Category Archives: mid level professionals

Your Holiday E-Card is in the Trash

Yesterday my spam filter caught 6 holiday e-cards. This morning it caught 11. I understand companies are looking for ways to cut costs. I get that people don’t necessarily have time to sign a few hundred cards. However, if you think your e-greeting has the same effect as a paper card, I’m sorry but it does not.

The general reason to send holiday greetings is to say hi, I’m thinking of you during this festive season and I wish you and your family the best. Business reasons to send holiday greetings, along with the above,  are to keep you and your company name in front of the customer, to make them feel special and to add a personal touch to a professional relationship. But an e-card doesn’t do this, especially if it comes into an inbox along with a lot of other greetings.

First of all, it being caught in a spam filter makes me treat it as bulk mail. I don’t feel special getting a “Happy Holidays” email blast. It’s not personal. It doesn’t remind me of your service/product. In fact, your e-card does not make me feel like anything other than a name on your email list. At least with a paper card I’m going to open it, read it and probably put it on display in my office. If you personally signed it I’m going to appreciate the extra effort.

I’m not saying you must do paper cards, but I am saying if you are going to acknowledge the holidays, do something that won’t get filed as spam. For instance, start right after Thanksgiving and send a personal email to 10 of your contacts each day welcoming the holiday season. Thank them for their business (make this specific) and mention a way you will follow-up in the new year (lunch maybe, etc.).   And don’t title it Happy Holidays!

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Small is Not a Bad Word

Here are a few reasons why small businesses should embrace their size and not feel pressure to stretch the truth or their size:

You have an expertise. Instead of building a long list of product/service offerings, focus on your strongest capabilities. Build your business on these, and you limit the risk of mistakes, which can damage your brand image.

This will also help you focus your brand and corner your niche.

Red tape is non-existent. A great asset is there is little room for bureaucracy. Instead of dealing with an automated service, boilerplate answers and inflexible rules, your customers get to deal with a person. Trust me, that’s invaluable.

There is no “bait and switch”. How many times have you been pitched by the VP or another high-level executive at a company, only to find out you will never work with that person? Instead, you will be working with a junior team that is nowhere near the initial meeting.

Yes, this junior team may be capable, but it doesn’t matter because you’ve built a report with the initial pitch team. Eliminating the bait and switch puts you at an advantage and sets the tone for an honest work relationship.

Your business is flexible. Most small businesses are nimble by design. Can you meet or complete projects at unconventional times? Do you have a unique way to work (special worksheets, work plans, etc.)? Make sure your clients know about it.

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!

A Time for Evaluation

With today’s businesses, there is little room for fluff and even less time for “this is how it’s always been done.” There is a bottom line that must be met.

 

Considering this, have you evaluated the value you provide to your clients? Do your clients know your value? Are there things you can do to increase your value?

 

Many businesses are courting new clients right now, and you can believe that your current clients are on someone’s list. While you can’t stop that, you can make sure that your clients know exactly how much value you provide.

 

Trust me, when a prospective vendor sends in their list of services with a cheaper price tag, that might just capture some attention.

 

However, the things you provide that can’t be listed on a generic list of services will be your ammunition in defending your turf. And it’s better to think about that before you get called into a meeting.

 

 

Towanda Long aka mscafe

Reasons People Like You

  • You remind them of themselves. It’s that whole “birds of a feather” thing…
  • You’re knowledgeable (but not a know-it-all).
  • You add value to their life/project/business.
  • You have qualities they find inspiring.
  • You make them feel comfortable.
  • You have a sense of humor.
  • You’re honest.
  • You’re reliable.
  • You make them smile.

 

Just a quick reminder that being likable is a great personality trait.

 

Towanda Long aka mscafe

Keeping Your Weakest Link

One of the things that have been a blessing and a curse for me is my laid-back personality (except when I’m driving, but that’s another story…). Some find it admirable that I can remain calm in stressful situations; others think I don’t show enough emotion.  

 

I don’t run around like it’s the end of the world. I do meet deadlines, whether I have five minutes or five months (I should be so lucky…). I once had a boss get upset because I wasn’t “urgently” taking care of a last minute request, even though I finished my portion of the project before him…

 

Yes, running around may look good, but it’s not efficient for me.

 

I say that to say this. It’s important to know how others see you. And it’s good to know whether they think certain characteristics are good or if they see them as your weakest link.

 

But, it’s also important to know when your weakest link is something that makes you special, something that you want to keep.

 

Towanda Long aka mscafe

Emails I Read Daily

Vital Juice This is a well-designed email that offers nuggets of health information. It’s not overwhelming, takes a couple of minutes to read, and serves as a daily reminder to live healthy.

 

Ad Age The online version of Advertising Age, this is a compilation of news and opinions. I get a dose of daily news and links to some of my favorite bloggers (check out The Big Tent) in the same email.

 

Daily Candy We all need a little sweetness in our life. Whether it’s an announcement about a new spa opening, a great event coming up or a new product hitting the market, Daily Candy is a great source for “in the know” information. It gives me a break from the “serious” things that try to take over my day and it constantly adds things to my “I WANT THAT” list.

 

HARO (Help A Reporter Out)  I think of HARO as the media matchmaker. Journalists post their source requests and they get responses that are on target! The bonus is that members of the email list are from a variety of industries and backgrounds, not just the traditional media machine.

 

Which are your favorite and why?

 

Towanda Long aka mscafe