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We are living through a once in 100-year pandemic right now. As our global community learns how to cope with the enormous stress that comes along with the uncertainty of these times, it’s important to connect with the world around you in more creative ways. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to explore the outside world while sheltering in place. Crowned has compiled a list of events and activities from professional, to virtual museum tours, to exercise classes and mental health resources.

We also deeply understand and empathize with the struggle of folks in industries that are suffering, and have included some ideas to support those out of work right now as well. It’s a challenging time, but we hope that our communities will come together to help one another out at least a little bit every day. Take care of each other everyone! 

You can see current updates from the CDC here.

PROFESSIONAL

  1. The Remote Work Summit
  2. Remote Future Summit
  3. Microsoft Build 2020 – Usually, an in-person event transitioned to a virtual for 2020
  4. OCP Global Summit – Open Compute Project has gone virtual for 2020
  5. THINK 2020 – IBM’s Think Digital event experience
  6. ExO World Summit – 14-16 April Connecting world-class professionals, organizations, institutions and people to transform and unlock abundance to change the world

LEISURE (FAMILY TIME)

  1. Marco Polo app – This app is fabulous and easy to use way to connect with your family and friends in a way that’s more direct and personal than traditional social media apps. (Our niece calls this “Snapchat for old people,” which we take as a huge compliment.)
  2. British Museum, London – Virtual tours of their collections
  3. San Diego Zoo live cams – Majestic animals to behold
  4. Lunch Doodles on YouTube – Fun drawings lessons for kids and families
  5. Metropolitan Opera – offering nightly streaming Free
  6. Virtual Field Trips – Each no-cost field trip comes with a companion guide with hands-on learning activities.
  7. Netflix Watch Party – using a Google Chrome extension
  8. Virtual Disney World – Experience Disney rides virtually
  9. Winchester Mystery House – A beautiful, bizarre home and architectural wonder and historic landmark in San Jose, CA. 
  10. Call loved ones- Especially the older folks in your life who might be struggling with loneliness

EDUCATIONAL

  1. Harvard – Free online courses
  2. NASA – Entire Media library publicly accessible and copyright free
  3. Smithsonian – Open access 
  4. Hour of Code – Free 1-hour coding tutorials and activities for all ages and skill levels
  5. Science Sparks – Free science experiments for kids!
  6. CodeAcademy.com – learn to code/build a website for free for kids.
  7. Free online cooking class – offering free lessons

MOVEMENT

  1. Yoga for After a Disaster – Free YouTube channel for some zen time. 
  2. Dance Church – Really fun cardio dance classes! 
  3. FitOn – Free app gives you workouts based on your own equipment or none at all
  4. Nike Run Club – Free app that helps you run better, including GPS run tracking; audio-guided runs; weekly, monthly and custom distance challenges.
  5. 7 App – A HIIT inspired free app with 7-minute guided exercise circuits. 

MENTAL HEALTH

  1. Woebot – A free AI chatbot to help you with your feels
  2. InsightTimer – 35,000 free guided meditations and courses
  3. This is an exhaustive list of an array of mental health resources

NON-TECH OPTIONS

  1. Step outside and enjoy nature
  2. Call a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while, especially our elders! 
  3. Read a guilty pleasure book, like a murder mystery or fantasy novel. Anything to take you out of the real world for at least 20 minutes a day. 
  4. Journal daily. We are living in history right now. Having a journal now will be a priceless view of your daily experiences during this once in 100 years pandemic. Writing down your thoughts and feelings in an uncensored way will help to diffuse your fear or stress as well. 

RESOURCES FOR FOLKS WHO HAVE LOST CLIENTS OR JOBS

Most sources are saying we’re headed for a recession. A lot of small business owners and workers are hurting right now. Unfortunately, we’re at a place as of the time of publishing where much is unknown, and official resources are not yet clear. If you’re out of work and not sure what to do, your state website will have resources for the unemployed if not now, within the next few days. Local community organizations will also be mobilizing the best they can to serve those in need. Contact any local church (even if you aren’t a member), community center, or local charitable organizations to see if they can help with things like food staples, especially if you’re concerned about an older friend or relative. If rent is an issue, reach out to your landlord (we aren’t all monsters!). 

