Are you doing a good job of supporting your marketing staff?

Help your marketing staff succeedWhether you hire a contractor to assist a few hours a month or are able to assign a staff member to marketing, it’s important for them to succeed.  Their success is your success.

It’s in your best interest to support their efforts, and give them the tools they need to accomplish great things for your business.

Establish Timelines

As much as possible, map out project tasks and decide on timing and due dates.

Excel can be an excellent tool for making lists and then sorting and prioritizing tasks.  Other systems such as TeamWork may be helpful, or perhaps your existing software systems can be utilized.  Sometimes it may be something simple, like confirming expectations in an email.

The key is to put it in writing. Staff can then refer to this and it makes your expectations clear.

Make Time to Meet

Have regular meetings or “check in” sessions to make sure you’re on the same page and that everyone –including yourself understands where things are at, and where they are headed.

Not only do these meetings allow you to check the status of your team members, but it also helps to build rapport and flush out unasked questions your staff members may have.

Be prepared for meetings as much as possible.  This could be as simple as keeping a list of items you need to review.

Take time to re-confirm in a follow up email what the next steps are, and their respective deadlines.

Require Documentation (and Allow Adequate Time for Documentation)

Not only does this support the idea of consistent and continuous improvement, but it also aids in continuity.  It’s unlikely staff or contracted team members will be with you forever. Detailed notes and documentation means that when future team members come on board, they can easily figure out where the previous team members finished.

Electronic records should be well organized in folders.  On a regular basis ask staff to give you a ‘tour’ of the computer files so you can see how things are being saved and where they are being saved.  In addition to a general tour of files, think of 5-10 specific files and have the staff show you their exact location.

Paper records are also important especially when multiple staff share computers, some staff (or even yourself) have limited computer skills and/or computers are in locations that are not handy.  Binders are great at keeping key information organized and in order.

Don’t Expect Perfection

While perfection is a great dream to have, it’s better to keep your feet planted firmly in reality. Instead of perfection, expect continuous improvement from your team members.

This is especially true if your team members are responsible for a wide variety of tasks and/or their background is not in marketing.

Master Current Marketing Efforts before Moving Forward

It’s easy to get caught up in the “shiny new object syndrome” so common in the world of marketing.  Don’t let that happen to you OR your staff.

Keep staff focused on your current marketing efforts before you make additions or changes to what you’re doing.  For example, your staff may want to become involved in a variety of social media channels.  It’s likely better for them to concentrate on mastering one to two channels first.

Give Credit Where it’s Due

Recognize and appreciate their efforts.  Everyone learns from praise as well as criticism.

These are small things any business can do in order to help their staff members succeed in their marketing efforts. Since it’s your business they’re supporting, you want to make sure they have the tools, advice, and guidance to be their best.

 

4 Tips To Organize Group Meetings Faster

Have you ever tried to organize a group meeting?  Has it ever become a marathon session of emails trying to come up with a date and time? 

Group Meeting

Meetings are an often essential part of the marketing process.  Sometimes it involves team members tackling a specific project – like a website.  Other times it may be volunteers or committee members organizing an event.

At their worst, meetings become time wasters and hamper progress.  At their best, they can be an incredible opportunity to educate, facilitate feedback, build consensus and move forward with momentum.

In this post let’s discuss how to get off on the right foot, by making sure setting the date and time for the meeting goes well.

#1 – Decide if the meeting is really needed.

What outcome do you want from the meeting?  Take a few moments to sketch out a rough agenda.  Watch for items that are time sensitive, controversial, require votes & signatures, etc.

How important is it to gather the group?  Do members interact on a regular basis anyway?  Could the agenda items be accomplished through a simpler method such as a phone call?  Consider these questions to determine if it would be more effective to tackle the issues through one to one conversations and/or defer items to the future.

#2 – Get in a routine for regular meetings.

If you find yourself meeting every 3  – 4 weeks, then set up a routine.  For example, we’ll always meet on the third Thursday every month at 3pm.  This way, individuals can mark their calendars.  If necessary, send a reminder and re-confirm attendance beforehand.

 #3 – Set the next meeting time before ending the current meeting.

While you have everyone together for a meeting – decide on when the next meeting will be and get it scheduled.  If people are missing, set one or two tentative dates and then confirm it later.

 #4 – Use Doodle.

I love Doodle.  It’s a free online tool that works great for group meetings and is easy to use.

Before I discovered it I would send out an email with dates on when to get together.  Not everyone would respond, and there would always be those responses that were a bit cryptic.

With Doodle, I set up all of the options at once, and send a link out to those invited.  Invitees check off which times work for them, and Doodle assembles all of the responses into a tidy chart.  Sure, you may still need to track down some people to respond, but it’s very clear which dates and times will work best.

A couple of extra Doodle specific tips…

Use the ”yes / if need be / no option.”  This allows invitees to indicate which times work great, and which times are ok but not preferred.

When you send out the link asking people to respond give them a 1-2 day deadline.  It’s important to get feedback and set the meeting date and time quickly – before schedules change.

With these tips you should find organizing your next meeting to be a much more enjoyable experience!

 

Where is THAT photo? 7 Steps to Building your Photo Bank

As the timeless saying goes… “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  Not only do photos communicate information and emotions, they grab and focus attention.Woman taking a landscape photograph with a digital photo camera

But how do you build a bank of photos?

And how do you do it so they are easy to find?  Because you see… even if you take great photos you must be able to find them.

Read on!

Make a list of photos you need.

Think about the different aspects of your business.  Do you have photos about each of those areas?  For example, you may have a small farm and sell beef, pork, chickens and eggs direct to your customers.  Do you have photos of each type of animal?  Or do you tend to only have photos of the cows?

