Overcoming Blockers: How to Build Your Red Tape Toolkit – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by HeatherPhysioc

Have you ever made SEO recommendations that just don’t go anywhere? Maybe you run into a lack of budget, or you can’t get buy-in from your boss or colleagues. Maybe your work just keeps getting deprioritized in favor of other initiatives. Whatever the case, it’s important to set yourself up for success when it comes to the tangled web of red tape that’s part and parcel of most organizations.

In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Heather Physioc shares her tried-and-true methods for building yourself a toolkit that’ll help you tear through roadblocks and bureaucracy to get your work implemented.



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Video Transcription

What up, Moz fans? This is Heather Physioc. I’m the Director of the Discoverability Group at VML, headquartered in Kansas City. So today we’re going to talk about how to build your red tape toolkit to overcome obstacles to getting your search work implemented. So do you ever feel like your recommendations are overlooked, ignored, forgotten, deprioritized, or otherwise just not getting implemented?

Common roadblocks to implementing SEO recommendations


If so, you’re not alone. So I asked 140-plus of our industry colleagues the blockers that they run into and how they overcome them.

  • Low knowledge. So if you’re anything like every other SEO ever, you might be running into low knowledge and understanding of search, either on the client side or within your own agency.
  • Low buy-in. You may be running into low buy-in. People don’t care about SEO as much as you do.
  • Poor prioritization. So other things frequently come to the top of the list while SEO keeps falling further behind.
  • High bureaucracy. So a lot of red tape or slow approvals or no advocacy within the organization.
  • Not enough budget. A lot of times it’s not enough budget, not enough resources to get the work done.
  • Unclear and overcomplicated process. So people don’t know where they fit or even how to get started implementing your SEO work.
  • Bottlenecks. And finally bottlenecks where you’re just hitting blockers at every step along the way.

So if you’re in-house, you probably said that not enough budget and resources was your biggest problem. But on the agency side or individual practitioners, they said low understanding or knowledge of search on the client side was their biggest blocker.

So a lot of the time when we run into these blockers and it seems like nothing is getting done, we start to play the blame game. We start to complain that it’s the client who hung up the project or if the client had only listened or it’s something wrong with the client’s business.

Build out your red tape toolkit

But I don’t buy it. So we’re going to not do that. We’re going to build out our red tape toolkit. So here are some of the suggestions that came out of that survey.

1. Assess client maturity

First is to assess your client’s maturity. This could include their knowledge and capabilities for doing SEO, but also their organizational search program, the people, process, ability to plan, knowledge, capacity.

These are the problems that tend to stand in the way of getting our best work done. So I’m not going to go in-depth here because we’ve actually put out a full-length article on the Moz blog and another Whiteboard Friday. So if you need to pause, watch that and come back, no problem.

2. Speak your client’s language

So the next thing to put in your toolkit is to speak your client’s language. I think a lot of times we’re guilty of talking to fellow SEOs instead of the CMOs and CEOs who buy into our work. So unless your client is a super technical mind or they have a strong search background, it’s in our best interests to lift up and stay at 30,000 feet. Let’s talk about things that they care about, and I promise you that is not canonicalization or SSL encryption and HTTPS.

They’re thinking about ROI and their customers and operational costs. Let’s translate and speak their language. Now this could also mean using analogies that they can relate to or visual examples and data visualizations that tell the story of search better than words ever could. Help them understand. Meet them in the middle.

3. Seek greater perspective

Now let’s seek greater perspective. So what this means is SEO does not or should not operate in a silo. We’re one small piece of your client’s much larger marketing mix. They have to think about the big picture. A lot of times our clients aren’t just dedicated to SEO. They’re not even dedicated to just digital sometimes. A lot of times they have to think about how all the pieces fit together. So we need to have the humility to understand where search fits into that and ladder our SEO goals up to the brand goals, campaign goals, business and revenue goals. We also need to understand that every SEO project we recommend comes with a time and a cost associated with it.

Everything we recommend to a CMO is an opportunity cost as well for something else that they could be working on. So we need to show them where search fits into that and how to make those hard choices. Sometimes SEO doesn’t need to be the leader. Sometimes we’re the follower, and that’s okay.

4. Get buy-in

The next tool in your toolkit is to get buy-in. So there are two kinds of buy-in you can get.

Horizontal buy-in

One is horizontal buy-in. So a lot of times search is dependent on other disciplines to get our work implemented. We need copywriters. We need developers. So the number-one complaint SEOs have is not being brought in early. That’s the same complaint all your teammates on development and copywriting and everywhere else have.

Respect the expertise and the value that they bring to this project and bring them to the table early. Let them weigh in on how this project can get done. Build mockups together. Put together a plan together. Estimate the level of effort together.

Vertical buy-in

Which leads us to vertical buy-in. Vertical is up and down. When you do this horizontal buy-in first, you’re able to go to the client with a much smarter, better vetted recommendation. So a lot of times your day-to-day client isn’t the final decision maker. They have to sell this opportunity internally. So give them the tools and the voice that they need to do that by the really strong recommendation you put together with your peers and make it easy for them to take it up to their boss and their CMO and their CEO. Then you really increase the likelihood that you’re going to get that work done.

5. Build a bulletproof plan

Next, build a bulletproof plan.

Case studies

So the number-one recommendation that came out of this survey was case studies. Case studies are great. They talk about the challenge that you tried to overcome, the solution, how you actually tackled it, and the results you got out of that.

Clients love case studies. They show that you have the chops to do the work. They better explain the outcomes and the benefits of doing this kind of work, and you took the risk on that kind of project with someone else’s money first. So that’s going to reduce the perceived risk in the client’s mind and increase the likelihood that they’re going to do the work.

Make your plan simple and clear, with timelines

Another thing that helps here is building a really simple, clear plan so it’s stupid-easy for everybody who needs to be a part of it to know where they fit in and what they’re responsible for. So do the due diligence to put together a step-by-step plan and assign ownership to each step and put timelines to it so they know what pace they should be following.

Forecast ROI

Finally, forecast ROI. This is not optional. So a lot of times I think SEOs are hesitant to forecast the potential outcomes or ROI of a project because of the sheer volume of unknowns.

We live in a world of theory, and it’s very hard to commit to something that we can’t be certain about. But we have to give the client some sense of return. We have to know why we are recommending this project over others. There’s a wealth of resources out there to do that for even heavily caveated and conservative estimate, including case studies that others have published online.

Show the cost of inaction

Now sometimes forecasting the opportunity of ROI isn’t enough to light a fire for clients. Sometimes we need to show them the cost of inaction. I find that with clients the risk is not so much that they’re going to make the wrong move. It’s that they’ll make no move at all. So a lot of times we will visualize what that might look like. So we’ll show them this is the kind of growth we think that you can get if you invest and you follow this plan we put together.

