Designing Your Perfect Week

Posted by on Oct 05 2017

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week working on my Perfect Week. Have you ever done this exercise?

perfect week large

You map out what you want to be doing during the week, by category, making sure the high-priority items get on your schedule first. It helps you set priorities and creates more productivity in your days.

Then, in the future, when you need to schedule something, you see how it fits into your “perfect” week instead of letting your schedule get away from you.

Some people balk at the idea of structuring their days so completely. That’s okay — just as long as you’re clear on what you want to accomplish each week and you have a plan in place for getting it all done. And it’s important that you also have a plan for saying “no” to tasks and people who take you off track of your goals.

For me, the structure is necessary; if I leave it up to “I’ll do whichever task I feel like doing in the moment,” I don’t get all my tasks done. 🙂

I created mine in an Excel spreadsheet, but you could use any word processor, or just a paper calendar to map out yours.

Here’s a blank copy of my Excel spreadsheet so you can try this exercise for yourself! (If you don’t have Excel, you can still download the spreadsheet, then open it in a Google Drive spreadsheet.)

Here’s a blank copy in PDF format if you prefer.

I hope you find it helpful…or at least eye-opening.

   

15 comments for now

Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time

Watch Out for Hey-Baby-Wanna-Get-Lucky Marketers

Posted by on Sep 21 2017

There are two things I cannot abide: liars and thieves.

This is a story about a liar.

Last night, I got an email from an internet marketing company who knows nothing about marketing and nothing about me. How do I know? I simply read his marketing email to me.

It started like this:

I’ve been following your blog for some time now and I just had an idea that I think you’re going to like.

[Uh oh. Reminds me of guys who would come up to me in a bar in college and say, “Hey, I bet you’d love to dance with me.” I’ve never heard of this guy before and already he has an offer I can’t refuse.]

He continues:

We help companies double their sales using Internet marketing tactics such as Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing and Pay per Click.

[Whoa, Nellie! Isn’t this the same work Aly and I do for our clients? But he said he’d been reading my blog “for some time now,” so why doesn’t he know this about me? After all, there’s a category on my blog called Internet Marketing. ]

I’d love to work with your clients to help them grow their businesses.

[I bet.]

Obviously, you wouldn’t recommend someone you don’t know, so I’d like to analyze your website and Internet marketing strategy, and put together an Online Marketing Plan for you.

Okay, now I’m laughing so hard, I’m sliding off my chair. Had he read my website, he would have known:

  • I teach classes and give speeches on Internet Marketing Strategy and SEO.
  • 90% of my marketing is done via the internet.
  • I have excellent rankings on Google for “small business coaching,” “small business consulting services,” and “mastermind group” — I don’t really need SEO help, thanks very much.

Then I stop laughing. And a weird angry-calm comes over me. This guy is a liar and I hate that. He doesn’t care diddly-squat about me and my business, he just wants someone to help him make sales for his company.

Good Marketing is About Building Relationships First

The first mistake he made was not really getting to know me before he tried to sell me something. One of the internet marketing gurus says it’s akin to meeting someone new and saying, “Wanna get married?” in the first five minutes of conversation.

Rule #1: Create rapport with your customer. Get to know them. Strike up a conversation in their blog comments, in Twitter or Facebook, in online message forums, or via email. Meet them at events. Go out and give speeches or classes, then chat with the participants afterwards. Let them know you exist and you’ve got some great resources to share.

Find Common Ground

Rule #2: See if your prospective customer has a problem you can help solve or a dream you can help fulfill. Don’t assume they have a problem or dream: ask them.

No Speed Dating Allowed

Rule #3: Stop trying to make the sale in the first conversation. Relax and enjoy the unfolding of a new relationship. Don’t look desperate and don’t hurry them along just to get your needs met. Always, always, always look for a win-win.

Did I tell you the story about when I ran into a thief on the Internet?

Oh, so what did I do with the email? I let my assistant handle it. She’s so much more diplomatic than I am!

   

27 comments for now

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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Weather Emergency? Tips on Running Your Business Offline

Posted by on Sep 07 2017

I wrote this blog post years ago, when Hurricane Sandy was upon us, and updated it for Katrina, then Matthew and Harvey. Now we have a new one coming our way: Irma. So I figured this was the perfect time to re-post this!

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Our offices are right in the cross-hairs of Hurricane Sandy. Here are some tips for running your office “offline” in case you lose electric or access to the internet, from all my wonderful Facebook Friends!

 

Karyn Greenstreet First tip would be: Contact clients and students to tell them the office might be closed.

 

Suzanne Hiscock This is a preventative tip:  Don’t skimp on webhosting/servers if you have an online business.

 

Shannon Cherry Power up everything you can before hand. If you have my-fi, know how to use it. Power up meaning- fully charge!

