Trend Hype Panic: How to Turn Down the Heat and Plan a Marketing Strategy That’s Right for Your Organization

Is email marketing still relevant in the golden age of social media? Is marketing automation an efficient tool or an impersonal, lazy waste of money?

How do you know when the next hot marketing trend is hype or the very thing you need to take your sales or membership numbers the next level?

It’s easy to be swept up by experts breathlessly touting “The Top 3 Marketing Trends to Jump On Now or DIE!” Nobody wants to be left in the dust while competitors cozy up to customers and rake in the bucks. If you get swept up in trend hype panic, know there’s an effective antidote: a calm, clear-eyed assessment of what’s right for your organization.

First, ask the million dollar question: Does the marketing trend align with your strategic goals?

What is the strategic vision for your company this year? What are your quarterly/annual goals? Will the marketing trend move you closer to either? Social media, for example, is a perennial hot topic. It’s also an undoubtedly powerful marketing tactic. But you must choose wisely or risk an ineffective, scattershot approach that wastes your time and energy. If your corporate security clients aren’t hanging out on Facebook (the largest social platform) or Instagram (the fastest growing channel), who cares if they’re hot? Posting an article on LinkedIn isn’t as sexy as a viral YouTube video…until that article raises your company’s profile and brings in hot leads that convert to customers.

Next, evaluate the marketing trend with this three-tiered “if not, then” test:

1. How quickly will the marketing tool pay for itself in ROI?

Email and marketing automation are both examples of investments that can have a big pay off…but not necessarily right away. Email is still one of the best ways to deliver customized, relevant content to your list of carefully curated addresses. Don’t be surprised, though, when you need to keep up a steady stream of compelling content over time before your email readers decide to bite.

Marketing automation can help you synchronize your efforts across social media, blogs, email, and more. But it’s not a “set and forget” operation. You need to track audience engagement and possibly adjust your strategy for optimum effect.

With both email and automation, there may be a delay in bottom-line benefits as you tweak your tactics for best results.

2. If there’s not an immediate ROI, how quickly will the marketing tool earn its keep in saved man hours?

If you can’t see the payoff right away, do you save yourself some labor costs? Marketing automation illustrates this point. When you automate the tedious tasks required to reach the right people at the right time, you free yourself and your staff to focus on running your organization.

3. If it doesn’t save time, does the marketing trend make you a better brand? Does it inspire customer loyalty or increase people’s belief in you as a strategic partner?

Video content is the rage right now and for the foreseeable future. Gurus warn that if you don’t ride this trend, your brand will end up alone in the wilderness. But even with technology costs dropping, a well-produced video can be a stretch for a small organization’s budget.

It may be worth the expense if your company is not well known and you want to create a high-impact introduction to the market. Sales may rise if potential customers see a video that explains how to use your product or shows satisfied customers giving positive testimonials. If video is a prime avenue to reach your target demographic, consider becoming part of the trend.

Remember this when you start to sweat over missing out on THE latest and best trend–there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. The best strategy takes into account your product or service, staff and budget, and target market. No matter what is trending now, there are plenty of effective, creative approaches to choose from. With thoughtful analysis, you can always choose the one that works the best for your organization.

Still not sure which tactics are right for your marketing strategy? Contact us to help you hit the sweet spot with a customized plan to attract your target audience. In the meantime, you can cut through the overheated hype for some sane, sage advice on 4 Marketing Trends Your Association Can’t Afford to Ignore.

The Business of the Brain on the Internet: Go Big on a Budget

Production values worthy of Hollywood, celebrity endorsements, sexy shoots in exotic places…the bigger the marketing budget, the better the buzz over your product, right?

Not really.

From Budweiser and Buick to Instant Pot and HelloFlo, the fundamentals of a viral marketing campaign remain the same.

First and foremost–now and forever–it’s all about them not you. “Them” in this case are the potential purchasers of your product. Keep them upmost in your mind at all times:

1. Who wants or needs your product or service? How does it solve a problem or make your target audience’s life better?

2. Where does your audience hang out? Are there particular websites, blogs, publications, or stores (online and/or brick and mortar) favored by your target buyers?

3. Are you fluent in your audience’s “language?” Will you reach them best with words, pictures, videos, or a combination of all three?

Now, about the money. A modest budget should not deter you from developing a kickass marketing campaign. Small businesses with solid products do it all the time.

