I was recently remind of a great story by Pastor Alistair Begg. With a bit of help from some great folks at @TruthForLife, I was able to find the story. A great reminder with a great truth.
When I was a small boy my father use to take me to a number of events that I didn’t want to go to. Not least of all the singing of male voice choirs. And it always seem to happen on a Saturday afternoon. And as part of salve to my reluctance he would he would allow me to go into a confectionery store and purchase sweets or candies as you would say. And those were the days when they still had them in the big jars and they meted them out in 2 ounces or 4 ounces or whatever it was and so you pointed up and the lady got it down and then she poured it in the tray and weighed it and put it in a bag and she gave it to you. So there was a transaction involved.
And I remember particularly one place on a Saturday afternoon. I must have been all shined up and ready for action. Brill cream on the hair. Shaved up the back of my head. I looked like I was ready for the Army.
There were, I remember, a number of people in the store. I don’t know what happened in the shop, but it must have been that that somebody said complimentary things about this shiny faced, wee chap that was waiting for his sweets.
And when the shop cleared and it was just the lady and myself, this lady, who I don’t know, I met her once in my life, as she handed me the bag of candy, she lent over the counter, and she said, “Sonny, flattery is like perfume – Sniff it, don’t swallow it.”
The inspiration of a noble cause involving human interests wide and far, enables men to do things they did not dream themselves capable of before, and which they were not capable of alone. The consciousness of belonging, vitally, to something beyond individuality; of being part of a personality that reaches we know not where, in space and time, greatens the heart to the limit of the soul’s ideal, and builds out the supreme of character.
For quite sometime I’ve wanted to create an HTML signature file that included the links to my key social media channels. I’d done this before at work, where we used Windows machines and Outlook.Figuring it out for the Mac Apple .mail app was bit more challenging… at least for me. Then I came across this VERY detailed, step-by-step explanation by Matt Coneybeare in his post, “How to Make an HTML Signature in Apple Mail for Mavericks OS X 10.9“. He really does a great job of explaining the process.The only addition I’d offer to his post relates to the code section. If you’re like me, and your not a code ninja, another great tool I came across is Free Online HTM Editor: http://www.online-html-editor.org/. This simple tool allows you to add your text, make adjustments to the font style, color, etc. Adding images with a related link – it’s a snap. Then just copy the HTML that it generates and add it to your signature file code as Matt describes. Once I was done, this is what I ended up with: I take no credit for the post. Matt did a fabulous job of presenting, what could be considered difficult information, and sharing it in a very simply way. I hope you find Matt’s post and this information as helpful as I did.
How to Make an HTML Signature in Apple Mail for Mavericks OS X 10.9 by Matt Coneybeare
There are plenty of tutorials online to create an HTML signature in Apple Mail with older versions of OS X, and you have probably already seen my tutorial on how to add HTML Signatures in Lion or Mountain Lion, but the process has changed slightly for OS X Mavericks (10.9). Here is how to do it:
1. In Mail.app, go to Preferences > Signatures and create a signature with any random content. Name it something meaningful. You will be swapping this out later.
2. Write an html page inside of your favorite text editor. I use TextMate 2. The page should not have html,head or body tags, should include only inline css, and should only consist of basic html elements (div, span, img, a, etc…). Here is some example code to get you started.
Open the folder containing the placeholder signature. This step differs if you are using iCloud or not. You can determine if you are using iCloud for Mail.app by checking System Preferences > iCloud
3. Using iCloud: ~/Library/Mobile Documents/com~apple~mail/Data/MailData/Signatures/
Not using iCloud: ~/Library/Mail/V2/MailData/Signatures/
Open the folder to show your email signatures in Finder by holding down the Option key and clicking the “Go” menu in Finder. Check here for more tips if you are having trouble opening the ~/Library folder.
4. When you created a temporary placeholder signature in step 1, Mail automatically created a ubiquitout_XXXXXXX.mailsignature file that represents it in this folder. Locate the .mailsignature file in the ~/Library folder. It will have a random name. If it is not there, you may still be in “edit” mode on the signature. Try closing the Mail > Preferences Window. If you need help, it helps to sort the folder by “Date Modified” and look for the most recently updated one.
5. When you have located the placeholder .mailsignature file, open it with your html editor. You will see a few metadata lines on the top of the file and some html code below it.
6. Keep the top metadata lines, but replace the html in the file with your own from step 2.
7. Save the file.
8. If you are using iCloud, skip this step and proceed to Step 9. You can determine if you are using iCloud for Mail.app by checking System Preferences > iCloud. Still unsure? Skip this step — you can redo the steps and include this one if your signature is not working correctly at the end.
Even though you save this file, Mail.app may use the original version and overwrite your new signature unless you lock the file. With your text editor now closed and the file saved, find it again in Finder and press command-i to bring up the info pane for the file. On this info pane, mark the “Locked” checkbox.
9. Restart Mail.app and go to Preferences > Signatures. If you have images in your signature, they will not show here in the preview, but they will show in the real signature if the image source location is valid.
