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Top picks for best planners

Planners, Calendars & Journals, OH MY! (Top picks for planners)

This timely guest post comes from my uber-organized, proficient planning, brand-strategizing friend Victoria Vitarelli and originally appeared on her website, V Dot V Marketing.

A hope is a dream without a plan.

I often get asked, “how do you keep track of your ‘EVERYTHING’!?” Juggling my clients, my kids, my mom and life in general. I’ve gotten to the point if it’s not written somewhere, it ain’t gonna happen.

I have notebooks, whiteboards and paper scraps all over for the urge to list and do a brain dump. I have figured out over the years that I need to be disciplined every day and keep one main repository as an extension of my memory. Journals for different topics or goals do not work for me because the arteries of life often bleed into one another.

So I keep my system to a family whiteboard, google calendars merged together and a paper planner – currently diving into Self Journal.

Since my very first job out of college, I’ve kept a notebook to write down my notes – from meetings, calls, thoughts, ideas. I had a plain spiral notebook to “get the job done” and a de rigueur Filofax.

Today there is an onslaught of planners, calendars and such! For me – a lot of fun! However, I have a friend who is paralyzed by the choices to make the purchase. Here are four questions I asked her to help her with her decision.

  1. Do you want to fill in the blanks or have a white canvas? How do you set your goals? Best practices say to write out your big goals; distill them down into weekly and daily to-dos. Depends on your style and what makes you productive vs busy. There are planners that have the year/day date written out and are very structured. They are designed to deliver the general best practices in keeping a goal and getting it done so you don’t have to think about that aspect. There are journals for very specific goals e.g. fitness, business, parenting. Daily Greatness has many specialized versions. If you have your own structure or want to be more creative about your pages, try the Bullet Journal system. You make the rules, but there is a system to writing it down. Here is a video. Bullet journal “porn” is all over Pinterest and Instagram. There are some beautiful, truly amazing works of art out there!
  1. Are you carrying it around everywhere and anywhere? Weight matters!  Certain paper stocks can get heavy and depending on what you use to write with, the ink can bleed through light paper. Details…Details…Most planners have the weight listed on their respective websites. And depending on if you want a defined calendar style e.g. 30 days or week at a glance, full year by the day, quarterly etc. this can make a big difference in weight as well. Also there are various sizes from 8.5″ x 11″ pages to small pocket styles. Think about what you will be carrying this in – purse? briefcase? pocket?
  1. Does brand/color/style matter to you? Once you decide on white canvas or fill in the blank style and weight- the search narrows down. There are hundreds of journals out there by designers, planner brands, etc. I found a Lily Pulitzer planner with every page in her signature style. Some white canvas, purists will stick to a classic marble notebook or the ever-reliable Moleskin.  Both are sold in all kinds of stores in addition to online outlets e.g. Staples, bookstores, Target and boutiques.
  1. How much “woo-woo” factor? We use this term affectionately. There are some that have messages of inspiration and faith as well as planning out your dream days and life. An example is Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map Planner. Per the description, “This planning system incorporates your inner and outer worlds; your gratitude and your goals; your Core Desired Feelings into your daily regime”. Personally, I enjoy seeing a good Zig Ziggler or Aristotle quote to inspire me. And then there are days when it’s just about checking the box and getting stuff done without guru sounding pep talks. This one is very interesting, The Sacred Circle Planner – starting on December 18th, the Winter Solstice. Per the description, “Through the use of Divination, Affirmations, Archetypal Wisdom, Goal Manifesting, and specially designed Spiritual Practices that keep you in sync with the seasons–you have the opportunity to craft a whole new you this year!

As you go through the many other lists and ideas the key is to start somewhere and think about how you get stuff done NOW! You can always shift or try new styles or methods as the year goes on. The key is to find something that is going to support your goals and motivation. These are tools to help us get the job done and get to our destination! The discipline to follow a system is KEY no matter what you use. Happy goal setting and getting stuff done!

Check out Vicky’s video where she test-drives some of the best selling planners and journals.

