How Messi and Stuani Begin Race for the Pichichi

first_imgOne of football’s best league in the world, the Spanish LaLiga returned to DStv last week. The new season has been nothing short of thrilling as players continue to up the ante game after game.Barcelona’s Lionel Messi made an impressive comeback last week, which he continued by scoring against Girona, many footballs fans saw him as the lone candidate for this season’s Pichichi title. Uruguayan professional footballer Cristhian Stuani, who plays for Spanish club, Girona and the Uruguay national team as a striker, is giving Messi a run for the title of LaLiga’s best this season. He started out at Danubi and was bought by Reggina in 2008 and now he is placing himself in the race for the title when his second goal placed him in a tie with the Argentine footballer. Messi got his chance to score his fifth goal this season with an impressive pass by Arturo Vidal and true to form, Messi wasted no time bagging another goal. Messi scored two goals against Alaves and another two against Huesca. Messi had been tied with French footballer, Karim Benzema, at four goals, however, the Frenchman was unable to score a goal for Real Madrid during their match against Espanyol last Saturday.While Messi’s performance during the 2018/19 LaLiga Santander campaign has been nothing short of exceptional, Stuani has been able to place himself on five goals after a stupendous second-half effort.We will be watching to see which of the footballers inches closer to the prestigious Pichichi title on the world of champions, SuperSport on DStv.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Seeing Is Believing, or v.v.

first_imgWhat you see is not what is out there in the world – not exactly, at least.  Scientists have shown that your brain is tweaking the light coming in from your eyes and making predictions about what you expect to see.    The “blind spot” experiment is well known to students.  That’s where it can be shown that your brain “fills in” the blind spot of each eyeball (where the optic nerve leaves the retina, with no photoreceptors) with imagery from the surrounding field.  A brick wall pattern, for instance, continues seamlessly into the blind spot even though your eye actually receives no light from that part of the retina.    Researchers at the University of Glasgow performed four experiments on participants, and monitored brain activity with functional MRI, to see what parts of the visual field were doing when shielded from visual input.  Their findings were published in PNAS.1  It appears that the context influences what we “see.”  The primary visual cortex (V1) uses context and memory to prepare the image presented to the mind.We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and pattern-classification methods to show that the cortical representation of a nonstimulated quarter-field carries information that can discriminate the surrounding visual context.  We show further that the activity patterns in these regions are significantly related to those observed with feed-forward stimulation and that these effects are driven primarily by V1.The way PhysOrg put it, “What our eyes can’t see, the brain fills in.”  And it fills it in from prior experience: “The results show that our brains do not rely solely on what is shown to the eyes in order to ‘see’.  Instead the brain constructs a complex prediction” of what it expects to see.”    One neuroscientist called this “predictive coding.”  Dr. Lars Muckli from U of Glasgow explained how this is helpful: “If you are driving a car and a pedestrian is suddenly obscured – say by a pillar box or your rear view mirror – your brain still knows where they are and where they will reappear in your line of vision.  Without that ability, we would be lost in everyday life.”    For more on image processing done by the eye and brain, see 05/22/2003, 12/30/2003, 05/12/2005, 07/27/2006 and 03/31/2008.1.  Smith and Muckli, “Nonstimulated early visual areas carry information about surrounding context,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print November 1, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1000233107 (open access).  Note: the paper was published Nov 1, 2010, but PhysOrg reported on it April 4, 2011.Unfortunately, Dr. Muckli tossed in this Darwin stinkincense bomb: “The brain’s main function is to minimise surprise – that is what it has evolved to do.”  Were you surprised?  That not only violates logic, it violates Darwin’s own principle of Stuff Happens.  Things don’t evolve to do anything in Darwinland; they just evolve.  Implying a purpose for anything invokes teleology – something Darwin and his disciples wanted to eliminate.  Enough of that distraction.    Findings like these bear on important philosophical questions about the relationship of our senses to external reality.  Philosophers have long wondered to what extent we can trust our senses.  There is a long chain of causal phenomena interceding between the photons emitted by an object and our perception of that object by the mind.  Here we see that our brains are manipulating reality for us in ways that can be tricked by experience or novelty.    Those who say they only believe what they can see should realize they cannot see the whole electromagnetic spectrum, for one thing, and the narrow range of visible light they can see is being transformed by their brains.  The only worldview that provides grounds for trusting our senses comes from the Bible.  Our eyes and brains were created by a Creator who loves honesty and truth, and has equipped his creatures with sufficient equipment to have reasonable, though not exhaustive, access to external reality.  Otherwise we would be “lost in everyday life” and unable to respond to him by perceiving his works.  Even so, we need to train our equipment to discern the truth, and not deceive ourselves.(Visited 42 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Pupils have a blast with Mathletes