Exhibit One is Instant Pot. Three months ago, I hadn’t heard of this product. But all of a sudden, it seems like I am seeing references everywhere. Everyone from foodies to the sling-this-hash-and-git-‘er-done crowd is snapping up Instant Pots like hot cakes. The product’s marketing campaign has gone viral without one red cent spent on TV or print advertising.

What made the marketing magic? The Canadian company that created the product gave away 200 Instant Pots to popular food bloggers and cookbook authors who specialize in a variety of cuisines. The product’s claim to fame is its versatile ability to solve a fundamental problem of modern life–how to get yummy, healthy meals on the table ASAP. The company claims that one Instant Pot can replace your slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, sauté/browning pan, steamer, yogurt maker, and stockpot–and cook food significantly faster than a regular slow cooker.

The rest is viral marketing history. Instant Pot now has a cult following among bloggers, authors, and their followers, (plus me!) complete with hundreds of recipes and tips traded fast and furiously among devoted online communities. Cooks see that their trusted sources recommend the product. Blogs give advice on how to make it work in real life. Voilà–not only does the purchase practically make itself, but product information is easy to pass along through cyberspace uninitiated friends.

What does cultivating brand ambassadors and word of mouth on social media do for company sales? Instant Pot is the currently the #1 Best Seller in Amazon’s Kitchen and Dining Department. People bought 215,000 Instant Pots on Amazon Prime Day alone. How did I come to purchase the product? Well… I just kept seeing it appear on friends’ Facebook feeds and the peer pressure got to be too much!

A second example of the power of small business viral marketing is HelloFlo. The company is an ecommerce source of menstrual products and other content and services for women at a variety of life stages. HelloFlo’s hilarious, viral videos (First Moon Party and Camp Gyno) prove that as long as you have the internet, you don’t need no stinkin’ TV ad–big budget or not. You can talk freely to your target audience and keep it real with content that would never fly on TV.

There’s nothing like an entertaining, relatable story line (or whatever tone works for your audience) to draw a crowd. HelloFlo’s videos have a combined 50+ million YouTube views. Their irreverent, snarky take on first periods have an obsessive following among tween and early teen girls.

When customers visit the company’s website blog, they find information about sexuality, mental health, legislation, and other hot topics in a frank, direct way that appeals to the broader demographics for HelloFlo’s complete product line.

Speaking of hot topics…bars and restaurants often try to generate buzz by naming dishes and drinks after celebrities or the headline du jour. Sometimes the offerings become classics–think oysters Rockefeller and peach melba. Sometimes they make a deliciously scandalous temporary splash.

In the case of Community diner in Bethesda, MD (a Washington, DC suburb), the eatery generated a buzz and landed an article in Washingtonian magazine showcasing the Golden Showers Burger. The dish capitalized on January’s controversy over reports of President Trump’s affinity for…well, the burger name says it all. It features self-tanning cheddar, a very small pickle, and lemonade. The buzz may be temporary, but it grabbed a headline for Community in one of DC’s best-read publications.

What’s the moral of these stories? You don’t have to hire a big-name PR firm or ad agency to launch a successful marketing campaign. You need to know your audience, where to find them, and how to speak their language. When a product has a relatable story–in whatever form that takes–it catches legs.

Need some help getting started with your next marketing campaign? Contact us or follow Spring Insight on Twitter, Facebook, and Google +.

Forward Movement is the Antidote for Uncertainty

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

There’s plenty of good advice out there about setting a goal before you take action. At Spring Insight, for example, we wouldn’t dream of launching a marketing campaign without a clear idea of the target audience(s) and the results our client expects. Goal setting is crucial and part of a concrete, familiar process.

A much bigger challenge is to steer a campaign or move a company forward when all you can see is the patch of road directly in front of you. It’s tough to take a next step when you’re not sure where it will lead. In many ways, this business dilemma reflects our national landscape: unprecedented initiatives launched with goals in mind, but anxiety among many Americans over where we’ll end up.

Uncertainty can paralyze a business if it shuts down forward motion. Creativity and progress grind to a halt when doubt freezes your ability to start the trip without a clear pathway to the destination. The thing is, fearful paralysis is guaranteed to derail your project or business. There are practical strategies to break out and get moving:

1. “Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest as it happens.”

