Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part Three: Platform

using video to promote your businessIn my last two articles, we chatted about using video to promote your business. We focused on what to talk about, and the ever popular question of the equipment you need to get the job done. Now that we know what to say, and the video is recorded and ready to go, the next question naturally is:

What Platform Do I Post My Videos On?

Here is where I see a lot of people get overwhelmed. Yes, there are a lot of social media platforms to choose from. It is true that every single platform promotes the use of video to their feed, and yes, videos get more visibility and engagement. But where do you start? I am going to outline a few simple steps to get you started that will be easy to manage so you don’t get confused or frustrated and then give up – which defeats your purpose.

Your Website

Remember – all roads should lead to home. You own your website, you do not own Facebook or Twitter or any of the other ones. It is YOUR content, so make sure you are loading it onto your website. The perfect place to do this is your blog. Instead of writing a lengthy article, you can post a vlog instead! You can then create a simple email newsletter to your subscribers (something you also own) that showcases a link back to your website where they can watch the video. This also helps with your SEO, so this is a win win – and a must-do first step.

YouTube

There is no denying the most popular and most used video site on the Internet. Creating a YouTube channel is simple, and free. So why would you not have a YouTube channel? There are various ways you can upload a video to YouTube. You can either use YouTube directly – they make it super easy with a button that says “Upload”, or if you have a Mac you can use your iMovie software to upload it after you have done your editing. In the video link I included above, it also describes how to give it a proper title, descriptions, and tags to help make sure people on YouTube that are searching for what you are talking about find it. YouTube is owned by Google – so you are doing yourself a disservice if you are not uploading your content to the #1 search engine.

Facebook

It is the number one social media network out there, so that is hard to ignore. They even make it super easy for you now with their Facebook Live feature. Simply turn it on on your phone and start talking. You are then LIVE on your FB page and can even talk to your followers in real time and answer questions. If you are going this route, remember two things. First, advertise when you will be on Facebook Live so people can plan on tuning in. Second, save your video to your phone so you can then upload it to your website and YouTube. The beauty is that even when it is no longer live, FB still considers this great content to show your followers, so your content will still get a lot of attention even if it is not being seen live.

Twitter

If your followers are more the Twitter type, then you will want to be using Twitter’s video platform, Periscope. Periscope is a live streaming app owned by Twitter that allows you to share and watch live video broadcasts. You will need to download the app for this, but once you do, here is a great step by step tutorial on how to use Periscope. Remember, make sure you save your broadcast to your camera roll so you can utilize it on other platforms if you choose.

From here, the sky is the limit. You can post it to Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Vimeo, you name it. But ask yourself – where is my target market hanging out? Which platform do you have the most quality engagement? Just because these platforms exist does not mean you have to be everywhere. Be where YOUR target market is, and where they engage with you.

And here is a tip:

One GREAT place to learn where they are coming from, is to go into your Traffic Sources in your YouTube Analytics. You can learn how to do this here.

Bottom line: always post to your website, YouTube, and whatever social media channel that you are actively engaged in with your followers. You are one person, there are only so many hours in the day. So make them count.

Video is not going anywhere – so it is time to make it part of your online marketing. If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to contact me. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts in my comments below!

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part Two: Equipment

using video to promote your businessLast month I got all of you thinking about using video to promote your business. We tackled the first elephant in the room – What do I even talk about in my video? Now that we have that squared away, let’s move on to the number two question that comes up:

What Equipment Do I Need To Make Videos For My Business?

This particular piece can easily get out of hand. I am not here to tell you to go out and start spending a lot of money buying equipment that could possibly scare you and therefore prevent you from following through. So let’s just start with the basics, and then move up from there.

