Why You Should Invest In Inbound Marketing Before CRM Implementation

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Since the beginning of time, humanity has sought to answer unanswerable questions, like which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Recently, I’ve come across a question with increasing frequency, that may not be as significant, but is probably even more important if you’re looking to embark upon a journey of accelerated sales growth.

What should you focus on first, building an effective inbound marketing/lead generation process or implementing a CRM to manage your sales and customer acquisition process?  While both are important, the question is should you focus on one before the other? 

To be clear, both are very important to making growth predictable, sustainable and scalable. If you have the resources and bandwidth you should be pursuing and enhancing both of them simultaneously. However, if you must choose between them, the decision you make will have a significant impact on your growth outlook.

Before answering the question, let’s take a look at the fundamental purpose of each initiative.

The Purpose of CRM

There are several advantages of an effective CRM system with the primary purposes being:

  • Building sales efficiency
  • Providing management insight into the status and progress of the overall sales effort
  • Ensuring compliance with the sales process
  • Providing clear reporting
  • Creating greater predictability throughout the entire sales process

The Purpose of an Inbound Marketing Program

Here too, there are lots of reasons you’d want to embark on an inbound marketing effort, with the primary purposes being:

  • Generating greater awareness and engagement with your desired markets
  • Standing out from your competition by creating and reinforcing relevant thought leadership
  • Increasing lead velocity and generating more sales qualified opportunities for the organization

To reiterate, all of these results are very important, but I think it’s pretty clear which initiative should be focused on first. That is Inbound Marketing.

3 Reasons Why You Should Focus on Inbound Efforts First 

1) CRM Doesn’t Fix Bad Processes, But Inbound Can

An effective CRM system provides tremendous value in increasing the efficiency of a good process. However, it does nothing to address an average or poor process.

For more than 20 years I’ve been working with companies looking to improve their results through CRM utilization. All too frequently significant investments are made in software, time is spent training on the system and absolutely nothing changes. The initial reaction is to blame it on bad CRM, when the reality is that it’s bad process that is the real culprit. Designing a CRM system effectively requires that you have a clear and effective demand generation process that can be mapped to the CRM.

While working on the CRM does little to address bad sales process, the process of implementing an inbound marketing approach does a tremendous amount to improve your sales process (and thus your CRM efforts).

Inbound marketing requires that you start at the top of the funnel and work your way through to the bottom. It makes you view demand and revenue generation from a holistic viewpoint, to understand your market better and to align your sales efforts to how your market behaves today. All of these things drive greater revenue opportunities and create the path to gain the very efficiencies that CRMs promise to create.

2) Effective Inbound Methodology Creates Better CRM Application

I deal with a lot of companies that have been using CRM for years. It is a rare event for me to come across someone who has either designed or implemented their CRM effectively. The data is, to put it bluntly, 90% crap.

A tremendous amount of the value you get from using a CRM comes from the ability to slice and dice the data to segment effectively and increase personalization. However, if you haven’t done the basic work of defining your buyer personas, designing the message to enable you to personalize and to determine how you are going to effectively nurture, you won’t have the clarity to use your CRM effectively.

In my experience, effective CRM reinforces an effective inbound marketing and sales approach, it does not create one. I’ve lost count of the number of times a client has had to substantially change their CRM as a result of the creation of an effective inbound marketing strategy.

3) You Cannot Have Predictable Growth Without Predictable Lead Generation

If I were to summarize the two most valuable benefits of a CRM it would be predictability and efficiency. As I’ve shared, inbound marketing creates the environment for an efficient process, but what about creating predictability?

Simply put, you cannot have predictable sales results or predictable growth if you do not first have predictable lead generation. While creating an effective lead generation strategy certainly involves more than just inbound marketing, inbound is a crucial component.

Inbound marketing enables you to build a true funnel that allows you to build a predictable pipeline for growth.  Consider the following:

The natural focus of building engagement that is created by fully adopting an inbound marketing approach builds a more efficient and effective sales process and make CRM adoption a much easier, more profitable effort.

Additionally, a major benefit of inbound marketing is that it creates revenue. No matter how you slice it, CRM is a cost (a valuable one, but a cost nonetheless). Building an effective revenue generation process creates the environment that allows efficiency and predictability to be sustainable.

Investing the time, money and energy into inbound marketing first, puts you in a stronger position to both implement an effective CRM initiative and to accelerate growth.

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Get to Know Women in Tech: 33 Facts About Female Leaders in the Tech Industry [Infographic]

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For a long time, the tech industry was heavily dominated by men. Nowadays, though, more and more women are entering both regular and high-level positions in tech. In fact, the eight largest tech companies are hiring women 238% faster than they are men, including Google, Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Who are these women? How about Sandra Kurtzig, the first female entrepreneur to take a Silicon Valley company public? Or Stephanie Hannon, the first woman to manage technology for a U.S. presidential campaign?

