November 30, 2016

Stock up on Content for your Busy Season


Whenever the busy time is for your small business, you can't avoid it - at some point in the next year you'll be overwhelmed. Help out your future self by preparing a bunch of marketing content during your slow season.

If you’re a small business owner who faithfully takes vacation time at the end of December, this article isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you are like me, you can take advantage of the slower pace to get creative with your content marketing.

Having a whole day to spend on content sounds awesome to me. Perhaps not so much to you. If you want a little guidance, here are 10 activities that will set you up for success in the new year.

  1. Write a wrap-up article – a summary of *something* from the past year that you’ve written about several times.
  2. Brainstorm a long list of topics. Nothing is too wonky to put on your list.
  3. Go online and do a little research to get more ideas to add to your list.
  4. Pick 10 article ideas from your list and write a brief point form outline of each.
  5. Pick a handful of those outlines and draft full articles.
  6. Pick 2 of those drafts, edit and proof them in preparation for publishing. (Or send them to your editor.)
  7. Source images to use with your 10 article ideas.
  8. Create promotional social media messages. Assembling and posting messages on the fly takes more time than you realise. Create a database of evergreen promotional messages you can draw from. (Here's one for promoting your newsletter.)
  9. Create graphics to post along with some of those social media messages.
  10. Schedule promotional messages into the future - responsibly. There are so many tools available to help you deal with your routine posting.

During your busy season you'll be really glad you did this. Remember to pat yourself on the back!

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originally published in Work Better, Not Harder newsletter November 30, 2016

November 24, 2016

Lost in the Forest and Finding the Trees


"Which is better?" I asked. "'I need to capitalize on the time I've invested in writing.' or 'I need to leverage the time I've invested in writing.'"

Danielle said, "'I need people to read my stuff.'"

Two lessons here, one obvious and one not so obvious.

1. Using plain language and simple words is critical - and often surprisingly difficult. But, when you use simple words in your marketing, you reduce the risk of something being misinterpreted. (Tweet This!)

2. Brainstorming by phone has a big advantage. I was looking at the sentences, hung up on the visual impact of the decision. How would the words look? Would they fit where I needed them to? When I read those two carefully crafted options out loud to Danielle on the phone, she immediately simplified the whole concept.

Isn't brainstorming wonderful?!

photo by michael pollak / Flickr

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November 21, 2016

NEW Service: We Post Your Stuff


You've committed to writing a blog or newsletter but promoting your content on your social media feeds is a lot of additional work. You would rather spend your time being social instead of posting. And you also need a consistent online presence even when you can't be there yourself.

Personalized posting for as little as $2.75 CDN per day.
Click to tweet about this!

Click here to find out if this new service is for you!

November 19, 2016

11 Ways to Make Your Newsletter More Interactive


An interactive newsletter will provoke responses from your readers. Aside from calls to action related to a sales process, interactivity is also good because it makes you more memorable.

#1. Conduct a poll. Use an app (like SurveyMonkey) that allows you to show results after someone takes the poll. Keep it to one question. Publish the results in your next issue.

#2. Include a special offer only for those who make it to the very bottom of your newsletter. Tell readers how to contact you to take advantage of the offer.

#3. Link to a video. This can even be cleverly disguised as a screenshot of the video inserted into your newsletter.

#4. Link to a free resource or some other type of giveaway. Upload the file to your website or Dropbox first, then use that link in your newsletter.

#5. If your newsletter article is also on your blog, link to it and ask people to leave comments there.

#6. Use click-to-tweet and other social media sharing options. Encourage readers to share. If you make it easy, people will share.

#7. Include a menu. An 'in this issue' menu at the top of a lengthy newsletter, allows readers to easily pick and choose what they want to read. Clicking a link in the menu takes the reader directly to the item they want to read. These anchor links can also be used to promote specific items in the newsletter.

#8. You can also have a menu similar to what you have on your website, linking to pages on your website to send more readers there.

#9. Ask readers to connect with you on Twitter, Facebook and so on. Use icons to draw their attention.

#10. Include a list of your recent blog posts, or a collection of blog posts on a particular topic. This moves readers from your newsletter over to your blog. You could include a curated list if you don't have a blog yourself.

#11. Ask for suggestions - for your next issue, for your blog, or for something else entirely. Encourage readers to 'hit reply now'.

photo by The-E / Flickr

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Your content promotion just got easier. You write. We post. You engage. Personalized posting for as little as $2.75 CDN per day. Get started now at www.wepostyourstuff.com.

November 14, 2016

Is Planning Becoming Passé?


"Plans are nothing; planning is everything." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Planning is a noble task, full of focus and good intention. It's always been one of my favourite things to do.

Now I hear about the newest trend: the 'anti business plan' entrepreneur. Here's a not-so-secret secret: most business owners don't have business plans. And I'm pretty sure that's not a new-fangled idea.

Most of us spend a lot of time planning... in the car crossing the bridge, in the Starbucks drive-thru, walking the dog. We don't always write our plans down but we do plan.

Planning is a most worthy task because it helps us understand options and make better decisions. No one will ever convince me there's no value in planning, even if the plans are eventually broken.

originally published in PM News & Views on November 1, 2016
photo by carfreedc / Flickr

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November 8, 2016

Why is List Building so Important for Small Businesses?


Your contact list should be the most valuable asset your small business has, like a privately owned gold mine.

Once you have added someone to your contact list, you can create more chances to get them as a client or fan, sell them a product or service, and get a referral or testimonial. The possibilities open up.

How many times have you stifled a good idea because you didn't have an interested audience waiting to hear from you?

photo by Merlijn Hoek / Flickr

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November 3, 2016

The Undiscovered Gold Mine in Your Own Backyard


There’s a reason that finding new clients is described as prospecting, and researching our contacts is called mining. It really can be long hours of hard work for little immediate return.

In 1849, when Dr. Matthew Fleming Stephenson proclaimed, “There’s gold in them thar hills,” he wasn’t telling his friends to rush off to California. He was suggesting they stay and mine in their own neighbourhood.

That’s a lesson for small business owners, too. Greener pastures aren’t always greener. Have you fully mined the possibilities within your current circle of contacts?

Before you do any prospecting, you need a mine. It might be a spreadsheet, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool, a bulk email account, or some other ‘place’ where all your contacts (clients, vendors, colleagues, potential clients, referrers, press, and so on) are gathered together. If you don’t have that yet, start now – make it the next priority of your small business marketing strategy.

Your contact list should be the most valuable asset your small business has. Once you have a list, a world of possibilities immediately opens up for you. We'll help you discover some of those possibilities for online marketing in an upcoming series of articles.

photo by freestock.ca ♡ dare to share beauty / Flickr

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