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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Put LinkedIn to Work For You: 7 Ways

Jan 8, 2013

LinkedIn is a great tool if used with skill and purpose. Not every one does. Here are seven tips for getting a good return on your efforts.

While the longevity of commercial value with Facebook and Twitter continues to be questionable, there is no question that LinkedIn is here to stay. It's perfectly reasonable. LinkedIn is designed for professionals to connect, so they can do business. Still, many struggle with using this amazing tool effectively. People gather connections like colorful Easter eggs and never actually have any sort of meaningful interaction. They join groups and never engage or read the feeds. Others are just intimidated by the volume of feeds, groups, endorsements, and constant interactions.
You don't have to be a social media maven to benefit from this (mostly) free gift of modern technology. Follow these simple tips and with little effort, make LinkedIn your new power broker for success.

1. Have Clear Purpose

LinkedIn is a tool and like all tools it serves a specific purpose. If you don't know what you're trying to accomplish, then the tool will be useless. You have to drive the process. Decide if you want to expand your network inside your industry or beyond. Are you looking to explore new careers or create new business development opportunities? Perhaps you are looking for mentors or peer groups? It's okay to want all of this, but the more you focus your efforts, the easier it will be to get a specific and successful return.

2. Refine Your Profile

Would you walk into a sales meeting telling your buyer that you are job hunting? Not unless you want them to believe you have no confidence in your company and will be leaving soon. Yet, this is the sort of inconsistency that appears in every LinkedIn profile that sounds like a job application. Your profile is public and should send a message consistent with your description on your company website. It should demonstrate your background and experience in a way that exudes confidence and opportunity for people who might engage with you. It should be brief, engaging and accurate. It should show that you cared enough about it to fix the typos, post a thoughtful picture and be grammatically correct. Your profile is a first impression for many, and for those of you who don't take care it will be certainly be the last.

3. Pick Groups That Matter

There are three good reasons to join a group. First, to stay in touch with peers you are already connected to through organizations like fraternities, service, or alumni. Second, to learn about an area of interest. This could be academic, social, or trade. Lastly, to stay abreast of happenings in a particular industry or area of commerce.  Joining a group in hopes of promoting your services will be a waste of time and often offend other members. There can be value in discussions, but any group has discussion hogs that clog the feed. It takes effort to sort through the noise; so don't spend a lot of time trying to keep up. Select truly relevant groups, set your digests for weekly and weed them constantly. Then you can spend 20 minutes on Friday and engage where you feel it's appropriate.

4. Use Your Network

Being on LinkedIn and having 500+ connections does not make you a networker. Solid networking is still done through face and voice contact. But LinkedIn can be a great tool for enhancing those lunches and meetings. Before your next lunch meeting, review the connections of the people attending and identify two or three of their connections you would like to meet. Ask your lunch-mates for introductions and watch the fun start. They'll be pleased you took the time to explore their profiles and may be surprised at the people you mention. (Be aware, they may not actually know them.) Offer to connect them with anyone they find in your list as well. Make sure you both have specific purpose in mind and report back any benefit received.

5. Dig Deep Into Your Connections

Count how many meaningful interactions you have initiated with your connections. Every week, identify five connections out of your list that can bring you real value, and send them a brief but personal message to connect by phone. Look for ways you can help them in their journey. If they are local, grab a drink, or lunch and do what networkers do best, connect and create mutual benefit.

6. Personalize Everything

Yes, I understand. Everyone is busy. It's nice that LinkedIn provides an auto-phrase for interactions, but it simply conveys you are too busy to be a meaningful connection. When requesting a connection, review their profile and tell them why it's worth their time. If accepting someone's invite, review their profile and suggest a simple way you can help them. You wouldn't be effective at a networking gathering playing a recorded, canned message. Don't do it here.