 

Maureen Flatley Back up batteries, camp stove for coffee, battery operated lanterns, drinking water, lots of simple snacks…….this is our approach.

 

Suzanne Hiscock Another prepare ahead tip:  get a hand-crank phone charger.

 

Christine Clifton be aware of what you access ‘in the cloud’ and take steps to backup files/data on your hard drive/a toast drive – so you can work ‘offline’

 

Suzanne Hiscock Oh, and make backups of your entire site if your website is hosted in the storm’s path.

 

Karyn Greenstreet Print out important files, so you can work offline even if your computer isn’t available. Include all important email addresses and phone numbers.

 

Maureen Flatley Internet based email has been a godsend too.  We live on the water, north of Boston and have a lot of flooding and power outages.  You can’t plan for everything but there are some basics.  When we have lost power for more than 24 hours and couldn’t access our technology it reminded us that you can’t completely eschew paper records and that we lived for years w/ out email or texting.

 

Christine Clifton set an out of office message on your cell/email, letting people know what’s going on and you may be offline.

 

Maureen Flatley I put all of my important documents into email so I can access them from anywhere for any reason.  So if I’m in midstream w/ something – which I am today – I can get to it if I decamp to another location.

 

Karyn Greenstreet That reminds me, Maureen…I use Evernote for the same purpose. I have Evernote on everthing so that no matter where I am, and what machine I’m using, I have everything at my fingertips.

 

Donna Soffen take care of any (in this case) end of the month autoship changes or additions before you lose power. and contact anyone in your upline/downline that isnt in the storms potential path & ask them to help take care of any customers/new recruits that might enroll or purchase from your site that they can see from their backoffice- on your behalf.

 

Karyn Greenstreet Another tip: get a blank journal. If your power is out for 5 days (like ours was last year), there’s nothing so scrumptious as writing “by hand” again.  🙂:)

 

Kathy Milici Have plenty of chocolate on hand! 🙂:)

 

Angie Robinson Keep a list of your nearest Starbucks – coffee, outlets, and wi-fi

 

Karyn Greenstreet Good idea, Angie, and Panera Bread has wifi and outlets, too … as does our local library.

 

Marlene Hielema Pen and lined paper to write with so that if your computer runs out of battery power, you can still jot stuff down. Books to read. Deck of cards to play manual solitaire. Scrabble game.

 

Karyn Greenstreet Another tip: backup all your files, preferably to an online backup service like Mozy, Carbonite or iDrive. That way you can access everything from a new computer, if yours gets damaged in the storm.

 

Sherice Jacob Invest in a UPS in case the power goes out, you’ll have a few minutes to save everything.

 

Carole Sevilla Brown I’m with Sherice. My power back-up gives me about an hour and a half reserve power. This is a good reminder that it would be a good thing to have a few evergreen posts in reserve for times like this. And I’ve got lots of batteries for my digital voice recorder because I do a lot of “writing” that way.

 

Lisa Wood have a car charger on hand to charge your phone, plus an adapter to charge other electronics

 

C.J. Hayden Give your clients and team members a backup email to reach you in case your usual one goes down. Has happened to me more than once with natural disasters and regional power outages.

 

Terri McMahon Zwierzynski Thanks for reminding me to backup my website (every Monday!) Honestly, I’d find it hard to focus on work, with kids and dogs and the whole differentness of the situation. So I’d go with a good book, candles/lanterns, a deck of cards and a few boardgames.

 

C.J. Hayden Oh, and if your phone service is a landline, make sure you have an old-fashioned handset that requires no power to operate. You may keep phone service but lose power. Happened to us in the ’89 San Francisco quake.

 

Would YOU add anything to this list?

   

4 comments for now

Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Nurturing the Not-Ready Customer Through the Buying Cycle

Posted by on Aug 01 2017

We’d all love it if we could close every deal or every sale with a new customer in 30 minutes or less. But that rarely happens. A sales cycle can last up to six months, depending on how much research the potential customer has done before he or she comes to you.

Before customers are ready to sign on the dotted line, they first must go through a well-researched route to purchasing products and services, called the Buying Cycle. You need to nurture these potential clients and help them along this route to ultimately choosing the solution you’re offering them.

Studies show that 79% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy. They’re somewhere else in the buying cycle. They may not even be aware of the scope of their problem, and may simply be in the early stages of researching a possible solution.

But just because they’re not ready to buy doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity for you as a business owner. If you continue to educate them and nurture those leads – wherever they are in the buying cycle – you’ll be at the top of their minds when they’re ready to buy.

The Buying Cycle

The typical buying cycle goes from having an awareness that there is a problem to evaluating the possible solutions, choosing one and implementing it. And it ends, hopefully, with a long-term, meaningful relationship with a customer.

