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Re-connect with the art of following up!

There’s a dying art I want to talk to you about and it is so very important if you are looking to build your client base, nurture your existing clients and re-connect with your unengaged clients or even past clients.

It is the simple act of following up, be it with a quick phone call or a follow up email, it can make all the difference in this busy lifestyle we all find ourselves living.  So when you have a client or a potential client come to you and have that connection, the very best thing you can do is follow them up and re-connect!

Follow up

Now you might be thinking “but I’m a  service based industry, this wont work for me” but this does apply for every industry!

It’s ironic that I had planned this blog over the weekend, but just this morning I had a follow up phone call from our dentist to check on our eldest son who had a tooth extracted yesterday.

This simple phone call was fabulous! They didn’t need to call and check how he was going, but the fact that they did has nurtured my relationship with the business and makes me want to go back there.

Have an online business selling products? why not set up a follow up email sequence to ‘see how they’re order is going’.
What about an email to clients who haven’t ordered from you in a few months, touching base and offering them a small incentive to shop with you again.
Another idea would be to have an email go out to people who abandon their shopping cart on your website, touching base to see if their was anything you can help them with or if they had any questions about the products they were looking at.

Have a service based business? Have a process of ‘checking in’ on existing clients and seeing how they’re doing every few months, or if you have sent an email to a potential new client, make a note in your diary to follow up with an email or phone call 4 days’ later.
Past clients you could send them a newsletter with links to your latest blogs or any special rates you might have available.

Tradies? This works for you also! After payments received, have an email go out just to ‘touch base’ and ask how they’re going and if they have any questions. This could be a follow up phone call as well.
Another great option is to send an email asking them to connect with you on Social Media and leaving  a review on your Facebook page.

Think of the possibilities making that extra connection can have!

Stuck for ideas on how to re-connect with your clients? Send me an email at Kristen@simplifyadmin.com.au, I am happy to brainstorm some ideas with you and talk about how to set these systems up.

 

How to manage your email account

hands on laptop

Ever wonder how the ‘organised’ people keep on top of their emails?

Well I’m going to give you a few tips to help you organise your emails like a pro.

Having managed multiple mailboxes at a time, I know what it’s like to lose an email or two or wonder how to make sure I don’t forget to reply to someone’s email to complete a task sent through from my boss.  These are the strategies I use to keep me on top of everything and I’m sure you will get the most out of these tips as well.

CATEGORIES CAN WORK FOR YOU

Do you use categories? Categories are really useful when a number of people manage the one mailbox. It means that you can allocate colours to people or actions, that way you will always know what’s happening with every email.

If you are managing a mailbox jointly with someone or a group of people, make sure you are ticking the emails off as ‘complete’ and archiving to keep everything manageable.

Some example category names for the above scenario would be: Jane; Jessica; on hold; waiting more info; urgent; need advice; and completed.

THERE’S A TASK FOR THAT

Do you use your tasks in your mailbox system? Tasks are a hidden gem, if you haven’t discovered tasks, I suggest you check it out!  They make it so easy to manage your email workload. Have an email with a deadline you can’t get to right now? Turn the email into a task and give it a due date of the day before the response is due and you have yourself an email that can’t get lost and an instant reminder to do respond to the email before the due date.

Have to send an RSVP but need to check if other people in the office are going as well? Make a task out of the email to remind you to check in with people a few days before RSVP’s are due. Or better still, send an email to the people you want to check in with and make a task out of your email so you can easily follow up with them if they don’t respond.

Tasks truly are a great tool, you can set reminders, due dates, urgency, add notes.

Every morning I check my ‘due today’ tasks and complete these first, then I check my ‘due tomorrow’ tasks and see if I can tick anything off this list as well.

Then I go through my emails and create new tasks from any new emails which have come through.

Tip – If you don’t like tasks, try the same but with your calendar! Block out some time at the start and end of your day to check emails – drag any emails you need to action into that calendar booking and go through them (too much clicking for me to open each attachment in the calendar, but this may be the way for you).

Once you finish the task, you can mark it as completed and the task will cross itself off your list.

(you can use tasks for more than just following up on emails – you can create a task on its own and set a due date).