first_imgPeace Corps education volunteer Chris Ames with two pupils. The aim of Mathletes in South Africa is to alleviate the anxiety associated with maths by turning it into a fun competition for pupils.(Images: Peace Corps South Africa) MEDIA CONTACTS • Chris Ames   Education volunteer,   Peace Corps South Africa   +27 76 527 2492 RELATED ARTICLES • Education at the movies • SA education project wins top award • A winning open education system • Maths and science the fun way • Science education gets a boostCadine Pillay A pair of American university graduates is giving grade six pupils at two North West province schools a shot at success by incorporating a fun contest, run over two school terms, through which they can improve their mathematics skills.Volunteers for the Peace Corps in South Africa, Chris Ames and Genna Cummins, hold BSc degrees in maths and applied sciences respectively. Ames graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, while Cummins studied at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky.After their arrival in South Africa in 2011, the two conceptualised the competition, called Mathletes for two schools where they currently volunteer, in the Thutlwane and Madibogo villages.  Mathletes is based on the popular US programme aimed at getting pupils competitive in maths.Removing the anxiety from learningTheir vision for participants, says Ames, is to remove the anxiety with which pupils often approach maths. Although there is no prize for the ultimate winners, the volunteers are encouraged by the fact that the pupils’ skills will be improved.“One of the many reasons that maths skills are so poor in rural South Africa is the amount of intimidation and anxiety the subject induces in pupils,” he says.The idea of Mathletes is already well known in the US, he adds, so they thought an adaptation for South African pupils would be helpful and fun.“For many students, competition is an effective way to encourage them to learn.”Six schools participated in the contest at the beginning of the second term around April 2012, with each sending six pupils to take part in three rounds of the contest. The teams meet at a central point after school every Wednesday, which is generally dedicated to sports activities at most public schools.Each team has to win as many points for their school as possible to avoid elimination and make it to the next round. The team with the highest score at the end of the day is the winner for that week.  In the first round, all of the players attempt to answer a multiplication question. The first student to answer the question correctly gains a point. In round two, the students answer questions in five different categories of varying degrees of difficulty and point values. In the third round, each team has five minutes to solve one final problem.The games are all based on the approved national curriculum for schools, Ames explains. “For this reason we had to focus on one grade when we designed the questions.”“We felt it would be best to target the highest primary school level to minimise language barriers.”The competition runs from around 1pm to 3pm, with the host school in charge of providing and setting up a projector. At least two teachers facilitate for the duration of the game, which is partly presented on Powerpoint.The only requirement for schools wishing to participate is that they be situated in the Madibogo and Setlagole areas. Those from outside these areas can contact Thutlwane Primary School to make arrangements.To keep the ball rolling, Ames and Cummins have designed a template that teachers will be able to use for the 2014 round, when the two volunteers will be back in the US. The pair will still be in South Africa for the start of next year’s contest in April.Using the template, the schools will be able to create their own games using a list of topics they should expect to be addressed in each game. Ames and Cummins also assisted teachers in the writing of maths problems to keep the challenge sustainable.Potential vs. opportunitiesWith time, the volunteers hope to create templates of the game for other grades as well. They also intend to expand the initiative to other schools within a reasonable distance, for logistical reasons.     “It has always been our goal to eventually have Mathletes run by the schools themselves without our aid,” says Ames. “I see potential in the pupils in South Africa, but opportunities for them seem scarce.”“By the time we leave we hope to have provided schools and communities with sustainable development in areas where our skills and their needs meet.”About Peace CorpsThe Peace Corps programme was established in South Africa in 1997, and more than 1 050 volunteers from the US have served all around the country to date. There are currently 183 volunteers placed in different areas where their expertise in health and education services is used daily to benefit disadvantaged communities.As part of their programme, volunteers are encouraged to learn as many of South Africa’s indigenous languages as possible to help make their work easier. The education focus is usually on primary schools in the country’s rural areas, while other volunteers work in health services at community health  and HIV/Aids centres as well as with home-based care organisations.    As education Peace Corps volunteers, Ames and Cummins were assigned to schools, and were tasked to help improve the proficiency of pupils in certain subjects. They will be based at their schools until September 2013.last_img read more

What is the value of wheat straw?

