3 Ways to Make Monday the Best Day of Your Week

This article was originally published for Front Office Sports.

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They don’t have to be as hard as you think. 

We all know the phrase from Office Space — “Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays.” Monday can be hard. Monday can be a drain. But, Monday doesn’t have to be. In fact, it shouldn’t be.

Monday should be used to set the tone for your whole week. It should serve as the launching point to make sure that each week is as productive as you can make it.
I know what you’re thinking. How am I supposed to make Monday count? It’s all I can do to get to the office on time! Well you’re in luck. That’s what I’m here for.

If you want to separate yourself from the other workers in the cubicle farm and get the most out your Monday, follow these three easy tips and begin to see how they can transform your weekly productivity.

Wellness/Meal Prep
For me, the key to work productivity also includes keeping up with my workouts and eating right. If I’m not working out or get into poor eating habits, it begins to affect my mood, mindfulness and overall productivity.

One way to make sure that I keep these aspects of my life in order is to plan my workouts and meals ahead of time. This isn’t as daunting as it sounds. As you look at your week ahead, try to plan for 3–4 workouts at convenient times.

This may have to be before you go into the office, at lunch, or at the end of the day. Regardless of the time, make sure to plan accordingly to keep your fitness goals on track.

For meal prep, it’s easy to schedule your weekly trips to the grocery store on the weekends. This allows you to prep for meals in advance.

How busy is your week? Do you have a meeting where food will be provided? Will you be away from your desk and need to pack snacks/protein bars? Have you scheduled lunch meetings?

Don’t leave your meals to chance! You will often find yourself choosing unhealthy food or skipping meals altogether.

A simple workout and meal plan conducted on the weekend can set you up for a successful week at the gym and at the lunch table.

Handwritten To-Do List
I wrote last week that the best way to remember things is to write them down by hand. I want to reiterate that point again and say that another way get your mind right for Monday is to write down your weekly to-do list.

Pull up all of your calendars and important appointments and write them down to set up your week. Along with that, prioritize the tasks you want to complete, meetings you have planned or want to plan and also incorporate your workouts and meal plan.

Now we all know what they say, “The best laid plans of mice and men,” — but starting your week off with this solid written agenda will allow you to begin on track and will also make adjustments easier as they inevitably pop up during the week.

You can be more agile and more productive when the majority of your week is planned ahead of time. There is nothing better than entering the week with a nicely laid out plan with tasks ready to cross off!

Relationships
The final step to help make your Monday more meaningful is to plan ahead for relationship building.

We all have busy weeks with a lot of moving parts, but relationship building and networking should always be a focus. Here are some ways to make this more manageable.

First, develop your “core” list of mentors, influencers, or whatever you want to call your most coveted contacts. These are the people who you keep in contact with the most and reach out to when in need of help or guidance. Keep these individuals close and reach out to them often. Ask how they have been and be mindful of what’s going on in their lives too.

Next, identify “lost” connections, or those that you’ve developed a relationship with but over time have lost contact with. Work to keep these people more top of mind and converse about what each of you have going on.

Finally, make a list of “acquaintances” that have been influential in your career or that you have developed even a small relationship with. By identifying your core contacts, lost connections and acquaintances, you will have a “living” list that constantly evolves.

Select a core contact, lost connection and acquaintance to reach out to each week (at least) to make sure you’re always maintaining and growing relationships, while reinforcing the friendships you have.

These three tips are just a start. There are many things you can do on the weekend to refresh and recharge and set yourself up for a productive week. But, I have found these three items are the top priorities for me as I look to plan my week. After a while, they become habitual and they’re just part of a regular weekend.

Meisner Musings Book Club 2017

If you’re like me, you are consistently adding to your reading list. In my opinion, you should always have a running list of books that you want to read, or that have been recommended to you for one reason or another.

Towards the end of each professional development Q&A session that I recently published, there was a question asking what was the last book you read or are reading. I wanted to aggregate the list below in hopes that you will get some inspiration for your own reading.

