys. While attorneys may sometimes view their presence on social media to be in a “personal” capacity, the reality is that the line between personal and business can be blurred, or may not exist at all. In particular, with respect to an attorney’s ethical obligations, it may not be a very effective defence for an attorney to claim that she was acting in her personal capacity, and not as a lawyer, when she violated an ethical rule.

Recognising the rise of these issues in the age of social media, the State Bar of California issued a Formal Opinion in 2012 that addressed the interplay between postings on a supposedly personal social media page and the ethical rules governing attorney advertising. State Bar of California Formal Op. No. 2012-186. At issue were certain posts on an attorney’s personal social media page that highlighted the successes the attorney had on other cases, such as “Another great victory in court today! My client is delighted. Who wants to be next?” The California Bar concluded that, even among posts relating to the attorney’s personal life, such posts and others constituted the solicitation of clients or otherwise “concern[ed] the availability for professional employment,” and thus were required to comply with the rules for attorney advertising set forth in the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

Another potential issue exacerbated by the rise of social media is the potential for “positional” conflicts. Such a conflict may typically exist where, for example, an attorney argues for a certain interpretation of a statute in one lawsuit because it is in the best interests of one client, but then at the same time argues for the opposite interpretation of the same statute in another lawsuit on behalf of a different client. Comment 6 to Rule 1.7 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct (as effective Nov. 1, 2018) provides that such circumstances typically do not create a conflict requiring the client’s informed written consent unless certain factors are present.

However, it is arguably less clear how positional conflicts may function in the context of positions taken on social media. Comment 4 to Rule 1.7 provides that a conflict of interest requiring informed written consent) exists “if there is a significant risk that a lawyer’s ability to consider, recommend or carry out an appropriate course of action for the client will be materially limited as a result of the lawyer’s other responsibilities, interests, or relationships, whether legal, business, financial, professional, or personal.” Interpreting similar provisions, at least one bar association has stated that attorneys sharing information on social media sites should exercise caution “when stating positions on issues, as those stated positions could be adverse to an interest of a client, thus inadvertently creating a conflict.” See District of Columbia Bar Ethics Op. 370.

Although some commentators have suggested that the D.C. Bar’s opinion goes too far to limit attorneys, social media posts can also create sticky client relations issues even if the posts do not rise to the level of a traditional conflict of interest. Below are some tips for avoiding issues when using social media.

Considering Staying Neutral

Social media is generally not a place for balanced, well-reasoned assessments of issues but is used by many to express visceral reactions to news events. While attorneys may feel the urge to immediately share their thoughts with the world, they do so at their own risk.

For example, if Congress is considering passing a law that may impact a client, an attorney may be inclined to immediately offer her or his opinion on that law without regard to whether that position is aligned with the client’s. Even if the attorney’s posting does not create an actual conflict, a client certainly may be less than pleased to see its law firm advocating for a position if that position stands to harm the client’s business, financial or legal interests.

Likewise, commenting on ongoing cases can also be risky, but attorneys who feel compelled to do so can limit their risks by avoiding taking a definite stance and instead presenting a balanced analysis. That could help avoid creating any potential positional conflict with the interests of a client of the attorney and her or his law firm.

Avoid Unprofessional Conduct

Attorneys (typically) understand that their correspondence and briefs should be consistent with the level of decorum expected of members of the bar. Too often, that level of decorum is thrown out the window on social media. However, despite the informality of social media, it should not be considered as a free zone for unprofessional conduct.

A good rule of thumb is to ask whether the comment made on social media would be appropriate if standing outside a courtroom or at a dinner party. Many times, attorneys post comments on social media that they would never say in a face-to-face conversation, much less one with a client.

In some respects, comments on social media are worse than face-to-face conversations, as they are generally broadcast to the world and preserved for posterity. Courts and bars are increasingly taking notice of these issues and applying the same bar rules to social media as they do to traditional legal correspondence.

Think First

The most obvious tip can often be the hardest in practice. Before posting on any substantive issue (e.g., legal or political issues), it is helpful to stop and think practically about the post and the possible response from their firms, clients, and potential clients. Where practical, it may be a good idea to first run the posting by a colleague or firm leadership to ensure that it does not create any unintended conflicts or client relations issues.

Too often, attorneys instead let their emotions take over and fire off a post without a second thought. While attorneys certainly can use social media effectively in establishing a presence in their community or in a certain practice area, the undisciplined use of social media can unfortunately create the wrong kind of presence very quickly.

Shari L. Klevens is a partner at Dentons US and serves on the firm’s US Board of Directors. She represents and advises lawyers and insurers on complex claims, is co-chair of Dentons’ global insurance sector team, and is co-author of “California Legal Malpractice Law” (2014).

Alanna Clair is a partner at Dentons US and focuses on professional liability defence. Shari and Alanna are co-authors of “The Lawyer’s Handbook: Ethics Compliance and Claim Avoidance.”

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How to Execute Perfect Content Marketing

A large part of our digital marketing campaign will involve content marketing. To execute perfect content marketing, you need a plan. Each offer you make often requires the creation of different pieces of content. As a result, the ideal is to make a content plan for each of your major offers using a resource called the Content Campaign Plan.

The Content Campaign Plan aligns your content marketing with business objectives such as generating leads and sales. You can see the Content Campaign Plan template and can fill out your own by visiting www.digitalmarketer.com.

Following are the steps for creating your first Content Campaign Plan:

– Choose avatars.
– Brainstorm content assets.
– Choose the vehicle and channel.
– Plan for ascension.

Read on to find out more about each of these steps.

