I am currently taking an email marketing course. It is called “Rock The Inbox” and I highly recommend it. Definitely a higher level though, not really for beginners. But I am just getting started and already I am faced with a conundrum:
Should I use a pop-up form to increase my email subscribers?
I am not a fan of pop-up forms or boxes for any reason. I personally find them incredibly annoying. The worst thing in the world to me is to finally find an article that has the information I am looking for, start reading, and then have an incredibly annoying box scream at me to give out my email address or to “click here” for some freebie.
Now I am not going to lie. I have done my research and I am fully aware that pop-up boxes will typically make your opt-in rates soar. There is no question. But to me it seems like it might be stacking the deck a bit. Like having a pop up box will get someone’s email at first, but are they truly interested in joining your list or do they just feel compelled since there is a flashy box in the way of the content they want to read?
I think that it is truly up to you as the website owner what type of experience you want your reader/follower to have. Pop-ups have the potential to be fraught with peril. Not only are they annoying, but there is increased potential for a glitch. This will give your reader a horrible experience. Now they are annoyed, they cannot read the content, and they will probably leave and never come back. Not good.
But you cannot ignore the need for some sort of opt-in alternative that may suit your needs, so what is a gal to do? So I started doing some research and here are some suggestions I have found:
1. Use a well placed, prominent sign up box. The best real estate out there is the top right hand corner. However, I am also seeing a lot more of them at the footer of each and every posts. This to me is the best option. They have just finished reading all of your article, and that is the perfect time to grab them. If they read to the end, the must have liked it, right? Chances of you gaining their email so they can learn more from you are VERY high at this point. (**hint hint – check out my fancy new sign up at the end.)
2. Consider adding some spice to your free offer. Obviously people are not going to just give up their email for nothing. You have to dangle a carrot. You have to give them something of value so they will give something that is valuable to them. What about a great free e-book or downloadable pdf? Tip sheets and free services with links are always a good one as well. I have gotten some of the best free eBooks on topics I wanted to learn more about because there was a great offer in exchange for my email address.
3. Delay the opt-in. This suggestion came from my husband, the WordPress Wiz. If you insist on using the pop-up box, there are a lot of plugins now for WordPress that will assist you in delaying the timing. That way, your reader can get through most of the article without being annoyed and hounded for their email. Some he would suggest are:
Of course, you can always just keep your focus on what you are writing about too. As long as you continue to produce great content that is valuable to your target market, you will organically accumulate more readers.
So what are your thoughts? Do you use a pop-up box on your blog or website? Post your comments!
According to a recent blog post from Google, starting April 21st they will begin giving higher rankings to websites that are mobile friendly. Google states:
“This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
It is no secret that Google is always changing their algorithms in order to give the end user the most up to date information when they come to do a search. The never ending game that we as marketers play is how to optimize our content in order to get the best organic rankings that we can in order to get placed higher. Reminds me of a joke I saw last week: Where’s the best place to hide a dead body? The 2nd page of Google!
Based on my experience running Google Ad campaigns for my clients, I can tell you without hesitation when I look at the stats from the ad that tell me where people are coming from, over 80% consistently in the last YEAR have been searching on a mobile device. So I am not surprised Google is moving forward. This is not something to be taken lightly or brushed aside.
An article from Forbes Magazine states,
“According to information we’ve been able to gather so far, it appears that this update will be as significant as Google Panda and Google Penguin, two previous significantly impactful algorithm changes, perhaps even more so. It’s also going to evaluate on a yes-no basis, which means it’s either going to see your site as “mobile friendly” or “not mobile friendly.”
Let’s face it, eCommerce is not going anywhere and if your site is not mobile friendly, chances are you are missing out on sales to businesses that have a mobile friendly, easy to use website and keep in touch strategy. So what is a business owner to do?
First: Optimize your website so that it will be mobile friendly. If you have been dragging your feet on this, the time is now to get it taken care of. Start by running your website through Google’s Mobile-Friendly test. This will tell you where you need to begin. Here, Google will talk to you about some more common mistakes such as proper coding of image files, not using flash for video – or anything else, and cross-linking inappropriately.
It is not entirely clear how SEO is going to be affected, but rest assured if your site is not mobile friendly your ranking will definitely take a hit.