This is an unprecedented time of coming together while being apart, and now more than ever social media will play a vital role in our lives to help us not feel so isolated. Reach out and tell your communities about your experience and your struggles. I think we are about to see the generosity of the masses come out to help our fellow neighbors at an extraordinary level. 

GIVE

If you find that you’re in a place to help, please give to your local food bank. You can find yours here: Feeding America: US Hunger Relief Organization.

Written by: Betty Bair

As a female-founded and operated business, women’s history is close to our hearts here at Crowned.

We all know women are amazing creatures of great brilliance and over-flowing fonts of ingenuity. This fact hasn’t been illuminated as brightly as it could have been throughout the annals of history, but thankfully the light is being shown on so many brave women who have put themselves out there way before it was accepted, now more than ever. 

This Women’s History Month, we want to highlight a few amazing American “female firsts” who have made inspiring contributions to our history and inspire our paths forward. While we’re forever grateful and look with awe upon these female firsts, we look forward to a future with a few less as hopefully, it will become normal for women to have a seat at the table in generations to come. Without these incredible, strong, intelligent women, we wouldn’t be where we are today.  

Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Republican from Montana. Her career serving the public started in her 20s when she moved from her home of Montana to San Francisco to become a social worker. She got her degree in New York City at New York School of Philanthropy (now Columbia University School of Social Work) and was active in both social work and the suffrage movement. She was the first woman to address the Montana legislature, arguing in support of enfranchisement for women in her home state.

A life-long pacifist, suffragist, civil and women’s rights advocate, she held office first in 1916 and again in 1940. As a pacifist, she opposed declaring war and helped to cement the 19th Amendment to the constitution, ensuring a woman’s right to vote. Her career spanned six decades and helped to raise women’s voices.

Ellen Ochoa is an American engineer and the first female Mexican-American astronaut. She currently serves as the second female director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. As an astronaut, she spent 9 days aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Ochoa was named Vice-Chair of the National Science Board for the 2018-2020 term. 

Ochoa is quite decorated in her achievements. Her many awards include NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal (2015), Exceptional Service Medal (1997), Outstanding Leadership Medal (1995) and Space Flight Medals (2002, 1999, 1994, 1993). Ochoa was recognized in Hispanic Executive’s 2017 Best of the Boardroom issue for her work as a board director for Johnson Space Center. In 2018, she was inducted into the International Air and Space Hall of Fame.

She’s also a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the National Academy of Inventors. She has had many schools named after her, including one in our founder’s town of Pasco, Washington —The Ochoa Middle School

In 1993, Toni Morrison became the first female African-American Nobel Prize winner in literature. She was a professor, editor, essayist, and novelist from Ohio whose novels included “Beloved,” “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula,” “Song of Solomon,” “Tar Baby,” “Jazz,” “Paradise,” “Gold Help the Child,” “Home,” “A Mercy” and “Love.”

In the 1960s, she had another first as the first black female fiction editor at Random House. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2012 by President Barack Obama. The list of awards that Morrison received is vast, and her work includes best sellers in print and screen adaptations. She was able to illustrate the complexities of interpersonal relationships and gave a voice to the Black experience in America. Her writings are American treasures. 

Thanks for celebrating Women’s History Month with us! We can’t wait to see what amazing things women will bring to the world next, and are forever grateful for all the strides made in the past.

Written by: Betty Bair

So how do you stay on track as a remote team? It basically comes down to self-care and firm boundaries. You have to abide by a few best practices to be successful. Your workspace, time management, and communication are key to killing it while working from home. 

How to Set the Stage for WFH

Start Your Day

To set the stage for focus and productivity whilst working remotely have an activity that marks the start of your workday. Mine is taking a shower, get dressed, make coffee,  unfurl my computer. 

I live in a small apartment, but still, I prefer to work from my home rather than a public place. I save money, can listen to music, mix in-house chores on breaks, and it’s quiet if I need to take a call. Wifi connections at cafes and other public places are often unreliable, and I hate nothing more than crawling around looking for an outlet to charge my computer. 

