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Convicted felon stole millions from investors to back son’s NASCAR career

A Hickory man was convicted Friday of defrauding investors out of $25 million, money he used to buy pricey real estate, expensive cars and to back his son’s NASCAR career. … Click to Continue »

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There’s an alien world beneath our feet. What could it teach us about life?

So-called extremophiles, like blind, transparent shrimp that thrive deep within the cavernous bowels of the Mexican jungle, are stretching the limits of where life can flourish.

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When you don’t know what to get for that NASCAR driver on your holiday gift list …

Ah, the holidays. A time for celebrating with family, remembering all the good times from the past year, and being thankful for what we have. And, as a way of … Click to Continue »

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The 2018 Pantone Color of the Year Is Here, and It's Purple

Editor’s note: Color authority Pantone just announced its selection for the 2018 Color of the Year: Ultra Violet, a purple shade that is sure to prompt passionate discussion among design pros and enthusiasts. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, says the color “communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking.” 

We spoke with Eiseman about how her team selects the color of the year, and some of the color trends that will influence home decor in 2018. 

Pantone’s annual Color of the Year selection makes an impact on the home and interiors industry – often in ways the average consumer isn’t even aware of.

For example, Pantone’s 2016 selection Rose Quartz paved the way for Millennial Pink, a blush hue that made headlines in 2017 thanks to its ubiquity in packaging, logos, and products – particularly those targeted to young female consumers.

“That [selection] really created a spike,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and author of the recently released book “The Complete Color Harmony: Pantone Edition.”

“Pink just went everywhere,” she continues. “It went viral.” Pantone chose the shade because it was reminiscent of rosy cheeks and good health.

Rose Quartz shared the 2016 Color of the Year designation with sister shade Serenity, a soft blue. The delicate colors were chosen for a balance between warm and cool, and to show that pink and blue are no longer gender specific.

Pantone proclaimed its 2017 choice, Greenery, a symbol of new beginnings, and “illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors.” This year, perhaps influenced by Greenery, Gen Z Yellow and other vibrant sunny hues have been seen in the home and on the fashion runways.

“Vibrant yellow has captured attention because in every society, yellow is sunlight. It means warmth, an enveloping presence, and it makes you happy. It’s a feel-good color,” says Eiseman.

Trends for 2018

Next year, in addition to Ultra Violet, expect to see a new, exciting spectrum of colors in the interior design world. Pantone’s 2018 home and interiors color palettes include Playful, an array of “lollipop colors” that are perfect for a cheery kids’ room.

Pantone’s Playful color palette offers a selection of whimsical hues.

On the other end of the spectrum there is Discretion, which feature natural hues and nuanced neutrals, and the Verdure palette’s quieter shades in the green and blue family.

Eiseman also notes a newfound interest in neutrals. Beyond shades like gray, beige, off-white, camel and taupe, a new, exciting category of colors is making its way into the design world. New neutrals like “greige” (gray-beige) and blush are fun new options for the person who wants a neutral that has a little personality to it.

“Neutrals started out in a very basic place,” says Eiseman. “When you add undertones to neutrals it can be affective and sophisticated. You can add a mauve tone to gray so it’s rosy, not dull and flat.”

Eiseman also recommends embracing the natural world and using neutrals that incorporate green tones.

Since 1999, when Pantone started selecting a Color of the Year, the interest in color forecasting has grown dramatically. “It’s just so interesting the way people respond to it,” says Eiseman. “It really proves how exciting the subject of color it is – whether you’re a designer or someone who simply loves getting a conversation going about color. It helps to unleash creativity.”

Signals from many sources

From 2016’s delicate pink and blue to 2017’s invigorating Greenery, color trends have dramatically shifted just in a year. So how does Pantone make its predictions about what the next big thing will be?

From art exhibits to animated movies, each year design elements from around the world guide Pantone as they forecast color trends for the year ahead.

“Our team at Pantone is well-traveled,” Eiseman. “We go to trade shows in Paris and Milan, and while we’re there we stay in the Design District, so we get a real sense of what is in stores, worn on the street, what exhibits are being shown – and then we start to connect dots.”

In the art world, Pantone stays abreast of current exhibits for artists like David Hockney and Yayoi Kusama, along with the colors that appear in their work.

“These shows travel the world and get the buzz out and people start talking about [the art] and the way color is used,” Eiseman says. “This also enters into our thinking when we are creating a forecast. Yayoi uses bright colors and polka dots, and Hockney uses saturated colors for the most part.”