A lot of this can seem overwhelming unless you know what you are doing with your website, so I recommend not re-inventing the wheel and hiring a professional to take a look at your site and make sure it is mobile friendly. If you are lucky enough to have WordPress as your platform, you should be able to select a different theme that is more mobile friendly.
Second: Look at your email marketing. Almost everyone checks their email primarily through a mobile device while they are on the go. Most business owners that I know that are smart and taking the time to send email newsletters use various companies to put together a sharp email that shares their content and represents their brand, but when is the last time you updated your newsletter to a more mobile friendly version?
Constant Contact and Mailchimp both have mobile friendly templates that will allow you to see what it would look on on a desktop, as well as a mobile device, before you send it out. Nothing is worse than checking your email on your phone and not being able to read it because you are trying to find a way to get the whole thing on your screen. Most people I know would give up – and that is obviously not good. So make sure your email is readable from mobile devices as well.
Third: Don’t give up on social media. With all the platforms to choose from I understand it can be an overwhelming task to keep up with. But with the increase in mobile devices, the primary way people stay in touch is via their mobile device and their favorite social media platform. If you are struggling with keeping up with it all and cannot afford to hire someone like me to help you, then I recommend choosing one platform – and being great at it. Find the platform that your target market is hanging out in and give that platform all of your attention and time. Be amazing at Facebook. Excel at Twitter. Have the world’s most beautiful set of boards on Pinterest. Do one thing, and do it well, and your business will be noticed online. Use tools such as Pagemodo or Hootsuite to help you organize your thoughts and plan your time online successfully.
Making all of your online efforts more seamless and intuitive for the end user are what is going to set your business apart in the coming months and years. Paying attention to the trends and acting accordingly should be the priority in when connecting with your audience online. Questions? Contact me, I would love to chat about it with you.
Have you ever considered using video in your online marketing strategy? I use video a lot with my clients, especially when they are trying to show you something they do that is not easily understood with text. It is also a great way to get to know you more.
A lot of people are afraid of video, but trust me – once you get started it is a walk in the park! Just remember, you are not going for the Oscar here. Just be yourself, give quality information to your viewers, and then sit back and relax!
Below I discuss some reasons why you want to use video, as well as what to do with it once you shoot it. Questions? Just contact me!
Recently, I heard a commercial on the radio promoting a jewelry store saying how it could help any man find the perfect gift for his love interest by checking out her Pinterest page and discovering what she liked. I must say it was very clever. Pinterest is very public and you can see what other people like and find interesting. I thought to myself, what an ingenious marketing technique. Why don’t more people take advantage of this?
The answer is: as much fun and popular as Pinterest is, I still don’t think businesses are using it to its full capability for promotional purposes. Why? Mostly because they either A) don’t know how or B) are used to the old ways of marketing and don’t think Pinterest is for their company.
Pinterest is for everyone. I recently received an email from the Pinterest For Business Email Newsletter stating that they are now seeing more male followers than ever, so you can’t blame it on the “it’s only for women” mentality. Like any other method of marketing, it’s all about how you approach it. What is it you want from Pinterest? I am going to assume for purposes of this conversation that you want more clients. So give the clients what they want! Make them want to follow your boards. Give them a reason to keep coming back with great content! Here are a few tips I would like to share that will help you:
Convert your Pinterest Personal Page Into a Business Page
You and the end user may not be able to tell the difference, but business pages will provide you with helpful inside information and analytics that a personal page will not. Take the time to convert your page. This will give you information like unique users, repins, visits to your site and more. This information will prove to be vital to keeping track of where your new clients are coming from.
Have Boards That Represent Your Brand
People do business with those they know, like and trust. Start creating a visual “get to know me” section where your clients/customers learn all about the way you tick. If they feel closer to you, they will buy from you. It doesn’t hurt to put your name in some of the board titles as well – it goes a long way with branding. While we are on the subject…
Name Your Boards Something Catchy Or With Phrases People Would Use To Search
We have all seen the boards simply titled “Recipes” or “Marketing”. Go a step further and name them something fun that will stand out and represent not only what pins they will find on that board, but more about the person behind them. People love to follow a catchy-titled board. This is the time to not be ordinary. It also goes a long way with SEO. Make sure you are titling your boards with key phrases that people are searching for. It will help tremendously when they are searching Pinterest for what they are looking for. (Yes, people do searches directly inside Pinterest.)