7. Be Generous in Your Interactions

The upside of social media tools is that it's easier to connect than ever before. The bad news is that marketers have bombarded the channels with noise that makes everyone cynical. Be a giver in the community. Don't spam. Share information that truly has value to your connections. Ask yourself "Would I consider this to be thoughtful, relevant and presented with care?" If not, don't post it. When approached to connect, give of yourself selflessly and abundantly. If you can't, then don't connect. Build a manageable, deep network that you can service and cultivate, then the benefits will come back tenfold.
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Monday, April 29, 2013

3 Words That Create Instant Credibility

Being a know-it-all is a great way to make people question your common sense.
When it comes to credibility-building, the three most powerful words in the English language are: "I don't know."

Many salespeople and most managers think that they'll lose credibility if they admit ignorance, especially about something about which they "ought" to know. However, the exact opposite is the case.

Admitting ignorance makes everything else you say more credible. Admitting ignorance marks you as a person who's not afraid to speak the truth, even when that truth might reflect poorly on you.

Needless to say, the "I don't know" should be followed by a plan to discover the information that's required, if the issue is truly important. And you WILL be judged on whether you deliver on that promise.

But here's the thing: people dislike a know-it-all. They can often sense, at a gut level, when they're being BSed. Even if they're taken in, when they find out (as usually happens) that they've been BSed, they never trust the BSer again.

Friday, April 26, 2013

How to Write a Convincing E-mail

Mar 15, 2013

Follow this simple, six-step system to ensure your e-mails get the job done.
E-mails are the most common document in the business world. Unfortunately, many e-mails are so poorly written that recipients must struggle to figure out why they're reading the e-mail and what they're supposed to do about it.

Here's a foolproof method to write e-mails that get the job done.

1. Have a specific decision in mind.

The goal of an e-mail is always to get the recipient(s) to make a decision of some kind. Otherwise, why bother writing the it?
Therefore, before you write anything, ask yourself: exactly what decision do I want the recipient to make?
As with all business writing, vagueness is the opposite of useful. The clearer the goal, the more convincing your e-mail will be.

2. Start by writing your conclusion.

Your conclusion is a statement of the decision that you want the recipient to make, based upon the contents of your e-mail.
In school, they probably taught you to start with an introduction and end with an conclusion. Wrong.
Nobody in the business world has time to wander through the development of an idea. If you don't tell them the reason for the e-mail immediately, chances are they'll just move on.
So you start with your conclusion. For example, suppose your goal is get your boss to approve an in-house gym.

As you know, employee absenteeism is generally recognized as an ongoing problem with a steep financial impact, both in our company and in other companies in our industries. [yada, yada, yada] Therefore, we should consider allocating money for the installation of a gym at our headquarter facility.

I want you to approve the installation of an in-house gym.

3. Structure your supporting argument into "digestible chunks."

Once you've stated your conclusion, marshall the arguments that support your conclusion (i.e. the decision you want made). To make your arguments "digestible," break them into small "chunks," and present each point with a similar format and sentence structure.

According to a recently published government report, group physical fitness is extremely important even though very few companies actually demonstrate a commitment to it! Many firms identify physical fitness as an undervalued competitive asset, but don't have a plan for improvement in this area, even though physical fitness is strongly linked to corporate and individual economic and personal success. I feel that if we do not address the issue of physical fitness as it enhances workplace productivity, we will be left behind.

An in-house gym will:
- Reduce absenteeism.
- Increase overall productivity.

4. Bolster each argument with evidence.

It's been said that everyone has two things: a sphincter and an opinion. Unless you provide facts that back up your arguments, your e-mail becomes one giant, opinion and therefore, in the eyes of the recipient, you'll probably seem like one, giant... well..., you get the idea.

An in-house gym will reduce absenteeism because then people will want to come to work rather than stay at home and they won't get sick so much.

- Reduce absenteeism. According to a National Health Institute survey of 1,000 firms, companies with in-house gyms experience 20% less absenteeism than those who lack such facilities.

5. Repeat your conclusion as a "call to action."

At the end of the e-mail, restate the conclusion in a way that provides the recipient with the next step that the recipient must take, assuming the recipient now agrees with your conclusion, based upon the force of your arguments and evidence. Keep it simple and specific.

Your support for this project would be greatly appreciated.

If you respond to this e-mail with your approval, I'll get the process started.

6. Stick a benefit in the subject line.

Your subject line (aka "title") is the most important part of an e-mail, which is why you write it last, after you've written down both your conclusion and the arguments and evidence that supports that conclusion.