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Chris YandleDo Over by Jon Acuff

Karen FrebergKnown by Mark Schaefer

Kevin AdemaThe Shift by Scott M. Davis

Kristin SeedFour Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Troy JohnsonEdelman and the Rise of Public Relations by Franz Wisner
Headed For Home by Mary Helen Brown

Lora WeyYou Win in the Locker Room First by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith

Mark HodgkinSo Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work by Cal Newport

Brett MyersThe Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

J.W. CannonChaos Monkeys by Antonio Garcia Martinez

Kevin DeShazoShoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator or Nike by Phil Knight

I plan to add each and every one of these books to my “on deck list” and I hope that you check them out as well. Below, I’ve given a few more recommendations from my book shelf that you may like.

What I’m ReadingThe Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and It Looked Like Forever by Mark Harris

What’s On DeckRich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki, Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly, The Last Boy: Micky Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood  by Jane Leavy, Pistol by Mark Kriegal

What I RecommendResisting Happiness by Mathew Kelly, Toughness by Jay Bilas, One Last Strike by Tony LaRussa, 3 Nights in August by Buzz Bissinger, The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons, The SouthpawBang The Drum SlowlyA Ticket For Seamstitch all by Mark Harris, Content Rules by Ann Handley and CC Chapman, UnMarketing by Scott Stratten, What To Do When It’s Your Turn by Seth Godin, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook and #AskGaryVee both by Gary Vaynerchuck.

I’d love to hear feedback on the above recommendations and I’d also like to hear some of your favorites. Please email, tweet, or leave comments below with some of your favorite recommendations.

 

4 Ways to Stay Relevant In Today’s Marketing World

This article originally published for Front Office Sports

As we approach graduation season, a popular topic that’s appearing on my social feeds is advice for those about to graduate. While this post is being published around the same time, I try not to wait until just this time of year to help those who may need it. I strive to set meetings, write blogs and join discussions all year long, focusing on self improvement and career development.

As many of you know, today’s marketing and communications landscape is changing rapidly. So rapidly in fact, that seasoned professionals sometimes find it hard to stay sharp and keep their skills up-to-date with the latest trends.

As a way to help both young professionals and those with a little more “fungus on their shower shoes,” I would like to offer some tips on how to stay relevant in today’s ever changing marketing landscape.

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1. Get Certified — There are many FREE certifications available to marketers today designed to help keep your skills sharp. The one that I recommend to most is the Inbound Certification from HubSpot. HubSpot is the world’s largest and best Inbound Marketing software platform and the authority on educational inbound marketing resources. Many of these resources include training videos which are categorized into a series of Marketing Certification courses. Of the five total courses offered, the Inbound certification is far and away the most completed course and the most comprehensive. The Google AdWords Certification is another increasingly popular online certification. This particular certification allows individuals to demonstrate that Google will recognize them as an expert in online advertising. Additionally, Hootsuite offers a series of social media marketing courses that are also defined to drive real business results. I can’t stress this enough, retaining certifications by any of these outlets will ensure you’re keeping up with the latest marketing trends.

2. Learn To Code — There was a time when knowing how to code or program was only for IT professionals or those that “are good with computers.” As you well know, if you’re going to hold nearly any professional job these days, you better know more than just the basics of using a computer, tablet or smart phone. I may be dating myself, but I definitely remember the times when this wasn’t the case. Any entrepreneur, marketer or freelancer will tell you today that coding can help you succeed and separate you from your competitors. As with the certification tips above, there are many FREE resources available online that can teach you the basics of coding and programming. If you’d like a handy list of places that offer coding for free, I’ve got you covered.

3. Learn Video Basics — I should probably take my own advice here. I mean I just wrote a post about how video marketing is the hottest trend right now, yet I’m not much help with a camera or editing. If you want to add value and separate yourself from the employee in the next cubicle, learn to shoot and edit video. It’s that simple. I reached out to my good friend Chris Yandle to discuss this tip, as he is a recently self-taught videographer and photographer. His new role allows for great flexibility for career development and Chris immediately began to improve his value by learning these two skills. He says he watched a lot of YouTube tutorials and edited video while he watched them. To quote him “We live in an amazing time when information is everywhere and YouTube is a prime example. It is free and offers may hours of online learning.” Some employers and universities may also pay for certain photography and video courses, but start with YouTube videos and you can construct a realistic timeline to learn more about video production.