Engage With Pinners That Leave Comments (a/k/a Your Audience)
Everyone wants to be heard. So make sure you answer comments or questions from fellow pinners by responding like you would on Twitter. Example: @janedoe – thank you for your comment and question, how can I help you? Remember that Pinterest is SOCIAL media. So be social and interact and engage with the people who are taking the time to leave comments.
Make Use Of Images You Own
This is especially true if you take pictures of what you represent and put them on your website. People are more likely to respond to images than words. Images provoke feelings, good or bad, and compel them to act. This is why food commercials have been so popular for so many years. Think about it: who hasn’t been sitting on their couch, minding their own business, and suddenly want to go get ice cream because Dairy Queen came on TV? It’s the same with Pinterest. I am totally guilty of pursuing my feed and then accidentally finding lovely images of what is currently coming out of the oven from my local bakery. Guess who suddenly needed a cookie? You get the point. Make sure you fill up boards with your images, and then link them back to your website where your customers can BUY! This works for the images that you associate with your blog as well. The image should reflect what you are writing about, which leads them to your blog, which leads them to contacting and hiring YOU!
Promote Your Boards On Other Platforms
New to the game and afraid you will not be reaching your already established social media audiences? Simply post all your new boards and/or pins on your Facebook and Twitter feeds, or wherever you currently hang out. Draw the people that already know, like, and trust you over to another platform where they literally get to see a lot more of what you have to offer. One way this gets easier is to use an application called Pinvolve. It installs on Facebook to display images from your Pinterest boards right onto your Facebook page. Less work for you! There are many other programs you can search for on Google that will help automate this process. Let technology do the work for you!
Move Your Boards Around
This is especially true if your business is seasonal. No one wants to come to a candy shop’s boards on Valentine’s Day and see all the boards in the top row are from Christmas specials. Make sure you keep that row, the first five boards, timely and relevant to what is going on in the world. The top row should always have a board that will link them back to your website where they can purchase from you.
Let Pinterest Tell You What Is Going On
Several of my comments and suggestions come straight from the creators. I read every email I get from their newsletter, as well as what they themselves are currently pinning on their Pinterest For Business page. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel! Let the masters give you some tips, and then more importantly, follow them!
I want to hear from you! What best practices can you share after creating a Pinterest Page for your business?
They say change is good – and especially for a new year! So, for the first time ever on my blog, I am featuring a guest blogger. Ivan Serrano is a very savvy online marketer and has some great suggestions that he shares below on why you should start paying attention to Google+ and their +Post Ads. With all the changes in the social media space going on right now, it is necessary to stay up to date on what is available to you, the entrepreneur. I feel it is my job to arm you with as much information as I can to help you decide what is right for your budget and your business. While many marketers think Google+ is a social media platform of the past, it’s actually a very powerful tool for your business. In fact, Google+ is changing the way brands interact with their customers online through advertisements.
In 2014, Google launched +Post Ads, a Google+ content advertising tool. This feature enables brands with at least 1,000 followers to advertise their Google+ content. Google+ Post Ads utilize the Google Display Network and enables brands to advertise their Google+ posts, videos, and hangouts throughout the Internet.
So, you’re probably wondering why Google+ Post Ads are important for your brand, right? Well, it gives you the opportunity to reach more customers and build more awareness for your brand. In fact, brands who have advertised their Google+ content have experienced 50 percent more engagement than traditional advertising tactics!
Getting started with +Post Ads is quite simple. All you need is a Google+ page with at least 1,000 followers and valuable content to share with your target audience. Once you accomplish these two things, you’ll be able to launch your first +Post Ad campaign.
Creating a +Post Ad campaign is very easy. First, you’ll create a new AdWords campaign with Google. Next, you’ll create your ad and select an ad group. When you create your ad, make sure you choose the best image size for your post and select the best demographics for your target audience. Finally, you’ll save your advertisement and prepare to respond to engagement. As you can tell, creating a +Post Ad campaign is very simple!
Google is changing the way brands advertise their business online. Instead of focusing on product promotion, +Post Ads focus on content promotion. To learn more about +Post Ads and how to create one, check out the infographic below:
So this has been a very interesting year in social media. It seems that no matter how much we try, we are never able to keep up with all the changes and how to’s. Believe me. I do this for a living and it is a lot to take in many days. So I thought I would stop the crazy train and offer some advice to my fellow entrepreneurs based on what I have personally seen on my own accounts, as well as the accounts I manage for my clients. Keep in mind, my thoughts here are based on what I have observed with the testing and measuring I have been doing this year.