Coupofy aggregated data from 30 trusted sources and looked at the most successful women in the industry and their roles as founders, leaders, and venture capitalists. Check out the results of their research in the infographic below.

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Overwhelmed by Email? Here Are 11 Great Tools for Organizing Your Inbox

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Most people have a love-hate relationship with their email inbox. On the one hand, email can be exciting — whether you’re making progress with a client, replacing a meeting with a (much more efficient) email thread, or receiving an invitation to a fun social gathering.

On the other hand, though, email can be overwhelming — especially if you lose control.

And boy is it easy to lose control. After all, email is one of the top ways we communicate with a lot of the people in our lives, from our best friends to people we’ve never spoken with before. Many of us get bombarded by new emails on a regular basis, and it’s stressful to know that we might be missing out on the truly important stuff amid the flood of less pertinent stuff.

Luckily, there are a lot of tools out there that can help us get more organized. In this post, we’ll go through 11 of our favorite tools for organizing your inbox. Try ’em out, and help pave your own way to a more productive and less stressful email experience.

11 Tools for Organizing Your Inbox

1) Unroll.me

Price: Free

The first step to relieving your inbox from all that email is to unsubscribe from all the newsletters you’ve subscribed to over the years. But unsubscribing manually from tens, maybe hundreds of newsletters would take forever.

Enter Unroll.me, a free tool that lets you mass unsubscribe from all the newsletters you don’t read. You can either wipe the slate clean and unsubscribe from everything at once, or you can pick and choose. Read this blog post to learn more about how it works.

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2) The Email Game

Price: Free

If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of email in your inbox but dread the thought of clearing it out, and you’re a competitive person, The Email Game might be right up your alley. This free tool for Gmail and Google apps gamifies the act of clearing out your inbox.

All you have to do is enter your email address, and the game will begin. It gives you five seconds per email to decide what to do with it: reply, “boomerang” (i.e. archive now and resurface in your inbox at a later, specified time), archive, delete, or skip. You get a certain number of points for each action and you’re penalized if you go over time. If you click “reply,” then you’re given three minutes by default to respond. You can always add time if you really need to, but speed is in your best interest here.

3) FollowUpThen

Price: Free; Paid Versions Available

Here’s another simple but useful tool, this time for reminding you — and even your clients, if you want — to follow up on specific emails.

Here’s how it works: Compose an email, and then include [any time]@followupthen.com in the “Bcc,” “Cc,” or “To” fields of your email. The “any time” wording here is pretty flexible: It can be “tomorrow@followupthen.com,” “nextwednesday@followupthen.com,” “3hours@followupthen.com,” “everyday@followupthen.com,” “every3rdwednesday@followupthen.com,” and so on.

What happens to that email when you click “send” depends where you put that @followupthen.com email address:

  • Bcc: You’ll get a follow-up regarding the email (without bothering the original recipient).
  • Cc: The tool will schedule a reminder for you and the recipient.
  • To: The tool will send an email to your future self.

It works for every email client, and it’s free for up to 50 follow-ups per month. You can increase the number of follow-ups and add features like calendar integration for between $2–$9 per month.

4) Boomerang 

Price: Free

Boomerang is a powerful tool I’ve been using for years to manage my Gmail inbox. This Chrome extension for Gmail users does two things really well:

  1. It lets you schedule emails to be sent later.
  2. It lets you archive emails that will reemerge in your inbox later as an unread message.

The second concept here is similar to that of FollowUpThen, except you have a lot more control over tracking and changing the times at which emails reemerge in your inbox. It’s free and works on desktop and mobile, including Android.

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5) Sidekick

Price: Free; Paid Versions Available

Ever wanted to know who opens your emails and when, how many times, and from where? When you download the Sidekick Chrome extension, you can opt in to get live notifications whenever someone opens or clicks on the links in your emails.

Another cool feature is the contact information sidebar that pops up when you open an email thread. It includes all the relevant information about the person you’re emailing, including past contact history (kind of like LinkedIn’s “relationship tab” function), social media content, mutual connections, and so on. Soon, the extension will let you schedule emails to send later.

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Image Credit: Sidekick

The free version gets you 200 open/click notifications per month and unlimited email profiles. For unlimited open/click notifications, you can upgrade for $10 per month. There’s also a version created for sales teams that includes email templates, document sharing, and other functionalities you can learn about here.

