The Quick & Easy Guide to Fixing HTTP Error 405 (Method Not Allowed)

In a world hooked on instant gratification, one of the worst things a brand can do is not give their audience what they want. If your website visitors see an error page when they’re looking for help or information to do their jobs better, they could get annoyed and lose trust in your brand, permanently damaging your reputation.

Unfortunately, 405 Method Not Allowed Errors are rather mysterious. They indicate what happened to your website, but they don’t tell you why it happened, making it challenging for you to pinpoint its cause and correct the issue.

To help you fix your 405 Method Not Allowed Error and avoid losing brand trust, we’ve fleshed out exactly what the issue is and its most common solutions.

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Image Credit: Testing Nook

Fortunately, there are three common and effective solutions for fixing most 405 Method Not Allowed Errors.

How to Fix 405 Method Not Allowed Errors

1. Comb through your website’s code to find bugs.

If there’s a mistake in your website’s code, your web server might not be able to correctly answer requests from a content delivery network. Comb through your code to find bugs or copy your code into a development machine. It’ll perform a thorough debug process that will simulate the exact situation your 405 Method Not Allowed Error occurred in and allow you to see the exact moment where things went wrong.

2. Sift through your server-side logs.

There are two types of server-side logs — applications logs and server logs. Application logs recount your website’s entire history, like the web pages requested by visitors and which servers it connected to. Server logs provide information about the hardware running your server, revealing details about its health and status. Sift through both types of server-side logs to uncover any alarming information about your server or website.

3. Check your server configuration files.

The last way to find out what’s causing your 405 Method Not Allowed Error is by taking a look at your web server’s configuration files. You can usually find instructions for solving unintentional redirects there.

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14 Copywriting Examples From Businesses With Incredible Copywriters

You all know the Old Spice guy, right?

The years-old “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign was memorable for many reasons, but one of them was that it gave Old Spice a voice — voice that came through in every video, commercial, tagline, Facebook update, tweet … you name it.

And do you know who is behind all of that marketing collateral?

Copywriters. The ability to find the exact right words to tell your company’s story isn’t an easy feat, and it’s even harder to do so consistently.

Download our free guide here for tips to become a better writer. 

So when we come across companies that are doing it successfully, we think their copywriters deserve a pat on the back (and a raise?). Take a look at some of the companies we think have stellar copywriting, and if you’re looking, maybe get some inspiration for your own brand, too.

1. UrbanDaddy

UrbanDaddy has mastered the art of getting me to open emails. And when I click into them, they don’t disappoint.

Below is the copy from an email they sent me with the subject line, “Fun.”

Example of copywriting in an email by UrbanDaddy

There are a couple things in this email that caught my eye.

First of all, there’s no long preamble. The writers get straight to the point — a wise choice for something as simple as a rubber band gun lest the reader feel cheated reading sentence after sentence for something so common.

Secondly, take a look at the purposeful sentence structure. This copywriter eschews conventional grammar rules by combining run-on sentences and traditional product promotion copy in sentences like:

Lock and load with Elastic Precision, a Kansas City-based workshop that manufactures high-powered weaponry except not at all because they actually just shoot rubber bands, now available online.”

Keep reading, and you see a conversational tone that mildly mocks the silliness of the product, but also loops the reader in on something kinda fun.

And then, of course, they close with badgers. And how can you go wrong with badgers?

Best of all, UrbanDaddy’s unique tone is found in every single piece of copy they publish — from emails, to homepage copy, even to their editorial policy:

UrbanDaddy editorial policy

This company clearly knows its audience, which jokes to crack, and has kept it consistent across all their assets.

2. Articulate

Articulate, a HubSpot Agency Partner based in the U.K., is an inbound marketing agency, and their website copy is full of witty, confident copy on pages where you wouldn’t think you’d find it. Here’s exhibit ‘A’:

Copywriting on Meet the Team page by ArticulateThe copy above introduces Articulate’s “Meet the Team” page — not a page you’d think can pull off witty copy, right? Well, Articulate’s page goes beyond employee photos and their job titles.

In addition to the playful header, “not the usual blah blah,” the copy above takes on a farm theme, assuring visitors that employees aren’t simply “caged hens.” Rather, they’re a “free-range, artisanal, cruelty-free team.” Funny on the surface, but helpful to job seekers who, much like food, want to know where their work comes from and how it’s made.

3. Moosejaw

Not many brands are brave enough to touch the products they’re selling with unconventional copy … but Moosejaw isn’t afraid to have a little fun.

The outdoor apparel outlet store uses humor as a way to sell their products without being overly forward about it. By appealing to people’s emotions, they’re more engaging and memorable.

Here are a few examples:

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Same goes for the call-to-action buttons that show up when you hover your mouse over a product photo — like this one, which reads, “Look This Cool.”

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Does their brand voice carry over to the product descriptions, you ask? See for yourself:

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If you think the brilliant copy stops at their homepage, think again. They extend it to their return policy, too. Here, they do a great job of not sacrificing clarity for humor. Their copywriters successfully made people laugh while still being helpful.

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4. First Round Capital

While a sign of great copywriting is making people smile, another is making people feel understood. The copywriters at First Round do a phenomenal job at letting the value of their offerings for their customers sell themselves.

For example, they hold over 80 events every year connecting their community together. Instead of just explaining that they have events and then listing them out, they begin that section of their website with a simple statement that hits close to home with many entrepreneurs: “Starting a company is lonely.”

Copywriting example by First Round Capital

Using words like “imperfect,” “safety net,” and “vulnerable” encourages readers to let their guards down and feel understood by the brand and their community.

Plus, you’ve gotta love that last line about stick-on name tags. Those things get stuck in my hair.

5. Trello

Do you know what Trello is? If the answer is no, then behold the copywriting on their website. Their product description — like most of the copy on their site — is crystal clear:

trellohomepage

And then check out how clear this explainer content is:

Trello Basics

Some of the use case clarity can be attributed to how smart the product is, but I think copywriters deserve some credit for communicating it clearly, too. They call it like it is, which ultimately makes it really easy to grasp.

And I couldn’t write about the copywriting talent at Trello without including the clever references in the microcopy of their login page:

Clever copy on login page of Trello trello-login-dana-1.png

Each time you refresh the login page, you see a different, equally clever example email belonging to a fictional character, like Ender from Ender’s Game and Dana Scully from The X-Files — a great example of nostalgia marketing. This is a small detail, but nonetheless a reminder that there are real humans behind the website and product’s design. Delightful microcopy like this kinda feels like I just shared a private joke with someone at the company.

6. Velocity Partners

No post from me about excellent copywriting would be complete without mentioning the folks at Velocity Partners. A B2B marketing agency out of the U.K., we’ve featured co-founder Doug Kessler’s SlideShares (like this one on why marketers need to rise above the deluge of “crappy” content) time and again on this blog because he’s the master of word economy.

What is “word economy”? It’s taking care that every word you use is the right word. It means getting your point across concisely and not dwelling on the details when you don’t have to. In a world of shortening attention spans, this is the ultimate goal when communicating your message.

And since we’re talking about word economy, I’ll shut up and let you check out one of Kessler’s SlideShares for yourself:

Whereas SlideShares are typically visual, Kessler’s is heavily focused on copy: The design stays constant, and only the text changes. But the copy is engaging and compelling enough for him to pull that off. Why? Because he uses simple words so his readers understand what he’s trying to say without any effort. He writes like he speaks, and it reads like a story, making it easy to flip through in SlideShare form.

The copy on Velocity Partners’ homepage stood out to me, too. Check out, for example, how humble they are when introducing their case studies:

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I also like how casual and honest they kept their email subscription call-to-action. The header is especially eye-catching — and it plays off of the popular SlideShare about crappy content we mentioned earlier.

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In fact, Velocity Partners’ Harendra Kapur recently wrote a blog post on what goes in to great B2B writing — starting with this disclaimer, of course.

