I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek’s TED talks. (In fact, I watched the rehearsal for his latest one live on stage in Vancouver in March of this year).
I was surprised to find that this book was about drugs.
Not the ones that might come to mind when I use that word, but the kind of drugs that our own brains secrete into our nervous system.
One of the big lessons for me was about how large corporations think that internal competition is healthy and necessary for innovation. They are wrong. That kind of competition is damaging and disrupts the “Circle of Safety” that Simon talks about in this book.
Another one nicely reinforced the direction my life is going in at the moment – that is, my mission is to bring people together at inspiring events.
His thoughts on how video conferencing can never replace a business trip was very interesting.
Here are my notes on “Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier” by Ari Meisel.
I thought I knew a lot about productivity and efficiency, so I haven’t picked up books like this lately.
I’m glad I did though, because even a few tips can make a big difference on your time management and impact.
The biggest lesson for me about this book was about email.
I’ve felt guilty about how addicted I am to email, but this book gave me tips about how I continue to use my email inbox as my to-do list, but with some cunning twists on how to improve the timing of what appears in there.
You may think that a television commercial is unreasonably expensive for a small business, but the actual cost might surprise you.
The price will vary depending on:
The size of the television market (depending on the area)
The time slot
The popularity of the show you choose
However, as a general guide, TV advertising costs:
Big cities: probably run between $5,000 and $10,000 a month
Smaller cities might charge around $1,000 – 2,000 a month
Smaller towns, you might be able to run an advertising campaign for as little as $500 a month
This is still a significant amount, but TV commercials will allow you to reach a larger and more engaged audience than most other forms of advertising.
How to Buy TV Commercials
First, you’ll need to decide if you want to advertise through:
Local broadcasting means buying advertisements through your local versions of the big networks. In USA: Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC.
Cable/satellite advertising is generally cheaper but will reach a smaller audience.
Network broadcasting will be more expensive but will allow you to advertise during popular programs such as American Idol and NFL football and therefore reach a bigger audience.
Target the Right Audience
To make sure your commercial is effective, you need to make sure the right people are watching it.
Television stations will allow you to choose the show and time slot you advertise during, although they may come with different price tags.
Think about when and what your potential customers will be watching to make an informed choice.
If you’re not sure, you can share some demographic information such as the age, gender, and income of your average customer with the television station.
They should be able to help you choose a show and time slot that matches your target group’s preferences.
Factor in Production Costs
Remember that the price of airtime is not the only cost for your commercial; you will also have to produce it.
Depending on your approach, this can be fairly cheap, but if you want a complex commercial, you will have to buy or rent equipment, pay actors, and probably buy some things for set design and costumes.
This can add thousands of dollars to your expenses.
Some local broadcasters, however, may be able to make the commercial for you if you are running the advertisement for long enough.
They may still charge you for this service, even if you are advertising with them.
Ask an account executive if they can offer you a deal on a package of advertising and commercial production.
Having a list of email address of people who want to hear from you is gold.
The secret to effective email newsletters is to mimic a one-to-one email conversation as closely as possible.
Any elements that make the recipient suspect that your message is one-to-many will reduce the impact of your message.
There are 6 questions you can ask yourself.
1. Is your “from” address a real person?
You probably have a full email box right now, right?
How do you prioritise what to read first?
Does the following order look familiar?
Email from people you know
Email from people you don’t know yet
Almost all email newsletters sit at priority #3 and so they never get read.
The secret is to move your newsletter into priority #1.
The first step to doing that is to ensure your “from” address for your email newsletters is a real person.
And definitely never “noreply@” (that is the worst of all)
Make it a real person.
2. Will your Subject Line attract a click?
Have you ever received an email newsletters with the subject line “November 2014 Update from xyz company”.
Did you feel the pressure to open it up immediately?
No, of course you didn’t.
A subject line like that just screams non-urgent. It can be safely archived or delayed until later (or never opened).
Pick one item from the things you want to say and use the benefits of that item in your subject line.
Just like the headline for this post: “Email Newsletters: 6 Tips To Get Your Automated Emails Opened, Read, And Acted On” you know what you’re going to get before you click on it, and your curiosity is peaqued.
Much better than “November 2014 Newsletter” don’t you think?
3. Which is better: designed or plain text?
Commonly, email newsletters are designed with these elements:
A colour scheme
A graphic header with your logo
1 or 2 columns of content
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Using these elements screams “this is not urgent, read it later!”.
To move your newsletters into priority #1 in your recipients inbox you need to mimic a one-to-one email conversation and that means you need to use plain text.
So stick to one item of news per email, or if you must say more, use sub-headings and numbered lists and bullet points to make it easy to skim read.
Personalise the emails too with the persons first name (my record is 7 times in one email).
All email clients like MailChimp, Aweber, iContact let you personalise the body in this way.
4. What action do you want them to take?
If you can’t answer this question, don’t even bother starting to write your next newsletter.
The action you choose has a huge impact on what you write.