WHAT’S IN A NAME

Keeping on top of your emails for some can be as simple as having meaningful subject’s for your emails. Instead of Lunch catch up – try “Lunch meeting John & Sam September” (if you haven’t settled on a date) or instead of Wednesday’s meeting – try “Team Meeting Wed 14 Sep 16”

If you’re not one to archive, then this is the key for you – it will make searching for emails in the 100’s of 1000’s a lot simpler if you have meaningful subject lines.

Don’t forget – you can also edit subject lines, so if you receive an email with a subject that isn’t meaningful, change it and continue the conversation with the meaningful subject.

ARCHIVE ARCHIVE ARCHIVE!

No one likes a messy mailbox, it’s confusing, you can’t find anything quickly and more often than not, you lose the important emails in between the junk. It depends on the industry you’re in and the work you’re doing to the best labels for your archive folders, but here are a few suggestions:

Client emails: for any emails from your clients, as soon as you have responded or completed something, move the email into the client email folder so you know it’s done.

Accounts: have one place for all the invoices you have coming in.  You can have one big Accounts archive folder, or, if you need to delve into this folder, you may want to break it down with sub folders by supplier as well.  This makes it super easy to see what’s come in.  (Tip: I only archive these once I’ve paid the statement or printed off the invoice).

Projects: are you a part of a number of projects or meetings? Don’t be afraid to make a folder just for the project or meeting.  A lot of emails can fly around and it makes a lot of sense to have them all together, even if it is just the meeting agenda’s and minutes. If you need to find the minutes from the last meeting to see if you have any outstanding action items, it’s going to be quick to do so if you have a folder for that meeting or project. For my events, I have a folder for Events, then break it down into years, then by each event.

By department / team / name: if you’re like my last boss, he loved to put all emails from people that didn’t relate to a particular project or meeting, he would have a folder for them and would save every email from them into the folder.  (I’ll be honest, this method wasn’t for me, but I could see what he was trying to do) This is a great idea if you manage a team – but just make sure you don’t keep every single email they ever sent you, it could get messy in there!

Personal: Yeah we all get personal emails at work, who doesn’t! but be sure to have a folder for them too or forward them to your personal email if you want to keep the info.

Be ruthless – don’t forget to delete: Deleting is a must! Do you know how many emails people on average are receiving? According to Expandedramblings.com workers are receiving on average 121 emails per day (in the US as at Feb 2015), that’s ridiculous! That’s approx. 30,000 emails a year (when you take out weekends and public holidays) eep! So don’t be afraid to delete emails that aren’t relevant or are promotional or are a work colleague asking if you want’ to go to lunch tomorrow. And while we are talking about deleting, set your mailbox up to permanently delete emails from your deleted mailbox at the end of each day. If you deleted them in the first place, then you really don’t need them anymore.

MANAGE SOMEONE ELSE’S MAILBOX? THEN THIS IS FOR YOU

If you are faced with someone else’s mailbox and you’re not sure how to tell them important information, then here are some EA tips that you may not have thought of:

Use flags to alert them to important emails: Sometimes the person who your managing email’s for is too busy and you won’t have time to tell them there is an email they need to reply to ASAP. Best way to do this is to use flags, then they can scan the emails from the day to see if any are flagged (or sort by flags) to know what they need to look at first.

Reply for them: If the email is from a client trying to organise a meeting and you have access to their diary, reply and let them know of your manager’s availabilities.  Hot tip: if you are replying, make sure you are cc’ing the person you are replying for back in the email so they know you have replied on their behalf.

Draft a reply: If you know the answer to an email but it’s not appropriate for you to reply, then why not draft a reply and save it in your manager’s draft emails and make a note in the original email that you have created a draft reply in their drafts folder.

Edit emails: Did you know you can edit emails? When an email is open in outlook, you can edit the email and add text to it – I put notes in bold and red up the top of the email so my manager knows the note is from me. Notes like: I’ve drafted a reply – it’s in your draft folder; printed; forwarded to Chris to action; meeting organised for Friday 9 Sept at 2pm.

I hope you found these tips helpful! Go forth and manage your mailbox!