So says Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher familiar with moving forward in uncertainty. You are not clueless about your situation. You’ve gathered the best information you could find to launch your project. You know enough to get started…so get started. Then see what things look like from your new vantage point and calculate your next best move. Repeat until you reach your destination.

2. Open your mind to all input as you take your next steps.

What if you can’t see far into the distance because the path will only become obvious en route to your goal? Perhaps you need to lay a foundation before you can develop the best plan. It might involve actions that you can’t dream up until you gather the results of your first steps. You might even need to tweak your original goal on feedback you gather as you move forward. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open and adjust accordingly.

3. Keep heading in the right direction–forward.

Once you’ve broken the spell of uncertainty, your actions and feedback will steer you more and more clearly in the right direction. You’ll get confirmation that your actions are moving you toward your goal. The fog will lift and you’ll get a broader view of the best way to proceed.

But none of this is possible until you take that first step. Determine the right direction as best you can and just start walking. There’s no other way to put your uncertainty in check and move forward.

Are your organization’s marketing efforts headed in the right direction? Follow Spring Insight on Twitter, Facebook, or Google + and we can talk about the best route to meet your goals.

The Business of the Brain on the Internet: Single Super Star or a Solid Team to Succeed

Imagine that you must pick between a competent team of marketers or a mediocre team with one or two brilliant standouts. Which would you prefer? This question came to me when I listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating podcast about strong link/weak link theory. Gladwell applies it to higher education, but I think it has interesting applicability in the business sphere.

The book that launched the strong link/weak link phenomenon analyzes what makes a successful soccer team. A former professional goalkeeper and a behavioral analyst posite that soccer is a “weak link” sport. That means it requires a base of skilled teammates to bust all the right moves that result in a goal. A striker relies on backfielders, midfielders, wingers, and attackers to move the ball into just the right position to score. No matter how good that striker is, he can rarely win a game without a solid team behind him advancing the ball down the field.

By comparison, the authors classify basketball as a “strong link” sport. One LeBron James can blaze down the court and score, score, score. The team can succeed with LeBron even when the rest of the players are mediocre.

So, what kind of marketing strategy works best for your small organization? A strong-link stable of alpha, high-achieving superstars or strategies? Or a weak-link network of competent, interdependent people or approaches that support each other to reach a goal?

There are times when the answer might be a strong link approach. Perhaps you are introducing a new fitness club. In that case, an endorsement from the local NFL team’s star quarter back might be all you need to drive in traffic in droves.

For most small businesses though, a weak link strategy of a competent team and multi-channel marketing will always work better than a single superstar.

How do we promote Spring Insight and the services we offer? We have a solid team that creates content that circulates via our blog (Hi!), our email newsletter, a robust marketing automation program, social media, and networking. Our team members and strategies layer on top of one another to create our irresistible sales approach.

Speaking of our irresistible sales approach, are you a busy entrepreneur with a crazy schedule that leaves no time for you to ponder the right marketing mix for your small organization or business? Contact us and we’ll help you build a marketing strategy that gets the results you’re looking for.

Looking for more great website and marketing tips? Follow Spring Insight on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +.

Cyberpunks Are Cruising Your Neighborhood: Protect Your Website With 3 Simple Steps

Small businesses beware: hackers have you on their radar screen in a big way.

While cyber espionage and high-stakes hacks grab the headlines, internet thieves have turned their attention more and more frequently toward small organizations. The encouraging news is that you can protect your WordPress website with a few simple steps:

1. Recognize that the threat is real…and growing.

Mainstream media shine their spotlight on dramatic hacks that breach high-profile organizations and/or compromise vast amounts of data. Headliners include breaches against the Democratic and Republican National Committees, the White House, and the federal Office of Personnel Management. The OPM hack exposed the personal data of 22 million people.

Meanwhile, 43% of worldwide cyber attacks last year were against small businesses with fewer than 250 employees. That’s a giant leap from 2011, when small companies suffered only 18% of cyber attacks.

If these statistics sound ominous, take heart. The number one reason that small business sites attract cybercriminals is the owners’ lack of awareness. This means that once you recognize the serious threat posed by hackers, you’re well on your way to solving the problem.

2. Understand that it’s nothing personal.

Why would a hacker single you out from the 28 million U.S. small businesses? For the same reason a carload of bored teenagers choose a neighborhood for their destructive game of mailbox baseball: opportunity.

Those kids have nothing against the families–or the mailboxes–that line the road. The players simply cruise for a prime location until they find a quiet, out-of-the-way spot.

