How to Get More Done with the Elimination Technique

26 06 2012

Most of us are familiar with the infamous “to do” list.

We dutifully populate the list with task after task that needs to get done. But we’re never sure where to start. There are only so many hours in a day, and all the tasks need to get done. We can’t fit a square peg in a round hole, and even if we stayed awake 24 hours, we wouldn’t be able to finish all the tasks on our list.

When faced with this dilemma, most of us are ready to tear up the task list and just wing it. A better option might be to use the Elimination Technique instead. What is the Elimination Technique? It’s a method to help narrow your focus. It starts with a series of questions to ask to begin eliminating options to get to what is most important.

Take a look at your current task list and ask the following questions:

  • What tasks take more time than I have available?
  • Are there tasks that don’t have to be done today?
  • Are there tasks that can be automated?
  • What tasks can be delegated to someone else?

Your task list should now be shortened. Reduce your list further by asking these questions:

  • What tasks are most important for this day to be considered a success?
  • What tasks don’t generate results that move you along your major goals?
  • What tasks are required to move forward with a project?
  • What tasks don’t facilitate some sort of growth, profit, or sales?

Your goal is to eliminate as many of the non-essential tasks as possible. Remember that the goal is to narrow your focus into a laser beam. By asking these questions, you should begin to see which tasks are truly important and must be prioritized and which tasks can be pushed down the list or better yet simply eliminated from your day. Less is more in this case.

For some, eliminating tasks may feel painful. We live in a society that seems to be constantly on the go. A long to do list must equal someone of substance. But having lots of activity doesn’t necessarily lead to fulfillment. Some struggle with the concept of elimination because there may be a sense of loss. (If I don’t do it, it will never get done.) But if all that extra non-essential activity gets in the way of doing what is most important, wouldn’t it be better for it to be eliminated?

Start today by ruthlessly eliminating tasks so you can reveal to yourself the truly important things in your life. With elimination comes focus. With focus comes efficiency. Efficiency leads to doing more while actually working less. Working less allows you to enjoy more freedom to accomplish what gives you real fulfillment and happiness in life.





We Miss You!

22 06 2012

Years ago, many companies lived by a “once a customer, always a customer” philosophy. However, in today’s competitive business world full of endless choices and tempting opportunities, customers can be easily lured to a competitor even if they’re happy with your products or services.

Here are a few tips to help you show inactive customers they’re missed and invite them back:

  • Create a postcard, self-mailer, or email with a message such as “we haven’t seen you around lately, and we miss you!” Be sure to thank customers for their previous business and include an apology for falling out of touch.
  • Consider having the owner or president of your company reach out, showing the customer’s importance to your business.
  • Provide an attractive offer, such as an X dollar off coupon, free shipping, BOGO (buy one get one), a value-added bonus, or a percentage discount to help make their decision to return easier.
  • Provide a quick reminder of why customers purchased from you in the first place by highlighting the features that help your business stand apart from the competition. Include an updated list of products and services.
  • Survey old customers by asking what it would take to have them return. Even if your customer won’t return, you can find out how to fix flaws before they affect other customers.

Let us know if you need help creating unique marketing materials to stay in touch with your customers, such as newsletters, postcards, and coupons that will keep them coming back month after month.





Four Tips to STOP Wasting Time

19 06 2012

Productivity and time management go hand in hand. If you’re feeling inefficient, STOP and give this quick four-step method a try.

  • See your objectives clearly. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you possibly know the best way to get there? Take a few minutes to identify your goal and the steps you must take to reach it.
  • Target the issues you’re facing and the reasons behind what you’re doing. Analyze your current course of action to determine if it’s the most efficient and effective way to reach your goal.
  • Organize your options. Ask yourself if there are any faster but equally effective ways you could be doing what you’re doing. Even seemingly small things can make a big impact on your efficiency.
  • Plan your work — and work your plan. Start to put the things you uncovered in the previous steps into action. You might be surprised just how much more productive — and happy — you feel.





Tactics or Strategy?

15 06 2012

You’ve probably heard the phrase “tactics vs. strategy” countless times.

People love tactics. Tactics can be fun and exciting. They’re relatively easy to pick up and seem to have magical quick results (at least for a short time). Social media in the form of a few tweets is a classic example of a tactic.

But there’s a critical part most businesses seem to miss, and it’s why tactics often fail in the long run. To be successful, you have to put all the tactics together in a logical and cohesive way to make it all work.

That’s where strategy comes into play.

Without a well thought-out strategic plan, all tactics will ultimately fail. It’s not the fault of the tactic that it didn’t work. It’s the fault of the person behind the tactic who thought it would be the magic pill it didn’t turn out to be.

A strategy is a plan to get you and your business where you want to go. Without a strategy, you are lost in the Sahara with no compass and no water. Once you have your strategy in place, the right tactics will fall into place where they need to be.





Overwhelmed by Your Marketing Efforts?