 

How to tell if your Facebook Ad has too much text

Facebook is a great way to share information and advertise your business.  Be it products or services, Facebook advertising is a fantastic way to target your ideal audience and get them over to your Facebook page liking your page and content, over to your website buying products, or signing up for your newsletter.

Facebook however, does have some strict advertising guidelines (and for good reason) but some of the guidelines can be pretty tricky to negotiate through, plus some are just strange – like the 20% text rule!

So why does Facebook want your ad to have 20% or less text overall anyway?

Facebook is a great source of information and of course Facebook uses the information from ads to analyse trends and what works well versus what doesn’t have the get the same reach.

Quite simply, the ads that do the best, have less text and more imagery, they appeal to their clients first through the image, then the accompanying text.

While Facebook will now allow an ad to be approved with more than 20% text, statistics tell us that your ad just won’t do as well than an add with 20% or less text in the image.

So why fight it?

Some creative copy, a catchy image and a short and sweet tag line will go far – get creative, split test a few different images to find the one that appeals to your audience – it get’s really addictive watching those figures and statistics and comparing ads and how they are tracking against each other!

But how do I know if my image has too much text?

I know what you’re thinking, how do you know if your image has too much text?
The rule of thumb is, if you’re not sure it will be under 20%, then you probably have too much text, but if your a visual person like me and want to SEE what over 20% text in an image actually looks like, or want to see what Facebook thinks of your image before you run with it, try Facebook’s inbuilt text overlay tool!

http://www.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay

This tool is so cool! Simply upload the image you want to use for your ad and Facebook will tell you if your text image is Ok, Low, Medium or High.

Now because I’m a visual person, I thought I’d show you what an image at each of these 4 stages looks like, so you can get an idea of what Facebook deems to be too much text for an ad.  Check out the below.

(Note: these are example images only, not images I would use or will be using for any purpose other than as examples of how much text you should and shouldn’t use in Facebook ads.)

 

As you can see, there is a very fine line between Low text and medium text, it was actually really tricky to get the image to score a low text score, they kept coming back as either okay or medium.

It’s a great example of less is more! Less text, more visual information to grab your client.  If you have a sale on for example, all you need is a fantastic image of your product with SALE or 30% off and you’ll have your audiences attention.

I’m curious to know, which image above appeals to you the most? Comment bellow.

Facebook Ads and Ads Manager Access

I have been having a whole lot of fun this past few months doing  a course on Facebook Advertising and have started to use these skills to create Facebook Ads for businesses.

I love the excitement and interest a well structured Facebook Ad can bring to a business, whatever the goal of the ad is, be it new page likes, leads, or visitors to their website for a sale they have on.

One thing I have noticed through this process though, is that a lot of small businesses don’t know how to make someone an admin on their Ads Manager to be able to access their account to create and manage ads for them.

So, I’ve written up a quick step by step on how to add someone as an Ads Manager for your Facebook business.  Note: You will also need to add the person as a page admin so that Facebook will let them associate the add to your business.

  • Log into Facebook as yourself.
  • Then go to http://www.facebook.com/ads/manager
  • Once in, click on the top left dropdown called Ads Manager,
  • click on the All tools button to expand the window,
  • then on the far right under Settings, select Ad Account Settings.
  • On the left of this screen, select Account Roles
  • Add a User
  • Enter the persons name and select their role (for advertising purposes it is best to select this persons role as “Ad account advertiser” which should be the default.
This should be all you need to do to give someone access to your ads manager, this in conjunction with admin access to your page, will allow me to create ad campaigns for you and monitor the effectiveness of the campaigns, without giving that person access to your credit card details associated with your account.dai-ke-32162

Tips to help you stop procrastinating

Hi my name is Kristen and I am a procrastinator <phew> glad I got that off my chest!

So let me start by saying that I am not an expert, but I am a fellow procrastinator (I am actually writing this while I put off doing something else entirely ha) and I have been to my fair share of courses to learn how not to procrastinate (which is hard when it’s so naturally ingrained in your DNA!)

So here are my tips that work for me on how to kerb your procrastinating:

Put that down!

