How Adopting a Dog Reaffirmed the Importance of Networking

 

This is a story about your network’s value and considering new options.

Scout1We recently spent several months looking for a new Australian shepherd (aka. Aussie) to adopt. We scoured websites, slowly got re- approved by a rescue group we had previously adopted from, went to see available puppies, and put ourselves on waiting lists. Frustrating, for a family who has owned 4 Aussies already.

We also told EVERYONE we knew that we were searching for a new Aussie. Our goal was to adopt a young adult female, any color.

One night I got an unexpected call from our daughter’s boyfriend, in grad school at U. of Kentucky. A friend of a friend was looking to “re-home” her 5 year old Aussie.   Her lifestyle had changed, and she didn’t have time to give him proper attention. (Australian shepherds are very active dogs who want to be with their people 150% of their days. “Velcro” dogs, they are called for a reason).

Hmmm…older than we wanted, a male, about 20 lb heavier than our previous dogs, but he sure looked cute in the pictures we saw…. So, we “met” Scout by Facetiming with his owner. She told us his positive attributes and warned us of his separation anxiety.

We decided to take a chance and adopt this dog we had not yet met. He made his long trek from TN to KY to IN where we picked him up to our home in IL.

What a gem! Scout seemed at home after 2 days, using his bed only when one of the kids wouldn’tScout dog park share theirs. One month later he feels as if he as always been our dog. This gentle creature is spoiled with love, walked daily, smart, affectionate, and his separation anxiety is slowly dissipating.

At first, it seems so random that we re-homed this dog that lived almost 200 miles away through a 3rd person link. But it was a lesson to me in the importance of using my network. You never know where your next connection might come from.

Scout didn’t fit the profile of the dogs we had before. But that’s the thing about expectations. Change them, and you open yourself up to opportunities you did not know existed.

The journey continues.

Cindy

GDPR: Regulators are Coming

Do you think because you are a US-based firm that GDPR regulations are outside your sphere of business? Wrong.

As a matter fact, the Digital Guardian reports that some think large US companies will be targeted by GDPR regulators.

This is because many US firms have lax data protection procedures, privacy issues across platforms are new, companies are already dealing with a myriad of state privacy laws, and there have been several large data breaches in the last year. I would add to that the recent Facebook Cambridge Analytics fiasco that recently had Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress.

I have already written a couple posts on prepping for GDPR that you can read here.  More recent discussions have been about what some think regulators are going to be tough on when GDPR goes into effect.  Many of us think it is probable that the regulators will be going after large firms, rather than middle to small size firms, in the beginning. They will probably also target:

  1. Firms not doing anything to get into compliance
  2. Firms that can’t show why/how/where they are collecting data
  3. Firms with pre-checked boxes on their web forms
  4. Data breaches

Some think that regulators will encourage compliance by proactively enforcing the laws.

So, I think the key right now is to continue your GDPR preparations. (I hope you have started by now!). Document your efforts to show that you are trying to get into compliance.

The journey continues.

Cindy

DISCLAIMER THAT I am not an attorney so this should not be construed as legal advice. This post is MY interpretation of what I have learned about GDPR so far, as a marketer who tries to stay on top of audience development and marketing issues. Any legal instructions should come from an attorney with knowledge of GDPR regulations.

20 Life Lessons I Learned in 20 Years While Running a Business

I’ll be honest. I didn’t realize it been 20 years since I started working for myself until I saw it on LinkedIn. In that time I’ve worked with a wide variety of brands, projects I never would’ve anticipated, with different types of companies, a myriad of personalities and work styles, and ever-changing technologies.

Here’s a list of 20 life lessons I have gained from my years of owning a business that can be applied to so many part of life.

