Archives for February 2010

Frequency of Your Emails

One of the most common questions people ask me about email marketing is, “How often should I email my subscribers?”

Well, for that there is definitely no one-size fits-all answer. Some publications are suitable for daily email, some will do well several times per week, once per week or even once per month. But in all honesty, I wouldn’t recommend once per month as you’re probably losing your marketing oomph. We already talked about it, but if you’re doing a longer publication (and that may be one reason why you email less frequently), you’re not keeping your reader focused on your message because your sending too many messages at once. As a general guideline, you can often get away with shorter, but more frequent emails and you’re likely to boost your response. Test it out and see.

And even though I said there is no one-size fits-all answer, I do have some recommendations:

Write with some regularity: Now I’ve never been one to say you must email on a precise schedule as is common advice in email marketing. Sure, you can keep your schedule rigid if you want, but it can just add unnecessary stress. If you don’t have time to email on a particular day, don’t lose sleep over it. Send it the next day or when you can.

Note which days your readers seem more responsive: Your readers may be more responsive on some days than others. Do a little testing to see when they are more likely to open and act on your emails.

I have recently changed to daily email, and I do tend to email on certain days. I also give my readers a heads up when an important/useful email will be coming their way. This really helps me keep a conversational tone to my emails. I do what I can to mimic the way a friend would email a friend and friend’s don’t always email on a certain day. They email when they have something to say and may indicate when they’ll email next time, but they rarely follow a rigid schedule.

Ideas, Opportunity & Excitement All Happen When You Think Outside The Box

Do you ever think, “I wish I’d thought of that?”  Chances are you have. We have all from time to time recognized a great idea for its value, and of course wished we’d been the one to have the idea. The truth is, you can have great ideas of your own. All you have to do is think outside of the box.

What does outside-the-box thinking mean?

Inside the box is where we live 99% of the time. It’s where the rules are. It’s where our habits, beliefs and limitations keep us. Inside the box is safe because it’s what we know. We can therefore predict with a certain level of certainty, the potential success of any thought or action inside the box.

Outside the box, it’s a free-for-all. There are no rules, no limiting beliefs and no preconceptions. It’s total and wonderful chaos. When we allow our thoughts to travel to where there are no rules or guidelines, where anything is possible, the world opens up. This is where true innovation happens, creativity inspires us and growth has a chance to occur.

What was once impossible

The internet was definitely an outside-the-box leap. Someone took the concept of linking computers together and the idea grew. Where would you be today without the internet?

Airplanes wouldn’t exist either. When you think about what those Wright Brothers conceived, it is both mind-boggling and inspiring. At the time the only things that flew were birds and kites. Who could imagine that you could put thousands of pounds in the air and keep it up there for hours?

Now think about what outside-the-box thinking could mean for your business

Innovation is really the only way to really grow a business. And innovation doesn’t mean you have to create the next life-changing invention. Outside-the-box thinking means pondering the possibilities of what could be, without restrictions based on what is. Outside-the-box thinking can be:

  • A new perspective on how to perform a task
  • A new way to market or sell an opportunity
  • Finding a new value for a product or service
  • Forging a new partnership
  • And of course creating a new product or service

When you allow yourself to think outside the box, your business opportunities really take off.

How to think outside the box

This is actually the hard part, because it’s difficult to know where to start. One place to start is to identify problems and then brainstorm solutions – the more absurd the better. Make a game of it and try to come up with 50-100 potential solutions. This will challenge you to get creative with your answers. Many of them will be downright ridiculous. However, if you step back and take a look at your solutions and examine your assumptions and why you believe they’re ridiculous, then you may come up with a new and innovative way of doing things.

Outside-the-box thinking can be an invigorating and motivating practice. Add it to your regular planning sessions and watch the inspiring and creative ideas flow.

What Does Your Brand Say?

I’m currently reading a new marketing textbook that was just released called, “Consumer Behavior: Human Pursuit of Happiness in the World of Goods,” written in collaboration with Professor Banwari Mittal and six of his colleagues. If truth must be known, Professor Mittal mentioned me in his book and was kind enough to send me a copy upon its release. The book is a treasure trove of consumer behavior data, opinion and observation. Being a textbook, I bounce from one section to another in no particular order. What inspired this article was in the chapter on consumer motivation. The example in particular was a group of people who were asked to describe someone who might buy Maxwell House Instant Coffee. The majority were quick to judge that the consumer of instant coffee was a lazy person. This opinion begged the question – “What caused the person to view the purchaser of the instant coffee so disparagingly?” especially when they didn’t even know the person. Could it be that the people were actually transferring their own inadequacies to the instant coffee purchaser? A guilty pleasure so to speak.

