February 11, 2018

Why Does Everybody Know Me?

"Everybody knows who you are. How do you know so many people?" I hear it every so often... and my answer is really easy.

It's not because I'm such a charming person. It's absolutely because my name shows up in their inbox every single week. The things is, people don't know me - they know of me, whether they open my emails or not. (Or even if they think my subject lines are boring.)

Repetition and consistency do pay off but, by their nature, the results take time. There is no shortcut, so start now.

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February 4, 2018

The Worst Thing About Moving My Website to WordPress

There have been many good things about moving my website to a WordPress platform late last fall. And there have been a few frustrating things. I'd been doing a pretty good job of ignoring some of those frustrating things until I received an email from Google Search Console with the subject line: Increase in "404" pages on daleyprogress.com.

Oh no! That sounded pretty ominous. The accompanying graph was even more so.

Here's the backstory: all my website links changed with the move. Previously my pages all ended with '.html' and now that's truncated. There's a plug-in for redirecting when people click on an old link out there somewhere, so I set that up for every current page. I also had to move several documents and files hosted on my old site to the new one, and then go change all those links on my various blog posts about them.

Tedious, painful work but I thought I had it handled. It turned out I was so very wrong.

These '404 errors' are caused when there's a link (out there somewhere on the web) trying to link to a page at my domain that no longer exists. There were 97 of them. How flipping embarrassing! (I'm imagining head shakes as people click away.)

Another evening of more tedious work got them all looked after. I've asked Google to re-crawl my site and, so far, I've got a clean slate.

If you are maintaining your own WordPress site and haven't installed Google Search Console, you'll want to take the time to do it. And if you aren't maintaining your own site, ask your webmaster to help you get the report and deal with the errors.

I was trying hard to avoid it but that was a big mistake.

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January 30, 2018

Combine Networking with Research for Killer Content

Looking for a unique and easy content idea for your blog or newsletter? It will even improve your networking at the next event you attend.

Think of a survey question where the answers of many people will give you market insight. Make sure:
  • The results will be useful to you in understanding your market.
  • The results will be interesting to your readers, and perhaps be useful to them, as well.
  • The question is simple and can be articulated easily in a networking setting.
  • The possible answers are easy to record so you can tally them up later.
Here are some examples:

I might ask, "How often do you send out a regular email newsletter?" My article might be something like: 45% of Small Business Owners Surveyed Don't Send Out Newsletters, with the results of the research (and how it was gathered) within.

A health coach might ask, "How many times during a week do you skip breakfast?" His article might be something like: Skipping Breakfast is Rampant Among Small Business Owners. (I hope not!)

A clothing store owner might ask, "How often do you order clothes online?" Her article might be: More People are Ordering Clothes Online But Are They Happy About It?

Of course, these are also segues into engaging conversations at a networking event!

This piece of content will be completely unique to you and will also start interesting conversations online. Let's have a chat and do a little research together at the next networking event!

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January 25, 2018

Protect Your Copyright in Your Creations

(guest post by Corinne Boudreau)

The reason you as a business owner or leader should care about copyright is that it protects your intellectual assets, which are an important piece of growing and scaling your business. Think licensing, franchising and creating an online brand.