1. Facebook – you now have to pay to play, so quit whining.
I know, I know. A lot of people are really ticked off that their organic engagement is down. But in their efforts to provide your wall with content that YOU want to see, they are constantly playing with their algorithm. Facebook was free, and still is, but the days of great engagement stats being free are over. That being said, there are many low cost options available to you that are very beneficial when done correctly. For instance, I HIGHLY recommend boosting your posts. You can do this as cheap as $5.00 for one day if you want. The key to this working effectively is to boost a post that leads your target back to your website. So for example, let’s say you are putting out a holiday gift buying guide. You would put that on your blog or website, write a post about it on Facebook with the link to that blog attached, and then boost that post. You can spend any amount you want and choose to run it for one day or three days. This is very effective when you are trying to draw attention to your blog and website – which should ALWAYS be your goal. Why? Because you don’t own Facebook. You don’t own any platform. But you do own your website and email database. So utilize social media for what it is. A social website. Educate and interact with your followers and lead them back to your website.
2. Should you use a third party posting system, like Hootsuite?
In my opinion, yes. Anything that you can do to be able to post to multiple environments to save time is a good thing. There has been some talk over the years that Facebook does not give as much reach to posts that come from 3rd party apps, but I show no evidence of this being the case. I personally have been testing this theory recently with my posts, as well as my clients. Engagement and the amount of people that have seen the posts are the same. I even checked this out with some industry leaders in Social Media – and they have confirmed this information as well. Hootsuite Pro is really nice because they give you detailed reports on how all your accounts are doing on a weekly basis, and have a very helpful staff. The Pro account is not free, but the cost is very minimal.
3. Pictures – they will always steal the show.
So the big questions is always, what should I post? What will get shared the most? My answer is to think about what you personally would share with others. Everyone loves fun pictures. Pictures that make us laugh, pictures that inspire us with great images or uplifting quotes, these are the types of things that get shared. Once again I will state: social media is meant to be SOCIAL. So filling up your wall with too much “buy from me” posts or posts that are very educational and relevant, but boring, will not help your message get spread. You HAVE to sprinkle in the humor. I know a lot of you have trouble with this since you want your page to look professional. Trust me – you can be professional and funny at the same time. The key is knowing your audience. Really study what people are liking and commenting on. Tech tip on photos: I have heard a rumor that pictures shared in the .png format are often shown by Facebook more. Still researching if this is true, but feel free to try it and let me know how it works for you! Also – make your own quotes by using a free service called PicMonkey.com. Own your thoughts before you put them out there!
4. Is social media really necessary?
Absolutely. The key is knowing which platform your target market is using. It is safe to say that most people use Facebook, but if you are targeting the younger generation they are typically found on Twitter and Instagram. So spend the time doing the research and surveying your target market. Where do they hang out? Where do they like to get their information? And if you are overwhelmed with it all, you basically have two options in my opinion.
1: Pick one platform and rock at it. Really put a lot of time and effort into that platform and utilize it to its fullest extent. Don’t worry about being plastered everywhere. If you are choosing the platform your target frequents the most, and using that platform to lead them back to your website, then you are doing the right thing. Remember, always lead them back to where you have the control.
2. Hire some help. I know the thought of hiring someone to do this for you can be scary, but having a professional help you is worth its weight in gold. This person should be using social media, your website and blog, and your email newsletters together to send out your clear and concise message. All of these things should be working together to market your business and produce a professional image online. It is necessary and if you cannot keep up with it yourself, then it is time to pony up. (That is a direct quote from a fellow entrepreneur I know.)
I am always on the lookout for more tips to share. When I come across some more, I will be sure to let you know, so follow me on my Facebook page or Twitter account. I also invite your questions in the comments below. Let’s make 2015 a great year!
As the end of the year approaches, every business owner starts the daunting task of reflection. You start to assess what you have accomplished and what you have not, what made you money and what did not, what expenses are no longer necessary and so on. It can also be an exciting time as you look back and relive your accomplishments and big wins. But now is the best time to re-establish your goals and make some new ones.
