" />

Business Development, Who is it for?

 Business Development  

What does it mean?

Who is it for?

Is it the same for everyone?

Having now worked in a number of roles that you might consider as business development (BD), I thought I'd start my publishing journey on LinkedIn (this is my first post) with a bit of reflection. I often get asked what the difference between straight selling and BD is, so I thought I'd try and define the differences (for my own sake, if nothing more!).

To some degree, they're different sides of the same coin. Selling and BD go hand in hand. I've been in roles where I've been strictly selling, others where there is a combination of sales and BD, and also in roles that I would consider true and pure BD.

In all, however, I've had some link to what would be considered BD within that particular business. So the answer to the header title is no, I think; BD is different for everyone and every business, dependent on a number of factors – budget, a size of a workforce, attitude to BD, etc.

What is 'true and pure' BD?

The sales process is one that involves a lot of people – product development, designers, pricing, marketing, technical, management – 'front-line' salesmen and 'top-end' management need to combine forces to deliver a product that their customers want.

If you walk into a shop to buy a pair of trainers, for example, this has been designed from the early stages by trained footwear designers, manufactured from these designs in a production process of sorts (industrial or bespoke, depending on the brand), marketed in the appropriate manner to raise awareness of the product, eventually landing on the shelves of the shop you're in, with a friendly guy/gal willing to help you transact some business when you make the decision to buy them.

So where does BD fit into this process?
What's it all about then?

The foremost word that comes up in the BD world is 'relationships'. That's pretty much what it's all about. Good business development will help identify, maintain and encourage relationship building within a firm, building rapport with both suppliers and customers.

It helps strengthen the bonds between these links, supporting the marketing copy and material that establishes your product in the relevant marketplace.

It helps provide information as to what the client needs to the 'front line' sales team, assisting them in closing the deal at the end of the process.

It helps inform management as to how the market is moving, providing insights into new developments of technology, social media and other digital avenues that the firm can take advantage of, to build and maintain loyalty.

It helps small companies access bigger markets and large companies engage newcomers. So my definition of 'true and pure' BD is 'helping a business to develop its relationships'.

Plain and simple.

It's networking on a daily basis; attending cutting-edge events to learn about the industry you're working in; finding (er… stalking?) people on LinkedIn to see what events they're attending and making sure you meet them there, in person, so that you can have that all-important introductory chat; it's offering your loyal customers something more than a newsletter – why not run a seminar and invite them along to it? They might be happy to be invited.

The personal touch is always a winner. We hear more and more now about relationships marketing, social currency, engagement, etc. BD is the platform that most of this is built on.

Who is it for?

As I've mentioned before, I've worked in roles that have been classed as BD but have really been sales. I've worked in hybrid roles where you might do a bit of both. And I've worked in the 'true and pure' BD roles too. What this has shown me is that BD has a place in every business. You can't 'develop' your business without a good BD strategy. So whether you're encouraging your front-line staff to sign up to a few newsletters, or get yourself down to a few networking events, or join a LinkedIn group and start up a discussion, BD is something that can't be overlooked.

It's all very well to have a great product and a nicely designed website, with some great leaflets and a slick business card but, without the right approach to BD, no one is going to see it in the way you want to. Having worked as a supplier to a lot of startups and growing SMEs, the one thing that I've noticed which has set apart the successes from the failures is their approach to BD. Develop the relationships – build a community around your business and your product just needs to do what it says on the tin. The rest will fall into place and you'll have a strong, loyal customer base who are happy to sing your praises.

For that reason alone, if nothing else, BD is essential for pretty much any business going.

Chuck Reynolds

Bounce Rate: 14 ways you are driving people away from your landing pages

Ever walk into a bar and know, very quickly, you shouldn’t order anything there?

I’m from a small town in Massachusetts. For a summer living outside of Atlanta, that simply made me a “northerner” or “yankee boy” to the locals so I had to pick my watering holes carefully in the evenings.

It was one of those nights the heat from the pavement was still radiating off the road well past sunset. Enough to make me sweat just walking from my car into a bar I’d just discovered. From the outside, I could see some TVs and a glowing sign for “Wings”. Sounds good, right?

Something was off as soon as I walked in the door. I was greeted by a large gruff looking dude wearing a confederate flag. The TVs were blaring NASCAR.  Above the bar were five $20 confederate bills with a sign that said “Keep your confederate money. South gon’ rise again!”  I’m fairly certain the bartender shot me a look and made proper use of the spittoon that was surrounded by peanut shells on the floor. This was probably not a good time to have been wearing my Boston Red Sox hat.

I took a deep breath and walked out. I’m sure the bar had a type… but it clearly wasn’t me. When I think back on it, there were all kinds of reasons I bounced… but what if I missed out on a great experience?  Did I judge too quickly? What if I’d missed this?

Every day people have this same experience on your web site.  The question is: If you wanted more of them to stay and spend money… what could you do?

Your “bounce rate” is when people do this to your website. It’s the percentage of visitors who come to your landing page and leave without engaging with any content, filing out your opt in form, or clicking through to another page. It’s people who just saw the page they landed on and said “nope… that’s not for me.” You want this to be as low as possible. You want to keep people around, get them to engage, and take the next step down your sales funnel.

Ok. Great. So you know what the bounce rate is… but do you know what causes it? Here are the 14 most common causes of a high bounce rate.


“I love slow web pages.” – said no one ever

Want to slow down your landing pages?

  1. Use the cheapest hosting you can find. You pay for what you get.
  2. Add a few of oversized images that can’t be downloaded quickly.
  3. Use too many images that distract from the copy on your page and cause too many requests on each page load.
  4. Use custom fonts that must be downloaded before anyone can even read the page.
  5. Add a lot of fancy sliders and javascript effects that must also be downloaded to work.

All of these factors can lead to slow page loads. The golden rule is that people are going to leave if you make them wait more than 4 seconds for a page to download. Two seconds or less is really the ideal.

How do you know if you’ve gone above 2 seconds? Use one of these two tools to see how quickly the average visitor might see your landing page.

If you are over 2 seconds, you should consider looking for low hanging fruit of images, fonts, scripts, or content you could be cutting to lower the page load time. Sometimes less is more… unless you want people to bounce before you even had a chance.