Similarly, hackers use bots to crawl the internet, sniffing for vulnerable websites. Since WordPress powers 25% of the internet, those sites make rich hunting grounds.

These aren’t directed website attacks, where cybercriminals handpick a target (the White House, OPM) and set about breaking down its defenses. Small businesses are most often the victims of undirected attacks, where hackers simply wait until an automated script turns up a vulnerable website. Your blog’s popularity matters not a wit. Neither does your site’s traffic volume. If a bot sniffs out a vulnerability, you’re on the hacker’s radar.

If you think your site contains nothing of value to a cyberppunk, please think again. Hackers poke around for treasures such as:

– Banking information to access your account.

– Employees’ personal data.

– An opening for “drive by downloads” that infect your visitors’ computers.

– Login information for your vendors’ sites. Remember that hackers penetrated Target’s system using login information from the retailer’s HVAC vendor.

3. Keep your WordPress plugins up to date.

Internet security experts report that out-of-date plugins are the most common way for hackers to access a WordPress site. A plugin is a piece of software that adds functionality to your site. Developers work constantly to close any vulnerabilities. That’s why keeping plugins and other WordPress files up to date is the best way to deter hackers.

The challenge for many entrepreneurs is their perpetually overloaded to-do list. It’s an ongoing, often weekly task to keep up with plugins and other software updates. Spring Insight is happy to help with our new Maintenance Program. For one affordable monthly fee, we keep your WordPress plugins and files up to date while you take of business. We’ll also serve as your expert resource if things go awry. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

It’s an easy way to deter cruising hackers from vandalizing your mailbox–and all your other precious data.

Join the conversation on social media (TwitterFacebook, or Google+).

A 3-Step Plan to Keep Your Resolutions

New year, clean slate, fresh start.

It’s an optimistic way to welcome 2017. Many businesses and organizations take time to reflect on past achievements, note the lessons learned, and launch the new year with inspiring goals.

Then there’s the dark–some would say realistic–side of New Year’s goals and resolutions: only 8% of people achieve them. That’s one dismal statistic, but please read on before you consider crumpling your organization’s goals and tossing them in the trash.

Luckily, behavioral scientists have zeroed in on why the failure rate is so high. They can also offer guidance for bucking the statistics and sticking to your resolutions. Here are three ideas from James Clear, who studies and writes about the latest research on successful habits and performance:

1. Keep the number of goals in check. If you set too many, you’ll spread your resources too thin to succeed. Prioritize and focus hard on what’s most important.

2. Be realistic about what it will take to achieve a goal. If you want to double your membership, but your organization lacks the staff, money, and/or time to commit to the goal, is it realistic? Does a 25% membership increase make more sense?

3. Design the processes necessary to achieve the goal. What actions must your company take to accomplish your goal of a 10% sales increase? X number of sales calls per day/week? More hours of engagement on social media? Scheduled follow-up interviews for every dropped membership? Lay out a set of concrete processes, measure their effectiveness, and adjust accordingly.

May you reach all of your New Year’s goals and have a successful 2017!

And if your list of 2017 goals includes a strategic, results-oriented marketing plan that turns prospects into clients, contact us. We can help!

Join the conversation on social media (TwitterFacebook, or Google+).

The Business of the Brain on the Internet: Rising Above the Holiday Noise

Quick! How many shopping days are left until Christmas? Or more importantly, how many Amazon holiday deal days are left?

During the holidays, everyone is so distracted by the buying frenzy that it’s hard to get people to Psychology and Holidaysfocus on your business. While money is flying out of everyone’s pockets, it might not be flying into yours. Instead of stressing out over this situation, why not come up with a marketing strategy?

Understanding just a few insights from psychology can help your brand make a lasting impression, even during Amazon-ageddon. Here are some suggestions for helping your business rise above the noise during the holidays and all year long:

1. Repackage Your Products

While we all like to think that customers buy our products and services because of their outstanding quality, psychologists (paging Dr. Pavlov) and retailers (paging Dr. Pepper) know that this is not always the case.

The fact is that when a consumer chooses to try a new product—your fantastic dog grooming kit, say—that buying decision is very likely influenced by packaging. This is also true for customers who have bought your dog brushes in the past and were very satisfied with the purchase. Putting those brushes in a new flashier, prettier package can attract the attention of previous shoppers and remind them that their dogs love your product. Here are some other good tips about the psychology of product packaging.