6) SaneBox

Price: $2/month

If you’re looking to automate prioritizing each email as it comes in, you may want to give SaneBox a try. There’s nothing to install here: Basically, it works with any email client to create three new folders: SaneTop, SaneLater, and SaneNews. When a new email comes in to your inbox, SaneBox quickly analyzes it to determine how important it is. This analysis is based on your past interaction with your inbox. If SaneBox finds the new email important, it’ll keep it in your inbox. If not, it’ll send it to one of those three folders.

Later, you’ll get a digest of the emails that were sent to those three folders so you can decide whether any of them need your attention when you have the time. Over time, you “train” SaneBox to filter certain types of emails into each of these folders.

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Image Credit: SaneBox

SaneBlackHole is a fourth folder that’ll help you delete emails and unsubscribe from them in one fell swoop. When you manually drag an email into your SaneBlackHole folder, it’ll delete the email and unsubscribe from the source automatically.

There are other cool features in here too, like the “attachments” feature that automatically sends all email attachments into a Dropbox folder.

You can try SaneBox for free for two weeks, but after that, it’s $2 per month.

7) Checker Plus 

Price: Free

Checker Plus is a Chrome extension for Gmail that helps you manage multiple Gmail accounts at once so you don’t have to flip through multiple inboxes. One of the main features is instant email notifications even when Gmail isn’t open. So if you’re a fan of notifications, then you’ll like this one.

Without opening Gmail in your browser, Checker Plus will give you desktop notifications when you get a new email, along with the option to read, listen to, or delete emails.

I’m a big fan of the extension’s voice notification feature. If I get an email while I’m busy cooking dinner or something, I can choose to have the extension read the email out loud to me, even if Gmail isn’t open. (Just remember to shut this off when you head into the office.)

It’s worth noting, by the way, that Checker Plus has pretty extensive online support and documentation. If you’re having an issue with the extension, it’s not hard to find a solution.

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Image Credit: PC World

8) Hiver 

Price: Free; Paid Versions Available

If your team (or heck, even your family) uses Gmail as their main email client, then this could be a useful app for collaboration. Hiver lets you share Gmail labels with other users to streamline collaboration. That way, you can share emails with other people — even if they weren’t an original recipient — by adding a shared Gmail label to that email. A great way to use these labels is by assigning tasks, delegating emails, and tracking their status.

Hiver also lets you create and share email templates with your team, as well as share notes on emails that help you summarize or explain what’s going on in an email thread. This can be helpful for anyone working on proposals, tasks, or support tickets.

Hiver’s free version lets you share labels, notes, and so on with three other users, and lets you share three labels and ten email templates. For added features and functionality, paid versions range from $6–$18 per user per month.

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Image Credit: Hiver

9) Mailbird

Price: Free; Paid Versions Available

There are other email clients out there, like Mailbox, Boxer, and CloudMagic, but Mailbird manages to stand out.

While it only works for Windows users, this email client unifies your inbox with your apps by rolling your email and all your calendar, task, and messaging apps into an all-in-one interface. And it’s a simple user interface, which you can customize in different colors and layouts.

Here’s an example of what one layout looks like with email and WhatsApp integration:

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Image Credit: IT World

Other popular choices for app integration include Google Calendar and a video conferencing app called Veeting rooms.

Mailbird works for Windows users on desktop and mobile. The Lite version is free and will allow you to sync three email accounts. If you want to sync more than that and want other, more advanced functionalities — like the ability to “snooze” your email, Boomerang-style — then you’ll have to get the paid version for $9 per year.

10) SimplyFile 

Price: Free

While Outlook doesn’t have nearly as many organization tools as other email clients, here’s one for Outlook users only that’ll help you spend less time filing your email. The tool adds a toolbar (or “ribbon tab”) to your inbox, with different, customizable files, which is easily accessible so you can file new emails quickly.

When an email comes in, simply drag it into the appropriate folder. You can organize both messages you’re receiving in your inbox, as well as messages you’re sending — which you can file as you send them.

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Image Credit: SimplyFile

11) Gmail Special Stars

Price: Free

I couldn’t write a blog post about inbox organization without including my go-to strategy for getting to — and maintaining — inbox zero. This tool isn’t an add-on, but rather it uses a built-in feature in Gmail called “special stars,” which is just a slightly fancier labeling system than Gmail labels. Read this blog post to for step-by-step instructions for enabling special stars and using the methodology to get to inbox zero in a few hours.

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Which tools do you use to organize your inbox? Share them with us in the comments.

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How to Write With Clarity: 9 Tips for Simplifying Your Message

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There’s something missing from a lot of content.

It’s clarity.

Clarity means making your content easy to understand. If people can’t understand what you’re trying to say, then your content is not useful, right?