But first – you need finish up the current year. Before you go making a lot of changes and getting caught up in the magic of the promises of a new beginning, let’s bring this year to its proper fairy tale ending by really looking at what your business accomplishments were, and what can be improved upon.
I have put together a list of the top ten things an entrepreneur should ask themselves as they wrap up the year and prepare to start a new one.
1. What was your revenue and how did it compare to the year before?
It is no secret that a successful business comes down to the dollars. But to truly know your dollars, are you keeping track of not only income, but expenses? Revenue numbers being high are a beautiful thing but sometimes outrageous expenses can kill that excitement. Take the time to get your numbers in order on a monthly basis so you are not cramming it in at the end of the year. That being said, were you able to provide enough products and services to increase your revenue? If numbers are staying the same year after year without much growth it is time to start looking at the reason why and deal with it.
2. What could be delegated and what do I need to keep doing myself?
I wrote about this earlier in the year. Most entrepreneurs feel like they need to take on all the roles of the business themselves in order to save money, when in fact they can be doing something else that makes the money while they delegate a task that is boring to them or takes them A LOT longer to do than a professional. Sit down and do the math to see if continuing to do certain tasks is actually costing you more money than just delegating them to someone else.
3. Which marketing method worked the best for me?
When I coach my clients, I train them on the six core promotion strategies that you incorporate into marketing your business. Which one of these strategies brought in the most clients? If a particular method is successful and bringing in the clients that turn into sales, consider doing it on a semi-regular basis. Always re-evaluate at the end of each strategy. Also consider: what is fun? Let’s face it, when it comes to marketing most entrepreneurs start to groan – unless it is something they LIKE to do. For example, I LOVE to network. It is how I got my name, Queen Bee. I love going to events and learning about what others do, sharing who I know, what I know, and how I can either help them myself or direct them to someone who can. I love the community and magic that comes with networking. Others see networking as a total nightmare and prefer to blog. Whatever your method – run with it as long as it makes you money!
4. What was your biggest struggle and why?
Taking a look at the end of the year for reflection will always bring up discussions of what DID NOT work. Perhaps it was a good idea that was just executed poorly. Maybe you did not have enough time to plan and if given the opportunity to do it again you would make some changes. Maybe your struggles were not with bringing in money, but dealing with employees or some other issue. Take a look at what was eating up your time and why – then you can make a plan so it is not a struggle in the new year.
5. What type of client brings in the most money?
This one should be easy to identify – but can you identify what brings in that specific client in the first place? If you can properly assess the needs and desires of your clients, then you can communicate the #1 biggest result they get from working with you. Follow that up by outlining the deep rooted benefits they will receive when they work with you, and then articulate it regularly so they keep coming back for more.
6. Do you have multiple ways in which clients can do business with you?
I call this your Sales Cycle. The amount of money clients will spend with you is in direct proportion to the amount of trust you have earned. If you have their interest, but they are not completely sold and still need to hear more, than you need to have an offering that is at a lower price point to give you the opportunity to win their trust. Do you have multiple levels of financial commitment in which to do business with you? Do you have various programs at various time commitments? If not, it is time to make them.
7. How often do you stay in touch with your current clients?
Keeping in touch is a NECESSARY step for every entrepreneur. It is a lot easier to do business with people that already know, like, and trust you than to win over strangers. Are you using social media, email marketing (yes newsletters are still important), or some other method to regularly reach out? Seth Godin once said, if you could never have a new client, how differently would you treat your current clients? Very profound. Treat your current clients as if they were your only clients moving forward. They already love you and want to promote you if you are keeping in touch and taking care of them. So make it easy on them.
8. Are there improvements you can make with your technology to make your life easier?
Disclaimer: My husband and I run a technology company as well. But I have seen SO MANY entrepreneurs that still waste so much time taking on tasks that would be so much easier with the right technology. Contrary to what you may think: proper technology DOES NOT always mean more money. There are so many ways to use mobile devices and cloud based systems to make your life easier that will not break the bank. My advice: get a hold of a technology professional that is focused on entrepreneurs and how they do business.
9. Is there a product I can create that will create passive income for my company?
Who doesn’t want to make money while they sleep? Dumb question – but I bet there is an information product up your sleeve that will not only establish you as a category authority, but a product you can make that will be an inexpensive way to get in front of your target market and win their trust. Could be an eBook, regular book, webinar series, or video series. (See #6 above.)
