March 31, 2015

Adding Audio to your Content - Part 1

Natasha in her studio
(guest post by Natasha Marchewka)

Have you considered adding audio to your blog or eNewsletter?

As a voice actor, someone who uses and sells their voice for a living, showcasing my voice and having an archive of recorded blogs is an obvious choice for me. Adding audio to marketing adds to the multimedia dimension, offering readers more engagement. Lucky for me, Linda Daley of Daley Progress has embraced my audio blogs as she is able to listen to it weekly while completing other tasks!

But adding the element of an audio file isn't limited to voice actors. Including a voice in your content, be it a blog, newsletter, website, or social media is just smart.  When you want your client or customer to have the perception of a personal connection with you, offering more of yourself, like a photo, audio greeting, or even video is another step closer to making your way into their hearts and minds.

Who might consider adding the audio element to content?

Business owners of any kind in ANY business can benefit from adding audio. Contractors to health professionals to website designers, dog groomers and more can all do with a personal and professional presentation to attract more clients.

Real estate agents are also at the top of my list for adding a voice to marketing materials. Like the inclusion of a professional headshot, adding a voice to their website, blog, or property videos takes them to the next level in terms of personalizing their content.

Sales people and account managers could also benefit - putting a face, and voice, to their name would offer an elevated representation of themselves.

But, what if your voice isn't amazing?

You don't need to sound like Rick Dees to sell yourself. “Real people” voices are what you hear on the radio all the time. However, if your voice is not a good professional representation of yourself, consider hiring a Presentation Skills coach to improve your delivery OR a Voice Talent to record an attractive audio clip that would represent your business professionally.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder March 31, 2015

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Resetting Expectations and Owning a Moment

I recently had the pleasure once again of hearing Toni Newman speak about innovation and being different. If you haven't attended an event featuring Toni, you won't hear the energy and conviction behind her message, but an important message it is. Below is my attempt to share it with you – quotes are from Toni.

Each of us has a default set of expectations around just about everything we do, even things we haven’t done. My default will be different than yours, but we both have one. Toni’s example was about tipping in a restaurant and a delightful experience with a waiter named Stefan. My default might be to give a 15% tip before taxes; yours might be different. For me to tip more or less, the experience has to break my expectations, either better or worse.

“The unexpected moves people beyond their default mindset.”

Toni says that in order to be better, we also have to be different, because being different is what breaks those default mindsets. And ‘different’ doesn't look like anyone else, while ‘better’ can.

“Innovation = a value based change that resets expectations.”

We don't have to be different at everything – that’s hard work and even harder to maintain. But we can strive to own a moment.

This, of course, led me to wonder what moment I own. Among the people that know about me, I think one moment is when they open a crappy newsletter and think, “Linda would be aghast at this.” Or they forward it to me saying, “This company needs your help.” Should I try to craft a different moment to own? Toni certainly has me thinking hard about it.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder March 31, 2015

March 27, 2015

People DO Sign Up for Newsletters

“Nobody signs up for newsletters anymore.” I heard as I sat in the audience during an Infusionsoft presentation. I gritted my teeth. The presenter went on to say that newsletters are all about what’s happening with the company and have no value. A filling popped out. I kept my mouth shut till I could get home to my keyboard. Here's why...

I was chatting with a new client recently and asked her if she had a chance to look at the newsletter examples in my online gallery. She told me she had actually signed up for several of them. This is just one example that shows people still want interesting and useful information delivered to their inbox.

People say YES to value. When they know you deliver value on a regular basis, they'll sign up because they won't want to miss it. In fact, stats say that 1 in 5 people actively seek out and sign up for newsletters to get the information they want.

Creating that perception of value happens over time as you consistently meet readers’ expectations. And that presenter was right about one thing: it doesn't happen when all you talk about is yourself and your company news. So don't do that.

March 23, 2015

Using that 3-Letter Word in eMail

If you've ever tried to send a newsletter with the word 'sex' in it, you'll know that spam checkers don't like it. Likewise they don't like 'ass'. Or 'financial' and 'freedom' anywhere near each other. Or many swear words.

Sometimes this can be a challenge when talking about certain topics. For example, I've had to change the word 'sex' to 'gender', and another time to 'sexual'.

But what do you do when 'kick ass' is exactly the right message you want to send? It doesn't have to be a show stopper. Find some creative way around it.