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Wheat harvest will soon be underway; we often get questions about the nutrient value of straw. The nutrient value of wheat straw is influenced by several factors including weather, variety, and cultural practices. Thus, the most accurate values require sending a sample of the straw to an analytical laboratory. However, “book values” can be used to estimate the nutrient values of wheat straw.In previous newsletters, we reported that typically a ton of wheat straw would provide approximately 11 pounds of N, 3 pounds of P2O5, and 20 pounds of K2O. Michigan State University reports similar numbers for a ton of wheat straw: 13 pounds of N, 3.3 pounds of P2O5 and 23 pound of K2O. A 2013 analysis of wheat straw collected at the OARDC farm in Wooster contained 14-18 pounds of N, 3-4 pounds of P2O5, and 20-23 pounds of K2O. These values were across four wheat varieties and three spring nitrogen application rates (60, 90, and 120 lb N/acre). The 2013 values corresponded fairly well with the previously reported “book values.” Nitrogen values in 2013 were slightly greater than “book values” which may have been a result of wheat height/size. If plants are shorter/smaller, percentage nitrogen tends to be greater than taller/larger plants due to a dilution factor as the plant grows. Regardless, the 2013 analysis provides validity to the nutrient value of straw given in previous newsletters.The nitrogen in wheat straw will not immediately be available for plant uptake. The nitrogen will need to be converted by microorganisms to ammonium and nitrate (a process called “mineralization”). Once the nitrogen is in the ammonium and/or nitrate form, it is available for plant uptake. The rate of which mineralization occurs depends on the amount of carbon and nitrogen in the straw (C:N ratio). The USDA reports a C:N ratio of 80:1 for wheat straw which means there are 80 units of carbon for every unit of nitrogen. Mineralization rapidly occurs when the C:N ratio is ≤ 20:1. At a C:N ratio of 80:1, mineralization will be much slower. (For comparison, corn stover is reported to have a C:N ratio of 57:1.) Rate of mineralization is also influenced by soil moisture and temperature. Since mineralization is a microbial-driven process, mineralization will be slowed (halted) in the winter when temperatures are cold. Thus, no N credit is given for wheat straw since it is not known when the N will mineralize and become available to the following crop.Besides providing nutrients, straw has value as organic matter, but it is difficult to determine the dollar value for it. Removal of straw does lower soil potash levels. If straw was removed after heavy rainfall, some of the potash may have leached out of the straw, lowering the nutrient value of the straw. However, a soil test should be done to accurately estimate nutrient availability for future crops.last_img read more

The night is full of caches

first_imgAnother way to learn about the best Night Caches is to ask a fellow geocacher about their favorites. They can create a list with their recommendations and share it with you. We did so ourselves and created this list of some of the most favorited Night Caches and other haunted hides.Which spooky Night Caches are on your list? Share in the comments or on social media using #hauntedhides.Ready to go to the dark side? Browse Night Caching equipment in the Geocaching Shop or at International Retailers.Share with your Friends:More SharePrint RelatedNight Caching: It’s not just for Vampires anymoreOctober 13, 2014In “Geocaching Weekly Newsletter”Creepin’ it real: Add geocaching to your HalloweenOctober 30, 2017In “Community””We Come in Peace” GC1DA0H GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – May 16, 2011May 14, 2011In “Community” Bananaaaa Nightclub Nachtcache (GC5BW4D)center_img Shorter days and autumn weather might make you want to curl up on the couch and let caches be caches — but the shadows of the night can be the best time to seek some of the most exciting geocaches around: Night Caches.MEGAPHOBIA (GC5ENHV)Night Caches are best searched for in the dark. Not for the easily spooked, these caches come in all types — Traditional, Multi, Mystery, Wherigo caches amongst others — and often feature scary tales.Thriller! (GC5ENHQ) and Curse of the Pharaoh (GC4Q1K7)If you’re intrigued to go on a ghostly geohunt at night, make sure to come prepared with a flashlight or headlamp, some extra batteries, and maybe even a glow-in-the-dark pen.To find Night Caches, you often have to follow reflectors that guide you to the hide or glow-in-the-dark ink that can only be seen in the dark and requires a UV flashlight.Some geocache owners include ‘Night Cache’ in the cache’s title to make it clear that their cache is best found at night. Others can be identified through one or more of these attributes:Night CacheRecommended at NightFlashlight RequiredUV Light Requiredlast_img read more

