The Just To Do It List

I’m willing to bet you’ve made a fair few To Do lists in your day.  You might even be a serial list maker, relishing the opportunity to break out the coordinated stationery, and colour coding your tasks with a myriad of highlighters and gel pens.  Of course, that could just be me.

 

Now, it’s true to say that To Do lists often divide opinion. Some people think they do nothing but act as a constant reminder of how much you have to do, and how little you’re managing to achieve.  They’re a negative noose hanging round your neck.

 

Personally, I think that’s a bit extreme, but I can see the logic.  The flip side is that writing a list can, if nothing else, help you to set concrete goals and organise your thoughts, usually ensuring you don’t forget anything.  The problem is when you don’t manage the list correctly, and whilst tasks are remembered, they don’t get done.

 

The reality is there’s a degree of skill to creating an effective To Do lists, so you can ensure everything on there gets done!

 

Here are my top tips that will, hopefully, help you just To Do it.

 

# 1 Write it the night before

There is no point waiting until you get in to the office to start your to do list, get it down the night before.  That way you can start your day with clarity.  Yes, I know things can change and new stuff comes in, but at least then you will already know what you have to do that day, regardless of what else comes in.

 

#2 Prioritise

So many of our clients write massive long lists, including everything they need to do, from emptying the rubbish bin to topping up the paper in the photocopier.  A 100 item list is going to be daunting, and it’s going to be impossible to see the wood for the trees.  How can you quickly see what has to be done, and is important?  Simple, you can’t.

 

Keep your to do list short and sweet – don’t have more than three things on there that you absolutely HAVE to do today.  If you only achieve three things today, what do they categorically have to be?  Everything else is just a nice to do.  So write a “nice to do” list and keep it to one side in case you get time later.

 

# 3 First things first

When compiling your To Do list, make sure you put the items in order of importance, starting with the highest at the top.  When you come in to the office, tackle your first item before you do anything else. Don’t check your email, or answer your phone – stay focussed and get the big one out of the way.

Your call is important to us – or is it?

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of calling a large company or call centre, you are likely to have been exposed to the joys of the automated system.  The pre-recorded voice asking you to select the correct option (many of which never really make sense) and assuring you, every 30 seconds, that your call is important to them.

 

In an ideal world you might hope that your call would be answered immediately, by a cheerful and helpful real live human being. However, with a large organisation experiencing a high volume of calls, that’s not realistic and most of us accept that.

 

Which is why the small business has an advantage.  Your phones aren’t going to be ringing off the hook, you’re not going to have an automated system, or a queue of frustrated people waiting to speak to you.  You should be able to deliver immediate customer service, answers and resolutions the second your customer needs it.

 

Yet, so many small businesses fail to do that, because they don’t have an effective call answering system.

 

Yes, it should be simple; you have a phone, doesn’t matter if it’s landline or mobile, someone calls, you answer.  Job done.

 

Why then, when we phone sole traders and SMEs do so many calls go unanswered?  You ring, no one’s there. If you’re lucky, maybe there’s a voicemail facility – but do you leave a message?  The reality is few people do.  When they do, statistics (and our own personal experiences) show that very few of these are ever returned.

 

The problem is that if you’re a sole trader, you’re having to wear many hats.  You’ve got to answer the calls, do the customer service, chase down leads, do the marketing, balance the books, keep an eye on stock levels, and do the actual work your customers need.

 

Sometimes you’re so busy you don’t have time to make phone calls – even though doing so will help ensure the next lot of revenue for your business.  Really, when you think about it, it’s daft; however, it happens, and it’s perfectly understandable.

 

It even makes sense.

 

What doesn’t make sense though is recognising it’s an issue, and then doing nothing about it.  Why would you continue to miss calls, and risk missing out on customers and income, when all you have to do is get in touch with us?

 

A quick call to Time Saving Heroes and we can have your calls diverted to one of our receptionists, who will answer them as though they work in your business.  Never miss another call again, provide your customers with a fantastic experience, and increase satisfaction and profits.

 

Call us today on 0161 883 2024 or email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk for more information.

10 Twitter Tips to Increase Engagement

One thing we’re constantly being asked is how to increase engagement on social media platforms, specifically with regards to Twitter.  Many people struggle to really engage others, feeling that the character limit’s holding them back from making a good impression.

 

Rumours still abound that Twitter are going to increase the limit, so in theory, the problem will cease to exist.  However, the reality is that most people aren’t failing to engage their audience because of the amount of words they’re using.  They’re either saying the wrong words, or all they’re doing is talking at their fans and followers.

 

Here then are our top ten tips for getting more out of Twitter.