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7. Intrepid Travel

The copywriters at Intrepid Travel, a Melbourne-based adventure travel company, are on this list because they’re at the intersection of interesting and informational.

I love seeing copy that is totally and utterly functional — that delivers critical information, but is so pleasant to read that you actually keep reading. Quite a feat on the internet these days.

Take a look at their company description, package names, and package descriptions below for some examples of this fantastically functional copywriting in action:

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Of course, they do benefit from quite a lovely subject matter, but still — hats off you to, Intrepid Travel.

8. Cultivated Wit

The copywriters over at the “comedy company” Cultivated Wit do a great job of embracing their own brand of quirk throughout their site. They already have one of the best “About” pages in the game, but their delightful copy is spread throughout their site — sometimes in the most unexpected of places.

For example, take a look at the copy around contact information at the very bottom of their homepage:

cultivated-wit-contact-us.png

This section of the homepage is an afterthought at best for most companies. But for these folks, it was an opportunity to have a little fun.

They also have two, unique email subscription calls-to-action on different pages of their website. They’re very different, but both equally funny and delightful. Here’s one from the homepage:

cultivated-wit-homepage-copy.png

And one from the “About” page:

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9. Cards Against Humanity

You may or may not be familiar with Cards Against Humanity, the self-declared “party game for horrible people.” It’s a card game — one that’s simultaneously entertaining and inappropriate. The copywriting on the cards themselves are guaranteed to make you laugh.

The brand voice is very distinctive, and can seem a little abrasive, and even a little offensive. But that’s their whole shtick: They’re not trying to appeal to everyone, and that’s perfectly okay. What they do do a great job of doing is appealing to their target audience.

One look at their FAQ page and you’ll see what I mean:

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Here’s a sneak peek into some of the answers to these questions. You’ll see they make fun of both themselves and the reader — which is exactly what the card game is about.

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10. R/GA

With the exception or UrbanDaddy, I’ve been focusing a lot on site copy so far, so I wanted to check out some examples of excellent social media copywriting.

I know you all like to see some more B2B examples in here, too, so I surfaced one of the best examples of the holy grail: Twitter copy, from a B2B company, that’s funny. Behold, some recent highlights from the R/GA Twitter account:

11. innocent

Check out U.K.-based drink makers innocent, and you’ll see a language, style, and tone that matches their philosophy, product, and even their branding and design. It’s all just clean, straightforward, and simple. And believe it or not, simple is a really, really hard thing to nail in copywriting.

This stands out best on their “Things We Make” page. (Isn’t that page name even beautifully simple?)

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This same straightforward-but-charming copywriting philosophy extends to their site navigation:

innocentnav

Their meta description is pretty awesome, too:

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And my personal favorite:

bananaphone

12. GymIt

I’ve always loved the copy at GymIt. In fact, I check their site and social profiles all the time to see if they’ve freshened anything up. Luckily, they’re no one-trick pony. They continue to keep their site fresh with captivating copy.

Here are some of my favorites, all of which hit on the pain points of gym-goers that they try to solve — and actually do solve with their customer-friendly policies.

gymit1

I can vouch for that one. I know how much of a hassle it is to move far away from your gym — and how refreshing it must be to be able to walk in and just … quit.

All of this rolls up to their philosophy, espoused eloquently on their “About” page, that gyms should just be about working out:

gymit-description.png

Talk about having an understanding of their core audience. The copy both in its value proposition and across its marketing materials reflects a deep understanding of their customers.

And how did their copywriters choose to make sure everyone knew what this new gym franchise was about if they didn’t read that “About” page? This tagline:

gymittagline

Doesn’t get much clearer than that.

13. ModCloth

ModCloth is a brand that has always had an excellent grasp of their buyer persona, and it comes through in their pun-filled copywriting. All of their products are silly plays on words — check out this screen grab of some of their new arrivals, for example:

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Dive into their product description copy, and it’s equally joyous, evocative, and clever — just like their customers. Often, it’ll also tell the story of what you’ll do while wearing their items:

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After reading their descriptions, one can imagine what their life would be like if they owned this product. That’s Copywriting 101, but so few brands can actually pull it off like the folks at ModCloth do.

14. Ann Handley

When it comes to building up your own personal brand, it can be easy to get a little too self-promotional. That’s where the copywriting on your site can make a big difference.

On Ann Handley’s personal website, she added bits of microcopy that shows, despite her many accomplishments (like being a best-selling author and award-winning speaker), that she still doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Check out her email subscription call-to-action, for example:

ann-handley-subscribe-cta.pngAnyone can be a successful copywriter with the right brand voice — and a little editorial guidance along the way. Want to learn how to write awesome copy for your business? Grab the free ebook below. 

free guide to writing well

 
free guide to writing well

Personal Firewalls Explained and The 5 Best Ones for 2019

According to Microsoft’s 2018 Security Intelligence Report, computer viruses affected 40% of American households in 2017. No two computer viruses are the same, but the worst ones can enable cyber criminals to steal your most personal information, destroy your data, and even damage your computer’s hardware.

Macs and PCs both have built-in firewalls that help shield your computer from malicious cyber attacks, but if you want an extra layer of protection, you can purchase and download a personal firewall. Below, we’ll cover what exactly a personal firewall is and the ones that’ll shore up your computer’s security in 2019.

Image Credit: Comodo

Check out the following personal firewalls to figure out which one is right for you.

5 of the Best Personal Firewalls for Mac and Windows

1. McAfee LiveSafe

Price: $104.99 Per Year For an Unlimited Amount of Devices

Available On: Mac and Windows

McAfee LiveSafe is an antivirus software that protects your computer from viruses and ransomware. It offers a safe web browsing tool that warns you about risky websites, links, and files, a multi-factor password manager app, a digital file shredder, and encrypted storage, which protects your most sensitive information on your computer with 128-bit encryption.

McAfee LiveSafe performed well enough in recent third-party tests to be considered one of the best antivirus software out there, and since you can use it on an unlimited amount of devices, it’s also one of the most affordable options on the market.

2. Norton Security Premium

Price: $54.99 Per Year For Up to Five Devices

Available On: Mac and Windows

Norton Security Deluxe leverages one of the largest civilian cyber intelligence networks to protect your computer from viruses, spyware, malware, ransomware, and other advanced online threats. Norton Security Deluxe also offers a Smart Firewall, which can shield your personal and financial information from hackers that gain unauthorized access to computers from seemingly “broken” sites that actually download viruses once people visit it.

Norton Security Deluxe scored high on Top Ten Reviews’ in-house testing, so if you’re looking for a powerful firewall solution, it’s the personal antivirus software for you.

3. Kaspersky Internet Security

Price: $47.99 Per Year For Up to Three Devices

Available On: Mac and Windows

In addition to shielding your computer from viruses, ransomware, and cyber attacks when you surf the web or download anything, Kaspersky Internet Security can also protect your bank and card details when you bank or shop online and safeguard your personal information from malicious links on social media.

The software constantly scores high on independent laboratory tests that assess its capability of detecting and stopping malware, and the cheapest plan can protect up to three computers in your household, so if you need an affordable antivirus solution for your family, consider choosing Kaspersky Internet Security.

4. Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9

Price: 69.99 Per Year For Up to Three Devices

Available On: Mac

After purchasing and downloading the latest version of Intego’s Mac Premium Bundle, you can leverage a real-time antivirus protection software that automatically scans your Mac, and an intelligent firewall and a hotspot network protection tool that blocks cyber criminals from accessing your computer through the internet. You also get access to a Cleaner Software that can remove unnecessary files from your computer, a parental control tool, and a data backup tool.

Ranked as the best personal firewall for Mac by Top Ten Reviews and earning perfect scores on their in-house testing for blocking spyware, ransomware, and phishing attempts specifically designed to infect Macs, the Intego Mac Premium Bundle is one of the best antivirus softwares for Mac users.