Repackaging can also mean changing up the way you present your products, to encourage customers to try something new. I love tea and I especially love trying new teas. This (and not my closeted Christianity) explains why I bought an advent calendar from David’s Tea. I’ve been happily enjoying each of my 24 days of tea as I countdown to the start of Hanukah.

A final point about packaging psychology: This advice can be applied to websites too. Think of your website as your brand’s packaging. Is this a good time for a website refresh? If the last time you updated the design of your website, you were still using a flip phone then it’s definitely time for a change. Spring Insight can help.

2. Capitalize on Current Clients

Since you already have a built-in advantage when it comes to capturing the attention of current clients, capitalize on this by offering them a special deal. I really love a particular wall calendar. I buy one every year, hang it on the wall of my home office, and use it to visualize my business goals. So, when the wall calendar company sent me an offer for 30% off, you know I jumped on it.

Consider who you can contact and offer a deal for re-upping by the end of the year. Create an email marketing campaign to target this group of subscribers or better yet, start using marketing automation software to capture relevant information and take your marketing to a new level.

At Spring Insight, we are amazed at the power of marketing automation. If you want to think about marketing about as often as you think about going to the dentist, this is just what you need. It’s like magic and since we’re all about giving our customers a magical experience, look for Spring Insight to roll out this new product offering soon.

3. Rethink Your Marketing Strategy

And speaking of marketing, if all else fails and business continues to be slow for you until after New Years, take this opportunity to organize your marketing strategy. If you play your cards right, you can avoid experiencing the same slump this time next year.

Social Media: If you haven’t already started building a social media following, consider it. Connecting with others by starting the conversation on social media is a great way to expand your brand. But it only makes sense if you create systematic strategy around building a social media presence.

What does an effective social media strategy look like? Think of social media like a room full of people at a holiday mixer where everyone is fighting to be heard. Yelling louder than everyone else is not likely to work. However, if you engage people one-on-one in a meaningful way, you will connect with those who are interested in continuing the conversation with you and others.

So, think hard about where to reach your target audience, then reach out to them in a direct and personal way. Remember that your goal is not to become an Internet sensation; it’s to attract the attention of people who are your end users.

Multichannel Marketing: Don’t aim to reach your audience through just one approach. Make use of all means at your disposal to reach your customers—email marketing, social media, mobile marketing, even good old-fashioned print media. This of course will depend on who you want to reach and what your niche is. The first step in finding a marketing strategy should always be to come up with the clearest possible picture of your ideal client.

Spring Insight has an amazing marketing team and we spend nearly all of our time brainstorming better ways to help our clients standout. If you are tired of spending time and money on marketing that is not giving you the results you want, it might be time for a new perspective. Contact us and let’s talk marketing strategy.

What do you do to make your brand shine during the season of shiny things?

Let me know in the comments below or post to social media (TwitterFacebook, or Google+).

Own a website? You need to read this. 

Remember that old saying, “when I tell you to jump, you ask how high?” Every industry has an 800-pound gorilla that periodically tells everyone to jump. In the web world, that gorilla is  Google ChromeGoogle and Google wants us all to reach for our jump ropes. There are two changes coming in early 2017 that you need to know about or suffer the consequences.

1. Google wants your site to be secure– Next time you are on a website, take a look at the address bar. The domain there will start with either the letters “http://” or “https://”. The difference is that the latter is secure and all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. In a standard “http://” site, the communication is in plain text and anyone can read it or even intercept it. In the past, the land of encrypted (or “https://”) sites was mostly one of banks and ecommerce providers collecting credit cards. No more. Google wants all sites to use encryption to prevent hackers from modifying a site to fool a user. Starting in January 2017, all sites that don’t use encryption will be marked as “not secure” on all Chrome browsers (about 50% of the browser market). This is the first step. Google already plans to release a version where the browser will show a red triangle with an exclamation point warning users if the site isn’t secure. I suspect at some point they might introduce these warnings into search results and perhaps even create an interstitial page warning users away from the site. (Right?!? I told you they were a big mean gorilla!)

What you can do: When you bring up your website, look at the domain, does it say http:// or https://. If it doesn’t have the S, give the company hosting your website a call and ask them for help in getting a secure connection set up. This is a pretty easy fix for most small business websites.