10. To test that it is working correctly, simply compose a new email and set the signature to be the one with the name you created in step 1. If the images show, and everything looks as it should, you have succeeded!
If you need additional help with html signature design or implementation, I have founded a company called GiantUser (it’s an anagram of “signature”) to do just that with very reasonable prices. Check it out!
Jessica Torres offered a great tip on tracking the source of your Bit.ly link clicks. Post a link on Twitter with a Bit.ly AND LinkedIn and Google Plus and you want to know where your traffic comes from? Jessica has the answer for you.
Check it out.
Let’s say you have a link that you want to promote. Many companies will run the link through a link shortening service like bit.ly in order to track the number of clicks that link gets.
But what if you’re interested in knowing not only the number of clicks your link got, but also the source of those clicks? Bit.ly will show you where those clicks came from when you view the stats for your bitmark (ie., bit.ly link), but only to a limited degree.
In the example above, I posted a link to an article I wrote on 3 different LinkedIn groups, two questions on Quora, and a few other places. It’s great to know that LinkedIn.com was a major driver of traffic for my link, but this doesn’t tell me specifically which of those three LinkedIn groups gave me the most traffic.
If you’re posting the same link to multiple locations within a domain (like on multiple LinkedIn groups, or on multiple Twitter accounts) and you’d like to know which places are getting the most clicks, there’s an easy trick to to figuring that out.
First, create a separate bitmark for each place you want to promote it. You have to do this by creating a unique URL for each place you want to post it. For example, let’s say I wanted to promote this blog post http://getstuckintraffic.com/tumblr-for-brands/ to a number of different places. I would tag the link by adding ?src=location after the end of the link like this:
Then, check out the analytics by adding a + to the end of each bit.ly link. Adding a plus sign to the end of shortened links will show you the analytics for that link (works for Google ‘s link shortner, goo.gl, too!)
Now you can see exactly how many clicks each source produced for you!
I’m big on stories and storytelling – both personally and in business. In addition to this quick reminder about the importance and value of stories, I’m currently reading, “The Robert Collier Letter Book“. In chapter 4, referring to the value of word pictures (which is really just a story), Collier says,
“Your sale must be read in the readers mind. Before you can get his order, it is necessary to register a sequence of impressions in his mind, the combined result of which will be to make him want the thing you are offering more than the trouble or money it cost him.” p. 31
What is the story you want to tell? As an aside, are you telling it clearly?
Seth Godin’s recent blog post called, Broken English highlighting the importance of clarity.
All the nuance disappears. When talking to someone in a languge that’s not easy for them, you discover that idioms and other forms of communication disappear. You need to be extremely direct and specific in order to make yourself understood.
The thing is, just about everyone speaks some form of broken English. It’s “broken” because it doesn’t match our version. Their language and our language isn’t the same one—the other person may think your English is broken too.
Our ability to communicate with one another isn’t nearly as sophisticated or error free as we think it is.
You will be misunderstood. If it’s critical that we understand you, say it more clearly. Say it twice. Better yet, act it out, live it, make it an action, not merely a concept.
Godin’s point is an important one in business, however, I think it has greater implications in marriage, parenting, faith and friendships.
What makes marketing compelling? Stories. The story a brand tells may be implicit: “Coke Adds Life.” The customer fills in what that means to them. Or a brand’s story may be explicit, like Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. When brands use storytelling well it can capture customers’ attention, spark their imagination, and build the kind of engagement that leads to advocacy and sales.
But storytelling isn’t a phenomenon for B2C alone. B2B marketers can use storytelling to engage current customers and attract new ones. One of the most persuasive types of storytelling in B2B is customer case studies. Executives are hungry for insight on how to succeed in their job, solve problems, and harness opportunities. B2B brands can use storytelling to share insights with prospects into how customers successfully use their product or services to accomplish those outcomes.
It’s no wonder that content marketing continues to grow in popularity. Content marketing in part is about communicating a brand’s promise through storytelling. Customer success stories are an integral element of that approach. Whether it’s a two-sentence testimonial or a 2,000-word case study, the story of a customer success can motivate prospects to become customers and inspire customers to stay engaged.
Why all this harping on storytelling? An insightful campaign or customer success story can help make the case for marketing investments as surely as they move prospects and customers through their company’s funnel. Learning about and keeping up on strategies and trends is important, but they’re made concrete when exemplified by a related real-life experience—when the “What’s in it for me?” is clear. Storytelling can provide that clarity.
At Direct Marketing News, we’re always looking for compelling customer success stories to share with readers. And we know you have them. So, what’s your story?
Your company’s growth can feel like a complex equation. Add a consultant here, subtract a client there, divide up this budget and hope for the best. The numbing reality is that the choices we make, more often than not, lead us to unanticipated outcomes.
At Jacob Tyler, we’ve been down the rabbit hole and been forced to choose between the proverbial “red and green pill.” We know what it’s like to be a small business craving a growth spurt. Now that we’ve experienced the growth, through our success and failures, we’ve stumbled upon fundamental lessons on what not to do. These lessons, as luck would have it, have played a crucial role in building our company. Avoid these five pitfalls for stress-free, steady, and successful growth.