On the other hand, if you can produce sharp, clear, intelligent, and easy-to-understand content, it become much easier for people to see the value in it. They’ll want to keep reading. 

How do you make your writing crystal clear? I’ve explained nine unbeatable methods below to help you get started.

9 Unbeatable Methods for Writing With Absolute Clarity

1) Know what you want to say.

Clarity goes beyond a few writing tweaks. 

It’s a whole new way of thinking. And it forces you to think about what you’re writing before you start spilling words onto the page.

Before you write a word, you should know the following:

  • Your subject. For example, this blog post is about clear writing.
  • Your point. My point in this article is to explain how to write with clarity.
  • Your outline. An outline is the basic structure of an article. My outline has 9 points.

Seth Godin is a masterful writer. His articles are short because he knows exactly what he wants to say, then writes it. Check it out:

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The lesson to learn from Godin? The clearest content is content with intention.

2) Know who you’re talking to.

Knowing your audience is an important feature of good writing. The better you know your audience, the more clearly you can communicate to them.

Let me improve on this idea. Think of your audience as a five-year-old child. 

To communicate with them effectively, write the way you would talk to a five-year-old. It won’t offend them or insult their intelligence. Instead, it will allow them to process your message easily.

Obviously, when explaining advanced topics, you will need to use bigger words and advanced concepts. For this reason, you should know what topics and concepts your audience is familiar with, and discuss such topics. 

When you write, think to yourself, “How can I help the user understand this better?” 

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Image Credit: SlidePlayer

The brief list above suggests simple ways to help any user understand your content. People want to understand. They want to know what you’re trying to say. The clearer you are, the easier it is for them.

3) Define unfamiliar words.

One simple technique to make your writing clear is to explain your terms.

At the beginning of this article, I defined clarity. If I had just assumed you knew the definition, the article could have been confusing. Instead, I explained it.

If you’re going to write an article that focuses on a particular subject or concept, then be sure to explain that subject or concept. That way, readers know exactly what you’re talking about.

4) Create a sentence outline.

What is a sentence outline? 

A sentence outline is an outline of your article using complete sentences. When your outline consists of phrases or single words, it’s not clear or helpful.

Writing full sentences forces you to think through what you’re saying. Plus, full sentences help the user understand what each point is about.

5) Write one-sentence paragraphs.

One thing that I’ve tried in my writing, especially on my own blog, is creating one-sentence paragraphs. 

Here is an example from my article on webinars. 

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Why do I do this?

Because it makes content scannable.

Most users don’t read every word. Instead, they skip entire words, sentences, and even sections. 

Single-sentence paragraphs cause the eye to

stop …

read …

and understand.

It’s a simple technique, and it increases clarity.

6) Make your sentences short.

Short sentences are easier to understand. If you try to pack a lot of words into a sentence, you lose clarity.

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Image Credit: Charlie Hutton

What kinds of words tend to creep into sentences?

  • Adverbs: actually, currently, really, literally
  • Adjectives: very, real, simple
  • Other filler words: perhaps, pretty, now, that, in order, just, maybe 

 

These words just clutter your writing. The result? Your content loses meaning and clarity.

7) Don’t use long words.

Long words impact clarity. 

Why would you use words like these?

To impress people? To flaunt your knowledge? To most ordinary people, these words mean nothing.

Drop big words from your writing, and your clarity skyrockets.

8) Leverage writing tools.

Over the years I’ve come across a couple tools that make it easier for me to write clearly: Hemingway Editor and Grammarly. 

The Hemingway App is designed to make your writing clear. 

Here are the benefits:

  • The Hemingway Editor cuts the dead weight from your writing by highlighting wordy sentences in yellow and more egregious ones in red.
  • Hemingway helps you write with power and clarity by highlighting adverbs, passive voice, and dull, complicated words.

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The desktop version costs $9.99.

Grammarly is an advanced proofreading software. When I started using it, I found plenty of places where I was using fluffy filler words.

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Grammarly has both a free version and a paid version with advanced features. 

For even more resources, check out this comprehensive list of tools for improving your writing skills.

9) Be consistent.

It’s good to be predictable. In fact, that’s why people come back to your site —  they know what to expect and how your content will speak to them. 

Consider McDonald’s as an example of consistency. Every time you go into McDonald’s, you know how the store will look, the menu options, how to order, and how the food will taste. People go back to McDonald’s because it’s predictable.

Your website’s content is the same way. People want the same experience every time, so focus on delivering a steady and consistent style.

Mastering Clarity

Clarity is a lost art in today’s content-saturated world. If you can write more clearly than most people, then your writing will stand out.