Take Breaks and Move 

Frequent short breaks will make you more productive. One thing that I noticed immediately when I started working from home is that I became far less physically active, and honestly became a bit of a hermit. This ultimately impacted my mood and the comfort of my jeans…  Find an activity outside of your home that works for you, like a walk around the block. If nothing else, there are heaps of exercise apps you can use at home if you’re feeling like a hermit. Try a seven minute exercise break or find a local class to attend on apps like Mindbody

End Your Day

No matter your space, it’s important to unplug and remove traces of your workday from your living areas. Set clear work/life boundaries by putting away your computer to reset for evening relaxation. If you are lucky enough to have a home office, leave that room and close the door.  Do not check Slack or work emails while you’re off the clock. In my home, we never use computers off the clock, after all, that’s what iPads are for, right? 🙂 

Time Management

Set Time Boundaries 

Set a timer when you start working. At Crowned, we use Harvest or Toggl. Even if you aren’t working on an hourly contract, it’s important to know how much time you spend working. This helps to create healthy boundaries and achieve the ever-fleeting work-life balance.  Make sure you have office hours and put them on your calendar along with a lunch break every day.

Make a List

An easy way to stay on track and feel accomplished is to get into the habit of making a daily or weekly list. I know for me, if I don’t have a list, I’ll feel like I forgot something and then the anxiety kicks in. 

There are heaps of apps that can help you with this, like Asana, Google Tasks, Apple Reminders, or a notebook and a pen! I love the feeling of crossing tasks off of a list I write out on paper. Oh, the satisfaction! 

Take Time Off

WFH doesn’t mean you work through the pain of sickness or injury. It’s very easy to get sucked into feeling like since you work from home, you can work regardless of how you feel. Working while sick isn’t a good precedent to set for yourself or your team, and it can contribute to the dreaded burnout, which is now recognized by the World Health Organization as a disease. Try not to fall into the habit of “being well enough to take a call.” Give yourself a break and let your body rest and heal. 

Take Vacation

Lots of remote teams in the US have the “unlimited PTO” benefit. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen folks not take PTO unless reminded. Take at least 3-4 weeks off per year to recharge and relax. If you’re not one for big trips, take several long weekends each quarter. 

Communication 

Set Clear Expectations

Communicate clearly and directly with your colleagues, use shared project management tools for collaboration, and if you have a meeting set, try your best to keep it. Tell your team that clear and direct communication is expected of them as well. This will help to quell the uncertainty, frustrations, and potential saltiness that can spring up as a remote team. Your colleagues need to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, just like in any office. 

Use the Right Tools

If you’re not using apps for project management and communication, you’re missing the boat. I recently worked at an office where they failed to implement web-based project management tools and modern communication apps and it wasn’t pretty. The number one thing that those colleagues reported struggling with at that office was poor communication, and it led to a revolving door of talented people, myself included!

As a manager, if you don’t have skills with modern project management and communication tools, delegate this or hire someone who does. Consultants with know-how in this area, like Crowned, can set up the infrastructure for these tools and train both you and your staff on how to use them effectively. Using modern project management and communication software will make for a more productive and happier team! 

Relationships Matter

Most remote teams I’ve worked on exclusively communicate via Slack, with weekly meetings on Zoom. I’ve worked at startups that inspired different levels of team socializing. I’ve found that a little fun builds trust, and also alleviates the strain of our busy lives. Having human connections with your colleagues will make work more enjoyable.   

In practice, this can look different on every team. When I started at Crowned, I was delighted when I was asked to describe my weekend in only gifs or emojis. It breaks the ice, adds a little whimsy, and laughter increases productivity!

Bonus Points for WFH

Get Inspired 

In any industry you might work in, you have to keep learning all the time. Read blogs, listen to podcasts, follow topics of your industry in your news feed, join online groups, follow industry leaders on social media, and share what you learn with your team. Have discussions and learn what your colleagues are doing to stay ahead in your field.

Written by: Betty Bair

It’s nice to see some good news at the start of a shiny new decade: The global remote workforce is on the rise yet again for 2020. This isn’t news to folks in the business world. The International Workplace Group reported in 2018 that 70% of professionals work remotely at least one day a week, while 53% work remotely for at least half of the week. Research across the board shows that the remote work will equal, if not surpass, fixed office locations by the year 2025, and already nearly two-thirds of American companies have growing remote teams. Here’s why yours should, too. 

What’s The Deal with WFH?

