Tuesday Tips

Subject matter changes quickly as knowledge grows in a particular field. Today’s information worker processes hundreds of pieces of information in a month from newspapers, radio, television, and internet usage. As a result of the ever-expanding knowledge base in the world, your reputation as someone “in the know” helps your customers and clients trust your judgement.

Act as a clearinghouse of select information by incorporating the following into your industry:

Articles in the news that directly impact your clients Editorials on trends in your industry Tools such as software or physical objects being released in your field Upcoming or expected government regulation in your field Policy changes that impact your company International trends or agreements that impact clients Emerging trends that your customers may not know Scenarios or potential situations that your customers should be aware of

As you add up-to-date information on your industry, others will view your site as a trusted information source. Arrange your site in a way that highlights your abilities to share multiple pieces of information that affect your clients.

I recommend adding a “Resources” section that you categorize by tool or by subject matter. Maintain this resources section with up-to-date resource links, and encourage your website visitors to bookmark you and send you “tips.”




Your digital properties are your home on the web where you will continuously act as hostess to numerous visitors, interested parties, and passers-by who visit you online. Consider ways in which you may extend hospitality to other people in your field of interest by knowing how to be a good guest, too!

My biggest recommendation for networking is, in the words of Dante, from a little spark may burst a mighty flame. Participate, help, and find ways to provide value to the people with whom you work online. All of us working together truly make a larger difference.

For example,

If a well-known influencer invites you to provide a guest post for her, add a link to this fact on your own website, and invite your own readers to participate with comments.
  If you’re tasked with providing online content for your membership group’s e-newsletter, consider ways to write a fresh, informative, and useful article, such as a Top Ten list that’s relevant to the news today.
  If you’re in charge of press releases, compile a list of public relations specialists who benefit from being “in the know” about news in your specific industry, and send them any groundbreaking initiatives that your company undertakes.

 

Be a good guest when you’re part of the overall network that makes up all of our shared community, and you’ll find yourself learning how to be a gentle, influential, and persuasive host, too. This approach will translate into a bigger read more...




Humor, if used judiciously, goes a long way towards entertaining your visitors and letting them know more about you and your company’s sense of fun, humor, playfulness, or creativity.

If your site does not benefit from humor, then please disregard this tip! 

But if your site does allow an opportunity for you to provide a respite for today’s busy, left-brain-focused worker, take it. There’s a reason newspaper readers open up the Sunday Funnies section first and magazine readers go to the back page to see the silly picture or the comical illustration.

Some ideas for a humorous section to add to your website include: “Humor at Work,” “Funny Stories from the Field,” “Joke of the Week,” “Picture of the Month,” or “Overheard in the Office.” You might also include items like bloopers, “easter eggs” (hidden messages), or “Stories from our Customers” to provide more insight into your company or organizational “vibe.”

Many of your web visitors will appreciate your sense of humor if it gives them better insight into a potential working relationship with you. Use your judgement.

Checklist for humorous content:
 Is your website a banking, financial, or legal site? If so, be very careful about using humor on your website.
 Is your business zany, irreverent, creative, or whimsical? If so, consider adding:

 Funny stories
 Jokes or silly situations
 “Overheard” dialogue
 Funny, entertaining pictures

read more...



One of the easiest ways to promote your business is to add your name, title, contact information, and a tag line to your outgoing e-mail.

 

Add your phone number, e-mail address, and postal mail address, as desired. Consider adding additional links to your LinkedIn profile, and also consider adding a blog page, Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, or other social networking tool that matches your business model.

When contact information is added to your signature, correspondents may easily connect with you. Potential customers can connect with you if they’ve seen your e-mail on a listserv or your message was forwarded from a friend. What’s more, a tag line, motto, or additional keywords give e-mail correspondents an easy way to assess if your business fits their current needs. Think of a second “memory hook” to match your business, and add that to your signature box for all outgoing e- mail.

Make sure your contact information is correct and all phone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses, and links function!




Online forums function like community information centers: people post and respond on topics of interest. For some forums a user must register and wait for approval before posting; for others, users may post anonymously. Certain members of an online forum may be assigned as “moderators” with the privilege of banning or deleting users or postings that don’t fit the forum’s guidelines for activity.

The great thing about forums is that they will typically allow you to visit as a “lurker,” simply reading but not responding, until you work up enough courage or interest to share your viewpoint by commenting or starting a new “thread” of discussion.

When you become involved in a forum that truly interests you, you’ll discover new friends, often times from around the world, who share your interest. The forums available on the Web today cover every conceivable topic, so you’ll probably be able to find an online community focusing on a narrow topic like women in bitcoin, parakeet lovers, green living in Seattle, or more in-depth and niche topics.

If you don’t find your community, ask your web developer to make recommendations about installing forum software on your own site, and create your own community as one of the founders!

Use online communities to participate with other people hooked into your field of interest. Some examples include: your religious or spiritual group, alumni groups (great for connecting those seeking jobs and requesting read more...




The professional networking service, LinkedIn.com, continues to grow in usability and value, consider using this tool to provide your knowledge and insight into current trends in specific industries.