Here’s what it will look like if you invest just a little to monitor and maintain, but you’re not aggressively investing in search. Oh, and here, dropping down and to the right, is what happens when you don’t invest at all. You stagnate and you get surpassed by your competitors. That can be really helpful for clients to contrast those different levels of investment and convince them to do the work that you’re recommending.

6. Use headlines & soundbites

Next use headlines, taglines, and sound bites. What we recommend is really complicated to some clients. So let’s help translate that into simple, usable language that’s memorable so they can go repeat those lines to their colleagues and their bosses and get that work sold internally. We also need to help them prioritize.

So if you’re anything like me, you love it when the list of SEO action items is about a mile long. But when we dump that in their laps, it’s too much. They get overwhelmed and bombarded, and they tune out. So instead, you are the expert consultant. Use what you know about search and know about your client to help them prioritize the single most important thing that they should be focusing on.

7. Patience, persistence, and parallel paths

Last in your toolkit, patience, persistence, and parallel paths. So getting this work done is a combination of communication, follow-up, patience, and persistence. While you’ve got your client working on this one big thing that you recommended, you can be building parallel paths, things that have fewer obstacles that you can own and run with.

They may not be as high impact as the one big thing, but you can start to get small wins that get your client excited and build momentum for more of the big stuff. But the number one thing out of all of the responses in the survey that our colleagues recommended to you is to stay strong. Have empathy and understanding for the hard decisions that your client has to make. But come with a strong, confident point of view on where to go next.

All right, gang, these are a lot of great tips to start your red tape toolkit and overcome obstacles to get your best search work done. Try these out. Let us know what you think. If you have other great ideas on how you overcome obstacles to get your best work done with clients, let us know down in the comments. Thank you so much for watching, and we’ll see you next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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29 of the Best Office Pranks & Practical Jokes to Use at Work

If you’ve watched the TV show “The Office” as religiously as I have, the classic “stapler in Jell-O” trick surely sounds familiar. It’s pretty much what the name describes: Simply make a batch of Jell-O, but make sure your colleague’s stapler is hidden inside the mold.

It’s a classic prank. But what other, less conventional pranks are out there to add some kicks to an otherwise average day at the office?

We asked our friends and combed the internet for more examples of some of the funniest office pranks, and pulled together this list to serve as inspiration for your own work pranks.Click here to unlock a free guide and template designed to help you create a  company culture code. 

Every company has a story about that funny office prank of yore. Whether you’re doing some early April Fool’s Day research, or just feeling a little tricksy, it’s time to get a prank of your own in the books. Here are some ideas.

Funny Office Pranks to Pull on Your Coworkers

1. Caramel Onions

When Halloween is around the corner, these caramel onions are no match for other tricks (or treats). Dip each onion in caramel — maybe some red food coloring first, if you need to further disguise them — and stick popsicle sticks down the center. Your colleagues won’t know the difference, but they will wonder why these caramel apples are making them cry so much …

Caramel onions office prank
Source: Rant Lifestyle

2. Nicolas Cage Toilet Seat

Speaking of Halloween, here’s what nightmares are truly made of. Nicolas Cage is easy to come by in the meme community these days. Print a picture of him at his most, well, enthusiastic — and allow him to greet everyone who takes a bathroom break.

Office prank with picture of Nicolas Cage on toilet seat
Source: Rant Lifestyle

3. Fish Drawer

There’s something fishy about this office prank … Just be sure to include fish food; experts suggest you should feed this prank twice a day.

Office prank with desk drawer filled with water and fish
Source: Reddit user jihadaze

4. Pants in the Stall

Usually, when you see feet underneath the stall, you just have to wait your turn. In this case, you might be waiting forever. Set this guy up in your office bathroom and see how long it takes for people to start talking. We just hope nobody called the paramedics on this poor, empty suit.

Office prank with empty pants and shoes in bathroom stall
Source: BuzzFeed

5. Febreze for Days

Tighten the zip-tie, throw it, and run for your life. Or, leave it in your coworker’s office when they’re on break. They’re sure to return to a potent workspace.

Febreze office prank
Source: Emlii

6. Vehicular Sticky Notes

This is the perfect use for those sticky notes that keep piling up — especially if they’re all for someone who just won’t finish his or her tasks. The prank below is a wonderful way to remind them before they take off for the day.

Office prank with sticky notes covering coworker's car
Source: Reddit, Bzbzbzbz

7. Misspelling Macro

Never ask your work buddy to unlock your iPhone for you, or they’ll make you look like the worst speller of all time when you go to type a text or email. Settings > General > Keyboard > Add new shortcut will make this prank a reality against your most detail-oriented colleague.

Source: Gottabemobile

8. Foghorn Entrance

Haven’t you ever wanted to get a room’s attention the second you walk through the door? Well, the prank below will even get the person entering to stand up straight. This is certainly one way to make sure everyone’s alert before a meeting.

Office prank with foghorn on door bumper
Source: Reddit user JJ0EE

9. Ballooned Conference

Hey, at least it’s not glitter? This prank works two ways: You can either surprise the next team who reserves this room, or have a day-long meeting in here without anyone knowing your business. You will of course have some static electricity when you exit the room.

Office conference room filled with balloons
Source: Reddit, williebeth

10. Desk Trolls

For trolls, by trolls. Luckily, you can buy many of these trolls in bulk. Click here if you’re serious about trolling your coworker’s workstation — just keep in mind you will have to buy more than one pack of trolls to make this stunt worth it.

Office desk full of pink troll dolls
Source: Dose

11. Water Works

Oh look, a budget trip to the beach. This prank gives a whole new meeting to the term, “staycation.” Surprise your coworker when he/she comes back from a beach getaway with, well, another beach getaway. The downside is it’ll be nothing like where they were. The upside is they won’t need a towel.

Beach vacation prank
Source: Imgur user Sanjeev

12. Anti-Gravity Desk

“That’s it — you’re suspended.” Just make sure the person who arrives in the morning to a floating desk doesn’t try to sit down …

Source: Daily Mail

13. Nailed the Cake

Hey everyone, there’s cake up for grabs in the kitchen! The prank, however, is written in frosting. This is a good gesture to someone who loves the expression, “needle in a haystack.” Happy hunting.

Source: Reddit user blinhorst

14. Psychedelic Supervision

“I don’t know, I feel like my boss is always watching me,” your coworker might say. Change their perception of micromanagement when this colorful prank. Suddenly a “quick checkin” doesn’t seem all that bad.

Source: Imgur user DecentLeaf

15. Voice Toast

Simple, yet brilliant. Change the terms of breakfast ever so slightly, and the kitchen becomes the most confusing room in the office. This little note pranks the entire office — a true masterpiece of prank-dom.


Source: Tumblr

16. Work From Home

As Ron Burgundy from Anchorman says, “I’m not even mad. I’m just impressed.” Help your coworker who loves taking his/her work home, take their home to work instead. As you can tell, you might need to stay late the night before to get this prank just right.

Source: Reddit user BOOMTimebomb

17. You’ve Been ‘Felined’

This could actually make your cat-loving coworker’s day. Or, it could make for the greatest prank of all time against the coworker who’s violently allergic to cats (that is, as long as they’re not allergic to photos of cats, too).