5. Bitdefender Internet Security

Price: $79.99 Per Year For Up to Three Devices

Available On: PC

By constantly testing different types of protection in malware detection tests run by independent labs, Bitdefender Internet Security has refined their solution enough to offer some of the best web attack prevention, ransomware protection, real-time data protection, anti-fraud, and anti-phishing tools out there. They also offer access to their own VPN, webcam protection, and vulnerability assessments.

Ranked as the best overall personal firewall in 2019 by Top Ten Reviews and the most expensive solution on this list, Bitdefender Internet Security is perfect for people who make shielding their computers from the most advanced cyber attacks a top priority in their lives.

The Comprehensive List of Employee Benefits

Providing employee benefits will help you attract top talent — a Glassdoor survey found around 60% of people report benefits and perks being among their top considerations before accepting a job.

Additionally, employee benefits can enable you to communicate your company’s values. For instance, Reebok’s benefits include an on-site gym as well as an employee CrossFit discount, demonstrating the company’s focus on health and wellness for all its employees.

Offering good employee benefits is also critical for long-term employee retention. People don’t just want their salary to increase over time — they also want to know they’ll have paid parental leave when the time comes, or tuition reimbursement if they decide to go back to school.

To ensure you’re offering employee benefits that will delight your employees and motivate them to grow with your company long-term, take a look at our comprehensive list of employee benefits.

1. Health Insurance

According to a Glassdoor survey, employees report health insurance to be the most important benefit they receive from their employer. To make your employees happy, it’s critical you offer a good health insurance package. Plus, offering health insurance to your employees can save you money on taxes

It’s important to note, if you work for a larger company with more than 50 employees, you are required to provide health insurance.

To figure out what type of health insurance coverage you should offer, you’ll want to benchmark your health coverage against competitors in the industry. Additionally, speak with a broker to ensure you’re remaining compliant with regulations.

2. Dental Insurance

Dental insurance is another common benefit, although not required by law. There are three different dental insurance plans you might offer — a fully-funded employer plan, a partially-funded employer plan, or a fully-funded employee plan (in which the employee pays the entire cost, but the employer covers administrative costs and payroll deductions).

3. Life Insurance

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 59 percent of civilian companies and 55 percent of private firms offered life insurance in 2018. While not as common as health insurance, it’s still a good benefit you should consider providing. You might offer the employee’s salary, in full, as part of your life insurance policy, or offer to pay part of the full cost and ask the employee to pay the rest if the employee wants to participate.

4. Retirement Plans

The most traditional employer-offered retirement account is a 401(k). A national survey of small businesses found 94 percent of small business owners say offering a 401(k) drives their employee recruitment and retention. If you think you’re too small to participate, think again — anyone can offer a 401(k) benefit to employees, even if you have a company of five.

Additionally, you don’t have to match your employees’ 401(k) payments if you don’t believe your company has the financial means to do so (although your match is tax-deductible). There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to the type of 401(k) you set up. Alternatively, you can offer an annual profit share based on business performance, or offer a match for employees that vests over time.

5. Paid Time-Off for Vacation and Sick Days

These days, many employees seek out flexibility and good work-life balance when considering where they want to work. It’s important to offer your employees some form of paid time-off (PTO), which employees can use at their discretion. While some employees might use their PTO to take a trip with family or friends, other employees might simply use it to attend doctor’s appointments or take care of a sick child. Without offering PTO, you risk your employees more quickly reaching burnout in their roles — a well-rested and happy employee is a more productive one, so this is a worthwhile investment.

Typically, employees receive ten paid vacation days after one year at the company — their PTO increases the longer they work at the company, with an average 15 days PTO after five years at a company. However, the amount of PTO days is up to you. You might wrap your paid vacation and sick days into one, or you can separate these in your benefits’ package.

6. Flexible Schedules

Flexible schedules have become more common nowadays, and for good reason — flexible schedules can allow your employees to work whenever they’re most productive, and take breaks when they aren’t. Additionally, flexible schedules enable employees to find a good work-life balance, have time to prioritize family, or even simply avoid the morning commute.

You’ll have to decide if flexible schedules is conducive to your office environment, but it’s worth looking into and is becoming a major perk of many companies, including Raytheon and HubSpot.

Take a look at Flexible Schedules: The Good, Bad, & the Surprising, to decide if it’s a good option for your business.

7. Tuition Reimbursement

Offering tuition reimbursement isn’t just a benefit for your employees — it’s also an advantage for your business. Enabling employees to pursue learning opportunities and become proficient in new skills can help your company grow faster. Additionally, providing growth opportunities for your employees will likely translate to better retention rates.

Plus, your employee’s reimbursement program costs are tax-deductible. With smarter employees as a result, it’s a win-win.

8. Paid Parental Leave

After having worked one year and 1,250 hours, all U.S. employees are legally entitled to receive 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) — however, there is no law that requires companies to provide paid maternity leave.

Despite this, you should consider offering paid parental leave at your company (if you’re able to do so) to allow employees time to rest and focus on their families before returning to work. Paid parental leave demonstrates your company’s emphasis on the importance family, and work-life balance.

For instance, IKEA offers its 14,000 salaried and hourly workers up to four months of paid parental leave — the policy extends to mothers and fathers who are birth, adoptive, or foster parents. IKEA said their decision reflects its “Swedish roots and [its] vision to create a better everyday life for all people.”

Ultimately, paid parental leave could be a compelling factor for employees to stay with your company for the long-term, without worrying about pursuing opportunities that will allow them to become more family-focused.

9. On-site Gym or Fitness Discounts

Promoting wellness at work has been proven to result in better productivity and less employee turnover. Additionally, putting some of your company’s finances towards your employees’ health and wellness can actually decrease long-term healthcare costs.

For instance, a U.S. Motorola case study found for every $1 Motorola invested in their Wellness benefits, including disease management, flu immunizations, and stress management, they saved $3.93.

To learn more about how you can promote wellness at your office, and why it’s important, take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Wellness at Work.

Social Media for Home Builders: 10 Great Brands to Follow

As Marketers, we strive to write valuable content, stand out from our competitors and target our audience in a unique and creative way. Leveraging social media is a great way to achieve all three of those goals.

However, if you or your client is a home builder or involved in interior design, it might be challenging to know what exactly to post and how to differentiate yourself from other brands.

Check out these 10 home builder brands that found creative ways to leverage social media.

10 of the Best Home Builder Brands to Follow on Social Media

1. Lennar Homes (Facebook)

Social media is best for just that: being social. Lennar Homes is the perfect example. Their Facebook page is personal – it’s not just beautiful pictures of amazing homes. They share pictures of first-time homeowners and other big milestones.

Not only can this increase their reach by tagging people and accordingly showing up in more relevant newsfeeds, but it also increases engagement. Neuromarketer Martin Lindstrom is willing to bet that “90% of all decisions are made subconsciously” with our emotions and seeing pictures of happy families elicits emotions way more than a picture of a beautiful spiral staircase ever will.

2. David Weekley (Instagram)

Social media offers companies the unique opportunity to give behind the scenes looks and sneak peeks to those who opt to follow them. This is an incentive, initially, to follow the company. The more a user views this social media platform, however, the more the company gains a sort of brand leadership relationship with the potential client.

David Weekley Homes does a great job of using not only images of the homes they build but also scenery of the area and a quick video tour of a recently built home. This adds another level of helpfulness and intrigue to potential clients viewing their profile.

According to Social Media Today, “online video has proven to be the most engaging and compelling form of content for social media users who watch and share thousands of them every single minute” — you don’t want to be missing out.

3. Fischer Homes (Houzz)

Another advantage to social media is the ability to connect with potential clients on a more meaningful level. On Houzz, for example, a home builder can follow anyone who is following them. This creates an opportunity to gain insight into what other information that user has available on Houzz and also to open a dialogue.