Sleepless in Seattle as they hunt for smart city program head

first_imgSurveillance at the Heart of Smart Cities Tags:#Internet of Things#IoT#Jobs#Seattle#sensors#Smart Cities#smart city#Washington How IoT Will Play an Important Role in Traffic … David Curry How Connected Communities Can Bolster Your Busi…center_img Seattle, one of the finalists in the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, is on the hunt for a smart city coordinator to oversee the city’s strategy and start dialogues between the city and private partners.The coordinator will also be responsible for making sure smart city programs across multiple departments mesh, to reduce inefficiencies and avoid departments tripping over each other.See Also: San Diego gets its smart city on with GE Current hookup“We’re creating the smart cities coordinator role to help drive collaboration across these stakeholders and to make sure we have basic consistency in our smart cities deployment,” said Seattle Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller to Government Technology.Understanding what to do with smart city programs is a necessity for the job, as Seattle already has some programs that may require upgrades. One of those is RainWatch, a network of sensors that monitor precipitation in the city. This could do with an upgrade in the near future to smaller, cheaper, and more efficient sensors, which should be installed in more places, according to Mattmiller.Trying to keep everyone on the same pageAs Seattle becomes more infatuated with smart city technologies, it will be the coordinator’s job to reign-in overzealous departments that work on too many programs. They will also need to ensure the various programs don’t break the budget, either by reducing the amount of programs or enlisting the help of private organizations.Standardising the platforms for smart city programs and making sure departments are following the best practices will also be a key role for the coordinator, according to Mattmiller.It is one of the first job titles specifically for smart cities, but don’t expect other metropolitan cities to be far behind. Internet of Things (IoT), traffic, and networking tech is entering into the public domain and a lot of cities want to be ahead of the curve, as seen by the massive response to the DoT’s smart city challenge last year. Related Posts For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In…last_img read more

How Crafters Transformed a Company

first_imgThis guest post is written by Paul Gillin , writer, speaker, and online marketing consultant. Catch Paul speaking at the Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston, MA this October. Register with the code HUB200 and get $200 off the ticket price. If you follow social media marketing closely, you’ve probably heard the story of Fiskars , the Finnish maker of fine cutting tools that has used a private social network to dramatically boost specialty store sales. What’s less well-known is how customer communities have transformed the way this 300-year-old company does business.I wrote about Fiskars’ remarkable community of crafting enthusiasts called the Fiskateers in the introduction to my latest book, Secrets of Social Media Marketing. The company has leveraged this group to take its message to the under-utilized channel of small retailers. Reaching these merchants would have been prohibitively expensive if done by a core marketing team. So Fiskars let its customers do the talking. The result: a threefold increase in year-over-year sales.I recently caught up with Suzanne Fanning, Director of Communications at Fiskars Americas, to see how the program was going. In a word, very well. What I hadn’t understood from earlier interviews was the degree to which quality customer feedback comes to pervade everything the company does. The Fiskateers demonstrate why social media should be thought of as much more than just a marketing program.Some basics: Prospective Fiskateers must fill out an application form to gain entry. While the company rarely turns down applicants, this requirement gives members a feeling of belonging. Once you’re a Fiskateer, you’re special to Fiskars.And boy, are you special! When my wife, a hopeless crafting enthusiast, heard about this program, she immediately applied. A few months later, the company invited her to a local member