I love going to a page that might solve my problem only to be asked to watch a 30 second video that started auto-playing at the highest possible volume first. I stick around to the end of that experience just to see what happens. 🙂

Certain types of banner ads are also distracting, and they can reduce the amount of trust your visitors feel when on your site. Without trust, they are unlikely to provide you with email addresses, contact information, or payment info. Be careful of the kinds of ads you use: If your site is ad supported make sure that the ads are relevant to the visitor and related to the material on the page.

Intrusive advertisements will reduce the reputation of your landing pages and diminish the value of your content in the eyes of your visitor. If worthless pop-up ads appear within the first five seconds, the visitor is going to bounce higher than Chuck Norris on a trampoline.

Understand that the goal of each individual page is and make sure your ads and secondary calls to action aren’t getting in the way of that.


Not everyone likes surprises.

Let’s say you create an ad for “Amazing Dietary Supplements”, but your visitors land on a page that primarily promotes “Faster Weight Loss”.  Now… the faster weight loss may indeed be a benefit to the supplements… but it was the supplements that people came for.

If the ad headline is not front and center on the landing page you created, you will have lost the trust necessary to facilitate a conversion and the visitor is going to bounce higher than the empire state building.


Headlines and subheadings help visitors scan blocks of text quickly. The content they expect to find should be located in the appropriate section. If they cannot spot the content by scanning the headlines or subheadings, they will not take the time to search your site.

People do not read online text in the same way they read a book. Your landing page is not Game of Thrones. Most people aren’t going to read it cover to cover. Imagine you are writing for Cliff Notes instead.

Visitors quickly scan blocks of text looking for useful and engaging content, but they will not spend a lot of time trying to locate it. Before publishing your text to the site, have a friend scan the content to see if they catch the most important points. You can also use sites like http://fivesecondtest.com and http://usertesting.com to get 3rd party opinions on whether or not people can quickly understand your pitch.


This is right up there with giving visitors something they did not expect. If your landing page sells a product that’s targeted at private music teachers, but you advertise all over communities of public school teachers… you are close… but you’ve missed the mark.

Anyone with a budget can drive a ton of traffic to a landing page… the question is whether or not you can drive the RIGHT traffic to your landing page. The RIGHT traffic means visitors that are primed to convert because they:

  1. Are clearly within your target audience.
  2. Have been primed by your pitch before they came to the landing page.
  3. Ideally have been referred by a friend… because your landing pages make it easy for someone to share after the conversion. Did I mention that’s a specialty of ours at KickoffLabs?

The right traffic will almost be able to predict what your landing page says because they’ll be expecting it. You’ll earn their trust and their conversions.


I can’t spell. I’ve also got really bad grammar skills. We joke that we should just make that a thing with KickoffLabs. Every page should contain at least one spelling and one grammar mistake. Done properly it may eventually be endearing… Or it could just cause more people to bounce without even trying our service.

Visitors are looking for any reason not to buy what you are selling and give you their personal information or credit card. Don’t give them ones that are easy to avoid. If you are like me, you should probably employ someone that can actually speak proper English (or language of your choice) to review every written word you produce. There are also a lot of great proofreading services out there including:


The quality of copy on your landing page goes well beyond the grammar and spelling. The copy needs to quickly communicate to the visitor that:

  1. You understand their problem.
  2. You have a solution that could be used to solve it.
  3. They need to just take the following next step.

If a visitor fails out at any of these checkpoints, they are going to bounce before they go any further.


Any distracting elements can reduce the credibility of your site, which causes visitors to search for the nearest exit. Most common problems involve issues of legibility. For example, red cursive text on a black background will not read well, and certain kinds of fonts are also difficult to read. People scan content quickly online, so they will not want to work just to read lines of text.


A poor or unpolished visual design can distract visitors to your site, but it can also reduce the amount of time the person is willing to look at the page for purely aesthetic reasons.

We like to look at attractive things, and Web pages are no different from any other object. Attractive items will tend to keep viewers’ attention, and this is exactly what you want. Conversely, pages with bad design, few graphical elements and poor layout tend to provoke high bounce rates.

Now, this is not to say that good design will guarantee a great conversion rate. It doesn’t work that way. But I can say that poor designs will lower your conversion rate from your potential.


Ever traveled abroad and been approached by people on the street who introduce themselves with the phrase “My friend… my friend… ” followed by their pitch. Did it occur to you that they may have jumped the gun on the use of the word “Friend”? These are probably people you want to avoid when you are traveling in unfamiliar regions. The same is true for visitors to your landing page.

Within the first few seconds of arriving at a website, visitors will automatically scan for content and design elements that communicate:

• Credibility
• Safety

Many people focus on the overall content of the site to establish the reliability of the second item in the list above. The perceived safety of the site is related to the quality of the content and the appearance of the pages. If they communicate safety, the visitor will be encouraged to stay, explore and may even make a purchase.

If the visitor is not convinced that the site is credible, reliable and safe for any reason, they will bounce from the page within the first few seconds after arriving. The design of the landing page is critical to prevent this bounce rate from affecting your page rankings and future sales.


This falls under the concept of a poorly designed page, but I see it often enough that I need to call it out. People spend so much time curating stock art, background images, rotating sliders, thumbnails, and other images that steal attention.

When a landing page is filled with distracting images, it lowers the readability and therefore increases the bounce rate. Images are great, but should be combined with equally great copy that they reenforce with a visual.


Let’s say you’ve avoided all of the advice so far… you still have a chance to increase your bounce rate by making your primary call to action hard to find. Having a clear call to action means the visitor knows quickly what their next step should be and where it is on the page.

You can’t miss the call to action in the landing page of the competition ran by this awesome UK Price Comparison site, and KickoffLabs customer 🙂


It’s just rude on a first date to ask for someone’s mother’s maiden name, social security number, bank account, whether they prefer ice cream or frozen yogurt, which side of the bed they want to sleep on, etc.

Your landing page is no different. As a general rule, you should not be asking for information that you are NOT going to actually use to help the potential customer on the next step of their journey.

You don’t need five different ways to contact everyone, but if you are selling desserts… you may want to know their ice cream preference… as long as you are going to start using it to provide them with more personalized offers.

Now – that may not seem like much information… but when you consider the payoff… would you answer all those questions for 50 cents?


