Tuesday

Six Things You Can Do to Better Manage Your Time


Time management is a recurring issue around here. It comes up constantly as one of the great struggles. We’ve got lots to do and insufficient time to do it. 
Here are my best time management tips (they work for me).
1. Keep a list. You’ve got to have a comprehensive list of your outstanding obligations. It can be on paper or contained in a fancy task management system. Personally, I use Wunderlist: it falls somewhere between paper and fancy. You’ll find all kinds of systems for organizing the list. It’s essential that you get the list out of your head and into your system. Until you get it all down somewhere, you’ll spend tremendous energy worrying about what you’re forgetting.
2. Delegate. Go through your list weekly and decide what you can give away. Don’t wait until you’re on overload to delegate: do it now. The more time you give your team to do the work, the more likely it is to get done right. The more time you allow, the more likely you are to hand it off since you’ll hesitate to let it go when the deadline looms. Keep a list of the tasks you’ve delegated and set a deadline that gives you time to address the problem if things don’t go as planned. Err on the side of delegating more than you think you should: give it all away if you can. That saves you for the highest value activities for which only you are suited.
3. Take 15 minutes tonight to plan for tomorrow. Go through your list and identify the two or three high priorities for tomorrow. When you get going in the morning, you’ll know exactly where to put your focus. Never start the day by culling the list and identifying priorities: that should all be done before the day starts so you can attack the important issues first thing. Always finish today with a plan for tomorrow. 
4. Stop checking. Stop the constant checking of everything that can be checked. I remember the good old days when mail came once a day. Once it arrived, it was pointless to keep opening the box and looking inside, so I didn’t waste time walking back and forth to the mailbox. Now we can check everything all day long: email, voicemail, Facebook, Twitter, and an amazing array of news sources. Do it once, maybe twice per day, and don’t look except at designated times. It’s easy to fill your day doing nothing but checking the inputs. You’ve got to regulate yourself or you’ll find yourself checking one thing after another and then clicking on link after link as you go further down the rabbit hole.
5. Stop all input. Shut down all input while you’re focusing on your task. Be very deliberate and close the door, turn off the ringer, shut down the email program, turn off Skype and instant messenger, and kill Facebook and Twitter. Don’t let anything interfere with your single-minded focus. Don’t allow instant messenger to send you popups, and make the texts stop on your phone. Figure out how to put everything on hold while you do what needs doing. You’ll have time later to check all those inputs when you’re finished. 
6. One thing at a time. Forget about multitasking: it doesn’t work. We’d like to believe we’re really good at juggling multiple activities, but we’re not. Our brains are willing to start and stop and shift tasks, but the net effect is that we take more time to do less because we’re constantly starting and stopping. Don’t do more than one thing at a time. Attack your priority and stick with it until you’re done. Don’t take calls when you’re drafting a brief. Don’t talk to your paralegal when you’re on the phone with a client. Focus, focus, focus and finish the task at hand. 
Time management is tricky. When we think we need help, it’s usually because we’ve stopped finishing things and we’re seeing our lists get longer and longer while we lose control. The solution is to finish things. You’ll feel better when you’re able to close out tasks and clear up your list. That’s only going to happen when you focus on finishing. 

Six Things You Can Do to Better Manage Your Time

Time

Time management is a recurring issue around here. It comes up constantly as one of the great struggles. We’ve got lots to do and insufficient time to do it.

Here are my best time management tips (they work for me).

1. Keep a list. You’ve got to have a comprehensive list of your outstanding obligations. It can be on paper or contained in a fancy task management system. Personally, I use Wunderlist: it falls somewhere between paper and fancy. You’ll find all kinds of systems for organizing the list. It’s essential that you get the list out of your head and into your system. Until you get it all down somewhere, you’ll spend tremendous energy worrying about what you’re forgetting.

2. Delegate. Go through your list weekly and decide what you can give away. Don’t wait until you’re on overload to delegate: do it now. The more time you give your team to do the work, the more likely it is to get done right. The more time you allow, the more likely you are to hand it off since you’ll hesitate to let it go when the deadline looms. Keep a list of the tasks you’ve delegated and set a deadline that gives you time to address the problem if things don’t go as planned. Err on the side of delegating more than you think you should: give it all away if you can. That saves you for the highest value activities for which only you are suited.