Step 1: Choosing avatars

Decide which avatars (also known as a buyer persona) this content targets. Because each avatar has different intents, motivations, and problems he responds to, each avatar requires different content to move him through the awareness, evaluation, and conversion stages. You therefore need to determine which existing content to use or what new content to create to move the avatar through the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.

For example, a wealth management firm attempting to sell financial planning should approach a young professional much differently than a near retiree. Some content will appeal to both, but the most effective content will speak directly to a specific avatar.

Step 2: Brainstorming content assets

Use what you know about your customer avatar to create descriptions for content that you can create to reach that persona.

REMEMBER: Plan to create content at all three stages of the marketing funnel: awareness, evaluation, and conversion. In the wealth management firm example, what content could the firm produce at the top of the funnel to increase awareness for the young professional avatar? What could it produce to move the retiree avatar through the conversion stage?

Step 3: Choosing the vehicle and channel

The vehicle of the content refers to the form the content will take. Will it be text, an image, a video, or an audio asset? The channel refers to where the asset will be published — such as your blog, a Facebook page, or a YouTube channel.

The vehicle can sometimes determine the channel, and vice versa. For example, a video asset often gets published on YouTube, Facebook, and your blog, whereas an image asset is more likely to be on Pinterest.

Step 4: Planning for ascension

In the final step of the Content Campaign Plan, you connect your content to your business goals. Build offers into each piece of content that allow prospects to get more value, either by consuming more content, giving you their contact information for follow-up, or buying a product or service.

TIP: Any call to action is better than none at all, but the highest-converting ascension offers are relevant to the content the prospect is consuming. For example, a blog post entitled “10 Ways to Grow More Nutritious Organic Tomatoes” would do well to make an offer like “50% Off and Free Shipping on Organic Tomato Seeds” rather than an offer for carrot seeds.

If you want to create content that converts prospects at all stages of the funnel, create a Content Campaign Plan and execute it. It works.

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Monday Motivation: Meet the self-starters

Ever fancied yourself as an digital entrepreneur? To get you inspired, we’ve taken a look at some of the most successful digital self-starters who, armed with a laptop and a great idea, grew their start-ups into global household names.

1. Daniel Ek, Spotify

The first time Martin Lorentzon met his Spotify co-founder, Daniel Ek was sleeping on a bare mattress in his apartment with just a laptop to keep him company. This is where the pair coined the name of the Swedish music streaming company, which they went on to launch in beta-form in 2007. The platform is now available in 60 countries worldwide with a catalogue of 30 million songs.

2. Pierre Omidyar, eBay

Originally called ‘Auction Web’, Pierre Omidyar launched the first iteration of eBay from his front room with only a few small items for sale. His girlfriend (now wife) was a Pez collector and he even set up an area of the site dedicated to finding other Pez enthusiasts. Now you can sell almost anything on the auction site and there have been some standout purchases over the years – including a grilled cheese sandwich with a likeness to Jesus, and a superyacht that sold for US$168 million.

3. Evan Sharp, Pinterest

Before Pinterest was Pinterest, Ben Silbermann and Paul Sciarra’s business idea wasn’t the success story they’d been dreaming of. Their first start-up was called ‘Tote’ and aggregated shopping results and sale information. After countless investment rejections, they finally had a taker and brought Evan Sharp in to help move the company towards the content saving and storing site we know today.

4. Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, Snapchat

Snapchat started as a university project for students at Stanford and was first called Picaboo. Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown wanted to send pictures to friends that would then disappear. After a bit of a fall-out between the three guys working on the media-sharing app, it was renamed Snapchat and released to the public in the autumn of 2011.

5. Naveen Salvadurai, Foursquare

There’s no denying that coffee gets our cerebral juices flowing and that’s how Dennis Crowley and Naveen Salvadurai came up with Foursquare. The pair spent loads of time laptop-bound in New York coffee shops building the first iteration of the location-based recommendation site, so much so that friends began poking fun and thus, Foursquare’s ‘mayor’ feature was born.

6. Brian Chesky, Airbnb

All the best start-ups come from some good old-fashioned problem solving and that’s how Airbnb came about. Co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were broke and needed to pay their rent. They set up airbedandbreakfast.com and advertised three spare air mattresses in their San Francisco loft apartment, with people paying US$80 each, including breakfast. It took a further four years, countless rejections and a simplification of the company name to get big money investors interested.

7. Garrett Camp, Uber

Serial entrepreneurs Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanik were attending the LeWeb tech conference in Paris together and wanted something new to work on. They locked themselves in a hotel room with good music and good drinks until 5am and came up with the idea of making taxi ordering more reliable and affordable. Uber was born. Today, you can find an on-demand driver in over 600 cities worldwide and get food delivered with the service too.

8. Reed Hastings, Netflix

Sick of late fees and driving back and forth to the rental store, Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings started Netflix for an easier way to watch their favourite movies. Today, the video behemoth is available in 190 countries and now has a substantial production arm that’s doing pretty well. Netflix’s home-grown titles have won a slew of Emmys, including Best Supporting Actress for Orange is the New Black and Best Director of a Drama Series for House of Cards.

9. Drew Houston, Dropbox

Possibly one of the humblest beginnings of all on our list, Drew Houston had a brainwave for Dropbox in a bus station. He was waiting to catch his ride home, when he realised he’d forgotten his USB drive. Right there and then he whipped out his trusty laptop and started writing the code for the file storing and sharing service.

10. Stewart Butterfield, Slack

You may have come across this start-up in your office. Slack is the messaging and productivity service taking our workplaces by storm. Stewart Butterfield’s start-up actually began as an internal tool, created for his team at games developer Tiny Speck to better communicate with each other. The name is an acronym for ‘Searchable Log of All Conversations and Knowledge’, as it allows users to search all messages and files sent on the platform.