We in the biz call working remotely, “WFH”, or working from home. The cliché of working from home are many — slippers all day, an expansive loungewear wardrobe, a commute from bed to the couch, and so on. The realities are somewhat mixed with the myth here, but the bottom line is that cultivating a remote work team has heaps of benefits for your business, your employees, and the world at large

People who’ve never worked remotely are often skeptical about the WFH lifestyle, sometimes scoffing at the struggles remote teams face. These people are, in a word, simply jealous! When I got my first remote job as a social media manager, a family member (who shall remain nameless) very flippantly suggested that I was just “on Facebook all day”… If only they knew the complexities of managing a business page for a national company! 

Increase Productivity

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these words uttered in offices I’ve worked at, “I’m WFH tomorrow so I can focus and get some work done without interruptions.”  For you and your employees or contractors, remote work can offer refuge from the constraints of the rat-race and boost productivity. The move toward open-plan offices seemed like a good idea for collaboration and teamwork, but it’s really been more of a means of distraction and cuts down productivity. Days working from home (or anywhere other than a traditional office) are frequently noted as the days’ workers report being the most productive. Studies show that this anecdotal observation rings true, with respondents reporting that remote workers clock in an average of 16.8 more days a year than in-office folks. That seriously adds up! 

Lower Costs

Your office overhead costs are killing you. With all the collaboration-friendly software available today, in-person meetings have become less of a necessity. I’m not saying actual facetime isn’t important, it certainly is in some cases, but the ever sought after “work-life balance” should be the real goal for every tech-based company. Not only will it save you a lot of money, but your staff will also benefit in so many areas of their lives, too, from saving money on commuting, wardrobe, lunches, to things like child and pet care. All that leads to yet another benefit of remote teams — happier workers, because your team will be able to spend less time commuting, more time working productively, and less money trying to make it all work for their families. 

Why Remote Work is Here to Stay

Here’s the “skip to the recipe” section for why you should have a remote team, and how to make it work for your business. 

What’s with this dramatic increase in remote work? There are a lot of great reasons. Saving money is the top reason for companies. Here are some statistics for you to dig into. 

  • Companies that give employees the option of working from home see a 50% decrease in employee turnover
  • The ability to hire from a more diverse global applicant pool, rather than a limited local pool. 
  • One study shows that by even allowing just one employee to telecommute, companies can save over $10,000 per year
  • Web-based tools get better all the time, too, and let teams have meetings and training sessions remotely, project-manage, and cut the enormous cost of travel. 
  • Everyone saves money — employers can save big time, with a reported $5 billion in savings to companies with remote workers, and $7000 per year savings to employees. 
  • It’s easier all the time to manage global teams with web-based collaboration tools. 
  • Remote work is far more productive than in-office work.
  • Fewer sick days for all, and no spreading your nasties around the office. 
  • It’s better for the environment in many ways. Cutting your company’s carbon footprint should be on everyone’s 2020 to-do list. 

Stay tuned to Crowned for our next installment all about remote work best practices and how to make it work for you and your team

Written by: Betty Bair

Between 1997 and 2017, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 114%, a rate 2.5 times higher than the national average.

–State of Women-Owned Business Report, American Express

Today, women influence about 80% of buying decisions and control $20 trillion of consumer spending, yet globally women hold only 24% of C-level roles. Both of these numbers are growing every year, and the Crowned team couldn’t be happier about that fact. Women own 4 out of every 10 businesses in the U.S, and Crowned is one of those businesses, founded by Francesca Coronado. 

Here at Crowned, women’s entrepreneurship is close to our hearts as a female-founded and operated business. While female-founded businesses only account for 4.6% of all firms as of 2018, the rate at which women are starting businesses has increased by 58 percent since 2007. 

In 2018, $38.9 billion was invested in companies with a female founder, representing 17% of venture dollars funded globally. This is nearly double the amount from 2017, which saw $19.8 billion invested into companies with a female founder. 

This trend is bound to continue with more women, especially women of color, starting businesses at a continuously growing rate. Female entrepreneurs are a diverse, and happy bunch.  Businesses owned by women of color grew by 163% between 2007 and 2018.

This Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we want to highlight the importance of supporting women-owned businesses by sharing some of our own personal favorites. 

