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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

I know, having spoken to many small businesses about their calls that for some, they’re just too busy.  Take a plumber client of mine as an example. If he’s on an emergency call out, he charges by the hour.  Admirably, and rightly, he won’t take other calls whilst he’s on a job, so as not to add extra time that the client has to pay for.  Instead, he lets any calls go to voicemail.

 

He works on the basis that if it’s important, they’ll leave a message.

 

Of course, if it’s important they won’t.  They’ll phone the next number on their list and hope they pick up instead.  His callers have an issue they need resolving.  If he doesn’t answer, they’re no closer to getting a resolution. The hunt must continue, without him.

 

Another client, an electrician this time, will answer calls no matter what he’s doing.  He’s answered them whilst halfway under floorboards, in the shops, whilst driving and also when stuck up scaffolding.  He barely misses a call, though when he does, he won’t return them.

 

On the surface that seems great – he’s keeping on top of things. However, he isn’t.  When he takes a call when he’s on a job, he’s distracted.  He’s invariably got his hands full, and therefore doesn’t have the chance to make any notes.  If he does, it’s an illegible scrawl on the back of a receipt or pasty wrapper, which gets added to the pile of rubbish festering in the footwell of his van.

 

He’s taken a call, been given a lead, has been asked to quote – but he can’t remember who, where, when or what.  So nothing comes of it.  Maybe that customer will call back, but the chances are, if they’ve waited in for him, and he’s not shown up, they won’t.  If they do, the same is only likely to happen again.

 

And a final example, the graphic designer who doesn’t like people.  Admittedly, we’ve all been there, but this client hates talking on the phone.  Can’t abide it. To the point where he actively avoids answering his calls, won’t listen to voicemails and never phones anyone back.  He wants everyone to contact him via text, or email, or Messenger – which begs the question, why put your mobile number on your business cards?

 

All of these clients have benefitted from our call handling service, because we ensure that every single call is answered, and dealt with on their behalf.  The web designer never has to speak to anyone, we do it for him, even calling people back if he has a question he needs their help with.

 

The electrician now has emails from us providing him with all the information he needs to complete a quote: name, address, contact details, date, time and synopsis of the issue.  We manage his calls, and his diary so all he ever has to do is turn up.  Which, thankfully, he is now doing.

 

And the plumber, he has us just taking messages for him.  We ascertain what the issue is, provide him with the information, and at 5pm every night he goes through his emails and calls every single customer back.

 

If your customer’s calls are important to you and your business, then make sure you actually demonstrate that by answering them, dealing with it appropriately or calling them back.  If you can’t do that, for whatever reason, Time Saving Heroes can.

 

To find out more, give us a call on 0161 883 2024; email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or get in touch with us via our Facebook page.

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).

 

Stand me up once, shame on you …

If you follow our Facebook page you will know this morning Lu got stood up. You’ll also know that she had well nice shoes, and was most unimpressed by the amount of rain falling from the skies, but that’s a whole other matter.

The good news is it appears there was a good explanation for the missed meeting today, and a new get together is going to be arranged. However, it seems to be quite a hot topic of conversation among many business owners – as her post missed-meeting rant has been getting quite a bit of attention.

How long would you wait?

Most people said if they had arranged to meet someone, they’d wait anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes (one person saying they’d happily wait 20 minutes) to see if they really were a no-show. The reality is people can easily get stuck in traffic, and not everyone has hands free and is able to make a call to let you know of an issue.

Equally, if you’re already sat waiting for them, you might as well use the time productively to catch up on emails or make any other calls you need to. Yes, it can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be a total waste of your time.

Would you get in touch with them?

Whilst you’re waiting, would you try to get in touch with the missing party? Most of us have been there at least once, somewhere along the way you’ve failed to put a date in your diary and before you know it, you’ve inadvertently stood someone up. We all like to think we’re above it, but alas, we’re all only human.

Phoning someone whilst you’re waiting is a good way to gauge where things are at. Did they simply forget, and if so, is it worth trying to rearrange? Was it a genuine mistake, or are they saying they don’t have the time to meet with you and give you their full attention?

Perhaps you can’t get in touch with them there and then, in which case, would you make contact with them when you get back to the office? Try to find out where they were? If not, why not?

Would you arrange a second meeting?

Most people we’ve heard from said that, depending on the reason for missing the meeting in the first place, they would probably arrange a second meeting. If someone seemed genuinely sorry, or it was clear there was a logical explanation for any mix up, then they’d be more than happy to move on and try again.

However, if they got a feeling the person was lying or trying to cover their tracks, didn’t apologise or wouldn’t take ownership for their mistake, then they wouldn’t bother.

One person we spoke to said the same person had stood him up three times. It was a potential client, and whilst the temptation is always there to try and chase down a sale, it’s certainly not wort it if you have to work that hard. A client who can treat you like that is one that’s unlikely to ever value what you offer, and will no doubt also be a bad payer.