4. Never Stop Learning — This is a mantra that I try to live by. Don’t ever get set in your ways or think you have all the answers. Learning can apply to many things too, not just your professional career. Start a reading list and try to read as much as your free time allows. Make the list diverse and don’t just read about work or careers. I try to mix in books about marketing, sports, religion, fitness and mindfulness. But that is just me. Come up with the five or six things you like and pick out a book in each topic. Also, read blogs on these topics, follow folks on twitter discussing them or look at local seminars focusing on them. Also make sure to consistently network and connect with friends and colleagues. Come up with a list of your top 10–15 “core” connections and make sure to touch base with them regularly. Always look to nurture those relationships. Finally, join professional networks associated with your profession and attend meet-ups, mixers, etc. These are excellent ways to nurture and expand your network. Making these new connections allows you to learn new ideas and new ways of thinking. You’re never to old to stop learning new things and meeting new people.

It sometimes can feel daunting when a new app, new feature or new platform is seemingly announced weekly. It doesn’t mean that you have to learn a new skill or change your whole marketing campaign. But, it does remind us that innovation never stops and therefore we must keep learning and trying new things.

Following the tips above can help you remain agile and relevant. They will help you expand your skill set and learn new things to help you advance your career. But, this is just a simple list to get your mind going. I’m sure some of you could add to this list and think of even more ways to add value to your employer. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions below. Drop us a line or tweet at us with your ideas.

Professional Development Q&A With Mark Hodgkin

This post is the seventh in a series of Q&A sessions with friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and other contacts who I consider both influential and inspirational. Each of these individuals possesses a skillset that I believe you will find valuable. They have each made an impact throughout my career path and I wanted to feature them in this series.

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

Name: Mark Hodgkin (@Mark_Hodgkin)
Profession: Director of Product Development
Degree: BA in History, University of Texas at Austin; MBA, Bryant University

Mark and I connected via twitter (which isn’t that uncommon in this day and age). I would say it was in 2015 or so and again it was via my guy Chris Yandle. We traded some comments on Twitter for a while, and then in 2016 Mark reached out to me to discuss careers and other items.

At the time Mark was in career transition (or at least contemplating it) and he was picking my brain about my decision to leave college athletics and enter the private sector. He was genuinely interested in hearing about my story and also what I was up to in my career at that point. I never forgot the feelings I felt when he reached out and wanted to talk to me. I was humbled to think that I could help someone out and also excited to make a new connection.

Since that time, we stayed in touch and often discussed sports, brown drink and other common interests we shared. Mark was one of the first people I reached out to recently as I began looking for other career opportunities. He has been gracious in recent months to stay in touch to discuss careers, networking opportunities and of course bourbon. With that said, by the end of this blog I’m confident you will realize why Mark is such a great resource for me. I hope you enjoy the following tidbits and advice from Mark Hodgkin.

1) How does your current profession align with the degree you graduated with? If you have held other jobs, how closely have they been aligned?
It’s hard to point to any direct relationship between my degrees and my current role. Late in my undergrad career I realized I wanted to work in sports. That led me to a graduate assistant position at Bryant University doing marketing while getting my MBA. I had never considered an MBA until then, but believe it has been useful in my career. Even my BA in History, which doesn’t seem terribly practical, definitely helped my writing and reasoning skills. That was very helpful with my MBA and in a general sense after my career.

My shift to digital came after taking an internship at Boston College, which came just as schools were starting to hire digital-focused people. That was a bit of good luck and timing as it led to a seven year stint at the Big East/American Conference and my current role at NeuLion.

2) What did you ‘plan to do’ after college and how close is that to what you’re doing at this point in your career? Were there any deviations along the way and did they help/hurt your path to your current job?
I credit one of my mentors, Dennis Coleman, for suggesting that working in sports could be a viable career path around the time of my junior year in college. Until then, I was drifting along assuming I’d do something like teach, work at a bank or perhaps even go to law school. So I got a late start, but as Dennis told me, he “could open the door, but you have to prove you belong.” Ever since then I’ve been full into sports, but have been able to find my niche in it with digital media.

3) What’s your best piece of advice for today’s entry-level candidates?
It’s almost cliche at this point, but Network, Network and then NETWORK some more. Opportunities to advance will almost always correspond with relationships you’ve built. Relationships I’ve worked to cultivate have led to every job I’ve ever gotten. If you want to work in sports, it’s especially important as it is a very small, close-knit community.

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4) What do like the most about your profession?
The thing I like most about college sports are the passion of its followers and the community of people. I always try to take a moment to think about how many people pay to attend events that we call work. That’s not to say that it is easy or without serious challenges. But at the end of the day, most people have to work and I think what we do is special.

