Are You Sure You Read That?

5 ways to make sure you comprehend what you just read.

We’ve all been there. Your co-worker handed you an article this morning, and when he asked you about it an hour later, you couldn’t remember the important points the article made. Sometimes what we read flows into our head and then just…dissipates! True, some authors could be better at formatting their work, but that’s no excuse, make sure you know what you just read.

I had a teacher that would tell a class of 20 to 40-year-olds that we didn’t know how to read. Or how to listen. Or how to…well you get the picture. It was Monday. But she somehow masterfully taught us how to do all those things. Again. Below are her instructions for reading and comprehending, and I have to admit they work pretty well (yes teacher, you were right). It’s so simple but not done very often. Give it a try next time!

First of all, take a deep breath and let it out.

Continue reading Are You Sure You Read That?

On a budget and tight deadline? Browse our Idea Book

It’s a given that in most industries you can have only two of these three things at any time: low price, good quality, and quick service. What if you just want a smidgen of all three? Purdy please?

You’re not exactly Mr. Monopoly, you don’t want to just plop some text on a brochure and call it good, and you need it yesterday. Yes, yes, you should have a budget for this, you should have been prepared far enough in advance to hire a good designer, and you knew this was coming —but sometimes not. Or sometimes you just need a little mercy!

So, here is a smidgen of luck for you. We can make you a custom piece, but we can also use some pre-made templates to get you started. Call it an idea generation tool if you will. Just go here, download our catalog, and reference which one you want to use. We have the same catalog in our office (of course) so we know which one you are talking about.

Browse the idea book by going here and clicking on the image of the book: http://www.api-marketing.com/our-services/design-services/

Raising Money for a Good Cause

This past Saturday I had the privilege of attending the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Foundation’s Faith and Fantasy Ball. It was so great to see all the wonderful supporters of our town’s great Hospital!

For the past five years I have personally been a party of the committee that helps put the event together. I have always helped with the decoration and loved every moment of it. We have done themes such as: There’s No Place Like Home (Wizard of Oz), Hollywood on the Hill, Paris, Into the Wild, Golden Masquerade and this year Around the World. The decorations are always exquisite and elaborate. The last few years I have been lucky enough to attend as well and this event is like none other. People are dressed in tuxedos, ball gowns, and depending on the theme, some are dressed to match. It is always great fun to see friends that you see regularly dressed in their absolute best with diamonds around their necks and their hair and make-up made to perfection.

As much fun and glamour as there is involved in these events there is always a reason for raising the funds. Whether it is to raise money for a new piece of machinery needed for the hospital, a new Cardiac Rehab Center or to Cancer Care, there is always a great need for the funds that are raised. This year was very beneficial to the Hospital as they raised over $160,000 through sponsorships (such as ours), silent auction, live auction and attendance.

Sutter Logo

It is such a great event that we as a company and I personally am very happy to be a part of.

Why Business Thank You Notes Are Important

TY NOTE

Growing up we were always told saying thank you was important; writing a thank you note was even better. The art of sending a Thank You Note has faded a bit but there are still a lot of people that send them and for good reason. Not only does it show you are appreciative for an item, an action, or just a relationship, but in the business world you are giving your perspective customer or current customer another reason to see your name, your business name and just another “touch” in a world that likes to be noticed.

Sometimes we get busy, sometimes we just plain forget, but making sure to send a thank you is a GREAT thing when trying to make someone feel the warm and fuzzy. It requires very little effort, it doesn’t have to be a novel, just a quick jot of words will do. A proper thank you note contains just a few things; generous, specific, prompt, concise and personal. Even if you are late to write the note, don’t let that hold you back, late is better than not at all.

Writing a Thank You note will set you apart from your competitor. Like I said before, Thank You Notes are fading a lot from what they were in the past, so sending a handwritten thank you sets you apart from the other company that has been trying to get their business. When you send a thank you note, the receiver is more likely to see your worth and value your appreciation than just a quick email or social media post. Studies have shown the great power of saying thank you. When you send a Thank You to your customers they in turn spend more, they tell their friends about you and your service delivery.  This drives profit, margin and success.

Project Management: The Have, Need, How Method

Imagine you are moving along in your project and planning your next campaign when five other projects are dumped on your desk. A few minutes later, somebody peeks around the corner and says “Hey, that one there is a rush, can you get it to me ASAP?”

Sure. You set down your stuff and move it aside. You pick up the ASAP project and find out it’s not in a state that should be sent to you quite yet. So you send it back to the service rep. It’ll come back to you within the hour, so you think you should work on some other stuff for a bit so you don’t get interrupted again. An hour later the ASAP project comes back and so do 3 other projects. Now you have 7 projects plus the ASAP and the campaign. But you haven’t counted them yet; you just see lots and lots of paperwork. Emails, phone calls, special requests, break time. You come back from break and all projects you sent out have come back with changes. You work on those, put out some theoretical fires in the office, and before you know it, you have to go home.

Get your mind back on track
Is the image on the left what your mind feels like halfway through the day?

What have you even done today? Are you feeling a little lost and overwhelmed?