2. Google wants your site to be mobile friendly – Way back in April 2015, I warned you about Mobilegeddon, the change that Google was making to their algorithm to elevate mobile sites when accessed through mobile browsers. The upshot of that change was that if someone were searching on a mobile device, the search results would bias toward mobile-friendly sites. However, searches performed on regular computers were not impacted. In early 2017, that will change. Google is planning to bias results on all searches (whether performed on a mobile device or your handy dandy home computer) to show mobile friendly results first.

What can you do: Go to Google’s mobile-friendly tester and enter your URL. If Google says that you are mobile friendly, smile and move on with your day. If on the other hand, Google says you are not mobile friendly, you have some decisions to make. Unfortunately, there isn’t a switch you can turn on to make your website mobile-friendly. The best approach is to refresh the site with a new mobile-friendly design. Need someone to talk to about the process? We are happy to help.

I know, it seems ridiculous (and perhaps even overwhelming) to have to make all of these changes to our websites just because some Silicone Valley company thinks it is time to do so. But until someone develops a viable Google rival, this is the price we pay for being able to wield the power of the World Wide Web. I don’t know about you, but I am grabbing my jump rope.

Join the conversation on social media (TwitterFacebook, or Google+).

On Following Up and Working December

December is a weird month for small business owners. I have been known to describe it as the Month of Fridays. But this year, I’m declaring December the Month of Following Up. I am all Business During the Holidaysabout finishing 2016 strong and hitting the ground running in January.

And judging from the number of emails I’ve gotten from prospective clients saying they are ready to work with Spring Insight in the New Year, I’d say many of you are feeling the same way. Consider this your official nudge to put your follow-up plan into motion.

What does a good marketing follow-up strategy look like?

Following up is key when you want to keep your sales funnel full. But did you know that one big mistake that small business owners make is not following up enough? Studies show that 80% of sales happen only after 5 follow-ups and most salespeople give up after one or two. So, persistence pays off.

A good marketing follow-up campaign has three features:

1. It should be systematic, meaning that you follow the same steps each time.

2. It should generate consistent and predictable results.

3. It should require minimal interaction, meaning it should be mostly automated.

It might sound like a dream—imagine making sales with little effort—but with today’s technology, the dream can become your reality. In fact, at Spring Insight, we have been testing and considering adopting automated marketing software to offer to current clients looking to jumpstart their sales in 2017. Stay tuned!

Who should you follow up with?

Once you have a working follow-up system in place, you’ll want to figure out who to funnel through the system. There are three types of people you should follow-up with.

1. Prospects in your target audience. These will be contacts you exchange business cards with at a holiday party, networking event, or conference, for example. Ideally, you should follow up with these types of leads within 24-48 hours of meeting them with something to entice them to call or visit your store or office. But even if it has been longer, there’s no harm in reaching out, especially if you had a conversation that went beyond a few introductory sentences.

2. Warm leads. These are people who have responded to your marketing collateral, but haven’t yet purchased anything. Suppose you add 20 names to your email list after an event and 4 of them click through on your newsletter. You can set up a database to keep track of these stats to make your follow-up strategy more effective. Your goal, then, is to persuade them to make their first purchase.

3. Current customers. These are people who have already purchased something from you. Your goal here will be to convince them to buy from you again or refer your business to others.

How should you follow up?

The primary means for following up with any of the above groups are email, phone, or direct mail. And which method is right for you will depend on the norm in your industry, your specific goals, and even the type of lead you want to nurture.

However you choose to follow-up, set building a relationship of trust as your intention. For example, if a local prospect has been cyber-stalking your business for months, why not send them a personal invite to one of your speaking engagements and chat with them afterwards?

Take the time to personalize your follow-up. Each new email or conversation should reference past communications to show your prospect you aren’t simply going through the motions with them.

Also, make sure your method provides value for you and for your prospect. There’s nothing worse than taking time away from other priorities to compose and send a follow-up email and having your open and click through rates fall below expectations.

Tools that make following up easier.

This is where you start creating that automated system I mentioned above. There are a number of online tools that make it easier to follow through on your follow-up campaigns:

1. Contactually automatically builds a database with your email contacts and allows you to easily file contacts into “Buckets” and set the frequency with which you’d like to stay in touch. Contactually then automatically generates your follow-up list, so you can easily build those key business relationships.