Francesca’s favorite

Lume Deodorant (pronounced loo-mee) is a product I absolutely love. Not only is it a natural deodorant that actually works, but it was also developed by Shannon Klingman MD, an OB/GYN, who got tired of status-quo deodorants on the market. As an OB/GYN, Dr. Klingman was interested to find out the root cause of body odor, not only in our pits but also on our most sensitive “lady parts.” After seeing far too many diagnoses’ of bacterial vaginosis in women, who were then prescribed antibiotics that didn’t clear up the issue, Dr. Klingman went to work to study why odor happens and how to stop it before it starts. You could call Lume a “pre-odorant” rather than a de-odorant really! 

Her brand is now one of the top deodorant brands on the market, with an ever-growing subscription-based following. Her products are well-loved by women and men alike in her quest to end stinkiness. 

Dr. Shannon Klingman

  “I SAW HOW BODY ODOR—WHATEVER THE SOURCE—WAS UNDERMINING THE CONFIDENCE AND SELF-WORTH OF WOMEN AND MEN EVERYWHERE.” – Shannon Klingman MD

Kathleen’s Inspiration

Lorna Jane Clarkson is my choice.  She’s the owner of Lorna Jane Active and inspires women to be fearless! She inspires me because she empowers women to be confident in who they are and that being who you are meant to be doesn’t have to look like anyone else. Her motto is: Move, Nourish and Believe – Moving every day, Nourishing from the inside out and Believing that anything is possible. She started her business when she was a fitness instructor in 1989, making custom workout wear for her students. This quickly and unexpectedly turned into one of the first activewear empires. We can thank Lorna Jane Clarkson for popularizing fashionable athletic wear that millions of women love enough to wear outside the gym! In fact, Lorna Jane coined the term “activewear,” and has spent the last 30 years keeping her finger on the pulse of not only her customer needs but also the “needs of society as a whole” to work towards making activewear a staple of every woman’s wardrobe. 

Betty’s Inspiration

I’m always on the lookout for female-founded brands (Glossier, AWAY, Heist, Schmidt’s Deodorant), and am perpetually inspired by female entrepreneurs. I grew up watching the rise of powerful women like Oprah and Martha Stewart, and I’m always excited to hear about female-founded companies (and am elated to work for one!) 

Women have faced staggering hurdles to get to where we are today, and it’s important to me to remember the women who blazed the trail. Madam C. J. Walker (Sarah Breedlove), the daughter of freed slaves, was an African-American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist. Walker was the wealthiest African-American businesswoman and the wealthiest self-made woman in America at the time of her death in 1919, with a net worth of over $1 million. She overcame some pretty insane odds, starting her business in her late 30s after questioning her physical ability to do hard labor washing laundry into her golden years. Her success is largely attributed to her marketing savvy and the ability to set the tone for the fledgling African-American women’s beauty sector. She was one of the first modern Lady Bosses! 

Written by: Betty Bair

Streamline Blog Title

Processes, procedures, strategies.  What do these three systems have in common, and why would I want to refer to them when running my business?

By implementing these types of systems, your productivity and organization will skyrocket!

Here is a good example:

What are the first things you need to know when starting your workday?

You need to know what is on the agenda and where you should start.

  • Do you have meetings or calls to make?
  • Does your team have project deadlines?
  • Is your inbox full of emails just waiting for you?
  • Do you know how or where to start?
  • What about the back-end?  Do you have procedures in place?

With the correct system in place, these questions can be easily answered. You will automatically know which projects take priority each day, how much time needs to be spent on each one, and how to handle each project. You won’t feel overwhelmed or stressed out when you look at your agenda. Instead, you will know just where to begin going through the work on your desk.  With that in mind, Crowned has come up with a system of processes that will streamline your workflow in order to increase productivity.

Are you ready to implement this simple system and gain valuable time each day?

  1. Determine your PROCESSES

What exactly is a process? A process determines what actions or steps you will take to reach a particular goal. Once these processes are in place, it is key for you to focus on always doing them the same way. Eventually, you’ll get used to them, and they will become a part of your routine, keeping you on track each day.

In this system the processes are simple.