Also, tune into this recent Plannerpalooza podcast from the “Best of Both Worlds” team of Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart-Unger who take planner enthusiasm to a whole new level.

Are you a planner perfectionist? Which one(s) do you use? Please share in the comments.

How a Business Clean-Up Can Bring Marketing Success

You know that feeling when warm weather comes and you want to open all the windows and doors and air the house out? Clean out closets and throw out the collected winter clutter?

It happens to most of us. A new season comes and we have the urge to purge (and clean).

But what about our business? Shouldn’t it get a renewed look and de-cluttering too?

When was the last time you took a day off? Yes… a whole day off *gasp* to do a little clean up on your business.

What Kind Of Cleaning?

There are two clean-up projects you should do once or twice a year.

The first one is more of a clutter buster.

Get rid of old files bogging down your computer.

Move your images and big files off your main computer and put them on an external storage drive. Look at your credit card statement and note any recurring business expenses that you don’t need. Those little $9.99 monthly programs and subscriptions add up.

Open up the virtual windows of your business

The second clean up project is a mental cleanup

A mental cleanup?

There is a tendency with entrepreneurs to forget why we are running a business.  By now you may have realized that running your own business is not easy. As a matter of fact is can be downright hard some days. Like – “I’m done with this” hard.

There’s a reason you keep going.  Why? Do you know the answer?

To (re)find it. It would be beneficial to take another day off! *gasp* TWO days off?!?

Yes! Another day off. To reconnect with your goals and vision. To remind yourself why you’re doing what you do.

Grab a fresh notebook and a brand new pen. Go somewhere that you can think and get away from the hustle and bustle for a few hours.

Ask yourself the following:

  1. What do you want to achieve, in business and in life?

Take a moment to think about what it is you want.  If you want to have a business that allows you to travel, are you structuring it to allow that? If you want to only work 30 hours a week, are the plans in place to do so? Do you have an income goal? Write down what you want your life (and business) to look like.

  1. What’s your secret sauce? What makes you stand out from your competition? What is something you do, that your customers or clients LOVE?

This is the magic of your business.  I’m guessing you have competition.  What do you do to make your business the best choice?

  1. What do they need to learn from you? What can your unique specialties do for them?

Once you get clear on your secret sauce, think about what your ideal customers want from you. When can you deliver this information to them? How do you think they want to get it?

  1. How are you reaching your existing clients? How are you reaching new clients?

What’s working? What’s not?

  1. Where does my best business come from?

If Facebook brings you the most business, focus most of your online marketing efforts there.

What Does This Have to Do With Marketing?

Everything.

It all flows together.

See you do have a vision of what you want your life to look like, but we get caught up in our day-to-day activities. We tell ourselves, “tomorrow, I’ll really hire that VA”,  “Next week, I’ll get started on social media”,  “Hopefully, by next year I’ll be able to work less hours if I can hustle now”.

Start to structure your business around the life you want now, then decide where you need to be productive. What needs to be more efficient? What type of support do you need?

Make your business work for you.

Focusing on what your secret sauce is, changes everything you do. This is how you stand out with your unique voice, perspective, and services. This is how your ideal client will find you. They’ll be drawn to you because you resonate with them.

Knowing what your magic is, allows you to write more freely, and promote your services with the right marketing copy and connect with your audience they way they need you to connect.

Once you start thinking about your marketing with your customer or client in mind, it doesn’t feel so hard. And you’ll have a clearer sense about where best to reach them.

You’ll notice that your blogs are getting read.  Your emails are getting opened. Your social media posts are getting likes and comments.  Why? Because you have cleaned out the stale marketing efforts that are no longer serving you. You have reminded yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, and you’ll remember what makes you stand out.

Now, open up your calendar and pick your two clean-up days, to.

  1. Clear out the clutter
  2. Set your one-on-one day with your business.

You’ve got this!

Having trouble with your clean up? Let’s schedule a “clarity call” so I can help you make way for marketing success!