meeting. Some 30 Fiskateers spent an entire day swapping techniques, trying out new tools and generally bonding with each other. Dana came home that day laden down with hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise. It’s safe to say she will be a Fiskars customer for life, and she’s not shy to share her enthusiasm.More Than a WebsiteThe company does plenty of live events at the local and national level to connect members with each other and with Fiskars. Its overarching goal isn’t to sell more scissors as much as to “have that emotional bond with consumers,” Fanning told me. “Customers didn’t have that bond with Fiskars the company, but scrapbooking and crafting is a very personal and intimate thing. We wanted to tap into that and say “We understand. We get you.”The meeting Dana attended was hosted by two Fiskars representatives, one from communications and the other from engineering. In fact, nearly every meeting of the Fiskateers now involves someone on the product development side. The value of the Fiskateers as a driver of product innovation was the great unexpected dividend of the whole program, Fanning said.At first, people on the business side resisted the idea of bringing customers into the product development process. There are competitive concerns, and frankly, engineers aren’t known for inclusiveness.Once the dialogue began, however, that resistance quickly melted. “We started with small projects to make Fiskateers feel like they were giving input and quickly they realized we were getting fabulous insight,” Fanning said. “They really wanted a voice in our company.”Speak, Customer!That voice of the customer now pervades nearly everything Fiskars does. Fiskateers are polled for advice early in the development process and the group has even taken responsibility for naming some new products. Engineers, who initially doubted the value of the community, renamed themselves the “Fiskaneers.”Fiskars now channels most of its first-line market research through the group, saving money and time. It no longer conducts expensive focus groups. Research has shown that the Fiskateers almost perfectly reflect the larger community of crafting enthusiasts.Fanning remembers one product manager who approached her looking for ideas for new shapes to head to the company’s line of cutting templates. Fanning posted the request to the Fiskateers and gathered 70 good ideas within 12 hours.Next LevelWith a hit on its hands, Fiskars is running with it. Some Fiskateers have been qualified as official product demonstrators. A new website now lets members submit and rate ideas for new products. Product managers hold live chat sessions to get feedback. Vendors of sewing machines and magnifying glasses devices have offered to buy advertising on the site.The lesson: social media is about much more than marketing. Anyone who touches or serves customers in any way can benefit from a closer relationship with those people. Recent McKinsey research revealed that a majority of companies that have bought into Web 2.0 marketing are finding benefits in other areas of their organization. Many say social media is changing the way they do business. Just like it has at Fiskars.Not every company can create a community like the Fiskateers, but then again, Fiskars never expected its program to be such a runaway success. Instead of looking for people who were passionate about cutting tools, it focused its energy on people who cared about what you could do with cutting tools. The results were more than a pleasant surprise. The company originally expected to recruit no more than about 200 Fiskateers. It will soon welcome its 6,000th member. Paul Gillin is a writer, speaker and online marketing consultant who specializes in social media. He’s a veteran technology journalist and the author of two books: The New Influencers (2007) and Secrets of Social Media Marketing (2008). Fiskars is an example of the kind of new media success stories the Inbound Marketing Summit will showcase. Discounted Inbound Marketing Summit Pass Marketing thought leaders will converge on Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA, October 7-8. Reserve your place at the conference now . Use the code HUB200 to get $200 off the ticket price. Topics: Social Mediacenter_img Originally published Sep 9, 2009 8:15:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