A more detailed explanation of the buying cycle:

  1. Acknowledging there’s a problem they need to solve. Something is broken – either a physical product, like their washing machine, or a process in their business – and they need to fix it.
  2. Making a decision to fix this problem. They can’t do it themselves, so they need outside help.
  3. Determining exactly what results they want. What’s their end goal? What outcome or results do they want after purchasing and implementing a solution?
  4. Gathering basic information. They’re searching for companies that can help them, and often doing this research online. Perhaps they’re asking friends or other business owners who’ve had similar problems about their solutions.
  5. Identifying possible solutions or vendors that will give the result or results that they want.
  6. Comparing those solutions or vendors.
  7. Selecting a vendor/product.
  8. Negotiating the deal.
  9. Making a purchase decision. This can mean either signing a contract or making a direct purchase.
  10. Implementing the solution. Your relationship doesn’t end with the purchase. Now you have to help them use your product or service wisely to get full results.
  11. Forging an ongoing relationship. This allows for repeat business from the same customer and ensures ongoing customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth referrals.

Recognizing where your customer is in this buying cycle is key. When a customer first makes contact with you, have a set of questions ready that help determine where he or she is. “Tell me about your situation?” “Have you looked at other solutions?” Their answers to these questions can help determine whether they’re still early in the buying cycle, or if they’re close to making a decision.

Pick Marketing Techniques Based on Buying Cycle

Choose different marketing techniques for each phase of the buying cycle. For instance:

  • A well-designed website can help customers early on in the buying cycle by allowing them to gather information.
  • A free whitepaper outlining possible solutions and comparing them helps mid-way through the buying cycle.
  • An email campaign helps prospective customers through the pre-purchase process, and later forges an ongoing, repeat-buying relationship near the end of the buying cycle.

Having content for each stage tells your customer, “We’re ready when you are.” If they’re early in the buying cycle, back off and let them explore, but be available to answer questions. If they want to discuss possibly buying from you, be available for a phone or in-person meeting, and have marketing material ready to help them make a choice from among your offerings.

By being aware of the different stages in the buying process, and thinking about what questions your customer are asking at each stage of the cycle, you can provide a prospective customer with the appropriate marketing technique at the right time.

   

8 comments for now

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

Are Email Newsletters Dead?

Posted by on Jul 16 2017

There are three email newsletters I read faithfully, every single time they enter my Inbox. I subscribe to over 20 newsletters, but only three are “never miss reading” newsletters.

Would you say email newsletters are dead because I don’t read 17 immediately, or would you say it’s very much alive because of the three I read right away?

There’s been lots of talk among my clients and students these days, speculating on the possible demise of the email newsletter as a powerful internet marketing tool. Funny thing: I remember having this discussion back in 2005 with my internet marketing colleagues, yet email marketing is still alive and well years later.

Sending out weekly or monthly updates to your list of customers, students and mastermind group members has grown in popularity as a marketing tool ever since the Internet began.

But now people are overwhelmed with the amount of email they’re getting, so what are you to do?

There are lots of pros and cons to using email newsletters and email marketing. Let’s look at an overview:

Pros

  1. People can get to know you through your newsletters. Not just what services or products you offer, but how you think and feel about the topics you write on. Email newsletters give you a chance to create a relationship with your audience and establish your thought leadership.
  2. If you’re sending out HTML emails, you control the look and feel of your email newsletter, and can establish a solid brand and image in people’s minds.
  3. You can track to see who opened the email and how many people clicked on the links in the email. Statistics are a crucial measure of the success of email marketing, and lets you know what people are interested in (and what they’re ignoring!)
  4. You can customize your message to segments of your list. For example, if a group of students took an introductory-level class with me, I can offer them the advanced-level class. Or if people have expressed an interest in a specific topic, like running a mastermind group, I can send just those people a new article I’ve written on that topic.
  5. Never overlook the fact that most people are time-constrained and appreciate convenience. With the overwhelming number of places on the internet to search for information, having ONE source they can rely on is a blessing.

Cons

  1. There are many ways to get in front of your target audience with your content and news now: social media sites, your own blog, article banks, YouTube, webinars, etc. Your newsletter is just one of a mix of marketing, education and communication techniques, and it requires more effort now to communicate through all these channels.
  2. Too much email, too much junk. People are inundated and often will ignore things in their Inbox that they can’t take care of right away or that have a lower priority. And don’t forget those nasty filters that whisk away your email before your reader even sees it!
  3. If you don’t write regularly, people are apt to forget about you. Or worse, think you’re inconsistent and therefore unreliable. Ewwww.

Strategy

You need a strategy for your email marketing. (Oh, no, I used the “S” word!)

I still believe your mailing list is the hub of your internet marketing strategy. It’s the only place where people have raised their hands and said, “I want to hear from you.”

