July 29, 2018

Summer Content Ideas - Loosen Up a Little


If there's any time of year to get more personal with your content, it's during the summer. The rules are relaxed and people have more time to read deeper. Here are a few ideas you can try:

  1. Create a roundup of summer reading appropriate for your fans. This could be books or articles you've read, or even favourite videos, such as TED Talks.
  2. Create your own summer "want to read" list and share it.
  3. Share your favourite BBQ recipe. (Yes, even if you're a business consultant.)
  4. Update your business bucket list and share.
  5. Share "what I'm doing", "where to find me" updates – and why those things are relevant to your readers.
  6. If you're busy learning over the summer, write a "What I Learned" article.
  7. Compare or contrast one of your favourite summer activities with some aspect of your business. (example)
  8. Experiment with the "Mom test" and share your results.
  9. Start a new business habit and share your progress and learnings.
  10. Research! Use a tool like Answer the Public or Google Trends to hone in on topics you haven't covered yet. Share your resulting list of topics as a post with a promise to write about these topics in the future.
  11. Have fun with colours. Create a digital mood board of your favourite summer colours along with an interesting theme.
  12. Preview something new that's starting in the fall with a teaser, such as a new program, product or service offering.
  13. Take on a photo project, such as a 30-day challenge, and blog the experience.
  14. Organize a meet-up with local experts in your industry and then post about it, before, during and after.

Share your favourite summer content idea in the comments.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder newsletter July 26, 2018

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July 24, 2018

13 Simple, Direct ideas for Client Relationship Building


(guest post by Natasha Marchewka)

Do you need help with keeping in touch with past clients without "bugging them"? When working as an isolated freelancer or small business (and where building your business is all on you) there are ways to efficiently and effectively build, strengthen, and grow relationships.

Keeping in touch regularly can be a bit of a conundrum. You want to remind them you exist, but you need to find a balance of being seen and heard and not overdo it. So, you created a newsletter to email clients once a month. I think that's great - and important - and keeps you relevant, top-of-mind, and also keeps you on your toes. What else can you do to remind them you exist as they are distracted daily... and still forget you exist?

Here are some ideas. And, as an added bonus you'll have relevant content to share on your social media feeds!

Client Relationship Building Check-list:
  1. Visit your clients' websites and check if they added anything new, like a press release, newsletter, blog, or an additional social medium. This is the starting point for relevant communication.
  2. Subscribe to their feeds: YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Vimeo, etc. You may want to receive a notification when they post interesting content.
  3. Sign up for their newsletter or blog, if you haven't already, so you'll receive relevant info when they publish.
  4. Scan all their social feeds and share something noteworthy on your own social media. Keep shares engaging by adding your comments with your post.
  5. Check out their blog posts and share on your social media, if you are compelled to do so.
  6. Do they have a (recent) press release that is worth mentioning on one of your feeds? Congratulate them on something, tagging them and any relevant content.
  7. Google your client's contact name and congratulate them directly, by email or social media, on anything notable, keeping it simple and professionally appropriate.
  8. Go to your "notifications" in LinkedIn and reach out to clients who have something noteworthy, providing a personal comment.
  9. Make note of the anniversary of when you first worked together. Schedule in your online calendar with a reminder. Send them an Anniversary email each year.
  10. Email clients individually with an article or idea that reminded you of them.
  11. Mail a thank you card after you've worked together again.
  12. Send a general gratitude card anytime.
  13. Send an appropriate gift or card at year-end, at the New Year, or for a random holiday.

July 20, 2018

Does Your Mother Know What You Do? (Part 2)


It's hard to believe it's been over 4 years since I took my mother to her first (and only) business networking event and wrote about it here. I'm a big fan of the "Mom test" for simplifying our small business marketing messages but I didn't fully appreciate it until yesterday morning.

I was driving out Waverley Road taking the long, more scenic route to Bedford with my mom in the passenger seat. Because she's my biggest fan, I was telling her about some of the exciting new things going on with my business. Oh, she was making all the right noises and nodding, as moms will, but that's when it hit me - she really had no clue as to what I was talking about, much less about why it's interesting and valuable work.

I thought I passed the Mom test years ago when I explained I do newsletters and websites and generally help small business owners implement their marketing plans. She could, and does, tell people that. But since she's never used a computer, she has no context for what that might mean.

So yesterday I told my mom that I help my clients grow their professional reputation using the internet. Because my dad was a scientist, she understands the importance of a professional reputation, even if in a different context. I think I just passed the Mom test for real this time.

Whether it's with your mom, a sibling or a good friend, summer is a great time to experiment with the Mom test outside of your business world. I'd love to hear your revelations in the comment section below.

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July 16, 2018

Little Things Can Have a Big Impact on Your Business Success


Seth Godin's post today - We’re still clueless about lifetime value - got me thinking, as his posts usually do. (Take a minute to read it.)

I love his line, "Torrents are made of drips." He's referring to the long-term impact of small, seemingly inconsequential, actions - like when I have to call Netfirms three times before I get a resolution to a domain problem. That company will never get my referrals for website hosting, even though I get asked regularly for referrals to good website hosting companies. That's not business lost - it's business they'll never get... but could have.

Now think of the website hosting company that I do refer people to - SiteGround Hosting Ltd. (aff). I have sent them 8 referrals in the last 6 months. And I bet some of those people have gone on to refer SiteGround, or will. Those people will refer more people, and so on. By treating me well in every interaction I've had with them, they've earned my loyalty - and my desire to share with others.

How can you get even a couple of more people to refer your business? Is there something you can do right now to start a few drips leading to a torrent?

PS: This Siteground success story started a year ago on The Phone Lady's blog - read about it here.

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July 5, 2018

Storytelling as Part of Your Small Business Marketing Strategy


At the Social Media Day Halifax 2018 conference, I had the pleasure to sit through most of Allan Gates' presentation, Telling Better Brand Stories on Social Media. I was intrigued because I've always been a wannabe author (of spy stories!). I'm also drawn to processes, so the message in the photo above practically jumped off the screen at me.

Storytelling is a process... and I can follow a process. Until now I thought I lacked the creativity needed for storytelling. Granted, writing skills are a different matter but there are lots of ways to tell stories that don't require a lot of writing. I can do this... and you can, too!

Read Allan's blog post, The Suspense In Your Brand Story, for great advice about how to get people interested - and keep them interested - in your brand story

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