I also think people in college sports have been amazing to connect and learn from. I can’t speak for every other industry but am amazed at how many people take the time to talk shop and trade ideas in this space.

5) What is the biggest challenge you face in your profession?
Currently, it’s adjusting from a chair on a school or conference side to life at a tech company. While I interacted with digital partners in my last two jobs, the challenges on the inside are totally different. You’re trying to build a cutting edge platform that suits the needs of hundreds of partners, while living within the confines of a business. I’ve always worked with a broad array of people, but going more to the technical side has its challenges.

6) How has your industry changed during your time as a professional?
Thankfully for me, college sports has really gotten more focused on social and digital media. There are full-time positions everywhere and many now at a more senior level. What you’re seeing today from schools on the digital front is staggering. Take a look at the graphics today as opposed to just 3-4 years ago. It’s amazing and now something that almost all administrators and coaches see value in.

7) Why do people leave your field or company? Do you agree with why they leave?
Speaking from a college sports perspective, a lot of people leave because of the hours and often low pay. It can be hard to have that elusive “work/life balance” and I see people get burned out. The economics of the system obviously push the big bucks to head coaches in revenue sports and the long line of qualified applicants keep wages low for many others.

As far as why people leave, I can’t agree or disagree. We each have our own journey and I understand the desire to spend more time having “a life”. Though I do think it can be done, many struggle with the so-called balance.

8) Are you considering leaving your current field or company?
Absolutely not. A former colleague of mine always referred to what we do as the “toy section” of careers. It’s hard work and plenty challenging, but at the end of the day very rewarding.

9) What is your favorite social media platform?
From a usage perspective, it’s Twitter followed closely by Instagram. I love the connections with strangers who have often become real life friends. I love how we can talk about common interests as well as follow along with news and sports stories in real time. I do think there are some scary addictive symptoms of too much social media use so I try to keep that in check. A few months ago I got off social media completely for a full month and really enjoyed it. Now I try to be more mindful of the time I spend and how easily it can distract me from more important tasks.

From an observer of the space I have an amazing amount of respect for what Facebook (and its subsidiary Instagram) has built and run. When you stop to think how Mark Zuckerburg took a fairly run-of-the-mill idea and built it into a globally transformative company (as a 20-something with no business background) really is staggering. I tend to think what Facebook is today is just the start and can’t imagine what it will look like in five years.

10) What was the last book you read? The last TED talk or other e-learning content you consumed?
I read a ton. Typically a few books at a time. The best one I read recently was “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by a very interesting writer named Cal Newport. His book “Deep Work” was also very interesting to me even though he’s a strong critic of social media. I don’t agree 100% with everything he says but think his perspective is important – especially these days.

11) Where do you receive your news and information?
I don’t subscribe to a print paper or watch much TV. Most of my information comes from Internet sources be it social media or curated feeds via something like Pocket or Feedly. I also have a subscription to the Washington Post on my Kindle and find that useful.

12) What are your hobbies? Do you wish you had more time to pick up a hobby?
For a time during my college career I seriously considered dropping out and pursuing a culinary degree so cooking is still a great hobby for me. I also read a ton and love playing golf when I have the time.

Professional Development Q&A with Chris Yandle

This post is the first in a series of Q&A sessions with friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and other contacts who I consider both influential and inspirational. Each of these individuals possesses a skillset that I believe you will find valuable. They have each made an impact throughout my career path and I wanted to feature them in this series.

Name: Chris Yandle (@ChrisYandle)
Profession: Communications Specialist, St. Tammany Parish Public School System (former college athletics administrator)
Degree: B.A., Public Relations (Louisiana-Lafayette, 2004); M.S., Athletic Administration (Marshall, 2007); current Higher Ed Leadership Ph.D. student, Mercer University (estimated completion: 2019)

I first met Chris during my time with Conference USA from 2006-2010. Chris was a graduate assistant SID at Marshall University and served as the media contact for various sports, which I also handled, for the conference office. We stayed in touch as he climbed the ranks in college athletics at various schools, while I began working in digital media on the corporate and agency side.

We’ve stayed in close contact as he and I have both been making career moves. Chris is one of the smartest and most driven people that I know. Despite what he may think, he was at the top of my list of people to profile for this series. I hope you enjoy the following tidbits and advice from Chris Yandle.