The points below summarize the main things to understand on copyright:
  1. What is copyright? - Copyright is the legal ownership and right to copy and reproduce "works" as these are defined in the Copyright Act, a Canada wide piece of legislation. Works include literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and products of digital technology. Literary works include books but also websites, blog posts, presentations and proposals.
  2. Fixed and Original - The creation must be in a fixed, tangible format to be protected (not an idea), and must be original and not copied.
  3. Timeframe - A work is protected on its creation in a fixed, tangible format and lasts for the life of the author plus 50 years. After that period, the work goes into the public domain and can be used or copied by anyone.
  4. Registration  - You can register your copyright in your work (and this is evidence of creation and ownership), but it is not required. You can use the (c) symbol without registering and should do so to provide a reminder to others that you own the work. The copyright notice should include the symbol, the legal business name, and the year of first publication - i.e. (c) Legal Essentials Inc. 2018.
  5. Employees versus Contractors - If an employee of a business creates a work in the course of their employment, the default rule is that copyright ownership belongs to the employer. If you hire a contractor, the default rule is that the contractor owns the work created. The ownership rights can be overridden by contract provisions which are particularly important if you hire a contractor to create a work for your business, like a website, logo or photos.
  6. Permission - If someone uses your copyright protected work without your permission, this is copyright infringement. There are some exceptions for fair use for research, education, parody and news, but if you are relying on one of these exceptions, you need to know the rules to follow.
  7. Notices - If you find someone who is using your work without permission, you should start enforcing your rights by sending them a notice and telling them to stop. There can be additional enforcement, including fines and penalties, if this does not work.
  8. CIPO Resources - There is a federal agency, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) which has lots of helpful resources about copyright, as well as other IP assets, such as trade-marks, patents and trade secrets. You can find their website here.
I hope that the points above and the related video gets you thinking more about which works you create that are protected by copyright.

Get Corinne's Free Report that reveals 5 Legal Bits to Have on Your Website in Canada here.

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January 21, 2018

This is Why People Who Subscribe Don't Get Your Stuff

You work hard to attract new subscribers who find value in what you're offering. Someone makes a decision to sign up to your mailing list expecting to receive that great value and... they don't hear a thing from you. I'm not talking about businesses who have sign up forms yet never send a thing - that's a different blog post (and hopefully that's not you).

Delivering your precious content to your fans has always been a challenge - what with spam filters, corporate gateways, and then trying to stand out in the inbox. What you may not have realized is that Google has become society's censor, whether you use it yourself or not.

Google decides what gmail users see in their inbox, and what gets (sometimes arbitrarily) moved to the promotions folder - out of sight, out of mind. Even if you want to receive newsletters from your clients, or get this week's sales at the mall, Google may decide you don't.

This is interfering with:
  • satisfying your subscribers
  • whether your marketing efforts are time/cost effective
  • how you manage your email and your efficiency doing it
Seth Godin brought this subject glaringly to my attention last week in his article Please don't kill the blogs - an open note to Google. He ended with, "My readers want to get the stuff they asked to get. You probably do too." I encourage you to read the article.

This is not just a marketing concern; it affects everyone. Go, Seth!

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January 15, 2018

Your Not-for-Profit Should Mimic this Newsletter Strategy

There are many bad newsletters out there... I'm sure you'll agree. In particular, many not-for-profit and charitable organizations lack the time and skills to craft exciting newsletter content. Sometimes it's from lack of strategy - not knowing what they can and want to achieve with a regular newsletter - and how to implement their strategy.

I get a little thrill when I hit SEND on a particularly good newsletter, one that I know will deliver value to its readers. I like being a small part of that success. That's why I love working with Dartmouth Learning Network on their quarterly newsletter. Executive Director Alison O'Handley knows exactly what she wants to achieve:
Our newsletter helps us to remind our community about the good work we do, and the knowledge and expertise we have to share. It is an extension of our brand and, as such, it is a tool to foster existing and build new relationships.
DLN's email newsletter is a communications tool, chock full of news, success stories, photos and even updates for funders. Their most recent issue is the best one yet - read it here and read past issues here. If you pay attention to both the individual pieces of content and the overall 'feel' of this newsletter, you can't help but learn how to improve your own organization's newsletter.

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January 10, 2018

List Building Using Social Media

Wouldn't you like to be getting a dozen new subscribers every day?

I've been doing small business email marketing for a lot of years and have a pretty good idea of what will work and won't. I'm rarely surprised but this week has been the exception - building a list from zero to 68 in five days using social media almost exclusively (no paid advertising). This is even more surprising because the Facebook and Twitter accounts started at zero, too.

Now I didn't do this on my own; in fact my part was quite small. I've got two partners, Anita of Twirp Communications and Tina of Lift Communication, and we're launching the Social Media Day Halifax 2018 marketing conference.