 

#1 – Keep it short

It might seem counter productive, but shorter Tweets i.e. those that don’t max out at 140 characters, get 17% more engagement than those that push the limits.

 

Leaving room in a Tweet allows people to add their own comment when they RT, and people invariably won’t both if they have to reduce your original content.

 

#2 – Get your timings right

Think about when your audience is online.  There is no point in Tweeting at 11pm when everyone’s gone to bed!  If you keep your posts during daytime hours i.e. 8am and 7pm you’re going to reach more people with your posts, and therefore increase the chance of engagement.

Audiences vary, and there is no one right time to post – so think about them and what they’re doing, and when they’re going to be online when you’re doing your scheduling.

 

#3 – Don’t forget the weekends

So many of our clients don’t bother Tweeting at the weekend, and it makes no sense.  Social media does not stop just because your offices are closed, or you think your target audience have gone home for the weekend.

 

#4 – Encourage your fans

Take some time out each day to scroll through some of your fans’ timelines.  Look at their content and get up to date with what’s going on in their world.  You might find that someone’s just got engaged, bought a new house, got a promotion, has developed a new product … whatever.  The Twitterverse moves so quickly, chances are you’ll have missed these announcements throughout the week.

Go find the good news, and react to it yourself.  Offer words of encouragement, say congratulations, support your fans.  Don’t forget that behind every single profile or account is a real live human being – and we all just crave interaction.

 

#5 – RT other people’s content

This follows on from #4.  Your fans have taken the time to create their own content, validate them and show them you appreciate what they’re putting out there.  Relationships often work on a reciprocal basis, and you may find they’re more likely to look out for your content and share it themselves if you start the ball rolling.

Now, that’s not to say you should RT or like every single post your fans produce – that would be madness.  Pick specific things that you think your audience could get benefit from, remember your audience is still the most important thing here.

 

#6 – Include hashtags

If you add hashtags to your content, you’re automatically going to be able to reach more people.  Of course the key here is to always keep it relevant.

Encourage others to get on board with your #hashtag and interact with it.  Offer incentives, a free piece of content, or a personalised message … anything you think your audience would be interested in.

 

#7 – Provide solutions

What problems do your audience encounter on a regular basis?  Are they overworked professionals who don’t have time to prepare their own meals?  Are they cash rich, time poor?  If so, find things that will make their lives easier.

 

Ideally, some of that content will be your own, linking directly to your website or blog. However, sharing other people’s content is another good way to increase engagement. It shows that you care about your audience, and you’re happy to help other people out.

 

#8 – Ask for RTs

Generally speaking, people are really shy about asking for RT’s. In fact, less than 1% of brands do it.  That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, it just means people feel uncomfortable about it, and we get that. However, research shows that where people do actually ask, there’s a 12% increase in RT’ing!  It makes a difference!

 

That’s not to say you should ask for a RT in every single post you share, but it’s worth adding in to the mix every now and then. Especially if you have something important to say.

 

#9 – Don’t over do it

Some people subscribe to the believe that the more you post, the more you’re likely to get back.  It makes sense, on some levels – the more that can be seen, the more people will see it. However, the more you Tweet the more you’re likely to be ignored as spam.  It is essential you avoid coming on too strong when it comes to your marketing.

 

The best way to increase awareness, reach and engagement is to post between one and four Tweets a day, throughout your chosen hours.

 

#10 – Keep it real

Too many brands seem to forget that they are people, trying to do business with people.  Stop sending out automated, personality-less posts that are impossible to engage with.

 

Keep it real, and share some of your news, views and struggles.  People want to hear how other people are getting on, not just what you’ve got to sell to them.

 

 

If you have any questions about Twitter, or any other social media platform, don’t hesitate to get in touch.  We’re always happy to help.  Call 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk.

 

 

The one thing your business needs to be successful …

Over the years we’ve worked with lots of different clients, across a wide range of industries and sectors.  When they come to us, one thing they all have in common is that they’re struggling.

 

It might not necessarily be financially, though we have seen that too. More often than not they’re struggling to get everything done.  The business owner, who might actually be the only person involved in the business, is left to do everything.  That means they’re stuck on a hamster wheel, jumping from doing the work, to sending out quotes, chasing new clients, following up on leads, and managing the invoices.

 

We’ve said it before, and we’ll never stop saying it: you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

 

Something always has to give.

 

When it comes to sole traders and small business owners, the thing that tends to give is their leisure and family time.  Which can cause problems at home, not to mention adding a huge amount of stress to the entire situation.