Clear writing is powerful and compelling. It turns heads, changes minds, and encourages action. Although, keep in mind that clarity takes practice. If you don’t get it the first, second, or even tenth time, don’t worry. You will get it. 

What techniques do you use to write with clarity? Share them in the comments section below.

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Essential Habits Of Top Designers That Help Them Shine In The Industry



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In order to hone your craft and stand out from the other designers, here are some habits to adopt that will help clients distinguish and remember your work style.

Creative Market has put together a few habits that helped top designers shine in the industry.

They look at other designers’ work.

You will have to know what you are going up against in order to do better. Look for designers with the same characteristics and inspiration so that you can learn from their techniques.

They think about what they want to be known for.

Focus on an aspect that you would like to specialize in and be recognize for. Ask yourself questions like “What do you want people to remember about your designs, and how would people remember you?”.

They bring a few add-ons to their service.

Go the extra mile by offering a personalized service on top of your work. For example, offering a bonus feature for a returning client, or even a simple greeting card for festive seasons. It shows that you put detail not only into your work but also in building relationships.

Head over here to read the full article.

[via Creative Market]

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Watch: Couple Reveals The Secret To Their Successful 47-Year Marriage

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In true style to their deeply moving series of brutally honest conversations exploring human connection, one of the newer episodes in The Skin Deep’s web series features a wordless, moving dialogue between an aged couple, uncovering their undeniable bond and the secret to their successful 47-year marriage.

Sharing the inability to hear, Filipino couple Norma and Cecilio exclusively used sign language to get through a list of questions taking them down memory lane, from the first time they met, the struggles they experienced raising children, to what keeps their love alive.

Watch the video below.

[via YouTube]

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For Ladies: Studies Reveal Wearing A Bra Is Bad For Your Health



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Ladies, most of you would agree that it feels comforting to head home and take off our bra at the end of a long day.

Recent studies by scientists now show that it is not necessary for women to wear bras. Professor Jean-Denis Rouillan of Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Besancon in France also revealed that “bras actually prevent breasts from growing or achieving their natural lift.”

“Not wearing a bra actually protects your breasts from gravity.”

In the study, based on 330 volunteers aged between 18 and 35, had their breast measured over 15 years. Those who did not wear bras had seven millimeter lift in their nipples each year. It also promotes better posture, and develops the muscles that lie under the breasts, which aids in better breast support.

“These bras serve aesthetic purposes that serve only cultural norms and local beauty standards.”

While the study included women aged between 18 and 35, this may not be true for the rest, especially those over the age of 35 or 40, as they have depended on bras for decades. Taking them off would more likely to cause them more discomfort, and getting 10-year-olds to wear training bra at such a young age may stifle their breast growth.

Do you support this bra theory?

Head over here to view the full article.

[via Lifehack]

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Infographic: 26 Iconic Toys, Gadgets And Pop Culture Fads From The ’90s

Hands up, those of you who raised a digital ‘Tamagotchi’ pet, scared yourself silly with R L Stine’s Goosebumps books, and carried JanSport backpacks as a kid growing up in the ’90s.

PlaygroundEquipment.com takes a nostalgic walk down memory lane with its compilation of 26 iconic toys, gadgets and pop culture fads from the ’90s.

Scroll down to find out more.



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[via Visual.ly, image via PlaygroundEquipment.com]

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Watch: People Around The World Asked What They Would Do If Their Child Were Gay

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Culture Beats asked people from 11 countries including Ireland, UAE, Russia, Turkey, Australia and Norway what they would do if they found out that their child were gay.

The responses varied between individuals but the majority expressed their acceptance of their child, regardless of sexuality.

The views communicated by the participants in this casual survey are by no means representative of everyone from that particular country.

Watch the clip below and see what people from around the globe had to say in response to the question.

[via Metro News, video via Culture Beats]

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36-Square-Meter Modular Tiny Home Is A Warm, Comfy Abode With Earthy Hues

Colectivo Creativo Arquitectos has developed a modular tiny home called ‘VIMOB’ that can be transported to and assembled in remote areas.

The first prototype of the 36-square-meter timber-clad house has been set up in lush Matapalo, Colombia.

Together with its open concept come a living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen and two bedrooms.

‘VIMOB’ is available in various sizes ranging from small at 28.5-square-meters, to extra large spanning 113.8-square-meters.

View images of the house below and learn more about the design here.

Other modular designs previously featured include this gorgeous floating house that lets you live and sail around the world and NYC’s first micro-apartments that span 250 to 370-square-feet with rental starting as low as US$950 a month.

[via Inhabitat and ArchDaily, images via VIMOB]

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