You’ve heard the phrase “mobile first” right? If you want to scare people away, just ignore that. Make your landing pages unresponsive so that people have to scroll, pinch, and zoom around to fill out your opt in forms. I’m sure that strategy will keep working for another five years.

Did you know that 45% of our landing page traffic comes from mobile devices? Yeah… neither did I until I looked at our customer numbers. That means that to keep people engaged you have to prepare for that.


That’s a lot to take in. Here is a checklist of things to review on your landing pages…

  1. Landing pages load under 2 seconds.
  2. You don’t bombard people with intrusive ads that distract from your primary call to action.
  3. Your headlines match the advertisement that promoted the landing page.
  4. Visitors can quickly find what they are looking for.
  5. You sent the right people to your landing pages.
  6. Spelling and grammar have been checked out.
  7. The content provided is high quality.
  8. The text is clearly readable across devices.
  9. The page isn’t so ugly it erodes trust. Ideally it’s well designed.
  10. The images don’t distract from the call to action.
  11. You avoid creating that icky “I’m being scammed” feeling.
  12. You have a clear next step for the visitor that doesn’t make them choose.
  13. You avoid asking for too much information that you aren’t going to use right away.
  14. Make sure you are ready for the “mobile first” world.

Think of each landing page as a social contact. You want to avoid certain behaviors all of the time, but this is especially important when constructing a landing page because this is where you create a first impression that will encourage the visitor to get to know you better.

One of the biggest problem I see on landing pages today is that the person publishing them looks for ways to cram more “stuff” on the page that isn’t helping with the conversion. Long form landing pages are great… but the focus of those pages is on the text copy and NOT:

  • Fancy sliders with lots of images
  • A huge navigation menu that links everything to your main site
  • Pop-up polls
  • SEO keyword stuffing
  • Advertisements and secondary promotions
  • Chat windows
  • Click to call buttons (that aren’t primary calls to action)
  • Fancy pants animations
  • Social buttons and demands to “like us” before they even know what you are all about.

Simple page layouts can communicate a lot of information in a short period of time. Part of the process of simplification should involve removing all of the crap I mentioned above. This reduces the clutter, and it will make your text blocks easy to read.

Focus on what you really want the visitor to do on your landing page. Make sure all the copy, images, and call to action buttons are gently nudging people in that direction. Visitors will scan your landing page quickly to see if you have what they came to your site to find.

You need to make sure that they can find whatever they need quickly. By doing this, you may also be able to convince them to opt-in, pay up, or click through to the next page in your sales funnel.

Chris Corey CMO MarketHive

Series B – Say What!?

"Series B – Say What!?"

I hate it when people assume I know something I could easily understand if they'd just get out of their own little world and get into mine. Such an instance occurred just a few days ago with this article which discussed the new buzzword, 'market network'. 

Notice that at the end of the very first sentence you see the phrase, "…HoneyBook announced a $22 million Series B*.

My very first reaction to that was, "Whaaat??!!" But as I read through the article I sort of got the general idea of what they were talking about…"Series B"….yeah, sure. Like…money and investiing and stuff. But frankly I don't like it when writers use terms that their readers probably aren't familiar with. It's very frustrating to people who actually read. NB: Some people talk that way too… but that's another article. 

It's frustrating because written communication doesn't have the benefit of the spoken word and face to face contact….i.e. visual signaling through eye contact, body language, and trial closes. For that reason, a writer who wants people to understand and appreciate what they're writing will seldom, if ever, use terms the reader isn't likely to know.

As the inquisitive guy I am, I did some research on the term Series B. That term simply refers to one of the earlier stages in the equity funding of a company (NB: "equities" usually refers to stock ownership, i.e. ownership interests or positions in a business entity).

Here is an informative page with some text which explains what Series B means and also has a very short video explaining the term. If you're a Markethive community member you would be wise to have an interest in such things because we´´ might be closer than most of us realize to being involved in such a thing…i.e. we might be doing our own Series B in the near future.

Another item from the article that I thought worthy of reiteration and illustration is the following diagram:

It thought it would be worthwhile to remind readers that the green circle is a type of site that most of us are already very familiar with. The green circle is social sites like Facebook. Our fearless leader, Tom Prendergast, CEO of Markethive, has recently pointed out something that many us already knew, i.e. the world doesn't need another Facebook. The majority of content on Facebook and similar sites is worthless drama, meaningless sabre-rattling and posturing, pontificating, and bullshit. The world really doesn't need any more time-wasters like Facebook.

The other type of site, the 'marketplace' type of site on the left side of the diagram, is a more recent development on in the internet environment. We know those too. They are sites like AliBaba, Amazon, and Etsy, and other, where vendors sell stuff. People go to these sites because they have a regard for the quality and/or service they get there.

The third circle, the blue one, is represented by a term that few people outside certain niches of the internet know… "SaaS" or 'Software as a Service'. This is simply a useful functionality of some sort which you use via your computer. The difference is that the software that makes it happen isn't on your computer. It's somewhere else.

What is unique about 'market networks', as represented by the confluence of these three circles, is that it uses SaaS to facilitate the connection between the networks of people (i.e. the consumers) to the marketplaces that have something they're looking for.  

The market network also removes most of the burden of traffic generation from the vendors on the marketplace too. Traffic that they have previously had to acquire on their own, by more circuitous and laborious means, is now facilitated by the interconnection with the 'networks'.

For example, eBay, Amazon, and AliBaba sellers previously had to hustle to get attention to their 'stalls' in their respective marketplace. As I understand, on a market network site, the presumption is that their value proposition will be a bit more apparent and they will be able to focus more on their own quality and service and less on 'getting traffic' with the presumption that the consumer, i.e. the average dudes from the green circle, will have a better buying experience.

In my view, the most unique factor in this new marketplace paradigm is the software itself and the design elements of the systems themselves. Conceivably there could be some differences between various market networks relative to what product or service they actually deliver, i.e. consumer goods vs. travel services vs. financial services, etc.

One this is certain: People or organizations who can figure out and actualize these ideas will make a lot of money. In fact, considering that the term itself is brand-new, it might even be that there are some entities on the internet that are closer to already being a functional market network that even they themselves realize (Markethive.com?)

It's even conceivable that there could be market networks specifically for home based business opportunities…. keeping in mind that it is no longer true that a legitimate business has to even have a centralized geo-presence anywhere. It doesn't.

