December 31, 2015

Best Reading of 2015

These are our top picks of the best guest articles from the Work Better, Not Harder newsletter during 2015, not in any particular order.

Essential Elements of Storytelling
Neil Everton, Podium Media and Communications Coaching
The heart of storytelling is the hero-quest: Luke Skywalker and the forces of good battling Darth Vader and the forces of evil (and rescuing the princess). Any compelling story has four essential elements. Read on...

Adding Audio to Your Content
Natasha Marchewka Voiceover Services
Have you considered adding audio to your blog or enewsletter? Adding audio to marketing adds to the multi-media dimension, offering readers more for engagement. Read on...

The Eggnog Challenge
Steve Foran, Gratitude at Work
The Eggnog Challenge put an end to a hotly debated subject in our house... which eggnog is the best. I discovered a treacherous danger in comparison... a danger I've before never considered. Read on...

How to Make a ‘Thank You’ Speech
Halina St James, Podium Media & Communications Coaching
What makes a great ‘thank you’ speech? Once a year we see the best and the worse ‘thank you’ speeches, courtesy of the Oscars. We can learn a lot from these. Here are Podium’s tips to make your 'thank you' speech memorable. Read on...

6 Easy Periscope Live Streaming Ideas for Small Businesses
Anita Kirkbride, Twirp Communications Inc.
Live streaming has hit the social media world big time. At first thought, live streaming for a small business may seem overwhelming but your very curious customers want to see what you’re up to... and now they want to do it live! Read on...

4 Steps = Great Vacation Message
Mary Jane Copps, The Phone Lady
There's nothing like that last day of work before a holiday. The moment just seconds away from freedom is the one in which most of us remember the need to change our voicemail message. Here are a few tips that will make reaching your vacation message a joy. Read on...

Get Control of Your Projects
Brenda Fay, BrenDaniel Productions Corp.
Project management is about getting things done, and it's not just for the big guys. Working smarter to be more effective is everyone's goal, so it's a powerful tool for any business. Read on...

The Show and Tell of Trust
Lea Brovedani, The Trust Architect
Consciously and deliberately building trust is important. Think of it as “show and tell” for grownups but with much bigger consequences than a grade on an elementary school report card. The evaluation you get can affect whether or not people are willing to follow you and how well you succeed. Read on...

Past Best Reading lists: 2012 - 2013 - 2014

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder, December 31, 2015

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December 30, 2015

Haste Makes Waste

Rushing can lead to mistakes. We all know that but still we rush. Sometimes it simply means spending valuable time redoing something.

Haste can waste more than time. It can also hurt my reputation if my mistakes are public.

A little risk assessment before we start hurrying can save us heartbreak. I'll risk my time but I won't needlessly risk my reputation.

Sometimes just showing up isn't enough.

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December 26, 2015

A Simple Content Management Tool (NEW WORKSHEET ADDED)

Many people have yet to embrace the concept of content management. I'm going to show you a simple way to get your arms around it, and keep them firmly gripped.

First, print or use this fillable worksheet (or draw 3 columns on a sheet of paper) and grab a pen. OK, don't overthink this - it shouldn't take any more than 10 minutes.

Content for Different Places
In the first column, make a quick list of all the places you have (or need to have) content. Examples of things on this list might be your website, blog, newsletter, social media posts, social media profiles, ezines, brochures, profiles on membership websites, other people's blogs/newsletters, and so on.

Content for Different Purposes
In the second column, capture your reasons for having content... your goals. This is not a list where you brainstorm - it's where you focus on your main goals. Otherwise you'll be too scattered. Some examples: to be seen as an expert, to build relationships, to have regular contact, to promote products, and to grow your fanbase.

Content of Different Formats
The third column is for listing all the different types of content you will include in your strategy. This list will include things like articles, videos, audio recordings, infographs, photos, ebooks and so on.

Now pin the sheet up by your desk. Planning forces you to think; now here's the action part:
  • Say, for example, you have just updated your bio. You only have to glance at the worksheet to identify where you need to update or add it.
  • Next, you come across an interesting article you think you should share with your contacts. At a glance you can determine: if you should share it (it supports one of your goals), and where you should share it.
  • A new product launch coming up in the new year? Using your worksheet you can quickly select the different formats you'll use for marketing and where you'll market.
  • Wondering if something is appropriate for your newsletter or blog? Check the purposes you identified to quickly decide.
This content management tool can keep you focussed and save you time - you just have to use it!

December 22, 2015

Automation can be Creepy

If your ideal customer is new to social media, your autoresponder messages might be creeping them out. At one time I had this vision of some big guy hunched over his keyboard poised to pounce on my 'Follow'.

If your ideal customer is more tech savvy, they'll recognize an autoresponder immediately. (Really? You expect me to interact with a program?)

I liken autoresponders on social media to email spammers. Both are giving their medium a bum rap.

A recent Twitter following spree on my part resulted in 16 automated tweets (close to 10% of those I followed). At least I think they were autoresponders.

There's the rub. Even if you take time to respond to people individually, now they may assume it's an autoresponder. The legitimacy of your action is lost in the sea of spammers.

photo by wnstn / Flickr

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December 18, 2015

What do iWatches and Zombies have to do with eMail Marketing?