6 Ways To Brand Your Business With Content

first_img When companies spend thousands of dollars developing a specific brand name or logo, they do so for a reason. This simple personification of the company’s image is often the one shot that businesses have to give their potential customers a quick and simple view into their business practices, goals and services. A company brand builds trust and credibility as well as focuses on specific demographics to drive traffic. Date and time: Never forget that the words you use to express your company are your portal to a prospective customer’s world. You must show them how you can make their life easier, more profitable, happier and more productive. If you can convey this message in all aspects of your content-driven marketing campaign, you can be successful in convincing your customers of how valuable you are to them. More than anything, treat your content with great care. The value of your content to your consumers can create a brand that people want. However, if your content is produced poorly, it could spiral your business into mediocrity. ‘t quite as easy with content. You must use your content to express yourself to your chosen demographic in a way that they will understand. Our online order form takes mere seconds to fill out. What are the distinguishing features of your services? What do you offer that your competitors cannot match? Are you a small business that can treat clients with personality or are you a super-business that prides itself on speed? Nail down the unique aspects of your business and your brand can be created with effective and interesting content. Have someone else read your work. It is best to use a professional editor. However, having a few employees or friends read your work can bring some hidden errors to the surface. Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 12:30pm EST  Your Credentials Product or Service Selection Consider whether this is a true statement. If you have multiple fields requesting payment information and order confirmation, this statement is probably not true. It may seem like a very small detail; however, honesty and clarity are always better than sales pitches. Tell your potential customers what information they will need before ordering. Take the image that you want to present to the public seriously, no matter what that image may be. When you talk to another person face-to-face, you have a distinct advantage. You can exchange ideas, ask questions, receive feedback and formulate your pitch based on what you know they want. A Originally published Apr 14, 2010 10:30:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 . You can also follow Corry on Your Resources 1. Avoid Hyperbole In Your Business Content BrandSome hyperbole is fairly obvious when it creeps from casual conversation into web site content. However, hyperbole can also creep into business content without you knowing it. These are broad statements that any company with a solid business plan could use to promote their services. They may not be as obvious as statements like “I could sleep for a century” or “Making this web site will kill me.” However, they can often be just as detrimental. Consider some examples: 3. Make Your Content Match Your Brand Use lists and short paragraphs. Readers will most likely be scanning your content to get the main ideas. Use these ideas as your headers and create content that can be easily summarized. Image:Depending on the strength and focus of your content, you might find that consumers begin to associate specific attributes with your business. By focusing on your image, you can quickly delegate your competition into a category that most people would consider bland. Suppose that you are a business that sells surfboards primarily to an 18-24 college student demographic. Beyond taking social media seriously, your content should be designed to grab their attention and convince them that you are their best choice. Try doing the following in this market: Reserve your spot now We offer quick and easy customer service that is accessible to everyone. 5. Focus on Your Company’s ImageTake into account how you want your visitors to view you as a company as well as how you are currently viewed in the industry. Every piece of content on your web site needs to define who your company is and what you offer that caters to your market’s individual needs. Some key talking points could include: 6. Leverage Your Key Content Branding ApproachesChoose some aspects of your business that you can use to create a specific vision of how your company values certain fundamentals of good business. Try choosing from the following when drafting content: Why should content be any different? In fact, branding your business with content is a way to show your web site visitors that you are the only solution to their problem. If you are in a competitive market saturated with “only solutions,” you need to, at the very least, use content to show your New Media thought leader, Brian Solis, will share how to implement and manage a Social Media Optimization (SMO) program. isn Personality:Try to highlight the aspects of your business that make you human. Many companies use pictures of their employees to reveal personality. However, it might be a good idea to use content in the same way. Try including personal profiles written in the first person. You can also include quotes from your employees to highlight what they enjoy about working with your company. copywriters. For more great information about improving the quality of your web content, visit Corry’s Content Writing Blog potential customer Character:Who are you? Where do you come from? What are your stances? Be honest and authentic. One wrong move in trying to be something that you are not could destroy your company image. Check your content for spelling and duplicates. Don’t simply rely on a spell checker. Read your content several times over a period of a few days to catch every error that you can find.center_img Content Marketing cliff1066™ However, this SEO 2. Discover the Strengths of Your Business and Use ThemAbove all, the content on your web site should have a purpose and it should drive home the reasons why potential customers should buy from you. Perform some research and discover what your business does best. More often than not, such research reveals regional strengths. Without knowing it, you might be the only business in the area that sells a specific product. This could set you up to offer same-day delivery to your region. That is a selling point that sets you apart from your competition. Your content should highlight that aspect of your business. Customer Service Value Outsource your content. Sometimes it’s better to admit that you are not a writer and trust a professional writer to handle your content. If you have the funds in your budget and value the image of your company, it is best to make sure that your content brand is written well the first time. Knowledge that You Bring to the Table Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Use clever and humorous language designed to grab the attention of your audience. Topics: Use simple sales pitches to which college students can relate.  Region From Which You Operate can more easily decide whether they trust you or not when they are actually looking you in the eyes. why you are their very best solution. Avoid listing too many facts and statistics. These will often turn your demographic off. Technology that You Use Live Webinar: Social Media Optimization Is The New SEO With Brian Solis Twitter. Photo Credit: 4. Create Flawless ContentNothing turns web readers off faster than content saturated with spelling or grammatical errors. Such mistakes show that you did not feel the need to invest much time or money into the face of your business. This can have a detrimental effect on the image of your company’s reliability and credibility. Check and recheck your content for errors and make sure that it stays focused and centered on your main ideas. Follow these steps for error-free and professional content: Speed of Your Service Do a prewrite. What information will you include in your content? How will you structure your words to be the most effective? What research materials will you use? potential customers Corry Cummings is the owner of Content Customs, which is a professional team of How? This statement is nowhere near specific enough to brand your business with content. Almost every business could make this claim – and many do. Exactly what about your customer service makes you special? Can you post any specific testimonials or statistics about your service?  to increase your visibility in social media! Include personal statements about your experiences with a product. Tools Available to You The following is a guest post by Corry Cummings, owner of Content Customs. Your Business Experiencelast_img read more