Fischer Homes, for example, is following not only design studios and construction companies. They are following homeowners. With this simple strategy, Fischer Homes is able to collaborate on projects with people who are openly creating project boards on Houzz — practically begging for a remodeler or home builder to reach out to them!

4. Habitat for Humanity International (Twitter)

Looking for a great example of how to engage on Twitter? Check out Habitat for Humanity International. It’s easy to shoot out a couple tweets and cross your fingers that you’ll become an overnight sensation.

But unless you’re Lady Gaga, this probably won’t get you very far. Habitat is great at using hashtags to draw already interested viewers in, posting correctly sized images for these viewers to connect with and relate to, and then a link to their blog to pull people to their website.

According to Buffer, “tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets.” The ultimate goal of social media is to pull a potential client to your website to learn more about you and why you are the right decision for them. Habitat for Humanity International does just that.

5. Pulte Homes (Facebook)

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Another great way to engage with people through Facebook is by responding to their comments. Think of it this way: each person who engages with something you post on social media is the same as someone engaging with you in person.

If someone told you they loved a fireplace you designed to your face, would you reply? Treat social media as an opportunity to have conversations with people you may not reach on a daily basis. Pulte Homes does a great job of interacting with anyone who comments on their Facebook page, developing relationships and trust with each touch.

6. Wallmark Custom Homes (Pinterest)

Pinterest is a largely untapped platform that offers the opportunity to reach an estimated 100 million users searching for pictographic ideas, inspiration, and information. In the home building and remodeling industries in particular, this is the perfect place to showcase some of your finest work.

Beyond just posting your own work, however, Pinterest is an excellent way to interact directly with users who are “pinning” on boards for their own upcoming projects. You can also remain relevant by pinning images of upcoming holidays (for example, Thanksgiving decorations or recipes).

Keeping up with what’s trending will help you get noticed by those looking for trending topics. Wallmark Custom Homes does a great job of creating relevant boards with trending topics and resonant boards with their own images from projects.

7. Reed Design Build (Houzz)

Another way to interact with users on Houzz is through responses to comments. Houzz is like the love child of Pinterest and Facebook — it lends itself to building interactive projects with users as well as comments and rating.

Reed Design Build does an excellent job of responding to comments and garnering reviews. Both show not only how much they care about their potential clients by answering their questions but also how much they care about their past customers by collecting several 5-star ratings.

8. Shea Homes (Pinterest)

Pinterest can be a tricky platform to remain sticky. Without someone directly seeking out your brand in the search, it can be a challenge to put out content that will be found. Take a page out of Shea Homes’ book.

This home builder produces several boards pertaining largely to relevant and trending topics in an effort to remain top of mind for those searching for related topics. Once they draw someone to their profile, however, they have several powerful boards outlining their brand. One board is even filled with pins to their own blog, spanning over 75+ topics of interest for home buyers.

Shea Homes is harnessing the power of external links to build their SEO and increasing the number of places they can be found by potentially interested customers with their Pinterest strategy. According to Moz, “Top SEOs believe that external links are the most important source of ranking power,” so this is not a strategy to be overlooked!

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9. Toll Brothers (Instagram)

Instagram might not be your top-product-selling platform as a Marketer, but it just may be your top-brand-selling platform. This app gives you unique experience of connecting with your audience in a visually captivating manner.

Toll Brothers is particularly strong on Instagram, utilizing not only a hashtag (#TollLife) but also the regram capability to discover when people are talking about them and to then highlight these shared images. This brand cleverly takes the hashtag to the next level; when someone posts a picture on Instagram with their hashtag, Toll Brothers reposts (“regrams” for all you fluent Insta-tongues) the picture on their own profile as a feature.

This strategy generates excitement around the brand and around producing powerful photography surrounding the brand. Some might call this free marketing and publicity, actually, by letting those using the brand speak for themselves.

Toll Brothers Instagram

10. Drees Homes (Twitter)

So, I mentioned hashtags. Let’s talk about them. Drees Homes is hitting this strategy out of the park! By inviting anyone who encounters their brand to use the hashtag #LivingTheDrees, Drees Homes is not only showcasing their creativity in hashtag development but also their commitment to starting a conversation around their brand.

With continual upkeep, Drees Homes manages to keep their hashtags relevant and fun, including #HappyHollyDrees for the holiday season for example. I wish I lived in a Drees home just so I could interact on their online community with all of their fun hashtags and customer features! And, according to Sprout Social, ” Seeing as how they’ve been integrated into most of the popular social media platforms, and social media has entered almost every facet of our lives,” hashtags are here to stay. So, #EmbraceTheHashtag!

drees-homes-twitter.png

Social media strategy is not something that works alone in a vacuum. Each platform has a unique audience and should accordingly be treated as a different opportunity. In building your social media strategy, keep in mind that it takes continual upkeep and honing, and that it works best with a comprehensive marketing plan to get the most out of each touch point.

Starting a social media strategy for your own home building or remodeling business? Check out the free ebook below.

Social Media Checklist for Home Builders and Remodelers

48 C# Interview Questions Any Interview Worth Their Salt Will Ask

With over 7,000 C#.Net programming jobs advertised every month that have an average salary of over $90,000, the demand for this type of developer has exploded. But why is the C#.Net labor market so hot right now? Well, more and more engineering departments are adopting C#.Net to build their software because it’s similar to other common C-type languages like C++ and Java. This makes the language intuitive to learn — in fact — it’s the fifth most popular programming language for building software.

To help you prepare for your next C#.Net developer interview and land the job, check out the following C#.Net interview questions most interviewers will ask you.

48 C#.Net Interview Questions

1. What is C#?

2. What are the advantages of using C#?

3. What are an object and class?

4. What is an Object Pool?

5. What is an abstraction?

6. What is polymorphism?

7. Is C# managed or unmanaged code?

8. How do you inherit a class in C#?

9. What’s the difference between Interface and Abstract Class?

10. What are sealed classes in C#?

11. What’s the difference between a struct and a class in C#?

12. What’s the point of using statement in C#?

13. How is Exception Handling applied in C#?

14. What are boxing and unboxing in C#?

15. What are the three types of comments in C#?

16. Can multiple catch blocks be executed in C#?

17. What’s the difference between static, public, and void? What’s the outcome of each one?

18. What are value types and reference types?

19. What’s the difference between ref and out parameters?

20. Can “this” be used within a static method?

21. What are Arrays in C#?

22. What is a jagged array in C#?

23. What’s the difference between Array and ArrayList?

24. What’s the difference between System.Array.CopyTo() and System.Array.Clone()?

25. What’s the difference between string and StringBuilder?

26. What are delegates in C#?

27. What’s a multicast delegate?

28. What is a Reflection in C#?

29. What is a Generic Class?

30. What are Get and Set Accessor properties?

31. What is Multithreading?

32. What is Serialization?

33. What are the different ways a method can be overloaded?

34. What is the accessibility modifier “protected internal”?

35. What are the different ways a method can be overloaded?

36. What is an object pool in .Net?

37. What are the most commonly used types of exceptions in .Net?

38. What are accessibility modifiers in C#?

39. What are nullable types in C#?

40. What’s the difference between is and as operators in C#?

41. What are Indexers?

42. What are Singleton Design Patterns?

43. Given an array of ints, write a C# method to total all the values that are even numbers.

44. Is it possible to store mixed data types like int, string, float, and char all in one array?

45. Describe dependency injection.

46. Write a C# program that accepts a distance in kilometers, converts it into meters, and then displays the result.

47. What’s the difference between the “constant” and “readonly” variables when using C#? When would you use each one?

48. Which preference of IDE do you have when using C#? Why?

Recruiter-Approved Answers to “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

When I was job hunting and in the process of interviewing, one of the scariest questions I came across was this one — “So, Caroline, where do you see yourself in five years?”

At the time, I was a month out of graduation. I barely had an inkling of an idea what I wanted to do in six months, never mind five years.

I struggled to find the line between honesty, genuine confusion, and fantasy.