3. Take 15 minutes tonight to plan for tomorrow. Go through your list and identify the two or three high priorities for tomorrow. When you get going in the morning, you’ll know exactly where to put your focus. Never start the day by culling the list and identifying priorities: that should all be done before the day starts so you can attack the important issues first thing. Always finish today with a plan for tomorrow.

4. Stop checking. Stop the constant checking of everything that can be checked. I remember the good old days when mail came once a day. Once it arrived, it was pointless to keep opening the box and looking inside, so I didn’t waste time walking back and forth to the mailbox. Now we can check everything all day long: email, voicemail, Facebook, Twitter, and an amazing array of news sources. Do it once, maybe twice per day, and don’t look except at designated times. It’s easy to fill your day doing nothing but checking the inputs. You’ve got to regulate yourself or you’ll find yourself checking one thing after another and then clicking on link after link as you go further down the rabbit hole.

5. Stop all input. Shut down all input while you’re focusing on your task. Be very deliberate and close the door, turn off the ringer, shut down the email program, turn off Skype and instant messenger, and kill Facebook and Twitter. Don’t let anything interfere with your single-minded focus. Don’t allow instant messenger to send you popups, and make the texts stop on your phone. Figure out how to put everything on hold while you do what needs doing. You’ll have time later to check all those inputs when you’re finished.

6. One thing at a time. Forget about multitasking: it doesn’t work. We’d like to believe we’re really good at juggling multiple activities, but we’re not. Our brains are willing to start and stop and shift tasks, but the net effect is that we take more time to do less because we’re constantly starting and stopping. Don’t do more than one thing at a time. Attack your priority and stick with it until you’re done. Don’t take calls when you’re drafting a brief. Don’t talk to your paralegal when you’re on the phone with a client. Focus, focus, focus and finish the task at hand.

Time management is tricky. When we think we need help, it’s usually because we’ve stopped finishing things and we’re seeing our lists get longer and longer while we lose control. The solution is to finish things. You’ll feel better when you’re able to close out tasks and clear up your list. That’s only going to happen when you focus on finishing.

 

Wednesday

10 Reasons Your Website Needs to Focus More on Customer Service

Customer service is a major factor in a customer’s overall satisfaction with a company. Consumers want to be assured that the company will back its product or service and be there to assist them when they have a problem or question. Since so much business is being conducted online nowadays, there’s an even greater need to know that the companies we do business with won’t be giving us the cold shoulder when we call with a problem. Here are ten reasons why websites need to focus more on customer service:
  1. Competition – In e-commerce, and in all business, there is often little that sets one company apart from the competition. Pricing and product quality being essentially equal, consumer choice will come down to customer service.
  2. Consumer Confidence – When a consumer makes an online purchase, he surrenders the convenience of having a local merchant to deal with. He needs to know that there will be someone there for him when he has a problem since he won’t typically have anyone nearby to handle it.
  3. Social Networking – Word gets around fast these days, and that includes bad reviews about a company’s service. Nothing can shut down an otherwise successful venture like a bad reputation; and on the internet, a reputation can be established, and taken away, literally overnight.
  4. Volume – The amount of commerce conducted online is at an all-time high and continues to grow. The more transactions that a website handles, the more likely there will be mishaps – incorrect billing, wrong items delivered, product defects, lost orders, etc. The need for a strong customer support team increases with the volume of business a company does.
  5. High Expectations – Because of the wide open market that the internet provides, competition is stiff in virtually every service or business. Consequently, consumer expectations are high. There is zero tolerance in today’s business market for poor customer service.
  6. Low Perceptions – Conversely, with so many businesses outsourcing their customer service resources overseas, public perception of the average customer service rep is at an all-time low. Being a company known for great customer service can be the defining factor for why consumers choose you over everyone else.
  7. Availability – Customers now have so many avenues by which to contact a business – email, phone, online chat, Skype, and even social media – there’s no excuse for inaction or delay on the part of customer service personnel.
  8. Cost-Savings – Forward-thinking businesses learned early on that by providing online tech support via  FAQ’s, downloads, operator manuals and help forums, not only did their customer satisfaction index improve, so did their bottom line.
  9. Customer Loyalty – Repeat business is essential to the success of a company. There are only so many people that you can sell to one time. What brings people back, what sets a company apart more than anything else, is customer service.
  10. Representation – As click-and-mortar entities replace the brick-and-mortar legacy businesses, the face of the company becomes those individuals with whom the customer interacts. In most cases, that’s the customer service rep. The customer service representative is just that – a representative of who you are as a company. That’s no place to skimp if you want to succeed.re
via the smart folks at longhornleads.com

