Owning a business in today’s economy can be a challenge, but there are a few things that businesses of all sizes can do to weather the storm. In addition to great marketing, taking a look at your people, process, and product are key to maximizing your profits. We can start with the easy stuff!


Entrepreneurs are usually experts on their products. But, it can be easy to get attached to the original concept even when sales don’t back up personal bias. Business success is synonymous with innovation. We need to be prepared to change where needed, and let go of the emotional attachments we may to our old ways. Yes, change can be scary, but it’s also necessary. I can hear you know, “okay, but I don’t even know if I’m in a product rut. So how do I find out?” Well, here you go: RESEARCH! In conjunction with examining sales quantities and relationships, focus groups are an extremely useful market-research tool for making your product (or products) the best it can be.

For tangible products, letting customers use your wares and then express their honest opinion is invaluable data. If a discernible pattern turns up, then change is needed if the cost doesn’t outweigh the potential profit. For example, you sell watches. Customer feedback is overall pretty good, but you notice a theme to all the complaints; the band quality does not match the quality of the actual watch.

For online products or services, Beta testing is vitally important. Beta testing is releasing a product after quality control checks to a very limited and very experienced market. These users critique the product before it can go live en masse. For example, Beta testers of a cloud-based sales-tracking product rave about the ease of use and elegant simplicity. Only one issue seems to bother every user; every time the internet connection is lost or wavers, data is lost. That is a huge quality error in a data storage system!

Something as crucial as quality can significantly decrease sales and your bottom line; paying attention to feedback (aka data) is crucial to the success of your company. Applying product feedback early can help you to retain clients while eliminating any future client loss.


As an organizing, time management and productivity coach, I have a soft place in my heart for process improvement and systems. Though processes (especially in the online world) seem like they would be the most difficult to examine, today’s data analytics and automated systems make efficiency easier than ever. Nerds everywhere have united to create a multi-billion dollar industry completely focused on process accountability. I’m totally allowed to say that because I’m a super huge nerd. Yes, that’s right. I own it. But, I digress; tools that used to take an entire department are now widely available in easy to use software packages. Getting and understanding data is easier than ever.

With that data on your computer screen, look for bottlenecks – areas of your process which do not move as quickly as others – and try to remedy the lag. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, but one very effective way is to interview the most experienced and innovative employees. These frontline individuals should be able to point out the areas that give them the most grief and slow down the process. Plus, nothing helps employee morale more than being heard and having your feedback valued.

Another option is an anonymous online forum. Online forums are a great way to understand what is really affecting production in your company. Facebook has anonymous employee chat rooms which allow for constructive criticism and innovative solutions to problems without the stress of actually going to see the boss or getting pegged as a “complainer”. It also allows people to let off steam so that they can go back to work without getting the rest of the department riled up.

You can use the same approach for “offline” processes and systems too. It’s all about perspective and objectivity. Be willing to SEE improvement where it’s needed and don’t get defensive when someone tells you something negative or suggests improvements could be made. Improvement is a CONSTANT THING. At Virtue, we’re in a constant state of process improvement, and it doesn’t stop there – I am personally in “process improvement mode” at home on a regular basis. Organizing is never ‘done’ it just becomes manageable. The same is true for process improvement.


People – as always – are the most important part of every business. Without dedicated and well-trained people, software and data are useless and will not yield the projected profits. ß I CANNOT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH the importance of VALUING the people who help you. Even if you’re a one-man-show, you have support somewhere. Whether it’s your spouse or the barista at your favorite coffee place, VALUE THE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT YOU! You aren’t you by accident, people helped to make you who you are. You don’t have to be a huge people person to value the importance of human relationships, especially when those relationships fuel your current and future successes.

More and more, corporations are focused on employee/contractor retention and employee engagement. Whether it is because of employee feedback or because corporations discovered that turnover is expensive, executives are urgently looking for a way to keep their employees around. They may also be aiming to keep their dirty laundry off of employer rating sites like Glassdoor.

Along with Indeed and CareerBuilder, Glassdoor allows current and former employees to rate their company and to give out anonymous details about salary and internal goings on. Applicants can view complaints as well as kudos about specific companies and can then check out salaries. If feedback is poor and pay is below market average, new talent will move on. More importantly though, your Brand will be tarnished. In today’s information driven market, consumers may choose to buy similar products from competitors who have happier employees.

Giving your people the tools and the knowledge to do well is one of the most important changes you can make in order to maximize profit. By investing in the right tools for your product and training every employee to use them correctly can revolutionize your business. It is the people that provide services for your consumer. It is people that troubleshoot and convince current clients to stay and invite new clients to the table.

Re-Think Everything!

OK, maybe not everything! But, as Forbes wisely noted in a recent article, “it is time to rethink the concept of employee engagement”. In fact, it is time to re-think the concept of employee all together!

Recent employee surveys indicate that people want to be treated with respect, paid fairly, and they want to contribute to something bigger than themselves. When an employer can fulfill these desires, people work harder and they work smarter. They care about what they are doing and they care about the overall success of the company. This translates into profit based on an ethical business model.

