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By: Alex Fernandez
Internet Marketing Strategist
A couple weeks ago, we started a Productivity Series based on an awesome seminar that Matt Mernin and I attended for PTE. The seminar was on “Managing Multiple Priorities, Projects and Deadlines with Larry Singer from Fred Pryor Seminars. Hopefully you’ve gotten a chance to read part 1 of the Productivity Series, “5 Tips for Managing Your Email Inbox.”
This week, we’re sharing more from what we learned, on the topic of prioritizing! We have 168 hours in every week. That’s a lot of hours, but it can be wasted if we don’t do the right things, in the right order. Have you ever worked all day long – only to wrap up and think “I’ve gotten nothing done!”? Prioritizing is the process of designating in what specific order tasks should be handled. This is a rewarding process that ends with the satisfaction you feel, knowing that your most urgent and most important tasks are off your plate, leaving you with a manageable schedule.
One of the key takeaways from the seminar was the “Four Quadrants of Time Management,” adapted from the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven R. Covey. The idea is that every task falls into one of four “quadrants”:
- Crisis: Urgent / Important
- Productivity: Not Urgent / Important
- Distraction: Urgent / Not Important
- Waste: Not Urgent / Not Important
The Four Quadrants of Time Management
- Waste: Covey recommends keeping these activities at a minimum – but be realistic. Everyone needs a sanity break from time to time. The idea is to keep these activities in check, but still partake every now and then.
- Distraction: These are all of the little distractions throughout your day. From people walking in to your office with questions, to phone calls and emails. Beware of forfeiting too much of your time here. You have a job to do!
- Productivity: This is obviously where we want to be. Planning for future success, being prepared, preventing problems before they happen, making new connections and broadening our horizons. This should take the most time out of your week.
- Crisis: Unavoidable at times, but this is NOT where you want to be. If things get pushed back to the last minute, and work is fast and frantic, mistakes will happen; valuable time will be lost. Sometimes there will be crisis, and it has to be handled before anything else – but the idea is to minimize it.
We have modified Covey’s model slightly, to reflect the 80/20 principle. The purpose of the Four Quadrants model is to maximize time spent on high importance / low urgency tasks. We have added recommended percentages next to each item to reflect the 80/20 rule.
- 80% of time = important tasks / 20% of time = not important tasks
- 80% of time = not urgent tasks / 20% of time = urgent tasks
- In the “Not Urgent” column, 75% productivity + 5% waste = 80%
- In the “Important” row, 75% productivity + 5% crisis = 80%
When you have multiple tasks of the same HIGH importance (welcome to the agency life), order them a few different ways to find the best one to start with:
- From least time consuming to most time consuming
- From most visible/impactful to least visible/impactful
- From items you can’t easily delegate to items you can easily delegate.
Now, try and think of your workweek so far…
Where has most of your time gone? Which quadrant would that time fall into? If you’re like I was before this seminar – you’re probably spending too much time dealing with unimportant tasks, which leads to crisis later on (as important tasks are left unaddressed today).
Hopefully, you’ll find use of the Four Quadrants of Time Management in your job. We only have so many hours in a week, and those hours need to be spent on the IMPORTANT tasks in our jobs. Keep checking back for more on the Productivity Series! Until then!
Note from the author: When you first start using this process, it may be difficult to adapt right off the bat. It may take a few days or even weeks depending on what has piled up for you in past months. There IS, however, a great reward once you reach your ideal productivity level. That reward is less stress. You won’t be constantly rushing, and you’ll be getting just as much (if not MORE) done, because you’ll be productive. So hang in there!
By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
Life doesn’t come with a manual, nor do many of our jobs, so here’s my gift to you this holiday season – 3 quick and easy tips to help avoid some unnecessary, potentially embarrassing, definitely unprofessional moments. Consider it an early Christmas present.
I know, that doesn’t sound so hard. If that’s the case, however, why is it that so few businesses have a public relations or marketing plan? Planning involves focus and time, which scares most people away, but it is one of the most important steps in any public relations or marketing effort. Take the time to develop a strategy with SMART goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or milestones. Then, incorporate steps to measure the plan’s outcomes – successes or failures. They’re both learning experiences.
Yes, it’s a bit of pet peeve of mine, but really, if you’re writing for business proofreading should be an integral part of the process! Check your work before it goes out to the media, clients, co-workers, etc. We’ve all seen embarrassing mistakes in copy that could have been avoided. Don’t be “that” person.
Most us have to develop some kind of report at the end of a project. From year end reports to quarterly board meetings, there’s usually some kind of round up done that reports how effective our efforts were, but why wait? Measure your efforts as you go (start with a baseline at the beginning, measure incrementally throughout, then do an end measurement) so there aren’t any surprises at the end! This affords you the opportunity to make adjustments and potentially succeed ultimately even if the campaign starts out a little rocky.
None of these concepts are nouveau or highly technical, but I can virtually guarantee that if you employ them, they can help you avoid errors and potential problems. However, if you still need help, give us a shout. We’re just an email or a phone call away.