I couldn't have said this better! Word spreads fast in social media and customer service promotes your business best. Join us for the Cusomer Servic chat on Twitter #custserv Tuesday at 9p ET/6p PT

Monday

7 Reasons Why Blogger May be Better for your Business than Wordpress

There are  lots of smart folks on the web, and I try to visit their blogs to get the latest updates. For my own blogs, I am a Blooger user. Even with a background in HTML, I've never felt comfortable in Wordpress as I find the need for many widgets time consuming. So I defaulted to Blogger because it is just so easy to use. Also, I figured, if Google owns blogger, why would they give SEO prefernece to Wordpress blogs in their search? I never made sense to me. I visited My Blogger Tricks and found that I am not alone in my preference of Blogger in their post:
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"Wordpress frameworks both free and premium are coded using PHP as the platform language.  Wordpress for this very reason is Programmers' first choice. If you have resources and the potential to spend bucks to hire a developer who could configure and maintain your site, then wordpress is your best option without any doubts. But if you are not a professional in online business and have limited funds, then switching to this platform will cause you both money and pain. This is where individual bloggers fail to understand the maintenance requirements and trap themselves with the headache of tons of MYSQL errors and broken codes."
Here's some more information from their site that I'll bet you didn't know
Five Myths about Blogger
Following are some baseless statements that are often used by many online and this encourages small business owners to migrate to wordpress hoping that things would get better.
  1. Your Blogger blog is not actually owned by you:
    It is true that all your blog posts and pages are stored at Google servers but you have the option to backup all your files and images from the settings menu. You are free to migrate and leave blogger anytime you wish. You are not a captive here and deserve full Copyrights of your content. Your content stays highly secured at Google servers unlike a private-web host who can give you an unexpected dead call anytime possible.  It is a good habit to backup your Blog at least twice a week no matter what platform you use.
  2. Your  blog can be deleted anytime:
    Yes sure why not. If you are running porn, sharing racist content, distributing disturbing or explicit content and violating copyright laws then anyone would deserve a penalty. AdSense deletes the highest number of accounts then any other ad network, this doesn't mean, publishers should stop using it. As long as you are following any company's Terms of services then you are safe and protected. Further as I mentioned above you must keep a backup of all your data no matter you use Wordpress, Facebook or blogger. You are never the true owner of your data if its not backed up.
  3. Blogger blogs are not liked by Sponsors:
    We are using Blogger on this blog and we are running out of space to ad further ad spots. Our sponsors wait in queue. We receive both paid product reviews, campaign promotion offers and dozens of services per month alhamdulillAllah. If sponsors actually didn't like blogger then may be whatever you see on this blog is a lie. Advertisers don't really care whether you are using a free service or paid as long as you provide quality traffic in return to their product, own a loyal readership and good social rankings. All that a sponsor requires is your strong online existence. That simple. 
  4. Blogger blogs have poor SEO features
    This is the most biased kind of statement one could pass against BlogSpot blogs. How can a platform be poorly optimized when it is owned by Google itself? Since blogger blogs are not equipped with programmed plugins that does all the headache on your behalf, you will have to do some minor tweaks to optimize your template. The web is full of blogger tutorials so the community is always generous at helping others. Just recently Blogger team introduced Custom permalinks, 302 redirects, 404 error pages, custom robots.txt and  header tags and much more.Development is always going on and so far Blogger has introduced enough features to turn any blog into a traffic driving engine. Our blogger blog is ranking better on SERPs compared to our wordpress one. We even receive free traffic from the giant blogger directory itself. Google robots index and crawl the blog pages well and easily. Since the RSS feed is auto created and is hosted at Feedburner therefore it is well crawled by Search spiders. Traffic depends on your SEO skills and never on platform.
  5. Blogger blogs look unprofessional:
    Same can be said about Wordpress themes. The choice and customization of the template depends on the blog owner. Anyone would look ugly with a dull and grey dress or suit. There are thousands of well designed and optimized templates that you can download and install for free. Most users being non-techy often find it difficult to customize their templates but now the web is full of high quality designs that will surely turn your free blog into a pro one.
Who Should use Blogger?
Blogger blogs are free hosted journals that is operated by Google. It's the pioneer of blogging industry and has the highest undisclosed number of blogs to date. Millions of people use it for both personal and commercial purpose. The blog that you are reading at this moment is hosted at Blogger with no hosting payments at all. However we pay Hostgator only for the domain costs and extra storage space.
Since blogger blogs are coded in XML and highly secured therefore programmers have limited access to many functions and variables. This is one reason why big firms and professionals who want a easily configured platform don't find BlogSpot interesting. But wait, does that mean you should not favor it too?
Following are some limitations on content storage and bandwidth per user account in Blogger:
  • Blog description = 500 characters. HTML mark up not supported.
  • Number of blogs = 100 blogs per account.
  • Number of labels = 2,000 unique labels per blog, 20 unique labels per post
  • Number of pictures = Up to 1 GB of free storage. Stored at Picasa.
  • Number of posts = Unlimited.
  • Static Pages = Limited to 20 stand-alone pages.
  • Team members (those who can write to a blog) = 100 per blog.
  • Size of pages = Individual pages (the main page of a blog or archive pages) are limited to 1 MB
  • Size of pictures = Pictures are scaled to 1600px
After seeing the above limitations I think even some small business owners would rethink their decision and would switch back to Blogger. Blogger is best for individuals and people who may love to blog for Money or just fun. It will improve your web designing skills because there is a lot to learn here and can apply all HTML4, JavaScript and CSS3 creative hacks to your blog but with wordpress you are limited to plugins alone, no scope for learning in WP. Blogger is flexible, easy to use and highly secured and indeed any Blogger's first choice.
I think this blog looks pretty good, and my other one too. They are both hosted on Google Blogspot. What's your opinion?