Feeling serious? Let Virtue Marketing lead the way! We offer expertise in marketing, brand development, and project management. We also offer training and support for organization, time management and productivity. We are called to help you find your calling! Send an email and we will get back to you with fresh ideas tailored for your needs.

In the meantime…check out this website for continuing business education! Coursera.com has TONS of classes related to leadership, organizational analysis, and data gathering.

Google Algorithm Updates And You, Use Google To Your Advantage

You may have heard that Google vamped up some of its existing algorithms (and introduced one new one) in the mid to latter part of 2013. These “updates” have affected the way we in the SEO world handle marketing. Basically, these changes mean that many of the “old school” tactics you used to get traffic and rank will no longer work (or, maybe we should say, they won’t work as well – a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while). If you’re new to the game, or you’re still using methods you used in the early 2000s, you’re probably not reaping the rewards you once did… and can again!

Google is an innovative and constantly changing entity which is why so many people turn to it for research, news, and the random questions that pop up in our heads throughout the day. Over the years Google has used a variety of algorithms to glean accurate information from the copious amounts of data – good and bad – that exists in the ethers of the internet.

Until recently, Google has used algorithms based on keywords. So if a consumer types in “What time is it in India?”, Google would look at each word individually and provide results that had at least one of those words present.

This presented a unique problem for consumers as the search results did not necessarily yield the desired information, but did contain the appropriate key words. The reason for this is that early algorithms such as Panda and Penguin were not designed to analyze the context or connotation of the keywords. These two algorithms were designed for entirely different purposes based on the technology available at the date of implementation.

2011: Panda

As one of the earliest algorithms created by Google, Panda is designed to prevent low quality content from appearing high on search results. As the internet expanded, Google created a “Quality Rater” system in which feedback determined the result rank of individual websites. In order to obtain a high ranking, content had to be user friendly and had to pass a “quality threshold” defined by Google. With a few other parameters, Google was able to provide search results that had some level of integrity and relevance.

Still, users were complaining that Google was not answering questions in the way they expected; the information was either not pertinent or filled with time-wasting spam. Essentially, users were and still are looking for a method which provides the desired information without any filler or advertising. Google responded in 2012 with Penguin.

2012: Penguin

Created in response to user complaints of excessive search engine spam, Penguin aims to block websites which violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. These guidelines are relatively simple; create quality content that is unique in its approach or information and provides an excellent user experience. Additionally, a website’s content should be easy to find and any provided links should be relevant and accurate. This is sometimes referred to as “above the fold” content, meaning that the information searched for is present without having to scroll down or search excessively.

To skirt around these guidelines, content creators got extremely creative in order to hoodwink Google users and increase their website traffic. In what is now known as Black-hat SEO practices, web content creators use a variety of sneaky methods to falsely point Google users to websites that are not relevant or are primarily used for advertising. This is achieved through manipulating the anchor text. Anchor text is linked text which is relevant to the landing page and thus to the users query.

Don’t panic if these terms sound technical, most people already know what anchor text and landing pages are and just don’t know it! A landing page is a homepage and an anchor text is a sub-heading. For example, if you visit Virtue Marketing’s homepage there are tabs at the top of the page which describe other areas on the website; that is anchored text. Spammers and some SEO organizations manipulate these features to increase site traffic and usually their profits. Understandably, Google users were not enthused by these practices and demanded something better. That something better is here and it’s called Hummingbird!

2013: Hummingbird

Ambitiously named after the quick and capable bird, Hummingbird was created not only to increase the quality of content available to Google users, but also to work seamlessly with mobile devices. Since Smartphones and Google itself use voice activation, the demand for a conversational search engine is high. Additionally, users are no longer impressed with the traditional keyword search engine model because it doesn’t always take into account the context or the meaning of a phrase. Hummingbird has somewhat solved this issue for its users.

Designed to understand the meaning behind a query, Hummingbird analyzes human language to more accurately produce results. It also uses semantics and psychology to tap into what the user really wants. Constantly collecting data from signed in users, it is also able to tailor search results based on previously visited website and previously posed queries. Finally inching towards Google’s original goal of being able to answer a user’s questions, not just reference keywords, Hummingbird is a completely new way to seek out information.

Using Hummingbird to Your Advantage

So what does that mean for your website? Is all of your hard work and training in SEO methods for naught? Happily, the answer is NO! According to Google, as long as your website’s content is unique and high quality, it will remain high in query rankings. The purpose of Google has not changed; it continues to be a resource for answering the questions of its users. By following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, you website will get the traffic you require to drive your business forward.

If you are still unsure about what steps to take moving forward with your web content, send us an email! Virtue Marketing uses only the newest marketing methods and is well versed in the meaning behind your client’s Google query, and we’re HAPPY to answer your questions regarding the same. We can help your business achieveits goals with Respect, Refinement, and of course RESULTS!