The 3 Things You Can Stop Doing Now With Your Online Marketing

I have a question for you.  Be honest in your answer…

Is your inbox flooded every day with the next BIG idea or Ah-mazing new product, program or widget? Are you stressing about the countdown sale for the newest service, product, or webinar that promises to create wealth beyond your wildest dreams?

I understand. Entrepreneurs and content marketers (we’re all content marketers!) have a tendency to sign up to a million email lists to get the latest incredible experts freebie ebook or training.

Why do we do this?

  1. We want to see what our competition is doing.
  2. We want some inspiration for our own ebook or training.
  3. We want the information to help us feel educated BEFORE we put our own services or content out there in the online world.

It’s very easy to want to virtually consume all of the information out there, but because we gobble up all of this amazing content, we get easily overwhelmed and confused.  

The experts out there each have a slightly different twist on the “best” way to run your business.  They have to offer their own spin in order to stand out in the crowd, but we then lose sight of how to move forward.

Expert 1 says, you should “be everywhere online.  Be on ALL social media platforms.”
Expert 2 says, “No, dial back. Focus on 1 or 2 platforms.”
Expert 3 says, “Go offline and reconnect in person.”
Expert 4 asks, “Why are you doing social media? Hire someone to do it for  you.”

So, who’s right?

They all are. What’s important is who YOU think is right and whose expertise works for how you want to run your business. Try not to follow ALL of the experts. Find a few whose message and teachings resonate with your business and lifestyle.

The 3 Things You Don’t Need To Be Doing

Unsubscribe from all the emails of experts who aren’t really your ideal mentor, and let’s get focused in business.

#1 – You don’t need to be everywhere

Social media can be time-consuming and hard to manage on your own.  It’s knowing where to post and what to post, engaging with followers who comment and share, and building a community around your pages and profiles.

Obviously, it’s not going away anytime soon, so it’s important to be online and be social.  

Pick 1 or 2 (3, if you have some support staff) social media platforms and do those really, really well.  

It’s much better to be in less places and present, than more places and non-existent.  

Go where your audience is. Use this amazing infographic from Tracx:

Social-Media-Demographics-2017
(click to zoom)

Once you choose the best social media platforms to be on, make sure to create a content plan that your audience will love. Use tools to help with automating posts and make sure to fill those threads daily. If you need help with content creation, then check out: 3 Ways to Simplify Your Online Marketing [+ FREE Content Calendar]

#2 – Don’t create content you hate doing

The trend lately in online marketing is to use video to grow your audience.  YouTube, Facebook Live, Periscope, and Snapchat are leading the charge.

“75% of online video viewers have interacted with an online video ad this month.”

“92% of mobile video consumers share videos with others” [Source]

BUT what if you hate the idea of doing video?  

For right now, don’t. I would suggest you try to put yourself out there with video content, but if the thought of it makes you freeze up, there’s no sense in forcing yourself to do it. Your audience will pick up on it.

If you are ready to try some video content, record it first, then upload it to your social media page. Get comfortable with video before you go live on video.

Is blog writing your nemesis? Grab some tips on How To Write a Blog Quickly

Create content that feels good to you and is valuable to your audience, and post in a place where your audience is online.  

Yes, writing blogs is good for increasing traffic to your site, but write them in a way that works for you. Maybe you are list person. Write a list blog that provides helpful tips to your readers.

Do you have a nice-sized email list? Write a daily email to them. Short and sweet. Give them a tip each day.  

Don’t feel pressured to create a ton of content that feels uncomfortable to you. Your audience will sense it.

The best content is quality over quantity. Create amazing, educational and valuable info, and your audience will love it.

#3: – Don’t create complicated opt-in offers or “funnels”

Geesh…this is a big trend that online marketers are over-complicating!

When someone opts-in to your freebie offer, they should be added to your email list. Then think about a funnel as a simple progression through your offerings and growing your community. Don’t think of it as a way to sell more stuff.

