December 27, 2018

One Word for 2019


Reflecting back on this past year, the first thing I realized is that I didn't define a 'One Word' for 2018. That's because, as 2017 was rolling over to 2018, I was busy building a website and working hard with colleagues to launch Social Media Day Halifax 2018. The word I feel like I used the most in 2018 was SMDH - the acronym and hashtag for the conference.

It was a year of teaching, learning, brainstorming, strategizing, planning, collaborating and designing. Some highlights:
  • Taught an 11-week program for small business owners funded through Labour and Advanced Education Nova Scotia. Starting January 2019 I'll be teaching another similar program.
  • Collaborated to successfully launch the Social Media Day Halifax Conference, an annual learning experience for anyone working in a marketing role. Tickets for the June 21, 2019 conference go on sale January 7th.
  • Created and launched the 100 Days of Marketing online program. Enhancements and more versions are planned for 2019.
  • Started exciting project work with the GreyLit.net team as Chief Marketing Officer.
  • Designed and built 10 websites, plus a complete re-design of my own.
  • Prepared and published about 350 email newsletters (less than in past years).
  • Surpassed 600,000 pageviews on the Work Better, Not Harder blog (since 2010).
  • Hosted 3 free lunch and learn workshops for small business owners in the Halifax area. The series will continue monthly into 2019, with 2 workshops scheduled and more planned.
  • Did a whole bunch of other marketing work that adds variety to my work life.
If you haven't done so already, take a few minutes to make a list of all your own major business accomplishments this past year. When you start thinking about it and putting numbers to your activities, you might be surprised by what you've accomplished.

What does 2019 hold for me and Daley Progress? More of the same. I started a lot of new things this past year and, in the coming year, I'll continue to work to grow them and fully embrace their potential. And so, my One Word for 2019 is EMBRACE.

Following The Phone Lady's example, I looked up the definition of EMBRACE. Rest assured that I won't be running around hugging everyone (unless you ask nicely). Here is the meaning which resonates with me as I shift into the new business year: to take up especially readily or gladly, encircle, enclose.

I also hope you are ready and glad to embrace a new year! Please share your One Word in the comments below.

December 24, 2018

10 Most Read Blog Posts from 2018


It's always useful to check in on your blog stats so you can see what people are interested in reading. This year I'm a little surprised with some of the posts that have been read the most on Work Better, Not Harder. Here they are:

#1. 7 Out Of 12 Small Business Bloggers Agree On This
When I teach marketing courses, the group eventually tires of seeing this list of key reasons for publishing a blog or newsletter come up on the screen in every class. Focus on only 2-3 main goals.

#2. Social Media Day Halifax 2018 Marketing Conference
For the first time, Halifax celebrated Social Media Day in grand style this year. I'm proud to be one of the organizers of the first Social Media Day Halifax conference which took place on June 22nd.

#3. 3 Ways Having a Social Media Strategy Will Save You Time
Guest blogger Anita Kirkbride says, "If your paralysis stems from social media, the best way to get moving is to create a social media strategy and plan out what you need to be doing. Here are three ways doing so will save you time..."

#4. 3 Reasons Why Businesses Should Be Podcasting
Guest blogger Mike Tanner explains why small businesses should consider adding podcasting to their marketing strategy... and how easy it is to do!

#5. Pick a Topic Like You Would Pick an Apple
Instead of writing about the whole apple tree, pick only one apple to write about. Narrow your topic, answer one question instead of 20, go deep instead of broad.

#6. This Useful Process Helps You Teach with Your Writing
If you do any amount of training or facilitating work with customers, you may already be familiar with adult learning models. Teachers use them to prepare insightful learning experiences.

#7. Combine Networking with Research for Killer Content
Looking for a unique and easy content idea for your blog or newsletter? It will even improve your networking at the next event you attend.

#8. 9 Reasons to Deliver Your Newsletter Using Chatbot Technology
Nine hundred million people use Facebook Messenger as a primary messaging tool. Do you think a few of those would rather receive your newsletter that way - on their phone instead of in their inbox? And wouldn't it be great to give them the option?

#9. The Wrong Way to Introduce Your First Newsletter
Especially for your very first issue, there are a few basic things to include. The most important is to give value or point out the value to your reader immediately.

#10. How To Give and Get Great Referrals
How about that feeling when a colleague sends you a new referral? Great, eh? Referrals are so much more than new business; they're also a sign of trust. That's why we need to treat our referrals with such care.

Wishing you a successful and healthy new year!