So, we see how the face of business is changing as the ways that buyers and sellers connect with each other. The internet has made this possible. Basic fundamentals indeed are changing and this is a good time for entrepreneurs who see it for what it is and/or are interested in pushing boundaries.

And it's also easy to see that these changes are probably pretty scary to established players who aren't very excited about having to go back to work to reinvent their business model.

To project a bit further into the future, just imagine what a new definition of 'money' itself will do the nature of entrepreneurship, business, and society. I'm referring of course to cyber currency.

If you're a home based business entrepreneur you will recall that over the last few years there have been several cyber currency scams in the MLM niche. All of them have gone down in flames. People apparently really 'ate it up' what they were offering.

I was one who wrote in several articles (with a previous employer) that I would never consider any cybercurrency centric MLM opportunity. But what would happen if somebody was able to really pull it all together, do it correctly and legally, and make the idea of cyber currency work in a Denentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) encompassing Market Networks?

Depending on your perspective, these ideas are either fascinating and exciting or scary and foreboding.

The Future Of The Web In The Next 2-3 Years

Market networks bring businesses into the “enabling economy”

At SXSW I became aware of a new marketing trend called “market networks.” This new business model of an “enabling economy” seems to coming of age and I thought I would explore the idea.

Market networks represent a different way to do business compared to sites like Air BNB or Uber that simply aggregate demand. In that model, neither the seller nor the customer matter. An Uber driver doesn’t know the customer and the customer doesn’t know the driver. They may never connect again.

But what if the service provider and client DO matter? What if you want to do business with a very specific person?

Jonothan Yoffe, the founder of AnyRoad described how he got the idea for his travel-related market network. He paid $2,000 for a guided trip to hike up Mount Kilimanjaro. The guide he used was experienced and hard-working but only received $5 out of the $2,000 he paid for the trip.

Where did all the rest of that money go?

Marketing, service, insurance … sure. But the fact is, somebody other than the guide was profiting from the trek. It occurred to him that if you could aggregate all the fragmented professional services needed to run a business like this you could simplify the transaction and put more power (and profit) in the hands of small service providers.

Opportunities for these market networks exist wherever there are groups of service professionals supporting an industry vertical. Organizing this way could have a significant impact on how millions of people work and live, and how hundreds of millions buy services.

The key attributes of these companies:

  • Combine the main elements of both networks and marketplaces
  • Use SaaS workflow software to focus action around longer-term projects and relationships, not just a quick transaction (like Uber)
  • Promote the service provider as a differentiated individual, helping to build long-term business benefits
  • A market network elevates the person, their reputation, their value.
  • Transaction fees are usually lowered and legal contracts are simplified
  • Market networks have stronger retention and engagement than marketplaces

The AngelList (start-ups), Houzz (decorating), LiquidSpace (office space), andStyleSeat (salon services) are pioneering examples of successful market networks. Here are a few stories I heard at SXSW about how these market networks are operating.


StyleSeat is a beauty start-up in Silicon Valley. In the salon business, much of the profit will drain away from a hair stylist to pay fees, rent on a shared space, marketing, advertising, etc. By aggregating these services to help individual stylists, StyleSeat can direct more customers and profits their way.

Already 400,000 stylists have signed up and 10 million clients use the service every month. The start-up has succeeded entirely by word-of-mouth success.


As I mentioned, AnyRoad aggregates services for small businesses in the tourism industry. So many small business owners lose out because they don’t know how to efficiently do marketing, SEO, customer service, etc. Creating a market network to aggregate these services greatly simplifies their workflow, and they can run their business from a smartphone app provided by AnyRoad.

AnyRoad is experiencing tremendous growth because they found that the “nodes” in their network started expanding the network as the tour guides connected to the concierges and agencies that generate their business.

On average, their customers are growing their business by 30 percent in the first month through access to new customers and markets.


Liquidspace is a market network for working space. The founder, Mark Gilbreath, discovered that leasing office space was generally an inflexible and complicated business.

The traditional real estate model does not work for most new businesses – a start-up might need space for days, then a month, and eventually a year or more to adjust to the dynamics in their business.

LiquidSpace rapidly signed up 50,000 companies in 800 cities and 5,000 venues as a marketplace for office space. One particular creative solution is to connect to hotels to lease unused rooms and meeting areas for temporary business space.

The company also offers a service to alert businesses when property in a certain area becomes available to most effectively connect supply and demand. You can also rent space in a very efficient way by implementing pre-negotiated, standard legal contracts.

Who loses

With any disruptive idea, not every company will benefit from this trend. Here are the types of companies that could lose:

  • Those who collect fees as an intermediary
  • Capitalists investing in brick and mortar services
  • Marketplaces that are not providing value to the vendors, who are simply aggregating demand.

These market network business have the potential to disrupt traditional markets by doing something in an entirely new way.  They are unburdened by the traditional confines of an industry and provide a value that is different from, and maybe even better than, the standard way.  This new way might not be cheaper, but it is more flexible and immediate – for the user and the providers.

What are your thoughts?

This post was originally written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell’s thought leadership site dell.com/futurereadyDell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies

Chris Corey CMO MarketHive

Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Simon Cockell

Written by: Mark W Schaefer

The Importance Of The Leader Of A Global Team

The Leader

In our final part of the Cornell Study on global team trends, we look into the person who makes the virtual team successful – the leader.


Traditionally, leaders have been at the center of a community, be it work, church, or social groups. In these communities, face-to-face meetings and close personal interaction have dominated the way leaders interact with their members. However, with the advent of the internet and the host of communication tools that followed, teams today are becoming increasingly dispersed and diverse. Studies are now being done to understand how leadership has or should evolve in order to meet the changing needs and demands of these new and different communities.


When a new virtual team is created, it typically begins as nothing more than a collection of

individuals. The leader’s role from the start is to develop these individuals into a coherent and well integrated work unit that provides the capability for the team to self manage itself. To achieve this, leaders must create a team orientation, which includes motivational and team bonding factors such as establishing a common goal, creating ground rules and shaping perceptions.