The benefits of a funnel are to:

  • Automate your follow-up process
  • Stay in front of your audience
  • Offer valuable and educational information to your audience
  • Build trust with your list
  • Segment your list, if you are using a program that can segment people by tags or clicks.  

You don’t need a 40-step funnel to stay connected with your list. Remember, these people want/need what you offer.  It’s your job to help them and bring some ease and transformation into their lives.  Keep it simple, sister!

What You Should Be Doing

Remember this is your brand and your business. Run it the way that feels good to you and that resonates with your audience. Write your blogs in a way that feels good. Use your voice and inject your perspective. Someone will follow you and ultimately buy from you if they know, like, and trust you.

Let’s find ways to make that happen. Stuck on what to do next?  I can help – how about a free clarity call to figure out the best way to connect and market to your audience.

3 Ways to Simplify Your Online Marketing [+ FREE Content Calendar]

Raise your hand if…

You’ve written a blog post that never saw the light of day. How about an email promoting an event that came and went without getting sent? Ever spend time creating great content and then watch someone else’s info (that wasn’t as helpful) get lots of praise and engagement?

Me too. Which is why I created the Content Calendar Template – to help ensure great content gets out!

You need it. I need it. My clients need it. Plus, it’s nice to share.

We cannot allow you to let your content stay in hiding any longer. It’s time to let your light shine, tell your story, and get your message(s) out into the world.  People want to hear from you, so let’s get moving.

Step One – Create a content calendar

(download your very own customizable one below).

Think of this like planning for a vacation. You don’t wait until the day before to book the flights. You don’t wing it when it comes to reservations. If a week-long vacation with the kids gets you several hours of research and planning time, then certainly, the content that drives your vision, mission, and business deserves an hour or two – right?

So think about:

  • What posts will you create?
  • Who on your team does that?
  • What are the deadlines?
  • What images or design help will you need?

Your plan needs to serve you and your team. Make changes as you go – but if you know everything you want to share for the entire month, then guess what? It will happen, your tribe will be served, and your fans will wonder how you manage to create and share so much awesome content.

 

Step Two – Use social media management and scheduling tools.

No one has time to be hanging out on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all day.

“Oh look. A cat video!” – said no one who is crushing their content plan. Stay with me.

Take advantage of technology so that relevant posts, pictures, and links show up like magic. Use these tools to share not only your new content, but also your evergreen and most popular posts.

Pop in (or have your designated team member) reply to questions, thank people for sharing, and let the world know that real people are behind the cool info you’re sharing.

A few of my favorites are:

Also, use automation and cross-promotion tools (within your blog and email marketing platform) when possible. For example, set up your blog so that it automatically emails your list and posts to social media every time you post. Seriously, take advantage of technology.

 

Step Three – Get help.

If writing isn’t your thing, then have a team member help or hire someone to do it for you. If you have no problem creating and coming up with ideas, but hate technology, find the resources that will help you execute the plan.

Like many things in business (and life) when you have a system and support, things get done. Your content soars and new fans and clients find you!

It’s not magic. It just feels like it.

 

Get started with a Content Calendar Template now!

 

Need help getting started? Let’s schedule a clarity call and get your content plan in place. The world needs to hear from you!

How to be social in an unsocial world

Connecting with an audience that is avoiding social media.

If there is anything we’ve learned in the past few months, it’s that the online world seems a little less friendly.

Our social platforms are a firestorm of politics and fake news.

Are you stressed about connecting with an audience that is either:

  1. Busy debating politics, or 2. Avoiding social media?

I know a handful of people who have removed the FB app from their phones.  *gasp*

So now what?

As entrepreneurs, what are we supposed to do?  We’ve come to rely on social media to connect with our clients and fans.

Hope is not lost.

First, it’s important to remember a few things.