10. Do you have an accountability partner?
This one is probably the most important. As entrepreneurs, we are the captain of the ship and have to prioritize and choose where we spend our time. Unfortunately, life can get in the way and all the things I listed above can get put on the back burner. Which is why EVERYONE needs to be held accountable to someone. Find an accountability partner or coach that will meet with you on a REGULAR basis. Here and there is a waste of time. If you want to accomplish your goals, have someone hold your feet to the fire and you will.
Comments? What questions would you ask yourself at the end of the year that you feel is super important that did not make the list? I would love to hear from you!
As many of you probably already know, this month marks my sixth year anniversary as the CEO of Queen Bee Consulting. During my amazing journey with my clients over these years, I have become comfortably acquainted with the constant flux of the digital marketing landscape. Technology changes every day. New algorithms, new standards of quality, and new social media trends are always evolving. And while it is important to keep up with these trends and evolve with them, there is one classic digital marketing method that I have found to be tried-and-true, and absolutely worth the effort of maintaining…
Email newsletters are a very low cost, very traceable, and extremely efficient way to stay in contact with a large audience on a routine basis. If you aren’t currently using email marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy, there are several reasons to consider adding it into your mix.
Email Marketing Keeps You Top of Mind
Simply put, if you send out a newsletter every month to remind your contacts that your business is actively looking for new customers, they will be more likely to remember you when they or someone they know needs your services or could benefit from your products.
Email Newsletters Expand Your Reach to Different Audiences
If you’ve been doing a good job targeting and tracking the sources of your business, you should know how to best reach your audience. The benefit of adding email newsletter marketing into the mix with social media and blogging is that you will be able to reach different people through a variety of channels. The content you take time to compose for your blog can be promoted through social media, but you really can’t give it the credit it really deserves without also repurposing the blog content as part of your email newsletter.
While insights and trends can help you predict when you’ll have the best chance of reaching your targets through social media posts, there is no guarantee that ALL of your customers or prospects will be reached through social channels every time. For this reason, it is always important to also fire your messages out through email communications. Your email newsletter will be delivered to targeted inboxes, extending the reach of your content to different people through a different channel.
Think of your marketing as a three-legged stool. Website/blog, email newsletters, social media. You need all three to work get optimum results.
Tips For Collecting Email Addresses
It is estimated that over 144 billion emails are sent each day and 91% of consumers check their email inbox on a daily basis. So it makes complete sense to try to tap into email as part of your marketing strategy. If you don’t already have a database of email addresses built up, here are a few tips for gathering a list of subscribers for your email newsletter campaign.
- Network and Collect Business CardsThis is one of the easiest ways (at least for most people) to gather email addresses. Any time you attend a networking event, be sure to grab business cards from the people there. Most business cards have an email address printed on it, so just take the time to enter the contact information into your database each week. Ideally, you should also try to meet and greet the owners of those business cards personally at the event or later so that they will give more attention to your email communications. Make sure to ask them if you can put them on your list – common courtesy goes a long way and no one wants to be spammed.
- Gather Emails During Your Enrollment ProcessThis should be a standard procedure for any service-based business. When you ask customers to fill out information as part of your sign-up process, be sure to request an email as part of their basic contact information.
- Offer Incentives for New SubscribersIf networking isn’t your “thing” and you need to build your contact base through other methods, consider offering a discount program, small prizes for signing up, or other promotions to entice people to volunteer their email address to you. Providing useful, quality content is essential for maintaining subscribers, but to get people to give you a chance in the first place you may need to offer something in exchange for their information. This can be done through social media channels, traditional marketing materials, or at offline events that you host. My giveaway is two free chapters to my book. You can subscribe here to get yours!This method is also highly recommended for retail and product-based companies. People are already accustomed to being asked for contact information during the checkout process at many stores, so use the opportunity to collect information that can help you earn repeat business from each customer.
Cross Your Heart, Your Intentions Are Pure
As added peace of mind, be sure to let your potential subscribers know that you will never sell or give their email address to a third party or spam their inbox. Promise them that any communication they receive from you will be useful and valuable information that you hope they will be able to share with their friends and family.
I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what kind of experiences you’ve had with email newsletter marketing—either good or bad. And if there is any way that I can help you get started with a successful email newsletter campaign for your business, please contact me today! Also, click here to sign up for a program where my friends at Constant Contact will make you a customized template for FREE when you sign up!