Challenges for a Virtual Leader


  1. Lack of Trust. Team members are likely to share less about themselves through electronic channels. The more personal the information, the more likely they are to share it through only face-to-face channels. This is because people seek out the non-verbal cues that are associated with in-person communication. These losses also complicate the rebuilding of trust. Leaders that incorporate a significant “getting to know you” component and, if possible, a face-to-meeting, can also help establish swift trust by connecting everyone at the start of a project. When this isn’t possible, the incorporation of pictures and/or biographies can help (e.g. background, hobbies, childhood aspiration, greatest accomplishment).
  2. Increased Diversity. Virtual teams present greater complexity due to expanded geographies, time zones, cultures, languages, laws, regulations, and business processes. Different communication methods and project strategies may be required when working across geographical borders.
  3. Blurred Line between “Work” and “Life”. Having team members spread across time zones requires significant planning and may include early morning or late night conference calls. The leader needs to seek an optimum way of making sure work gets done without over-compromising on life outside of his work.


Competencies of a Virtual Leader


  1. Communication. Cultivating relationships is a top managerial competency. The ability to communicate effectively is a core competency for any leader, but especially critical for a virtual leader who is limited to communication through technology. Minute details such as frequency of communication and a leader’s responsiveness to problems is central to effective communication. Virtual leaders must also be able to provide crystal clear goals and objectives that their team members can understand. These will enhance individual self regulation and allow team members to monitor and evaluate their own performance on a regular basis. Providing such clarity is definitely more difficult in a virtual setting and thus a more significant challenge for virtual team leaders.
  2. Listener. Popular leaders are said to be good listeners, understanding and sensitive to schedules and team opinions. They have the ability to listen and hear what cannot be seen. This includes an acute awareness of the team, its overall mission, its strengths, weakness, and group dynamics. Not only do leaders need to have this awareness but they also need to create awareness in the team. A lack of awareness in virtual team members can lead to ineffective outcomes and a loss of group synergies. Virtual leaders must be able to carefully assess group dynamics and make management adjustments based on observation, listening and regular assessment of group dynamics. This process is once again made challenging through the need to gather the information through limited virtual communication tools.
  3. Tech-savvy. An effective virtual leader needs to be able to utilize the latest technology available, and, when necessary, to educate the team on their proper uses. Leadership in virtual teams is expressed through technology. Which tools a leaders chooses to use will have a large impact on the team’s performance, team relationships, and team efficiency.
  4. Open-minded. Open-mindedness, flexibility, interest in and sensitivity toward other cultures, ability to deal with complexity, resilience, optimism, energy, and honesty are all  qualities that allow virtual leaders to continue to work well in complex and unique environments where change is constant and probably more common-place than for traditional co-located teams. Global leaders must be able to deal with such complexity and be prepared to make strategic decisions in constantly evolving environments.These characteristics also allows them to work in a variety of settings, with diverse types of people and with a willingness to listen to new ideas from their team members. Global leaders also need to display an interest and sensitivity in new cultures. A healthy curiosity about people, their lives and work that is void of judgment will allow them to be empathetic and get along well with others.
  5. International. A global leader that has substantial experience in multiple countries and cultures during the early stages of their career will be able to relate much better to their team members that are geographically diver.

Chris Corey CMO MarketHive


Leading A Global Team

Global Teams 

We explore the ways to build teams that are scattered across the globe.


While virtual teams have many advantages, they frequently struggle to establish a strong sense of trust between individuals and to communicate effectively. Here are some suggestions to build virtual teams that will maximize the benefits of being virtual:


  1. Build Trust. Creating trust within a team is traditionally done through face-to-face interactions among team members. If possible, it is also encouraged for a virtual team to at least have one such in-person interaction. These are important not just to introduce one another, but because they can accelerate the creation of “swift trust”. If established, swift trust can significantly benefit the group so that virtual meetings have more robust participation of team members and subsequent virtual meetings are more effective. Virtual teams that experience high levels of trust between team members often have improved team member awareness and experience improved project outcomes.
  2. Establish Rules. Established norms, such as the number of emails sent to other team members in a given time period, dictates how the virtual team functions. Well-established norms are crucial to virtual team efficiency and success. This is because norms and structure give team members a framework in which to work with others which would otherwise be missing in a virtual setting. Establishing team meeting ground rules before virtual team tasks have been administered has been shown to mitigate many problems and misunderstandings between team members. These rules include: fixing regular video call meetings, circulating agendas in advance of meetings, respecting time differences and cultural differences of all team members, discussing language abilities and communicating the importance of attendance during meetings.
  3. Undergo Training.  Communication tools are especially important in virtual teams. Virtual team members need to be familiar with how to use technology and the appropriate etiquette for virtual interaction to ensure a positive team working environment. Without verbal or physical cues, communication and comprehension can often be difficult for team members. Learning to express personal emotions and comprehend others’ emotions virtually takes time. Cultural differences can also exacerbate these challenges through misinterpretation and miscommunication. These factors should be considered when constructing and managing virtual teams. Providing a learning webpage for new virtual leaders to share knowledge with veterans in real-time is one way to continuously share the knowledge. For example, at NASA, project managers have access to a “lessons learned” repository, where virtual team leaders can ask questions and get help from other virtual team leaders, creating an active knowledge center to improve leadership and facilitation practices. Organizations should also consider investing in new technologies that can potentially ease the process of collaborating with team members virtually.
  4. Lead Actively. At American Express, the belief among senior leaders is that “promoting and supporting” virtual teams must come from the top. Leaders should play a proactive role in leading the team by adjusting to the unique needs of individuals. Leaders of virtual teams should assign tasks that will lead to the strengthening of relationships between members. One most common example is creating situations where one team member approaches another member for assistance on a specific task. Ensuring time is allotted for teams to interact in this manner encourages stronger interpersonal relationships and more effective virtual teams. Effective team leaders also need to prompt participants to contribute to the conversation during virtual update meetings, which usually takes more effort than at in-person meetings. This can indirectly help to develop trust within the team because team members can see the interdependencies among their contributions and the impact of their contributions on the project outcome.

Chris Corey CMO MarketHive


Read our other blogs on this study:

Part 1: Virtual Communications in Global Teams

Part 2: Building Teams from a Distance

Part 3: Virtual Leadership



Cornell University Study on Global Teams

Virtual Communication in Global Teams


Virtual Communication in Global Teams – a Cornell Study (Part 1)

In recent years, many companies have increasingly turned to virtual teams as a means of connecting and engaging geographically dispersed workers, maximizing the reach to global talent, lowering the costs associated with global collaboration, and enabling greater speed and adaptability. These teams have shifted the way in which organizations traditionally form, manage and evaluate team performance. Virtual teams, although offering many benefits, also pose a number of challenges. Developing effective global leaders to lead these virtual teams is also a relatively new experience that organizations are only starting to figure out.