Ideally, a subject line should accomplish two important tasks: 1) interest the recipient enough so that the e-mail gets opened and read, and 2) imply the conclusion that you want to the recipient to accept.

In most cases, the best way to accomplish both tasks is to encapsulate a benefit (or benefits) that will result from the decision that you'd like the recipient to make.

Subject: The Health Impact of In-House Employee Fitness Programs

Subject: How we can reduce absenteeism

 To wrap it up, here are the two e-mails:

Subject: The Health Impact of In-House Employee Fitness Programs

As you know, employee absenteeism is generally recognized as an ongoing problem with a steep financial impact, both in our company and in other companies in our industries. An in-house gym will reduce absenteeism because then people will want to come to work rather than stay at home and they won't get sick so much. Therefore, we should consider allocating money for the installation of a gym at our headquarters facility. Your support for this project would be greatly appreciated.

Subject: How we can reduce absenteeism

I want you to approve the installation of an in-house gym. This will:
- Reduce absenteeism. According to a National Health Institute survey of 1,000 firms, companies with in-house gyms experience 20% less absenteeism than those who lack such facilities.
- Increase productivity. We have 50% more absenteeism than other firms in our industry, so reducing that number by 20% will automatically increase our productivity by 10%.
If you respond to this e-mail with your approval, I'll get the process started.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

7 Ways to Get Someone's Attention With Social Media

By Steve Tobak 

Everyone's reaching out to everyone else on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. If you want a response, you've got to follow these rules.

Before social media, if you wanted to reach out to someone for whatever reason, there were only three ways: face-to-face, by phone, or by email. And that meant you had to find them, their phone number, or their email address.

Now you can tweet, link, like, post, or message your way into pretty much anyone's life. Anyone can do it. And therein lies the rub. Everyone does do it. And the competition for people's limited time and attention is enormous.

So, you've got to differentiate yourself from the pack. Stand out. Get noticed. That's the only way you're ever going to get a response. Sure, it's hard to do. Hard, but not impossible--if you follow these seven rules:

Make sure it makes sense. I get requests from people every day that I just can't make heads or tails of. I don't know what they want or why they think they can get it from me. They either don't make sense or they're not appropriate, at least not to me. It's a showstopper.

Make it personal. People respond to whatever it is that interests them. And most people are interested in themselves. That's why a long introduction about you isn't likely to get their attention. Hopefully, there's a good reason why you're reaching out to this person. Some sort of connection you have with their background or something they wrote. Use it. Just make sure it's appropriate. Use a little common sense.

Make sure there's a WIIFM. I get loads of requests from people. They spend paragraphs telling me what's in it for them. I know what's in it for them. I want to know What's In It For Me. Everyone does. If you can't do that, then don't bother. You might get a polite response, but that's all you'll get.

Be brief. Everyone's pressed for time these days. Time is their most valuable asset. Be brief. And whatever you do, don't waste a couple of sentences telling them that you know how valuable their time is. They already know that. Respect them by getting right to the point--after you've made that all important connection.

Don't be generic. If it begins with, "We're looking for help from people like you," you can pretty much forget about getting a response. If you think you're going to get anyone's attention or help from a generic request on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, you've definitely been out in the sun too long.

Ask for help. Don't ask me why, but people are generally suckers for someone who needs help. That said, it helps to ask for help in a way that somehow relates to them. How to do that is specific to the individual. Learn about them and try to figure it out.

Don't ignore the obvious. There are several obvious things to pay attention to here. One is the language. If you're not fluent in English or whatever language the person uses, get somebody to help you. I get tons of requests I truly can't understand. It also helps if you're in the same industry. People are generally willing to network with folks they can relate to in some way.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

10 Ways to Achieve Work/Life Balance

Is your busy schedule running you ragged? Studies show that we are running at a faster pace than in generations past. Between work, family and the daily demands of life, there is little time left in a day to decompress. Unfortunately, when you don’t take time out to relax, you can be headed for trouble. Emotional and physical problems are often the result of over-stressed, over-tired adults on the go. 