Source: Reddit user cstyves

18. The Seedboard

Work with your IT department to fertilize this prank perfectly. Soon enough, its user will wonder why their keyboard is growing. We suggest targeting someone who sits close to the window — some pranks just need some sunlight. “You said you wanted to spend more time with nature,” you might say in your defense.

Source: BoredPanda

19. Healthy Creme

Who said you couldn’t be helpful while also being a prankster? “The bad news is we’re out of donuts. The good news is you have all these nutritious alternatives to help your immune system cope with the lack of donuts.”


This is just cruel 😂 #officeprank #aprilfools #krispykreme #mean #notcool

A post shared by Free Humor (@scotchandsarcasm) on May 12, 2017 at 12:02pm PDT

20. The Ceilings Have Eyes

You could freak out just looking at the photo of this horrifying prank. It might be a little too much for your jumpiest colleague, but for the person who can’t stop talking about scary movies, it’s just the revenge you deserve. (Hint: paper mache, white paint, and a black wig. Done.)


Source: Tumblr

21. Chair Scare

Similar to the Entrance Foghorn (prank #8, above), this prank will probably scare more than just the person who sits down. Of course, it’ll be a lesson to anyone who, I suppose, tries to sit too low at their desk.

Source: Reddit user 12q9et

Funny Pranks to Pull on Your Boss

22. No Stalling

For the man who never has enough time. Or, for the coworker who takes way too many bathroom breaks during the day. Prank them with their very own throne the next time nature calls.

23. No Stalling: Pt. 2

… Or anyone, really, who never has enough time to make a pit stop — especially if they have specific bathroom decor preferences.

Source: 22words

24. Glitter Bomb

About that whole, “At least it’s not glitter” thing in prank #9? Well, this prank can’t make that promise. For the coworkers who don’t yet know the permanence of getting glitter on yourself, this prank is sure to set them straight.

25. Substitute Worker

Sometimes, you’re not sure how to ask for another day off. For those days where you simply can’t come into work, but don’t have the heart to call out again, the doll who looks just like you is the perfect substitute. Or, just put ’em at your colleague’s desk and give them a much-needed identity crisis.

26. Crushed It

When you finally learn about your colleague’s celebrity crush, make sure they know how much you care.



A post shared by Alice Lei (@alicerabbit1) on Aug 1, 2015 at 4:04pm PDT

27. World’s ‘Best’ Boss

When words just aren’t enough to express your sentiment, give your manager the perfect way to say “thank you” every time they go to take a sip of coffee.

28. Cup o’ Spiders

“Hey chief, I found a spider on your desk, but don’t worry, it’s been handled.” This prank doesn’t have to have an actual spider in it — the mystery, alone, is all you need to prank your employee.

29. That’s a Wrap

And finally, for the boss who has everything, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

giphy (9).gif

Source: Giphy

Want more? Read The HubSpot Culture Code: Creating a Company We Love.

download free guide to company culture

What Will It Take Us to Finally Leave Facebook?

Oh, Facebook. What are we going to do with you?

In the past two years alone, we’ve learned that the network was weaponized by foreign actors to spread misinformation in an effort to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. We’ve learned that personal user information was improperly harvested by an voter profiling firm. And, last month, we learned that hackers used a site vulnerability to scrape the personal details of 30 million users.

That doesn’t even cover everything.

It’s true: These events, on the surface, most directly impact consumers, marketers and small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) are also feeling their overall impact.

And yet, many Facebook users, marketers, and SMBs have found it so very, very hard to leave the site.

This phenomenon has been measured before in some of our research, which month-over-month has reflected a general sentiment among users to stick with Facebook, despite its many issues. But we wanted to take a closer look — at the impact on marketers and SMBs, at a zoomed-in perspective of user sentiment, at the “why” behind the overall reluctance to quit Facebook altogether, and what it might take for people to finally leave.

To get to the bottom of these different pieces of one big, social puzzle, we ran some more surveys, and discussed the results with Likeable Media CEO Carrie Kerpen.

Here’s what we found.

The Impact on Marketers and SMBs

Facebook has made a number changes in response to the aforementioned issues its experienced over the past two years.

To help curtail the spread of misinformation, for example, it began this spring requiring labels for all political ads and content — like candidates running for an elected office, or issues that frequently arise during elections.

It began applying similar labels to news items, too, indicating where and how many times that story (from that publisher) has been shared on Facebook, as well as a “More From This Publisher” feature.


Source: Facebook

While the company’s intended goal might be to regain or improve user trust, the outcome has arguably been felt the most by marketers and SMBs. That’s compounded by a major January News Feed algorithm change that prioritized content from users’ friends and family — leading to a drop of up to 50% in business Page engagement for certain categories.

But consider another extension of Facebook’s content-labeling requirement that applies to media companies. In addition to labeling political or issue-based ads as such, the company also began requiring the same labels be placed on promoted news stories about political topics. In other words, a newspaper’s story about an election, if promoted or boosted, would be labeled as a political ad.

According to the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), these requirements have caused a number of smaller publishers to curb their use of Facebook’s publisher tools, or in some cases, stop promoting their content on the site completely. It shares the story of Pennsylvania newspaper the Observer-Reporter, which has had the promotion of many of its stories denied altogether from Facebook — due to their alleged “political” nature — much of the time without any explanation.

It begs the question: What’s the value tradeoff for marketers and SMBs? And furthermore, with all the costs involved with these changes — will they even work?

That’s where the public perception comes in.

The Facebook Trust Barometer: Where Do Users Stand?

Overall User Trust in and Allegiance to Facebook

First, we wanted to measure overall, recent trust levels in Facebook. So, earlier this week, we asked 828 internet users across the U.S., UK, and Canada: Over the past week, how would you measure your overall trust in Facebook?

Over the past week, how would you measure your overall trust in Facebook_ (1)

Nearly 40% of respondents indicated that their trust in the site hadn’t changed at all — even after Facebook had recently revealed the extent of the data obtained by hackers in the site’s recent data breach (which, it turns out, included recent search queries and check-in locations).

But we wanted to see what would happen if we added more context to the question — and see what actions people said they would take in response to that information. So, we asked another 848 internet users across the same region: Facebook disclosed that in a recent data breach, personal details of 14 million users — like their 15 most recent searches and the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in — were scraped by hackers. Does this affect how you’ll use the site going forward?

Facebook disclosed that in a recent data breach, personal details of 14 million users -- like their 15 most recent searches and the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in -- were scraped by hackers. Does this affect how you'll u

Looking at these results, the unwillingness to leave Facebook, even after all is said and done, could be chalked up to awareness. With the additional context, we saw slightly more respondents indicating a possible deterioration in trust in Facebook — with over a quarter saying that the data attack was enough to make them at least use the site less.

Still, most users — over a third — said that it wasn’t enough to make them leave the site.