For example, if you want old clients to call you with new business, then end your email with a question like “What do you think Jim? Shall we sit down next week to figure it out together?”
Then, if you know that’s your goal, you know your challenge is to write content that is persuasive and valuable and keeps them reading right until the end.
If you approach it from the angle “what do I have to say?” then you’re bound to go in the wrong direction.
Sometimes a softer approach is better than a hard-sell. I often use “what do you think?” as my last sentence. In that case, the action I want is for them to click “reply” and write a few sentences back to me answering a question I’ve posed.
5. Does your email signature make it easy?
Your regular emails have an email signature, so your newsletters should to.
Include all your phone numbers and details so it’s easy for them to contact you.
They can hit “reply” and email you straight back, or pick up the phone and call, or walk down the road and visit you.
Make yourself seem approachable.
6. Can they unsubscribe easily?
Ensure you make the unsubscribe link easy to find.
If you make it hard for them to unsubscribe:
They will resent you for sending information to them they don’t get value from
They will mark your messages as SPAM to get them out of their way (which ruins your email deliverability over time)
You will waste money sending your messages to people who don’t want them
You will falsely inflate the number of subscribers you have (A lower number motivates you to increase it. A higher number makes you lazy)
Video Of These Email Tips
I presented this list of email tips at a seminar recently. Here’s the video of that session.
Radio interviews can be a fantastic way to spread awareness of your business to a wider audience.
And perhaps best of all, they’re free!
They will, however, require some effort to organize and prepare for.
1. How to get the interview in the first place
This is the hardest part.
Remember not to approach the interview as an advertisement, but rather as something that will interest and benefit radio listeners. As a business owner, you are in a position to comment on your industry.
Think about what kind of audience will be interested in your business.
Look into local radio and whether they have any segments relevant to what you have to say.
Many radio shows will have talk sections on business or local news.
Once you have a radio show in mind, you need to get in touch with the host or producers.
Look at the station’s website for contact details. You can try calling or emailing.
Radio hosts are busy people, so you may need to politely follow up to ensure that they notice your pitch.
Whatever mode of contact you choose, include a description of yourself and your business. Then convey why talking to you will be interesting for their listeners.
What new ideas do you have to talk about?
Or how can you help their listeners find better deals or services?
You may also want to include a list of questions they can ask you, making the potential interview even easier for them.
2. How to prepare and make the most of your radio interview
Make sure to prepare for your interview.
Think of answers to the questions you provided, but don’t assume the radio host will stick to the list.
Think if there are any tricky questions the host might ask and how you might answer.
A good idea is to have a friend or family member do a practice interview with you, so you’ll have polished answers ready.
Remember that the appearance of confidence and a sense of humor will get you far.
You should also think about the key message you want to send.
What do you want listeners to remember about you and your business?
Then make sure that you refer back to this key point more than once, and your audience will certainly remember it and you.
3. Ensure you thank the radio host afterward
After your interview, make sure to send a thank-you note or email to the host.
Radio shows have a lot of time to fill, and they may ask you to come back again one day!
You have a message you want to send out to 50 – 500 potential clients/customers
You have a contact name and postal address
Timeliness is not an issue. If it takes your audience a few days, or weeks or even months before they take action, that’s ok
If you answered yes to the above statements, perhaps direct mail is a good choice for you.
I just want to be clear, when I talk about “direct mail”, I’m talking about a letter (maybe just a few pages) in an envelope with the recipients name and address printed on the front.
I’m not talking about glossy/colourful items that have been commercially printed.
There are 3 reasons why sending a direct mail might be a better choice than alternatives such as a calling a meeting, making a phone call or sending an email:
With direct mail you can communicate with a huge audience. 100 people. 1000 people. 10,000 people. It’ll only cost you about $1-$2 each. If you can make an average of $5 per letter you send out, you are making money.
Seeing an envelope in your in-tray with your name on it, ripping open the envelope and seeing your name at the top, and reading a message written for you, that’s personal. That gets your attention.
It has almost zero chance of not being opened. Can you say that about any other form of advertising?
You get to feel the paper in your hands. It exists. A whole lot of complicated logistics got it to you. You can throw it on your desk, and it’ll be there waiting for you later. If you delete an email, however, it’s gone. Out of sight, out of mind. Email is cheap. A letter has much more value.
3 More Direct Mail Tips:
Personalise the letter heavily with the receipients first name. Not just the envelope and internal address, put it in your headings and subheadings and 5 or 6 times in the body, and in the call to action at the end
Don’t use window envelopes. They look like bills and they don’t build up anticipation of something good. Also, they might not get opened until later in the month
Print your return address on the back. The letters that get returned can be removed from your database
Here are my notes on the book “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh
Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos, which is now wholly owned by Amazon and sells a wide range of items online, but made it’s start selling shoes online.
It’s the classic start-up story many of us dream of: a couple of friends get together and quit their jobs on the back on a single idea, they make it through the good times and bad times and desperate times to somehow scale it up to a billion dollar company within 10 years.