If you’re running on empty, it’s time to make some changes. Following are ways that you can find more time in the day and ultimately take better care of yourself. 

1. Identify commitments you made that you dread including memberships, time-wasting meetings, etc. Learn to say no and eliminate them.
2. Start and end each day with a To Do list and then prioritize each task. Odds are that you won’t accomplish every task on the list so tackle the most important items and then forget about the rest when the day is over.
3. Make a list of goals. This will help you focus on what is important. Goals should include short-term and long-term plans for your business, personal life and family.
4. Set a schedule for daily and weekly activities and put them on your calendar. For example, dedicate one hour per week to updating your blog or decide that you will make sales calls between 9am to 10am each morning. When you start blocking out your time for tasks, not only will you use your time more wisely, but you will start meeting goals and will put an end the multi-tasking cycle.
5. Get organized. Countless hours can be wasted due to missing paperwork and lost time can equate to lost income. Schedule time to take care of the clutter and either hire a professional organizer or dedicate yourself to getting systems in place and finding a home for everything in your work and home space.
6. Check e-mail no more than two to three times per day (morning, afternoon and end of the day). Organize messages with folders and try to touch each message only once.
7. Take frequent breaks throughout the day. Sitting at a desk all day is a recipe for disaster resulting in back and neck problems, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Get up, walk around, stretch, breathe, have a glass of water and take a few minutes to clear your head.
8. Keep your energy up with small meals throughout the day. It’s easy to skip meals when you’re in the heat of the workday, but this can actually impair productivity. Instead of reaching for a caffeine fix, grab a granola bar, piece of fruit or a cup of yogurt. Keep snacks on hand to make it easy to keep your personal engine fueled throughout the day.
9. Leave early at least one day each week. Treat yourself to some time alone or spend some quality time with your family.
10. Quit doing it all yourself. Outsourcing is a great way to reclaim your time. Think you can’t afford it? Consider what you earn hourly. If you can hire someone to take care of tasks for less, then it’s probably a worthwhile investment. Hire a virtual assistant to help with paperwork, have your laundry picked up, get a landscaper or house cleaner and have your groceries delivered.
Even implementing just a few of these suggestions can make a dramatic improvement in your well-being. And if any of these suggestions leave you feeling guilty, shake it off. Work will always be there, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be of any use at work or at home. Take care of number one and the rest will fall into place. 

About the Author:
Stephanie Chandler is an author of several business and marketing books including “LEAP! 101 Ways to Grow Your Business” and “From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur: Make Money with Books, eBooks and Information Products.” She is also founder of, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs. For author and speaker information, visit

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


More than any other activity in our workday, email is the worst offender of wasting time. If you find this is a major distraction for you , follow these 5 suggestions:
  1. Shut off the automatic notifications when emails arrive in your inbox . The noise immediately detracts from the task at hand, and consumes more time to refocus again.
  2. Change the settings on your social networking sites that automatically notify you of new activity. You don't need to know everytime someone has added you as a friend on Facebook or has invited you to join an online group.Check your sites only at specified times, preferably no more than once a day.
  3. When you look at your inbox, immediately find the emails that can be handled in less than 2 minutes. Put the other ones in your email folders, (ie) reference, client responses, and go back to those during the time you have scheduled for those tasks. Emails should not remain in your inbox. If you leave them there, each time you open your email you are rereading them, and thinking about them. Time and focus wasted.
  4. If you know that you will never answer an email, delete it right away.
  5. At the most, check email only twice a day. Once in the morning and at noon, or at noon and at closing. Let people know when you will be checking your email, set up an automatic responder saying that these are the times I check my email. If there is something urgent, then the sender will know to pick up the phone and call you.
You will find that you are remaining focused and more productive if you keep your email in check 

About the author:
Productivity Consultant and Speaker, Christine Giri, aka The Time Tamer, opens up time for busy entrepreneurs and executives. Improving individual and organizational productivity enhances the focus and creativity needed to grow a thriving business.