Eiseman also mentions big worldwide events like the Olympic Games and international auto shows in Los Angeles and Geneva as places where Pantone observes the interplay of hues. “These are indicators of the future,” she says.

Using color in your home

When selecting color for your home, many factors come into play. Here Eiseman gives her pro tips on infusing your abode with the right hues.

  • Inside the home, don’t be afraid of defying tradition. “You create your fantasy on the inside of your home,” says Eiseman. For instance, Eiseman lives in the gray Pacific Northwest, so she painted her walls in a sunny yellow to evoke a happy mood and the illusion of sun.
  • For your home’s exterior, choose subtle colors. Eiseman warns that painting your home an attention-grabbing color like purple could rub people the wrong way. If you love vibrant colors, paint your front door a bold hue or incorporate bright colors in your pots and plantings.
  • Decide on your comfort level. “What do you want your house to feel like?” asks Eiseman. “Figure out what you want your house to represent.” If you want solitude, go with a calming color palette. Or if you love bold color, go all out. Each color sends a different message and evokes a different mood.
  • Set the mood. For a soothing environment, choose quiet colors like Pantone’s Angora White or Dove Gray. For a tinge of warmth, go with Rose Water Pink or Almond Oil. Cooler neutrals include sea spray greens, dew-touched blues or a frosty lavender. Eiseman warns to not exclusively decorate with cool hues, as it can create a cold atmosphere.
  • Create balance. For someone who wants a more “provocative palette,” Eiseman recommends seductive hues like spicy reds, hot pinks and succulent oranges – but not exclusively. To ground the vibrant colors and balance out the warmth, she recommends adding a rich chocolate, black or peacock blue.

What do you think of  2018’s Color of the Year?

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3 Easy Holiday Crafts to Get You Feeling Festive

Even when you’re eager to get in the spirit, the busy holiday season can make extra projects feel like a chore. That’s where these easy, how-to hacks come to the rescue!

Fun, festive and functional, these DIYs provide the perfect opportunity to spend a cozy night indoors while also crossing a few to-do’s off the list for your next holiday bash.

Learn how to make pine cone place cards for your table setting, homemade snow globes to liven up your decor, and a kid-sized gingerbread playhouse guaranteed to keep the kiddos occupied.

Ready for a closer look at each project?

Tabletop welcome

Your guests will feel extra loved with these customizable place cards. Whether you stamp them with names or a holiday greeting, this craft brings smiles around the dinner table.

Snow scene

When a friend or family member gives the snow globe on your shelf a shake, you’ll be able to tell them you made it yourself. Insert the setting of your choice to create your own little winter wonderland in a jar.

Playtime starter home

It’s hard to get all the holiday cooking done when you have little ones that want to be entertained. Set them up with this nifty cardboard creation while you bake some treats.

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Race fans, start your holiday cheer. Help kids, meet NASCAR stars at Stocks for Tots.

Meet Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Bobby Allison and other NASCAR stars at the 29th annual Stocks for Tots benefit in Mooresville on Tuesday. The event is 5-9 p.m. at NASCAR … Click to Continue »

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Four Simple Marketing Automation Moves & When To Make Them

Lessons from a card-counting and marketing master

 

“If you’re like most marketers, you get a little upset every time someone unsubscribes from your email,” says keynote speaker and marketing whiz Trish Witkowski. “It’s almost insulting to think that someone decided you weren’t worthy of their inbox,” she adds. But the truth is, Trish Witkowski doesn’t get upset anymore.

Oh, she used to feel confused, and sometimes even disillusioned when someone hit the dreaded unsubscribe link on her weekly email, but that was before she started learning to card count.

That’s right, Trish Witkowski has spent the last eighteen months studying the strategies and tactics of Las Vegas card counters, and it’s changed the way she looks at marketing automation (and even business in general.)

 

The problem with our marketing automation mindset

“We are too emotionally invested in our marketing,” says Trish. “That’s why we feel a little slighted and unsettled every time someone unsubscribes from our content.”

Instead of wondering why someone decided to leave our marketing automation flow or trying to determine what might have happened, great marketers look at every unsubscribe objectively. “Every unsubscribe is one less lead to waste our time pursuing, which means we can spend more time closing the prospects who ARE interested,” observes Trish.

You see, Trish learned the art of thinking objectively about her leads at the Blackjack tables in Vegas.

If you’ve never played Blackjack, it’s a simple card game: you against the dealer. Whoever gets closer to 21 without going over, wins the hand.