Here are the success factors that have gained us this great momentum:
  • Synergy: The social media networks that each of us have been building for our businesses and ourselves have paid off in spades when we all started promoting at once. 
  • Messaging and Visual: Taking time to craft compelling calls to action and striking graphics to drive people to our sign-up form is critical.
  • Consistency and Repetition: People have to see something more than once to pay attention - you already know this.
  • Website Pop-up: They absolutely work. People who are interested in our message will sign up. People who aren't interested in our message may be annoyed but, well, who cares?
Now I need to make time to apply some of this learning to my own Daley Progress marketing!

January 5, 2018

Social Media Day Halifax 2018 Marketing Conference

For the first time, Halifax will be celebrating Social Media Day in grand style this year. I'm proud to be one of the organizers of the first Social Media Day Halifax 2018 conference taking place on June 22nd.

The conference is for entrepreneurs, business owners, and professionals working in social media roles for companies and organizations. Sessions and workshops are for anyone and everyone who wants and needs to improve their social media communications and marketing.

Since Social Media Day Halifax is all about increasing marketing expertise on the east coast, recruiting presenters who are both subject matter experts AND excellent training facilitators is key to the success of the conference. Ideally we’ll find social media professionals who want to help encourage, inspire, train and motivate colleagues in the local marketing community. (Get the call for proposals from presenters.)

If you're on the east coast of Canada and do social media marketing, you don't want to miss this conference and the chance to build community with your colleagues.

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December 28, 2017

10 Most Read Blog Posts from 2017

It's always a good idea to review your stats, so you know what people are interested in reading. You might want to spend more effort promoting your top posts - use your best value to attract new readers (something like this article).

#1. Is Your Canadian Small Business Compliant with CASL Yet?
The Canadian Anti Spam Legislation came fully info effect on July 1, 2017. Here are the 4 most obvious ways businesses aren't yet fully compliant.

#2. Favourite Free Image Sources and Graphics Tools for Small Business Marketing
Wondering where to find free images for your newsletter or blog? These are the most common sources we use for free images.

#3. LinkedIn is a Resource, Not a Mailing List
"Can I add my LinkedIn contacts to my email list?" I get asked this a lot with regard to the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation (CASL). Find out if you can, if you should, and if it's legal.

#4. No Love from your Newsletter? Here's Why
A newsletter does not make a marketing plan. And sending out a newsletter is only a small part of a content marketing strategy. Here's a checklist to help you identify what actions to take to improve your results.

#5. Complex to Simple: Images for Social Media Posts
The sizing of images for the various social marketing platforms, post types, and headers is becoming a bit complex. This post has everything you need to know.

#6. Are You Ready to Start a Newsletter for Your Small Business?
If you're going to invest time and money in email marketing, you'll need to step out strong. Here's a checklist to help you gauge your readiness.

#7. How to Get People to Open Your Emails
We can all make our subject lines more useful. And we have easy tools to help us do that. This will mean less time spent in our inboxes and less of the accompanying stress.

#8. Have a Party on Your Website
Spending time and money to promote your business online is a bit like sending invitations to a party on your website. You want your place to be ready when the doorbell rings.

#9. Jumping Up and Down, Waving for Attention
It's not easy to get people's attention. In fact, it's darn hard work trying to stand out in a sea of other people trying to stand out in a sea of other people. Remember why you're doing it.

Frame all your messaging around the thought, "What's in it for my readers?" If you make it valuable to them, you'll feel the love in return.