Christine’s talent lies in providing laser-like-focus on identifying & refining systems and processes in order to grow a thriving business. Christine’s clients say they get 140,000 volts of love when working with this “make-it-happen” authentic New Yorker. By taming their time, they have taken back control of their businesses and their lives. Christine is available to speak on a variety of professional productivity topics such as Time Management, Workflow and Effective Delegation. With humor and insight, Christine’s straightforward style and ability to deliver valuable content will enable your audience to walk away with the power to change their businesses.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Five Facebook Tips for Business Professionals

"Begin with the end in mind" is an enduring principle to live by. But when it comes to Facebook marketing, our results will be greatly diminished if we begin by focusing on the end result -- increasing our bottom-line. 

But isn't that why we are in business? Yes it is, but to succeed in boosting our brand in any social media community we must begin with serving and giving first and the desired end result will follow. 

Here are five suggestions for business professionals to successfully leverage Facebook in their marketing efforts:

  1. Begin with transparency Complete your profile including the work section in its entirety. A Facebook profile portrays different facets of who you are. Make sure you include a photograph.
  2. Begin by building relationships using all of Facebook's capabilities. Join groups that align with your interests. Create a group for your business and hold discussions on your topic. While you can only create a profile in your name, Facebook allows you to create a page in your company's name to interact with even more "friends."
  3. Begin with consistently offering helpful information that your audience needs. You can easily have your blog feed automatically into your Facebook profile. Offer your business page fans a way to regularly receive information from your e-zine by using the html feature.
  4. Begin with sharing and interacting. Share your event, presentation slides, photos, and videos to stimulate conversation and spread your message in the end. Comment on other "friends" shared postings.
  5. Begin with enhancing your business profile page with Facebook applications. Subscribe to "Introductions," "Testimonials," "Business Cards," "Twitter," and "Slideshare" among other business-oriented applications. These applications allow you to connect and interact while spreading your message in the process.
Once you begin to implement these principles, focus on connecting and building relationships first. Sooner rather than later, you will realize the end results -- higher visibility for your brand and ultimately increasing your bottom line.
About the Author
Lena Claxton is a new media expert for and the co-author of “How to Say It: Marketing with New Media ” (Penguin, 2008.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Where Busy People Find Big Ideas

By Jessica Stillman 

Need to stop fighting fires and find time to think deeply? Here are four activities that can help even the busiest people make space in their schedule for big ideas.

Business owners face a conundrum: The day-to-day functioning of your company keeps you super busy, so busy in fact that you generally have little time for the type of deep, strategic thinking on which the long-term success of your business depends.

You have to fight fires now, but saving your business from the current flames can leave it vulnerable to a slow death by stagnation over the long term. 

So what can you do to find time in your hectic day to clear you brain and think deep deeply about the future of your business? Author and entrepreneur Ben Casnocha has a few suggestions based on the psychological truth that we often get our best ideas when our brains are engaged in minimally taxing activities. A reality many of us experience in real life as the shower inspiration effect.

A steaming bathroom is just relaxing enough, and remembering to put the conditioner on after the shampoo just mentally engaging enough, that the rest of your brain is free of tension and self-policing chatter and can range widely to come up with your most creative ideas. (If you want the details of the neuroscience, this post is for you.) It worked for Archimedes and no doubt it's worked for you. Plus, even the busiest entrepreneur definitely finds time to squeeze a shower into their schedule now and then.

So what are some other ways to get into that chilled out but slightly engaged mindset? Casnocha seconds the usual suggestion of the extra long shower ("You’re free from distraction, you’re engaged in a monotonous activity that doesn’t require active focus, and you’re in a different environment. Sounds like the perfect place for a creative thought," he writes) and then offers four more activities that actually fit into your schedule and which you can re-imagine not as chores or lost time but as opportunities for inspiration:

Drive to and from the office. Driving a familiar route = good thinking time. “When Joan Didion moved from California to New York, she realized that she had done much of her thinking and mental writing during the long drives endogenous to the Californian lifestyle,” Steve Dodson once noted. I’m the same. I can’t tell you how many decent thoughts I’ve concocted in my head while driving on the 101 or 280 freeways in the Bay Area.

Take your dog for a walk. Same as driving, but safer.