I wondered if I should say, “I hope to be at your company, perhaps leading the marketing team!”, to suggest my steadfast loyalty to the company for which I was interviewing.

Alternatively, perhaps I should let them know my biggest fantasy — “In five years, I hope to be traveling and writing a book.”

Sometimes, I simply settled for the truth — “In five years … huh. I have no idea.”

However, none of these responses are answers you’ll want to copy for yourself. Here, we’re going to explore what interviewers actually want to know when they ask you that question, and how you can answer it to demonstrate your value as a candidate.

Use these marketing resume templates to create a killer resume. 

Why Interviewers Want to Know “Where You See Yourself in Five Years”

When an interviewer asks you, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, they want to know one thing — whether your goals align well with the potential career path of the role for which you’re applying.

Ultimately, they want to hire a candidate who they can hire and train for the long-haul. They’re asking this question to gauge whether you’ll likely want to stay with the company for a long time, and whether the company can fulfill some of your long-term needs.

You might be thinking — “Okay, but so what if I quit after a year or two? I still put in my hard work during that time.”

Unfortunately, it’s more expensive to replace an employee, and bring a new hire up-to-speed, than you might think. In fact, the average company loses anywhere between 1% and 2.5% of their total revenue on the time and effort it takes to train a new hire.

Additionally, companies don’t want high turnover rates, which can decrease team morale and productivity.

For instance, let’s say you’re applying for a customer service position but tell the interviewer, “In a few years, I’d like to get more involved in SEO and marketing analytics.”

This can be a great answer, if the company has a department for that.

But if the company outsources for their SEO needs, then the recruiter just learned you’ll likely become frustrated by the lack of opportunities internally, and leave the company within the next few years.

Of course, if this is the case, she’ll choose to hire a candidate who’s long-term growth plan aligns well with opportunities her company can offer.

Now that we’ve clarified that, let’s take a look at how you should answer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

How to Answer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

To ensure accuracy, I spoke with internal HubSpot recruiters to find out what type of answer they deem most appropriate for this question.

Holly Peterson, a Senior Recruiter at HubSpot, told me, “A good answer to this question is an honest one. If you don’t know where you see yourself in five years — that’s okay, but you should have something prepared, to at least share your thoughts surrounding the question.”

Peterson further noted, “Responding ‘I have no idea’, isn’t ideal, but saying something like ‘I’m not sure the exact role I want to be in, but I want to continue on a growth trajectory in X field — whether that develops into a people management role, or functional expert, it’s hard to say at this point in time. Overall, I want to make sure no matter what position I’m in, I’m constantly seeking growth opportunities in and outside my role.’ That way, whether you have a concrete goal or not, you set yourself up as someone who has a growth mindset, i.e. you’re a continual learner. All employers want to hire this type of person.”

HubSpot Recruiter Rich Lapham also advises candidates to avoid making a statement if they can’t back it up. He told me, “Whatever your answer, think through the follow-up question, ‘Why?’. When candidates can’t articulate their why it often feels as though they aren’t presenting their authentic self, and to me that’s a red flag. For instance, if I ask a candidate and they respond with ‘I want to be a manager’ and I ask ‘Why?’, you can usually tell the difference between people who are really interested in management versus people who say it because they think it is the right thing to say.”

Additionally, Olivia Chin, a Technology Recruiter at HubSpot, said, “I like to hear tangible, measurable answers that show candidates have done their research and also have personal drive. i.e. ‘I noticed a lot of Tech Leads at HubSpot started as Software Engineers. I am interested in people management and it’d be great to develop those skills on the job.'”

Chin, who recruits for both entry-level and senior, also mentioned, “I always appreciate honesty. If a candidate doesn’t have a set plan or timeline, a good answer might be, ‘As a junior-level candidate I want to learn as much as I can, and in a year or two I’ll have a better idea of what I want next’.”

Finally, Glory Montes, a HubSpot Associate Campus Recruiter, told me, “Before answering this question, think about the size and culture of the company you’re interviewing for. Are they a fast-paced startup? If so, make sure your answer aims high! If they are slower-paced, make sure you are staying realistic about what kind of progress you can make in that organization. Also, the focus doesn’t always have to be on job titles. You can also focus on hard or soft skills you want to develop, relationships you want to make, or even personal goals to give the recruiter a better idea of your priorities.”

Sample Answers to “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

1. “As a social media manager, I’d like to focus short-term on developing my skill set to become incredibly proficient on the job. Then, in five years’ time, I’d like to have become adept at design and know how to use programs like Photoshop — ideally, I’d take online or evening courses to help with this. I have an interest in video marketing, and I think there’s a compelling alignment between social media and video and it could be interesting to figure out how to intersect those passions long-term to help grow your social media audience.”

2. “In five years, I’d like to have completed your leadership training course. I read about it on your website and think it’s a phenomenal program. Once I’ve completed that course, I’d like to develop my skill set to eventually become a project manager for my team.”

3. “My goal is to find a company where I can grow my career and develop new professional skills. In five years, I imagine I’d like to be in a leadership position — additionally, I’m interested in learning more about the content strategy side of the business. However, I find it most important to find a company that encourages continuous learning, as yours does.”

4. “Right now I’d like to continue to develop my writing skills, which is why I’m excited about the opportunity to be a blogger at your company. In five years, I would be delighted to see this role turn into a bit more of an editorial position, where I also help edit other writers’ work, and offer ideas for the editorial strategy of the team.”

5. “In five years I’d like to have developed a deep expertise of video strategy and how to use video to promote brands, which is why I’m excited about this position. I know my role will require me to become a master at video, which aligns well with my long-term goals. Additionally, in a few years I could see myself enjoying the project management aspect of video strategy, as well.”

Marketing Resume Templates Download Now

Recruiter-Approved Answers to “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

When I was job hunting and in the process of interviewing, one of the scariest questions I came across was this one — “So, Caroline, where do you see yourself in five years?”

At the time, I was a month out of graduation. I barely had an inkling of an idea what I wanted to do in six months, never mind five years.

I struggled to find the line between honesty, genuine confusion, and fantasy.

I wondered if I should say, “I hope to be at your company, perhaps leading the marketing team!”, to suggest my steadfast loyalty to the company for which I was interviewing.

Alternatively, perhaps I should let them know my biggest fantasy — “In five years, I hope to be traveling and writing a book.”

Sometimes, I simply settled for the truth — “In five years … huh. I have no idea.”

However, none of these responses are answers you’ll want to copy for yourself. Here, we’re going to explore what interviewers actually want to know when they ask you that question, and how you can answer it to demonstrate your value as a candidate.

Use these marketing resume templates to create a killer resume. 

Why Interviewers Want to Know “Where You See Yourself in Five Years”

When an interviewer asks you, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, they want to know one thing — whether your goals align well with the potential career path of the role for which you’re applying.

Ultimately, they want to hire a candidate who they can hire and train for the long-haul. They’re asking this question to gauge whether you’ll likely want to stay with the company for a long time, and whether the company can fulfill some of your long-term needs.

You might be thinking — “Okay, but so what if I quit after a year or two? I still put in my hard work during that time.”

Unfortunately, it’s more expensive to replace an employee, and bring a new hire up-to-speed, than you might think. In fact, the average company loses anywhere between 1% and 2.5% of their total revenue on the time and effort it takes to train a new hire.

Additionally, companies don’t want high turnover rates, which can decrease team morale and productivity.

For instance, let’s say you’re applying for a customer service position but tell the interviewer, “In a few years, I’d like to get more involved in SEO and marketing analytics.”

This can be a great answer, if the company has a department for that.

But if the company outsources for their SEO needs, then the recruiter just learned you’ll likely become frustrated by the lack of opportunities internally, and leave the company within the next few years.

Of course, if this is the case, she’ll choose to hire a candidate who’s long-term growth plan aligns well with opportunities her company can offer.

