Staying Alert When You’re Working Late

nightowl

Hey there, night owl!

Yeah, you!

The one who stays up past midnight on any given day to get work done so they can sleep in a bit the next day.  The one who gets his/her second wind around 10:00pm and will actually have a coffee to keep going. The one who just has so much work to do that you have no choice. The one who hates mornings so they stay up late instead.

This blog post is for you.

Here are our top 5 tips for staying productive when you’re staying up:

  • Do the big tasks first: It’s pretty self-explanatory. You use your brain power at its greatest peak before it starts fogging up and dwindling down.
  • Make your workspace as distraction-free as possible: No cell phones, no social media, no washroom breaks (just kidding). The more focused you are the better.

 

  • Brighten your workspace: Dim lighting may cause you to become drowsy which will lessen your focus and drive to continue your tasks. If you are already feeling sleepy? Darkness won’t help.

 

  • Get your blood flowing: Jumping Jacks, a few push-ups, maybe a brisk jog around your house? It should up your energy level and give you an added boost.

 

  • COFFEE- or a caffeinated beverage: They say not to just chug the drink though. Taking small amounts in periodically throughout your late-night work mission will keep you afloat.

 

These tips should help but the most important thing that you have to understand is when to know when to stop. Don’t push yourself into a canyon of “I am going to have to redo this work, because I am exhausted and when I read it tomorrow? It is going to be CRAP”.  It’s a slippery slope into that hole… so just know your limits.

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Welcome, Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation! (CASL)

email-marketing-legislation-opt-in-casl-300x220

The anti-spam law is now in effect.

For those of you who don’t know what that is- visit: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/casl-lcap.htm

Last week I attended a CASL seminar to learn the ins and outs of this new law and how it would affect not only my business, but my clients businesses as well. I wanted to share some important facts that I learned but do recommend that you attend a seminar yourself!

What I learned in a nutshell (and in no particular order):

  1. July 1st the anti-spam law comes into affect BUT it is only the first phase. We have a 2-3 year grace period to get all of our ducks in a row. For all of you starting to sweat about not sending out your “opt in” emails? Don’t fret. The speaker actually suggested sending them in January 2015 once this rush of emails passes.

 

  1. You can still send initial emails to people that you do not know. You can still send initial emails to businesses you don’t know- as long as your business can obviously/directly relate to or assist the company that you are contacting. You need to be able to align business opportunity. YOU DO however have to have all of your contact information in your email should the person you are contacting not want to receive any more messages from you. The only time you cannot grab contact information online and send a message is if there is a disclaimer on their site asking you not to.

 

  1. SOCIAL MEDIA: YOU CAN still send messages via social media. YOU CAN still message people on linked in, twitter, facebook and talk business as long as you are connected. What you cannot do, is take their information and add it into your email messaging software without their consent. Social media messages are implied consent because the individual has accepted your invitation to connect, liked you or is following you. The unsubscribe option can be easily exercised with a click of a button (un-follow, un-like)

 

  1. TRADESHOWS: Your business card fishbowl is not dead. You can still collect people’s cards and information at a tradeshow as long as you are clear in your description on your fishbowl as to what the people will receive if they drop their card in. You can’t be sneaky with a sign like “drop your card in and win a trip”. YOU CAN write “drop your card in to join our mailing list for a  possibility to win a trip”. OH and If you have a pile of ballots lying around with a little box that says “click here to receive information”? Those are no longer valid and you need to re-obtain consent.

 

  1. Track your opt ins. Be sure that you can prove people opted in to receive your electronic emails. Software systems make this easy-  keep an electronic file on hand just in case.

 

  1. THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: Registered Charities (not not-for-profits) and political parties are not included in CASL’s rules. They are the exception as long as the emails are about fundraising or campaigns. If a Registered Charity’s email is strictly fundraising? They can email anyone they want.

 

  1. If you have emailed anyone back and forth in the last two years- you are allowed to email them. You have a relationship with them and that is not considered spam under CASL rules.

 

  1. Your email marketing HAS to have an ‘unsubscribe’ option. If you don’t use a software program (constant contact, go-daddy etc.)- Then you need to make it painfully clear that the person you are emailing can opt out of your emails at any given time.

 

9. Verbal consent does apply to CASL. If you meet someone and they tell you to shoot them an email don’t be                       afraid..

