June 27, 2016

Make a Personal Connection - A Success Story

Brenda Fay and her husband Dan of BrenDaniel Productions Corp. have trained people all over the world on project management. As a result, they have many contacts across several time zones. They had been using email marketing to promote their services.

A couple of years ago I suggested to Brenda that she can get more out of her email marketing if she also gives some value to readers. Now her brief newsletter is bringing her success every time it goes out.

Recently I asked Brenda where she gets her ideas. “From things that happen every day – talking with people, listening to CBC radio, and reading books are three main ways. I write about ideas that strike me as related to project management in one way or another.”

Brenda told me that her goals are to stay in touch with people and to get information out about public programs she’s offering. It’s not a one way street. “It is fun for me to write the articles, and I am very pleased when people write back giving comments on the articles and letting me know they like them! I get to know people more and they get to know me.

When I asked about specific success stories, here’s what Brenda told me, “I have had a fair number of courses happen as a direct result of my newsletter. Several times people have told me that others forwarded my newsletter to them, suggesting they get in touch. Making connections with new people, who I may partner with or just connect with on LinkedIn, is a success, too. One of the nicest emails I got was from a woman in Quebec who said that her daughter is an aspiring project manager and she forwards my newsletter to her to motivate her.”

Of course, I had to ask Brenda what advice she would give to others who want to start a newsletter. “Write from the heart. Write down your ideas as soon as you can – I often compose articles in my head when I am walking or driving, and sometimes I don’t get them written down as quickly as I could. Don’t worry what people will think – if you like it and it is something you want to say, say it! Know that there will be many people who will relate to what you are saying.”

If it’s your time to start a newsletter, get in touch, or check out our Resource page for lots of advice and tips.

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June 23, 2016

Summer Action Leads to Fall Success

summer marketing

Summer may be a sluggish time for many businesses but it doesn't have to be. Use the slower pace to your advantage.

Take the Time to Get Inspired

Do more reading. Watch more videos. Have more chats over coffee. Take online or offline courses. All of these will generate ideas for content and beyond. Spend some time refreshing your marketing strategy.

Stick Around

Why don't you be the one who hangs around all summer while everyone else disappears? Whether it's your newsletter, blog or social media, or all three, maintain your commitment to your fans. If not, you might not be missed all summer but people will realise you deserted them when you show up again in the fall.

Use Automation

I'm all for vacations but even then you don't have to drop out of sight. Continue to give value by using tools to schedule social media posts. (My newest toy is Tweet Jukebox. Thanks Anita!) Prepare and schedule your newsletters and blog posts in advance. Use your voicemail and email automated messages to keep people apprised about your availability.

Go forth and make progress this summer!

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originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on June 23, 2016

June 19, 2016

Content Template - How to Start

Content templates can simplify your content development time by providing structure - sort of like filling in blanks. That means you can be done and onto your next task in no time.

The purpose of this template is to create an awesome resource for beginners on a particular topic. This type of article will attract readers that could eventually become customers. Search engines will also like it because it will contain the common keywords people search when initially researching a subject. Download the "How to Start" template now (pdf).

Get More Content Templates

If you like that one, grab our mini workbook with 10 Quick and Easy Content Templates plus some extra tips for repurposing content.

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June 14, 2016

Content Ideas for Consultants - Useful Content (Part 2)

If you've already mastered Getting Started (Part 1 in this series), you have gained some momentum and are ready to expand your skills and tackle some content that is useful to your readers and time-saving for you.

Save Yourself Time and Be Useful

There are so many types of content that can fit into this category; my concern is overwhelming you. So let's start simple and you'll begin to see all the possibilities yourself.
  1. Think of a piece of information that you relay repeatedly, such as every time you take on a new client. If you can't think of it now, this will come to mind when you do it next.
    My example is about writing the introduction to your first newsletter. Every time I started working with a new client, I wrote them an email giving advice and examples. The quality varied, the examples varied, and I was wasting time repeating myself.
  2. Either now or the next time you have to, take the time to write an awesome version of that information, detailed and with examples.
  3. Take that article you just created and add it to your blog or next newsletter.
    My original example is Introducing Your Very First Issue, and last year I wrote an updated version, How to Write the Introduction to Your First Newsletter.
  4. Share a link to that article frequently. Link back to it from newer articles that reference the topic. Create social media graphics for a couple of key points - include the link when sharing.
    Are you surprised to hear that my original post from 2012 has had 23,354 views? That's the other bonus to writing useful content - people want to read it!
Now, whenever you take on a new client, you simply need to send them a link to your most awesome version of the useful information. You'll save time and appear super organized, as well. You can reference the information, and reuse it over and over again.

Other examples from my business are posts about anti-spam legislation, where to put your sign-up form, and how to review your newsletter statistics. I'm sure you can come up with more than one for your business but, if you're still feeling stuck, here's another place to start: if you have an FAQ page on your website, pick something from there and expand on it.

When you're finished with that, check out Content That Saves Time and Creating Content that is Useful for more ideas along this same line.

The next installment in this series will be about sharing your learning which, of course, will also be useful and, hopefully, interesting. (Subscribe to make sure you don't miss it.)

June 10, 2016

Where's the Value?

Some of you might remember the old Wendy's ad, "Where's the beef?" I was reminded of that when I saw these 3 examples back-to-back on Twitter.

What's missing from the middle post in this screenshot? The beef.

People are picky about what they subscribe to. If you don't give them a good reason to sign up, they won't even get to taste the beef, no matter how many patties there are.

Good calls-to-action are not easy to construct but it's important to make the effort.

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June 6, 2016

Good News for eMail Marketing?

Isn’t it exciting that your email marketing campaign is likely to be more successful because average open rates have trended significantly upward? According to Inbox Marketer, their North American average open rate was 19.2% in 2011 and 25.9% in 2015, an increase of over 6%! The cream on the cake is that deliverability is also up.

This sounds like great news for small businesses doing email marketing - my client base. But wait, there’s actually a scary side to all this industry success, especially for small businesses. Be careful about the latest trend that's improving those stats - list pruning.

Statistics are quite different from people, and you do business with people. If you’re considering pruning your list, there are some things you need to know first in order to make an informed decision.

The Math behind the Pruning

Let’s say you start with 500 subscribers and your average open rate is 20%. If you get rid of 100 subscribers (who appear not to be opening your newsletter) and maintain the same number of opens, your open rate will increase to 25%. If you are an agency, I’m sure your client will be happy when you tell them this. If you aren’t, who are you fooling?

If you see an increase in your open rate without having pruned your list, you can legitimately celebrate. Otherwise you’ve likely made a trade-off, perhaps without even realizing the impact.

What You Don’t Know can Hurt You

First you need to know that identifying contacts who have not opened your emails is not as simple as it might seem. An ‘open’ is measured when an image is viewed. If your subscriber is viewing in plain text or preview mode, it won’t count as an open. The result is that you may be cutting off the wrong subscribers.

Even more important, there’s value in being seen in people’s inboxes. Sort of like driving by a billboard on the way to the cottage every weekend, your name is being seen, even if deleted. Some sales cycles are long and, while I may not need one now, I might want a custom app built in the future. Or perhaps a car, a bottle of wine, or a fitness class.

Respect Your List

It comes down to this: I believe we need to respect our subscribers. We can do this by:
  • giving interesting and useful content
  • being consistent with our schedule, layout, and content
  • being open to feedback and suggestions
  • being concise in our communications
  • giving them tools to easily share our messages with their fans
If we respect our readers, they’ll learn to trust us... and isn’t that what successful small business is all about?

photo by yooperann