Now that we’ve clarified that, let’s take a look at how you should answer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

How to Answer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

To ensure accuracy, I spoke with internal HubSpot recruiters to find out what type of answer they deem most appropriate for this question.

Holly Peterson, a Senior Recruiter at HubSpot, told me, “A good answer to this question is an honest one. If you don’t know where you see yourself in five years — that’s okay, but you should have something prepared, to at least share your thoughts surrounding the question.”

Peterson further noted, “Responding ‘I have no idea’, isn’t ideal, but saying something like ‘I’m not sure the exact role I want to be in, but I want to continue on a growth trajectory in X field — whether that develops into a people management role, or functional expert, it’s hard to say at this point in time. Overall, I want to make sure no matter what position I’m in, I’m constantly seeking growth opportunities in and outside my role.’ That way, whether you have a concrete goal or not, you set yourself up as someone who has a growth mindset, i.e. you’re a continual learner. All employers want to hire this type of person.”

HubSpot Recruiter Rich Lapham also advises candidates to avoid making a statement if they can’t back it up. He told me, “Whatever your answer, think through the follow-up question, ‘Why?’. When candidates can’t articulate their why it often feels as though they aren’t presenting their authentic self, and to me that’s a red flag. For instance, if I ask a candidate and they respond with ‘I want to be a manager’ and I ask ‘Why?’, you can usually tell the difference between people who are really interested in management versus people who say it because they think it is the right thing to say.”

Additionally, Olivia Chin, a Technology Recruiter at HubSpot, said, “I like to hear tangible, measurable answers that show candidates have done their research and also have personal drive. i.e. ‘I noticed a lot of Tech Leads at HubSpot started as Software Engineers. I am interested in people management and it’d be great to develop those skills on the job.'”

Chin, who recruits for both entry-level and senior, also mentioned, “I always appreciate honesty. If a candidate doesn’t have a set plan or timeline, a good answer might be, ‘As a junior-level candidate I want to learn as much as I can, and in a year or two I’ll have a better idea of what I want next’.”

Finally, Glory Montes, a HubSpot Associate Campus Recruiter, told me, “Before answering this question, think about the size and culture of the company you’re interviewing for. Are they a fast-paced startup? If so, make sure your answer aims high! If they are slower-paced, make sure you are staying realistic about what kind of progress you can make in that organization. Also, the focus doesn’t always have to be on job titles. You can also focus on hard or soft skills you want to develop, relationships you want to make, or even personal goals to give the recruiter a better idea of your priorities.”

Sample Answers to “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

1. “As a social media manager, I’d like to focus short-term on developing my skill set to become incredibly proficient on the job. Then, in five years’ time, I’d like to have become adept at design and know how to use programs like Photoshop — ideally, I’d take online or evening courses to help with this. I have an interest in video marketing, and I think there’s a compelling alignment between social media and video and it could be interesting to figure out how to intersect those passions long-term to help grow your social media audience.”

2. “In five years, I’d like to have completed your leadership training course. I read about it on your website and think it’s a phenomenal program. Once I’ve completed that course, I’d like to develop my skill set to eventually become a project manager for my team.”

3. “My goal is to find a company where I can grow my career and develop new professional skills. In five years, I imagine I’d like to be in a leadership position — additionally, I’m interested in learning more about the content strategy side of the business. However, I find it most important to find a company that encourages continuous learning, as yours does.”

4. “Right now I’d like to continue to develop my writing skills, which is why I’m excited about the opportunity to be a blogger at your company. In five years, I would be delighted to see this role turn into a bit more of an editorial position, where I also help edit other writers’ work, and offer ideas for the editorial strategy of the team.”

5. “In five years I’d like to have developed a deep expertise of video strategy and how to use video to promote brands, which is why I’m excited about this position. I know my role will require me to become a master at video, which aligns well with my long-term goals. Additionally, in a few years I could see myself enjoying the project management aspect of video strategy, as well.”

Marketing Resume Templates Download Now

Recruiter-Approved Answers to “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

When I was job hunting and in the process of interviewing, one of the scariest questions I came across was this one — “So, Caroline, where do you see yourself in five years?”

At the time, I was a month out of graduation. I barely had an inkling of an idea what I wanted to do in six months, never mind five years.

I struggled to find the line between honesty, genuine confusion, and fantasy.

I wondered if I should say, “I hope to be at your company, perhaps leading the marketing team!”, to suggest my steadfast loyalty to the company for which I was interviewing.

Alternatively, perhaps I should let them know my biggest fantasy — “In five years, I hope to be traveling and writing a book.”

Sometimes, I simply settled for the truth — “In five years … huh. I have no idea.”

However, none of these responses are answers you’ll want to copy for yourself. Here, we’re going to explore what interviewers actually want to know when they ask you that question, and how you can answer it to demonstrate your value as a candidate.

Use these marketing resume templates to create a killer resume. 

Why Interviewers Want to Know “Where You See Yourself in Five Years”

When an interviewer asks you, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, they want to know one thing — whether your goals align well with the potential career path of the role for which you’re applying.

Ultimately, they want to hire a candidate who they can hire and train for the long-haul. They’re asking this question to gauge whether you’ll likely want to stay with the company for a long time, and whether the company can fulfill some of your long-term needs.

You might be thinking — “Okay, but so what if I quit after a year or two? I still put in my hard work during that time.”

Unfortunately, it’s more expensive to replace an employee, and bring a new hire up-to-speed, than you might think. In fact, the average company loses anywhere between 1% and 2.5% of their total revenue on the time and effort it takes to train a new hire.

Additionally, companies don’t want high turnover rates, which can decrease team morale and productivity.

For instance, let’s say you’re applying for a customer service position but tell the interviewer, “In a few years, I’d like to get more involved in SEO and marketing analytics.”

This can be a great answer, if the company has a department for that.

But if the company outsources for their SEO needs, then the recruiter just learned you’ll likely become frustrated by the lack of opportunities internally, and leave the company within the next few years.

Of course, if this is the case, she’ll choose to hire a candidate who’s long-term growth plan aligns well with opportunities her company can offer.

Now that we’ve clarified that, let’s take a look at how you should answer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

How to Answer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

To ensure accuracy, I spoke with internal HubSpot recruiters to find out what type of answer they deem most appropriate for this question.

Holly Peterson, a Senior Recruiter at HubSpot, told me, “A good answer to this question is an honest one. If you don’t know where you see yourself in five years — that’s okay, but you should have something prepared, to at least share your thoughts surrounding the question.”

Peterson further noted, “Responding ‘I have no idea’, isn’t ideal, but saying something like ‘I’m not sure the exact role I want to be in, but I want to continue on a growth trajectory in X field — whether that develops into a people management role, or functional expert, it’s hard to say at this point in time. Overall, I want to make sure no matter what position I’m in, I’m constantly seeking growth opportunities in and outside my role.’ That way, whether you have a concrete goal or not, you set yourself up as someone who has a growth mindset, i.e. you’re a continual learner. All employers want to hire this type of person.”

HubSpot Recruiter Rich Lapham also advises candidates to avoid making a statement if they can’t back it up. He told me, “Whatever your answer, think through the follow-up question, ‘Why?’. When candidates can’t articulate their why it often feels as though they aren’t presenting their authentic self, and to me that’s a red flag. For instance, if I ask a candidate and they respond with ‘I want to be a manager’ and I ask ‘Why?’, you can usually tell the difference between people who are really interested in management versus people who say it because they think it is the right thing to say.”

Additionally, Olivia Chin, a Technology Recruiter at HubSpot, said, “I like to hear tangible, measurable answers that show candidates have done their research and also have personal drive. i.e. ‘I noticed a lot of Tech Leads at HubSpot started as Software Engineers. I am interested in people management and it’d be great to develop those skills on the job.'”

Chin, who recruits for both entry-level and senior, also mentioned, “I always appreciate honesty. If a candidate doesn’t have a set plan or timeline, a good answer might be, ‘As a junior-level candidate I want to learn as much as I can, and in a year or two I’ll have a better idea of what I want next’.”