 

And whilst they’re busing working in their business, these individuals aren’t working on it.  The reality is the one thing your business needs to be successful, is you.  You are the only person who can take your business to the next level.  It’s your ideas and passion that have got it this far, and if it’s to go any further, you need to be the one directing it.

 

You can’t do that if you’ve got your head buried in Facebook Ads, or you’re tied up on the phone all day.  It just doesn’t happen.

 

So, instead you keep doing what you’ve always done.  Which means you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

 

How then do you make a change?  Maybe you need to take on your first member of staff, but you’re worried about how much time that will eat up, and how much it will cost.  It’s not an easy decision to make, and people can have huge reservations about it.  Understandably.

 

An alternative, of course, is to outsource.  A Virtual Assistant is a great way to manage that; however, there are numerous services you can outsource to a professional who has the skills you don’t.

 

Why not hire a bookkeeper to keep on top of your accounts?  Maybe it will cost you £20ph, but how much time will you save, that you can focus back on your business?

 

If you need a website, you’ll no doubt look for a website designer.  I know plenty of people that have cobbled together their own websites (and with WordPress etc it isn’t that complicated), but if you want something bespoke, you wouldn’t try to do it yourself.  It would take you hours and hours to try and learn how to do it, and then muddle through.

 

Why would you be sensible when it comes to a website, but not when it comes to other things that zap your time?

 

Outsource your weaknesses to Time Saving Heroes, and we’ll let you concentrate on your strengths, so your business can go to the next level.

 

Call us on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk – we’re always happy to have a chat to see if we can help you.

 

 

 

An open letter to the Door to Door Sellers of LinkedIn

Hi

I hope you’re having a great day.

My day was going great until I got an invitation to connect from you. I admit I didn’t recognise your name so I went to your profile to see if I could find out anything helpful. It turns out we have various mutual connections, and for me, that provides you with a degree of legitimacy.

So, I accepted.

I’d barely clicked “accept” before I received another notification – you’d sent me an InMail.

Now, I’m a fairly realistic individual. I know I’m awesome to be around and am generally a good person, but even I know nobody is waiting with baited breath to get in direct contact with me. The speed with which that message comes through would give most people whiplash, which tells me one thing; you’re a salesperson.

Yes, I know we’re all “salespeople”, in the strictest sense of the word – why else be on LinkedIn in the first place? However, you’re one of those salespeople.

With trepidation I open the message and yes, there it is, the generic sales pitch.

Sigh.

Within 60 seconds of accepting your request I have already removed you as a contact. OK, so it’s a minor waste of my time, and a constant source of irritation but in all honesty, I just feel sorry for you.

Despite the fact you think you’re a hot shot with your 500+ connections, I assure you, you’re doing LinkedIn all wrong.

If you have to send a generic pitch to every single new contact without actually reaching out first, then there is something wrong.

This approach is exactly the same as the person who attends a physical networking event and spends the entire time collecting business cards and talking at other people. These people don’t get invited back for a second time, and people avoid their calls. The rest of us, who have mastered the art of conversation and relationship building talk about you when you’re not there, and warn other people to stay clear.

The simple truth is we should all treat our connections like gold. The people you spend time with, whether that be in real life or the virtual world, should be your tribe. They have your back, they cheer you on, they support you and you can learn from them. They are not simply people to sell to and then spit out once you’ve got your pound of flesh.

Spamming people on LinkedIn (and yes my friend, that is exactly what you are doing) is the modern day equivalent of traditional cold calling. I’m not naïve enough to think it doesn’t work, occasionally. For every 20 people that ignore you, one might bite and with your relentless enthusiasm you may well close a deal one day. However, I assure you there is so much more to gain by playing the long game and actually remembering to be social when using social media.

LinkedIn is a fantastic platform to build relationships, whether that be from scratch or to enhance existing ones. The only way to do that is to take your time, be useful to others and always be considerate and respectful.

If you can’t manage that, be quiet. And stay the Hell out of my inbox!

5 content ideas you should be using

There is little doubt that having a blog on your website, or using another forum, is a great way to generate traffic and engage with your potential audience. However, finding things to actually write about can prove a little problematic at times.

So, here are our favourite options if you find yourself stuck for ideas.

# 1 – Listicles

Other than just being a really cool word, a listicle is a fantastic blend of the classic list based article. Essentially, take a concept, and turn it in to a numbered list. For example, top 10 things to blog about.

Having a list means you can easily call out a number in your headline: “5 reasons you should use a Time Saving Hero”. It’s engaging, and lets your time poor audience know there’s a degree of conciseness and even skimability about the content, that might encourage them to click and read.