Now, most of us play Blackjack the same way we look at our marketing automation flows. “We play an emotionally-charged game based on luck and gut instinct. We use gut instinct and play hand-to-hand. Playing Blackjack hand-to-hand leaves the player losing more money than they win over time. The Casino has a 3% advantage over you, and playing like this only maintains their edge.”

Now, elite card counters do not play an emotionally-charged game of Blackjack. These calculating winners keep a running tally of the played cards to turn the tables on the casino. They keep score, and as a result, they know when the odds of winning a hand are turning in their favor.

“Card counters never make an emotional decision on what to do,” says Ms. Witkowski. (If you want to learn more about how to lead score like a card counter read this.)

“We need to remove the emotional attachment we have with our automation flows, our subscribers, and even our content. We must be objective about the opportunities we have. In short, we need to know what moves to make when,” adds Ms. Witkowski.

 

The four moves & when to make them

In Blackjack, there are only four moves you can make against the dealer. You can stand, hit, double-down, or split. “If you decide to ‘stand,’ you’re holding your hand and ending your turn. If you ‘hit,’ you’re asking for another card to get you closer to 21. You can also double-down (which is just like a hit, only the bet is doubled, and you only get one more card.) If you are holding a pair, you can decide to split the hand, which doubles your bet and you’re now playing two hands,” explains Trish.

“The truth is, most of our marketing automation flows are over complicated, there are too many potential moves or decision points. Instead of driving toward the sale, our automation process nurtures prospects for too long, and we never see their cards. We may never get to bet big,” says Witkowski.

However, Trish believes you can fix this by thinking like a Blackjack player. “Your lead scoring strategy should be designed to tell you when the odds of winning a sale have turned in your favor. Just like a card counter, you need to know when you have the advantage. You need to know when it’s time to increase your bet,” Ms. Witkowski says.

You also need to think of the best next move.

 

What’s your best next move?

As you’re building your automation flows leveraging the lead scores you have in place, Trish suggests you think like a Blackjack player. “Given the current score for each lead, what’s your best next move?” Trish asks.

Here’s how to think about the Blackjack moves in the context of your automation flow:

1. Should I stand?

Deciding to stand assumes you’re not going to make any strategic moves toward the sale. You’re going to continue down the existing and most passive path. For example, you may choose to keep sending just your weekly email newsletter.

 

2. Should I hit?

In Blackjack, deciding to hit is an aggressive move. Your taking action and asking for another card (and maybe even another.) You’re moving to win the hand. So, from a marketing standpoint, has the prospect done something that indicates they may be getting closer to a purchase decision? If so, what aggressive move should you make to get them closer to the sale? Make a bold move to provoke an action from your prospect.

For example, if a prospect clicked a link in your newsletter to see the video demo of your new product, perhaps you should hit: ask them if they’d like to attend the product launch party. Provoke a response.

 

3. Should you double-down?

Doubling-down is a high-risk, high-reward scenario. Has your prospect done something that leads you to think you’re highly likely to close the deal? If so, it’s time to double-down.

For example, many marketers offer discounts at precisely the moment they should be increasing the stakes. Most marketers stand-down when they should be doubling-down. So, if a prospect has asked for pricing on a product instead of seeing any subsequent inaction as a signal to offer a discount maybe it’s time to double-down. Perhaps it’s time to tell your prospect that the pricing you quoted expires in the next 24-hours.

Maybe your best next move is to double-down?

 

4. Should you split?

“Deciding to split is fun,” says Trish. “Remember, in Blackjack you’re essentially deciding to play two separate hands.”

You may want to try an A/B test. Leverage take two different aggressive moves and see which one delivers a better result.

“Remember,” adds Trish, “splitting your hand requires dual focus, But you stand to win both hands!”

 

The edge

“It’s tough to detach your emotions from your marketing, especially email marketing because it’s such an interpersonal form of communication. But the fact is, the most successful email marketers think very strategically about their best next move,” says Trish.

Like those Las Vegas card counters, maybe it’s time you limit your moves and use your lead scores to answer a straightforward question: do you want to stand, hit, double-down, or split?

 

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. voted most popular driver — again. Here’s who he thanked.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver for the 15th straight year. This was his final year racing in the sport’s top Monster Energy Cup series. Earnhardt was … Click to Continue »

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Wreck of the year? Best story? NASCAR superlatives for 2017 are here. Your winners…

Superlatives for the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season: Driver of the Year Martin Truex Jr.: Who else? Truex had the most wins, the most laps led, the most stage points, … Click to Continue »

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How to Hire the Right Marketing Writer the First Time

Hiring anyone for a role at your company is a risk. It can be costly when you hire the wrong person, and you’ll have to start all over again. When you’re seeking a marketing writer, you can lessen that hiring risk. This definitive hiring guide is designed to take you every step of the way. As a result, it’s more likely you’ll hire the right marketing writer for your company the first time around.