Your phone is your biggest distraction (it is mine) you pick it up to quickly to check what Sarah tagged you in on Facebook then boom, you’ve scrolled through all of Facebook, watched every Instagram story, played 3 games and lost an hour. Seriously, your phone is not good for you if you want to be productive.

Did you know that it takes our brains 25 minutes to get completely focused on a task again after a distraction? That means that every time your phone dings with a text message or that Facebook notification, you are actually losing 25 minutes of productivity, according to researchers from the University of California Irvine.

So, if you want to get through your workload or the task you need to finish by the end of the day; put down your phone, lock it in a draw, put it on silent in another room (and take off your apple watch too….)

Close your email account

Same thing goes for emails, they are a hidden procrastinators heaven. That little pop up from outlook, it’s enough to have you off on another task and forgetting about the one at hand. If it is not mission critical to have it open, then just close it and….

Set time to deal with emails

Seriously, it works! Block out 30 mins to an hour every day to check and respond to emails. You will find that you will be more efficient in your answers and your dealings in your mailbox. 30 mins at the start of the day and 30 mins at the end of it.

While you’re at it, check out my tips for managing your email account to help you be more productive during your allocated time with your mailbox.

Write a to do list

Not only does it help you keep track of everything you need to do, it gives you a visual on how you are tracking through the day.

But what if your to do list is what’s causing you to procrastinate?

It happens! You sit down and write your to do list but it’s so long and everything is so complex that you find yourself not doing any of it. Here’s what to do:

  • Break it up: have a master list of all the things that need to be done, then have a smaller one for what you want to get through that day. If you have to, break it down even more – there is nothing wrong with having a to do list for the next 3 hours if that will help you to focus.
  • Break down the big stuff: If you have a big task or a complex task on your list that has you doing everything else except that task (you know the super important one that MUST GET DONE) then split it up into stages so that it doesn’t seem so scary.
  • Put the easy stuff on the list: some days my to do list really does have “drink coffee” “eat lunch” “Pick up kids from school (I set an alarm for this one) it means I can cross things off the list and feel like I am achieving something. Even if it’s a task for “check emails AM” “send thank you email to Jane” “print invoices” short little tasks to help get you into a bit of a task accomplishing groove will help you get through the bigger stuff.

Don’t like the idea of a piece of paper with all your to do’s?

If you’re not a fan of the old paper to do list, there are so many programs out there now that can track your to do list for you electronically. There are even ones that you can set your team up on and you can all manage, track and update tasks and projects. Check out the following:

TickTick – www.ticktick.com
Wunderlist – www.wunderlist.com
Slack – www.slack.com
Anydo – www.any.do

Get organised the day before

Sounds silly right? But if you set an alarm to pack up 10 mins before the end of your work day, you can then spend those last 10 minutes setting things up that you want to do the next day.

Write your to do list, get out your files that relate to a task you need to complete, print off the papers for that 10am meeting.

It means you will be ready for the day so will spend less time having to get these things in the morning/through the day and will have less opportunities to get distracted.
Block out the day

You may have noticed, I like to use alarms, a lot. It reminds me to check the time and see what I should be up to, or where I should be going (don’t underestimate it – do you know how many times I’ve been so focused on a task that I didn’t realise it was school pick up, in 2 minutes, when school is 5 mins away).

You don’t have to go overboard, but if you set up a semi organised structure to your day, then you will have more success at using that time for the tasks you have allocated to do.

Do the task that you’re avoiding the most first

I hate this tip, do you know why? Because it’s true. It doesn’t matter how much I preach it to myself, I can’t help myself from avoiding dong the biggest, hardest, most important task on my to do list.
But when I do bite the bullet and get.it.done, it always takes either less time than I thought it would or it isn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

Have goals for yourself

So when you do decide to bite the bullet and do the one big task you’ve been avoiding, have a big reward ready for you after. “I am going to lunch and eating dessert when I’ve finished this” “I will eat that packet of chips in the pantry as soon as I’m done” (celebratory cupcakes are the best cupcakes).
Goals help keep you on track and motivated.

