Showing posts from March, 2013

Resist the Impulse

Every day I’m faced with opportunities to offer a deal. I receive calls asking me to invest in print ads. I can easily tweet a deal or insert it in our newsletter. I can offer an added bonus. I can low-ball requests for quotes. It would be like standing up and waving my arms and yelling, “Look over here. Have I got a deal for you!”

It would be so easy to do. Every day I resist the impulse.

Easy is not always better.

A recent article by Bernadette Jiwa at The Story of Telling reminded me why. Take a minute to read it. It’s short, I promise. You need to remember why, too, and she’s a much better writer than I am.

The ending is perfect: “…build your brand around being chosen on purpose.”

Photo: elvissa / Flickr

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Email Addresses Galore

I recently received an invitation to purchase mailing lists... lots of them!

Informational email marketing is quite different from promotional email marketing and they have very different goals. If your goals are to build your reputation and relationships, then buying email addresses is definitely not for you!

Reputable bulk ESPs (email service providers) insist that you have permission to email the contacts you add to your databases with them. So if you buy mailing lists, there's the potential risk of having your bulk email account shut down. The trigger for this would be a high number of bounces on your first send.

Aside from being a nuisance, there are other downsides as well. You don't even know if you're buying valid email addresses! Daley Progress has 17 imaginary employees who regularly receive email because someone made up their names.
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10 Reasons to Love Being a Small Business Owner

There’s nothing like a vivid reminder of your past life to cause you to take stock of your current situation and do a little comparison. That happened to me recently after having a catch up phone chat with someone I worked with 15 years ago. Marcia and I were talking about an industry, a work culture, and processes that now seem so foreign to me, yet at one time were so imperative. At that point in my life, I certainly never envisioned the lifestyle I enjoy now.

I absolutely love being a small business owner and working with other similar people.

Here are some of the perks that I especially appreciate about being a small business owner:
Not having to wear pantyhoseMy garden is 25 steps from my deskI can go into the office at midnight if I feel like itGetting the whole team behind decisions is easy, when the team is two!Team building is easy, tooI can work all day with my cat in my lapI don’t need a briefcase to take work homeI can wear pajamas to work once in awhile I can choose who I…

When to Send

We get asked this a lot, “When is the best time to send out my newsletter?” The short reply is usually this: Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between 9:45 and 10:15am.

Then one Thursday morning I received 4 newsletters at exactly 9:45am.

The fact is there is no magic answer - no set of best practices or generally accepted principles. There are lots of opinions though and we've seen many of them disproved through our own work.

If you review overall average e-marketing statistics for time of day and day of week, no real trends stand out. See an example below.

At first I found that kind of surprising but now it makes total sense - because email marketing is so diverse. More specific statistics, such as industry averages, offer some insight... but who wants to be average?

This is why it's so important to know your target market!
Where will your subscribers be when they receive your newsletter: at home, at work, or on the road?When, during a typical day or week, are they most likely t…

Encourage the Connection

Not every newsletter reader is going to want to engage with you in the same way. Each will have a platform they prefer to use. Linda and I are a perfect example of that. Linda likes Twitter. I prefer Facebook. But none of that will matter if you do not include social media connection links in your eNewsletter.

Different than social sharing links, social connection links are the ones that take the reader to your page or profile on that platform. These links allow readers to find you everywhere online instantly. If they can't find you, they can't connect with you. Facebook, particularly, has a really crappy search feature. It is common to not be able to find what you are looking for. You want your reader to be able to find and connect with you in a couple of clicks.

Encourage the connection by including social connection links.
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Guest Post: Marketing to Your Tribe

Stephanie Holmes-Winton, The Money Finder, is a crusader for financial freedom. She doesn't wear a cape (but that would be kind of cute). She does have an important message for you and me and every small business owner...

This just in: some people don’t like what I have to say. They might unsubscribe from my newsletter, or they might make a snide comment on social media... or they might just ignore me. And after I have a good cry over people who don’t care about my cause, my message, or me and wouldn’t care if I was on fire, I get completely over it. Do you know why? I wasn’t talking to them anyway! While my message may come across the eyes or ears of many, only some will be my tribe. Only some are already marching to a similar drum, or looking for a new beat to march to. I’m only talking to them. When you market your business, it can be so easy to default to the win-the-popularity-contest-at-all-cost mode but that will get you no one - no one fiercely loyal, no brand ambassadors…

Make it Obvious

“Put a sign-up form on every page of your website.”

You’ve heard this, right? Well, it’s good advice… sort of. Half the story is missing. Here’s the other half, with context.
Imagine that your best friend has just forwarded to you a newsletter that they’re raving about. You have a look and realize that you really like it too and want to subscribe so you don’t miss future issues. (This happens to me a lot.) You scroll around and can’t find anything about subscribing. Being tenacious, you click through to the website and spend a couple of minutes scrolling around and clicking. Still no sign-up form.
I once called a lady in New York because I could find no way to subscribe to her newsletter, either in her newsletter or on her website, although apparently, it was there somewhere.
If you ask people to 'subscribe', in your newsletter or anywhere else, you want to send them to a webpage where they can’t miss your sign-up form. If you don’t have it on a page of its own, where will you…

Why Use a Bulk Email Service?

For a small cost, a bulk email application gives you LOTS of benefits:
Cost is minimal.It allows you to schedule your email sends.It allows you to auto-post to your social media accounts.It handles subscribes and unsubscribes effortlessly and accurately.It has built in functionality to manage your contact lists and segments.It saves you time and mistakes. Take advantage of templates plus spell/spam checkers.It keeps you compliant.It keeps you up-to-date and ready to take advantage of new functionality.It raises you above amateur status.Statistics drive strategy. Without them there is no way to know if you are being successful, what works and what doesn’t, and what readers are interested in. The real question is, why not use a bulk email service? If you can think of a reason, please share!

Photo: markyweiss

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The Point of Sale Advantage

If your customers and clients come to you, you have a big advantage over the rest of us when it comes to growing your contact list. Here are some suggestions that you can adapt to your specific situation.

Put a large jar with a sign on the check-out or reception desk:
WIN a FREE lunch! To enter our monthly draw, drop your business card to subscribe to our email specials.

How easy is that as a way to grow your contact list?

Run a contest among your staff. Offer a free service, product or time off for the one who signs up the most new contacts.

Place paper copies of your newsletter or email flyer at reception, check-out, waiting areas, dressing rooms... you get the idea.

Have a computer handy so contact information can be entered on the spot or soon after. Contact information sitting in a drawer wrapped in elastic bands is lost opportunity!

You’ll lose about 30% of your subscribers during a year (called ‘list churn’). You need to continually work just to maintain your list. Continued grow…

A Networking Philosophy

In conversation last week, I was surprised to hear for the third time in as many weeks, a similar reason for resistance to joining a networking organization: "I don't want to connect with people that are just looking to sell me something."

It has me speaking up this week. Never did it occur to me, before I joined a network, that this would be a problem. And never, since I joined a network, has it been a problem.

All of the small business owners I have encountered through organized networking seem to have the same goals, desires and philosophy as we do - find other small business owners and independent professionals to:

connect and share
Both experiences and lessons learned. Meeting new people only brings more lessons learned to the table. It is possible to learn from others mistakes. Use your network as an educational tool.

support and collaborate
Whether support comes in the form of sharing social media content, attending events or spending dollars - it is equally appreci…