Confidence in Efforts to Curb Election Meddling

Facebook has made a number of efforts to stop the weaponization of its site to influence elections — ranging from the aforementioned content labels, to new rules prohibiting posts that aim to suppress voters

The company has also publicized its efforts to squash election interference, perhaps with the intention of convincing users and lawmakers alike how seriously it’s taking the issue — and even recently invited journalists into its “election warm room” to see what that day-to-day work looks like.

But we wanted to know how confident the public is in Facebook’s efforts to stop election interference in its tracks, including some of the loopholes that have been found in them. A recent New York Times story found, for example, that political ads can still be somewhat anonymous, thanks to a technicality that allows ad buyers to write anything in the “paid for by” field.

We asked another 837 people across the U.S., UK, and Canada: Do you think the actions Facebook is taking to prevent efforts to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections will work?

Do you think the actions Facebook is taking to prevent efforts to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections will work_ (1)

The results didn’t indicate resounding user confidence in Facebook’s efforts to curb election meddling — while about 44% say that they might work to some extent, over a third don’t believe they’ll be effective at all.

The Perception of Spam and Misinformation on Facebook

Earlier this year, 

What Will It Take Us to Finally Leave Facebook?

To answer the above question, I needed to call in an expert: Likeable Media CEO Carrie Kerpen.

When it comes to the tendency of users to stick with Facebook in the face of ongoing controversy, it seems to be a combination of awareness and trade-offs. We’ve discussed the latter before, when HubSpot VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson pointed to the lack of a widespread replacement for Facebook’s ability to keep users connected to family, friends, and news. 

Kerpen agrees that this phenomenon of connectedness does underscore the unwillingness among users to delete their Facebook accounts for good.

“Your Grandma is likely not on Twitter, but she’s on Facebook now,” Kerpen says, pointed to Facebook’s diversified user base among different populations. “It’s easy to use Facebook, every one is on it, and it’s widely adopted.”

Then, there’s the awareness aspect. Even when people do know about Facebook’s various issues, and think they understand them, it’s difficult for most users to tangibly experience the consequences of them.

“Issues are talked about, but rarely felt. You hear about ‘the Russians,’ but have you ever [directly] felt the impact of that?” asks Kerpen. “Chances are, if you’ve been impacted, you don’t realize it. Until people feel tangible effects of privacy breaches, they won’t be bothered by them.”

What, then, will it take for people to leave the site? According to Kerpen, one of two things need to happen. 

In one scenario, “Facebook becomes less relevant and necessary to [users’] lives,” she says. “That’s unlikely, unless another network is able to have the widespread reach that Facebook has achieved.”

If that happens, the impacts and awareness among users will have to become more tangible. “The privacy breaches actually impact lives at an individual level. They may have impacted elections, for instance, but until a user has to call their credit card company and dispute charges, it really doesn’t feel like it impacts them on an individual level,” Kerpen explains. “These breaches may have given companies data — but until a user’s private data is exposed in a way that impacts them directly, they won’t care.”

That signals some of the impact of these issues on marketers and SMBs. Take the earlier CJR piece, for example, which shares the stories of publishers whose brand engagement — like visits to their sites — have dropped over the past year as a result of Facebook’s changes.

That’s the type of case where the impact of what’s taken place on Facebook over the past two years is tangibly experienced by — and at the expense of — those from whom Facebook earns the most revenue (read: advertisers).

And while the company has implied that it’s willing to sacrifice income from content promotions and ads from the marketers and businesses using these tools, one might wonder at what point more of these professional users — like some cited in the CJR story — might begin to reconsider or reshape their use of Facebook.

“I think you’ll see a temporary scale back from Facebook if these practices continue, but ultimately, brands follow what works,” Kerpen explains. “Television was the top medium for advertisers for years, and there was no actual way to prove a direct correlation to sales. Facebook has both the broad reach that television did for content consumption, and the ability to directly correlate to action the way search does.”

In any case, says Kerpen, the answer to the question of “what will it take?” comes down to palpable, sustainable effects felt by all users of Facebook.

“When and if people feel individual pain,” she says, “they’ll care.”

The Ultimate Guide to Publishing

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be an author.

People are open to new ideas, readers are consuming content through a variety of media, and traditional publishers no longer stand in the way of releasing a new title.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever considered publishing a book. (Mine is raised right now, too.) Now, keep your hand up if you know how to publish a book. * … slowly lowers hand*

Publishing a book has always been one of those mysterious, cryptic processes reserved for the uber-famous or uber-rich. Books just seem to appear on the bookstore shelves … but they’ve got to come from somewhere, right?

Right. Nowadays, they come from multiple sources, which is good news for those of us who aren’t uber-famous or uber-rich. Regardless of your status, income, hometown, or connections, you (yes, you!) can publish a book.

All you need is a great idea, an even better sense of perseverance and patience, and this guide. Keep reading to learn more about publishing or use the chapter links below to skip ahead.

The publishing industry hasn’t always been so diverse and accessible, though. From the very early days of cave walls, clay tablets and papyrus to the modern era of eBooks, the publishing industry has undergone many major changes.

Here are some highlights.

  • 1456: The Gutenberg Press publishes the first book ever: the Bible.
  • 1776: Common Sense is written and self-published by Thomas Paine. He sold over 100,000 copies within three months.
  • 1800s: The Penny Press arrives in the U.S., making newspapers and news accessible for a penny. Since more people can consume news for less (versus just the rich), letters to the editor increase.
  • 1940-1970: The first eBook is published, although historians disagree on which one was truly first.
  • 2000s: Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter emerge, as does blogging. Instead of sending letters to the editor, the masses take to blogging to share their voice and opinions.
  • 2007: Print on-demand gains traction. Amazon releases Kindle.
  • 2009: Self-published titles surge to double the amount of traditionally published titles.
  • 2011: eBook sales surpass printed books for the first time in history.

As for 2018, this year has seen an increase in traditional and indie bookstore sales. Audiobooks have also become the fastest growth area in self-publishing. Lastly, most authors are opting to become hybrid authors — meaning they make their books available in both traditional and electronic formats. How do they do this? Keep reading to find out.

What’s the Difference Between Traditional and Self-Publishing?

So, we’ve referenced traditional and self-publishing (or indie publishing) multiple times so far. What do these processes mean? How are they similar and different?

Traditional publishing refers to the process of working with an agent and/or publishing house to edit, release, and market a book. Despite the lack of creative control given to authors in the traditional publishing process, once a publisher purchases a manuscript, they assume all financial risk with selling your book. New authors with little to no audience or follower base might choose to publish traditionally.

On the other hand, self-publishing is when authors assume all creative and financial control of the publishing process. They choose which independent agents, editors, designers, and distributors to work with, and they assume all or most financial risk associated with putting their book out. Experienced authors or people with a large audience (from a blog or social media) might choose to self-publish.

In the next section, we’ll discuss how to publish books via these different processes. Before we dive in, though, let’s define a few other popular terms in the publishing world.