If you are a holistic nutritionist – do you have photos of ingredients as well as finished recipes you recommend?  What about photos from classes you teach?

If you are having an event, think ahead to the types of photos that would make promoting next years’ event even easier.

Start a list and work on collecting these photos.

Take photos throughout the year.

It’s really hard to take photos of vegetables in the snow.  (Well unless you are a year round gardener….)

During busy times, carry a camera with you to make it easy to snap pictures or assign someone to take photos.

And don’t forget the winter months.  Although we tend to minimize pictures of snow and ice – they can be very beautiful and can come in handy when explaining how weather affects your particular business.

Take a variety of photos – close ups, landscape shots and more!

It can be very hard to predict what photos you may need in the future.  Many website designs incorporate wide landscape shots.  In other spots a tall and skinny photo may work better.  Keep this in mind and mix up the perspective of your photos.

Take lots!

Today with digital devices we can see what our photos look like immediately.  But it can be hard to see subtle problems.

Often a strange look on someone’s face, a mess in the background or an odd reflection will go unnoticed until you look at the larger picture.

In addition to taking lots, also take the pictures at slightly different angles to provide you with a variety of options.

Higher quality is better.

If you are using a camera or mobile phone to take pictures be aware of the quality.  Often these photos look great on small screens but when used in other applications such as brochures and websites, the lack of quality becomes evident.  It’s always easier to start with a large photo and make it smaller for marketing materials.

Have a designated camera to take pictures.

Designating a camera for your business pictures helps ensure the photos stay in your hands.  When your intern or staff member moves on, they won’t be moving on with photos of your farm or business on their cell phone.

This leads me to my next tip…

Make sure photos get saved to a central location.

Have a designated storage location for photos.  It could be a specific computer, or a portable hard drive.  When you need photos in the future they will be easy to find.

Setting up folders to organize the photos is also essential.  Use folders and sub-folders with names that reflect the photos they contain.  For example, Jan 2014 Canning Workshop.  Photos can be organized by date, topic or other category as long as it is easy to understand and is consistent.

Don’t forget to save photos even if they have already been posted to your Facebook page.  Some day you may want that image for your e-newsletter or other purpose.

Last but not least, be sure to back up your photo files!

 

Following these steps takes extra time, but when you need photos again in the future, you’ll enjoy having a wide variety to choose from.

Happy clicking (and storing)!

 

Would you like more marketing tips?  Sign up for my free e-report “7 Online Marketing Trends Green Inspired Businesses Need To Know”.

 

Get Ahead of the Chaos! Filing and organizing tips.

It happens to everyone – you get busy and papers pile up.  You can’t find that important email in your inbox filled with hundreds of emails.  You constantly use the find function to locate files on your computer.

Most importantly…. set up a filing system – paper, email and on your computer BEFORE you need it.

Life is busy, and if you have to stop and think where something should be filed, you are less likely to file it properly.  If you have folders already set up – it’s so much easier to file it away.

Think in categories and sub-categories. 

Not only will this help you to organize your files better, it helps organize your thoughts and actions too.  For example, start with broad categories such as finding customers/marketing, creating or preparing what you sell, wrap up – analysis, accounting/bookkeeping, organic certification.  Sub-categories of marketing might be… e-newsletter article notes, e-newsletter open reports, price signs, website updates, list of passwords and logins, etc.

Approach your paper file folders first.

Look at your current files.  Create new files for the coming year for folders that are always needed. For example, expenses, farmer market paperwork, conferences, industry statistics, budgets, blog topic ideas, etc.

Create multiple folders for the new year to replace the ones that have become thick during the current year.  For example, instead of having a folder for all of your farmers markets – create a folder for each market you are involved in.  Maybe you separate the topic by category.  For example – farmers markets contracts, farmers markets sales records, etc.

That stack that has built up on your desk, kitchen table or corner of your floor… tackle it.

Find a large space where you can sort all of these papers into piles.

For important papers create folders for each of these categories for the new year.  This will help this pile from building up again.

Take a look at the papers from the pile.  Could you avoid having this paperwork completely?  Perhaps some items could be kept electronically or you vow to bring home fewer brochures or free publications from that next industry show?

At the end of this process you should have a fresh set of file folders for the coming year.  This way when you have something to file it’s quick and easy to file it quickly.  When important paperwork is in it’s place it’s easier to find.  When you repeat certain projects in the future past records will be easy to reference.

An alternative to file folders.

Another option is to use binders with tabs.  The benefit is that all paperwork stays in order and doesn’t fall out.  The downfalls are those extra seconds it takes to hole punch the paperwork and that they can become bulky if you need to carry them.

Don’t Forget Email and Your Computer

Although you can use search functions to look for files on your computer or that important email – it’s best to be organized in the first place.  This will keep your inbox cleaner because you will be able to move important emails to folders for future reference.

Use the same process as above to assess your current files and to create folders for the coming year in advance.

An Example

Becky teaches local food cooking classes.  Some categories to consider are listed below.  Depending on how many classes she offers and the number of students she may want to create one folder for the categories, or create folders for each sub-category.

Planning – budget, to do list, timeline

Ideas

Marketing – Weekly calendar of activities, Online promotion, flyers

Logistics – location, insurance, packing checklist, contact numbers list, shopping list

Course – Presentation, handouts, recipes

Registrations

Post Event – thank yous, surveys, analysis

It won’t be perfect but it’s a step in the right direction.

There’s no doubt you may need to add folders as you go through the year.  You can’t predict everything.  But having at least some folders set up will get you started and each your folders and filing will improve.