By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a “consistency stickler.” It doesn’t matter if it’s in the tone of writing used on a website or in PMS colors, I can’t help but notice when something isn’t consistent. In our field, marketing communications, it’s important. All too often business owners, marketing folks and other people communicating on behalf of companies don’t maintain consistency in their branding or marketing. This week we’re going to address this – and why it’s important.
What is Branding?
According to the mighty Wikipedia, “A brand is a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”Branding began as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp.” Simply, branding started as a means of differentiation. That’s what it’s meant to today, as well.
Importance of Brand Consistency – Face Time
Let’s start with the basics. A company’s brand is their image. It’s their face, so to speak. Just like we differentiate people by their appearance, voice, and other attributes, we (consumers, people in general) differentiate companies and products by their logo and/or packaging, colors, etc. As Michael Tasner points out, “It’s the image, words, feeling, etc associated with your company.”
Not only should the aesthetic of the company, the logo, company colors, etc. be pleasing to look at and easy to read, it should also accurately depict the company and its offerings. If your logo is in Cowboy font, but you’re a tech company, something’s not translating. Keep in mind, people could see your brand/logo without knowing anything about your company. They have to be able to look at it and understand what you’re all about. Are you traditional or edgy, a modern and tech-savvy Internet firm or a mom and pop lawn service? Make it clear from the start.
Another key component in marketing as it relates to brand consistency is avoiding the risk of brand confusion. Did you do a double take when you saw that image? That’s what consumers do when they look for a certain package or product and can’t find it or see something similar. The more consistent your branding can be the safer your market share is.
Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. You are one after all! If you go to the store and look for a specific product, say laundry detergent, and can’t find the brand you usually buy, what do you do (after seeking help from an associate, etc.)? You might try another brand or wait to buy it elsewhere. Now, what if the product was there, but the packaging had changed and you just overlooked it? That company, the one you were loyal to previously, just lost a sale and perhaps a lifetime customer or future purchases.
Of Note: The average attention span in 2012 is just 8 seconds. That’s down from 12 seconds in 2000 and even shorter than that of a goldfish. This makes it all the more important for your brand to be visibly differentiable quickly. Source: Static Brain.
Different Departments or Products – Same Brand
So you say, branding and consistency are important, but what if I have a multifaceted company? How can our brand be consistent if we have different departments and/or products? Colors and a primary logo will be key.
Use Coca-Cola for example. They have a number of different product lines, but their brand is consistent throughout. They use the same primary logo, colors and packaging.
Have a Guide – Enter the Brand Book
We’ve discussed why it’s important to maintain brand consistency. You get it, so now how to do you ensure the rest of your team or co-workers will support this as well? Enter the brand book. A brand book is a critical resource for any business. Simply put, a brand book is a guide for anyone involved with the company. It outlines the brand logo, colors (PMS, so they’ll be EXACTLY the same), typefaces or fonts, acceptable layouts, email signatures and more.
BrandMaker News offers an excellent review of what a brand book is, what needs to be included and how to use it.
Go. Brand. Succeed.
By: Susan Frantz
Online Communication Assistant
In today’s bustling business world marketers (PTE included) try to bring awareness to our clients in the best and most efficient ways we can. One of the best ways we’ve found to reach out to the consumer is through e-mail marketing. I have compiled the top 5 most important things to do when you are engaging in email marketing.
1. Create a Clean Email List
I bet you’re asking, what exactly is a clean list? Do they want me to Lysol the list of emails I’ve gathered? A clean list is one that had a minimal amount of undeliverable emails. In the industry this is called having a low bounce rate. It is ideal to keep your bounce rate under 5%. If you have too many emails bounce back, the email provider/host may block or limit your business’ ability to send emails.
2. Maintain Brand Relevancy
Make sure when people open up your email they will know exactly where it came from. You can do this by including your company’s logo and colors in the email. If a person doesn’t know where their emails are coming from, they are more likely to unsubscribe, which is the opposite of what you want.
3. Get their Attention!
In order to make sure your customers are reading your email you need to get their attention. Make sure to use photos that are eye catching as well as exciting terms in the subject line and headers of your emails. The open rate is the percentage of people that open your email out of the total people the email was sent to. This varies per industry from about 15-20%. If you use attention grabbing subjects and photos perhaps you can be at the top of this statistic.
4. Create a Call to Action
What do you want from the people you are emailing? Do you want them to attend your event, or visit your webpage? Make sure you include this in your email content! While it seems simple, it’s often overlooked. People get caught up in the look and when the email will go out, forgetting the most basic ingredient – a call to action. One way to draw your customers to your event or webpage is to create an incentive. For instance, “Click on our webpage for the chance to be entered to win a gift certificate…”
5. Send a Test Email
No one wants to receive an email with typos or incorrect information. In order to prevent this, make sure you send a test email to more than just yourself. It is always helpful to have extra eyes look over what you are sending and make sure it opens correctly (does it work the same on PCs and Macs?), is grammatically correct, and has accurate information (dates, times, phone numbers, addresses, etc.).
So there you have it! I hope these tips will help you to put together a great email to help your customer base connect to your company. You can use these tips as a checklist the next time you go to send out an email reminder. Want to learn more? Check out MailChimp and EmailMarketing.com – or contact us!