Find candidates where they’re looking for you

When you’re considering where to look for that initial pool of candidates, you have choices to make.

 

Job boards

Would you want to use a job board? The problem with this option is: how do you narrow down to just marketers and writers? You need to select the right job board for finding your target candidates.

Put up listings in places where they are looking for jobs, not just anywhere. Save resources to be in the right place at the right time.

 

Staff referrals

Your current staff members are a great asset for finding new employees. You’re looking for a writer, so make sure you’re explaining what you need in candidates when asking staff for referrals.

When current staff know what you’re looking for in a marketing writer, they’ll better understand who to suggest to you. If they aren’t clear, you’ll receive more unqualified or irrelevant options.

Give your staff credit and power to help you with this hiring process. They can give you some of the best candidates.

 

Recruiters

Use recruiters to better focus your search to specifically marketing writers. Tell recruiters exactly what you want to see in candidates, and they’ll give you options that fit with those expectations.

Recruiters are great when your internal human resources department is overwhelmed or limited. They charge a fee, but it can be a worthwhile investment when they find you someone who ultimately becomes your marketing writer.

 

Internal hiring and promotion

Hiring from within your current staff can be a good option when you can see certain staff in the marketing writer role. Do you have any staff that have demonstrated skills relevant to the open role? Talk to them about moving to this new position.

The problem with needing a marketing writer in this case is: you might need to offer a higher salary to the staff member to convince them to make the move. If you use any of the other hiring options, you can offer the salary you want. However, your current staff will want to see reasons or benefits to changing their role.

 

Describe the job with practicality and appeal

Nobody wants to read through a job description that’s strictly formal and highly technical. People want to see the human behind the screen. They want to see personality, which will help them sense the work environment they’re applying to join.

Remember: you’re asking for a marketing writer. Don’t turn them away with a sloppy listing, and proofread!

These are some tips for writing a job description that peaks interest and drives applications:

  • Use buzzwords with caution. People want to see personality, but don’t overdo it. If your listing sounds forced and unnatural, people will be less likely to apply. You also want to be clear and understandable. What do you mean by “ninja”?
  • Make it realistic. If you require so much that the role fits more with five employees instead of one, people will see how unrealistic your expectations are. Pinpoint and narrow down your requirements to specifically a marketing writer, not an entire marketing department.
  • Add the details. Yes, people have a short attention span, but the job description needs to explain the role in detail to attract the right candidates. Include day-to-day responsibilities. List the skills your ideal candidate needs to have to succeed in this role. Don’t forget to include the benefits and salary range you offer. That last point is critical to convincing people to apply, so be clear in what you can offer to your writer.
  • Link to your website. This means your About page or company culture page. Give candidates the opportunity to learn how your company runs. Show them what you value. Make them feel like they can relate or fit in with your company and team.
  • Include any perks you can offer. This part is tricky. You might think adding free lunch or a gaming room is considered perks, but those are irrelevant to the role. Yes, those are cool perks to have, but save them for your company careers page. In the job description, focus on role-specific perks – ones that would appeal to a highly-targeted candidate. For example, do you offer flexible hours or the ability to telecommute?

Ask targeted questions in the application

In a job listing, you make it clear what you’re looking for in a marketing writer. In the application, you get applicants to prove they’re qualified through targeted questions.

Whether you use LinkedIn, Indeed, Workable, or another program, you’ll want to have the option to ask customized questions for the role. It’s not enough to only get a resume and maybe a cover letter. You want to see whether candidates have evidence of their qualifications.

For this writing role, these are some of the areas you might want to cover:

  • Ask for writing samples, offering a place to include links and maybe even an attachment.
  • Ask for an example of how the applicant succeeded with their writing efforts in the past.
  • Ask a question that gauges whether this applicant would fit with your company’s culture.

You might think this is not the time to ask questions about team fit. It’s actually the best time because you’ll cut back your list significantly. You don’t just want a marketing writer. Don’t forget to check whether they can fit with your existing team.

The point here is that you want to include questions that’ll streamline the interview process. You want to narrow down the candidate pool to a manageable number right away.