What Does a Literary Agent Do?

A literary agent is similar to a celebrity or sports agent. They act as a liaison between the talent (the author) and anyone who could profit from or work with the talent. Literary agents typically work with authors to pitch and secure contracts with publishers. They also represent authors if their book is sold to film producers or studios.

Traditionally, literary agents are paid a percentage of any book sales negotiated on behalf of their client. How do agents benefit authors? Outside of making sales, literary authors connect their client’s work to publishers, negotiate contracts, ensure royalty payments, mitigate problems, and provide invaluable guidance and mentorship throughout the publishing process. Agents can also help new authors gain recognition and traction in the publishing world.

Authors secure an agent through a process called querying. (We cover this below.)

What Does a Publisher Do?

Book publishers assume all responsibility of getting a book published. With a team of editors, designers, and marketers, publishers do everything (short of writing the book) in order to bring it to market.

Some publishers specialize in a certain type of writing, whether fiction, non-fiction, or a specific genre. Also, depending on its size, a publisher might employ editors to manage the manuscript within each of those categories, thus diversifying the books and authors they represent.

Authors typically secure a publisher through their agent, as most big publishing houses don’t accept unrepresented works. Some smaller publishers accept work directly from authors, though. (We discuss this next.)

Top Publishing Companies

The following publishing houses publish the most books (and control over 60% of U.S. book revenue) and require agent representation to be considered for publication.

  1. Hachette
  2. Simon & Schuster
  3. Penguin Random House
  4. HarperCollins
  5. Macmillan

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the publishing industry, let’s talk about how to get a book from the pages of your word processor to the shelf of your favorite bookstore.

How to Publish a Book

Because there are so many ways to publish a book nowadays, the “path to published” isn’t a straight line. There are many factors that can change the direction of that path — or put you on a new one entirely — such as book genre, literary agency (or lack thereof), traditional vs. self-publication, print vs. electronic publication … and the list goes on.

Preparing Your Book

The first step in publishing a book can be both the easiest and hardest step in the entire process — writing it. But before you dive in, you must ask yourself: What kind of book are you writing?

  • If you’re writing a novel or memoir, you should finish your manuscript before approaching agents or starting the self-publishing process. Regardless of which publishing route you’re taking, make your manuscript the best content you’ve ever written. Hire a proofreader. Attend writing critique groups. Complete a few extra drafts. This will make it 1) more likely to get picked up by an agent or 2) sell well if self-published.
  • If you’re writing a non-fiction book, a book proposal should suffice. Consider this a business plan for your book — a document that includes what you’d write about, why it would sell well, any competing manuscripts, and more. (If you’re self-publishing, follow the guidelines for a fiction book. In that case, you’d go straight to the press, so the manuscript would need to be complete.)

Publishing Your Book

This step is where the publishing process could take you in a few different directions. Below, we break it up into two main “paths”, per se.

Traditional Publishing

If you choose the traditional publishing route, you’ll need to either work with an agent or directly with a publisher. In today’s market, the vast majority of books acquired by the top publishing houses (mentioned above) are represented by agents. Imagine walking into a Hollywood audition without representation … that’s kind of like pitching a brand new book to a major publishing house. Literary agents help bridge that gap.

If you aren’t interested in agency, you can work directly with a publisher — albeit a smaller, lesser known one. Thankfully, in today’s publishing world, there’s a good fit for every author and his or her work. It just takes some research.

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of where to find agents and publishers.

If you don’t feel like doing your own research, you can also hire help through services like Copy Write Consultants. For a fee, they’ll research agents and publishers and curate a customized, genre-specific list. They also review your queries and proposals.

Pitching an Agent or Publisher

Once you’ve found the agents and/or publishers you’re interested in, it’s time to compile a query letter and pitch your work. Querying is sending an unsolicited proposal for representation, typically including an outline, synopsis, or first few chapters of a new manuscript. From that point, the agent or publisher can either reject or accept the query.

Accepting the query involves requesting a full manuscript … which is why it’s handy to have your whole book completed before reaching out to agents or publishers.

Note: Beware of con-artists posing as agents. Reputable agents never ask for a fee to read your manuscript; they only make money if they sell your book. Visit Preditors & Editors to check agent ratings and reviews.

Signing and Working with an Agent or Publisher

Next, if an agent or publishing house extends a contract, it’s time to sign. Take a moment to research the agent or publishing house by reviewing their past clients and books. Overall, trust your gut. You’ll work closely with this person and/or publisher and share your most intimate ideas and thoughts with them (in the form of your book). Be comfortable with your choice.

Let’s say you sign with an agent. Here’s what that process would look like.

  1. You’ll work with him or her to review your manuscript, but at this point, you’ll likely only be making minor changes in preparation to pitch a publisher. These changes might include word count, book organization, or any big-picture plot holes. Remember, the book is still yours — you don’t have to change anything you don’t want to.
  2. Once you’re both happy with your manuscript, your agent will take it to various publishers. At this point, the fate of your book is out of your hands … which is why it’s important to sign with an agent you trust. If a publisher is interested, they’ll offer to purchase and publish your manuscript, and you’ll sign it over.
  3. Upon purchase, the publishing house will assign its own editor to your book. You’ll work alongside them to continue to tweak and revise the copy, as well as establish the book design, cover art, publishing date, and marketing strategy (which we’ll delve into next). The publisher will have its own team for these tasks, but you’ll likely still be involved.

Now, let’s rewind and say you sign directly with a publisher. This process looks pretty similar, except you’d simply skip to Step 3.


Okay. Let’s change directions and explore the self-publishing path. In the previous section, we discussed self-publishing and ePublishing, and we’ll expand more on these below.

First, here are the most common self-publishing methods:

  • Independently self-publishing, which means hiring freelance or consulting help as-needed and working directly with retailers and distributors
  • Hiring a self-publishing service company, which is akin to working with a publisher

For the sake of equipping you with everything you need to know about publishing, we’re going to dedicate this section to the first method. But before we move on, let’s explore the second … just in case you’re interested.

Hiring a company to self-publish your book is very similar to working with a publisher, except they typically charge an upfront fee, retain no rights to your work, and pass along 100% of your sales. While this method sounds like a great deal, it’s important to note that the best and most notable companies charge upwards of $20,000 … per manuscript. So, if you have a ton of money and no interest in being involved, this might be the move for you.

Here are a few reputable self-publishing service companies:

Now, let’s talk about the first method: self-publishing completely on your own.

This method gives you complete control over your book’s design, editorial process, and quality. Today that’s made easy by the myriad of freelance and independent editors, illustrators, book designers, and marketing professionals that work in this specific market.

The first thing to determine when self-publishing is whether you’d like to publish your manuscript as a print or digital book. This will determine how you prepare your manuscript and who you hire to help you.

Print Publishing

Print production can be done in one of two ways: print on-demand or traditional printing. Print on-demand is printing your book one at a time, as it’s ordered. Traditional printing is typically how major publishing houses produce their books, and to follow this method, you typically have to commit to (at least) 1,000 copies.