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December 23, 2017

Sometimes You Need a Boring Subject Line

This email message below arrived in my inbox shortly after sending out my weekly small business event listing (for Halifax, Nova Scotia). I love it when instant blog posts arrive by email.
Hello Linda
I've been getting emails from you for a couple of years and, sorry to say, I've always ignored them. Here are two reasons:
1— your subject line is boring. I get lots of emails like these but only open the ones with an interesting subject, e.g. "How to fight your phone fear" or "Learn web design in our latest WordPress meet-up."
2— There is no website that collects these items in an easy to scan format. As a WordPress developer I can set you up with a terrific visual calendar that can easily talk to your personal appointment book.
We can talk about improving your business any time.
It was a well-intentioned message; here was my response:
The subject line is boring on purpose - you can easily ignore it if you're not interested in knowing about events. I'm not into getting people to open something they don't want to read. It's a strategy that's quite different from the one I use for my blog and monthly newsletter. Three times in 4 years I've experimented with the subject line of the event listing, and every time the open rate dropped. People who want the listing are used to the title and might miss it otherwise.
Every type of email campaign needs its own strategy, which comes from your goals and intentions. There is very little advice about email marketing that applies to every situation.

It's also nice to get emails like this, which followed the one above:
Hi Linda,
Dropping a note to say "thank you" for your Small Business Event List. It's great having all the goings-on sent to me every week, and very much appreciated.
Meeting expectations means people know what to, well, expect. Exceeding them has the potential to confuse. Sometimes boring is better.

December 18, 2017

End the Year with a Blog

If you're buried in holiday preparations - at home or for your business - perhaps blogging is low on your to-do list. What if you knew exactly what to write about for the rest of the year?

Here are a few no-fail ideas to wrap up the year with a bang.

#1. Top selling products or services
Check your sales reports and make a list. You might include additional items like photos, detailed descriptions, tips for use, and customer testimonials.

#2. Most read blog posts (or newsletter articles) of the year
Check your stats and make a list. Include a short preamble for each and a link to read more.

#3. News and trends that impact your target market
Do a summary timeline of this past year, or write your predictions for the coming year. This one can be serious or fun.

#4. Best of... lists
You can do a best of... lots of things: videos, books, trends, apps, tips, resources, infographs, others' articles, music, products, services, customers, suppliers, dates, events, celebrities, and so on.

Any of these types of articles are popular because they're useful and interesting. They can be fairly quick to assemble (or delegate) and are a great way to end the year on a high note.

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December 12, 2017

Small Business Blogging Tools and Resources

Whether you're getting started or have been blogging for awhile, you'll find this collection of all my favourite business blogging resources here in one place.

Idea Generation Tools

Outlining and Writing Resources

Headline Analyzer

Image Sources and Tools

Creating Graphics

Recycling Content

Do you have favourite blogging tools and resources I haven't mentioned? Tell me about them in the comments.

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December 6, 2017

Colour of the Year for 2018 is No Shrinking Violet

Purple is my favourite colour so I couldn't be happier about Pantone's latest announcement. Pantone says, "Inventive and imaginative, Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come."

Purple is an emotional colour and has always been considered a little tricky for marketing, tending toward the sentimental and feminine. I'm looking forward to finding ways to use it in my own marketing. How about you? Will you use more purple in 2018?

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November 30, 2017

What Feedback Do You Pay Attention To?

Have you ever fallen into the trap of making a change because of one single piece of feedback? It's happened to me and I've seen it happen to others. Don't change your brand's font (or anything else) because one person doesn't like it.

One person's preferences will never represent a significant sample of your target market.

We want feedback, we ask for feedback, and when we get it, we feel we have to act on it. Not so. Instead we need to think about it, give it careful consideration, and get more feedback from our target market - because it's their opinion that matters when it comes to our marketing.

I've been intrigued lately watching the series Wisdom of the Crowd based on the concept of crowd sourcing to solve crimes. It's a great example of how important feedback is to our success, and how to cautiously use that information in a useful way.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder newsletter November 30, 2017

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November 25, 2017

Where Do You Get Stuck?

When it comes to writing articles for your blog or newsletter, what's your stumbling block? Perhaps it's...

  1. coming up with ideas
  2. adapting your ideas for writing
  3. starting to write
  4. finishing writing
  5. editing and proofing
  6. finding or creating graphics
  7. keywords and publishing

If you can identify where you get hung up, you can find a solution!

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