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received in regards to campaign or project organization is what I call the Have, Need, How method. This was a little something I gleaned from Gwen Amos at CSUS  while she prepared us for the onslaught of projects we encountered. In addition to getting analytical people to think creatively, she was tasked with getting a bunch of creative people to use their analytical side even if for a short time, and she did both quite well. Could you have asked her a question if you hadn’t considered the things on your Have, Need, How list? Yes, but you might just be told to make one such list as her answer.

I file her advice on this list with other gems like: “Get it out of your head and on paper or it doesn’t exist,” “Don’t vomit on paper, you would all be fired if this were a job,” “Even if you don’t have everything I asked for, at least have something new,” “This is good paper, it makes colors pop; everyone look at this paper,” and “I’m going to show you all something, but only once.”  It was tough making the Have, Need, How list at first, but not as tough as complete writer’s block. This method at least asks you a question you can most likely answer about what you have done, helps you list what needs to get done, and start thinking about how you are going to accomplish those needed items. If you need to make your list specific to each project that is OK, but you can go broader if you want, and go over your schedule for the day or week. Keep this list where you can see it.

You need 3 sections: Have, Need, and How.

What do you have? In this section write down all the things/pieces of the project(s) you have available or have done already. You will feel a little better about yourself as you write this because it forces you to acknowledge that you actually did do something.

What do you need? You’re not done with your project yet, and you’ve got to address the missing pieces at some point. So write down all the things you need to accomplish or need to acquire for the project.

How will you accomplish the items on your need list? This is perhaps one of the most important steps for people who need a little help to get moving. Let’s say you need a new Facebook banner but you don’t know the size. In order to get the correct size you can find the specs on Facebook’s website. Then of course it’s design time. So your action item, or your “how”, on “make new Facebook Banner” will be “1. look up size for Facebook Banner on their website. Here is the size___________. 2. Using our current campaign theme, current fonts, colors and images from style guide (on the book shelf), make banner.” This can go on for some time depending on your position in the company, but it’s usually 1-5 tasks.

list example
Here are some items I would like to get done

This method basically gives you a sense of where you are in a project, and no excuse to not start working on something. Plus you get a handy list that you can check off as you go. Now that you know exactly where you are in a project all day long, you can at least know where you left off if you get distracted.

It’s a good idea to start one of these lists at the beginning or end of the day so that you can get a fresh start. But if you are ever feeling overwhelmed and you don’t have one of these lists to go by, I can almost guarantee that if you take a few minutes to make one, you’ll be more productive (and feel more productive!).

Join me next time for Are You Sure You Read That?—3 ways to make sure you comprehend what you just read.

5 Ways to Encourage Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast cancer has affect nearly every circle of family and friends in some way. It is so prevalent that it also seeps into workplace circles, which is why a business may feel the need to reach out and show its support.

Many people think of Susan B. Komen when they think of Breast Cancer awareness. They do for a good reason; the foundation has a well-marketed campaign each year and some very clear goals of helping women get informed, screened, treated, and alive! But what can you do in your own community that helps people on a local level?

Your business has many opportunities to promote awareness. Here are just a few:

  1. Provide information to your employees and clients alike on breast cancer. Get the most recent facts and figures from the American Cancer Society. You can chose many ways to display this information: brochures, white papers, flyers, posters, booklets, etc.
  2. Promotional products for givaways. There are a ton of promotional products that can contribute to awareness. People have come to recognize the color pink as being associated with breast cancer awareness, but perhaps you can take it a step further and put an important, recognizable fact or hashtag on the promo product as well.
  3. Participate in or organize a walk, marathon, and/or fundraiser as a company. If the event is during the week, it may mean you’ll need to give your employees some paid time so they can afford to join you.
  4. Update your social media and website to reflect your support. This could be as simple as putting a pink ribbon next to your logo.
  5. Team up with an organization in your community dedicated to preventing, and provide support during, breast cancer. This October we’ve decided to contribute $10 of every order ($50 if a new client!) to Placer Breast Cancer Foundation. The Foundation is a volunteer based group that includes breast cancer survivors and community activists dedicated to raising monies in order to fund research, education and outreach throughout our five county region. Just mention the foundation when placing your order. For more info on PBCF, visit their website: www.placerbreastcancerfoundation.org

Making a Difference at the River

Over last weekend we partnered with South Yuba River Citizens’ League to clean up the Bear River Campground. This was part of the nation-wide Clean up the World Weekend, and we certainly did find things to clean up! It also helped to have a great view of the nice cool water and beautiful foliage.

According the SYRCL’s Facebook page, “from Donner Summit to Marysville, 886 volunteers removed nearly 14,000 pounds of garbage and recycling. ” That’s impressive!

Walking the road before we go into the campgrounds
Walking the road before we go into the campgrounds
Our smallest helpers look for anything near the water!
Our smallest helpers look for anything near the water!
bags of recycling and garbage
Just a little garbage from the second half of the day!
stuffed monkey by the water
Monkey business indeed

Self-Publishing VS. Traditional Publishing

To Get a publisher or self-publish? It concerns more than just aspiring authors.

