December 31, 2012

Best Reading of 2012

We took a vote to pick the best article from our newsletters for each month of the past year. Since there are two of us, it's a good thing that we agree a lot. We also decided to disqualify our own articles because the voting got awkward. Here it is:

The Best Ideas and Tips for Busy Business Owners 2012
from the archives of Work Better, Not Harder

January
9 Reasons to Blog by Janet Slack

February
Stabilize an Unstable Income by Stephanie Holmes-Winton

March
Don't Let Technology Stifle Your Message by Halina St. James

April
Why You Need to Monitor Social Media by Anita Hovey

May
Are You Trusted? by Lea Brovedani

June
4 Tips to Enhance Your Next Presentation by Neil Everton

July
The Medium is the Message by Cara Lynn Garvock

August
Vacation Messages - It's Ugly Out There! by Mary Jane Copps

September
50 Shades of Grey by Melanie Orr

October
Optimize Your Financial Relationships by Wendy Brookhouse

November
Take Your Lunch Break! by Brenda Klarer

December
Secret Formula for Crafting Your Marketing Message by Debi Hartlen MacDonald

You can get on this list for next year! We're always looking for article contributions - see the rules on our subscribe page.

December 30, 2012

Show Off Your Blog Post Dates!

This recent tweet by Scott Stratten provoked an immediate reaction from me.

I get totally annoyed with blog posts that have no published date. I'm reading away merrily and then a reference to something outdated comes up, seemingly out of context. I look for a date - none to be found. So now I'm thinking, "Why doesn't this person want me to know when they wrote it?" Is it because they hardly ever blog? Is this the one and only article they've ever published? You get it... I'm immediately questioning their credibility.

Scott seems to be alluding to this same credibility issue in his humourous way. I feel that pressure too when a couple of weeks slide by without writing anything.

I think that blog post dates are important for 2 reasons:
  1. Credibility
  2. Context
These are kind of important reasons - many a misunderstanding has occurred over a missing date.

December 29, 2012

Stick with the Plan

12/12/12 marked 7 years since I incorporated Daley Progress. If I only knew then what I know now!

The last couple of years have been very different from the previous ones. I finally stuck to a realistic plan.

Now, I know all about plans and how to implement them. I’ve been a planner of some type throughout my whole career. As a business owner, I’ve attended Debi’s Bootcamp and updated my business plan every January.

For the first few years I created pretty much the same plan. It became quite elegant. The plans were getting better but I wasn’t getting better at achieving them.

The secret, I discovered, is that you have to plan the right thing. I didn’t want to do the action items needed to make that plan successful.

What I needed was to plan the type of business where I didn’t need to prospect, since that is what was holding me back. It took a while but now that I have the right plan, sticking to it is easy (well, easier).

As you’re making plans for the New Year, consider if you’re really going to do all those action items. Be realistic about how you want to spend your time in the bright new year.


Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on December 27, 2012.

December 23, 2012

How are eMail Marketers like Santa?

Santa can reach every person in the world all in one night. eMail can do that too... as long as every person has a computer.


Santa has a hard and fast deadline. eMail marketers have hard and fast deadlines maintaining consistency to keep their audience engaged.

Santa keeps meticulous lists: who’s naughty and who’s nice. eMail marketers keep meticulous lists: unsubscribers and subscribers... again naughty and nice.

Santa relies on having a good reputation in order to get into people’s homes. eMail marketers rely on having a good reputation in order to get into people’s inboxes.

It takes a lot of skill for Santa and his elves to create wonderful gifts for everyone. It takes a lot of skill to create wonderful emails... the kind that feel like a gift.

Merry Christmas, everyone!
Ho! Ho! Ho!



December 9, 2012

The Devil is in the Details

Mistakes happen – appointments get missed, deadlines slide by, and that phone call doesn’t get returned. These things happen to everyone sooner or later. Sometimes these are things that can be avoided next time, sometimes they’re unavoidable, and sometimes they’re just plain old stupid mistakes.

I get so stuck on details sometimes. I know that’s because I make snap judgments and any kind of mistake distracts me. This isn’t the case for everyone though. I value flawless execution… sometimes at the expense of showing up at all. Many of my friends would say that showing up is most important, even if imperfectly.

In my world, imperfect might mean a subject line with a spelling error, a hyperlink that doesn’t work, or a bunch of weird html code showing up in a newsletter. These are all little nitpicky details that can have an immediate and negative impact.

Here are some tips to help you make sure those little details are right:
  • Haste makes waste. Slow down and concentrate.
  • Avoid distractions. Multi-tasking doesn’t work. Shut down your email.
  • Use the tools available. Spell checker, grammar checker, SPAM checker…
  • Double-check, especially details like dates and addresses.
  • Print to proof. Your eyes will see things in print that they miss on a screen.
  • Get another set of eyes. If it’s important, always ask someone else to proof for you.
  • Check links. We use links everywhere - social media, blogs, websites, newsletters, online advertising. Make sure yours work.

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on December 6, 2012

December 4, 2012

The Outrageously Simple Formula for eNewsletter Success



GOALS + VALUE = SUCCESS

Simple, right? As small business owners, our email marketing goals can be quite different and varied. Whatever your GOALS are, you won’t reach them if you don’t seriously consider the other side of the equation: giving VALUE to your subscribers.

If you don’t give value, you will lose your audience - whether you’re standing at the front of a room or sending out your newsletter.

What’s in it for your audience? Who are your readers and what would be useful to them? What can you give them that they can’t get anywhere else? Why would they take the time to read (and share!) your newsletter? You need to answer those questions very succinctly during the planning stage. Valuable content doesn’t happen by fluke.

You can execute flawlessly and put together a newsletter that looks awesome - and that no one wants to read. A good looking newsletter on its own won’t keep your subscribers engaged – give VALUE!