Stare out of airplane windows. Travel journeys of any sort are the midwives of thought. “Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than moving planes, ships, or trains…Introspective reflections that might otherwise be liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape,” says Alain de Botton.

Organize your office/room/house. Tidy up documents, pick up around the floor, rearrange books. It’s an excellent foil to serious thinking.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Marketing Email: Avoid Emailing Dead Accounts

By Madison Jacobs
Part 3 of the “4 Reasons Why Your Emails Aren’t Opened” series

This is part 3 on a series of posts on the 4 reasons why the marketing email you are sending isn’t getting opened by your subscribers.

In part 2 of the series, I covered why having a bad subject line that isn’t interesting and relevant to the content within the body of your email can be a huge factor in why your emails aren’t getting read.

In this post, I’m going to talk about the 3rd reason why your emails may not be getting opened – you’re emailing dead accounts.

Emailing Dead Accounts
According to the 2012 National Client Email Report by the Direct Marketing Association, 51 percent of email marketers spent at least 10 percent of their marketing budget on emailing their lists. 20 percent of marketers spent 40% or even more on their email marketing budget.

Wow. Now, imagine if you were spending close to 50 percent of your marketing budget just on sending emails alone and a quarter of the emails you were sending were going to dead or secondary email accounts that weren’t reaching anyone. Ouch.

People tend to switch email addresses every few years. They usually do this to get away from all of the SPAM emails they begin to receive over time.

If your email open rates seem low, you could be sending messages to abandoned or secondary email accounts.

To fix this, consider using an alternative follow-up campaign (phone, direct mail, social media) to remind people to update their contact information and re-opt in to your marketing messages.
Disciplined marketing email strategies play off when you have a truly engaged, interested list. You always want to make sure you are sending your emails to the people who really matter.

In part 2 of this series, I will dive into making sure you avoid emailing dead accounts.
What is an example of a subject line you used on an email that got high open rates? Let us know below!
Pay close attention to your open rates and always make sure you are doing everything you can to ensure that the accounts you are emailing are active.

In the final part of this series, I will talk about how emailing at the wrong time of the day can negatively affect your open rates.

What follow-up campaigns do you use to make sure the email addresses you are sending your marketing messages to are active accounts? Let us know below!

Craft the perfect email message by taking tips from “The Anatomy of an Email” ebook.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Marketing Email: A Case of the Bad Subject Lines

By Madison Jacobs
Part 2 of the “4 Reasons Why Your Emails Aren’t Opened” series

Welcome to part 2 on a series of posts on the 4 reasons why the marketing email you are sending isn’t getting opened.  In case you missed it, check out part 1 of the series where I talked about how to avoid sending emails that are not relevant to your subscribers, also known as junk mail.

In this post, I’m going to cover the next reason why your emails may not be getting opened – bad subject lines.

A Case of the Bad Subject Lines

Jay Baer, a content strategist and co-author of The NOW Revolution, reported in a post on email marketing that 69 percent of marketing email recipients report email as SPAM, based solely on the subject line. Yikes.

If your subject line isn’t interesting, 69 percent of people won’t be opening your emails. You have to be imaginative and creative when creating subject lines. Your subject lines also need to be relevant to the content within the email too.

Consider using the subscriber’s name or a personal detail, such as their city of residence, in an email subject line to help connect to your reader. This simple technique can increase your open rates because people are always curious about something that involves them specifically.
For example, I am signed up to receive emails from Expedia, a discount travel website, about deals on flights, hotels, rental cars, etc. Expedia’s subject lines always catch my eye because they identify deals that are personally relevant to me. One of their subject lines might say: Madison: Your Deals on Flights Leaving Phoenix. So, first off, they used my name which gets my attention. Secondly, they let me know that they are offering me deals that are relevant to where I live – in Phoenix. And lastly, the subject line is relevant to the content I want to receive from them – deals on flights. And, “your” is a great word to use to make the content more personal as well.

Also, don’t forget to keep subject lines short and to the point. Aim for 50 characters or less.  Remember, more than 50% of your email readers aren’t going to even think about reading your emails if your subject line doesn’t catch their interest.