In response to these challenges, a team from Cornell University’s Centre for Advanced Human Resource Studies conducted this research to study companies either currently utilizing global virtual teams or considering  adoption of virtual teams.


We compile this study into a three-part blog that covers the topics of virtual communication, building teams from a distance, and virtual team leadership respectively.


Part 1: Virtual Communications in Global Teams

Part 2: Building Teams from a Distance

Part 3: Virtual Leadership


As technology has evolved, time and distance barriers have dissolved, allowing for access to experts worldwide. Most businesses or organizations today will be exposed to some form of virtual communication. Although virtual communication offers many advantages, it is not without challenges.


Advantages of Face-to-Face Communication


  1. Facilitates the transfer of tacit knowledge. This refers to knowledge that is not written or definable, but gained through experience. For example, when communicating face-to-face, the speaker can draw on visual cues from the audience such as crossed arms or frowns to gain quick, immediate feedback and make rapid adjustments as necessary to maintain the connection.
  2. Builds trust. Visual cues and social presence in face-to-face communication also enable people to learn more easily about one another’s background, skills, preferences and experiences. These contribute to the building of trust between team members. Virtual team members, on the other hand, often incorrectly assume others’ intentions when they do not respond to emails or misinterpret the meaning and emotion of written language, which could be amplified in virtual teams that are made up of people of multiple different cultures and backgrounds.
  3. No need to deal with time zone differences. These can be a pain when trying to schedule a meeting with many members across multiple time zones.
  4. Sends a message of importance to recipients.



Disadvantages of Face-to-Face Communication


  1. Power differences are salient. A leader is obvious in a face-to-face setting, and team members automatically back down when they hear (see) a leader speaking.
  2. Heterogenous expression is discouraged. In addition to power differences, research suggests that minority expression is also lower in face-to-face groups. There is a natural tendency for face-to-face meetings to inhibit trust and create unequal participation among members.
  3. Cost of meetings can be exorbitant. Facilitating face-to-face contact between co-workers or with clients can often be unrealistic, as business travel is too costly.
  4. Unintended discrimination against physically disadvantaged workers. Physically disadvantaged employees have greater access to the virtual environment than the physical workspace. They will be critical in creating teams that are more diverse in makeup and thus fostering greater creativity and innovation.
  5. Reduced access to experts due to the above reasons.



Strategies to make virtual communication more effective


  1. Set ground rules. These include rules for communication frequency, extent of feedback, technology usage and knowledge access. Predictable and timely responses between members lead to greater levels of trust in a virtual team. Make sure you do this right from Day 1.
  2. Fix regular meetings. Set times for regular team meetings as well as individual accessibility by phone or email, so no one feels like anyone is “missing” from the team.
  3. Create a shared database. Members should also rely on a common database to store and share knowledge.
  4. Meet face-to-face if possible. At some point (preferably early on), arrange for an in-person meeting for your team members. This helps to increase trust, help members form better relationships with one another, and increase perceptions of reciprocity, quality, loyalty.  Since these these face-to-face meetings are solely to build relationships and not to complete any work tasks, they should focus on relationship building, setting ground rules for effective teamwork, resolving conflict and technology use.
  5. Set clear goals. Virtual team leaders need to place a high emphasis on establishing a clear vision for the team, so that members can have a clear direction wherever they are working from. Virtual team members should also strive to “take a systems view” in understanding how their role coordinates with the rest of the organization.
  6. Arrange for training. Virtual teams members should be trained to use the required software, manage a virtual environment and respect cultural differences.

Recognize different needs. Virtual leaders, in particular, need to acknowledge that the mode of communication often depends on the nature of the task being performed. Face-to-face communication can be more effective than virtual communication for certain tasks, while the reverse can be true for other tasks. Face-to-face communication more appropriate for ambiguous or unstructured tasks, such as designing strategy, making difficult decisions, resolving conflicts, or negotiating with another party.  It is also more appropriate when working with external clients or customers. On the other hand, virtual communication may be more suitable for structured, non-immediate or passive tasks such as routine analyses or monitoring the status of a project.

Chris Corey CMO MarketHive



Cornell University Study on Global Teams


Tagged as: communicationCornellface-to-faceGlobalteamstrends,virtual



There Is No Such Thing As Flexible Work

Technology was meant to herald a new way of working anytime, anywhere – but that’s not the case.

Original article by Georgina Kenyon

We didn’t get the flying cars or the self-lacing shoes. But we did get the work world of the future – you know, the one where the internet allows us to work anytime, anywhere, resulting in the death of the 9-to-5 life.

Our ability to trust each other has not advanced in parallel with the technology we have created

Oh, wait. As more and more companies promise flexibility, the reality, it turns out, is pretty far from the culture we dreamed of.

For almost all of us, flexible work really means working a few hours each side of the core workday of 09:00 and 17:00. And, if you think about it, that makes sense, because many businesses still run within those core hours when markets are open, banks process deposits and payments and daylight makes it easier for tradespeople to do their jobs, for example.


(Credit: iStock)

Flexible hours have made working from home possible for many – but how many people actually make the most of it? (Credit: iStock)

But while digital technology has enabled a very small degree of flexibility around the regular working day for some, there have been unseen and sometimes unsettling repercussions for employees and employers. For instance, experts say that always emailing your staff and colleagues, even though they sit a metre from you, has had a hidden, but very real impact on morale and trust.

That, in turn, has made truly flexible work nearly impossible for most of us.“There can be a dark side of innovation, and unintended consequences of some organisational innovations,” says Almudena Cañibano, lecturer in human resource management at ESCP Europe, a business school in Madrid, Spain.

No matter how much a work rock star you might be, your manager does not trust you

Our ability to trust each other has not advanced in parallel with the technology we have created. And therein lies one of the real reasons flexible work is little more than a catch phrase. No matter how much a work rock star you might be, your manager does not trust you. Your colleagues do not trust your manager. And, truth be told, you probably don’t trust most of your colleagues or your boss, either.

Trust and the digital age

For Rachel Botsman, a visiting economics lecturer at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, it’s simple: “Institutional trust isn’t designed for the digital age.”