2. Boomerang turns Gmail into a customer relationship management (CRM) system. With Boomerang you can make sure that nothing falls through the cracks because the system notifies you when someone doesn’t respond to your email after a certain amount of time. Another feature of Boomerang is that it allows you to schedule emails to go out at a later time. So, if you compose an email at 10pm tonight, but would like it to go out at 7am tomorrow, before you wake up, you can tell Boomerang to send it at 7am. This is especially useful for catching prospects when they are likely to respond.

3. Mailchimp allows you to create, manage, and deliver professionally designed email newsletters. It automatically generates analytics and reports that are easy for even non-math nerds to understand. The key to improving your open and click-through rates on email campaigns is having a clean email list and Mailchimp makes this housekeeping item as easy as it can be.

So, now that you have everything you need to create a smooth follow-up strategy, here’s my challenge to you: follow-up with 5 people each week for the rest of the year. You’ll be amazed at the results!

Of course, if you are overwhelmed keeping up with all of the demands on your time, the best follow-up strategy might be to outsource your marketing. Have you been meaning to follow-up with me? Remember that Spring Insight’s marketing team is here to give you more time to work on your business.

Do you have a marketing follow-up strategy?

Let me know in the comments or on social media via Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

The Business of the Brain on the Internet: The Psychology of Gratitude and 5 Reasons to Be Thankful

In the midst of all the depressing political coverage lately (regardless of whether you voted for Trump, can you really sit idly by while he appoints Steve Bannon as White House Chief Psychology of ThankfulStrategist?), it can be hard to muster the strength to be thankful. And yet, the season of gratitude is upon us.

Besides the fact that you still have to find a way to make it through Thanksgiving with your in-laws next week, psychological research shows that being grateful is actually good for your mental health and overall wellbeing. Studies have linked gratitude with increased satisfaction, motivation, and energy; better sleep and health; and reduced stress and sadness.

In addition, grateful people are much more engaged with their environment because gratitude requires us to look outside of ourselves, which, somewhat ironically, leads to greater personal growth and self-acceptance. Feeling grateful also creates stronger feelings of purpose, meaning, and specialness.

If you’re not feeling grateful at the moment, the good news is that studies also show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude. Of course, deliberate cultivation requires effort (might I suggest taking a hiatus from Facebook? I know. I couldn’t do it either). So, while I can’t help you cultivate gratitude, I can give you some reasons to be thankful.

Here they are:

1. Hundreds of Students Walk a Woman to Class.

After a video posted by Baylor University student, Natasha Nkhama, went viral, hundreds of students gathered to walk her to class. In the video, Nkhama described how she was deliberately pushed off the sidewalk and called the n-word by another student saying he was “trying to make America great again.” This is only one story among many of people standing up for what’s right against individuals acting badly.

 2. Subway Therapy” helps New Yorkers cope with election results.

After riding a virtually silent subway Wednesday morning after the election, New Yorker, Matt Chavez, decided to grab some pens and sticky notes and made a sign that simply said, “Express yourself.” More than 2,000 people have stopped to share their thoughts about the election posting sticky notes with their thoughts on the wall. Chavez inspired a similar movement called “Subway Therapy Boston.” As far as I know, a similar movement has not broken out on the DC Metro.

3. Emma Watson hides Maya Angelou books on the NYC subway.

Actress, Emma Watson (who played Hermione in the Harry Potter movies), hid books of inspirational poetry on the subway on Wednesday afternoon. She announced it on Twitter and added that she is going to “fight even harder for all the things I believe in.”

4. The ACLU raises a record $7.2 million.

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it raised a record $7.2 million from 120,000 individual donations, which is the biggest fundraising haul in the organizations nearly 100-year history. The executive director said that the money would be used to defend the Constitution and look after the rights of protestors in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.

5. The Atlantic’s video series “Women and Leadership.”

This series of short videos features interviews and insights from five women in politics, media, and technology. The interviews are a good reminder that there are strong people working to make a difference and succeeding. If you are looking for inspiration, these videos are a great place to start.

Gratitude connects people into a mutually supportive and sustaining mesh of social relationships, which, of course, it acts to strengthen and develop. It is the foundation of the type of society in which people can look after one another without coercion, incentives, or governmental interference, which, unlike gratitude, demean rather than exalt us. Sounds like exactly the kind of thing Americans need right now.

What are you feeling especially grateful for now?

Let me know in the comments below or on social media (TwitterFacebook, or Google+).