 

Narrow down the applicant pool even further

Even with the targeted questions in the application, you’re going to see many applicants that have what you’re looking for with this role. You’re going to need more ways to narrow down your list.

It’s time to check whether they have the skills to get the job done. This is often checked in their resume, writing sample, cover letter, and elsewhere.

These are the 15 top skills to expect in a marketing writer (in no particular order):

  1. Optimistic: Do they exhibit a positive attitude and outlook in their writing?
  2. Efficient: Are they quick to produce content? Are they able to focus on each task?
  3. Researcher: Do they know how to find the best information they need to enhance their content?
  4. Storyteller: Are they able to explain concepts through stories to make it interesting and understandable?
  5. Patient: Do they understand that writing content is a lengthy process and that results are not immediate? Are they willing to remain persistent without losing patience?
  6. Organized: Do they demonstrate the ability to remain organized both in environment and thought processing?
  7. Educator: Can they explain a concept clearly so that it is informative enough for anyone to learn from?
  8. Educated: Do they have an educated background? Are they willing to continue their education over time through self-study and programs? What certifications do they have?
  9. Creative: What have they shown you that demonstrates their originality and creativity?
  10. Informed: Do they know the top trends and understand how to remain alert to changing trends?
  11. Empathy: Can they create content that shows they care about their audience’s needs?
  12. Humor: Can they create content that’s fun and relatable so that people enjoy reading it?
  13. Adaptable: Are they able to change their approaches to fit with the evolving needs of their audience?
  14. Analytical thinking: Can they look at the resulting data from their work, interpret it, learn from it, and make any necessary changes from what they learned?
  15. Reliable: Do you see this person as someone you can depend on, primarily based on their prior work history and references?

Those are the top skills you’ll want to use to filter through your applicants until you have a number suitable for the interview stage. You don’t want to expect perfection, but you still need to be sure you’re choosing candidates are most capable to succeed in this open role.

 

Interview candidates with the most potential

It depends on how much time and resources you have available, but this stage will likely include no more than 15 interviewees. Sometimes, you’ll want to restrict this list to only a handful of candidates.

With interviews, you should already know a good amount about each person you’re interviewing. This is the time to speak with them one-to-one with the goal of confirming their capabilities and relatability. It’s time to be especially critical of every moment to help you find that one person you’ll hire.

You might hold in-person interviews at your office. Or, you might be a remote company using Skype to communicate. Regardless, you have specific elements to evaluate in the interview stage.

These are some parts of the interview to be especially aware of to evaluate the interviewee:

  • How do they communicate? Are they clear in how they describe themselves or how they answer your questions? Marketing writers need to be able to communicate especially well. Granted, there’s a difference between verbal and written communication skills. Keep in mind that a candidate’s written communication skills can make up for any verbal confusion.
  • Are they demonstrating the skills from the application? For example, are they maintaining a positive attitude, or are they too negative? Look for evidence that the interviewee has the soft and hard skills they need to succeed as your marketing writer.
  • Did they come prepared? Part of being a writer is having research skills. If they didn’t research your company enough in advance, they might not have what it takes to create content for your company. Check the questions they ask, and ask questions of your own that gauge their knowledge of your company.

You also want to ensure you’re asking interview questions that are specific and effective at filtering your candidates till it’s small enough for an offer.

 

Make the final decision

So, you’ve finished your interviews. It’s time to make a decision on who you’re want to hire.

Interviews take time, so your ideal choice might have been waiting for weeks now. You don’t want to make people wait, especially during the interview process. If you have to make them wait, make sure you’re staying in touch with them. Keep them aware of your timeline. Otherwise, they might lose interest, and you’ll miss the opportunity for a good hire.

Another part of making this final decision is to keep in mind:

Your chosen candidate likely won’t be a perfect fit. Allow enough flexibility for learning any missing skills on the job. For example, if the candidate is unfamiliar with your industry, they can easily get familiar with it as they work, especially if you offer training.

When making a final decision, remember to have at least two backup candidates in case your top choice says no. If you inform all other candidates but one that they didn’t make the cut, you’re taking a huge risk. What if that one person says no to your offer? Always have a couple backups.

That’s the best way to hire a marketing writer. Hiring doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. When you follow these instructions and steps, you’ll expedite and streamline everything until you have the exact candidate who’ll bring the best results for your business.

Are you experienced in hiring? What have you done to make the process easier for you? Leave a comment with your experience!

 

hire the right marketing writer the first time

The post How to Hire the Right Marketing Writer the First Time appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

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