Finally, Glory Montes, a HubSpot Associate Campus Recruiter, told me, “Before answering this question, think about the size and culture of the company you’re interviewing for. Are they a fast-paced startup? If so, make sure your answer aims high! If they are slower-paced, make sure you are staying realistic about what kind of progress you can make in that organization. Also, the focus doesn’t always have to be on job titles. You can also focus on hard or soft skills you want to develop, relationships you want to make, or even personal goals to give the recruiter a better idea of your priorities.”

Sample Answers to “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

1. “As a social media manager, I’d like to focus short-term on developing my skill set to become incredibly proficient on the job. Then, in five years’ time, I’d like to have become adept at design and know how to use programs like Photoshop — ideally, I’d take online or evening courses to help with this. I have an interest in video marketing, and I think there’s a compelling alignment between social media and video and it could be interesting to figure out how to intersect those passions long-term to help grow your social media audience.”

2. “In five years, I’d like to have completed your leadership training course. I read about it on your website and think it’s a phenomenal program. Once I’ve completed that course, I’d like to develop my skill set to eventually become a project manager for my team.”

3. “My goal is to find a company where I can grow my career and develop new professional skills. In five years, I imagine I’d like to be in a leadership position — additionally, I’m interested in learning more about the content strategy side of the business. However, I find it most important to find a company that encourages continuous learning, as yours does.”

4. “Right now I’d like to continue to develop my writing skills, which is why I’m excited about the opportunity to be a blogger at your company. In five years, I would be delighted to see this role turn into a bit more of an editorial position, where I also help edit other writers’ work, and offer ideas for the editorial strategy of the team.”

5. “In five years I’d like to have developed a deep expertise of video strategy and how to use video to promote brands, which is why I’m excited about this position. I know my role will require me to become a master at video, which aligns well with my long-term goals. Additionally, in a few years I could see myself enjoying the project management aspect of video strategy, as well.”

Marketing Resume Templates Download Now

How to Do Market Research: A 6-Step Guide

Today’s buyers hold all of the power when making a purchasing decision. You’re also likely aware that they’re doing some of their research online.

But have you really adapted your marketing plan to match the way today’s customers shop and buy?

Click here to get started with our free market research kit.

Consider three recent statistics about modern buyer behavior:

What’s a marketer to do to make sure your buyers find you early and often? Go where they’re going.

That might sound obvious, but how deeply do you understand exactly where your buyers are doing their research and what is influencing their decisions? That’s where market research comes into play.

Whether you’re a newbie or experienced with market research, this guide will give you a blueprint for conducting a thorough study of your product, target audience, and how you fare in your industry.

Primary vs. Secondary Research

There are two main types of market research that businesses conduct to collect the most actionable information on their products: primary research and secondary research.

Primary Research

Primary research is the pursuit of firsthand information on your market and its customers. You can use focus groups, online surveys, phone interviews, and more to gather fresh details on the challenges your buyers face and the brand awareness behind your company.

Primary research is useful when segmenting your market and establishing your buyer personas, and this research tends to fall into one of two buckets:

  • Exploratory Research: This kind of primary market research is less concerned with measurable customer trends and more about potential problems that would be worth tackling as a team. It normally takes place as a first step before any specific research has been performed, and can involve open-ended interviews or surveys with small numbers of people.
  • Specific Research: This kind of primary market research often follows exploratory research, and is used to dive into issues or opportunities the business has already identified as important. In specific research, the business can take a smaller or more precise segment of their audience and ask questions aimed at solving a suspected problem.

Secondary Research

Secondary research is all the data and public records you have at your disposal to draw conclusions from. This includes trend reports, market statistics, industry content, and sales data you already have on your business.

Secondary research is particularly useful for analyzing your competitors. Here are three types of secondary research sources that make this process so beneficial:

  • Public Sources: These sources are your first and most accessible layer of material when conducting secondary market research. Being free to find and read — usually — they offer the most bang for your buck. Government statistics are arguably your most common public sources, according to Entrepreneur. Two U.S. examples of public market data are the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, both of which offer helpful information on the state of various industries nationwide.
  • Commercial Sources: These sources often come in the form of market reports, consisting of industry insight compiled by a research agency like Pew, Gartner, or Forrester. Because this info is so portable and distributable, it typically costs money to download and obtain.
  • Internal Sources: Internal sources deserve more credit for supporting market research than they generally get. Why? This is the market data your organization already has in-house. Average revenue per sale, customer retention rates, and other historical data on the health of old and new accounts can all help you draw conclusions on what your buyers might want right now.

1. Define your buyer persona.

Before you dive into how customers in your industry make buying decisions, you must first understand who they are. This is the beginning of your primary market research — where buyer personas come in handy.

Buyer personas — sometimes referred to as marketing personas — are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you visualize your audience, streamline your communications, and inform your strategy. Some key characteristics you should be keen on including in your buyer persona are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Job title(s)
  • Job titles
  • Family size
  • Income
  • Major challenges

The idea is ultimately to use this persona as a guideline for when you reach and learn about actual customers in your industry (you’ll do this in the steps below).

To get started with creating your personas, check out these free templates, as well as this helpful tool. These resources are designed to help you organize your audience segments, collect the right information, select the right format, and so on.

You may find that your business lends itself to more than one persona — that’s fine! You just need to be sure that you’re being thoughtful about the specific persona you are optimizing for when planning content and campaigns.

2. Identify a portion of that persona to engage.

Now that you know who your buyer personas are, you’ll need to find a representative sample of your target customers to understand their actual characteristics, challenges, and buying habits.

These should be folks who recently made a purchase (or purposefully decided not to make one), and you can meet with them in a number of ways:

  • In-person via a focus group
  • Administering an online survey
  • Individual phone interviews

We’ve developed a few guidelines and tips that’ll help you get the right participants for your research. Let’s walk through them.

Choosing Which Buyers to Survey

When choosing whom you want to engage to conduct market research, start with the characteristics that apply to your buyer persona. This will vary for every organization, but here are some additional guidelines that will apply to just about any scenario:

  • Shoot for 10 participants per buyer persona. We recommend focusing on one persona, but if you feel it’s necessary to research multiple personas, be sure to recruit a separate sample group for each one.
  • Select people who have recently interacted with you. You may want to focus on folks that have completed an evaluation within the past six months — or up to a year if you have a longer sales cycle or niche market. You’ll be asking very detailed questions, so it’s important that their experience is fresh.
  • Aim for a mix of participants. You want to recruit people who have purchased your product, folks who purchased a competitor’s product, and a few who decided not to purchase anything at all. While your own customers will be the easiest to find and recruit, sourcing information from others will help you develop a balanced view.

3. Engage your market research participants.

Market research firms have panels of people they can pull from when they want to conduct a study. The trouble is, most individual marketers don’t have that luxury — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the time you’ll spend recruiting exclusively for your study will often lead to better participants.

Here’s a simple recruiting process to guide your efforts:

  1. Pull a list of customers who made a recent purchase. As we mentioned before, this is usually the easiest set of buyers to recruit. If you’re using a CRM system, you can run a report of deals that closed within the past six months and filter it for the characteristics you’re looking for. Otherwise, you can work with your sales team to get a list of appropriate accounts from them.
  2. Pull a list of customers who were in an active evaluation, but didn’t make a purchase. You should get a mix of buyers who either purchased from a competitor or decided not to make a purchase. Again, you can get this list from your CRM or from whatever system your Sales team uses to track deals.
  3. Call for participants on social media. Try reaching out to the folks that follow you on social media, but decided not to buy from you. There’s a chance that some of them would be willing to talk to you and tell you why they ultimately decided not to buy your product.
  4. Leverage your own network. Get the word out to your coworkers, former colleagues, and LinkedIn connections that you’re conducting a study. Even if your direct connections don’t qualify, some of them will likely have a coworker, friend, or family member who does.
  5. Choose an incentive. Time is precious, so you’ll need to think about how you will motivate someone to spend 30-45 minutes on you and your study. On a tight budget? You can reward participants for free by giving them exclusive access to content. Another option? Send a simple handwritten ‘thank you’ note once the study is complete.