11 Essential Elements of a Well-Designed Marketing Ebook

first_img Originally published Apr 6, 2012 2:39:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Topics: Design How many ebooks does your marketing team have in its content arsenal? With the rise of tablet and e-reader popularity, ebooks are only growing in popularity. According to a newly released report by Pew Internet , in mid-December 2011, 17% of American adults had reported they read an ebook in the previous year; by February, 2012, the share increased to 21%. While we’ve always considered ebooks to be one of the best lead-gen content assets at a marketer’s disposal, the fact that on-the-go content is only carving out more of a place in today’s increasingly mobile world makes them an even smarter choice as a marketing offer .As a piece of long-form content, a lot of work must go into the creation of a well-crafted ebook . So today, let’s focus on design. How do you design an ebook that is reader-friendly, engaging, and at the same time supports your marketing goals? Let’s discuss the 11 essential elements that make up an effective marketing ebook design.  Importance of a Brand Style Guide First, a note about the role design should play in your content strategy. If ebook creation is (or you plan it to be) a big part of your content strategy, it’s wise to first spend some time establishing a consistent brand style guide to which all your marketing content — not just your ebooks, but also your presentations and other marketing collateral — adheres. This will give your publications a more professional, branded look which translates to a sense of credibility. Of course, the content itself is a huge contributing factor to the credibility and value of a publication, but even if you have quality content down pat, that doesn’t mean people still won’t judge an ebook by its cover ;)If you take a look at the ebooks HubSpot has launched in the past 6 months, for example, you’ll notice that they all have very consistent branding and design elements throughout. When you sit down with your marketing team and designer to decide on your brand style guide, establish rules for such design elements as fonts/sizes, color schemes, charts/graphs, borders for screenshots and images, headers, etc. Creating easy-to-follow guides and templates for your various marketing assets like ebooks, presentations, etc. will make it easy for you and your team to implement a consistent branding style throughout your marketing collateral. HubSpot, for example, has an ebook template created in InDesign to ensure our ebooks have a consistent look no matter who created them.Now let’s dive into the 11 essential design elements you should consider in your next ebook design. 11 Essential Elements of Effective Ebook Design 1) An Interesting, Descriptive Title Okay, so your title choice may not exactly be a design element, but choosing a title for any piece of content is definitely an art , and it shouldn’t be overlooked. The title is often the first thing someone judges before deciding whether to click on or read your ebook, especially when the content gets shared in social media. Choose a title that is both interesting and descriptive — that is, it should be indicative of what the reader will learn from reading the ebook.Unlike blog posts, ebooks are high-commitment pieces of content because of their length, so you need to make sure you’re demonstrating the value up front in a compelling way. For instance, one HubSpot ebook is titled 15 Business Blogging Mistakes & Easy Fixes with the subtitle, “How to Fix the Most Common Blogging Bloopers.” The main title is both descriptive and demonstrates value in itself, but the subtitle also makes it sound like an even more interesting read. 2) A Visual Cover So if we know that people will most definitely be judging your ebooks by their cover, you’ll want to make sure you create ones that are both visually appealing and coincide with your brand style guide. Consider how the visual revolution is playing out with sites like Pinterest cropping up and other social networks like Facebook and Google+ putting more of an emphasis on visual content , and the importance of enticing covers becomes even more evident. Make the title easy to read, include branding elements you decided on in your brand style guide, and feature an image. You’ll notice that HubSpot’s ebook covers , for example, follow the same layout and structure while each featuring a different relevant an interesting image. 3) Skill/Topic/Persona Tags Depending on your business and industry, you likely have a different buyer personas , whether you segment your target audience by demographics, skill level, topic interest, or something else. So if part of your strategy is to create content that is personalized for or targeted to these different audience segments, one helpful way to organize and differentiate between your content assets is through a tagging system. Incorporate your schema in your ebook design so your readers know which particular ebooks will be of interest to them, and which ebooks won’t. You can do this in a number of ways — through iconography, color schemes, or tags.HubSpot’s ebooks, for instance, are categorized by skill level — introductory, intermediate, or advanced — depending on the skill level of our readers. To identify which is which, we use a combination of color scheme and a category key to denote which ebooks are targeted for which skill level. If an ebook is intermediate level like our example here, the cover and color scheme throughout the book uses blue as the dominant color, and a page in the beginning of the book explains which type of audience would benefit from each skill level. Introductory content uses a charcoal color scheme, and advanced content uses an orange color scheme. We’ve also extended this tagging system to our blog. You’ll notice this particular blog post, for example, has also been tagged as ‘intermediate.’ 4) An Author Page Another design element you might want to include in your ebooks is an author page, particularly if you have multiple members of your team creating ebooks. For example, if the author of the ebook is an expert on that topic, an author page that highlights the author’s bio and relevancy to the topic is a great way to add credibility to the content. On your author page, include a brief bio of the author, a headshot, and if you choose to, a way for readers to get in touch with the author if they have questions, such as an email address, Twitter username, or phone number.As an added internal benefit, you might find that members of your team are more willing to spend time creating ebook content if they know their efforts will be recognized publicly through an author page. 5) A Table of Contents A staple for any book, both print or digital, be sure to include a table of contents in every ebook you publish. This not only gives readers a sense of how the ebook is organized, but it also makes it easy for them to reference individual chapters if they decide only certain ones are relevant to them or if they want to refer back to specific sections later. To make this even more user-friendly for your readers, some programs like InDesign make it possible for you to hyperlink chapters/sections, creating a sort of interactive table of contents and allowing readers to jump to a certain section of the ebook when they click on the corresponding link in the table of contents. 