Tuesday

Ways to Boost E-Commerce Profitability: Free Webinar

I'm going to dish some inside social commerce strategies with DYMO Endicia* Brand Manager, Vivian Li on July 17. We're also going too give you advice on how to achieve success for your e-commerce business in today's erratic marketplace. We will go over the fine points of the importance of social commerce and how to apply best practices for managing your online business. So if you have missed my presentations at eBay conferences lately, be sure to attend. 

During this webinar, we will guide SMB owners how to boost e-commerce profitability by:
  • Expanding your web presence through social commerce 
  • Delivering great customer service and winning repeat customers 
  • Increasing your profit margins and customer satisfaction through efficient shipping 
  • Simplifying shipping and mailing while taking advantage of cost savings with USPS 
  • Optimizing your online listings  
  • Going global and learning about International shipping methods 
Reserve your place by clicking here NOW! By registering you will be entered for a chance to win one of 20 copies of my Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide: How to Connect with Your Customers to SELL MORE!

*DYMO Endicia is a leader in the electronic postage market and a trusted partner of the USPS for over 25 years.



Thursday

The ROI of Social Media: Is Social Marketing Effective? Infographic

Is social media marketing effective? That’s the question being asked as more and more businesses are investing in increasing amounts of social media marketing.  With no standard means of measurement, there’s a wide variety of goals and metrics used to define the ROI of social strategies. Fortunately, this enlightening infographic, developed by MDG Advertising, helps clear up the confusion by outlining the objectives, benefits and factors that affect the success of social media marketing.

Infographic: The ROI of Social Media

Monday

54 Warning Signs That You Work In Social Media: I think This Could Be You

This post from @jasonkeath rings close to home for many of us. I thought it's time to revisit his post and chuckle together for a Monday!