December 16, 2018

Pinpoint Your Unique Content Marketing Opportunity - An Example


If you read Pinpoint Your Unique Content Marketing Opportunity last month and are still stuck, this article may offer some hope.

First, if you are sitting at your desk alone, new ideas may not come to you easily. This process requires brainstorming - and more than one brain. And it may not happen immediately but, if you are constantly on the alert for ideas, it will come sooner or later.

A couple of months ago I was masterminding with Alison Knott at Humani-T Cafe in Halifax. I think I was encouraging her to do a regular email newsletter and she was lamenting about the time and effort required to blog regularly. This is a discussion I've had many times with many people over the years. "Just do it!" doesn't often work as inspiration.

At one point, I said something like, "It'd be nice to find something valuable to give readers that you don't have to work so hard to create," and went off to get a fresh coffee. When I came back, I said, "What are you spending time already doing that would be useful to others?"

"Stats," Alison said. "I'm always reading interesting web stats." I really wish we had a photo of that moment.

Check out the first issue of Alison's "Notable Numbers" new monthly newsletter. It's interesting and useful... and brief. For Alison, it's easy to pull together and doesn't take a whole bunch of time.

Here's the worksheet I included in last month's post. Use it as a starting point to focus your thoughts and ideas. Find a colleague, customer, or collaborator to toss around ideas with. If you're stuck after that, I can be bought ;)

Click to Tweet this Article

December 10, 2018

What's the Best Day of the Month to Send a Newsletter?


Wouldn't it be great if I had a magic bullet for you? The thing is, if I did, everyone else would be sending their newsletter on that day and it would no longer be magic. What I can do instead is give you some suggestions to help narrow it down.

Is your schedule dependent on others?

For example, if you're a real estate professional, you'll want to send your newsletter after mortgage rates have been adjusted so you can include that information. If you plan to curate content from certain bloggers, and they all post in the middle of the month, you don't want to plan your newsletter for the first week. Think about what, if any, information in your newsletter is dependent on others and plan around it.

Send when your contacts are using their email.

This means that if your contacts are opening your newsletter at work, you want it to arrive during a workday. And you typically don't want this to be right after a weekend or holiday when clearing out the inbox is a priority. So mid to late morning on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday is your best bet.

If your contacts are consumers, reading email on their phones or at home, it's harder to pin down a "best" day or time. You can experiment and you can also ask your contacts.

Don't pick a date, pick a day.

The day of the week is more important than the day of the month. Consider all the people who commit to sending a newsletter on the first of every month. What do you think their open rate is like on July 1st (in Canada)? Select something like the second Thursday each month, or the third Wednesday.

If individual consumers are your target market, you would send earlier in the week if you sell commodities, and on payday or right after if you sell luxury items.

Be consistent.

Once you settle on your schedule, stick to it. If you let it slide to the last day of the month, you'll be competing for attention with everyone else who did the same thing.

When you schedule the recurring item in your calendar to send out your newsletter, also back up 2-3 days and schedule your newsletter prep time. Prepping and sending at the last minute is a recipe for mistakes.

Click to Tweet this Article

December 3, 2018

How to Answer a Question on Your Small Business Blog


You might think your website FAQ page is the best place to answer questions but I would argue that your blog is even better. In fact, I suggest your FAQ page should list the questions, and perhaps short answers, with links to blog posts for more detailed answers.

If your answers to frequently asked questions are individual blog posts, that content is ultimately more shareable via social media, email or chatbot. It's also a great way to make use of common keyword phrases, boosting your SEO.

The Question

The question you're answering might serve well as your post title or you might include it in your first paragraph. If it makes sense, you might also add some context which gives information about who the answer is for. For example, I might mention that I get asked this question often when networking with other small business owners.

The Answer

Generally, there are two types of answers.

Facts and/or opinions:

In this case, the question might start with something like, "What is the best ... ?" It's important to differentiate between facts and your opinions. Consider including 2-3 points to back up your position, whether using facts, opinions, or both.

Instructional:

This question might start with, "How do I ... ?" Make your response easy to follow by using bullet points or numbered steps. Include things like screenshots, photos, videos and worksheets - visuals can often make the difference between understanding and confusion.

Of course, if you are mentioning things that you have already talked about on your blog, you'll want to add links to encourage deeper reading (like I just did there).

This type of content will serve you well, and not just online. The next time a client sends an email asking questions, you can quickly direct them to well-thought-out, detailed answers.

Click to Tweet this Article