    • Create a daily to-do list: I like to do this just before I dive into my day in case projects or tasks have changed.  Also, you might want to make a list of tasks that still need to be completed before you leave work the day before. For more information about staying motivated when starting your day, check out my 5 Tips To Get You Motivated.
    • Set a schedule: I create office hours and stick to them! It’s very important to set boundaries for yourself and your clients. I also like to include lunchtime and a break during the day because I can easily get consumed with my work.
    • Stay on task: Try not to stray from your to-do list. I understand things can change within minutes, but going back to your list will help you stay focused and on task.
  1.   Establish PROCEDURES

Once you’ve determined all of your processes, you may feel that you’re set and ready to go. However, in my experience, having the correct processes in place is still not quite enough. You need to establish procedures or a set of rules that will help you to navigate your way through each process.   This will set a standard for you and your team and ensure that your processes run seamlessly.

    • Legal Compliance: This is the most important procedure for your business or organization. You need to make sure that you’re complying with your State and Federal laws. This can pertain to taxes, contractors, employees, client terms, contracts and much more.
    • Have a policy in place: Whether your business is big or small, you will need to make sure you have existing policies in place when working with clients, employees, or contractors. These policies can be in regards to vacation/holiday time, how your business handles personal information, how you handle your payments/invoicing etc.
    • Onboarding: Do you know what to do the minute you gain a new client or customer? If not, then this is something you should implement right away. Having specific procedures in place when a new customer, client or employee comes on board is essential. You don’t want to wait until they get there to come up with a plan!
  1. STRATEGIZE!

This can vary depending on your business needs. Ask yourself these questions:

    • What are your operational needs?
    • How do you interact with colleagues and clients?
    • Do you have a plan of action in place?

This is a simple plan that incorporates all of the essential items that are able to speed up your workflow and productivity, including such things as marketing, client work, and daily tasks.

As you have seen, you can streamline your workflow by making just a few important changes in your schedule. Before you know it, what once was a stressful daily routine can now be daily moments of satisfaction!

When you think of the most important things that affect your brand, the tone of what you write is most likely not the first thing that pops into your mind.  Mentioned more often are passion, consistency, exposure, and audience knowledge. But the tone, whether it is in a blog, on your website, or a post on Facebook, sets each of these things in motion, thus letting your target audience know where you stand.

What is meant by the tone, you may ask?  The tone is the mood or attitude shown in what you write.  If your product is a new video game, the tone should be exciting and fun.  You want your target audience to feel this in your writing. However, the tone used to write to a child about the video game will most likely be different than that used to write to an adult about the same game.

Of high importance is the tone used to make your brand stand out and be consistently recognized and respected by your readers.  Your brand is more than just your company logo. It includes such things as your company’s core values, your unique way of selling your products or services, and who your target customers are, as well as what they want.  Your brand must stay in your customers’ minds, and the tone in which you write must keep your customers satisfied with your company’s brand.


When determining what the tone should be in your written marketing content for your brand, the process should not be hurried through.  Many things need to be considered. Below are just a few:

  • The tone and the voice of the written information are different.  Both are important, but they are not the same thing.  As mentioned above, the tone is the mood or attitude of your writing, and the voice its personality.  Just as a person’s personality is consistent, the voice of your writing should be consistent. It doesn’t change from blog to social media, and your target audience should be able to see you in everything you write.  The tone, however, can change from such emotions as happy, sad, serious, or funny, depending upon what you are trying to say and to whom you are saying it.
  • Diction and syntax also play an important part in determining the tone of your marketing contents. Just like voice, diction and syntax are not the same as the tone. Diction, the words that a writer chooses, is a very important part of determining the tone.  If your brand is pertaining to fine jewelry, your diction should be classy and elegant. If instead, it is connected to barbecue sauce, your diction would have a more relaxed tone.
  • In addition, syntax, the structure of a sentence, changes how your writing comes across to those who read it.  Sentences can be long or short, choppy or smooth, thus changing the tone.  None of these is right or wrong. But it is a good idea to determine how your readers feel about your style.  Do they like your long flowing sentences or is it causing them to read fewer and fewer blogs? When a customer first reads what you have written, your choices can determine what they think of your brand. A well-written blog or website can and should keep them coming back!
  • The tone should connect with your target audience. The American Marketing Association says that the average consumer sees up to 10,000 brand messages a day but will only buy from a few of these brands. It is definitely very important what you write and how you write it.  The tone sets the stage for how consumers will feel about what they have read and whether it will catch their eye the first time in order to pique their interest. In addition, the tone of your content should not be unnecessarily complex when aimed at certain target audiences. Things to consider are their age, demographic, and in what way they will use what you are presenting to them.
  • Be consistent in the development and use of the writing tone.  Though this is true if there is only one person writing your marketing content, this is especially important in a large company with a large marketing group.  Everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to determining and creating the tone of written material. A good way to do this is to prepare a Content Styling Guide for everyone who is writing marketing content. MailChimp has a great Content Styling Guide online that you can look at.  When it comes to being consistent, I love what I read in Ann Handley, “If your logo fell off, would you recognize you?”  More importantly, would your target audience recognize you?  If you aren’t consistent from article to post and from person to person, chances are that your target audience will be very confused about your brand.