  1. Phones/Mobile Devices: Yes, your smart phone or tablet, as most of you know, is perfectly capable of taking an excellent video. I am a Mac girl, so my experience comes from using an iPhone or an iPad. With all the latest upgrades, especially with the iPhone 7, your phone is VERY capable of taking a high quality video. Once it is on your phone, you can save it or immediately publish it to a social media platform. (We will cover this in more detail in part three.)
  2. Laptop Built In Camera – if you have a Mac, they already come with a built in “iSight Camera.” You can utilize this to record a video to your desktop which you can then publish multiple places, or to go live on Facebook or YouTube. Simple, easy, and right from the comfort of your desk chair. If you have a PC, models will vary, so check to see if you have one.
  3. Video Camera – these are the types you can buy at stores or on Amazon. My camera that I use a lot is an Everio, but you can use a multitude of cameras such as an Olympus, Sony, Panasonic or GoPro. Keep in mind you make sure whatever you buy is compatible with the video software you will need to edit your video and get it ready to publish. These cameras start out at $250 and go up from there depending on the features.
  4. Tripods – If you are using a camera or phone, I definitely recommend getting one of these. No one wants to watch a shaky video. If you are starting small – as I would recommend – you can get a tripod for your iPhone or iPad from caddiebuddy.com. If you have a separate camera, I use the AmazonBasics 60″ Lightweight. It is very versatile and comes with a bag to carry it in.
  5. Microphones – I find when using my iPhone or iPad a microphone is needed. Especially for videos that are done outside. I recommend the Lavalier Microphone. They are small, lightweight, and work with iPhones, Androids or Windows Smartphones. You simply plug it into the headphone jack and you are ready to go.
    If you are doing video from your desktop, my good friend and video guru, Lou Bortone, recommends the Blue Snowball microphone. This is mainly for recording podcasts, or another use would be live videos to YouTube or Facebook.

Do I need any special software to produce these videos now that I have taken them?

Depending on what type of computer you have, chances are you already have the software you need. In my case, I use iMovie which comes standard on every Mac. iMovie allows you to play with the sounds, adjust the brightness, add subtitles, and so on to make your video awesome. If you have a PC, Microsoft has made it difficult for their users since they no longer include Windows Movie Maker. It is possible that your computer may have come with a third party software, but there are so many varieties of movie editing software there are no standards.

I would also encourage you to check out Animoto. Especially if you own a PC. This is a monthly subscription service that is VERY versatile. You can upload pictures, videos, choose your captions, add music and really create a great video that can easily be shared to all your networks with the click of a button. They just last week rolled out new features that include voice-over controls, new customized text controls and more options to create collages and layouts. You can also do a lot of these features with iMovie for free. If you need help with that, fortunately the Apple Store has classes on iMovie that are very inexpensive, and they offer one-on-one training so you can ask as many questions as you want.

Once you become more advanced you can buy more complex video editing software, more advanced cameras, a green screen, you name it. But the reality is – most business owners don’t need all of that. You will do fine just by getting your face and voice out there on a consistent basis while providing good content relevant to your audience.

My advice? Start with your phone and a tripod of choice. From there you can choose to share it to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, or just save it in your phone and then export it to whichever video software you have on your computer.

Got questions? You can contact me here. Good luck and feel free to share your videos with me!

 

 

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part One

using video to promote your businessIt seems using video to promote your business is all you see anymore when it comes to fresh ideas for marketing. And with good reason. Video is completely exploding. Just the new features of video inside Facebook alone can make your head swim. Video is really escalating your ability to connect with your followers and fans in ways we weren’t even thinking about as little as a year ago. But you cannot ignore the facts:

  • Videos have a 135% greater organic reach compared to photos.
  • Between April and November of 2015, the amount of daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion to 8 billion.
  • Videos used in emails lead to 200 – 300% increase in click through rates
  • YouTube reports that mobile video consumption rises 100% EVERY year.
  • After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy the product they just watched about.

But enough about that. We know we need to do it, but there are several reasons holding most entrepreneurs back.

They don’t know what to talk about. They think it is hard. They think they don’t have time. They don’t know how to begin.

It is time to change that way of thinking. So I have put together a series of articles that will give you the information you need to start chipping away at this beast one step at a time. I have broken this down into three digestible parts so hopefully you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Today we are focusing on Part 1: What do I talk about in my videos?

Think of videos the same as a blog. Brainstorm relevant topics that your customers or clients want to learn more about. Every video should be educating your audience somehow on either how you can help, or giving valuable answers that will help them accomplish something, thereby painting you as the expert. Below is a list of topics to get you started:

  1. Instructional Videos
    This one is always helpful and typically the most sought after on YouTube. I know everyone reading this article has looked up a video on YouTube to learn how to do something. It is the same with what you do for a living. Show people various ways you can help them, or they can help themselves, by doing a quick instructional video.
  2. Introduce Your Staff
    The best way to get people to know, like and trust you is to get in front of them. Introductory videos to yourself and your staff will help people feel like they already know you, hence feeling like they are your friend. People like to do business with their friends.
  3. Testimonials Of Happy Customers
    EVERYONE reads the reviews on something, so why not put a review in video form? Ask one of your raving fans to let you record them giving a testimonial.
  4. New product announcements
    If your business is constantly getting in new merchandise, stop and take a quick 30 second video about the latest and greatest product available at your store! This works great for restaurants too!
  5. Question & Answer Videos
    This one is super easy. It is just you, sitting in front of the camera, answering commonly asked questions. End each of those videos by giving your viewers opportunities to contact you with more questions. This not only helps your viewers, but it really establishes you as the category authority.