1. DO NOT RUSH THE HIRING PROCESS.
Small businesses often suffer from the “chicken/egg” syndrome. You don’t have the money to hire until you have the project set and when you finally have the project and money, you don’t have the staff to support the client. What do you do?
You may consider making a quick hiring decision. I won’t say this never works out, but many times, the person you hire, because you’re in a rush, isn’t the right fit for the position you’re trying to fill. Then you’ll spend extra time nurturing this employee to “fit” the required position. Save yourself the headache and repeat after me: slow to hire, fast to fire.
Instead of solving your problem with a quick hire, develop a hiring process that builds your pipeline of qualified applicants. Keep position descriptions up on your website and have a system in place for when you’re ready to push for new applicants. Then follow a vetting process. Know what you’re looking for, interview and interview again.
Taking this time upfront will save you time later. When you’re looking for that next hire, look for the qualities the previous employee (that quick hire we all regret) was lacking and be patient for the right person to come through your door.
2. DO NOT SURROUND YOURSELF WITH JUNIORS.
The common denominator with most small businesses is lack of cash flow. Sometimes this can be a recipe for a hiring disaster because your inclination is to bring on a junior level person with little experience because you can get them at the perfect price. Well, you get what you pay for.
At Jacob Tyler, we’ve found that a senior level employee who makes roughly $75,000 a year can do almost six to eight times the work of a junior level employee making $20,000 a year and with less supervision. It’s important to consider the cost savings not only for the cost of work, but the cost of time from management, revisions, and mistakes. In order to grow your business, you need to be doing what you do best and that does not mean spending the majority of the day teaching or fixing unnecessary issues.
Instead, invest in your talent. Why? Because investing in your talent is an investment in your brand. As a brand communications agency, we know the value of a brand and advise our clients to think of their brand positioning as the key element to ongoing success and growth. Your people not only represent your company, but they produce for your company. Simply put, your people are your brand. You wouldn’t want to devalue your brand, so don’t skimp on the quality of the employees you hire.
3. DO NOT ROB PETER TO PAY PAUL.
Handling and allocating expenses is really tough for small business owners. It’s very easy to lose track of where your money is going. Why? Clients don’t always deliver according to your cash flow plans.
As a result, sometimes funds are moved from where they should be allocated to perhaps your credit card debt. Over time, this can spiral out of control making it difficult to recover. As time goes by, you realize you’ve potentially racked up more debt and the money you’re making never seems to make it to the right place including your pocket. Instead of falling into this vicious cycle, focus your attention on developing a budget.
In order to budget properly, ensure a controller has an eye on your bottom line and prepares monthly financial reports for your review. This type of administrative and financial work won’t necessarily improve your bottom line, but it will help you anticipate financial bottlenecks and pinches ahead of time.
4. DO NOT TAKE A PROJECT JUST TO MAKE A PAYCHECK.
Oftentimes, as small business owners, whether you work alone or have employees, we stress about payroll, vendor payments, bills, and more. Then, the perfect client prospect walks through the door. Why perfect? Because he has money. I can tell you from firsthand experience that just because he can pay, does not mean the business will be profitable. In fact, the wrong client can cost you much more time than money. When meeting with new clients, it’s important to look for the warning signs such as:
Do they appear high maintenance or require a lot of handholding?
Do they really understand your business or need too much education?
Did they have issues with another vendor that is making them switch to you?
Are they asking for something beyond your core competencies?
While taking on a client will get you the quick pay day, it may cost you far more in time and in the long run, a major loss in profits. Not to mention, this client can waste your valuable time that you should be spending on searching for ideal clients.
Take the time to interview your potential clients in depth and make sure they know what it will be like to work with you. Once they understand, make sure your contracts are iron clad complete with expectations for rounds of revisions, changes in scope and additional requests. Otherwise, these issues will lead to unnecessary additional meetings that distract you from your daily goals.
5. DO NOT LOSE SIGHT OF YOUR CORE STRENGTHS.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be everything to everyone. It makes sense, right? The more services you offer, the more money you can make. The problem is that you better be good at everything you do. The saying about being a “jack of all trades, master of none” is not a compliment.
Whether you’re a web designer or a tax attorney, make sure you’re the master of your core strength. This will enable you to be recognized as an expert in your field and help you to build your business brand. Be the best at a few concentrated activities and stay focused on investing in those strengths.
Furthermore, a core strength of your company can and should be innovation. How are you providing your clients with new value? How are you pursuing the next big thing? Stay connected with your clients and continue to listen to what they want and learn how to better serve them through innovation. Discover a blue ocean and you will make the competition irrelevant.
While these five lessons are great examples of lessons that we’ve learned at Jacob Tyler that have allowed us to get to where we are today, part two will provide five additional lessons for CEOs to keep in mind as they strive to grow their businesses.
—Les Kollegian is the CEO at Jacob Tyler, an award-winning, full-service, brand communications agency specializing in brand development, print collateral, web design, web development, product design and online marketing. Contact Les firstname.lastname@example.org.