February 28, 2017

What's on Your Business Bucket List?


Almost 12 years in business and I don't have a bucket list. In fact, it didn't occur to me to have one until I stumbled across mention of it online. It got me thinking, what is the difference between a business bucket list and business goals?

You won't put something on a bucket list unless you're going to make the commitment to do more than thinking about it. By its nature, a bucket list is 'do or die'.

Things on a bucket list are like dreams and desires but more hardcore because they also have a personal commitment behind them.

A bucket list is a list, not a plan. It's about results, not how to achieve them. Some of the items on it may have to be backed up by significant implementation plans.

Is a business bucket list rigid and unchangeable? I'm a fan of flexible goals; it's important to be re-evaluating our goals. That means being able to cross things off without having accomplished them.

Is the difference really in our perception of the tool? I think of goals as things I have to accomplish and a bucket list as things I want to accomplish. Being my own boss means I have the power to make sure my goals are also my dreams.

If you're not convinced that a business bucket list (or even a personal one) is a good idea, this article might convince you.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder newsletter February 28, 2017

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February 25, 2017

9 Writing Prompts for Small Business Bloggers


Even when we love to write for our blog or newsletter, staring at a blank screen is bound to happen sooner or later. Here are nine writing prompts to help you get past the blank screen:
  1. What do you love most about your business?
  2. What are the questions you get asked most often when out networking?
  3. What are some of the hot topics in your industry right now?
  4. What are some of the challenges you are facing in your industry?
  5. What is a great resource, book or app that you’ve been delighted with recently?
  6. What recent experience can you turn into a success story or case study?
  7. What famous person would you like to get some advice from? Why?
  8. Do you have a business bucket list? What’s on it?
  9. What recent personal experience has led to a business breakthrough?
These questions may not translate directly into a topic for your particular blog but they should get you thinking... follow a thread.


February 19, 2017

The Consequences of Creative Isolation


Buried in a blog post by iContact about the importance of relevant content, I found an interesting little segment about the impact of creative isolation. It's hard to imagine being isolated when we can be online and connected whenever we want.

When it comes to writing content, these are the consequences iContact identified:
  1. Writing generic copy - this is canned content
  2. Going off topic - irrelevant and useless content for the target market
  3. Being too clever - impenetrable copy stuffed with industry buzzwords and jargon
  4. Staring at a blank screen - forcing creativity doesn't work

These things happen to me when I...
  • stop looking at results (what are people reading)
  • am too busy to read articles by other experts
  • am not talking to people in my target market

The solution? Do more of these things!

photo by bionicteaching / Flickr

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February 13, 2017

Is Your Information Shareable?


Getting other people to share our information is hard work, whether it is a blog post or a workshop announcement. We can be more successful when someone sends an email to a friend or retweets a message about our next event. Whatever our important information is, getting it out to a broader audience is a key marketing goal.

I share a lot of information relevant to my small business market via several different methods. When I want to share someone's sale announcement or event details, I'm sometimes frustrated by how hard it is and, unless it's a friend or client, I'm likely to give up before too long.

Here are three suggestions for making your information (event, sale campaign, product launch, and so on) more easily shared.
  1. Put the information somewhere on a page of its own. Ideally this would be your website but might also be a blog post, Facebook event, EventBrite listing or any number of other ways to get your information online. A unique url is the goal so interested people can be sent directly there.
  2. Write a brief synopsis that others can copy and use to promote your big happening. I suggest 2-4 sentences and roughly 50 words. This will also make it easier for you to promote.
  3. Include sharing links. Wherever you put your information, on that page include links and a call-to-action to share.
You likely don't even know about all the opportunities for promotion you are missing out on. You've worked hard to build a fan base and this is one of the reasons you did so!

photo by bengrey / Flickr

February 7, 2017

No Love from your Newsletter? Here's Why


"My newsletter isn't doing anything for me."

Over the years I've heard many different versions of this same sentiment, usually accompanied by a big sigh. A month or so later, the newsletters stop.

A newsletter does not make a marketing plan. And sending out a newsletter is only a small part of a content marketing strategy. To be successful, there are other related things you need to be doing.

Here's a checklist to help you identify what actions to take to improve your results. If you're not doing these things, that's why success is eluding you.
  • Have a sign-up form on a landing page you can promote (i.e. with its own url) so you can actually get complete strangers as new subscribers.
  • Promote your newsletter on social media, your blog, your website and everywhere else, including not online. If you don't actively build your list, it will stagnate.
  • Actively share your newsletter issues on social media multiple times to extend your readership beyond your current subscribers.
  • Look at your statistics to see what people are clicking on. Pay attention to comments and shares on social media. Include more of whatever is working to get more engagement.
  • Have a blog and post your newsletter articles there. This is a good idea for many reasons - all will get you read more.
  • Keep refreshing your website content. Make sure all of the information, such as events, is current. Change the content so people have a reason to go there again.
  • Include more links in your newsletter to get more people to that awesome website you just updated. There's a simple relationship: more links = more clicks.
Instead of giving up on your newsletter, find one thing in the list that you're not doing and start it. Once you have that in place, come back here and pick something else to implement. Before long, you'll be feeling the love. Here's a recent story from a client:
I'm starting a new class. The one female in the class told me her father sends my articles to her all the time. He owns an IT company and he was encouraging her to get her PMP certification. He wrote to her last week with my newsletter and said, "FYI - Brenda is here next week." She wrote him back and said, "I'm already registered for the course." The power of newsletters!
There is a lot to be gained from an effective email campaign, including fans like this. Don't give up before you've fully implemented the strategy.

photo by Peter Hellberg / Flickr

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February 2, 2017

LinkedIn is a Resource, Not a Mailing List


"Can I add my LinkedIn contacts to my email list?" I get asked this a lot with regard to the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation (CASL). And my answer is exactly the same if you are planning to send only one individual LinkedIn contact a message - both fall under CASL.

Can you? Yes, it's not hard to do - Google 'exporting LinkedIn contacts' for instructions.

Should you? Like any other marketing activity, consider the implications. Review your LinkedIn list and remove people for whom your information isn't relevant. Know your target market and use common sense. Think about your target market's perceptions; many people do not know the legal definition of spam... but think they do.

Is it legal? Implied consent applies when businesses sell to other businesses (B2B). The email you are sending must be relevant to the person's job at the organization they work for. (Example: You can email a university professor to sell her textbooks, but not clothes... without express permission.)

My advice about adding your LinkedIn contacts to your emailing list? Use LinkedIn as a source of potential new contacts but look at each contact and make sure implied consent applies.

photo by TheBushCenter / Flickr

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