  1. Partner with smart, reputable, trustworthy colleagues, vendors, and clients.
  2. Targeting customers remains the same, even if the technology has changed. The hype may get an initial response, but it’s the quality that keeps people coming back.
  3. Be honest.
  4. When you end a project, always try to do it with a handshake. You just might meet that client again working for another company.
  5. Keep learning.
  6. Be curious. I ask a lot of questions, and it often inspires further conversation.
  7. Actively listen. Take a breath. Then respond.
  8. Read a few days worth of your emails before you send them out. Are you sending them out with a positive tone or starting off all your emails with the negative? (I literally changed my email tone after monitoring them about 10 years ago).
  9. You will make mistakes. Admit it when you do.
  10. If you are stuck, walk away. I resolve a lot of issues when I shut my computer and go for a walk.
  11. It’s okay to say no to a project, especially when your gut tells you to.
  12. Check your emails at specific times each day. Otherwise, shut it off. It’s amazing how much more productive you can be without the distractions.
  13. It’s easy to get comfortable working alone. Face-to-face meetings can inspire change and a new direction.
  14. Have a schedule. I find that time blocking my day (Using the Best Self journal) has improved my focus and productivity immensely.
  15. Try something new.
  16. Keep reaching. What’s your goal?
  17. Most people really don’t like networking events. Do it anyways; set a goal beforehand. Someone may become a future colleague or customer.
  18. Be flexible.
  19. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to clarify, if you don’t understand.
  20. If you are bored on a regular basis, it might be time to change what you do. Or how you do it.

And remember that if you have a stressful phase, sleep on it, as a fresh day and mood awaits you.

The journey continues.

Cindy

GDPR is (Still) Coming–Are you Ready? Part 2

Welcome to the Part 2 post about GDPR, the new privacy regulations that will impact marketers who reach the EU, effective 25 May 2018. Fines can be up to 4% of your gross revenue or 20 million Euros, so be prepared!

Part 1 discussed the regulations, the type of information impacted by the rules and how your organization might be affected. This post will give some ideas about how you can try to opt in the current EU names on your database, update online forms, and your website itself.

Forms

  1. Collect only data that you know you will use.
  2. Remove pre-checked boxes when people opt in/out of your brand’s secondary offers. People will have to opt in for additional offers.
  3. Consider a double opt in. There is when you send an email to the person who opts in, reconfirming that they really want to opt in.

Permission

  1. Make clear–by separating into distinct sections–the difference between accepting terms and conditions on your website and opting in/out of offers.
  2. Offer a list of specific areas of interest that recipients can choose to receive information about, allowing the recipient to check yes or no to each one. Again no pre-checked responses (See #2 in forms).
  3. Ask how people want to be reached: telemarketing, email, direct mail. This is not required, just a suggestion.
  4. Offer a way for people to change the frequency of receiving messages (which may eliminate some permanent opt outs) as well as a way to opt out of everything.

Privacy

  1. Update your privacy policy to include information about GDPR and how you will use collected information.
  2. Note that website cookies are also impacted by the regulations. Consider having a message about cookies pop up when someone comes your website. On a recent trip to Italy and France, cookies message popping up on virtually every website I visited.

If you want more detailed samples of some of these items, feel free to contact me.

The journey continues.

Cindy

DISCLAIMER THAT I am not an attorney so this should not be construed as legal advice. This post is MY interpretation of what I have learned about GDPR so far, as a marketer who tries to stay on top of audience development and marketing issues. Any legal instructions should come from an attorney with knowledge of GDPR regulations.

GDPR is Coming–Are you Prepared? Part 1

Apologies in advance that this post is so long. There is a lot of information to cover…

GDPR is THE hot topic for many businesses right now—what is it? How will it impact US based marketers? And how can we prepare?

GDPR is the acronym for General Data Protection Regulation, the sweeping new privacy laws impacting companies that collect and use personal data from people residing in the EU. Customer privacy is the main reason these new regulations were created. They will impact the way that companies collect, use, and update data on current and new customers.

These new laws go into effect 25 May 2018 –Less than three months away!

The penalties for not complying are stiff– the greater of €20 million or 4% gross revenues.   That’s why it’s so critical to have an organizational plan for dealing with customers from the 27 states of the EU.

I have attended two webinars, talked to people, and done a lot of online research about GDPR in recent weeks to learn more about these new regulations. The legislation is long, wordy, complicated, and a little unclear with direction for exact requirements to avoid problems. Very convenient. The key to success will be to have an organizational plan for how to deal with these changes.

There are a plethora of checklists online that your organization can use to better understand GDPR and implement a compliance plan. I’ve synthesized a couple of them here into six key steps:

  1. Understand the law—the new regulations were basically created to ensure user privacy. There’s no differentiation between business and personal use. Both the companies collect the data and send out messages hold some responsibility for the data usage.
  2. Know which data is regulated—
  • Basic contact information (ie. Name, mailing address, etc)
  • Web data such as location and IP address
  • Health and genetic data
  • Biometric data
  • Racial or ethnic data
  • Sexual orientation

We are accountable for the data we hold

  • Why are we collecting certain data points?
  • How did we get the data?
  • How long will we retain the data?
  • How secure is the data?
  • Do we ever share this with a third party? How are their procedures?