6) Chapter Title Pages Clearly distinguish one chapter to the next with chapter title pages. This gives readers a clear indication of their progress through the book and helps set the stage for the section they are about to read. It can also serve as a landing page for that interactive table of contents you may have set up in number 5. In our business blogging mistakes ebooks example, for instance, we organized the chapters by the 15 mistakes we highlight, and our chapter pages highlight which mistake the reader is going to learn about next.  7) Social Sharing Buttons We’ve talked before about the importance of including social sharing buttons on your marketing content. Sure, the landing page behind which you gate your ebook is a great place for these buttons, but why not also stamp them onto the pages of your ebooks as well? It makes sense, right? A potential reader might not feel comfortable sharing your ebook before they’ve read it and know they like the content, but while they’re reading it? That’s a different story.Add these buttons to each page of your ebook — either in the header or the footer — so readers can easily share the book with their social networks no matter how far through it they’ve read. Just be sure you’re sharing links to the ebook’s landing page — not thank-you page — if it’s gated content. HubSpot’s ebooks, for example, include social sharing buttons for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter on each page. For help in creating these social media buttons for your ebooks, check out this handy guide . 8) Visual Elements Break up your “big chunks of copy” and “large blocks of text” with visual elements to emphasize or explain certain points more visually. We’re talking anything from headers, bolded text, and bullet points to screenshots, images, charts, and graphs. Furthermore, leverage content visualizations when appropriate to help you explain concepts that are difficult to explain through text and lend themselves to more visual explanations, as we did in this blog post , which is actually an ebook excerpt! Just be sure to keep your visuals in line with your brand style guide, translating images, graphs, and charts to conform to your guidelines in terms of style and color scheme. 9) Product/Service Call-Outs While ebooks can be catered to achieve certain goals, the way most marketers use ebooks is to generate new leads at the top of the funnel. To achieve this goal, your ebook content should be majorly educational — not product focused — in nature. But does that mean you can’t or shouldn’t sneak in a few mentions of your product or service into them when appropriate? Absolutely not! In fact, when people are just starting to learn about your business in the awareness stage of the sales cycle, they probably know very little about the products and services you offer.Use educational ebooks as an opportunity to connect your thought leadership with product awareness. One way to do this in your ebook content is with subtle product mentions and call-outs when you mention a problem or need in your ebook that your products or services address. How much of these should you include? The key here is balance. Make sure the educational value of the ebook makes up for your product awareness plugs. For example, in HubSpot’s educational ebook How to Attract Customers With Twitter, we add to the section of the ebook that discusses scheduling tweets and monitoring responses by calling to attention to the social media publishing tool available in HubSpot’s software, our paid offering. This lets readers with little or no knowledge of HubSpot’s software connect HubSpot’s thought leadership and expertise with its paid software. 10) Printer/Mobile-Friendliness While your ebook is a digital publication, you’ll likely be offering it as a downloadable file such as a PDF, and despite what you might think, many of the people who download will actually prefer to print it out and read it on paper rather than on a screen. For this reason, it’s important to make sure your ebooks are printer-friendly. For example, avoid designs that leverage double-page, horizontal layouts that don’t translate well to print. The best way to know if your design is printer-friendly? Print it yourself!Furthermore, you’ll also want to make sure your ebook file is mobile-friendly. Does your ebook PDF view well on a smartphone and various e-readers/tablets? Test it out!If you’re considering making your ebook available for sale through ebook marketplaces like the Kindle Store, things get a little bit more complicated . You’ll need to conform to the specific ebook format of that particular store, and you’ll likely need to make chan ges to the style, design, and file of your ebook. In general, you’ll need to modify your ebook to embody a very simple design with few visuals and limited formatting. Publishing services like Lulu.com can make this process more easily manageable. 11) A Final Call-to-Action The last critical element that should be a part of your ebook design is — you guessed it — a final call-to-action! After a reader has completed the ebook, what action do you want them to take next? Tell them!Perhaps you’d like to encourage them to move from the awareness stage of the sales cycle onto the evaluation stage of the sales cycle. In this case, feature a call-to-action for a middle-of-the-funnel stage offer on the last page of your ebook, introducing it to the reader in a way that is relevant and logical. In our 15 Business Blogging Mistakes ebook , for instance, we encourage readers to start a free 30-day trial of HubSpot’s software , relating it to the content of the ebook by emphasizing that readers will be able to try out HubSpot’s business blogging tools to help them fix the blogging mistakes they learned they are guilty of making. Do your ebooks have a consistent design that reflects your business’ branding? What other design elements would you add? Image Credit: Jonah Larsson Don’t forget to share this post! 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