My mind has already been on 2015. What did I learn this year? What can I do better? What did my marketing efforts of 2014 actually accomplish? I ask myself, and my clients, all of these questions as I sit down to prepare what I plan to take on in the marketing department for 2015.
First step: Get your calendar ready. I prefer to keep things simple. I have a very simple spreadsheet that outlines the twelve months of the year and I brainstorm different events or anniversaries that make sense for me to comment on. It is basically a “big picture” approach about the kind of content I feel would be relevant to my readers and clients. I take that information and formulate the various blog posts I want to write about that make sense with certain times of year. I am always open to move topics around to adjust to current events and moments in time that have events where the need for a little shuffling is in order. Always remain flexible and have the ability to capitalize on current events.
If you are not into spreadsheets or documents, another great place to organize your calendar is on Trello. I have mentioned Trello in the past. It is a FABULOUS online tool that multiple people can log onto and all of your team members can brainstorm content for the following year. This is a great one if you have a team, or if you want to share it with your business coach. **hint hint***
A lot of my clients – and other business owners – like to put their topics and ideas on their actual calendar. Having your due dates in front of you when you can glance at it and prepare for it weeks in advance allows you to prepare for it so you are not running around at the eleventh hour trying to meet a deadline. You can either color code your online calendar, but quite often it is even very useful to do it the old fashioned way – with post its and stickers! Below is a the folks at CoSchedule who make a WordPress plugin for an editorial calendar, and they are still using sticky notes! Whatever works for you – do it!
But what does one do when they sit down to a calendar and come up with nothing but a blank piece of paper? I will highlight my favorites from a great resource, CopyBlogger, and their article “50 Can’t Fail Techniques for finding Great Blog Topics” but make sure you click here for a the full list.
1. Google alerts – setting an alert with some of your industry’s key words. This can give you an endless supply.
2. Riff on a popular post. Post your reaction and thoughts to a popular blogger’s thoughts and a hot topic and you can gain some power packed link benefit!
3. Try a new medium. Check out YouTube videos, podcasts, or one of MY personal favorites: watch some TV for inspiration. I continue to get inspired by the show, Restaurant Impossible!
4. Do an interview. Do you have a favorite person you like to follow online or connect with at networking groups? The answer is no unless you ask them for an interview! I am sure they won’t mind the free publicity!
5. Take an entire day off. I love this one. Recharge your brain for a whole day by doing something you love. Go focus on your hobby and enjoy yourself. Giving your brain a break may be just what you need!
6. Do a product review. Is there something in your business you use every day that you just LOVE? Write about it and spread the love with your readers! My husband, who runs an IT company, does a great post every December on his picks for Holiday Technology Toys as an example.
7. Recruit a guest. When all else fails, call for back up and schedule a post of someone you respect that you can feature on your blog. Make sure their content is what your readers are looking for and it makes sense with the overall feel of your blog. But don’t get lazy and rely on them every month!
Lastly, you will want to set some sort of alert and an accountability system in place so this task actually gets completed. If alarms work for you, wonderful. If you need an accountability partner to make sure it gets done, then set that up. You will be amazed how much you get done when someone else is watching!
So I want to hear from you! What is your preferred calendar method and where do you get most of your blog topics?
I am turning 40 next week, my first really big birthday that made me take a pause and evaluate my accomplishments. When you turn 20, you really don’t care because you are just biding your time until you turn 21. And 30 didn’t bother me either, most likely because I was still not fully comprehending the fact I was actually getting older. Chalk it up to young and naive. But 40, as it looms before me, really has me thinking. What have I learned? What have I accomplished? I have been doing one never-ending retrospective of my life ever since August began. So I thought, maybe I should share some of my thoughts and findings in regards to my professional life with other new entrepreneurs and hopefully spare them some of the grief I encountered.
The business I run with my husband technically was started when our kids were born. I joined him on a full time basis shortly before I turned 30. I am not ashamed to admit that we probably made every mistake there was as we found our way. This is part of the reason I later wanted to become a business coach – to save other young entrepreneurs from mistakes I had either made or seen others make. Below is a list of some of the ones I think stand out to me the most.
