How to relate with your clients?

I know that this sounds more like a personal and emotional post, probably because it is.

If I lost you there, you are probably who I'm focusing on. Yeah, you!

If you are in a creative field, you often want to do things your way. Which "your way" may be unique but, what makes you stand out from your competition?

A few years ago I was in a leadership meeting with a few coworkers, and we were talking about employee evaluations. If you've ever been in an assessment or ever given an evaluation, you know they are uncomfortable. The thought of this made my coworker uncomfortable, she hesitantly laughed and said, "If James* (her boss) ever asked anything personal about my life I would probably quit". Granted, this coworker was a really hard person but, this story earns merit. Especially because through time I learned more and more about this coworker through passing conversations. 

NOW, to the point of this, how are you getting to know your clients? Here are a few things that have helped me with getting to know my clients and their businesses. 

1. Get to know your client and their business

You may find yourself in a meeting with clients that keep going back and forth about a "circuit board". You don't hear ANYTHING else in the conversation except this one thing. Don't ignore that fact, which leads me to #2.

2. Ask Questions. 

ASK STUPID QUESTIONS because you are an outsider. It's hard to design, photograph, or create something for someone or something you don't fully understand. I'm not saying, that you will understand everything by the end of a project but, you will have a better understanding for your client and their business.

3. Be Yourself

Unless you are a really trashy person, be like Bob ;) ... this goes without saying but, people respect those that are real with them. Choose clients who you work well with! 

4.  Be consistent 

Sometimes clients or even business owners will get emotional. I mean it's your clients brand on the line and it's your blood, sweat and tears. So be strong in your work ethic but, have boundaries for your conversations. 

 You have to start somewhere and those bad experiences grow you as a business owner and a person. Some of the most stressful and negative experiences in business have grown me more than the positive ones. For some reason I keep getting up every morning and doing this tough client business. As tough as it is, it's what I chose to get into and I take much pride in my work as a small business owner.   

*Names were changed out of privacy of the people involved

Shayla McGhee
How to choose the right marketing automation

For over five years I managed and worked inside of marketing automation systems, CRM's, etc., etc.

To overcome my frustrations with the systems, I have decided to write down a few cheat sheet items that would help others be more successful with their tools. First of all, just like a pair of underwear, most systems are almost identical.

Just like that pair of underwear, it just depends on the fabric or how good the business is at marketing their product. Also, the breathability of the underwear or in marketing automation terms, the usability of the tool and how easy it is to customize.

How do you find the best marketing automation system for your organization?

1. How big is your team? How big is your customer list? 

2. What is your budget? 

3. How much time do you have to dedicate to email marketing? 

4. Do you want usability or customization? Most of the time, these don't go hand in hand. If you have a team creating your templates

Lastly, just like that clean brand new pair of underwear, your system will start out with much promise. Throughout time, you will probably end up with some stains and find yourself back at the drawing board if you don't manage your system correctly. 

Shayla McGhee
3 Steps for Effective Email Marketing

When I start talking to clients or interested parties about email marketing, 9/10 I get a reaction like this, "that's important" or my favorite "that seems complicated." 

Plain and simple email marketing has a lot of pieces but, most likely you are in the boat where you don't need all the pieces. 

1. Have a schedule

Your emails will often not be earlier than planned so, have realistic expectations. Often, where I see this go wrong, is when you ramp up all your resources to send out an email, and it doesn't go out on a particular date, and you end up scrambling. 

Simple poor planning turns into the "blame" game. 

Have a plan A and a plan B. For example. 

Email Subject - "This will blow your mind."
Goal #1  - Goes out on January 13th at 10 am
Goal #2 - Goes out no later than January 15th at 9am

Your team will get into a routine and will eventually not need goal number two as often. 

2. Follow up 

Often times you put your whole self into one email campaign and don't have a follow up plan. Whether your marketing department involves just yourself or a team of 25, this step seems to fall through the cracks. 

If you don't have time to go one-by-one through your emails this is an example of how follow up can be easy.

Rate your leads based on their activities and have these leads go into different lists. From this you are dealing with a smaller number of leads then just following up on all who "opened" your email. Give your leads a chance to fill out forms or inquire with a webinar. 

3. Utilize resources

If you are reading this you have likely switched to a non generic email client. Such as a MailChimp if you don't need all the bells and whistles. If you are larger and have a CRM then you might have something more robust then MailChimp like a, Hubspot or a Marketo. 

Before you run campaigns make sure you have time to think out how you are using your tools and see if there are more effective ways you can be using the system.

For example:
1. Nix the custom HTML template and go for a native template in the system
2. Try out A/B Testing
3. Put your leads into a follow-up automated campaign

There are always new resources out there for marketing campaigns! I would love to hear any new ones if you have any. 

Does Social Media work?

Yes, yes it does.  

When executed effectively social media can really boost your viewership. This is the same reason why websites are necessary for your business. Having a point of reference that is available to pitch your business to those you can't always touch face-to-face.

