Archive for August, 2013

Why I Always Read Email First Thing Each Morning

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Time-management pundits are always harping on how we waste time reading emails first thing in the morning. I think they’re full of manure.

First of all, a 2013 Marketo study found that 58% of people read email first thing in the morning, many reading email before they even eat breakfast. Is it just addiction — or is there a good reason for it?

As a small business owner, I have a HUGE reason for reading email first thing in the morning: my customers matter to me more than anything. Most of my clients, students and mentoring group members communicate with me via email, so taking care of their needs first thing in the morning is simply good customer service.

Why do the time management folks act like email is evil? Because we don’t segregate “important” email from “read this when you get a chance” email.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with reading email first, just like there’s nothing wrong with writing your blog post first each morning or doing yoga first thing or working on a major project first thing. You have to pick your priorities and you have to focus on the task at hand. It’s all about goal setting and self-discipline.

  • For instance, I do not use my personal email address when signing up for ezines and email newsletters. That way, my personal Inbox doesn’t get crowded with non-essentials and stops a lot of spam from ever reaching me. If something is in my personal Inbox, it’s because it’s important, like an email from a client, student or my business partner. (A colleague told me that she has 2,500 new emails each morning. My question to her is: WHY do you allow so many emails get into your personal Inbox? They can’t possibly all be of the same importance level.)
  • Another reason I read email first is that it’s the only real quiet time I have during my working hours. Typically the phone doesn’t start ringing until 9AM and using the pre-phone time to read email allows me to focus.
  • I’ve delegated much of my email reading to my business partner who handles any routine customer service questions from people who have bought my ebooks or audio programs, or students who have lost their login ID.
  • I quickly scan my new emails and only answer those ones that are most urgent. I leave the rest of them for later in the day, after I’ve done my other daily prep work.
  • Finally, I read email first because it’s when I’m the freshest and smartest. Do you really want to be writing emails when your brain is fuzzy?

If email is an important part of communicating with your customers then go ahead and read it first thing. Just pay strict attention to whether you’re keeping focused on the Communicating With Customers task or veering off to read articles, news, jokes, quotations, or watching YouTube videos of Surprised Kitty instead of doing your work. Set a time limit, say 30 minutes, and get through the most important emails first.

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Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Crafting Your Core Message

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For some business owners, it’s a struggle to clearly explain what it is you do, especially if your business is unique or you are trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Often, we explain what we do, but not how it’ll benefit the person we’re talking to. We need a clear way of saying, “This is what I offer and this is how it will help you.”

Whether you are marketing service or products, classes or mastermind groups, you need to have a quick, precise way of explaining your offer.

Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo suggests three steps to map your message in 30 seconds or less:

1. Write a short headline with the one well-defined message you want to send to potential customers. What is the single-most important thing you want your audience to know about your product, service, brand or idea? What do you do and who do you help? If this is all the customer knows about you, does it give him or her a clear picture?

Hi, I’m Karyn. I’m a business-building consultant for micro entrepreneurs.

2. Expand on that message with three important benefits.

I help people expand their reach, increase their revenue and decrease overwhelm.

Put steps 1 and 2 together, and you have your 15-second commercial. If potential clients walk away from the conversation hearing only that, they have a good idea of what you do and how you might help them.

3. Support those points with additional benefits (or examples). Come up with three examples, stories or statistics that reinforce your statements.

I’m a business-building consultant for micro entrepreneurs. I help people expand their reach, increase their revenue and decrease overwhelm. I teach people how to get known in their market, package and price their offerings for maximum profit, and create cohesive action plans to get it all done efficiently.

Here’s another example:

Hi, I’m Joe. I facilitate a mastermind group for baby boomers who are getting ready to retire. Through brainstorming, support and accountability, we help you to find clarity on your goals, make the best decisions, and move forward. You will walk away knowing that the retirement you envision is not only possible, but that you’re designing and taking active steps every single day to making it a reality.

Use This for Networking and Marketing Launches

It’s easy to see how this would be useful in a networking situation where you have to quickly explain your business to someone when they asked the dreaded question, “So, what do you do?”

But you can also use this same exercise for all your marketing. You need to come up with your Core Message in these types of marketing situations:

  • When you’re describing your services on your website
  • When you’re writing an article or blog post
  • When you’re putting together a speech or a class
  • When you’re launching a new product
  • When you’re writing a proposal or white paper

Not comfortable with your writing skills? Use the same outline to create a vision board. Cut out pictures and words that explain your business, and arrange them in a map that helps bring clarity to your message.

Mapping your message, whether with words or pictures, will help you move beyond telling people what you do to clearly explaining what results your customer can expect.

Remember, when crafting your message, make sure it is short and clear, and that you can say it in 30 seconds or less. (If you can say it in 15 seconds or less, you win the prize!) Too much information could confuse the person you’re speaking with. This message will become your elevator speech at networking events, and your marketing message to potential customers. It’ll be the core message you use when launching a new product, service, class or mastermind group.

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Category: Marketing

Great Ebook Creation/Marketing Resource I Found

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I recently watched a free webinar with Kelly Kingman and Pamela Wilson called The Ultimate Ebook Kickstart. I’ve been creating ebooks for many years, but I’ve always been stuck on three things:

  1. How to figure out what to put in the ebook
  2. How to get the writing done
  3. How to explain to others what’s in the ebook so that it’s compelling

I have known Kelly and Pamela for years and I knew they were experts in the field, so it was a no-brainer to take the hour to watch this free webinar.

The first things I learned about was “fascinations,” a way of describing what’s in your ebook to make it appealing to others and a way to figure out what to put in your ebook. I had never heard this term before and I loved the concept. When Pamela and Kelly described fascinations, it was one of those, “Oh, that makes perfect sense” moments. It’s something I’ll use right away, because I’m getting ready to write my next ebook next week!

I thought their conversation about the three ways to use ebooks was strategic, and helps people to rethink how they use ebooks. We all know that you can either give your ebook away for free or you can sell it, but there are actually two ways to give it away for free, and multiple delivery mechanisms to consider. Ebooks are a great way to get known and build trust among your audience, as well as reaching new audiences.

If you’re like me, it’s hard to find time to write with a busy schedule. Kelly and Pamela share four different ways to get the writing done, even if you don’t consider yourself a writer. Using their “sprint” method, I’ve set aside all of next week to write an ebook start to finish. Yay! 🙂

Best advice I got: “Your ebook is not a record of everything you know about the topic. It’s not supposed to be an encyclopedia! You just write about what your reader needs to know, right now, in order to solve their challenge — and no more.” Whew! I knew my ebook projects were getting too big when I started to go over 200 pages. Now I stay focused on a narrow topic, making it an easier project for me and easier for audience to read and implement.

They also share:

  • How to make your ebook look professional and create a layout that’s easy-to-read
  • How to launch your ebook (even when you don’t have a mailing list), including some ways the pros launch their ebooks

Definitely, check out their free webinar here.

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Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Marketing

Tom Peter’s Thoughts on Selling

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Tom Peters has written a quick-read e-book, 111 Ridiculously Obvious Thoughts on Selling. It’s worth the download.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business