4. Prepare your research questions.

The best way to make sure you get the most out of your conversations is to be prepared. You should always create a discussion guide — whether it’s for a focus group, online survey, or a phone interview — to make sure you cover all of the top-of-mind questions and use your time wisely.

(Note: This is not intended to be a script. The discussions should be natural and conversational, so we encourage you to go out of order or probe into certain areas as you see fit.)

Your discussion guide should be in an outline format, with a time allotment and open-ended questions allotted for each section.

Wait, all open-ended questions?

Yes — this is a golden rule of market research. You never want to “lead the witness” by asking yes/no questions, as that puts you at risk of unintentionally swaying their thoughts by leading with your own hypothesis. Asking open-ended questions also helps you avoid those painful one-word answers.

Here’s a general outline for a 30-minute survey of one B2B buyer. You can use these as talking points for an in-person interview, or as questions posed on a digital form to administer as a survey to your target customers.

Background Information (5 Minutes)

Ask the buyer to give you a little background information (their title, how long they’ve been with the company, and so on). Then, ask a fun/easy question to warm things up (first concert attended, favorite restaurant in town, last vacation, etc.).

Remember, you want to get to know your buyers in pretty specific ways. You might be able to capture basic information such as age, location, and job title from your contact list, there are some personal and professional challenges you can really only learn by asking. Here are some other key background questions to ask your target audience:

  • Describe to me how your work team is structured.
  • Tell me about your personal job responsibilities.
  • What are the team’s goals and how do you measure them?
  • What has been your biggest challenge in the past year?

Now, make a transition to acknowledge the specific purchase or interaction they made that led to you including them in the study. The next three stages of the buyer’s journey will focus specifically on that purchase.

Awareness (5 Minutes)

Here, you want to understand how they first realized they had a problem that needed to be solved without getting into whether or not they knew about your brand yet.

  • Think back to when you first realized you needed a [name the product/service category, but not yours specifically]. What challenges were you facing at the time?
  • How did you know that something in this category could help you?
  • How familiar were you with different options on the market?

Consideration (10 Minutes)

Now you want to get very specific about how and where the buyer researched potential solutions. Plan to interject to ask for more details.

  • What was the first thing you did to research potential solutions? How helpful was this source?
  • Where did you go to find more information?

If they don’t come up organically, ask about search engines, websites visited, people consulted, and so on. Probe, as appropriate, with some of the following questions:

  • How did you find that source?
  • How did you use vendor websites?
  • What words specifically did you search on Google?
  • How helpful was it? How could it be better?
  • Who provided the most (and least) helpful information? What did that look like?
  • Tell me about your experiences with the sales people from each vendor.

Decision (10 Minutes)

  • Which of the sources you described above was the most influential in driving your decision?
  • What, if any, criteria did you establish to compare the alternatives?
  • What vendors made it to the short list and what were the pros/cons of each?
  • Who else was involved in the final decision? What role did each of these people play?
  • What factors ultimately influenced your final purchasing decision?

Closing

Here, you want to wrap up and understand what could have been better for the buyer.

  • Ask them what their ideal buying process would look like. How would it differ from what they experienced?
  • Allow time for further questions on their end.
  • Don’t forget to thank them for their time and confirm their address to send a thank-you note or incentive.

5. List your primary competitors.

Understanding your competitors begins your secondary market research. But keep in mind competition isn’t always as simple as Company X versus Company Y.

Sometimes, a division of a company might compete with your main product or service, even though that company’s brand might put more effort in another area. Apple is known for its laptops and mobile devices, for example, but Apple Music competes with Spotify — which doesn’t sell hardware (yet) — over its music streaming service.

From a content standpoint, you might compete with a blog, YouTube channel, or similar publication for inbound website visitors — even though their products don’t overlap with yours at all. A toothpaste developer, for example, might compete with magazines like Health.com or Prevention on certain blog topics related to nutrition, even though these magazines don’t actually sell oral care products.

Identifying Industry Competitors

To identify competitors whose products or services overlap with yours, determine which industry or industries you’re pursuing. Start high-level, using terms like education, construction, media & entertainment, food service, healthcare, retail, financial services, telecommunications, agriculture, etc.

The list goes on, but find an industry term that you identify with, and use it to create a list of companies that also belong to this industry. You can build your list the following ways:

  • Review your industry quadrant on G2 Crowd. In certain industries, this is your best first step in secondary market research. G2 Crowd aggregates user ratings and social data to create “quadrants,” where you can see companies plotted as contenders, leaders, niche, and high performers in their respective industries. G2 Crowd specializes in digital content, IT services, HR, ecommerce, and related business services.
  • Download a market report. Companies like Forrester and Gartner offer both free and gated market forecasts every year on the vendors who are leading their industry. On Forrester’s website, for example, you can select “Latest Research” from the navigation bar and browse Forrester’s latest material using a variety of criteria to narrow your search. These reports are good assets to have saved on your computer.
  • Search using social media. Believe it or not, social networks make great company directories if you use the search bar correctly. On LinkedIn, for example, select the search bar and enter the name of the industry you’re pursuing. Then, under “More,” select “Companies” to narrow your results to just the businesses that include this or a similar industry term on their LinkedIn profile.

Identifying Content Competitors

Search engines are your best friends in this area of secondary market research. To find the online publications with which you compete, take the overarching industry term you identified in the section above, and come up with a handful of more specific industry terms your company identifies with.

A catering business, for example, might generally be a “food service” company, but also consider itself a vendor in “event catering,” “cake catering,” “baked goods,” and more.

Once you have this list, do the following:

  • Google it. Don’t underestimate the value in seeing which websites come up when you run a search on Google for the industry terms that describe your company. You might find a mix of product developers, blogs, magazines, and more.
  • Compare your search results against your buyer persona. Remember the buyer persona you created during the primary research stage, earlier in this article? Use it to examine how likely a publication you found through Google could steal website traffic from you. If the content the website publishes seems like the stuff your buyer persona would want to see, it’s a potential competitor, and should be added to your list of competitors.

After a series of similar Google searches for the industry terms you identify with, look for repetition in the website domains that have come up. Examine the first two or three results pages for each search you conducted. These websites are clearly respected for the content they create in your industry, and should be watched carefully as you build your own library of videos, reports, web pages, and blog posts.

6. Summarize your findings.

Feeling overwhelmed by the notes you took? We suggest looking for common themes that will help you tell a story and create a list of action items.

To make the process easier, try using your favorite presentation software to make a report, as it will make it easy to add in quotes, diagrams, or call clips. Feel free to add your own flair, but the following outline should help you craft a clear summary:

  • Background. Your goals and why you conducted this study.
  • Participants. Who you talked to. A table works well so you can break groups down by persona and customer/prospect.
  • Executive Summary. What were the most interesting things you learned? What do you plan to do about it?
  • Awareness. Describe the common triggers that lead someone to enter into an evaluation. Note: Quotes can be very powerful.
  • Consideration. Provide the main themes you uncovered, as well as the detailed sources buyers use when conducting their evaluation.
  • Decision. Paint the picture of how a decision is really made by including the people at the center of influence and any product features or information that can make or break a deal.
  • Action Plan. Your analysis probably uncovered a few campaigns you can run to get your brand in front of buyers earlier and/or more effectively. Provide your list of priorities, a timeline, and the impact it will have on your business.

Conducting market research can be a very eye-opening experience. Even if you think you know your buyers pretty well, completing the study will likely uncover new channels and messaging tips to help improve your interactions.

Not to mention, you’ll be able to add “market research” as a skill to your resume.

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