  • Putting a subscription box on your blog, where the visitor enters their email address and it gets added to your email list, will allow you to send blog posts to people who don’t visit your blog often.
  • Build your mailing list by making free offers through your website and social media channels.
  • Put your free offer on the back of your business card so that you get subscribers via your live networking events.
  • Create an excellent Welcome Email to make that important first connection.

Even Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner says in this interview that the way to retain people from our blogs is to get them on our email lists. He says email marketing is THE most powerful marketing technique, and I have found this to be absolutely true. He also says that your email list is your most valuable asset besides your content. Strong words from a guy who’s focus is social media marketing.

Here are some tips:

  • Above all else, offer value. When you write an article for your email newsletter (or your blog, or your Facebook posts), make sure you’re giving good, detailed information. (Read your past five newsletters…did you serve your audience well?)
  • Sixty-day rule. Remember that your subscribers are most responsive in the first 60 days of signing up for your list. Stay in contact with those folks more often than your once-a-month newsletter.
  • Loyalty counts. Reward long-time subscribers with special freebies or discounts.
  • One of many tools. Ask yourself, “What are ALL the different ways I can communicate with my audience and share my articles, advice, offers, and news?”
  • One of many lists. Think of your email list as just one list of many lists you curate. Your Facebook friends are a list, your Twitter followers are a list, and your YouTube and blog subscribers are lists. Sometimes the subscribers overlap; often they don’t.
  • Combine with human contact. Don’t just have an email list and think that’s enough for people to get to know you and trust you. Offer free webinars and podcasts. Be available via Facebook or Twitter for ongoing conversations. Give live speeches both locally and nationally. Get out there and be seen – everywhere.

Email newsletters aren’t dead. They are a strategic component of your internet marketing plan. What brings success is having an integrated internet marketing strategy, mixed with some real-life connection to your audience.

Do you use email newsletters and email marketing in your business? I’ve love to hear your thoughts and questions!

   

22 comments for now

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
Tags: ,

9 Must-Have Items to Put in Your Welcome Email

Posted by on Jul 15 2017

Think of a new customer or a new person to your email list as a guest in your home. How will you make them feel welcomed and appreciated?

Your first email to them, your “Welcome” email, can begin that relationship, and turn a one-way conversation into a conversation that goes both ways between your business and your customer. Make it count.

Over the past several years, people have become accustomed to building personal relationships with a business via email. They reject companies and service providers where they don’t feel they’re being honored.

Send the first email out automatically, within a few minutes after a person subscribes and opts-in to your email list. It can be one email, or a series of emails, triggered by a person joining your list.

What a Welcome Email will do for you

A well-crafted welcome email – whether it’s confirming a person’s subscription or offering immediate access to your content – can build trust and a rapport with your audience. It sets the tone of future communication, starts a conversation, helps reinforce your brand and message and acknowledges how important they are to you.

Consider it your calling card; it’s your one opportunity to knock their socks off with meaningful content that solves their problems or answers their questions. You want them to open future emails from you.

Be warm, professional, helpful – and human.

Some tips on what you should put in your first email

  • Welcome them to your community. Remind them how they got on your list – did they sign up for a free offer, did they make a purchase from your online store, or did they hear you speak or teach somewhere?
  • Thank them. Acknowledge that you’re grateful they chose your content, or for their purchase.
  • Talk to them about what they’ve signed up for. What kind of content can they expect? If they bought something from you, let them know how to access that item or when they can expect to get it.
  • Give them more than they expected. Offer links to important and helpful content on your website, or links to audio files, documents or webinar and video content.
  • Tell them how often they can expect your emails. You should be sending email newsletters at least once a month, but once a week is better. Whatever you choose, be consistent.
  • Provide them with links to your social media accounts as another way to connect.
  • Answer frequently asked questions. Are there questions that pop up all the time which a list of FAQs could answer quickly?
  • Continue the conversation. If you promised something in return for their signing up, make sure they got it. Follow up with a survey asking them wha they think about your product or service. Remember: Even if it’s free, they’re still a customer. They’re consuming your content.
  • Tell them how to unsubscribe. It’s important that you give clear instructions on how to get off your list.

Doubling down with a double opt-in

Sometimes asking people to confirm their email address – known as a “double opt-in” – will be your first electronic correspondence with a customer. By asking people to double opt-in, you’re ensuring a quality list of real email addresses. The double opt-in is meant to get people to click on a link to confirm their email address. Some people don’t do this right away – or they don’t do this at all – so you might have to send a reminder. You can also check the list of people who signed up but didn’t confirm their subscription to check for obvious misspellings in their email addresses.

I’d love to hear from you

Are you sending out Welcome emails? Do you add anything to them aside from the 9 items listed above? Do you send them automatically or manually? Share your story, comments and questions in the Comments area below. 🙂

   

20 comments for now

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business

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