1) How does your current profession align with the degree you graduated with? If you have held other jobs, how closely have they been aligned?
My entire professional career has been in the public relations and communications field. Before my current role, I spent 15 years in communications for college athletics. That career allowed me to learn many skills and juggle many job demands which ultimately prepared me for the next step in my career in K-12 education. The beauty of having PR and communications skills are that you can work in any industry; you learn to become very versatile and multifaceted.

2) What did you ‘plan to do’ after college and how close is that to what you’re doing at this point in your career? Were there any deviations along the way and did they help/hurt your path to your current job?
That’s an interesting question. Before starting college, I didn’t know the athletics communications field existed. I thought I wanted to be a sportswriter, but I quickly fell in love with college athletics. But because I devoted my entire life to the field, it consumed me and I fell out of love with it. I learned that there was more to life than a career. Looking back on my career, I think I accomplished all that I could accomplish. I wish I would have enjoyed more of the journey than I did. I didn’t celebrate the small victories and the little things. I was so consumed with conquering the big events and big victories. I think not enjoying the journey ultimately led to me falling out of love with my career. On a positive note, that lesson has helped me in my new career. I’ve celebrated more small victories in eight weeks than in the previous 15 years.

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3) What’s your best piece of advice for today’s entry-level candidates?
Make the big time where you are. Don’t continuously look for the next big thing. The big thing should always be where you are.

4) What do like the most about your profession?
Being the K-12 sector now, I get to visit our schools regularly and interact with the kids on a daily basis. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed being on campuses and telling the schools’ stories.

5) What is the biggest challenge you face in your profession?
The biggest challenge in college athletics was the constant rat race. It was never-ending and it was a constant fight for the next title and the next big thing. While college athletics offered upward mobility, K-12 doesn’t offer the same mobility. I think that’s the biggest challenge I would face, but I am not looking for the next big thing. I want to enjoy the journey.

6) How has your industry changed during your time as a professional?
Social media has changed everything in how we communicate and do our jobs. When I started in college athletics, website video wasn’t a thing yet. Now, it’s hype videos, live videos, graphic design, digital recruiting, and 90-hour work weeks. Because of the constant need for information and attention, the purpose of college athletics forced PR and communications offices to change their focuses.

7) Why do people leave your field or company? Do you agree with why they leave?
People in college athletics get burned out easily because of the long work hours and no time for decompression. You’re constantly on the go. I worked weekends constantly for 15 years. Now that I’m in K-12, I have my first M-F, 9-5 job in my life. I can totally relate to why people leave the field. It’s hard to have a family and work 70-90 hours per week. It’s demanding, it’s a grind. I don’t know how my wife put up with it for so long.

8) Are you considering leaving your current field or company?
I was contemplating leaving college athletics for a few years before I was let go from my last school. It was unplanned and certainly led to several months of struggles for me and my family, but it probably was a good thing it happened. For the first time in my career, I am happy with what I’m doing in K-12. I feel fulfilled.

9) What is your favorite social media platform?
My wife and kids will you tell – in unison: Twitter. I like the real-time and 1-to-1 interaction with people. You can instantaneously comment and respond. It’s where I get my news.

10) What was the last book you read? The last TED talk or other e-learning content you consumed?
I am currently reading ‘Do Over’ by Jon Acuff. It talks about making a career change and it’s helped spark my creativity for a book I’ve always wanted to write. The last TED talk for me was ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek. We watched it in one of my higher ed classes. I also read his book, too.

11) Where do you receive your news and information? 
A. Print Newspaper – New Orleans Advocate
B. Online Newspaper – New Orleans Advocate, USA TODAY
C. Television – NBC News, local New Orleans stations
D. Twitter – New Orleans media, national writers
E. Facebook – #FakeNews 🙂
F. Other – Nope

12) What are your hobbies? Do you wish you had more time to pick up a hobby?
My hobby in the fall was coaching my son’s U6 soccer team. Now that I have more time on my hands, my hobbies are reading, playing with my kids and probably doing homework on the weekends 🙂

Top 3 Ways an Inbound Agency Adds Value

Inbound Marketing and its core tenants are starting to become a mainstream way of thinking as more business decision makers realize its ROI power. We’ve said it before, but outbound marketing features company focused collateral that is un-trackable. Inbound marketing is completely customer focused and based around metrics that are easily trackable.