 

I really hate when I have to deliver bad news to our readers, but the fact is, I know many of you are in danger of this illness. I personally have been battling against it fairly publicly, and yet I have noticed many of you might even have it worse.

Those of you at standing desks right now might want to sit down. Some of you ARE in fact social media professionals.

I know, it sounds horrible. And there really is no known cure to date. So you might be asking yourself “This is horrible, how can I tell if I have it?” Well, luckily, there are some clear signals that you might be afflicted.

These are a few of the warning signs…You might work in social media if…

  1. Your parents keep up with your life through your Twitter feed.
  2. You are actually using Google+.
  3. You have sent a DM to someone sitting within 5 feet of you.
  4. It’s been years since someone mentioned news to you that you hadn’t heard already. - Derek Shanahan
  5. You verbally hashtag real world conversations.
  6. You are the mayor of something other than your home. - John Hondroulis
  7. You judge anyone with a hotmail email address as not so hip.
  8. You own a t-shirt or jewelry with your Twitter handle on it.
  9. You look down on anyone that does not own an iPhone.
  10. You get distracted easi… - Dave Delaney
  11. You look down on anyone that does not own an android.
  12. You secretly judge blackberry owners.
  13. You run into people you have not seen for years and they know everything about your life through Facebook, Twitter and your blog. – Inspired by DJ Waldow
  14. You secretly judge QR codes that are on subway ads or in airplane magazines. – Inspired by Scott Stratten
  15. You sign up to social networks before there is any discernible value, just to be an early adopter.
  16. You have reached the friend limit on Facebook.
  17. You know that there is a friend limit on Facebook.
  18. Your mom just tells her friends that you work “on the internet” – Inspired by David Spinks
  19. You checkin to a restaurant before actually speaking to anyone there.
  20. You not so secretly judge anyone following more people than are following them on Twitter.
  21. Your phone is usually face up on the bar or restaurant table when you are out.
  22. Your couch has Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare or Angry Bird pillows.
  23. Your world feels like it’s coming to an end when you get a low battery alert on your smartphone - Elysa Rice
  24. You take photos thinking about how they will look on Facebook.
  25. You read whatever news you find on Facebook and Twitter.
  26. You are haunted by the Tweetdeck chirping sound. - Nicole D’Alonzo
  27. You secretly judge magazine and TV ads that promote their social profiles poorly.
  28. You secretly hate friends who have more Twitter followers than you.
  29. You have a backup plan for when Twitter goes down.
  30. When you have bad customer service, your first step is to find the company’s Twitter handle.
  31. You complain about how bad Klout is while still signing in to check your score everyday.
  32. Your smartphone is your best friend.
  33. You hate when people use the word “viral.”
  34. You think of @GaryVee every time you see an orange Crush soda.
  35. You read Mashable more than you read the USA Today.
  36. You know what a bookmarklet is.
  37. You have Google alerts setup for your own name.
  38. You are working on a ‘strategy’ for people to like you. – Ryan Boyles
  39. You love Twitter.
  40. You secretly hate Twitter.
  41. You respect Justin Beiber for his Twitter following and recently learned he plays music too.
  42. You assume someone is talking about social media instead of pending nuptials when they mention the word “engagement”. – Dave Cutler
  43. You get bored reading news that is longer than 140 characters.
  44. All of the parties and events you go to are from Facebook invites.
  45. Spike Jones has ever made fun of you. – Inspired by Jason Falls
  46. No one in your family is capable of explaining to their friends what exactly it is that you do. - Mandi Laine
  47. Your significant other asks, “Are you still working, or just tweeting?” – Ryan Boyles
  48. You never ask to redeem Foursquare specials because you hate explaining them to your server.
  49. You think that your friends that are not on Facebook don’t have birthdays.
  50. Your use Pinterest to write your letter to Santa. – Inspired by Nicole D’Alonzo
  51. You ask your coworkers and friends for a “big favor” — to help Retweet your latest client’s Twitter campaign.
  52. You are fully aware that Auto DMs are what is really wrong with America.
  53. When you completely lose your voice, you use Twitter to ask those sitting with you to “pass the butter, please” #truestory – Lea Marino
  54. As much as you say you hate the term you secretly hope that someone calls you a “guru” – Simon Salt