Set time for distractions

I know what you’re thinking, why would you want to set time for distractions? Well our brains do need a few distractions here and there, so set yourself times to get up, stretch and re-focus.
Be it at the end of each completed task or every 45 mins or so, you need to have regular breaks to ensure that you can focus more effectively.

Keep thinking of other things?
Write them down and move on

If you’re like me, your brain keeps reminding you of the 20 other things you need to be doing, or the universe keeps giving you interruptions when you sit down to concentrate on a task, so I have a note pad and pen beside me when I’m working and when this happens, I jot it down and move on!

Once I get out of my head that I need to call Jennie about the BAS or remind Duane to call a client, I am free to focus back on my task (until the next distraction).

Have a place to keep your tips to yourself

This one is a jem! I find myself wasting so much time trying to figure out how to do something I don’t do often, or find out those programs that are for a particular task.
So now I keep a list. Yours can be electronic or written down, but wherever it is, have it handy so when you think “oh crap how to I add a watermark to my document again” or “where’s the BCC option on my email” or “what was that program that was great at tracking time that Rosie wrote about” it’s all in one place so you don’t lose 20 minutes trying to find what you’re looking for.

Outsource

Now this one might seem a little cheeky given I’m a VA and I’m telling you to outsource, but it really isn’t meant to be (promise!).
I know that when I or my husband is super busy (and he’s not the procrastinating type) and the workload is too much, we both end up doing absolutely nothing. Why? Because it’s all important and urgent and hard and impossible to pick one task to start on, so we burry our head in the sand and don’t do any of it.

When you bring in another person to help with part of the workload, you are freeing yourself up to focus on the rest. Hate doing your emails? Get someone who LOVES it to come in and do it for you (we can do that kind of thing Virtually too). Chances are, because you hate doing them, you’ll be less efficient than someone who you pay to come in and get through them all. You can ask someone to spend as little as 30 mins a day managing your mailbox for you, that gets a task you hate off your hands and frees up not only your time but gets something off your to do list as well.

It doesn’t have to be work related, if you are snowed under why not get a cleaner in to help one day a week. This frees you up to enjoy your time off instead of trying to catch up on house work.

There’s so much more a VA or other professional can help you with if you are open to outsourcing. I outsource all of my bookkeeping.

Business Owner catch ups

Now this one may seem strange at first, but it works! If you are a small business owner or working virtually, sometimes it’s nice to be held accountable for getting through your to do list for the day.

Rosie Shilo from Virtually Yours , organises regular VA Power Sessions where VA’s get together either in person or virtually and hold each other accountable for their to do list for the day. These sessions are invaluable! Not only do you get to spend the day with likeminded business owners, you get someone to (nicely) check in and see that you’ve done all the things you said you would get through in each hour block.
This can work if you work in an office or in a large organisation as well, try it with some colleagues, tell each other what your to do list is for the day, set goals for each hour and check in with each other either in the kitchen or via a group email. It really works!

Are you a work at home mum/dad?

If you are like me and are working from home with kids at your feet, then you probably laughed your way through half of this thinking “sure that’s great but I can’t lock my kids in the play room while I work” I hear you! So here are a few extra tips for you:

  • Don’t be so hard on yourself – you are doing an amazing job! If it’s not working today, that’s okay, take a break, spend time with the kids and start a fresh tomorrow.
  • Call in some reinforcements – Do you have a friend or family member who can take the kids for a few hours? Call them, ask for help, It’s better than trying to do everything, it will break you. The worst that can happen is they say no.
  • Give yourself 30 min power sessions – set the kids up with an activity that will entertain them for 30 mins and go nuts on your to do list.
  • Nights are good – have agreed nights that, when your partner gets home, they take over the kids and dinner and you can lock yourself away and get a few hours of work done.
  • Spend quality time with the kids each day – now this is totally un-work related, but the most important. Being a mum working with kids around is hard, but we tend to forget that they want to spend quality time with us, so make sure you spend at least 10 minutes out of your day, no phone, just you and them: read a book, play a game, listen to their story, enjoy them (and if it doesn’t happen today, see the first dot point…)

I hope these tips have helped you! I know they help me daily. I’m always on the lookout for new tips and strategies to help me stay focused and stop procrastinating so please if you have any tips to add, comment bellow!