If presented with the three products presented here, how would you describe the owners? On what basis was your opinion formed? What inner secrets do we harbor and project on our observations of others? What brand personalities do we embrace when we make purchasing decisions based on these inner secrets? Even in the preparation of this article and choosing the three products, I had my own impression of the owners and what may have motivated their purchases, good or bad.

What pros and cons do your potential customers consider when they choose to engage you or walk? It should be the goal of every one of us to address the negatives and accentuate the positives of our own brands. It is also important not ignore any baggage such as societal stigma or popular assumptions in the promotion of our brand. To do so would be fool hardy.

Drawing conclusions on people we don’t know is a reflection on a perceived image. That image dictates how we interact with that individual or brand. Making the wrong decisions is where we lose money. If you’re making a profit then you’re making more right decisions. The trick is to stay on top of your brand and how it is viewed and reacted to.

On the web I see some consultants adjusting to prejudices that dictate they might be considered “too slick.” They address these issues by purposely creating “amateur” videos and promotional materials. Viewing these presentations might motivate your interest with their “just like me” attitude. To others it smacks of unprofessionalism. Neither are wrong of course, but have everything to do with the motivation of their target customer.

What is your brand saying?

Networking: It Does Motivate You

As an entrepreneur you may hear a lot about networking and wonder what all the hubbub is about. Networking, both online and off, is a wonderful way to build connections in your industry. It’s a great way to increase awareness for your business and to build your customer base and ultimately your profits.

And you probably know that already.

What you may not know is networking is also a great way to motivate yourself.

Networking exposes you to other business leaders, entrepreneurs and motivated individuals. Even if you don’t have a single competitive bone in your body, when you network online and offline, you’re going to be inspired by the energy, ideas and productivity you see in those around you. It’s actually a great reality check.

It gives you the unique ability to mingle with like-minded individuals who may have a different perspective, a different experience or a different story than you do and have achieved success.

Networking also forces you to stay on your game. If you’re putting forth the effort to network, and it’s recommended that you do, you’re going to have to be at your best. When you communicate with people, you want to put your best foot forward and make a positive impression. When people ask you what you do, you want to be ready, willing and able to give them an informational and inspirational elevator pitch.

Because you just never know when you’re going to meet your next great business partner, a superior customer or one of those coveted Paul Revere types of individuals who spreads news faster than CNN. Meet a Paul Revere type of individual, get them excited about your business, and you’ve just launched your business into a whole new game.

Networking is usually a scheduled event, so it accomplishes two things. It motivates you to be prepared before you head to the website or event. And it makes you put some serious thought into how you present yourself both online and off. Networking forces you to think about your business, where it’s going, what your future plans are, and how you want to be perceived.

For most people, networking with other successful people inspires their competitive spirit. We see other successful people and think, “If they can do that, so can I.”  We hear great ideas, product launches, marketing tactics and business strategies and we think, “I can do that better than they did!” or “I wonder if I can achieve more sales and profits than that?”  Competition is very motivating!

Finally, networking both online and off (though online networking can be done in your pajamas with unruly hair and unbrushed teeth) makes us feel and act more professionally. Though there are some people who forget that and behave badly online and off. For the most part, the simple act of being a professional makes us feel more professional. We start to feel less like a person who works at home in their pajamas and more like a business person, an entrepreneur, a CEO.

What’s Your Brand Peeve?

Brand peeves are those things you hate about other company’s brands. It could be copying icons, such as the Nike swoosh. Maybe it’s using well known music classics in commercials. Maybe you hate logoed merchandise. It doesn’t matter what it is, I just want to give you an opportunity to get it off your chest. Your brand peeves like my own don’t necessarily mean that they are wrong, just that they are wrong for you and me.

My number one brand peeve is acronyms for start-up businesses and small businesses that don’t have a lot of years behind them. (Acronyms are names/words made up of the first letter of a group of words) Yes it’s what a lot of the big boys are doing. Acronyms such as IBM, A&P, UPS, HP and NYC are truly successful acronyms. BUT, they didn’t start out that way and neither should you.

I contend that they don’t tell prospective customers what you are or what you do. In the big bad world what on earth does TBE do? Who cares?

When, you over time get the recognition and respect that makes your brand recognizable can you abbreviate your identity and go with an acronym effectively. IBM for instance started out as International Business Machines. Later in it’s life it was simply easier to say and they grew beyond business machines, so IBM made more sense. I believe in most cases you have to earn acronyms.

The ONLY time I believe acronyms are effective from the get-go, is when they spell something that in itself can be spun to mean something on it’s own merit. P90X for instance: who knows what it stands for, but I know what it is as a name.

I challenge you to get your brand peeve into the mix.

P.S. TBE by the way is my company – The Branding Experts

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