Other privacy issues that the consumer have include the

  • Right to be forgotten
  • Right to opt out at ANY time
  • Right to review why/how data was collected
  • Right to access data
  • Right to data portability, meaning take it with them if they move/change jobs/etc
  1. Review current data collection, storage procedures, privacy policies.    
  2. Update current EU customers on your database, forms, and privacy policies.
  3. Run a gap analysis on website/data collection flow and implement additional changes as needed. In addition, educate other departments about the new rules.
  4. Reevaluate and revise as needed.

Other terms and changes we need to be aware of:

  • The GDPR considers three types of roles within organizations:
    • Controller—who determines the purpose and means of data collections (the “how” and “why”)
    • Processor—who processes the data on behalf of the controller.
    • There will be cases where publishers can be both a controller and a processor, in the case where we send out an email for a client.
  • Appoint a data protection officer (DPO), to oversee and manage GDPR program. Technically only certain organizations need a DPO, but pretty much everything I’ve heard says that for good business practices most organizations will appoint a DPO.
  • Prepare for data breach. Any data breach should be reported within 72 hours. The webinars I listened to say that’s almost impossible– but that’s the guideline. An interesting fact that that I heard is that 75% of data breaches are caused by internal personnel. So any staff that sends out emails needs to be educated on the new laws.

Part 2 of this post will offer some steps to  properly vet current names on your database and update your websites.  It is now posted and can now be found here.

One of my favorite more detailed checklists online can be found here.

DISCLAIMER THAT I am not an attorney so this should for sure not to be construed as legal advice. This post is MY interpretation of what I have learned about GDPR so far, as a marketer who tries to stay on top of audience development and marketing issues. Any legal instructions should come from an attorney with knowledge of GDPR regulations.

The journey continues.  Cindy

The Case for Audience Development Professionals as Content Marketers

Experienced magazine audience development professionals should be perfectly poised to be online content deliverers. Every day we communicate with customers and gather or update their demographics; we build, maintain and update databases; we deliver a brand to a targeted audience; we analyze our customer profiles and find new audiences; we test new technologies and channels; and we deal with customer service issues.

However, I deal with media/information companies who still keep the magazine audience development experts in distinct silos from online content.–often with a very firm wall between these groups. I don’t understand this.

With the skills we have and our knowledge of the audience database, we should be able to help you push electronic content/offers in many forms: e-newsletters, white papers, research, event attendees, video, etc. The final form of the offering is what has changed, not necessarily the methods of reaching your targeted audience.

There are certainly areas of the online marketers expertise that might be different, including technical knowledge of the online platforms that are used to promote your brands.  Combining the competence of these two areas can create a powerhouse marketing area that helps deliver your content to reach advertiser goals and get more awareness for your brands and visitors to your sites.

The journey continues.

Cindy

7 Simple Hacks To Improve Your Productivity

The last month I have spent a lot of time reflecting, prioritizing, and slowing down.

I had surgery for a torn rotator cuff and bicep right before Christmas. Four weeks later I’m still in the sling and expect to be for several more weeks. I can type and write again with both hands, but the recovery process is exhausting and painful. I need to be much more organized to accomplish my daily goals, both professionally and personally.

Here are a few ideas that have helped me stay on track. Hopefully, they will help you increase your productivity each day:

  1. Block your time every day, Create a schedule for your entire day. This can include time for projects, creativity, meetings, lunch, working out,etc. You will be amazed at how being held accountable for your time decreases the wasted space. I was already on my second 13 week Best Self Journal, which had already started to transform how I approach each day. (More on this in a future post, after I finish my second journal).
  2. Schedule more challenging projects for when you are most productive. If you do them in the morning, then you avoid the procrastination bug in your mind until that work is done. And if you need extra time, you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
  3. Check your email just a couple times a day, at set times. It will allow you to focus on your current work. A University of California at Davis research study shows that it can take up to 25 minutes to refocus your attention every time you get interrupted. That’s a lot of time! The other advantage to this is that people learn to become   accustomed to your response time.
  4. Make a list. Whether you do it in a daily journal like Best Self, Evernote, or a notebook— or any combination of these— keywords can remind you of the small tasks that you might forget to do.
  5. Pick up the phone— set up scheduled or standing call times. On complicated projects, I find that one 10 minute call can resolve an issue quicker and with less frustration than 20 emails.
  6. Take a break. Research shows that you should take a break between projects, to eat, to work out. I often find that while away from my desk  I have my most creative ideas.
  7. Show gratitude. Expressing thankfulness at the start and end of each day Is a positive and expanding force. It makes us remember the small moments.