(Credit: Alamy)

Technology has let us work anywhere, anytime – but trust issues can get in the way (Credit: Alamy)


That’s also the case for the trust people have towards colleagues, within organisations. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, we’re also less able to understand or make room to consider each person as, well, a person.

"The digital age… has resulted in an ‘assault on empathy’, that makes us less able to appreciate the situation of another person,” writes Sherry Turkle, director of the Initiative on Technology and Self at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A lack of trust brings about fear, which goes a long way to explaining why we put in face time, even when we probably don’t need to

In other words, the propensity for email, texting and quick-type apps has led us to forget some of our people skills, including distinguishing the nuances of language and meaning, fostering of a feeling of belonging among groups of people, and knowing our bosses and colleagues well enough to have confidence that others will pull their weight. That, in turn, has diminished implicit and earned trust among the people we work with.


(Credit: Alamy)

Technology has disrupted the workplace – and not always for the better (Credit: Alamy)


That lack of trust brings about fear, which goes a long way to explaining why we put in face time, even when we probably don’t need to in order to do our work well. It also can explains why we feel we’ve got to have our “butt in the seat” even if our work could truly be done from the corner café or the back garden.

Mother, may I?

Phyllis Moen, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota in the US, calls this the ‘mother, may I’ problem. It’s when we feel fearful of asking our managers if we can work from home or work altered hours if, say, we need to help a relative or attend a series of medical appointments or simply want to work during hours we’re feeling more productive or efficient.


(Credit: Alamy)

While it is technically possible for many to work odd hours, the majority of us only need flexibility a couple of hours either side of the typical 9-to-5 day (Credit: Alamy)


Some workplace psychologists take it a step further, saying that modern technology is a way for employers to constantly keep surveillance over their staff. In turn, people are increasingly suffering from the impacts of feeling watched, even when they are allowed to work remotely. The Future Work Centre in London released findings earlier this year that showed the emotional reactions we have to constantly being connected to our work causes “a toxic source of stress.”

As a result, we often start thinking up more ‘creative’ ways of excusing ourselves to create flexibility.

What next

There’s also the worry that flexible work options may actually get more limited as automation and advances in information technology now threaten many traditional white-collar jobs, such as accounting and law.  And that’s led to a feeling of insecurity that keeps people in their seats, playing out face time for the boss, and avoiding flexible options when they are available.

As a result of job insecurity, even when flexible work options are offered in a workplace, employees do not always take them up

One report from the World Economic Forum examines how, just as technology made manufacturing largely automated, now white-collar jobs will be automated (for example, when selling a house, the seller will fill in all the required information for an 'online solicitor').

As a result of job insecurity, even when flexible work options are offered in a workplace, employees do not always take them up. Being present it seems in the workplace, seems the most secure option for most.


(Credit: Getty Images)

As automation threatens more jobs, it may seem more important to be present in the office (Credit: Getty Images)


But, that could be counterproductive for employers. The more control that we have over our time – of when and where we work – the more job satisfaction increases, says Moen. The University of Warwick in the UK found that being happy at work makes people, on average, 12% more productive. In the paper, the researchers found that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which people work without sacrificing quality.

In reality, for some of us, the flexibility of a few hours outside of core hours actually turns out to be enough to improve quality of life. 

In Spain, Iberdrola, one of the country’s largest utilities companies, decided a few years ago to allow its employees to choose working 08:00 to 15:00 with no lunch break – a major change in a country where most people work 09:00 to 19:00 with a two-hour lunch break. The company reported employee satisfaction levels increased as a result and lower turnover (90% of the workforce has been with the company for more than five years).

Changing habits

How do you change a workplace culture? Bring in blanket company rules, say some experts, making benefits universal to all staff if possible. Financial company Moody’s instituted a policy that women returning from maternity leave do not have to fulfil the usual 'billable hours' for several months. “Middle ranking managers can also help introduce flexible and healthy workplaces by getting rid of low value work – like meetings every Monday with no agenda,” says Moen.

“It’s said that to understand something you should try to change it. We are trying to redesign working conditions, giving employees greater flexibility and control over their time with more supportive supervisors,” says Moen.

But, maybe like flying cars in the film Back to the Future, truly flexible work wasn’t ever really going to happen.

If you believe that my message is worth spreading, please use the share buttons if they show on this page.

Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive


Free SEO Tools for Merchants

Free SEO Tools for Merchants

To optimize your website for search engines, you need a variety of tools to monitor performance and discover opportunities. Fortunately, many of those tools are free.

Here is a list of free search-engine-optimization tools. There are tools for keyword analysis, link checking and building, site testing, competitive review, and more. All of these tools are free, though some offer additional premium features.

Free SEO Tools

Varvy SEO Tool. The most basic step of SEO is to follow the Google guidelines. This tool checks if your site follows the guidelines and offers fixes.

Browseo. Browseo is a tool for browsing pages through the eyes of a search engine. View your web page without the distractions caused by style. It also highlights the parts of a page that are relevant for SEO and provides a spreadsheet download of your session.

Google Keyword Planner. Google Keyword Planner is an essential tool to discover search query volume estimates. Get historical statistics, see how a list of keywords might perform, and create new keyword lists by merging several lists of keywords together.

Übersuggest. Übersuggest is a research tool to quickly find new keywords not available in the Google Keyword Planner. Copy and paste your keywords in a spreadsheet or download them as a CSV file.

Search Latte. Search Latte is a tool to build international Google searches. Enter your keyword, then enter any combination of top-level domain, country, and language.

SEO Spider. The Screaming Frog SEO Spider allows you to quickly crawl, analyze, and audit a site from an onsite SEO perspective. View, analyze, and filter the crawl data as it’s gathered and updated continuously.

SEOCentro. SEOCentro provides a variety of SEO tools to monitor your site’s performance, including SEO analyzer, meta tag analyzer, rank checker, keyword analyzer, and social media shares.

Check My Links. Check My Links is a Chrome extension that quickly finds all the links on a web page, and checks each one for you. It highlights which ones are valid and which ones are broken.

GTmetrix. Determine the speed of your site with a tool that actually loads it. Get load time, page size, total requests, playback, and more. Monitor your pages set alerts and get actionable recommendations. Monitor up to three URLs with a free basic account. Pro plans start at $14.95 per month.