  1. You must think about who your audience is.  Are they even bothered by the current state of affairs? Are they still happily scrolling their Facebook or Twitter feed.
  1. Have you considered the social media platform you are on? Is your audience even on Facebook?  If you are in the B2B space, you may be better suited to focusing your marketing energy on LinkedIn.
  1. The volatile discussions taking place on social media are a clue into what people are thinking and feeling.  Rule #1 of talking to your ideal client is to know what keeps them up at night.  What are they worrying about and can you solve that problem? It may feel painful to read the discussions, but, it could be very beneficial to your business IF you can help or offer your expertise. Note:  I’m not saying to private message them and say “Hey, I saw you arguing with so and so; I’m a coach and can help you”.  I’m suggesting that you use the information as a way to tap into your audience’s minds. Then, blog, do a FB live, send an email blast sharing your valuable wisdom.


Here are some great ways to connect with your audience even if they are avoiding social media.

 

  1. Can you do a few live in-person lectures?

Before social media came along, this was one of the tried and true ways of reaching your audience.  It still is.  People more than ever would love to connect.

  • Reach out to a local co-working space.
  • Find out if they are looking for speakers.
  • Or rent one of their conference rooms.  Ask if they would promote your event to their list if you split the ticket sales.
  • Call you local library.  See how to get on their monthly events list.
  • Research local business groups that are a match to your products or services.

 

  1.  Do you have an email list that you aren’t leveraging?

If you have a list of subscribers that you haven’t emailed in a while, see if you can re-energize the relationship.

Warm up the list before selling or promoting to your subscribers. Otherwise,  you will see rapid “unsubscribes” if you start selling before saying hello.

Start by being honest with them.  “It’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me.  I’m sorry about that.  I’ve been busy working on, (fill in the blank).  I’d love to hear how you are doing.  Yes, I read my emails, so if you respond I’ll get it”

Here are some other suggestions from Infusionsoft (an email marketing program) on warming up a cold list:

  • Make it personal
  • Remind them of how they opted in and why they should stay
  • Provide value
  • Follow general email best practices
  • Include a CTA (call-to-action)

Once you start to warm up the list again, make sure to stay consistent in engaging with them.  You may get some unsubscribes anyway, don’t worry.  Think of it as a way of cleaning house.  You only want subscribers that are aligned with what you do.

 

  1.  Blog

Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise and engage with new customers or clients.  When you blog you can offer a ton of value.  Not sure where to start? Blogging When You Hate Writing (or You LOVE to Write But Don’t Have Time)

TIP:  Always have a CTA (call to action) in your blogs. Have the reader sign up for a resource guide that will go deeper than your blog content.  Ask them to join your Facebook group. Set-up a free consult call.  You get the idea.

Where to blog:

You can post a blog on your own website, but you’ll have to put some marketing efforts into promoting it.

You can also submit or post a blog to online sites:

Also, look at sites that your audience may be interested in.  See if those sites are looking for guest bloggers.

 

  1.  Dust off the rolodex (a rolo-what?)

Yes, remember those things that had everyone’s contact info, written down on paper cards?  Send your contacts a note.

Everyone loves getting a genuine and thoughtful card in the mail. It’s actually very rare these days to get something other than an email.

Let’s say you are a business coach and you’d like to add a few more clients.  Reach out to some past clients and see how they are doing.  Send them a card to let them know you are thinking about them.  Offer them a free check-in call.  No obligation, a quick hello.  Tell them you’d love to hear what they are up to.  Tell them how to connect with you—email or cell.

You may not want to do this for a lot of people but if you are willing to invest a little time and money this could make a big impact.

Try a service to do this: Send Out Cards – or Ink Cards (Ink Cards is an app, you can do it from your phone). Either one of these will handle the entire process for you.

 

  1.  Don’t give up on social media completely.  

Your customers and clients are still out there. They still need your help. They are a little overwhelmed right now. Put your thinking cap on and think about creative ways you can help them (free of charge). What can you offer to them that shows them that you care about them and you’re ready to step up?

Be a human talking to other humans.  Be genuine, be yourself and put out the best work possible.

Your true fans will really appreciate you re-connecting!

If you are feeling stalled and don’t know how best to get re-connected, let’s set up a clarity call and we’ll figure it out together.

Nancy