In part 2 of this series, I will dive into making sure you avoid emailing dead accounts.
What is an example of a subject line you used on an email that got high open rates? Let us know below!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marketing Email: Don’t Send Junk

Don’t let your messages get lost in an inbox full of emails by sending junk.
By Madison Jacobs
Part 1 of the “4 Reasons Why Your Emails Aren’t Opened” series

According to MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, only 28 percent of marketers reported that their marketing email messages actually contained relevant content, were sent on time to a segmentation of subscribers and had a clear conversion goal. Typically, you should expect to see between 15 and 35 percent open rate on your emails depending on the content, list engagement and the relevance to the subscribers.

This is part 1 in a series of posts on the 4 reasons why your emails aren’t getting opened. In this post, I will cover the first reason why your messages may be unread by your subscribers.

You Send Junk.

Ask yourself this question. Would you send your customer and prospect marketing email messages to your friends and family? If not, you may be sending junk and need to find a better way to provide your subscribers with valuable content, versus content that they could care less about.
  • If your email messages are useful, they contain elements that are resourceful and people want to save and archive your messages.
  • If your email messages are interesting, they contain relevant information that is usually good for forwarding to their contacts.
Think about your email inbox and how many messages you get each day. Now, think about the ones your read every day and how you see value in them. When creating emails to send to your prospects and customers, create email messages that you would want to read if you got them every day.

A great way to tailor you messages so that they provide lots of value to your readers is to segment your subscribers into different groups that receive different types of content.
For example, if you sell products online, use an automated system that separates people into groups that you designate.

Say you sell women’s shoes online. You can group people according to what pairs they bought, what colors they bought and how many they bought. You can send them follow-up offers or discounts that are relevant to one or more of these criteria. That way, you can thank them again for making their purchase and provide them more merchandise that they actual may be interested in.

Don’t send junk. Again, think about what messages you read and find interesting and keep them in mind when you are creating your own marketing emails.

In part 2 of this series, I will talk about how subjects lines can make or break your open rates.
Humor is a great way to connect with readers and provide value at the same time. How do you incorporate some fun into your emails? Let us know in the comments below.

Check out “Authentic Marketing” for tips on using customer testimonials in your email marketing strategy.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The 4 M’s Behind Every Successful Small Business

Over the years I have discovered there are four keys to building a successful small business. They all start with the letter “M”, thus the title “The 4 M’s.”
They are:
  1. Mindset
  2. Multiple Streams
  3. Marketing
  4. Mentors
#1 Mindset
Did you know that the amount of money you’re earning right now, whether in a job or in a business, is a direct reflection of the value you place on yourself and your services? Your “mindset” around money is what determines how much you earn, much more than your skills, talents, work ethic, or any other criteria. 

Many people don’t place a high enough value on their services. They don’t ask to be paid, or charge what they’re really worth. Many are even uncomfortable when it comes to asking for money in exchange for their services. 

There is a reason this is the first of the four M’s. It’s because you can follow the other 3 M’s, but if you don’t have this first one conquered, you will probably still struggle to make money in your business. Yes, your mindset is THAT important. 

How do I know this?I have studied a lot about money mindset over the past six years and I suffered from some major money mindset problems myself in the early years of my business. Once I became aware of my limiting beliefs, and worked to overcome them, my business revenue doubled, and reached the six-figure mark in less than six months, after being unable to do so for the previous six years. 

#2 Multiple Streams
Very few small business owners can generate six-figure or seven-figure businesses with just one stream of income. Unless you offer a highly specialized service that allows you to command a very high fee, it’s tough to do. 

If you’re currently offering a service, take a look at your business and determine what other income streams you can add, and start taking steps to add them. 

This might mean creating information products or selling other people’s products. It might mean doing group work, such as group coaching or group teleclasses. It might mean adding coaching services or teleclasses to a consulting business. 

Be creative and think about new and different ways you can package and offer your expertise. This will help you increase your revenue and serve more people. 

#3 Marketing
Most business owners make the mistake of believing they’re in the business of offering the service they offer. They believe they’re a coach or a consultant, or an accountant or a lawyer.
In reality, you need to realize you’re in the business of marketing first and in the business of your profession, second. 