I’ve have consciously practiced each of these ideas over the last month,. I find that each one has helped me be more productive, proactive, mindful, and satisfied at the end of the day. I hope to continue to engage in each of these practices throughout 2018, not just while I’m in recovery.

The journey continues. Cindy

5 Ways to Jumpstart Your New Year Marketing Efforts Now

It’s tempting to glide though the occasional slow work days of this holiday season, doing the bare minimum to be (look?) productive. Then, January 4th hits and wham! we rocket into gear. We get demands from all sides and feel behind before the first work week of the new year is complete.

I think now is a great time to mindfully review the current year’s work and make some plans for the upcoming year. We often move so quickly through our daily tasks we don’t have time to actually think.

Here are 5 ideas you can do now to get ahead before the new year even starts:

  1. Update results from your recent email/telemarketing/social media/mail campaigns in a single marketing plan. Any surprises? What can you test for next year? Efforts you can shift in your campaign? List them in an Excel or Google doc now, when fresh in your mind.
  2. Spend some time browsing your competitors’ websites. How are they capturing new visitors, renewing people? What demographic information are they collecting?
  3. Spend more time online looking at websites of brands that you admire. What ideas or techniques can you borrow for your own brands?
  4. Research one marketing channel that you don’t know well but are interested in trying next year. A few examples might be paid social media, re targeting ads, applying data analytics, and implementing more automated (drip) marketing techniques.
  5. Learn more about your current vendors’ capabilities that you might not be using now. It’s possible you can get more out of your current providers…at no or low cost.

If you do even one these things it will spur ideas, invigorate your workday, and hopefully end up expanding your capabilities, knowledge and experiences.

Plus, it can be invigorating to change up our everyday routine.

The journey continues.

C

Flipping Viewpoints…and Feelings

I completed a 6-month consulting assignment the end of October. I thoroughly enjoyed the work itself—parts challenging and familiar– and the people on the team. For a couple weeks around the work’s completion, I felt a little down that the work had wrapped up.

Then I realized that I should flip those feelings to a sense of satisfaction. I had successfully done the work I was engaged to do, all parties were pleased with the results, and we left the door open for future engagements.

That quick improvement in attitude reminded me that a change in perspective is sometimes all we need to view an event, result or feeling differently. And that can also help go into the next situation with a completely changed view.

The journey continues.

Cindy

7 More Email Testing Ideas

Testing should be an integral part of your marketing campaigns, especially email efforts. Many of today’s platforms make it easy to set up and monitor your results.

To create a test, you set up an A/B split of your list before your email goes out.  Most email platforms make it simple to do this, if you are a novice.  An A/B split means that 2 lists will get the same effort with a single difference in the marketing effort.

Why do this? One change can get a 1%, 5%, 10% improvement over the control effort. The more you learn about your audience, the more you can improve your response rates and customer engagement.

Regular followers and my clients know this is a fundamental tenet of mine. I have written about basic testing ideas before and spoke about this topic at the AAMP conference last month.

Here are 7 new ideas for you to test:

  1. The day of the week emails go out. Weekend emails can work for some industries, including IT.
  2. Separate out the personal email addresses from business email addresses. Send to the assumed personal domains (ie. Google, Comcast, AOL, etc) in the evening or on weekends.
  3. Different offer or premium
  4. Responsive design vs. static design
  5. Copy heavy vs. light copy with same design
  6. Same copy with a lot of white space vs. design-centric piece (vs. text only, if you have large enough list for A/BC split)
  7. If you have multiple email platforms available to you, test sending the same message at the same time on both platforms. Do you see a difference in emails delivered and opened?

You can even send out an A/B test email to a portion of your list, then roll out the winning email to the rest of your file. Key is to test just ONE element to be able to accurately gauge your response rates.

The journey continues.

Cindy