March 20, 2018

Pick a Topic Like You Would Pick an Apple

Consider how likely you would be to open/read articles with these titles:

  • How to Be a Politician
  • Small Business Marketing
  • Healthy Foods for Everyone
  • Dressing for Work
  • The Benefits of Travel
  • How to Find Any Job
  • How to Be a Millionaire

Nothing much exciting... been there, done that. How useful can any of those articles be?

First, it would take a really hefty article to cover any of these topics well, and still it wouldn't be enough. Each of these topics has too much detail to cover in a useful way. Much like we talk about finding a niche for our business, if we apply this to our articles they will be more concise and useful, will draw a more specific readership suited to our business.

Also, if we're hoping people will find us through search, broad topics like these won't put us on page one... they've already been done over and over.

Think about it like an apple tree. Instead of writing about the whole tree, pick only one apple to write about.

Narrow your topic, answer one question instead of 20, go deep instead of broad. You might try  asking, "So what?" over and over to get deep into your topic. And start with an outline - you may discover each item on your outline is an article on its own. Instead of one article, you'll find yourself with hundreds of things to write about. Have fun!

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March 14, 2018

Do You Get Excited About Marketing Tasks?

Do you enjoy doing your own marketing? The answer has a big impact on how successful you will be at it. Stop and consider:
  • Do you like doing marketing work?
  • Do you have the needed skills?
  • Are you good at it, really?
  • Is what you're doing yielding desired results?
No? Beware. Negativity and stress will rain all over your marketing activities, dampening your results.

It can be daunting to give up control and money for marketing help. I do marketing for clients, charities and myself... and I still hire experts for my own marketing. I'm happy to get fresh and creative input from other pros. And I've learned I'm much better at other people's marketing than my own.

In recent months, I've had marketing help from eleven different people. Some was consulting, some training, but a fair bit was doing things I do for my own clients. Even though I love marketing, I still delegate.

Instead of trying to convince you it will be a good thing, how about a little experiment? Pick one task to delegate, only one to start with. Something tedious that needs regular attention, and that you keep putting off. Something like... I delegated a bit of routine social media work to my sister.

You can make big strides with a little extra help. What are you going to delegate as your first experiment? I'm curious - let me know in the comments.

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March 8, 2018

7 Out Of 12 Small Business Bloggers Agree On This

When I teach marketing courses, the group eventually tires of seeing this list come up on the screen in every class:
  1. Build relationships, community
  2. Grow your reputation, sphere of influence
  3. Be seen as an expert
  4. Share valuable info, products, services
  5. Increase your social media following
  6. Give value to your customers, prospects and colleagues on a regular basis
  7. Get found - SEO
The items on this list are key reasons for publishing a blog or newsletter. Yes, of course, the ultimate goal is sometimes - but not always - an increase in sales.

The problem is, you (and me) can't meet all the goals on that list at the same time. We'd become unfocused and demotivated. So I 'force' these small business folk to pick only two goals to focus on.

Last week I noted the two goals each person called out as we went around the room. I added my own two goals, as well, to round the group off at a dozen. Seven of us chose #2 - growing our reputation - as one of our two goals. And everyone had #1, #2 and/or #3 in their selection.

My two goals for blogging and creating other marketing content are #2 and #3. How about you? Share your two goals in the comments and I'll keep tallying them up.

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March 2, 2018

How a Not-so-good Writer Can Be Successful at Blogging

I like to joke that I'm a great example of how someone who can't write can still have success with a blog.

The fact is, in my past career I did a lot of writing: job descriptions, standard operating procedures, workflows, and reports of all kinds for all levels. And I had to un-learn every bit of it for blogging. None of it prepared me, other than good grammar. I had to learn to stop using words of many syllables ending in 'ion'... like implementation and clarification.

All that un-learning didn't help me be a better writer. Writing, and watching how others' wrote on their blogs, and paying attention to readers' responses - those things help me be a better blog writer.

I'm still not a great writer. But being a better writer isn't why I write. Writing is the absolute best tool I can use to share important info that my target market needs to know.

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February 28, 2018

What Kind of Busy Are You?

Since when does being busy have to be a bad thing? It's easy to find articles about how to avoid busy-work and how not to wear 'busy' as a badge.

My first inkling that 'busy' isn't always good came in the form of a phone call from my (at-the-time) boss. We worked at different locations and he asked how things were going. My answer included the word 'busy' and he said, "Linda, you shouldn't be complaining." At the time the business group I worked in was weathering a period of slow business, and things had just started to pick up. To me, being busy was really a good thing and I was (failing at) sharing our good news.

That was over 20 years ago but it stuck with me. Now I'm a small business owner and I don't feel any different. Why is being busy shameful? And why can't we wear our busyness like a badge of honour?

When I'm busy, I'm making money - what could be better than that? It's a big part of why I work.

Let's embrace our 'busy' as being a sign of success, and be proud that our hard work is paying off.

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February 23, 2018

This Useful Process Helps You Teach with Your Writing

If you do any amount of training or facilitating work with customers, you may already be familiar with adult learning models. Teachers use them to prepare insightful learning experiences.

The one I'm familiar with is Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle but there are others equally useful:

Learning can start at any stage in the cycle:
  • Concrete experience - encounter a new experience or reinterpret an existing experience
  • Reflective observation - reflect on an experience from a personal perspective
  • Abstract conceptualization - form new ideas (or revise existing ideas) based on reflection
  • Active experimentation - apply new ideas to surroundings, test for changes in the next experience

The next time you sit down to write an article intended to teach, consider following this process. Pick the most obvious stage at which to start for the topic you have in mind. Work your way through the cycle, perhaps having a paragraph or two for each stage. Your writing will flow smoothly from one point to the next.

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February 17, 2018

Here's How Writing Content Turns You Into an Expert

There are many marketing benefits to regular blogging or writing for a newsletter. But other - perhaps more important - benefits may not be clear until after you've been doing it a while.

Regardless of how much you know, sooner or later you're going to need to do a little online research.

Does that article you just wrote really include all the important facts or items? Especially for checklist type articles, you want to make sure to include everything relevant. An item missed from a list of items to take camping in the winter could have dire consequences, not the least of which is your reputation.

Does your article agree or disagree with others' advice or information? Finding other references that support your message is good - you can grab quotes or link to it. Finding others who disagree is important if there are a lot of them - you may need to justify your message in that context.

Do you know the latest developments in your industry or affecting your target market? Talking about old technology is only one of the many pitfalls of not staying current.

You'll learn lots from this type of research:
  • You further develop your own opinions to become a thought leader.
  • You become able to understand and disseminate complex info.
  • And you learn from others' strategies.

In short, it pays to research, both for the article you've just written and all your future ones. Use research to confirm completeness, to develop opinions, and to stay current.

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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 thing 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

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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