12 06 2012

Marketing your business can be a nonstop, exhausting task. Here are a few ways to avoid feeling overwhelmed and get the most out of your marketing efforts:

  • Create a SWOT analysis, which is a strategic planning method to evaluate your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By identifying and understanding these four areas of your business, you can more easily create a strategy that will distinguish your company from the competition, so you can compete successfully in your market.
  • Hire a talented assistant. An assistant can help you manage your workload, get things done faster, and relieve the stress of looming deadlines. Even a part-time assistant can help you free up time to focus on more important tasks.
  • Find a marketing intern. Interns can provide a lot of value… if you let them. Interns are best utilized to help you reach business goals. For example, consider assigning interns to manage social media accounts, write articles and other blogs to increase your web presence, develop creative campaign ideas, etc. Interns can help relieve capacity issues and “test” new hires before making them official.
  • Remember to delegate. It often seems faster and easier just to do something yourself, but you also risk not having trained backup when you really need the help. If you’re nervous about trusting others with key projects, be sure to frequently track progress, give feedback, and help people solve problems.
  • Communicate with other departments in your business to gather new marketing ideas. For example, your production crew may suggest highlighting a new product feature, while your sales team may receive suggestions from customers about requested promotional ideas.
  • Learn from others. Collect examples of marketing materials or creative ideas that caught your attention, and organize them in an ideas binder. Combine your favorite traits from each into marketing ideas that are customized for your business.
  • Create a wish list of marketing initiatives, as well as a list of necessary projects with realistic deadlines. Schedule a weekly or bi-monthly meeting to review your progress, identify issues that are holding you back, and reassign tasks or projects.
  • Consider outsourcing projects if you or your team doesn’t have the time or resources to complete an important project. Freelance writers or designers can also be a great solution to keeping up the pace without hiring permanent staff. One great way to use freelance writers is for customer case studies. As an outside party, freelance writers can often ask sensitive questions and may be able to get customers to open up more as a result.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to put a professional finishing touch on your marketing efforts by choosing a printer who can offer helpful advice, creative ideas, meet tight deadlines, and provide a quality product you will be proud to distribute. We’re here anytime your business needs help putting your best foot forward.





Positive Steps for Handling Negativity at Work

8 06 2012

We’ve all heard the saying that one bad apple can spoil the bunch. The same is true of negativity in the workplace. A single employee’s negative attitude can bring coworkers down and hurt morale. So how can you combat it?

  • Confront the offender. While it may seem easier to ignore a problem and hope it goes away, that rarely works. In fact, the problem usually just keeps getting worse until you have no choice but to act. When you see someone displaying a negative attitude (or hear about it from coworkers), sit the person down and let them know their attitude is not acceptable.
  • Get to the root of the problem. In your meeting, try to discover the cause of the person’s dissatisfaction. Perhaps they feel slighted by something that happened at work. They may think someone else received preferential treatment over them or that what they do goes unnoticed and unrecognized. Whatever the case, hear them out and acknowledge their feelings, even if you disagree. Share your own thoughts, discuss the issues, and try not to be too confrontational.
  • Seek solutions. As you’re discussing issues, look for ways to resolve them as best you can. Keep in mind that not all grievances can be easily solved and not all negativity is completely work-related. However, approaching the situation with a solutions-oriented mindset should help at least let the person know you’re taking their well-being seriously.
  • Hold your ground. No matter the outcome of your meeting, make it clear that the employee is responsible for their own actions and that continued negativity will not be tolerated. Spell out the consequences and stand firm in your resolve.
  • Reward positivity. Hopefully, your meeting and the solutions you devise together will trigger an attitude shift in your employee. As you notice changes, offer positive reinforcement and encouragement. Of course, even if you don’t see changes in the employee, try not to get too discouraged. Instead, focus on the more positive members of your team. Reinforce, reward, and encourage their attitude and its positive influence on those around them.





Make Unsubscribing Easier

5 06 2012

In the world of email marketing, many companies are so focused on encouraging people to opt-in or subscribe to their emails that they overlook the wishes of recipients who may want to unsubscribe.

If unsubscribing to your messaging is not easy, you run the risk of increased spam complaints and ISP blocking, annoyed customers, and a weakened brand image. More than 40 percent of email recipients click the easier option (the spam button at the top of their email) rather than searching for an unsubscribe link. This occurs most often because many companies hide the link, push it down to the bottom of a message, or purposely blend the “unsubscribe” text into the background.

One way to make unsubscribing easier is to place an “unsubscribe” button at the top of your email. In addition to making your unsubscribe button more noticeable, you may also want to offer other options (change email address, change/reduce message frequency, choose different types of messages to receive, change message delivery to RSS/direct mail, etc.). Consider adding a survey, too, that asks why the recipient chose to unsubscribe (I receive too many emails from your organization, emails are not relevant to me, I did not subscribe to these emails, etc.).

Overall, the unsubscribe button isn’t always a bad thing and doesn’t have to mean goodbye. It can not only help reduce email complaints, but can also clean your email list, ensuring that only people who are truly interested receive your message.