Therefore, Inbound Marketing agencies can help business generate more qualified leads by producing content that helps lead prospects to make informed decisions. Sounds awesome right? But, how do they do this and what exactly makes partnering with an Inbound agency valuable?

Keep reading below or watch my video HERE!

Turning Projects into Programs

Inbound agencies aren’t bogged down in the internal business struggles that may get in the way of you ultimately helping your company meet its growth goals. An Inbound agency can help you think about not just the list of projects that need completed, but how those ultimately can become long-term programs and campaigns. Inbound marketing at its core creates assets. CEO’s and decision makers love assets. They especially love the when those assets increase in value. Every blog post, ebook, infographic, video, slide share, landing page, CTA, email, lead nurturing series, workflow, process you document and system you help put in place is an asset. The best news is that these assets grow in value without needing to make any additional investments and can all be integral parts of ongoing and successful marketing programs.

Creativity and Expertise

Not every business is ahead of the game when it comes to social media marketing. They may excel on one platform, but struggle on others. Or they may try to be on all social platforms out there and therefore can’t produce compelling content on each one. An Inbound agency can provide the strategy and expertise needed to succeed with social content, while bringing a creative flair which will help your campaigns reach their goals. Agencies typically showcase creativity and a willingness to push the envelope that internal team members may not feel comfortable offering on their own. Trusting an Inbound agency to bring fresh, relevant ideas and knowing they can track and measure how the success was achieved will make you look good to your CEO.   

Goal Setting and Measurement 

As we mentioned above, being able to track and measure success is at the heart of Inbound Marketing. All the assets created above will be loaded with keywords and other elements to help your company’s content be indexed an easily searchable on Google. As your indexed content grows, you will no longer have to chase customers. Inbound marketing is founded on the idea that being an educational resource adds value and nurtures leads into customers, so you’ll stop wasting money on chasing people that don’t matter to your bottom line. Inbound agencies are so wrapped up in your bottom line that they’ll constantly measure what is working and what isn’t and adjust accordingly to keep you on track to meet your goals. It’s this data-driven, ROI first mentality that ultimately makes partnering with an Inbound agency valuable.

These are just a few of the reasons that working with an Inbound agency can help you look good to your bosses. 

If you’d like more tips on how Inbound Marketing can help you, subscribe to my blog here

How Marketing Automation Helps Improve Your Alumni Relations

Football season is back! That means tailgates and re-connecting with alumni when they return to campus. Most alumni associations spend considerable amounts of time during the offseason planning tailgate events.

Marketing automation is a great way to nurture these relationships with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to strong leads and turn those leads into delighted customers. This type of marketing automation normally generates new revenue for your alumni accociation and provides an excellent ROI.

I know that higher education professionals cringe at the words prospects, leads, and sell. But, bear with us here. Though we’re using some marketing lingo, the techniques we discuss are the same whether we’re talking about customers buying a product, or alumni donating to your campaign.

Let me tell you how marketing automation helps improve your alumni relations.

Improved Insights into Donor Behavior

Marketing automation software works to gather information from prospects on a consistent basis. Many have the ability to track actions such as page visits, email opens, downloads, form signups, donations, and much more. All of this data is stored into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and helps build customer profiles. These profiles help you:

  • Deeply understand your donor profiles by knowing their interests and actions
  • Measure engagement from most-engaged to least-engaged
  • Analyze effectiveness of campaigns and outreach efforts  

Improved Fundraising, Member Retention and Nurturing

Marketing automation also allows for better communication with your entire prospect base. This communication can be personalized to each individual in various ways such as.

  • Campaigns targeted to current members that automatically send 30-60 days before renewal dates and/or important giving initiatives. These messages can be tailored to each member based on activity level, or donation level.
  • Messages triggered to individual donors based on webpage visits, page clicks or form signups to help solicit additional gifts.
  • Newsletter delivery, instant communications based on certain web actions, other membership offers and survey data capturing for potential members or very new leads to help gauge interest in certain initiatives and allow for up-to-date and immediate contacting.

Marketing automation allows for messages to be sent at the right time, in the right way, to the right person without delay. When you automate parts of your higher education marketing strategy, you gain great insight into how your alumni and possible donors think and act.