Map Broker XML Sitemap Validator. Here is a free tool that verifies if you have a valid sitemap and checks if the links in your sitemap work.

Open SEO Stats. This is a Chrome extension to access the Google PageRank, Alexa Rank, Compete Rank, and Quantcast Rank of the current web page, in addition to getting info on backlinks, indexed pages, cached pages, socials, Whois, Geo IP location, and more.

Link Prospecting Query Builder. Enter a keyword, and select the link type you want to prospect. The tool will render a search list for your favorite link prospecting tool.

Google Analytics Referrer Spam Killer. This is a free tool to keep your Google Analytics data and statistics as clean as possible by filtering out spammy referrer domains.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test. This test analyzes a URL and reports if the page has a mobile-friendly design. Make sure your site is not penalized because it’s not mobile friendly.

Zadro Web SEO Auditor. This tool provides a variety of helpful facts and metrics, including Google page speed and PageRank, page authority and domain authority from Moz, your top ten keywords by SEMrush, social links, and more.

SEO Book Tools. SEO Book offers a variety of free SEO tools as web apps and browser extensions — including keyword suggestions, meta tag generator, link suggestions tool, spider test tool, and typo generator.

Seoptimer. Seoptimer is a daily use tool to get a quick look at over 20 SEO factors on your website.

SEOquake. SEOquake is for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera browsers. Get a site’s information on a wide range of parameters such as PageRank, Google index, Alexa ranking, keyword density, and more. Get the values of the parameters under each search result of Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, and Baidu.

SEO Chat Suggestion Keyword Finder. Here is a keyword generator that provides multiple levels of suggestions related to your original keyword.

SEMrush. SEMrush’s free tools provide insights into a site’s performance, including organic and paid search, backlinks, top organic keywords, organic competitors, and competitive positioning. The Basic plan is free. The Pro plan is $69.95 per month.

Moz Open Site Explorer. This free tool from Moz allows you to gauge a site’s influence. See inbound links to the page, subdomain, or root domain you’ve entered, and then analyze the linking pages.

Google PageSpeed Insights. PageSpeed Insights analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster.

LinkMiner. This Chrome extension checks web pages for broken links and pulls metrics on those links. Get link and social data on any URL on a page, display link data next to each link, and export link data.

Google Disavow Tool. If you believe your site’s ranking is being harmed by low-quality links you don’t control, ask Google to ignore them when assessing your site.

Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin. Yoast SEO is a plugin for WordPress.org users. It incorporates everything from a snippet editor and real-time page analysis that helps you optimize your page content, meta descriptions, sitemaps, and more. Basic is free. Premium is $69.

Panguin Tool. Here is a tool to monitor your rankings when Google changes its search algorithms.

Chuck Reynolds

Search Engine Optimization Toolkit

Search Engine Optimization Toolkit



The IIS Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Toolkit helps Web developers, hosting providers, and Web server administrators to improve their Web site’s relevance in search results by recommending how to make the site content more search engine-friendly. The IIS SEO Toolkit includes the Site Analysis module, the Robots Exclusion module, and the Sitemaps and Site Indexes module, which let you perform detailed analysis and offer recommendations and editing tools for managing your Robots and Sitemaps files.




Improve the volume and quality of traffic to your Web site from search engines

The Site Analysis module allows users to analyze local and external Web sites with the purpose of optimizing the site's content, structure, and URLs for search engine crawlers. In addition, the Site Analysis module can be used to discover common problems in the site content that negatively affects the site visitor experience. The Site Analysis tool includes a large set of pre-built reports to analyze the sites compliance with SEO recommendations and to discover problems on the site, such as broken links, duplicate resources, or performance issues. The Site Analysis module also supports building custom queries against the data gathered during crawling.

Control how search engines access and display Web content

The Robots Exclusion module enables Web site owners to manage the robots.txt file from within the IIS Manager interface. This file is used to control the indexing of specified URLs, by disallowing search engine crawlers from accessing them. Users have the choice to view their sites using a physical or a logical hierarchal view; and from within that view, they can choose to disallow specific files or folders of the Web application. In addition, users can manually enter a path or modify a selected path, including wildcards. By using a graphical interface, users benefit from having a clear understanding of what sections of the Web site are disallowed and from avoiding any typing mistakes.

Inform search engines about locations that are available for indexing

The Sitemaps and Site Indexes module enables Web site owners to manage the sitemap files and sitemap indexes on the site, application, and folder level to help keep search engines up to date. The Sitemaps and Site Indexes module allows the most important URLs to be listed and ranked in the sitemap.xml file. In addition, the Sitemaps and Site Indexes module helps to ensure the Sitemap.xml file does not contain any broken links.




Site Analysis Features

  • Fully featured crawler engine
    • Configurable number of concurrent requests to allow users to crawl their Web site without incurring additional processing. This can be configured from 1 to 16 concurrent requests.
    • Support for Robots.txt, allowing you to customize the locations where the crawler should analyze and which locations should be ignored.
    • Support for Sitemap files allowing you to specify additional locations to be analyzed.
    • Support for overriding ‘noindex’ and ‘nofollow’ metatags to allow you to analyze pages to help improve customer experience even when search engines will not process them.
    • Configurable limits for analysis, maximum number of URLs to download, and maximum number of kilobytes to download per URL.
    • Configurable options for including content from only your directories or the entire site and sub domains.
  • View detailed summary of Web site analysis results through a rich dashboard
  • Feature rich Query Builder interface that allows you to build custom reports
  • Quick access to common tasks
  • Display of detailed information for each URL
  • View detailed route analysis showing unique routes to better understand the way search engines reach your content

Robots Exclusion Features

  • Display of robots content in a friendly user interface
  • Support for filtering, grouping, and sorting
  • Ability to add ‘disallow’ and ‘allow’ paths using a logical view of your Web site from the result of site analysis processing
  • Ability to add sitemap locations

Sitemap and Sitemap Index Features

  • Display of sitemaps and sitemap index files in a simple user interface
  • Support for grouping and sorting
  • Ability to add/edit/remove sitemap and sitemap index files
  • Ability to add new URL’s to sitemap and sitemap index files using a physical or logical view of your Web site
  • Ability to register a sitemap or sitemap index into the robots exclusion file

Chuck Reynolds


Ecosystem for all Entrepreneurs