August 24, 2015

Building Relationships versus Getting Shared

You just shared a most awesome resource with your followers on Twitter. It’s not your own resource but rather one you found on someone else’s blog. Regardless of the author, you know your followers will find it useful.

Earlier you were busy sending an email message to a colleague in response to their newsletter. The personal story they included was touching and inspired you to write back. But you didn't tweet that article. Why not?

There’s a difference between content intended to build relationships and content intended for sharing.

Building relationships and getting shared are only two of several possible reasons for creating content via newsletter and blog. Which is best? That depends on your own goals... and why it’s so important to have well-defined goals.

Likely you will use a combination of both types of content but in different situations. For example, I tend to include experiential stories in my own newsletter. But on my blog I include more of the type of information that's great for sharing.

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August 20, 2015

Who's on Your Team?


Leadership and teamwork disappeared when I left the corporate world and started my own business. Not the activities, just the words. Many small business owners seem to think these are concepts for big business.

What did you depend on someone else for in the last couple of days? It might be advice, help figuring something out, a paid service, a favour, a Twitter post, brainstorming, feedback, inspiration to get unstuck, and so on. For me, it’s been all of those. And I consider all of those people part of my team.

While doing work for a client recently, I came across an article titled The Discipline of Teams (Harvard Business Review, Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith) which gave this definition and opinion:
1. A meaningful common purpose
2. Specific performance goals
3. A mix of complementary skills
4. A strong commitment to how the work gets done
5. Mutual accountability, trust and commitment

“People use the word “team” so loosely that it gets in the way of learning and applying the discipline that leads to good performance.”

Using their definition, I have no team, am part of no teams. All of my associations are 'working groups'.

I so disagree with this way of thinking. I figure the more we use the word 'team' and think of ourselves that way, the more like team mates we'll become.

My team changes as my business changes, but there’s no doubt I have a team of people I depend on to help keep my business successful. Teamwork is always desirable, and especially important to us small business owners for access to others' experience.

Who's on your team? Take a moment to recognize them.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder August 20, 2015
photo by davidmulder61 / Flickr

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August 13, 2015

Resist the Urge to Ask


Received this message on Facebook:
What is your opinion about sending this kind of email below out? I am on the fence. (I've changed the name on their signature and company for privacy.)
"Hi Natasha,
We are doing a little organizing and noticed that it's been a while since you have opened any emails or shown any activity via the "XYZ" email subscription.
No worries!
We value your time! We just want to be sure we are bringing good vibes to the online community whilst not pestering anyone with unwanted emails.
Are we bothering you?
If you don't want to receive any future emails from us you can click here to unsubscribe from the mailing list. No prob.
If you do want to receive these emails then you simply need to do nothing. Keep on keepin' on.
Find What Feels Good.
Love,
A"
Consider this:
  1. If the motivation for sending something to your list is personal, think twice. Always give something of value - this email doesn't do that.
  2. Your email statistics are incomplete. Assuming you would send this to people who show as not opening your newsletter, that can be misleading. There are lots of people reading newsletters on mobile devices and/or without images enabled - these would not show up as opens. So you would be sending to some (a growing number) who actually have opened.
  3. Wasted effort? If they don't open your newsletter, how likely are they to open this?
  4. Why would you suggest that someone unsubscribe? Experts who recommend pruning your list are leading business owners astray - read more about why list pruning is not a great idea.
I can tell you what I've done the few times I've opened emails like this - immediately unsubscribed. It definitely works if your aim is to reduce your subscriber list.

Please, resist the urge to ask. Let your subscribers manage what they want to receive.

August 8, 2015

4 List Building Mistakes Beginners Make

Save yourself time, money and stress by avoiding these common mistakes. They can have a big impact on your success.

#1. Having your sign-up in only one place


The more places people see your sign-up form, the more subscribers you'll get. Make sure it's in multiple places on your website, including on a dedicated page.

Have a call to action with a link to your sign-up page on your blog, your social media profiles, and in your email signature. Regularly promote your sign-up page via social media posts.

#2. Putting too many calls to action on your sign-up page


People get confused by too many options. Don't ask them to sign up for your list, buy your latest product, like your Facebook page, and check out your newest blog post... all at the same time.

Explain exactly what you want them to do, how to do it, and what button to click next. Don't assume everyone recognizes a hyperlink - say "click here".

#3. Not telling subscribers exactly what they'll get


If people get something unexpected in their inbox, they're more likely to unsubscribe. But, if you're very clear up front about the types of information you'll be sending, they'll be ready for it.

Include examples of past newsletter issues so they know what to expect.

Regulations require you to also state how often you'll be sending messages.

#4. Making it difficult to unsubscribe


Don't turn a non-experience into a bad one. You'll get complaints, and too many can result in blacklisting.

Always have an unsubscribe option - people expect to find it in the footer of your email.

The most valuable email list is one that consists of fans who want to hear from you. Make it easy for those who don't to get off your list.

August 4, 2015

When and How to Leave the Details


I'm a big fan of the detailed message, whether it is by phone or email. But, as Mary Jane Copps mentioned in her article The Illusion of the Detailed Message, they aren’t intended to build relationships – they're intended to save time. From a customer service perspective, we want them to save time for the person we're calling. But, of course, they can also be more efficient for us.

These are instances when a detailed phone message is perfect:
  • You want to relay ALL of the relevant information so the other person doesn’t need to call you back. This is great for giving someone an update on a work project.
  • You want to ask questions which may require some preparation to answer. This gives the other person time to think about or research their responses before calling you back.
  • You're replying to a request for information and no discussion is necessary.
An example that many of us are familiar with is when we need to make an appointment for a meeting. I’ve learned that when I suggest a date, time and location in my detailed message, several back and forth messages are eliminated.

Here are some tips for making those detailed messages effective:
  • Start your message by saying that details are coming and to grab a pen.
  • Include the required information and leave out the fluff.
  • Remember, you can think and talk faster than the listener can absorb the information. Repeat details like dates and numbers.
  • Check for understanding. Encourage the other person to call you back if your message isn't clear.
  • If there are a lot of details, and especially if there are numbers involved, use a detailed email message instead.