Which option is best for you? Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I plan to sell my book?
  • Where will my audience discover and buy my book?
  • What is my budget like?

Print on-demand is a great option for authors who plan to sell primarily online, such as through a website or Amazon. Traditional printing might be a good fit for an author who has speaking engagements or plans to make in-person sales. If you’re looking to stock your book in bookstores, it’s best to wait for a purchase order or sales contract before investing in a traditional print run.

As for your budget, print on-demand can increase your per-unit cost (and retail price), but if you’re working with a small budget, print on-demand decreases the financial risk associated with publishing. On the other hand, if you’re confident you’ll be able to sell your printed books, traditional printing might be worth the bulk cost … with printing and shipping, it’ll likely be at least $2,000.

Preparing Your Print Manuscript

Traditional publishers have a slew of professionals who take your Microsoft Word manuscript and turn it into a gorgeous book. As a self-publisher, that process is on you.

Before taking your book to print, it must look like a traditional book. Tools like Book Design Templates can help you organize and design the inside of your manuscript. For the cover design, you can use tools like Canva (if you’re looking for a DIY approach) or hire a professional designer. At this stage, you should also consider your author biography and any positive reviews you’d like to put on the cover.


ePublishing isn’t a synonym for self-publishing, but rather one way self-published authors might distributetheir work. ePublishers aren’t publishers; they don’t assume responsibility for the quality or organization of your work, and they don’t assume any rights.

They’re merely distributors or retailers — such as an electronic bookstore or library — that take a portion of the proceeds from book sales. The below image is an example of the retailer fees by price point.



Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a popular ePublishing option offered through Amazon. KDP is considered an ePub retailer, on which authors can sell their books. KDP doesn’t work with authors beforehand; they simply provide a portal through which readers can find and purchase books.

Preparing Your eBook Manuscript

If you opt to self-publish digitally, you’ll need to tweak your manuscript. This process is similar to preparing your manuscript for print, except you’ll need to add another step: converting your file to an ePub format.

Here are the most common formats:

  • EPUB, a standard format for eBooks. You can’t export an EPUB file from a Word document, but you can save your Word document as a text (.txt) file and convert and format it using a special software.
  • MOBI, the ideal format for Amazon Kindle (although EPUB files work, too).

PDFs work, too, although they’re not recommended as they are difficult to convert.

If this process intimidates you, companies like Draft2Digital or eBookPartnership can help. But if your manuscript is mostly text, you should be able to handle conversion and formatting on your own.

In terms of cover art, eBook covers will likely be seen in black and white, grayscale, color, high-resolution, low-resolution, thumbnail size, or full size … just to name a few. Digital books sales can take place on desktops, mobile devices, and in all resolutions. Because of this, it may be best to hire a designer who specializes in these formats.

Distributing and Marketing Your Book

So, we’ve talked about how to prepare and publish your book, both traditionally and as a self-published author. At this stage, you’d likely have one of the following:

  • A printed book as produced by a traditional publisher (with or without an agent)
  • A printed book as produced by print on-demand or a traditional printer
  • A digital book manuscript

With the hard part behind you and one of these in-hand (or on your computer), you’re now ready to distribute, market, and sell your book.

Note: If you’re working with a traditional publishing house, they’ll handle most of the marketing and distribution. That’s what your contract entails, after all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help promote your book, too. Apply some of the self-publishing tips below to maximize your book sales.

For self-published print books, the main success factors are your book quality and your cover. (That’s why the majority of this article is dedicated to preparing and publishing your book.) The main factors for eBooks include pricing (which should be similar to or a little less than your competition) and its positioning on Amazon or other digital bookstores. While you can’t quite control this, you can optimize your marketing description, author bio, cover design, and other components to ensure your book is seen by more people.

There’s one factor that drives success for both print and digital books: audience involvement and visibility. This includes giveaways, reviews, contests, and drumming up interest before the publish date. Authors — especially self-published authors — should have a website, a blog, and social media (for starters) through which they can attract followers and promote their book. Loyalty is an incredibly strong motivator for books sales.

Writer Jane Friedman shares this advice on her blog: “You’ll be far more attractive to a publisher if they believe you’ll be an active marketer and promoter of your book. If you come to the table with media savvy or an established platform (audience or readership), you’ll have an easier time getting that first deal. [Also,] don’t go looking for a publishing deal because you need the authority or platform that a book can give you. Rather, you must already have the platform and authority, and thus be qualified to write a book. YOU bring the audience to the publisher, not the reverse.”

The same goes for self-publishers. Your audience is critical for marketing and selling a book … which brings us to our next section: publishing tips in 2018.

Publishing a Book in 2018

The publishing world has changed drastically, especially in the last 20 years. Outside of self-publishing, ePublishing, and audiobooks, what else is new? What are some tips for modern-day publishing? Keep reading to find out.

Crowdsource Your Book

Crowdsourcing isn’t reserved for fancy backpacks or new technology. Self-published authors can thrive there, too. Not only does crowdsourcing provide you with an advance of cash that can help with upfront editorial or printing costs, but it can also create a unique audience of people who are both fiscally and emotionally invested in the creation of your book.

It also builds a sense of exclusivity as your supporters are the only ones who’d receive your book … at least in the beginning. Services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo can help host a “pre-book tour” that raises funds and a following.

Start With an eBook, Then Print

Is this your very first book? Well, maybe you should take this guide one step at a time. Given the lower financial and physical commitment of publishing an eBook, many first-time authors use that process as a springboard into the world of authorship.

Publishing an eBook allows you to get your work out there while building up a readership and garnering name recognition. Then, when you’re (hopefully) ready to publish your second book, your readers can anticipate a digital and hard copy.

Better Yet, Start With a Blog

Let’s take a step back. If this is your very first book, and you have yet to write a word much less attract an audience, it may be more realistic to start with a blog. Blogging is completely risk- and cost-free yet attracts a readership and following via email and social media. Once you drum up enough attention, then you can dive into writing a book … with the confidence that your audience will want to read that, too.

Look Local

Just like coffeeshops love supporting local farmers and art galleries love supporting local artists, indie and independent bookstores love supporting local authors. Selling books written by local authors attracts, well, local customers and celebrates the community that the shop is a part of.

Local bookstores (like coffeeshops) are community hotspots — they support the community, sponsor local programs, sell unique content (not found at national chains), and host events. When pitching to a local bookstore, consider how your book supports their mission as said hotspot and how selling your book might bring other locals there, too.

Over to You

From querying an agent to working with an indie book cover designer, there are a myriad of players in the wild world of publishing. No longer are book jacket biographies reserved for the rich, famous, or uber-successful. Anyone and everyone can publish their thoughts and ideas — including you — and this guide can help you do so.

What is Website Architecture? A 3-Minute Rundown

Getting lost sucks. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a city or a corn maze, the ambiguity of not knowing where you are and what could happen next can make you break out in a cold sweat. This stress intensifies even more when you’re lost and you actually have to be somewhere, which is similar to how website visitors feel when they land on a jumbled website.