Some of the most effective new business ventures have caught me on social media. Probably because I fit into the age and interest category and because I'm highly interested in internet marketing. Thats besides the point... Did I mention I love Amazon? ;) 

Tips for Social Media Ads

1. Keywords are everything

Pose Ads with simple enticing headlines that pitch your business but draw the user into wanting to click. Don't inundate people with information that takes forever to read. This is especially true if they click through and are served the same information. 

Use numbers such as "Top 10 products" or "1 Day Only" and grab your audience with tagline like "Best Product on the Market" "Voted #1 by New York Times". 

2. Imagery

If you've ever used Facebook Ads, you know that you are limited to the amount of text you can have on your image. This is very smart of Facebook.

I think even more important is the type of photo you choose, whether it be a stock or a custom image. Make sure your image portrays what you want it to but leaves a lot of space for the viewers eyes to see. Be straight and to the point. Use limited amount of colors on your text. Simple rule of thumb is, stick to two. 

3. Incentive

Have a clear incentive. I can't tell you how many times I've put ads or campaigns together without incentive and how much less effective they are compared to the ones that have incentive.

4. Appeal to you audience 

I think this goes without saying but, make your ads to cater to your target audience. 

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LAST BUT NOT LEAST, NEVER USE COMIC SANS, THANK YOU. 

Β 

Launch your business starter kit

If you are reading this, you are likely on a venture to start your new business. You are probably still not quite sure where to get started, you might just want some tips or some validation you are going in the right direction. 

1. Apply for your Business License

This is usually done through the Secretary of State, which will also allow you to see if your business name is available.

2. Purchase your Web Domain

This is often missed in the process which may lead you to having to put your location "spokane" or your last name "smith" at the end. 

3. Define your Target Market

I often hear, I want to appeal to kids, their parents and even their grandparents. There are always exceptions but, you can't always target them all at once. You have to decide who your ideal customer is. For example, a woman that works 40+ hours a week and only has a chance to online shop in the evenings and weekends. You are likely going to target an ad or a email campaign that hits your customer in their prime.

4. Define your Platform

Are you launching a blog? Are you selling services? Are you selling product? Their are many platforms and advertising outlets that fit into these categories.

5. Develop your Brand

Your brand defines your business, like the saying "dress for the job you want". 

6. Visual Appeal

Photographs and images really make or break your business. Their are cost effective resources out there but, go and support local educated photographers.

Reference inlanddesigncompany.com for more resources on launching and successfully executing ventures with your new business.

You are what you READ

Having your own business you need to stay tuned to market trends and information that is directly elated to your business. If you aren't interested in your business, my first question would be, why are you still doing it?

But, I do have a simple answer for you: Google Alerts. 

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Sign up on your gmail and put in keywords, competitors and markets associated to your business and you will be flooded with information.

If you don't know any of that information... I feel the same way as Tim Gunn

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Click the link below to receive a free email starter kit on how to set up Google Alerts. 

Creative rut got you down?

As a business owner or someone in client work, you may find yourself in a creative rut. 

This may happen once a month or twice a year but, its certain to happen. If you think this is a crazy statement and are always on your 'A game' please tell us your secret.

Whether you work at home, in a corporate office or in the kitchen the way you start your day can have everything to do with the outcome of your work.

Here are a few ways to keep you on point throughout your week:

1. Get yourself in a routine

I work at home and have a young child so, having a routine is crucial to capitalizing on my work day. I start my day with reading scripture, praying with my husband, feeding my son and getting to work by 9:15-30 when H goes down for his first nap. Before having H my routine looked MUCH different. 

2. Block out 'You Time'

Whether you have 5, 10 or 60 min to yourself. Go on a walk, listen to a podcast or work on a personal project. In that blocked out time, do what makes you happy. Google had a policy that their employees spent 80% of their time on core projects and 20% of their time on personal projects. This is how Gmail was created, one of their employees spent their personal innovative time developing something beneficial to their business. Don't think that if you aren't a creative or engineer type that this doesn't pertain to you. Whether or not this stuck with Google at their headquarters or not, the point of the goal is to help you in your personal growth and if that is a benefit to your area of business then keep on pursuit. 

3. Find a project management tool or use the one your company uses

The need to have order in our lives stems back to preschool, even if you are a chaotic type you still may find yourself at fault to this. You show up to preschool, your teacher makes you put your bag in your 'cubby', sit at your assigned desk and listen up. Though a lot of us have lost the putting our stuff away and some may have forgotten how to listen but, we still find ourselves sitting in the same spot in the meeting room, kitchen table or maybe even at a restaurant. 

Here are a few tools that I have tried and enjoy:

1. Trello 
2. Asana 
3. Basecamp
4. Teamwork

4. Keep track of hours and Invoice quick

This one is catered more towards those who are off on their own but, your time is valuable. You may have gone to school for what you are doing and that alone should hold you true to your value. We all start somewhere and don't make a whole lot at first but, continuing to move forward in your industry will help appreciate your works value.

I hope this helps start your routine and gives you the confidence to move forward in your day.

You are valuable and your contribution your business is admirable.