# 2 – How to’s

People like to find out how to do things for themselves, and telling them how to do something doesn’t necessarily mean you’re giving away your secrets for free. Create posts that walk them through how to do something useful, whether it’s making a cake, setting up their Facebook business page or even changing a lightbulb. If t’s useful for your audience, then it’s worth doing.

Make it as simple as possible, add images and photographs, and where possible even add in a video to make it more engaging.

# 3 – Checklists

Checklists can be a great way to provide useful and very specific information, and is usually more precise and targeted than a listicle.

We recently prepared checklists for a travel agent client who wanted to help customers who were travelling with young children. The list was informative and useful, and was shared frequently even by people who weren’t customers (which was kind of the whole point).

Use checklists to show you really know what you’re talking about.

# 4 – Best practices

As an expert in your field you will no doubt come across the good and the bad in your industry on a daily basis. Why not take the time to share some best practice advice on a given subject? In the past we’ve done this for how to connect with people on LinkedIn, or how to optimise your social media pages.

We’ve always found that such posts are not only informative, but they often encourage a bit of healthy debate – from all members of your audience, including competitors. This is a great way to increase engagement and visibility, and perhaps even learn something yourself.

# 5 – Tips and tricks

One of our clients is an IT expert – there is nothing he doesn’t know about computers, and everything they’re capable of doing. Each day he shares tips and tricks via his Facebook page, from how to delete temporary files to free up disk space, to useful shortcuts on PowerPoint.

These are great posts, but people only see them if they follow his Facebook page. We recently encouraged him to pull together 8-10 tips at a time, and turn them in to content to share via his website. The reach has been huge, as people have been commenting and reposting specific tips.

It’s a great way to share your knowledge, and again place yourself as an industry expert.

 

What to consider before you post that photo

Generally speaking I’m a pretty mild mannered individual; however, there are some things that really bug me. For example, the other day a Facebook friend I knew from my days as a playground Mum posted a photo of her daughter online. It was a great photo, and to be honest there was nothing wrong with it – apart from the comment she attached to it.

Essentially, she had asked her daughter for a photo, despite the fact said 8 year-old child wasn’t comfortable with it because of the outfit she was wearing. The daughter had agreed, apparently reluctantly, as long as the Mum didn’t share it on social media.

And yet, here I was, looking at the photo of an uncomfortable young girl, whose privacy had clearly been violated.

I won’t lie, it made me feel physically sick and really, really angry.

Then of course I calmed down, and realised it was an opportunity to blog – and that made me happy because I like feeling inspired (and getting on my soap box).

Everyone knows that when it comes to marketing, visual content sells. As social media marketing has taken an ever stronger hold more and more businesses are finding ways to reach out to their audiences and make a bigger impact.

If you sell a product, no matter what that is, there’s plenty of opportunity for you to take photos and create content around that. To make things more personable though, you may want to showcase images of your customers or clients using your products, or even pursuing your retail store.

However, there are legal ramifications involved in doing this, and it’s really important you think about the images you are taking, who they are of and what those peoples’ rights are, before you start sharing them as part of your online marketing strategy.

Admittedly there are laws that allow you to take photographs of people in public, but it’s important to realise these laws change when the person taking the photographs represents a business. Taking a photograph of a large crowd is one thing, but that’s unlikely to be an option for smaller businesses. This means that any photographs you take are going to be of people who are easily identifiable, and people may take exception to that.

I’ve said it before, and I will no doubt say it again, but what happens on social media stays on Google forever. You might post a picture of someone once, and whilst it will temporarily be on your timeline or appear in someone’s newsfeed, it will remain online forever. If you don’t have someone’s express permission, you could be in trouble.

What you need to think about it:

If you are taking photographs of people, and you want to use these as part of any marketing efforts, then you are using them for commercial purposes.

  • Reasonable expectations of privacy – even if someone is in public, if they are having what they believe is a private moment when you unexpectedly take their picture, you may not be able to use the generic public laws when it comes to photographs.
  • Consent – to avoid any confusion, it is always best to get people’s permission before you either take, or certainly use, photographs of them for any reason. In an ideal world, ask people to sign a consent form which you can keep as part of your ongoing records.

If you want to avoid any potential snags with customer photographs, there are some other options you can consider:

  • Why not set up a selfie board in store, and encourage your customers to come and have their photographs taken? You could enter them in to a prize draw so they could win something if they do.
  • Ask customers to send in photographs of them using your products on specific social media channels. Make sure they tag your account, and identify a specific # for them to use. This will help increase exposure as well.
  • If you want to avoid all legal pitfalls, why not just hire a photographer to take images of your products? You could even use images of your staff at work, and having a great time (as long as you have their permission first, of course).