Tips for Unplugging

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In yesterday’s blog post, I told you that I was on a beach in Hawaii, and why I was taking an unplugged vacation – my first in 9 years. This post is all about how I’m pulling it off.

  1. I told everyone I was going to do it. This is critical – I let all my current clients and any prospects I was talking with know that I was going to be on vacation and that it was going to be an unplugged vacation. You know what surprised me? The support I got when I told people that. 100% of the people I’ve told were on board and happy to plan around my time off.
  2. I delegated tasks. For the things I normally do that are critical to my business, I parsed those things out to others. Including checking my email! I also lined up resources to handle things for me just in case something comes up. I do a lot of technology consulting, so sometimes my client’s need things handled that can’t wait. Luckily, I’ve developed relationships with awesome smart and talented peers in my field that are happy to step in and handle things for me.
  3. I’m planning regular check-ins with my folks. I’m going to touch base with the people handling things for me a total of 3 times over the 9 days that I’ll be gone. It helps that only 5 of those days are normal work days. Checking in will make me feel better, and allow me to totally unplug the rest of the time.
  4. I did work ahead of time. Like my tweets and blog posts. I wrote them, created a schedule and used tools to post them while I’m gone. One of the tools? Zoho Social. With Zoho Social I can create & schedule tweets, LinkedIn and Facebook posts.

That’s it. If I can do it, so can you.

Aloha!

ER2CIGJANF

Take an Unplugged Vacation – I Am

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As you read this, I’m on a beach in Hawaii. Or at least I hope I am. Self-care is important for everyone. But it’s especially important for entrepreneurs. In 16 years of owning my own consulting business, I think I’ve taken less than 5 totally unplugged breaks. Normal people call these “vacations”.

As a business owner, vacations are a luxury. Stepping away and completely unplugging from your business is:
a. scary
b. impossible
c. risky
d. all of the above

Yet the benefits of unplugging are so enticing:
a. reconnect with people in your life
b. increased focus & creativity when you get back to work
c. improvements in your health – lowered blood pressure, better sleep and less depression
d. a fresh mindset

How am I accomplishing this? Read my next blog post.

H2H, or What My First Biz Mentor Taught Me

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I just saw a tweet from a colleague that I hold in high regard, and he referenced Bryan Kramer’s #H2H tweet – “There is no more B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human, #H2H.” This was apparently back in 2014, – I somehow missed this “new” trend.

My reaction? Um, duh.

Yeah, sometimes I’m like a 7th grader. OK, I’m a LOT like a 7th grader a great deal of the time, but aren’t we all?

Kramer’s point is that the B2B and B2C designations led to ridiculous marketing speak and silly marketing jargon. I agree that the lexicon of marketing content is a little ridiculous (sometimes a lot ridiculous) but I disagree that it’s because of the segmentation of B2C vs B2C. That’s probably a good thing. Because businesses do make buying decisions differently than consumers.

Kramer’s right about one thing – both groups are made up of people. That reminded me of what my first business mentor, Edward Solomon, taught me. “It’s people buying people from people.” I worked for Ed at a technology consulting company and the firm placed consultants on large software development projects at Fortune 100 companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

His advice has stuck with me.

It meant that I really listened to my customers, sought to understand what they needed on the project, but more than that, what their goals were, what they cared about, their families  and personal lives. And in return, I was honest, authentic and transparent. Ed taught me that those things mattered and that customers know when it’s missing.

To this day, it’s how I move through the world, both business and personal. So H2H is true, but it’s all about being a real person and treating your client’s like they are real people Because they are.

 

5 Trends to Consider in Your E-mail Marketing

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The basic tenets of email marketing have largely stayed the same over the last few years, but many things have shifted – innovative trends have surfaced, most having to do with your customers and prospects reading their e-mail on mobile devices.

More people than ever before are now using smart phones to read books, listen to music, and check their e-mails. Some surveys say as many as 45% of American adults use their phones for e-mails. There’s just no way around it: e-mails look different on a smart phone. If you do any kind of e-mail marketing, you can no longer control for screen size or other crucial settings.

As a result, most new trends in e-mail marketing for 2013 are geared towards mobile marketing. E-mails need to be streamlined and more user-friendly. In addition, coordinating content with landing pages and your web site is more important than ever. Below are 5 trends to keep in mind for your e-mail marketing:

1. Smaller subject lines: Mobile devices are often vertically-oriented and have smaller screens. To make sure subject lines aren’t being cut off, they should be small and attention-grabbing.
2. Greater interaction between subject lines and pre-headers: Mobile devices often offer a preview of the e-mail by providing the first line on the inbox home page. Cohesion between subject lines and pre-headers is now more important than ever, as readers often glance at these previews when deciding to open an email. Also, personalizing the pre-header with a “Dear [FirstName] is a great way to remind your customers and prospects that you know them, this personalization is a nice touch. (This is easy to do using ACT! & Swiftpage – it will pull the first name or salutation directly from your database.)
3. Mobile-friendly landing pages: If a potential customer has clicked over to your landing page, they shouldn’t be put off by a clunky homepage not configured for mobile devices. Creating versions of your site for mobile users makes their experience better and encourages them to continue browsing.
4. “Folds” are less important: All mobile devices have varying screen sizes, and thus there’s no longer any set standard for where a “fold” occurs in an e-mail; it’s anyone’s guess at which line a reader will have to scroll down in the e-mail. As a result, it’s important to include interesting elements which draw the reader’s eye downward in any e-mail, to entice them to read on.
5. User-friendly clickable elements: Mobile screens can be very small, making small links difficult to click on. To prevent readers from simply getting frustrated and clicking out of e-mails prematurely, make sure all links are large (think thumb-sized), stand out, and are distinctive from other links.

While many things in e-mail marketing have stayed the same, there are some new twists. E-mail marketing is geared more towards mobile devices than ever before, and any successful e-mail marketing plan or campaign that wants to be successful will take these trends into account.

And to make us feel better than ever about email marketing, Beth Hayden at copyblogger.com notes that, “At a recent social media marketing conference…I was surprised to hear one particular topic kept coming up over and over again, in almost every session I attended. It wasn’t Goggle+. It wasn’t Pinterest. It wasn’t Instagram. It was e-mail marketing.” Read the post.

Beth also references the importance of tracking your e-marketing campaign’s effectiveness. Swiftpage, the e-mail marketing tool that is integrated with ACT! (and the new owners as well) offers the ability to track opens, clicks and forwards. Understanding how your customers and prospects are, or are not, interacting with your e-mail content is invaluable.

We have covered a lot of grounds in this blog post. We would love to help you setup e-mail campaigns that are designed for smart phones and tablets, and show you how to improve your campaign’s effectiveness by monitoring your Swiftpage reports. Remember, enjoy the process! You are growing your business and expanding your brand and building relationships.

First Video Blog!

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We are excited to debut our very first Video Power Blog! (Video! I know!) This is due in large part (ok, totally) to our newest team member, Kiley McInroy, Account Specialist and the Manager of Make it Happen here at Po3inc. She rocks.

This Power Blog includes an update on my recent trip to Arizona to meet with the “Swifties” (Swiftpage employees) and learn about some of what they have in mind for the future of ACT! – I am excited and loving the journey.

We also included a useful tip on backing up your database – an important function that is often overlooked. I hate it when I have to tell people that I can’t help them get back the 25 key customers a user “accidentally” deleted because they have no backup. That sucks.

Enjoy!