My suggestions is to not jump into something that will overwhelm you. Start with doing a quick video once a week. You can either film four videos in one sitting and release them once a week, or you can make the time to sit in front of the camera weekly. Either way, you are delivering great content on a weekly basis that your followers will come to love and expect. The key here is consistency. Decide how often you will do it and stick to it. I promise – the results you will get will be worth it.

So now that a HUGE piece of what holds people back (the whole, “what do I talk about thing”) is out of the way, the next article in my series will be the next big stumbling block: equipment. I will go over simple ways to get you started – that you probably already own.

Are you feeling better about taking on video? If not, give me a shout and we will figure this out together. 

Three Fears Entrepreneurs Must Overcome

fears entrepreneurs must overcomeWhen I first started my coaching business almost eight years ago, I have to admit I was crazy scared. Even though I had been running a successful company for the past seven years with my husband, I had my fears and doubts about being as successful with this new branch to our company. Every entrepreneur has doubts and reservations, but what makes a successful one is the one that has the ability to not let the fear prevent him or her from pushing forward. Having been coaching entrepreneurs for the past eight years, I am seeing a trend of the types of fear that tend to hold people back, thus preventing growth and success.

Fear Of Change

I know what it is like to not want to change anything out of fear that something will not work, and thus cost you money. But change is inevitable. You have to roll with it. Let’s take technology for example. The world is moving at such a rapid pace, it is imperative that you move with it so you can remain competitive. Don’t let your website become stagnant and outdated. Invest in your technology infrastructure so it is easy to do business with your target market. Learn the best platform of social media so you can speak directly to your audience and form relationships. All of these things can be frightening. I have seen many a business not want to change their website or infrastructure because they are afraid of possible hiccups. Let me be clear – if you don’t stay up to date, your customers or clients will find someone that is.

Fear Of What Other People Think

This has happened to me multiple times over the years. Let’s take my website for example. I have never really been a fan of my website. I always put together what I thought was the “proper” business site that would attract my target market. Boy, was I wrong. I was stifling my creativity and my personality. And I did it repeatedly. I thought if I did what I wanted, I would scare off would-be clients. I was completely wrong. I finally stopped caring that I was going to upset someone and embraced what I teach my coaching clients: THE RED VELVET ROPE POLICY. RVR, in an extreme nutshell, means you only work with the clients that energize and inspire you, and motivate you to do your very best work. So I changed my website – from top to bottom. I put together a site that I feel will attract the people I am meant to serve. And I could not be more excited about. But it took guts. It took getting over the fear of what other people will think when they see my website for the first time. Some people may not like it at all – and that is OK! I am clearly not meant to work with them. AND THAT IS OK! You are never going to please absolutely everyone, so stop holding back something you are wanting to do out of that fear.

Fear Of Growth

This is a big stumbling block I see with business owners. They want to grow, but are afraid of what comes along with growth. With growth comes greater responsibility, new systems to learn, new employees, new processes and new challenges. It is easy to sit back and maintain the status quo – but that will never get you anywhere. My advice is that you assemble your very own “Business Dream Team.” If you are taking on growth, you need a team. Schedule appointments to talk with your banker, accountant, tech person, whomever you need, and formulate a plan to move forward. Most importantly – have someone hold you accountable to get it done. That is where I see most business owners mess up. They have big plans, know all the numbers, but get side tracked by life or FEAR and never accomplish their goal. Don’t let fear hold you back. If you need help, get help. You can do it.

I spent a lot of years being fearful and trust me – ain’t nobody got time for that! Embrace your fear head on. Maybe you will mess up. That is okay. At least you have learned what not to do. Don’t let your fear of what could happen – make nothing happen.

Do You Have A Business State Of The Union?

business state of the unionStarting in 2009, I took it upon myself to develop a “Business State of the Union.” Our company had been growing since its inception in 1997, and with the way technology was changing all the time I felt I needed to have everything in one place. I needed to have information available to me or to my husband if something were to happen to either one of us.  Articles have been written that touch on pieces of what was going through my mind. In fact, there was an article from the NY Daily News about having a social media will.