1. Ask For Help Sooner Than Later
Whoever said “pride cometh before the fall” must have been an entrepreneur. When we first started out, we never asked anyone for help. Whether it was with processes, finance, or marketing, we didn’t think we could ask for help. We thought it would be perceived as weakness, or that we were unstable and likely to go out of business soon. I had never even heard of a business coach, much less sought out any kind of help like that. We did our actual jobs very well, but we were learning the hard way on pretty much every aspect of running a business. When I finally got the nerve to ask other entrepreneurs for advice, a whole new world opened up. I found out that other business owners LOVE to help you. It’s like there is some secret brotherhood of entrepreneurs – an unwritten rule to help – that I never knew about. Once I trusted in the quality relationships I had been making over my many years of networking, I had answers, advice, and a whole new outlook on my business.
The other piece of asking for help is knowing when to delegate. This is different for everyone. What I have found to be true is that if you are spending time on tasks that can easily be done by an assistant, you are not out closing deals and bringing in the revenue. This will lead to trouble. You could find yourself overwhelmed or you might just be dropping the ball because you are handling mundane tasks instead of taking care of clients. Hire help sooner than later.
2. Manage Your Money
This probably seems obvious, but it is so important it must be mentioned. Find yourself a banker and a financial advisor you can trust. Make relationships with people that truly care about you and your prosperity. Then LISTEN to them. Do what they advise. They were trained for this, so give them the benefit of the doubt by believing what they say. Cash flow is critical so make sure you have a plan to keep it flowing. Come up with multiple streams of income. Create information products that bring in cash while you are sleeping. And no matter what anyone says about saving enough money to start a business, I want you to take that number and double it. There will always be a hiccup or an unforeseen issue – so save those pennies for that rainy day. You will need them.
3. There Will Be Highs and Lows – Don’t Give Up
In the beginning as you are finding your way, it is easy to get frustrated when the clients are not beating down your door. Maybe you put a product together that was not as successful as you had hoped. Maybe you are hitting your slow season and the phone is not ringing. I wrote about being prepared for slow times which you can read about by clicking here. Keep yourself focused and busy so you don’t give in to that little voice in your head that says you are not good enough. My friend Suzanne always called it the “itty bitty shitty committee.” Don’t listen. Your passion and persistence will always prevail if you let it, even in the slow times. Don’t give up on your dream – ever.
4. Continuing Your Education Is SO Important
This does not necessarily mean going back to college or school. This also means online classes, webinars, tele-seminars, video series, books, eCourses, etc. Find a leader in your field and see if they are selling products that show you how to do what you do BETTER. Invest in yourself. Hire a coach. Establish accountability with someone. Stay current with trends and technology in your field. You want to be known as the best – so act like it and soak up all the information you can that is available to you. Rely on experts, read blogs, do your research. Whatever your method, just be diligent with keeping up with the most current trends.
5. Technology Changes Every Day – Find A Good Technology Professional
Disclaimer – I am very biased because this one of the things my company does. I have seen businesses trying to handle their technology on their own and it does nothing but cost them their precious time and money. Too many entrepreneurs waste the day away trying to troubleshoot an issue instead of earning money. Find a trusted technology professional that will put together a system that works for you – not necessarily what everyone else is doing. Your technology needs to be reliable, backed up and mobile. Make sure you are able to keep up with the fast paced world of technology. It will affect every aspect of your business, so please pay attention to your technology from the beginning. Rely on a professional.
6. Being Your Own Boss is … Awesome!
On a personal note, I cannot imagine what my life would look like if I had worked for someone else these last ten years. First and foremost I am able to follow my number one rule: the Red Velvet Rope Policy. I only work with clients that energize and inspire me. I choose my clients. Additionally, I was able to be home with my kids as well as work during the day. I got to watch them grow up into their teens and I did not miss anything. I was also the main caregiver for my mother from the moment my youngest was born. I was fortunate enough to be able to manipulate my schedule so I could get her to all the doctor appointments and then be there for her during her final days. Those days were some of the hardest of my life, and I cannot imagine having to endure my grief while working for someone else. I am so very grateful I didn’t need to answer to someone else during these last 10 years. Entrepreneurism may be difficult at times, but this reason alone is when the pros far outweigh the cons.
So as I embark on the next decade, I am looking back with pride. Pride in my business, pride in my clients and their success, and pride in myself. I can’t wait to see what wisdom the next ten years will bring…