10. Do you advertise your mailing list on your website? You still can BUT you have to be clear on exactly what                       they will be receiving. A newsletter containing what type of information? How frequently?

 

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the seminar and would love for any of you to chime in! I have my notes but am sure I am missing a few great points. Please comment below.

-Crystal Lengua-

Blog Tips: How To Overcome Writer’s Block

Overcome writers block

Ahhhhh yes. Our BLOG! What to post… There is so much to write about- but you need inspiration!

So what happens when you aren’t in the writing mood, you get writers block, your creativity is flunking and you need inspiration! Well, these tips should help you out of that rut:

  1. Write early in the morning.

Your brain is fresh and new- plus you have the energy to get at it! Waking up early and getting a head start on your day will have you feeling on top of the ball not only if you write, just in general.

  1. Don’t be so hard on yourself

Just write! Don’t worry if it is the best you’ve ever written. You can edit later or save a draft and never post it at all. Who knows if an idea you have with morph into an even better idea for a post?  Practice makes perfect anyway… I guess the point is – don’t spend hours trying to get it “write” (no good?)

  1. Read industry articles, blogs and books

Get inspired. Don’t plagiarize- just go with the flow. While reading you will educate yourself, you will take sides, form opinions. You may feel passionately enough about a topic that it will become a blog post. Reading also doubles as a relaxing brain break to help you re-energize. What is the worst that can happen? You learn something! Not a bad deal.

  1. Exercise

Get your blood going- break a sweat! Exercise increases your concentration, elevates your mood and releases a multitude of beneficial hormones to help you get the job done. Stretch those fingers out as well- help with writers block AND finger cramps.

  1. Keep notes

A blog post idea can hit at any moment. Be ready. Jot down your idea in your phones notepad, on a receipt or even on your hand until you get home. Log your ideas and reference your list whenever you feel stuck!

Hopefully these tips help… It is important to be consistent with your blog posts- so if all else fails and you REALLY can’t write that article? Outsource! Get a guest post. Ask employees, industry experts, authors or other bloggers to step up and enjoy some of the spotlight.

Any other tips you can add? Please do below!

Social Media: Build Your Community- Then Promote

Social Media Community We have said it before… We will say it again. You should be using social media for business. It is an information hub and a method of open communication with your audience. It is a conversation platform and very important for not only your online presence, but your credibility, branding, SEO and marketing efforts.

So what now? Do you open the accounts and start blasting off all of the great in-store specials? All the special promotions and fantastic things you are offering? Do you start pushing events and upcoming sales?

NO. No you do not. That will most likely turn followers away.

As mentioned earlier- social media is a conversation. When you have a real-life conversation, do you immediately start with why you are so wonderful and why people should like you? Probably not. You want to provide mutually beneficial conversation first- THEN- once you are comfortable with that person, you can start sharing more intimate details of all the great things happening in your life. Take that same model and apply it to your social media conversation.

We always tell our clients to first build your community. Work on sharing on-brand and relevant information. It doesn’t have to be created by you! You can share industry leader links as well as your blog. Work on accumulating fans by using trending hashtags so that your message gets filtered into larger audience pools. Build your fans/followers first and foremost. It may seem like you are treading water for a month or so but it will work in the end. DO NOT buy followers- you want quality not quantity and not for nothing? Social media platforms are hip to these scammers and if they find out you bought your fans? They could limit your pages. Not good.

One you have a decent following THEN you can start to promote! Now you have people who will see your efforts- who know that you are knowledgeable in your field and trust that what you are sharing can be valuable to them. Make sure that your efforts fall into am 80/20 percentile though… 80% helpful links, tips and tricks, quotes, pictures- and 20% promotion. We’ve found that to be a positive balance as long as you are keeping track of your social media insights and are posting the right information at the right times.

You can do social media! But if you need help? We are here to help!

(Did that fall into the 80/20 promotion? We think so!) 

Social Media Management Tips for the Small Business Owner

Social Media Management Tips

It’s not often a small business can afford a social media management team off the hop. In the beginning owners wear multiple hats- CEO, CFO, HR, IT and now SMM (that is an acronym for social media manager…  I just made that up)

Maybe you think it’s best that you don’t use social media in your marketing plan… and to that? I say too bad- because you are missing out! You are missing out on the SEO advantages, the branding, the communication with your audience and the low cost options for spreading the word about who you are and what you offer. If you don’t want to reap any of those benefits? Then I say that is just too bad.