Perhaps nothing.

Using a news story or pop culture as a hook can create interest that attracts readers. Keep your subject line (or headline) relevant and appropriate, though, or you'll forsake credibility.

"What will Happen to eMail Marketing on the iWatch?" is a good example, even if a horrible thought.

"What will Happen to eMail Marketing during a Zombie Apocalypse?" is not a good example. (I admit to giving it some thought but, really, there's nothing to write about.)

photo by Sangudo / Flickr

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December 14, 2015

Are You a Poet and Didn't Know It?

Work is especially fun at this time of year because I'm busy putting together holiday ecards for clients. After a few, though, the messages of joy and peace start to become a tad lacklustre. And then Lea Brovedani sent me the message to go into her ecard.

It wasn't till I started formatting it that I recognized it as a poem. Then I giggled because I realized Lea had written it. You see, Lea is all about teaching others to be more trusting and trustworthy. Here's the first verse (she said I could share with you):
It's time for carols and some snow,
Time for being on the go.
Take a moment, and don't be fussed,
To show thanks to those you love and trust.
When I congratulated Lea on her winning message, she gave me this tip: "I went on a website for Christmas messages, found one I liked, and adapted it so it was my message on trust."

"Hmm, I have to try that," I thought and started Googling. I have to say Lea's message about trust is more adaptable for the season. But I did come up with a seasonal marketing slogan!
Your holiday cards travel like snails.
Won't you consider using emails?
After you stop groaning, you might give this a try. It's a great content creation idea and could be adapted to other less seasonal purposes, too.

photo by Adrian Cabrero (Mustagrapho) / Flickr

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December 10, 2015

Write without Fear, Edit without Mercy

Do you get hung up over finding the perfect word? Distracted by comma placement? Or just stuck looking at a blank screen?

I've told many people I'm a wannabe writer. Now, closing on 350 articles, I still feel like a wannabe. That's because I'm a much better editor than writer.

I still quibble over words and have to remind myself to move on - but now that happens in 10 seconds instead of 3 minutes.

If writing is what's holding you back from publishing a blog or newsletter, here's what you need to know:
  1. Write something instead of nothing. Maybe you'll change it later, but it's a start.
  2. Write when you're inspired. That might mean making time to get inspired.
  3. Don't set goals about the number of words. Write only as much as you need to, as opposed to a 500 word essay.
  4. Don't get stuck choosing words. Pick one and move on.
  5. Spend twice as much time editing as you do writing.
  6. Have a time gap between when you write and when you edit. You'll have fresh eyes a day later.
  7. Get someone else to proof. Next best option is to proof by reading out loud.
  8. If you're not a great writer, get a good editor.

December 6, 2015

Pantone Colour of the Year for 2016

Colour has a big impact on all of the work I do so I'm always eager to see the colour trends published by Pantone. The seasonal colour schemes are based on trends in clothing design. I'm not sure what the 2016 Colour of the Year is based on but there's two of them. I wonder if someone high up at Pantone just had a baby.

While I quite like the colours personally, I don't see much business application. If a new client with a baby shop comes along, I might think differently, of course.

image source

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December 2, 2015

Gratitude Yields Results in Many Ways: An eMail Marketing Success Story

Steve Foran is my hero. While he deserves that label for many reasons to do with his altruistic message and goal to make his community a better place, he’s also my hero because of his email marketing practices.

First, some background. Steve works with leaders across North America to shift culture and help teams bring more gratitude into the workplace. He’s been on the leading edge of gratitude-based research, writing, and teaching for over a decade and his science-based strategy, Gratitude At Work, is a simple, yet innovative approach to business growth.

When I first met Steve I was excited to talk to him because he was running an email campaign that put his name into people’s inboxes every day. To me, as an email marketer, that seemed to be the ultimate success story. I may have even disconcerted Steve a little with my enthusiasm - “You have permission to email people every single day!”

Now over 4 years later I’m still receiving Steve’s daily messages reminding me to be grateful. Recently I also received 21 tips to help me improve on my gratitude practices delivered daily. And I receive his monthly video blog by email.

I asked Steve why he started email marketing for his business. He told me that he wanted to get his important message in front of people on a regular basis. Today that goal still holds true but Steve has also figured out that email marketing can work to encourage ongoing learning. He can have a greater impact on the clients he works with and the people who hear him speak by continuing to coach through email.

Steve was also quick to tell me it’s not all one way communication. He learns how to hone his messages and approach by paying attention to responses, both by email and on his public gratitude journal.

When I asked if he ever feels stressed about preparing and sending his daily messages, Steve told me that he has a regular routine – he takes 5-10 minutes every evening to prepare his gratitude message – and never feels like it’s a chore.

Infusionsoft is the tool Steve uses to manage his email campaigns and, because it is process driven, it saves him time by automating routine tasks. He also likes its CRM capabilities for keeping track of contact interactions.

Steve’s email campaigns generate good business opportunities and encourage repeat business. He has no doubt that his email marketing has played a major role in his business success.

“What advice do you have for other business owners who want to start email marketing?” I asked, and Steve mentioned two specific things. First, be consistent. Second, figure out what value you can give to your target market and focus on that. People want to keep getting his emails daily because they find value. I couldn’t agree more.