Look around. I’m sure you can find others who do what you do, who you know are not as qualified or effective as you are, yet have built successful businesses.Why is that? Very likely it’s because they’re great marketers. 

To be successful in business, you must embrace the idea of marketing and plan to spend at least half of your time marketing your business. 

#4 Mentors
There are two ways to build a successful business: the hard way and the easy way. Unfortunately many people choose the hard way. They try to figure it all out on their own and they don’t seek out help from others who have already done what they’re trying to do. 

Many people mistakenly believe they cannot afford to hire mentors. The reality is it will probably cost you more in mistakes, lost time and lost revenue, trying to figure it all out on your own than it will to hire a mentor. 

Mentors can show you the way, they can tell you what steps to take, they can hold you accountable, they can even help you muster up the courage to do things you’re afraid to do.
Mentors don’t always have to be paid. They can also come in many forms. The idea is to seek out the knowledge and expertise you need to successfully build your small business. I have sought mentoring in many forms including good friends, mastermind group members, paid coaches, information products, books and seminars. 

So before you think you can’t afford a mentor, consider if you can afford NOT to have a mentor.
How long can you wait until your business is profitable? 

How much frustration can you handle before you give up?

These are some important questions to ask yourself before making a snap decision that a mentor is out of your budgetary reach. 

These 4 “M’s” are simple, but very effective when you put them to work in your small business. 

(C) 2009 Debbie LaChusa

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Outsourcing: When A Small Business Should Do It

By Kylie Jane Wakefield

Small-business is increasingly turning to outside contractors to get work done. Whether outsourcing is right for your business, however, depends on the situation. There are times when your ebusiness could really benefit from bringing in outside or online help.

The number of independent contractors at small businesses has grown 85 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to Inc. Now, 6.26% of all work is outsourced to freelancers.  Should your business be following this trend? Here are a few times when small business owners should consider hiring outside workers.

Content Creation

Creating content is a key marketing strategy for businesses. It can come in the form of videos, blogs, photos, Facebook posts, or tweets, for example. Content Marketing Institute’s Sunil Rajaraman says that content should be outsourced if a writer/creator on the team can’t produce something specific.

Need a whitepaper, but none has ever written one at your company? Outsource. How about an ebook? Hire an ebook expert. If the content team doesn’t have time to create on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to outsource as well. Since former journalists are now turning to this field to make money, there is an abundance of talent out there. And, you’ll be able to draw from different perspectives and writing styles.

Taking Care of Finances reports that many small businesses are outsourcing  their Chief Financial Officer positions because owners don’t feel comfortable taking care of high-level finances. There are companies like B2B CFO and Beyond the Bottom Line that provide these services. If you don’t have time to or can’t answer banks’ questions, consider outsourcing your CFO position. Paul R. Shackford, founder of B2B CFO, claims that doing so could save an owner 20% to 30% compared to a full-time worker. According to Beyond the Bottom Line’s John Gillespie, a full-time CFO can cost a company $175,000 a year, plus benefits and taxes. At one day per week, an outsourced CFO can cost $6,400 per month. The downside would be that the person won’t be in the office when you need them, and that you have to trust an outside source with your finances.

When You Can’t Afford it In-House

To determine what you’ll save by hiring an independent worker, you can use an outsourcing calculator. Take into account benefits, sick days, paid vacation time, and health insurance. Consider overhead, such as office space. There’s also equipment, electric, heating and water bills that can be cut with a virtual worker in place. If you hire offsite, you won’t have as much control over a project. Always be aware that a project might not turn out exactly how you wanted it to.

Additional Tips

When hiring freelancers, get them to sign specific contracts upfront to avoid legal or financial issues. Go to a staffing agency for help, or professional sites like, and You should also look for sites specific to certain industries, such as for writers and editors. Require references, detailed resumes, and cover letters to ensure that your independent workers have a solid background.


Outsourcing should be taken in consideration, but only after a small business owner looks at the ups and downs. Hopefully, with this guide, you’ll be able to determine what the best course of action is for you.

To help with a versatile marketing campaign, check out Infusionsoft’s e-book. It will get you started in the right marketing direction!