If you DO want to benefit from social media? Then I have some tips to help you stay focused, on top of things and actively present:

1)      Pick one or two social media sites for now. If you try and manage too many yourself? You may get overwhelmed and quit or fall behind and look lazy and lackluster.

Figure out what platforms work best for your company- if you have no idea? Look at your competition. What are they using? What are your customers using?

2)      The golden rule is ‘Once a Day’ I ask that all of my clients post onto their social media outlets at least once a day. It can be a picture, an article that your audience will find helpful, a link to a blog (preferably yours but it doesn’t always have to be), a retweet on twitter, a repost on Instagram or a pin to a board on Pinterest. Asking questions is a great way to engage! It’s important because you want to show you were there and active when a potential client looks you up. If they see that your last post was a week ago? You could look sluggish. If it was A MONTH ago? They may think you aren’t open anymore. Telling yourself once a day will help keep you from forgetting.

If you are really hip to social media, I recommend taking a look at your analytics and figuring out the best time to post to maximize engagement. If you aren’t too savvy just yet? Just post once a day for now- and make sure the content IS RELEVANT, positive and on brand.

You may benefit from having a posting schedule. Feel free to use this one: CLICK HERE

3)      Time yourself. Once a day on one or two social media sites shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes a day. It is very easy to get lost in link-land and before you know it you are an hour and a half in and looking at what Jimmy is eating for lunch. Set a timer if you have to! You can get an egg timer for a buck at the dollar store.

4)      Don’t be afraid to store updates/drafts. Keep a file of links, images, and quotes- whatever and keep that as your go-to when posting. If you find that Sunday evenings work best for researching information to share? Spend some time and think about your weeks’ worth of posting! If you want to get fancy, you can try out HootSuite and schedule your updates automatically- click HERE for more information. Just be sure to still sign in to your social media account and make sure your status’ are posting properly and your links are working.

5)      Turn off your notifications. In an ideal world you want to respond to your audience right away. In small business world? That will throw you off and will absorb too much of your time. Turning off your notifications will keep you focused on your task at hand. It’s ok to reply within 24 hours! (Just make sure you do… but you ARE posting once a day so you shouldn’t have a problem)  It’s ok to not know how many retweets you get, or who followed you. Think of it as a social media present. Once a day you get to open it and see what happened!

One day you will have a sea of employees who will be able to do things for you or the budget to outsource- but until then? You can handle it. It is intimidating at first, but practice makes perfect and before you know it you will be able to push out your social media duties in ten minutes or less! You’ll see.

Do you have any social media management tips to share? Please do in the comment section below!

ATTENDING A TRADE SHOW: HOW TO ENSURE THE MAXIMUM BENEFITS

tradeshow

Do you get the most out of the trade show’s you attend? Do you leave satisfied? Are you inspired? Have you met at LEAST one person via networking that you feel like you can collaborate with at some point?

If the answer is ‘No’ then we have some work to do.

Trade shows, when chosen correctly, are an opportunity for you to gain valuable trade show experience, knowledge, product exposure and trends, they can help spark your creative and can align you with like-minded professionals.  “When chosen correctly” being key. You can’t expect to meet an apple at an orange fair… catch my drift?

Choose trade shows that are relevant in your industry. Local trade shows are great to connect with vendors (and potential clients) in your area, but if you have to travel for a well-known show (and have it in your budget) then do your research and consider the advantages- if any. You need to choose trade shows that will help you reach your business goals! If your goal is more sales? Choose a show that will feature new products for you to offer! If your goal is to scope out the competition? Do your research and make sure they are attending. If you simply want to network? Choose a show that is offering seminars and breakout room speakers. Like anything in business, do your research and make sure it fits.

So you know what show(s) you want to attend but don’t know how to make the most of them? Here are some tips to help you out:

Pre-register

  • You will get updates on the show. You should also follow the show using their social media outlets to stay up to date.
  • You might even save a few bucks if you’re an early bird

Have an objective for attending

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • How will you measure the return on your investment?

Bring business cards

  • You would be surprised how easily that is overlooked

Take other people’s business cards

  • Make notes on them. Bring a fine point sharpie to write the notes on the cards because some people still feel the need to gloss both sides and your regular pen won’t write on it. No your pen isn’t broken… it just can’t write on gloss.

Know who is exhibiting and plan out who you want to spend the most time with and start with them.