In a society that’s addicted to instant gratification, people don’t like searching for things for a long time. We’re irrationally impatient, making us feel like we’re in a perpetual rush. That’s why over 55% of visitors only spend 15 seconds engaging with websites.

As a marketer, structuring your website in an intuitive and easy-to-navigate way is crucial for retaining your audience’s attention. If you don’t, they’ll bounce in seconds. And if people leave your website because your user experience is messy, search engines won’t think highly of you, either.

If you need help structuring a website that will engage an audience and rank on Google, we’ve got you covered. We’ll teach you what website architecture is, why it’s important for UX and SEO, and how you can develop a sound architecture for your own website.

Why is website architecture important?

A sound website architecture strengthens your website’s user experience — when you structure your website in an intuitive way, users can seamlessly find the information they’re looking for.

Plus, when your user experience is strong, your search engine rankings will be, too. Users will spend more time on your website and link to your web pages, which are both heavy indicators that your brand creates quality content. Furthermore, a solid website architecture helps search engines effectively crawl your website.

How to Develop a Sound Website Architecture

1. Don’t make your users think too hard.

A hard-to-navigate website will have a lofty bounce rate — users don’t want to waste time trying to find information on your site. If they do, they’ll just leave. So practice empathy and provide an intuitive web experience.

For instance, if your users click on the “Email Marketing” tab on your blog’s homepage, they expect to be directed to a list of email marketing posts. From this page, you also need to design a simple navigation path back to your blog’s homepage and your website’s homepage.

2. Model your website architecture after the top players in your industry.

Your customers are used to the website architecture of major brands in your industry, so if you run an eCommerce store, analyze how Amazon structures their website and emulate them. Your website will seem more familiar and, in turn, easier to navigate.

3. Keep your website consistent.

Your website’s navigation format, design principles, and link displays should all follow a consistent pattern. Keeping these elements the same will keep your users on your site longer because it’ll be easier for them to quickly navigate to new pages and click on links.

4. Your internal links must make sense.

Your internal links should direct users to other pieces of relevant and useful content. Also, when users come across an internal link on your website, they should immediately understand which piece of content the link will direct them to and why that content is linked to the web page they’re currently on.

Check out this video about the pillar cluster model to learn how to do effective internal linking.

One internal linking caution you should exercise, though, is not stuffing keywords into your link’s anchor text. Google has witnessed people stuff keywords into their internal links’ anchor text to try to beat their algorithm for years. But the search engine actually creates specific algorithms to punish this kind of behavior.

It’s also effective for your footer or top-level navigation to have a robust sitemap page. This helps search engines and users find pages on your website much faster and easier.

5. User should be able to access any of your website’s pages in 3-4 clicks.

Even if your website has a million pages, the architecture should allow users to start from the homepage and end up on any page within three to four clicks.

To do this, design a top-level navigation that can direct users to all your website’s main categories. Then, from each of your website’s main category pages, make sure they can click-through to all the sub-category pages.

5 Proven Strategies for Decreasing Employee Absenteeism

Employee absenteeism can have a major impact on your company’s bottom line — in fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports absenteeism costs U.S. employers $225.8 billion annually, or $1,685 per employee.

Along with revenue, employee absenteeism can negatively affect morale and productivity. Your team won’t perform its best without all its members present, and if the numbers dwindle too low, your employees might feel burdened by the extra work they need to take on.

While it’s not an easy problem to solve, it’s critical you determine the root causes and attempt to mitigate your employees’ absences — if you don’t, it could be detrimental to your workplace culture, and your company’s long-term success.

Here, we’ll explore five strategies you can implement to decrease employee absenteeism, while improving workplace satisfaction and engagement.

1. Implement a Wellness Program

A Towers Watson survey of about 900 employers in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia found that organizations with wellness initiatives experienced less unplanned absences — just 3.3 days, as opposed to four.

A wellness program can help you mitigate health-related absences, while simultaneously lowering health care costs and reducing employee stress. Additionally, a wellness program can help improve morale and workplace culture, and even increase productivity.

In 2018, 80% of workers report feeling stressed on the job, and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage that stress. Prolonged stress can lead to health issues including heart disease, obesity, and depression.

By taking steps to create a workplace culture that prioritizes health and wellness, you’re able to decrease unhealthy habits that lead to employee absenteeism. For instance, if an employee is able to mitigate stress during your office’s lunchtime yoga, she might be less likely to let that stress build up and lead to bigger problems down the road.

2. Offer Vacation Days and Paid-Time Off

At HubSpot, we have unlimited vacation days.

Oftentimes, friends will say, “So, why are you even working? Why not take vacation all the time?”

I tell them, “Because I love my job. And, also, because I’m dedicated to contributing to my team’s growth, and that can’t happen if I take months off.”

Times have changed. The traditional nine-to-five is no longer necessary — with modern technology, your employees can work where and whenever they want. If you hire exceptional talent who are dedicated to getting results, then you should trust them to manage their own time.

Employee absenteeism is often a result of burnout, or employees feeling they need to take days off for personal obligations. By offering a fair amount of paid-time off and vacation days (maybe even unlimited?), you can help employees feel happier about their work-life balance, and mentally recharge — a win-win for them, and for your team’s productivity.

3. Consider Flexible Hours

Numerous studies suggest working less hours correlates with higher levels of productivity. By offering employees the option to take breaks, leave early in the afternoon, or arrive later in the morning, you’re giving them the flexibility to work when they’re at their peak productivity levels — and take breaks when they’re not.

Additionally, offering a remote option could significantly decrease employee absenteeism, as ironic as it might sound. Working from home enables your employees to take care of sick kids, run errands, or let the electrician in without taking a full day off from work.

If you’re worried about a decrease in productivity as a result of remote workers, you shouldn’t be — two-thirds of managers who offer telecommuting flexibility report employees who work from home are more productive, not less.

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether flexible schedules work for you and your team, but it’s a viable option for decreasing employee absenteeism by giving employees the option to take care of themselves and still get their work done, on their own terms.

Take a look at “Flexible Schedules: The Good, Bad, & the Surprising” to learn more.

4. Improve Workplace Morale

If your employees aren’t excited to come to work and engage with coworkers, it could be contributing to employee absenteeism. Ultimately, humans are social creatures — a sense of belonging is critical for workplace satisfaction.

You can build morale through team-building exercises, friendly competition between departments, and community service trips. Facilitating opportunities for employees to engage with one another, while feeling proud and inspired by their team, is imperative for combating employee absenteeism. If an employee feels appreciated and recognized by coworkers, she’ll have a stronger sense of motivation to come to the office.

Additionally, your office ambiance can go a long way towards improving morale. For instance, studies suggest plants can help your employees concentrate. Scents like lavender can ease stress and promote relaxation, and small office snacks can keep your employees’ energy levels up.