This competitive advantage allows you to predict behavior and respond to their inquiries more effectively. This technology isn’t just for increasing giving potential. You can also use it to maintain long-term relationships with alumni and donors.

For more information on marketing automation and inbound marketing, subscribe to my blog

This post was originally published by Verge Pipe Media

Be A Partner NOT A Vendor

Leading clients is a contact sport. It’s one of the most important things I learned while at Account Executive College. This means that if I’m going to lead our clients successfully, I must be in front of them consistently and speak with them frequently.
This constant contact requires the utilization of certain tools and principles by which to abide. In this blog I want to discuss how it is important to be a partner NOT a vendor for your clients. Clients will often try to do more on their own, so you have to be there to lead and advise them during your relationship so they realize the impact you can make in their marketing efforts. The deeper the relationship you can build and the better leader you can be for them, the less they will want to explore other options when the new “in” thing comes along.

Having said that, here are three ways to help you be a leader for your clients to help guide them through the changing media and marketing landscape.

Look for inconsistencies to fix 

An easy way to get quick wins early in a client relationship and a tactic that will help gain their trust for the duration of the partnership is to look for brand inconsistencies. Once you’ve identified the areas you can help correct for them, immediately tell them, “we can fix this!” This can be as easy as suggesting better content to post, better times to post it or making sure all social profiles have consistent bio information. Prioritize the importance on these projects and knock them out quickly and effectively. Your client will be impressed that you solved, what seemed to them, complex problems more quickly than they could. This will help you earn immediate trust.

Take work off their plate

One of the first questions we ask when we start working with new clients is, “what keeps you up at night?” Actually, we begin to ask that question well before we’ve signed on as the agency of record, and then we reiterate it again during our first meetings. We want to take work off our cleint’s plate very quickly and be known for the problems we solve for them. If you are consistently making their workload lighter, you’ll start to become a trusted advisor for them. They will come to you when they’re considering making a decision or will ask that you be in meetings that impact their daily workload. This action goes a long way in building up lasting trust.  

Always show value

The final step in becoming a trusted partner and earning long lasting confidence from your client is for you to always show value. The first two points listed above will help you establish quick value and value during the early stages of the new relationship. But, being able to consistently show value will make a partnership last a long time. Value can mean many things to many people. In the case of a client partnership it can be in the form of offering ideas, solving problems, being available when called upon, sticking up for your client when they face internal strife, meeting and exceeding deadlines, and generally just making their lives easier.

I mentioned zero-cost client service initiatives in the first blog of this series and being a trusted partner is also a way to bring your agency tremendous returns at zero cost. Following these above steps will also help you gain various levels of trust with your client that can lead to a lasting and productive relationship.

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This post was originally published for Verge Pipe Media

Listening With Mirrors

Leading clients is a contact sport. As the former Executive Director of Client Leadership (fancy title I know!) at Verge Pipe Media, I learned to roll up my sleeves and get dirty to lead our clients successfully. pexels-photo-85040

Being able to do this requires certain tools in your client services toolbox. Therefore, in my upcoming series of blogs I pull back the curtain and reveal some tools that I’ve used to be successful.

The first tip I’d like to discuss is “listening with mirrors.” “Listening with mirrors?” you say. “What does that even mean?” I’m glad you asked.

Reflective Listening

The way I like to define listening with mirrors is as follows: Listen to your clients intently and then reflect back to them what they just communicated. This is sometimes called “reflective listening,” I’ve come to learn. But I like the sound of listening with mirrors. It presents a great visual reminder for me.

Seriously it does. If I think in my head “mirrors” as I start a discussion with a client, it reminds me to focus on what a client is telling me and then probe deeper into what they just said. This doesn’t mean just repeating what they said, it means responding with reflection (mirrors, get it). Responding with reflection allows the client to “re-see” or rethink about what they just told you.

Reflective sentences may begin like this:

“It sounds like…”

“What I’m hearing is…”

“You feel…”

Beginning your phrasing like this allows you to reflect back, in your own words, what you understood them say. This is often different than what they actually said or what they mean to say. Listening with mirrors usually prompts the client to fill in gaps or add further explanation as to what they wanted to convey. Thus, you are both ultimately speaking the same language when it comes to the problem or situation the client is laying out before you.

Don’t Judge

Another key piece of listening with mirrors is to not judge what the person said when you reflect back. This gives your client a chance to see how they’re coming across, which may or may not be how they meant to come across with the message. Not judging will prevent you from coming across as rude or argumentative, which could lead the client to get defensive.