Many other great tips and ideas can be found online and elsewhere that relate to tone and marketing. All are very important in putting together a document that will keep consumers coming back to read more and be drawn to your brand. Hopefully, the tips listed here have put you on the right track to improving your writing tone.

Copy of Cold Emails_ Blog Post.Remember the age-old marketing term ‘cold calling’? It was, or still is in some cases, a technique where you’d have a list of phone numbers and you would call them one-by-one, trying to sell an item or service. It was awful, tedious, and often times very obtrusive to the person at the other end of the phone.

When I first went into marketing, this is something I was taught to do. I hated it. And I never experienced any real growth from it either. While doing this, you may be able to convince one or two people out of the twenty to give in and buy your product or service, but that was very rare. Usually, these people would turn into one-time clients and after the initial contact, you would end up with nothing but crickets. This is how I view cold emailing, to me, it is the exact same concept. You’re sending an unsolicited email to someone that you’ve never met or had any contact with. Cold emailing is your chance at a first impression.

I wanted to write about cold emailing because I received two emails last week that were both very different from one another. Each description is below.

The first did their research. Then, they began to explain what they could do for my company, and even gave an example of the results I might see. It was short and to the point. It was not obtrusive at all, but merely a quick description explaining what they could do to fit my needs.

The second email did no research at all. They basically sent me a pitch telling me what they do, how good they are at it, and included a calendar link to make an appointment with them. That was annoying. I’m sure they found my email address on my website or LinkedIn page, which is fine, but after reading the email it felt very disingenuous and a waste of my time. Why would I want to schedule my own appointment with someone who may or may not be able to help me expand my business? Who is this person? Do they even know anything about me or what I do?

So if you must send out cold emails, please follow these principals first. That way you’ll refrain from sounding too ‘salesy’ and you’ll actually be providing something of value.

PRINCIPALS OF COLD EMAILING:

  • Do your research!!!– This is the most important, have some knowledge about the individual or company and use that to your advantage.
  • Personalize the email– Use your personal work email address. Speak to your reader by name, use some background information you may have found about the individual or company. Compliment them on some of their achievements. DON’T start the email with just a simple greeting. Be personable!
  • Offer something of value– How can you help them? What steps will you take to help them? How might you be a good fit? A freebie wouldn’t hurt either, especially if it pertains to what you’re offering.
  • Keep it short and simple– Busy professionals don’t have a lot of time to read through long emails. Try to keep it short and straight to the point. That way if someone just skims through the email, they’re still absorbing key points. Leave out photos, long signatures etc.
  • Break up your points- Breaking up your key points will help the reader to easily identify what you’re talking about.
  • Add a link or two- Make sure to add your website link so the reader can get further information if they’re interested.

Have you experienced any of these cold email disasters or victories? Would you like to add something to this list? I’d love to hear from you!

I get questions from clients regarding inbox management quite often. Below are a few examples of what I’ve come across.

“My inbox is overflowing, help!”

“How am I ever going to get through all of these emails?”

“What if I miss something important?”

