Category Archives: General

Avoiding the Deleted Items Folder

Your emails say a lot about you. And while we all can overlook a sporadic typo, ignoring email etiquette can not only damage your perception, it can land your email in the “deleted items” folder.

Here are two posts to get you on the right track. The first, How To Improve Your Email Etiquette, is from Marci Alboher, Working the New Economy’s Blog.

The second, Sending Emails That Get Read, is a post I wrote about a year and a half ago.

Happy Emailing!

Advertisements

The Problem Is We Always Agree

If members of your team consistently agree they either don’t want to voice their true opinion or everyone drank the same water and you need to shake up the group.

The purpose of a group is to bring together different people with varying perspectives in order to offer feedback and suggestions. Groupthink defeats that.

Here are some signs that your team suffers from groupthink:

There is no debate. No matter the issue, there are many possible outcomes. A group should weigh these outcomes. And how can they be weighed if there is no conflict? True analyzing, testing and evaluating require conflict.

Stereotypes are used as facts. Many times like-minded people treat stereotypes as facts, either because they don’t know better or it’s easier. If it is impossible to diversify your group (which I find hard to believe), at least have someone in your group do research on your target audience beforehand.

There is no Plan B. There should always be a contingency plan. If you have not discussed a contingency plan, chances are you have not discussed the many possible outcomes of your decision.

Here are some things that you can do to combat groupthink:

Have at least one person play devil’s advocate at each meeting. This will train people to look for the loopholes and not just take the information at face value. This will also provide a safe environment for dissension and erase concerns of being blackballed later.

Have the leader voice his/her opinion last. This gives people an opportunity to voice their opinion without fear of upsetting the leader. It also gives the leader an opportunity to hear many perspectives, which may sway his/her final perspective.

Distribute a copy of the agenda before the meeting and have members contribute their feedback anonymously. Have an unbiased party compile the feedback and use that as discussion points for the meeting.

The Blogging Hiatus is Over

The following is not an excuse; it just shows that life happens…

When we moved in September I gave myself until November to get settled. I figured two months would be enough time to unpack and establish a routine. Things didn’t work out that way. I spent the first two months training for my new gig, being the primary caregiver to the girls and trying to adjust to southern life as an adult. My husband was contractually obligated and couldn’t join us full-time until November.

So I moved that date from November to January (this was a more realistic goal anyway…) and said I would make no excuses. Well, I didn’t make an excuse, but I DID find out that I was expecting. And trust me, expecting another child is definitely a reason to alter plans. So I moved my timeline to May.

Well, I didn’t quite make that deadline either. For starters we were supposed to move into a house April 4th, but due to contractual issues, that date had to be pushed back to May 1rst. Then I had some unexpected family issues that were draining, both mentally and physically.

But now, it’s May 12th, and I’m back. Tweeting has filled the void a little, but it’s not the same as being able to write in more than 140 characters. I’ve missed blogging; I’ve missed the conversations.

I have a lot of topics on schedule, so now that I have a decent routine you should see new posts here at least once a week.

And since I’ve said that out loud that means I’ll have to follow through…

Towanda Long

Why Your Press Release Was Ignored

Here are a few reasons your Press Release was ignored:

 

  • It was not well-written.
  • It did not tell the media outlet why their audience would be interested in your news.
  • The story was not news worthy.
  • It got lost among the hundreds of press releases the outlet receives everyday.
  • It was sent to the wrong person in the organization.
  • There was no follow-up.
  • The timing was wrong.
  • It got caught in the spam filter. 

I could go on but the point is this. Getting your story covered takes much more than writing and distributing a release. It takes research, follow-up, relationship-building and sometimes a little luck. Think about it; there’s a reason media relations is considered a skillset. 

Towanda Long aka mscafe

Some Things Are Free

Want a list of free ways to start, run and grow your business? Entrepreneur.com has a great article here.

 

And, in the spirit of free, cafe30.com has launched its small business challenge, My Marketing Needs Help. Three businesses will be chosen to win a Marketing makeover.

 

If you haven’t already, nominate yourself or another business for the challenge. All the information can be found at the link above.

 

Enjoy!

 

Towanda Long aka mscafe

MySpace Should Not Be Your Main Website

MySpace, like other social networking sites, is a great way to meet new people, add to your network and become a part of online conversations. As a part of your online marketing it can be a useful tool.

 

However, it’s just that – one tool. It should not be your only online presence.

 

Here are a few reasons why:

 

  • Many corporations block it. Imagine the problems you’ll have trying to get sponsors, advertisers, etc. if the company representative can’t open your site.
  • It still has the stigma of being a site for teenagers. This will most certainly affect people taking your product/service seriously.
  • The platform is limiting in the amount of information that you include. For instance, you can’t have a multiple-page site.
  • You lose the free marketing of having a “yourname@yoursite.com” email address. Without a corporate site you’re stuck promoting yahoo, gmail or another free email service.
  • Do you really want to send the CEO of ABC, Corp. to your MySpace page for more information on your company?

Towanda Long aka mscafe

Five Marketing Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

Unprofessional materials. This includes everything from business cards on the wrong paper stock to brochures printed on regular copier paper to poorly designed websites. With so many affordable options there really is no excuse.

 

Typos. It will get your resume filed in the trash and it will do the same for your business’ reputation. Hire a proofreader, or at the least get an English-savvy friend to review your writing.

 

Poor phone etiquette. No one wants to call a business and here “Hello.” Maybe “Hello, thank you for calling…”, but not just “Hello.” And we especially don’t want to hear your child answer the phone. If you are running a home-based business, invest in distinguished ring. It’s only a couple of dollars and when the phone rings you’ll know it’s a business call. Plus, you can train your kids not to answer the double ring.

 

Inconsistent message. If your messaging is based on newly designed technology, your CEO should not show up to the pitch meeting with a mobile phone circa 1988.

 

Disregard the customer experience. Your excellent product will not bring loyal customers if the person that answers the phone is rude, orders arrive late or people don’t feel appreciated. A great experience is just as important as a great product.

 

Towanda Long aka mscafe