Overstate

Reflecting back with clients can give you the chance to overstate or slightly embellish their comment or issue in order to see if they really meant what they said. This method may surprise your client, but will usually cause them to pause and consider if they really meant what they said, or if the problem is a big as it seems. Again, it’s all about making the client think about their needs in a different light and possibly re-evaluate or re-prioritize what really matters.

Trust me, it works

I have found in most cases that listening with mirrors is validating to our clients. Think about who you communicate with on a regular basis. How do you feel when that someone takes the time to really listen to what you say and take the time to understand your problems? Feels pretty good right?!

Listening with mirrors is a zero-cost client service and the return can be tremendous! Reflecting back to clients consistently will help you better retain your current clients and make it easier for prospects and new clients to see that you are genuinely interested in helping them solve problems. Doesn’t get much better than that, does it? 

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This blog was originally posted by Verge Pipe Media. 

 

Creating Content For “Boring” Industries Can Be Easy

Selling a service can be hard, especially a B2B service that may be considered “boring” to the average person. At Verge Pipe Media we pride ourselves on figuring out the problems that keep our clients up at night. The pain points, if you will, that we can help them solve to effectively get the conversions for which they are looking.

During my tenure working for a boring industry, I liked to say that “we aren’t selling Nikes,” so we had to cut through some clutter and make engaging and educational content that would convert visitors into prospects.

Think for a minute about the end user or the person making this “considered purchase.” What are they trying to understand? What research are they doing? What problem are they trying to solve with the service? When you nail that down, produce content and content offers around that problem.

It may be hard to “un-boring” your service (think engineering, finance, banking, etc.) but it’s not about making something that isn’t flashy, into something flashy. Rather, it’s creating content and offers that compel people to want to learn more about how your business can solve a particular problem. Inbound marketing for boring industries is all about producing educational content that shows you are the trusted resource in the industry.

Try hard to find an un-boring angle if possible. Good content for boring industries doesn’t have to be exciting, but it has to be compelling to your target audience. Creating compelling content for boring industries is also about finding that one un-boring angle and using it to your advantage. Knowledge is power, so as long as you prove that you know what you’re talking about and know it better than your competitors, you’re on your way to gaining customers.

We do want to caution you, although what we just said may seem simple, it’s not. Boring industry marketers are often at a disadvantage because we have to do lots of extra homework. Often we find ourselves teaching our team in great depth about what this industry does and who it serves, before we can even start marketing.

With that said, here are some helpful tips to follow if you need to convert new customers for your “boring” industry:

It’s all about your personas

In order to create compelling content, you must know your target audience. Creating detailed buyer personas will help you know the likes, dislikes, interests, activities and influences of your ideal customer. Want to learn more about personas? We have you covered.

Leverage your subject matter experts

Every industry has subject matter experts, no matter how boring it may seem. These experts often have unique insights to share and can bring an “everyman” perspective to the content. They often have to explain their craft to people, so leverage those thoughts into blog posts, content offers or white papers.

Offer educational content consistently 

Be known by the problems you solve! If you are consistently creating and distributing content that is solving problems for your personas, you will see conversions. It’s as simple as that. The inbound marketing methodology works in spades when you’re solving problems and making people’s lives easier with your content.

Sales and Marketing have to be closely linked/share input

Mixed messages will derail any progress. You can’t create content that solves problems if your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned and pushing out the same messages. It may also be helpful to involve your customer service team (if you have one) when creating content. The sales team usually knows what’s preventing prospects from becoming customers and can help you create content around those problems. Same with the customer service team. They can help you delight customers by telling you what customer love, or what aspects with which they struggle.

Constantly search for success stories and trends

Leveraging testimonials and “warm” stories can go a long way to building trust and brand loyalty. Let those advocates help tell your brand’s story and how it solved their problems. Additionally, always look for how you can capitalize on trends, keywords, etc. You’re not boring if you’re providing answers to timely questions and to make things relatable to your potential customers.

Don’t be afraid of the challenges that may come with trying to market a boring industry. Dig in, roll up your sleeves, and learn all about what it does, how it works and its ideal customers. Then begin to create content that will be helpful, educational and problem solving.

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This blog was originally published by Verge Pipe Media