April 29, 2014

Be Outstanding

be outstanding

I became an entrepreneur at the ripe old age of 43. Before that, I was ‘corporate’, working in the chemicals industry no less. I received my management training and experience while working at BASF in the Toronto area during the 1990s.

I relished in the chance to attend an advanced leadership training program at head office in New Jersey with other managers from around the world. It was pretty intense – theory, case studies, and business simulations. Fifteen years later, here is what I remember most from that program:

“Be outstanding without standing out.”

More than anything else up to that point, that one brief line summarized for me how to be a successful (and promoted) manager at an international conglomerate, like BASF. At the time, it felt like I’d been handed the secret sauce.

I've had to unlearn that mantra since becoming a small business owner. My challenge was always the second part – I wanted to be outstanding, and also be conspicuous!

Now my goal is more like: “Be outstanding and stand out from the crowd.”


April 23, 2014

Do you want to be an eMail Marketing Campaign Manager?

Potential clients are sometimes a little uncertain about what we do as campaign managers. Others might not see the immediate value in working with a campaign manager instead of doing it themselves.

Assembling and publishing a polished, error-free newsletter is our most visible contribution. But did you know about these invisible - but critical - contributions campaign managers bring to your marketing effort?
  • Consult with you, making strategic recommendations about content development, timing, layout, list building, promotion, extending your reach through social media, new tools, and other ways to make the most of your newsletter.
  • Manage the schedule and keep you on track with reminders and deadlines.
  • Review your statistics with you periodically to monitor progress.
  • Stay current with changes to the bulk email application software; troubleshoot as necessary.
  • Periodically refresh your design and layout to prevent staleness.
  • Stay current with industry trends.

These contributions to your marketing efforts can make the difference between success and failure. Do you want to be a campaign manager? Or would you rather be an expert at what you do best?

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April 16, 2014

eMail Marketing: Informational vs. Promotional

I often become frustrated when reading email marketing advice online. Many times I've thought, “I wouldn't recommend THAT to my clients.” Of course, while there may be a few best practices, if you want to stand out, you can’t do the same thing as everyone else.

I used to think there was a clear division between promotional and informational marketing – specific strategies that applied to one or the other. While that is certainly true, the line is somewhat blurred. After all, our inboxes are full of things we call newsletters, advertisements, announcements... and spam. What we call these things often reflects how we feel about them.

I've defined a successful newsletter as being useful or interesting, or both. I admit to a negative attitude about blatant advertising, yet I’m happy to find out about a networking event, or see the latest shoe styles. Those are products I’m interested in hearing about. And THAT is what will make your email campaign effective: finding readers who want what you’re offering, whether it’s interesting information or this week’s bargains.


April 12, 2014

Is Anyone Looking You Up?

In the normal course of my day, I am constantly looking businesses up online. If I am going to talk to you, meet with you, consider buying your product or using your services, I've looked you up online. Increasingly, I am finding content that I am certain you do not want representing you.

Maybe you think you do not need an online presence. Maybe you have an old website that you think is working to the extent you need it to. And maybe you are wrong.

Think of all the reasons you Google a business:
  • looking for a product or service
  • looking for a location
  • looking for directions or a map
  • looking for a policy
  • preparing for a meeting
If you are using an online search to find what you are looking for, it stands to reason that others are as well. Many, many others. What do you want them to find when they look?

We've said it before and it is worth repeating. Google your business at least quarterly. Set your website as your browser's default home page so you are seeing it at least daily.

What are you checking for?

Is all the information current? Always keep date sensitive information updated or people will wonder if the website is active.

Are services and prices correct? Did you change that service and forget to update? That can result in an expectation of a service that you no longer provide. Do you have price changes not reflected online? That can be awkward to explain.

Repetitive calls to action, rambling and overly long explanations, broken links or links that do not take the reader directly to the expected information can all lead to a negative first impression. We all know how difficult the wrong first impression can be to overcome. Recognize that today, the first impression is often happening before your potential customer ever meets you.

The worst result of not paying attention to your online presence is that potential customers looking you up online can make incorrect negative judgments about working with you.

Take the time to check your online content. If you have the time, you might want to polish it too!

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder April 9, 2014

April 9, 2014

Reusable Content Ideas to get you Unstuck


You’re stuck and your deadline is looming. It’s been a long day and you’re far from feeling inspired to write for your blog or newsletter. The more you try to think of something to write about, the more uninspired you feel.

Sometimes I feel like that too, so I came up with a list of ‘topic triggers’ that can be used over and over again. The next time you’re feeling that what-am-I-going-to-write-about stress, come back to this list and pick an item at random. All of these triggers can give you topics to write about immediately.
  1. Use an online idea generator tool. Check this article for links to three of them.
  2. Check your blog or newsletter archive for what you wrote about at this time last year. Expand on the topic, referencing the original post.
  3. Scan your social media feeds for a post that you agree or disagree with. Embed the post and explain. (example)
  4. Search “what’s new in (your industry)?” Provide a commentary on someone else’s article or sum up views from several articles.
  5. Search “content ideas for (your industry)”. You’ll get lots of ideas to pick from.
  6. Search “quotes about (something to do with your industry)”. Or find a quote on your social media feeds. Pick one that resonates with you and write about why it does. (example)
Yes, I know, you still have to do the writing, but at least now you know what to write about.

photo by ben.timney
originally published in Work Better, Not Harder April 9, 2014

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April 4, 2014

Newsletter Ideas for Real Estate Professionals


Your goal is to provide useful and interesting info which will make you a trusted resource. And you want to be top of mind when one of your subscribers decides to buy or sell property.

There are a lot of ideas you can incorporate into your newsletter strategy. Here are a few to get you started... and some of them don’t even require you to write!

Neighbourhood profiles
Visit a neighbourhood and talk to people who live there. Check out the schools, shopping malls, and places to eat. Drive the main routes to understand the traffic. Take pictures and videos. You can include the best of it all in your newsletter.

Community event listings
Ultimately useful, this strategy is a real winner. It’s also very time consuming. You’ll want to connect with all of the organizations in your community that put on events - this can have other benefits too.

Industry information
It’s easy to include content like trends in mortgage rates, property sales, and house design. Also consider including news related to zoning changes, new construction, and neighbourhood businesses.

Tips and advice
Provide suggestions about financing strategies, house and property maintenance, energy saving options, gardening, pet care, and interior/exterior d├ęcor.

Community news
Families will find these items useful: school calendars and events, local park information, volunteer opportunities, charities, and entertainment options.

photo by Mark Moz

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