For example, recruiters post their tips on how to find qualified applicants; people with heavy involvement in new technologies answer specific, obscure, or technical questions; and people recommend services with which they have experience. It’s a continuous source of up-to-date information with more of a "work-related" feel.

If you’re an answer provider or you have some knowledge in a particular field, share your knowledge by answering other people’s questions. You might do this on LinkedIn or on a different service like a forum, bulletin board, or listserv that’s related to your company.

When you build up social capital by answering questions in a helpful way, you easily make connections for potential sales. More importantly, you build your reputation as someone other people trust.

While I don’t recommend you dominate a bulletin board with your answers or take over a forum posting with links back to your website, I do recommend you find online networks of people interested in your field and contribute to other people’s questions and answers. If you’re thoughtful, knowledgeable, and demonstrate integrity, your reputation (or at least your search results) as an answer provider will spread. When it does come time to select a vendor, your bulletin read more...




Most people prefer to spend time with their family and friends, pursue important activities, or get real work done instead of dealing with junk e- mail. What constitutes junk e-mail? Junk mail consists of any of the following:

e-mail for which the recipient did not sign up e-mail from which the recipient cannot unsubscribe e-mail without a link to the original site sending it

If you dislike junk mail as much as I do (and if you receive as much as I do in a typical day, you definitely dislike it), you’ll take extra precautions to insure that all your e-mail communications find a happy response upon their delivery.

E-mail communications form a large part of normal interactions with a company, so it’s best to start off asking permission if you may send e-mail to your users. This involves an opt-in process: users submit their contact information and confirm that they have opted to receive communications from you. It’s always thoughtful to offer links to your latest e-newsletters so visitors may preview what they will actually receive.

When you have legitimate news that benefits your clients, readers, or website visitors or if you offer a service that’s timely and truly of interest to your mailing list, then feel good about sending your message to your community. It helps members feel like they’re “in the know” and have access to behind-the-scenes information.

Develop a list of people who truly care about your products and services and who read more...




Polls and quizzes add levity and a bit of entertainment to the typically tedious task of searching for a vendor online. Your quiz may be a way for visitors to “see how much they know” about your industry, with two to five questions that you’d like to ask. Your poll provides a way for you to gauge a response to your own questions. For example, for a site focused on product software, you might provide a poll asking what version users are currently using.

Make sure your quiz, poll, or questionnaire adds value to your site. If it’s relevant, sheds more light on your service, provides quick information to other visitors, or gives you information about who is visiting, use it.

Make sure your quiz or poll does not require registration (if you want people to actually participate). If you choose to require an e-mail address, add that input form after the participant has answered the quiz. No one wants to be badgered into participating, so make sure your quiz is welcoming and user-friendly. Use multiple- choice or true/false answers, as open-ended questions may become unruly to collect and display. Offer a way for participants to view all the answers, typically after they’ve answered the question.

An interactive module like your poll or quiz is a fun way to gain insight from your visitors.

 

Remember to update your questions on a regular basis!

Checklist for polls, quizzes, or questionnaires:

Update polls or other interactive read more...



Whether you consider yourself an expert or not, if you’re in business, you’re providing deep knowledge and skills in a particular content area. This knowledge qualifies you as an expert!

When you share your expertise, you provide a genuine resource to both current and potential customers.

An easy way to share is to offer a column or regularly updated section comprising frequently asked questions and your answers, tools, or recommendations.

For example, a column entitled, “Ask the Interior Decorator” may contain a section with design tips for challenging spaces. “Ask the Painter” may offer recommendations on colors, paint brands, or tools. “Ask the Financial Expert” may display your particular expertise on stock picks, market trends, industry information, or retirement-related concerns. “Ask the Vet” may offer breeder-specific or animal-specific answers.

Because people who are visiting your website want to know your general “tone” and personality, use this section to promote your expertise. Help your visitors decide if you are the one they want to hire for their specific project.

Furthermore, if you are on the receiving end of many similar questions, answer them in your “Ask the Expert” page and give your visitor a place to begin her conversation with you. An “Ask the Expert” component will enhance the efficiency of your website and save your visitors time, as well.

Some businesses may use this section to further specify read more...




If your work requires an estimate that you give to a client in order to proceed, consider offering a quote generator or an online calculator.

For example, in the website development business, an easy rule of thumb is to estimate the cost based on the complexity of the design, the number of pages, and the functional modules desired. Fixed costs include the domain and hosting. In this case, an estimate calculator will help a potential customer determine the cost of her proposed website. The customer can also change variables to see how different choices impact the final estimate for her project.

Financial services companies, mortgage firms, banks, and any company that deals with figures may offer online calculators to help web visitors understand the factors involved in finding their “magic number.” These tools make your customers’ discovery process easier. Offer as much as possible to help customers understand your pricing before they connect with you in person or over the phone.

Checklist for interactive calculators/estimators:

Do you offer job-based or fixed pricing? If so, show your calculations for greater transparency. If not, do you offer a “Frequently Asked Questions” page for potential customers to understand your process or rates? If you offer quotes, do you have an online estimate generator or a costs calculator? Can potential customers change variables to check for different options? Can potential customers e-mail read more...