Here's an example. Debi at New Life Business Solutions sent me her content with the subject line filled in as "Need a kick in the ass?" It had to change. The alternative was "Need a kick in the posterior area?" Hardly catchy, but maybe intriguing. I tried to make up for it inside.

view full email message

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March 19, 2015

Your Subject Line should Signal Your Intentions

You might think it’s a good idea to use a subject line that will make people curious about what’s inside the email - a teaser. That tactic can work well if the sender is familiar. But generally, if that’s the case, there’s no need to trick people into opening. And, if that isn't the case, there better be something really amazing within the email or your reader will feel duped - not a good thing!

Instead, consider a subject line that clearly signals what’s within. When people know what they will get and it’s relevant to them, they'll open. If it’s not relevant, they can ignore, and ignoring is much better than unsubscribing.

Consider this example: Among the many emails in my inbox every day, I found one from my local pub with the subject line ‘Open me. I’m Irish!’ The combination of the sender and the subject line meant I immediately knew they're writing to tell me about what was going on for St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps food specials and entertainment.
  1. If I was planning to go out and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I'd open it right away.
  2. If I wasn't, I'd delete it without opening it. I’m not interested in St. Patrick’s Day, but when the summer patio specials start, I want to know.
  3. And, if I wasn't sure, I'd probably leave it in my inbox for a couple of days as a reminder.
I could make all those decisions without opening the email, which saved me time.

Not every newsletter or marketing message you send will be relevant to every subscriber. Make it easy for them to know. Saving people time is a valuable thing and this strategy also grows trust.

March 15, 2015

Let them Unsubscribe if they don't want your Stuff

Recently the first fine was handed down from the CRTC for violations of the new Canadian Anti Spam Legislation (CASL). The abuse had two parts:
  1. having no unsubscribe function
  2. content not relevant to those receiving it
Those two parts go hand-in-hand. If you have an unsubscribe function, subscribers can easily signal that the content isn't relevant. (Tweet This!) And that's likely the only step they'll take.

This is a relatively easy solution to a risky situation. Reputable bulk email service providers (ESPs) are not that costly to use. It also sends a message to your subscribers that you care about their opinions and are willing to pay for them.

If you make unsubscribing easy, it will be a non-experience rather than a bad one - for both you and the subscriber.

photo by 28 Dreams / Flickr

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March 11, 2015

Creative Domain Names

I've been thinking recently that launching businesses are likely having difficulty getting their desired domain name or even something partway relevant. It makes me happy to have my own little stash of domain names.

I'll always recommend buying a .com domain, and a .ca domain would be your second choice if you're in Canada. The short, snappy, relevant domain names are mostly all snatched up. I know because I'm often searching for domains for clients or event promotion.

If you're unfortunate to be stuck with very limited options, you might instead opt for a domain name that's more memorable, if perhaps not so easy to guess. The first round of new domain extensions are already live, and more will be launching - in fact, 243 of them!

Here's what's trending for March 2015: (source: Netfirms)
  1. .space
  2. .website
  3. .nyc
  4. .club
  5. .ninja
  6. .solutions
  7. .photo
  8. .global
  9. .buzz
  10. .guide

Aside from choice and variety, there's fun to be had, too. How about or or Granted, some of them are costly, but not all. And you can pay a fee to reserve a domain name you want, but isn't available yet.

March 5, 2015

When are you Reading This?

One question I get asked a lot is, “When is the best time to send my newsletter?” If the person asking has an hour or so, we might chat about how it can depend on a lot of things about their business, strategy and target market.

Then I might tell them about the overall industry statistics. But really, do you pick Tuesday because it’s half a percent better than Monday? That will only make a difference if you have thousands of subscribers.

Consider your own email habits. How do you vet that backlog of emails you find on Monday morning? Keep in mind that, if you aren't part of your target market, your habits will vary from your subscribers’ habits. Don't project your own judgments onto your readership.

Ideally, you want your newsletter to arrive when your subscriber is using their email. And when they read is often dictated by where they read - at home, at work, or out and about.

So, the answer is simple: figure out when your subscribers are using their email and send your newsletter then. The implementation is not so simple, but it may not be such a wild guess in some cases. There are industries and professions where you can pin down specific times to find subscribers at their desks. Perhaps you don't have this luxury, so instead survey people in your target market, formally or informally.

Are you a small business owner reading this post in your email? What day and time is it? And are you mobile or at your desk? Hit reply and let me know!