Does this sound familiar? Are you struggling to keep up with the overflow of emails coming through 24/7? Are important emails going unanswered because you didn’t see them among all of the others? If so, I think I can provide some easy steps that will allow you to manage your inbox with ease. I’ve helped a lot of my clients get their emails organized while keeping their inboxes at a minimum level.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that this will happen overnight, and I’m not going to tell you that your inbox will be empty all the time either. But, what I will say is that you will feel confident to never miss another important email again, you will never have to spend time sorting through your inbox to find those missing emails, and you will always be aware what is coming in and what is being sent out. As long you follow these steps:

  • Prioritize: This is the first thing I ask my clients to do. I like to have at least 2 priority levels, highest (most urgent) and lowest. However, this is not static and can change depending on the number of emails you receive. I’ve had clients with priority levels 1, 2, 3 and 4. It’s all up to you!
  • Action items (optional): This is an optional step that I like to include for special circumstances. If you consistently receive a lot of calendar invitations or certain messages that are highly urgent. Having an action category with a bright colored labeled will be very beneficial. I like to leave these emails in the inbox so they won’t be missed.
  • Color code: I feel that this is such a simple, yet valuable way to organize not only emails but calendars as well. When your eye is drawn to a specific color, you’ll automatically see the importance. I like to have my clients create color-coded labels (or folders) to help identify the priority levels. For example: Green= lowest priority, orange= highest priority, red= action item.
  • Think- Read, Categorize, Respond, Archive or Delete: Try to get yourself into the habit of going through your inbox at the beginning of your work day. This entails sorting through your emails and categorizing each email with its priority level, then respond (if needed, depending on priority and time). Once finished, delete or archive. By doing this you will get rid of any junk emails that may be filtering through, and you will be able to respond to your most urgent messages in a timely manner.

Trust me, these steps may seem like a lot at first but once you get used to the process it’s extremely simple. In no time you will have successfully managed your inbox, you’ll find everything in its place, nice and organized.

Do you have anything you would like to add that may have helped you get organized?

Travel Plans? Where to start

 

travel-plans-where-to-start

Ahh, travel. To some people, this can be an exciting journey and to others, it can be a plain hassle. There are many factors to consider when travel is in your near future such as flights, transportation, scheduling, lodging, member benefits and more. Are you traveling for personal reasons or business? Do you need to keep track of your travel expenses? It’s no wonder receipts can get lost, points are missed or you end up spending much more than you anticipated. There is a lot to think about!

I don’t know about you, but something that I’ve noticed consistently that seems to determine a good travel experience for most of my clients is COMFORT. So here are some things I like to consider when planning a trip. This should help you stay organized, comfortable and on track for your next trip.

Flights- Get to the airport early! Delays, layovers, baggage (carry-on or checked), preferred airline, type of aircraft, seating, flex tickets (the ability to cancel) and cost. If you work for a company that has a specific travel protocol, make sure you’re booking within those guidelines.

Transportation-  To and from the airport, hotel pickup shuttles within the airport, rental cars, Uber, Lyft, cabs, and cost. There are many choices when it comes to transportation, knowing when and where you need to be will help to narrow down these choices. Convenience can factor in as well if you’re willing to pay a bit more.

Scheduling: Be on time! Departing and arriving according to your schedule (or event), traffic, weather, cancellations and rescheduling flights are all things to think about when you need to be somewhere at a specific time/day. Look at your dates closely, make sure you’re not traveling during a major event or holiday because this may hinder your travel plans.

Are you a rewards member? Do you want to redeem points or miles? Setting up member accounts to gain miles, points, and freebies is always a plus. You can sign up to join various airlines, hotels, rental car agencies, etc. You’ll end up using them more than you might think, just remember to include your member number every time you book!

Lodging: With all the choices these days such as Airbnb, HomeAway, mainstream hotels, and boutique hotels, how do you know which is best? I would consider cost, the length of stay and preference before making a decision.

Expenses: Use apps to help streamline your expenses! Apps are very helpful and make keeping track of these items much easier. You can take photos of your receipts with your phone instead of keeping paper copies. Email receipts and other confirmations to yourself, you’re likely receiving some of these through email anyway. Keeping them all in one folder may help the organization process.

Just a few extras:

  • When traveling internationally make sure your passport has not exceeded the expiration date. Also, check with the country you’re traveling too for any other documentation you may need.
  • Before a flight, I like to keep a water bottle and a small snack on me. Especially if I’m flying economy, you never know when you’ll get your next meal.
  • Carry a light jacket, airplanes can get chilly.
  • Keep a book or phone handy to help occupy your time. I keep one in my carry-on bag, so it’s accessible during my flight.
  • Always keep an eye out for checked baggage fees when necessary.
  • Weather! Check the weather at your destination prior to packing.

 

Can you think of anything to add to this list? What are some of your go-to travel tips?