But it is not just about social media. Think about your entire business. The infrastructure, the access, the passwords, the chain of command. What happens to all of that if something unexpectedly happens to you?  Who has access? Where are the passwords?

Setting up your own State of the Union (SOTU) is an essential part of running your business. So let’s go through the basics of what you need to do in order to set up your own personal SOTU.

Step One: Collect all the data.

  1. Business Systems – what technology do you have in place that is a vital part to running your business? Is it a specific software or database? Who has access? Where are the passwords? Does someone else understand how it works?
  2. Social Media –  As it stands, Facebook will not give you access to your loved one’s account when they pass. They will “memorialize the account” so only confirmed friends can see and still post. Now for most people this may not be that big of a deal, but what if you have a lot of Facebook Ads tied to this account? Pictures? You cannot access this without the name and login.  There are types of legislation the will assist in certain cases, but why not avoid it altogether and have your login and password accessible to the person that will need it? This of course also applies to Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, you name it. Gather your logins and passwords to all the social media sites you frequent and list them on your SOTU.
  3. Email – Where is it hosted? What are the passwords? Do you have access to all of the machines, such as home or work laptops, phones, iPads, etc.  where you can log on to the email?
  4. Websites – Again, where is it hosted? What are the logins and passwords? How many domain names do you own, and when do they expire? Where did you register them? This is especially true if your livelihood is tied to your brand and website.
  5. Internet/Back Ups – Gather your logins and passwords to deal with our internet account. Do you know your wireless network password? Do you have a guest account with a password? Do you have a Time Capsule or other back up hard drive that is password protected? You need to know what these are!
  6. Cell Phone Accounts – Again, having access to logins, passwords, and plan information is vital. It is extremely rare that anyone has a land line any more, so you need to be able to get on the carrier’s website and adjust whatever is necessary.
  7. iCloud/iTunes – Apple is typically very helpful in retrieving someone’s music if they have passed, but if you have access to these accounts and can relieve a lot of extra work and aggravation.

I could go on and on with the list of different programs, products, services like PayPal, Amazon and various people like lawyers and insurance agents, but you get the idea.

Step 2: Where To Store It

Now that you have all of this technical data in one place, what do you do with it? First, I recommend using an encrypted system to store all of your vital passwords. We use and recommend Passpack. Passpack.com is a password management system that will allow you to manage and organize your passwords, create accounts for family members or team members, and it is all encrypted and secure.

Next, it is time to create the official SOTU: a Word document or Excel spreadsheet that lists the physical location as to where to find your important documents, such as wills, life insurance policies, bank accounts and so on, and then also include your Passpack account information. This document can be as simple or as thorough as you want it to be. Then you find a place to put it.

My husband and I have placed our SOTU onto Dropbox, which is not only accessible to us both, but makes it easy to update the information. I also have a hand written copy that I keep with the wills in a safety deposit box – just because I am anal like that.

Step 3: Update on an annual basis.

For us, that just happens to be every August. Set a date on your calendar – one that you will stick to. It only takes us less than an hour to go over any changes to passwords, business systems, bank accounts, etc. Just a small amount of time can really save you a lot of grief and struggle in the long run.

The SOTU is very personal since everyone utilizes technology and social media in different ways. Honestly – you don’t need to be a business owner to have one. Everyone should. Get your info together and then pick a person in charge.

So how many of you have a SOTU? Am I the only one? Did I get your wheels spinning? What are your thoughts?

Six Tips For Business Owners To Survive The Summer

woman-working-poolside-ss-1920-800x533School is out. The pool is open. It is a beautiful day. But you have to still run your business. And you still have to make money. I find the summer time distractions are the hardest ones to overcome as an entrepreneur. What is a girl to do when all you want to do is sit poolside with your fruity beverage? How do you stay focused? So I came up with a list of tips last year that I found helped me. I have since learned more and wanted to share them with you!

1. Adjust Your Schedule
One of the main reasons most of us became our own boss is to have the ability to make our own schedule. When I coach clients however, I often see them still adhering to the 9-5 that they left. I, myself, have fallen victim to the guilt if I am not pulling the eight hour day during a specific time. Let me let you in on a little secret: you can work during hours other than 9-5. Shhh…..

Seriously though. Maybe you get up earlier in the day and work a few hours, take breaks for the kids, and then work some more. Maybe you work in the morning and the evening, but take the afternoon off. What I typically do is put the summer schedule into the calendar, and then book my appointments and times I need to be in the office around it. There are more hours in the day than just 9-5, so use them!

2. Make A To-Do List
I am a HUGE fan of lists. Lists help me stay focused on my tasks. They help me remember every detail. They hold me accountable to the things I know I HAVE to get done. There is something about seeing it on the list that really motivates me to get it done so I can do the best part: CROSSING IT OFF! I know we have a lot of ways to keep lists, but there is something so empowering about physically crossing off an item on your list. I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I do it. It also serves as a reward! I got everything pertinent on the list done, now I can be poolside!

3. Take A Look At Your Technology
So you want to take a break but you are still waiting on that ever important email. With all of the technology available to us today, you can make your office mobile any time you wish. But you have to have the right technology in place to do it.  Take a look at your smart phone, is it up to the task? If not, now would be a great time to upgrade.

How are you saving your documents? Do you utilize cloud based services like Dropbox to access your documents from anywhere? Cloud based systems are often free or low cost so you don’t have to be beholden to your desktop or laptop. Just access them from your smart phone or iPad and move on.

Verify/beef up your wireless network to make sure you can reach it outside your house to where you want to be. If you need to, hire a technology expert to come set up your home office so you can be anywhere on your property and still have the ability to get online without any issues. Then you can be poolside without worry. Trust me, it is worth it.

4. Take A Class
Sometimes, a little knowledge will go a long way. I find that taking an online class or webinar that will teach me something renews my goals and helps me focus on my vision. Clients definitely will be thrilled that you are staying current with your craft. Knowledge is power. Another reason this one works well is that a lot of entrepreneurs experience a slow down in business due to clients being out of town. So take advantage of the time and sign up for a class and learn something new. It will motivate you to stay on target, and who knows? Whatever it is you learn will help you make additions to your current offerings which equals more money! Who wouldn’t want to make more money?

5. Friday Fun Day
Don’t underestimate the ability to just take a moment and enjoy what life has to offer. Friday Fun Day is what we call it in my house. Every Friday, I try to schedule something fun for the kids and I to do. It means if I get my work done, I can have a reward. Friday Fun Day means a well deserved break, even if I just can’t make poolside happen during the week. I try to mix up what we do with fun outings or some sort of fun activity at home if the weather is not cooperating.

6. Get An Accountability Partner
I have talked about this many times, but it is especially important when you have extra distractions going on. You can adjust your schedule, make to-do lists, examine technology and take classes all you want – if you actually DO THEM. Big ideas are great – but the success lies in the EXECUTION. An accountability partner makes sure you stick to your goals and helps you to have skin in the game. I have one – you should too. I would be happy to help you as well.

I would love to hear some of your tips. What gets you motivated in the summer? What helps you stay on task so you can take some time off and enjoy the weather? Post your thoughts in the comments below! Happy Summer everyone!

4 Blogs I Read Every Week That Help Me Run My Business

blogs I read every weekThere are multiple blogs I read EVERY week. It is no secret that every entrepreneur must stay on top of their game and keep researching and reading to learn more about what they do and how they can help their clients and customers. Thank goodness for the Internet! I can’t imagine running a business without the ability to get a hold of so much information that can help me when I am struggling with a problem, wanting to learn something new or trying to spread my message to the world. I imagine it is the same for you. Of course, since the Internet is so HUGE – where do you begin?

There are a million different blogs out there all giving wonderful information. Below is my list of some of the blogs that I read weekly that help me put the pieces together of running my company – and I hope you enjoy them as well.

  1. Mari Smith
    For those of you that may not know, Mari is THE Facebook Marketing Expert. She has written several books, is incredibly active on all forms of social media, and I personally have heard her speak on numerous occasions both in person and online. She is a giver. She is constantly showing you tips and tricks on how to make the most of your Facebook marketing platform. If you visit her blog, you will find that she is almost always promoting a webinar or training course that covers various topics revolving around Facebook. Some are free and some you pay for. She also has a really cool “Inner Circle” private Facebook group that you can be a part of if you sign up for one of her programs that puts you in touch with people from all over the world that are trying to learn just like you. There is power in putting your minds together with other entrepreneurs, and I, myself, have asked several questions in that group and have been helped out by total strangers from somewhere in the world. It is a wonderful community. She also has an email that goes out every single Friday that spotlights her top three picks of articles that she thought shared valuable content – and they are NOT articles she wrote. She is constantly learning herself and is happy to share the good stuff when she finds it. If you are not on her list, you should be. Go to her website and sign up!

  2. ProBlogger/Darren Rowse
    I have been receiving Darren’s emails for a long time now. Creating your own blog and content is so important, and it can become very daunting when you have no idea what you are doing. There is so much more to it than just sitting down and writing. Darren not only holds classes to help you learn to be a better blogger, but he continues to share what else he finds on the Internet the way Mari does. He has frequent posts he calls his “Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately” that are extremely helpful. His blog is constantly focused on giving you different tools to make your blog better such as commenting system tools, content creation, how to get paid for your blog and a great topic generator tool (which may or may not have been used to come up with this topic. Not going to lie.)  He has really taught me a lot about blogging and is another one I suggest you follow. Click here to join his newsletter.

  3. Yoast
    As a blogger, you HAVE to know how to make the most out of each and every post by optimizing your blog. Yoast is a company that created a plugin to be installed on WordPress websites that helps you optimize your website pages, as well as your blog posts. The beauty of this company is that they are also givers. They have written numerous eBooks on how to set up a great website, how to optimize it, content SEO assistance, analytics and more. They have an email newsletter that is always full of helpful tips, as well as an “Ask Yoast” section on their website where you can even talk to their people in more detail about your specific issue. So, yes, they are in the market to sell you their plugin, but they are doing it right by providing you with a TON of extras to show you that they are the best when it comes to website optimization. Check them out here. If you don’t have a WordPress site – I know a company that can help with that too!

  4. Beth Hayden
    I first got introduced to Beth through a mutual friend when she wrote Pinfluence: The Complete Guide To Marketing Your Business With Pinterest. I love this book. I highly recommend it to anyone out there whose target market is on Pinterest and you need to learn how to reach them. What I quickly came to discover is that Beth is also a wealth of information when it comes to blogging, content generation, and list building. She even has a page on her website dedicated to the resources and tools she uses herself in order to run her online business. Once again – a giver! Are you seeing a pattern here? I encourage you to join her list building challenge. This is a great challenge designed to hold you accountable with increasing your subscribers, and therefore your reach, which will lead to more business.

There are definitely more, but these four will get you well on your way of gaining knowledge from industry experts that have certainly helped me along the way.

Speaking of giving…how about you give some of your favorite blogs or or podcasts that help you grow your business! Post your favorites in the comments!

4 Things Every Successful Entrepreneur Should Have

successful entrepreneurs

Barbara Corcoran: She is one of my mentors even though she doesn’t know it!

Recently my husband and I celebrated our 14th year in business, and I have been doing a lot of reflecting on what has made us successful entrepreneurs. During that time, I have poured myself in everything I could get my hands on from blogs, online classes, in person classes, certifications, webinars, books, networking events and just plain evolving with the times. We have definitely had our teaching moments that included some bumps and bruises along the way! So with that in mind, I would like to share some of my favorite teaching moments and tips with you in hopes that I can help a fellow entrepreneur.

Accountability Partners
This is number one for a reason. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day operations and to let some of your tasks slide. Running a business requires having a lot of balls in the air and sometimes, certain important aspects will inevitably get put on the back burner – on then to never get moved to the front burner. It is imperative that you have someone holding your feet to the fire to get all the important tasks done. Not only that, you need someone to hold you accountable for your “Next Big Thing.” In order to be successful, you have to grow. In order to grow, you need an Accountability Partner. Typically this is a business coach of some sort that is trained to help you put processes in place to grow your business, or perhaps and investor. A great book on this topic you can check out is called No More Excuses: The Five Accountabilities for Personal and Organizational Growth. Nine years ago I new I need help to grow so I called a business coach. Every successful entrepreneur has someone that is holding them accountable. If you don’t, it is time to get one. I would love to help.

Mentors
A mentor is not necessarily the same thing as an accountability partner. A mentor, however, is definitely someone you look up to, admire, and want to emulate. I find that when I get stuck in a rut or am maybe feeling a little lost that a visit to my mentor will help get me energized and re-motivated. Your mentor could be anyone. A peer in business, someone that was in your field that is not retired, a family member, a teacher or professor of some sort, or anyone that energizes and inspires you to do your best work. Could even be someone you admire from afar but watch how they run their business (a/k/a Barbara.)  Take a moment to think about who that is, and pay them a visit.

A Dream Team
In my book that I wrote for couples that work together, I refer to this as my “Board of Directors.” Entrepreneurs that are getting it done will surround themselves with people who know more than they do – and can help them in the areas where they are lacking. Some suggestions are your technology guy (because there is no successful business without successful and seamless technology), your banker, your accountant and your lawyer. It should also include someone who has knowledge that can help your business specifically depending on your trade. Then at least once a year minimum, get these people together for a board meeting and let them know how you are doing and what you need help to do next. Have them brainstorm with you. Don’t assume if your business is small that you can’t act like a larger business. These people are here to help you grow. So let them.

A State Of The Union
This one is a topic that no one ever likes to talk about. But the reality is, you will not be here forever and someone needs to know how to get to the important documents, passwords and processes that run your business. Put all of this information into a document or system that someone can have access to. That’s right: every password, every login, every program you use should be documented somewhere so the person you trust does not have to jump through hoops to help deal with the day to day of your business. This is here for your protection, as well as your family. If you are in an accident and are going to be out of the loop for a while, you will want someone to be able to be YOU. If this person is not your spouse, then it should be someone who is there that you can trust. Sit them down once a year and go over your “state of the union.” Make sure they have access to everything. Trust me, you do not want to wait on companies like Google or Facebook to release information when time is of the essence. Plan ahead.

I never dreamed I would be an entrepreneur, and quite honestly went kicking and screaming along the way. But through my many stubborn years of learning the hard way, I managed to pick up these plus many more golden nuggets that have contributed to my husband’s and my success. And now I cannot imagine my life any other way. But I want to hear from YOU. What are some habits that you feel have made you successful as an entrepreneur? Share them in the comments below!

How To Make The Most Out Of Your Email Marketing

email marketingEmail marketing used to be the only online method a business owner had to keep in touch with their clients and potential clients. When social media came along and made things easier, email marketing started to get somewhat of a bad rap. However, everyone should keep in mind – and this is the one thing I tell all my clients – email is never going anywhere. It is also the thing you have total control over, meaning you own your list – you do not own Facebook. It is imperative that you continue to keep in touch via email. Even if your email is not officially “opened”, the chances are it is seen anyway in the preview section of most people’s email accounts. Seeing your name keeps you top of mind. But how does a business owner make the most of their email marketing? Here are some helpful tips that will assist you in getting the most out of your email marketing.

  1. Send more than just a monthly newsletter
    Most email programs do not limit the amount of times you can reach out to your list in a month. So why not mix it up a bit? You can use your software to welcome new clients each month, send appointment reminders, birthday greetings, holiday wishes or even special events that your company is having. Think outside of email: what would you reach out to your clients and send them if you were mailing something via snail mail? The sky is the limit on thoughtful emails that could lead to your next sale.
  2. Segment Your Lists
    This is especially true if you are very specific with certain emails. For example, the topic of your blog you are promoting may be targeted to a specific group of people. Take a technology company for example. Maybe they are giving tips on something that is Windows related. That company should have at least two lists: one for Windows users and one for Mac users. That way you are sharing relevant content to your list and not annoying some of your clients with information they don’t care about.
  3. Utilize the AutoResponder feature
    This is the most under-utilized feature of most email programs. Typically there is a thank you email once someone signs up to be on your list and that is it. Take the time to set up several follow up emails. For instance if the first one is a welcome, the second auto-responder could go out a week or two later asking a specific question related to why they signed up. For example if you were selling a product, you could set up several auto-responders to go out to make sure the customer is satisfied or to see if they have any questions. Perhaps even asking for feedback can be an option. This keeps you top of mind, as well as provides good customer service.
  4. Make sure it is mobile friendly
    More and more people check their email on mobile devices. I have seen stats that range anywhere from 50% up to 80% on my clients’ reports that show mobile devices are how the emails are being opened and read. With that in mind, you want to make sure you select a mobile friendly template, or if you are making your own make sure it is easily read on a mobile device. We are all guilty of not reading an entire email if it is cumbersome and just moving on from frustration. If it is hard to read, you will lose the attention of your audience.
  5. Re-engage the users that did not open
    I know that Constant Contact provides detailed reports on who opened and who didn’t open your email campaign. You can run a report and select all the unopened email addresses, change the subject line to see if that helps to get their attention, and send it again. The important thing is to try. People get a lot of email, so it is important to try sending it again to see if it helps your open rate – which hopefully leads to more sales!
  6. Actually use it!
    This one seems simple, but it is sadly true. Everyone knows they need to send emails, but they get bogged down with what to put in them, not enjoying the process, or a myriad of excuses of why they don’t have time to get it done. Let me be clear – if you are not emailing your audience you are missing multiple opportunities to connect with them. Email is a MUST. So if you need help getting it done, then find help.

In full disclosure, I am a Constant Contact fan. I have been a faithful user since 2007. I have seen a lot of changes in the way the email programs work in the last nine years. But one thing remains the same – people still check their email, and people are definitely influenced by great subject lines and dramatic images. So stop putting your email marketing on the back burner and make the most of the most precious asset your business has – your list.

So  tell me about your email plan. What system do you use and why?

Website Advice – For Real

website adviceI really struggled with the topic of website advice as we sit here in 2016. I pretty much figured everyone was well versed on this topic. I mean, there are a million articles about this already and multiple sources you can utilize, right? But – I was wrong. Just in the last two weeks alone, my company has encountered every single issue I am about to address with a client or prospective client – so I thought it would be a good idea to cover some basics as well as some things that were not so basic. Let’s face it: websites, like all of technology, continue to evolve. We must evolve with it to stay caught up. So below are the top five issues we are seeing currently:

  1. YES – you still need a website. A prospective client reached out to me with this question last week. She wanted to know if a website was even necessary now since she could load everything on Facebook and get started for free. Let me very clear on this point: YES – you need a website. You DO NOT own Facebook. You can be shut down at any time based on the opinion or some sort of red flag at FB that will shut you down immediately. Even the famous Social Media Examiner was shut down by FB. Thankfully, it was only temporary in their case – but I am sure the reason it came back up so quickly had to do with the fact tons of FB powerhouses are involved in that entity. Needless to say, they carry a lot of weight to get the attention of someone to turn their page back on. Do you? Think about it – if you based your entire operation on FB and then one day they shut you down, what would you do? You should use FB as a tool to lead people to your website. Plain and simple.
  2. KNOW your passwords.  A lot of business owners hire someone to get their website all set up and blindly give permission and freedom to register their domain, set up their site, maintain it. However, once it is all set up, a lot of business owners have no idea how to log in to a system that controls their entire livelihood. You need to know your passwords and how to get into the basic framework that controls your website. YOU need to have control. In the early days, this was much more difficult since websites were basically a bunch of files filled with cryptic code. But no more. Today, it is very easy to have a site that looks complex, but is as simple to log into and change as a Word document. If your web site isn’t simple to manage, it is time you upgrade your site.
  3. CONTROL your domain name.  This is re-emphasizing the second point. As long as you have control of the account where your domain name is registered, you can fix most other things down the line. Time and again, my husband’s company gets calls from people in a panic that have no idea who is in control of their domain name, or when it is due to renew, or who to contact if they have questions. This is the very beginning, the basic piece, of everything you are creating online. Again, know your passwords, know when your domain name is due to renew. If you lose your domain name, it could lead to catastrophic results.
  4. BACKUP your website. Your website is essentially no different that any other precious data out there. Don’t assume just because it is on the Internet means it is backed up – it’s NOT! The company that is hosting/creating your site should be talking to you about backing up your site. However, we have run into several situations where this was not the case. Data was not backed up – and data was lost. In a case we encountered recently – six years worth of data. That is not only heartbreaking, but catastrophic to a business. So make sure your website is being backed up.
  5. MAKE IT MOBILE FRIENDLY. If you have not updated your site in the last three to four years, chances are your site is not mobile friendly. Recently, Google made it known to everyone that they were giving preferential treatment to mobile friendly sites. Research shows that the VAST majority of people check their email and social media accounts via their smartphone, so it goes without saying that your site needs to be prepared for your mobile visitors. Think about you and your friends: you are out at a restaurant and start talking about something you want to look up. Are you going to waste your time on a site that is not mobile friendly and hard to read? No. You will move on to the next site that will give you the information you are looking for. So make sure your site is up to date AND definitely mobile friendly.

Websites continue to be what I call the “mother ship.” All points of your marketing should be leading to home – your website. Your website is your little corner of the Internet world. You have complete control of all things happening on your website – or at least you SHOULD. Make sure you have the ability to collect emails, answer questions, tell your story, interact, and most importantly educate your customers on why they should be doing business with you. Email marketing, social media, direct mail – everything you do should lead back to the mother ship where you have control. Websites are DEFINITELY not going away. So the real question is – how much do you know about your website?

If you don’t know, it is time to call for help.