There are significant benefits and downsides to both options. You may be thinking : “What does this have to do with my business?” The answer is simple: depending on what you have to offer, publishing of any kind can bring you authority in your field, more income, and more clients.

People often have a hard time deciding between self-publishing and traditional publishing, especially in the age of digital media. With Amazon and Google Books around, it has become even more apparent than it was 10 years ago. You must consider your business and your audience before making the decision.

What is your business and what are your credentials? Seriously, it matters to a publisher because they want to make sure you have a marketable book before they buy into it. It also matters to the reader with a keen interest in your subject. Your skill level and business will be apparent to anyone worth their salt who reads that book or publication, so back it up with good research and decide early if your project is about the money, recognition, or something else.

You may decide you don’t even need to publish your material—that’s up to you—but here are some basic considerations for when publishing is the way to go.

Continue reading Self-Publishing VS. Traditional Publishing

The Well-Targeted Newsletter Audience

Imagine:

Example #1

It’s Friday afternoon and you’ve just sat down in your favorite chair on the porch with your favorite beverage in one hand and a stack of mail in the other. You revel in the fall breeze at it gently pushes away the once stuffy, hot air. It’s nice to be outside again.

You examine your stack of mail:

Cable TV ad. Nope.

Another “pre-qualified loan offer”. Not falling for that again.

Car insurance quote offer, for the hundredth time. Maybe later.    

Bills. Absolutely later.

Here is a newsletter from the community organization that you donated $20 to last year. Well that is interesting. What’s going on in the community? What are they doing with your investment? You can’t believe what you are reading. ALL OF THAT is happening right now? How can you help? You get this strange, powerful drive to do something for your community and look for a person to contact. All the info is right there.

Example #2

Next door to you, the neighbor kid has just gotten home from school, fallen on the couch, and is looking through his Facebook feed. Endless streams of information. But he isn’t really reading it, he is scanning, turning his brain off for a bit and only stopping when certain interesting words or images catch his eye.

Angry cat. Hah, that cat is great.

Political upheaval. Later, when I have more energy.

An ad for a T-shirt with his last name on it. The shirt reads: “It’s a Smith thing, you wouldn’t understand.” Clever, but that’s been way overdone.

Headline: “A man plunges into a rushing river and what he does next will amaze you”. No, it won’t. It will be disappointing. The picture displayed here won’t even be in the article and it will only be amazing to a toddler. Oh wait, no pictures. Not even toddlers are impressed. The kid starts to write a post about how annoying headlines have become and then erases it. Nobody cares about that either.

His attention piques when he sees a post about the alarming rate of child trafficking in Placer County.

The next few minutes are filled with furrowed brow, narrowed eyes, and held  breath. The wheels of alarm are turning. What can he do to help? He cares about his community a great deal and must do his part in something great. Well it says right there how to help, who to contact, and some words of encouragement. Hey look, a button that says “Yes, I will help organize a Safe Walk Home meeting at my school.” Yes please.

Example #3

Miles away in the city, a young woman is finally on her last hour of the work day. She checks her email one last time and notices an e-newsletter from the community organization that she volunteered at last year during a park trail cleanup. She likes getting emails from this organization because they gather up all the most important things going on in the outdoor (about as outdoor as you can get in the city) community and give her a snippet of what each thing is about. She thinks that the articles are always on point and usually relevant to how she can participate further or what has been done as a result of volunteers like her.

She’s had a rough day. She clicks on the link to learn more about using plants to create a stress free environment in the workplace. There is a great place right over in that corner for a succulent plant!

Reading this newsletter gives her inspiration to go outdoors over the weekend, and also to buy a plant for her office.

And look, they are having a tree planting event next week in the park! She will make sure to join. The park is just a couple blocks from her office.

These are what well-targeted readers and tailored content look like. Not every avenue is perfect for the entirety of every audience. In fact, it’s best for an organization or company with a wide range of clients or potential clients to reach out in different ways, according to segments of their audience. Not sure where to start?


Start Your Information and Invitation Funnel by:

  1. Surveying existing interested parties and researching their demographics and motivations so that you can get more readers like them.
  2. Decide on how to tailor content to each segment of your audience.
  3. Plan a timeline and follow it repeatedly, provided it works. Otherwise make adjustments.
  4. Make your content. What do you want your audience to do and how will you make it clear that they are to do that thing?
        
    Now is the time to send your message. Not sure how to get it done? Or are you concerned about the professional quality or the possibility of hitting the spam folder/trash can? If you get lost anywhere in the process or you just need somebody to take over in the social media, email, design, or printed newsletter department, give us a call! (888) 282-8764. Or email us at quote_request@api-marketing.com

FYI your SEO and PPC work together

Before I explain the details, let’s take a look why it is important for your online business marketing. As you may know, Google, Bing  and other search engines are basically how people find stuff on the web. It pulls out relevant information it thinks people might find useful. That’s millions of people looking for answers to their real-life questions every hour of every day.
So how do you find your way to the first page on search engines? There are basically two ways to do that: SEO and PPC. Both of them work, but do you need both? To really understand what the difference between SEO and PPC is, let’s take a look at them individually and see what their strengths and weaknesses would be. Continue reading FYI your SEO and PPC work together