  •  If the show starts at 10am? Be there at 10am. Fashionably late doesn’t work very well when you want to absorb their morning enthusiasm. Also make sure that the vendors don’t work by appointment- if they do? Then make one in advance.
  • Download a map of the trade show floor- it should be found on their site
  • Think of what you want to ask who- having your questions prepared in advance will ensure you don’t miss anything
  • Even though you are going in with a hit-list? Don’t forget about the little guys. Startups can surprise you and their hunger can’t usually be matched by corporate. They need your business and (sometimes- I don’t want to say always and you hold me to it!) they will work hard to keep it.

If you are attending with colleagues

  • Split up to gain more ground and fill each other in. This also goes for seminars. Spilt the sessions and gather as much information as you can.
  • Don’t be a “free seminar” snob. Take advantage of them. Just because YOU THINK you know everything there is on a subject? Chances are you don’t and will learn at least one new thing.

If you are attending a multi-day trade show

  • Book close to the venue. You will appreciate the ability to move back and forth easily- whether it is to rest, review and recoup? Or to simply unload information. Maybe you don’t want to lug around every piece of info with you all day.

Remember that trade shows aren’t open 24 hours.

  • Use your time wisely- even if it’s spread out over a couple days- use your time wisely.

Don’t avoid eye contact.

  • You will see what I mean- every exhibitor is waiting for the second your eyes meet to pounce their pitch on you… Don’t be afraid.  You may THINK you don’t want to talk to the exhibitor, but a quick conversation could lead to anything. It’s a small world after all.

Don’t rush out when the trade show ends

  • Perhaps there is a networking event you can attend? Usually there is a mixer following the show… whether or not it’s public? I don’t know. But ask.

Last but not least, remember to stay open minded and enjoy yourself! You will be more approachable and absorb more information if you are relaxed and stress free.

Seems like a lot of work? Well, it is if you do it right.

Instagram for Business: Why Should You Use it?

Instagram for Business

What is instagram?

Launched in October 2010- Instagram is a free photo and video sharing social media platform (that is owned by facebook) that allows an accounts followers to ‘like’ or comment on the shared image/video. It also allows its users to categorize their photos using hashtags (similar to twitter and facebook). Instagram gives you an ‘artistic’ edge by giving you the option to use photo filters, blur features, frames and angle options. You can also share your images/videos by connecting to twitter, facebook, tumblr, flickr or email. You cannot share live links on Instagram- you have the option to display one URL on your profile page but that’s it.

So what’s the big deal? Well:

  • Instagram has over 150 million users
  • 55 million photos are shared daily
  • 8500 ‘likes’ per second
  • 65% of the world’s top brands have an instagram account
  • 57% of US adults visit the site at least once a day
  • 23%  of teens consider Instagram their favorite social media outlet

Just to name a few.

Needless to say, Instagram is allowing us to communicate visually. Its hashtag capability is making it easy to filter in on topics, keywords, phrases and other interests- it is also allowing marketers to easily organize their contest submissions. Instagram has exploded- so why not use it to your company’s advantage?

Humans tend to respond more to visual stimulation, it’s a known fact. You have the opportunity to tell your brand story with imagery- you can share photos of your store or employees, display your products, highlight your sales, give exclusive offers  and really give your audience an inside look at how you run your business. Which is fantastic- however- you will also want to make sure that what you are sharing is beneficial to your followers. Give them a REASON to follow you! No one wants to follow an account that is solely “ooooh look how great we are” Unless you are a top model or actor… but then you would have a personal account… not a business account… so that doesn’t count.

You can try sharing tips and tricks, inspirational quotes, info-graphs, facts… you can participate in trending hashtags and have fun with it (as long as you are staying on brand) and you want to make sure your followers feel special. I mentioned exclusive offers- but what about sneak previews? Do you have a product in the works? A new collection brewing? Maybe your followers would like a “how it’s made” type walk through? Maybe you can show them how a product works?

Keep in mind your videos are only allowed to be 15 seconds long but you can stop the recording and start again at the important parts to stay within your time frame. What do I mean? Take some time and gander through instagram for inspiration.

Share your Instagram post on facebook and twitter; let people see what you are all about with their own eyes (and your filter)!

Refrences:

http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/important-instagram-stats/#.UxPVzONdWSo

http://www.factbrowser.com/tags/instagram/