Ultimately, a warm, friendly, and productive environment can help reduce employee absenteeism by creating a space in which your employees want to spend their time.

5. Encourage Employee Engagement

It’s a simple truth — disengaged employees are going to look for excuses to avoid the office.

Empowering your employees and increasing their workplace satisfaction isn’t just a matter of reducing absenteeism — it’s also critical for your company’s long-term success. The more engaged your employees are, the better they’ll perform.

So how can you increase employee engagement? The answer might be in your leadership skills. 

Ultimately, managers hold a lot of power over employees’ workplace happiness. In fact, a Gallup poll found 75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses, not the position itself.

To improve employee engagement, consider offering more autonomy and freedom for your employees to manage their own schedules and tasks.

Autonomy can be a major factor in workplace satisfaction — one meta-analysis involving over 400,000 people in 63 countries found autonomy and control over one’s life matters more to people than money.

By investing in genuine relationships with your employees, you’ll quickly find there are plenty of areas you can reduce stress and improve employee engagement. Perhaps your employee is frustrated that she hasn’t been given enough growth opportunities. By discussing her future goals, you can help her get on the right track and encourage engagement by giving her more tasks related to her interests.

Alternatively, maybe your employee is stressed from his morning commute. Simply granting him a flexible schedule to avoid rush hour could decrease his stress drastically.

Additionally, it’s imperative you continuously inspire your employees and acknowledge your employees’ through positive feedback when they perform well.

Put another way, what would get you out of bed faster in the morning — some early morning praise from your manager, or a long to-do list with no acknowledgement for yesterday’s job well done? 

5 Awesome Benefits of Diversity at Work

We know diversity matters.

Diversity in the workplace can increase ROI, lead to more innovative ideas, and foster a more productive work environment. In fact, companies that place emphasis on diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above the industry median.

And, as Stephen Covey once said, “Strength lies in differences, not similarities.”

Embracing diversity is a critical step for your business to grow and make an impact on a global level, but oftentimes, it’s difficult to discern the true benefits of diversity — and, if you don’t know the benefits of diversity, how will you ever push for change?

Sure, we can say, “strength lies in differences,” but what particular strengths are we talking about?

Here, we’ve cultivated a list of five awesome benefits of diversity at work, so you can understand and teach others why your company needs to enact diversity initiatives immediately.

1. Diverse perspectives can foster innovation.

There have been plenty of studies to support the notion that diversity breeds creativity and innovation. It makes sense — if you have a team of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, you’ll have a broader range of solutions offered.

As Janina Kugel, Human Resources Board Member and Chief Diversity Officer at Siemens, notes, “Diversity strengthens our innovative capacity, unleashes the potential of Siemens’ employees and thereby directly contributes to our business success.”

Ultimately, it’s critical you have diverse perspectives to enable your team to brainstorm out-of-the-box solutions to complex problems, or challenge each other’s way of thinking.

Diverse perspectives can also help you develop better products to meet your customers needs. For instance, Mattel Inc., a global toy manufacturer, has said, “We understand that a culture rich in diversity is key to business success. It allows us to better understand the business opportunities in various markets around the world, and develop products that resonate with consumers in diverse cultures.”

By promoting diversity, Mattel Inc. is able to create more innovative toys and remain a global leader in their industry.

2. Diverse teams will perform better, and come up with better ideas.

If you have a team of people with different skills, backgrounds, and prior experiences, you’re more likely to have people who offer unique ideas and brainstorm better solutions. In fact, Harvard Business Review found diverse teams are able to solve problems faster than cognitively similar people.

Additionally, diversity enables you to create a culture in which everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas. If you have a team of nine men and one woman, that one woman might have some fantastic ideas but remain silent out of a sense of being outnumbered. That’s a shame — her ideas could be the solution to a major company problem.

Melissa Obleada, HubSpot’s D&I Program Manager, told me, “There’s research that shows you’ll prepare better arguments for your case if you are working with a group with diverse points of view. If you expect that you’ll get pushback, you’ll think more about why your ideas are worth fighting for or listening to.”

Ultimately, creating a company with diverse teams will inspire more creative ideas, but just as importantly, it will enable you to create a culture in which your employees feel safe sharing those ideas.

3. Diversity can help you become a global leader.

It’s likely you already work with clients or vendors from other countries. As your competitors scale up globally, it’s critical you’re able to do the same.

By having employees who speak other languages or understand other cultures, you’re more likely to succeed in the global market.

Wattpad co-founder and CEO Allen Lau believes their success as a start-up came from Wattpad’s ability to enter the global market through diverse employees — “In the early days of our business, my co-founder Ivan and I searched for a way to kick start our audience growth. It was painfully slow until we made the decision to support additional languages on our app. Luckily, we had worked with people who lived in these countries who could provide the insight we needed to strengthen our product.”

You’ll need a diverse team of employees, with unique cultural backgrounds, to combat foreign challenges and satisfy clients from other countries.

4. Diversity will improve your company’s culture and help you attract better talent.

A survey by Glassdoor found 67% of people consider diversity an important factor when deciding where to work. To attract top talent, it’s imperative you incorporate diversity into the workplace.

Along with attracting top talent, diversity will help you improve your company’s culture and retain current employees long-term. Remember, the term “diversity” isn’t a label for one person — it’s a label for a group of people. We are all diverse by nature. Everyone has different perspectives, backgrounds, and skills.

By encouraging diversity, you’re allowing every employee to feel comfortable being authentic.

As HubSpot’s D&I Program Manager Melissa Obleada notes, “Most people aren’t happy and don’t want to stay at a place where they aren’t comfortable. People change jobs for their commute, for their family, but most importantly, for themselves to feel comfortable.”

Ultimately, your employees will never be truly happy until they feel authentic at work and in their roles.

5. Diversity improves your company’s customer service.

Customers like to speak to people who understand their issues and can offer solutions unique to them. By having a diverse team, you’re more likely to have employees who can empathize with your customers and offer better, more tailored solutions.

According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. As the importance of customer experience continues to grow, personalization in customer service will become even more crucial.

Good customer service is about creating strong personal connections between employees and customers. A diverse team will help you form stronger, more authentic relationships with a broader range of customers, allowing you to outperform competitors long-term.

Diversity in the Workplace Statistics

In case we haven’t convinced you already, here are some impressive statistics that demonstrate the powerful benefits of diversity in the workplace:

  • 57% of people think their company should be doing more to increase diversity among its workforce.
  • 83% of millennials are actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive culture, compared to only 60% of millennials who are actively engaged when their organization does not foster an inclusive culture.
  • For every 10% increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8%. In the U.K., EBIT rises to 3.5%.
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  • Companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest levels of racial diversity.
  • Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.
  • Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture a new market.
  • One study found academic papers written by diverse groups receive more citations than papers written by people from the same ethnic group, getting more credit in the field.

Diversity in the Workplace Articles

To learn more about specific benefits of diversity in the workplace, check out some of these additional resources: