October 30, 2013

Permission Marketing for Membership Lists

photo by HowardLake

Any of the reputable bulk email service providers (ESPs) will expect you to have received permission to email your subscribers. In many cases, this requirement can be satisfied by having a public sign-up form. Of course, this isn't an option for organizations sending private messages to a membership list.

Just because someone has agreed to become a member, paying or free, doesn't mean you have permission to email them - unless you have asked for it during the membership process.

Granted, this may seem like overkill. Generally, when someone becomes a member, they'll expect to receive some email communication. But the problem likely won't arise from your members. It'll come when you (wisely) decide to use a bulk ESP to communicate with them. That is when it will be important to be able to demonstrate that you have permission. While you might be asked to provide proof of permission for all subscribers, being able to show a process that gathers this permission will often satisfy the requirement.

Any organization that wants to communicate with its members in a way that is compliant in this increasingly regulated industry should include a simple request for permission during their membership process. This will save you time and trouble in the future.


October 26, 2013

25 eNewsletter No-No’s

photo by Jamwhy

No matter who's reading it or the nature of the subject matter, these are things about your newsletter that you just shouldn't muck up:
  1. Sending it as a file attachment.
  2. Sending it out in the middle of the night.
  3. Using a misleading subject line.
  4. Pleading for anything – in the subject line or the body.
  5. No value within – neither interesting nor useful.
  6. Using plagiarized content.
  7. Using ‘canned’ content.
  8. Using copyrighted images without permission.
  9. Poor formatting.
  10. Spelling mistakes and other typos.
  11. Misleading links that don’t go to where the text leads the reader to believe they are going.
  12. Links to automatic downloads without identifying them as such.
  13. Links that are broken or take forever to load.
  14. Pictures that don’t load or take forever to load.
  15. Including tacky clipart or poor quality images.
  16. Including over-used common free images.
  17. No unsubscribe link.
  18. No subscribe link.
  19. Missing contact info.
  20. Not mobile-friendly.
  21. Not including some call to action.
  22. Leaving out links to your social media accounts – missing an opportunity to grow your following.
  23. Leaving out social sharing buttons – readers won’t share unless you make it easy.
  24. Not tracking your open, click and bounce rates.
  25. Start, stop, start, stop – an inconsistent newsletter makes you look inconsistent.


October 23, 2013

Prove by Deeds, not Reasons

Prove by Deeds, not Reasons
Intentions don’t make a bit of difference. It’s perceptions that matter.

Intentions can get us motivated and keep us honest. But those things are about us, not the other person. The other person often doesn’t know or care about our intentions.

My intention might be to do an excellent job. If there’s a spelling error, that intention won’t mean a thing. The perception will be of a sloppy job.

Having good intentions is, well, good. But they only point us in the right direction. Intentions need to be translated into actions that ‘walk the talk’. Demonstrating our intentions is the only way to influence others’ perceptions.
“In art, intentions are not sufficient and, as we say in Spanish, love must be proved by deeds and not by reasons. What one does is what counts and not what one had the intention of doing.”
- Pablo Picasso -
Intentions might pave the way but success in business is all about perception.


Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder, October 23, 2013

Beginnings

Beginnings
There is nothing like a beginning. New friend, new job, new idea - all of them bring the excitement of beginnings. Better still, that excitement breeds motivation. Never do you have a better opportunity for rapid growth and change than in the beginning.

So the question is, how do you maintain that excitement? As entrepreneurs, how do we turn that new idea seed into a plan we can implement?

Share the idea. Spread the word. Brainstorm.


Choose a method that works for you: find a like-minded colleague you trust and book some coffee dates, join or start a mastermind group, have an employee meeting, share with an online business community. Reach out. Turn that idea spark into a real strategy.

Once you share your excitement, it is easy to harness that energy to implement that strategy. Just be open to change and adjustments based on your collaboration.



originally published in Work Better, Not Harder, October 23, 2013

October 18, 2013

Guest Post: 10 Ways to Figure out What to Write on Your Blog When You Don’t Know What to Write on Your Blog

Frances Leary
When I saw this blog post by Frances Leary, I immediately asked her if I could share it with you. Frances is owner of Wired Flare, specializing in SEO, Internet Marketing & Social Media for franchises and organizations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. While she's blogging about blogging, all of these tips below work for newsletters as well...
We've all been there. Complete brain freeze. 
The only problem? You need, need, need to get this blog article out STAT. You've already pushed it to the last minute, and you’re down to the wire. It simply can’t wait. 
So you’re in a predicament. What do you do? 
Truth be told, we often find ourselves in this predicament, and when we’re in it, these are some of the things we do…hopefully they can be a starting place for you, too.
  1. Tell a success story – Think of moments big or small that have happened in your business recently that can be a celebration. Did a client give you a pat on the back? Can you give an employee a pat on the back? Did you achieve a new benchmark? Successes come in big and small packages, and your audience always wants to share in them. So let them.
  2. Turn a frustration into a teachable moment – Has something frustrated you recently in your business? Why? How can you use that frustration to educate your audience about your business?
  3. Repurpose a presentation – Look through old presentations you've given. Choose one and put the highlights together in a blog post. It can be bullet points and very high-level. You don’t need to give it all away. Just an overview will do.
  4. Make it personal – Share your story. Talk about you. After all, people do business with people, not businesses. Whether you write about yourself or your boss or your employee, give an inside glimpse into who you, the people behind the business, really are.
  5. Spread the love – A.K.A. Delegate – Not every blog has to come from you. Ask employees to contribute their stories. This gives your audience even more insights into who you are as a company. Plus, it keeps content and writing styles fresh and new.
  6. Invite a guest – Ask someone you respect from another business that somehow compliments yours to contribute a blog. This will benefit them because it will give their business added exposure and boost their credibility. It will benefit you because you’re showing your audience a larger spectrum of content that is beneficial to them. It’s a win-win, and you didn't have to write anything. The only downside? You typically have to plan this one a bit in advance.
  7. Ask your audience – Seriously, ask them a question. What’s something you want to know. Start a conversation. Create a poll or a survey. Make it fun or make it market research or both.
  8. Make a Top 10 list – Top 10 menu items, top 10 dress styles, top 10 favorite performers, top 10 learning tips, top 10 blogging tips... Think of 10 things your audience should know about and put them in a list.
  9. Write a How-To – You know you’re the expert at what you do. You have knowledge that your audience needs, so share it. Tell them how to do one thing they need to know how to do. Just one thing. Save the next thing for another blog.
  10. Show your appreciation – Write a thank you post. You could thank your employees, a supplier or service provider, a client or anyone else who deserves a big thanks. Appreciation doesn't always have to be private... if you can share with the world just how great someone is and how grateful you are... do it!
Happy blogging.  :)



Frances Leary is a Texan-Canadian entrepreneur - a writer, speaker, online strategist and storyteller who uses the Internet to tell my clients' stories. Her company, Wired Flare, works with businesses all over world to help them achieve their goals using targeted online SEO, Internet Marketing, and Social Media strategies. This article originally published  http://wiredflare.com/blog/2013/09/10-ways-to-figure-out-what-to-write-on-your-blog-when-you-dont-know-what-to-write-on-your-blog/

October 14, 2013

Building Relationships by Being Thankful

photo by barriebarrie

All of our new clients get a little lecture about responding to emails they receive after their newsletter goes out. Aside from triggering business transactions, responses might vary from requests to reconnect over coffee to lengthy catch-up messages. You don’t want to let these sit in your inbox – make that coffee date, take advantage of the opportunity to connect.

Then there are the short messages, like “Thanks!” or “Great issue!” Don’t just pat yourself on the back and delete them. Make sure you respond to these too. At the minimum, reply and say something like “Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it.” You might also take advantage of this opportunity to ask what in particular the reader liked, or some other useful feedback. If the reader expressed an interest in something specific, you might provide links to more resources.

Publishing a regular newsletter can definitely be a relationship-building tool but you have to work to make it that way.

OK, yes, I used cute animals again!



October 9, 2013

There's a Solution for every Problem

photo by derekbruff

That’s a pretty bold statement for me to make, I know. I’ll qualify that by saying that sometimes the solution is tougher than the original problem, so isn't viable.

When someone says, “There’s no way to do that,” my ears perk up. It’s like throwing down a gauntlet and I immediately want to prove them wrong. It’s the ultimate challenge to my intelligence.

Sometimes I discover that there is no way to do it... that makes sense, is reasonable and viable. But at least I know and I learned something.

In my past corporate career, I attended days and days of training in problem solving - different philosophies, different techniques. I've even written and delivered my own problem solving workshops. As a society, we've been conditioned to embrace problem solving as a key skill. We identify a problem and then we initiate a flurry of activity to try to solve it.

When we compile our lists of alternatives, there’s often a key choice that’s left off: the option to do nothing. Oh yes, it too has consequences.

I’m not suggesting that we all adopt a ‘do nothing’ strategy to deal with all of our problems. I’m saying that it's an option that we often miss among the noise of other alternatives and our urge to ‘do something’.

Sometimes the solution is to do nothing... and to be confident that is the best choice.
 

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder October 9, 2013

October 4, 2013

Finding more than Money in the Mail

Stephanie's newsletter
“I’m not sure that I can picture the success I've had without the newsletter being part of it,” said Stephanie Holmes-Winton, The Money Finder. This was her response to my query about the ROI of her email campaigns during a recent chat.

Stephanie’s strategy is very precise and all her own. Our role is to help her execute it and we've been working together for close to 3 years. A whole lot has changed with Stephanie’s business during that time. She’s become an international speaker, author, TV personality and software developer - and a strong voice for change in her industry.

When Stephanie and I first met over lattes at Starbucks to strategize, she had recently sold her financial services business and was embarking on a mission to change the way that industry deals with debt (or rather, doesn't deal with it, according to Stephanie). She had tried using an online newsletter service for advisors but found that it had an unimaginative, templated look. As well, the pre-selected and pre-screened content often contradicted her values and opinions. It wasn't authentic and Stephanie needed to be authentic – it’s an integral part of her brand. Stephanie said, “It wasn't my material and it was so obviously not mine.”

Stephanie had already discovered the value of getting into her prospects’ inboxes and how that helped to maintain relationships over time. It also demonstrated her persistence and commitment to her readers. Stephanie said, “You can’t be inconsistent. It’s the greatest betrayal of their trust.”

Stephanie’s target market is the financial services industry, particularly financial advisors and similar professionals. She claims that her newsletter campaigns have played an important role in growing from interacting with 200 advisors then to interacting with over 5000 advisors now on a monthly basis. That kind of list growth doesn't just happen; Stephanie has worked hard to recruit her tribe.

If you think that a newsletter is a one-way method of communication, ask Stephanie about all the people who have sought her out at events and said, “Hey, I read your newsletter!” She told me, “There wouldn't be a reason to connect so quickly and so deeply without the newsletter.”

Stephanie shared other benefits, too. Her blog readership has increased. Her newsletter has enabled her to inject more of her personality into her marketing. It’s also a conduit for promotion, but that promotion is offered up among a whole lot of real value. Stephanie advises, “You can’t only do a newsletter when it’s convenient to promotion. You have to maintain the capital you establish.”

Has Stephanie ever got any real business due to her newsletter? You bet. Her newsletter goes out and advisors sign up for her Bootcamp. Recently a speaker’s bureau approached Stephanie by replying to her newsletter. And that's not the first speaking gig she’s landed that way. Being an advocate for change, Stephanie has been able to grab the attention of key people in her industry and further her cause. She’s been interviewed many times about topics that appeared in her newsletter by journalists who subscribe.

To execute her strategy, Stephanie told me that she appreciates the accountability that comes with working with a service provider like us. The reminders keep her accountable and on schedule.

Stephanie feels her newsletters are “robust, tangible and helpful” and she knows that because they get shared... a lot.