My Top 10 Takeaways from Digital Summit, Chicago

Last week I participated in the lively, educational and nerd-worthy fun Digital Summit in Chicago.   This was such a worthwhile, information-overloaded event for digital marketers.

I got many practical, cost-effective ideas from speakers who worked for familiar organizations including LinkedIn, Twitter, Spotify, Hubspot, Instagram, the Moth and other marketing firms, creative agencies, and marketing users.

Here are the Top 10 Takeaways I got from the event:

  1. “We can never get control of our marketing until we get control of our data”. My favorite line, from Matt Hertig of Alight Analytics
  2. On your email efforts, your FROM line should be from a trustworthy or recognizable person or brand. And make that SUBJECT line compelling, since 47% of people open their emails based on the subject line.
  3. Things that artists do well on social media that brands can learn from. 1—authenticity 2-frequency 3—engage 4—use video.
  4. Build your own known and owned audience for success in content marketing. Then amplify your content.
  5. Translate your company’s purpose into marketing messages with provocative content (like REI).
  6. You have about 8 seconds to engage with a subscriber on your email effort.
  7. Executive buy-in is key to implementing marketing strategy and implementaion.
  8. Brand activism is increasing with frequency and intensity.
  9. To build community, engage with other accounts in a meaningful way. Are you doing or just saying?
  10. On Twitter, most stories trend within the first 48 hours.

Bonus of #11. –Video, video, video! The use of video increases engagement, partially because visuals can be absorbed 60,000 times faster than text. Expect to see more growth in video in 2019 since many of the speakers talked about using it.

I hope that most of you will find at least 1 thing on this list that you can incorporate into your marketing efforts. Feel free to contact me if you want to have a deeper discussion about any of these.

The journey continues.  Cindy

P.S. . If you want to read more of the ideas I got from the conference, scroll through my Twitter feed (@CindyCardinal1) from the week of 9/27/18

 

Training–Back to Basics

How often do you think about the basics of doing your job?

Recently I had a college student with zero experience help create a series of landing pages and emails for a client. I had to explain publishing A-to-Z and the audience development process in far more detail than I usually think about it.

We get so entrenched in our daily responsibilities that we forget how intricate familiar tasks can be, when broken down to individual steps.   Taking the time to verbally explain  (or write down) a project allows you to see your work in a new light.

Things my intern learned from me:

–why media companies market a variety of products

–what white papers are

–what a landing page is

–how companies store and use collected data

–the intricacies involved in setting up an email, the response form, the landing page, the download, and follow up messaging

She said she never thought about the entire creative and business process of how and why and who sets up such efforts, yet she is online daily.

Training a novice also made me also think about the entire client on-boarding process. When I begin working with a new customer, I look at the assignment from others’ perspective. I gauge the goals, the knowledge level of other team members, learn their lingo, their communication style, their technologies.

Every project is varied, which is what I so enjoy about consulting. As the project progresses I try to balance handling on the daily responsibilities while keeping the client’s goals in mind.

I have been consulting for 20 years so am used to my crazy, varied days. I welcome new projects where I can challenge my knowledge level, learn new platforms and skills.

It’s probably too much for my intern to grasp now, since she was learning fundamentals.   But I think that practical experience was valuable to learn about the media industry, marketing responsibilities. And it allowed me to move ahead on more strategic work while she successfully completed the assignment.

The journey continues.

Cindy

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

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

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

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

LinkedIn is not Facebook. Or am I confused?

LinkedIn is a valuable tool for me to stay on top of job changes colleagues are making, learning what media and business and industry leaders are focused on, staying in touch with people I meet at events, researching client backgrounds, and sharing my expertise and opinions.

Lately, however, LinkedIn seems to be morphing from a business-related social media site to more of a social social media site. And it’s weird. I do not like all the changes LinkedIn has made in the past couple month. Heck, it even looks more like Facebook, with the new lay out.

When I visit LinkedIn to learn about your job changes, it seems odd to notify me on a business site that it is someone’s birthday. If you are really my friend, you already know it is my birthday! I wonder how many people wished a happy birthday to a former colleague when that alert came up recently, and she died last year.

The articles that people posted used to be useful, creative, sometimes thought-provoking. Now there are many more articles—and even comments– that are blatant advertisements. Looking at the group feeds of those I belong to, it seems like many of the posts there are not invitations to connect/learn/ask. They are self-congratulatory promotions for their companies and advertisements.

I have written before about remembering that your photo should not necessarily be one you would freely share on a personal profile. People are now sharing random comments and personal posts. With many ##### references.

On the home page, the connection comments/changes seem to be repetitive, with the same ones appearing at the top for a week or more (even when the view is recency). Finally, more people are reaching out to “connect” that I have never met, or had any interaction with who clearly sales people with a canned message, if any.

For me, the recent evolution of both the physical site and the member usage has diluted LinkedIn’s value. My usage of the site has declined, though there are still benefits for adding connections, regular visits and posts to my profile.

Yes, share when you get a promotion, a job change, win an award, have a speaking engagement, update your website, have a new offering, have insights to share with your connections, or questions to pose to your connections. LinkedIn is a useful platform to share about your work highlights, but maybe not your new puppy.   Think about who your connections are.

Am I alone with this viewpoint? What are your thoughts on the recent LinkedIn changes and posts in your feed lately?

The journey continues.

Cindy

10 Simple Ways to be More Successful in Marketing Technology

woman-in-tech-pp-coverI recently had the privilege of moderating a webinar on How to be Successful in Tech/ Marketing Tech. Geared to women, the event was hosted by BrightTALK. The 3 panelists were Liz Bullock Director Digital & Paid Media at Rackspace, Isabelle Dumont Head of Marketing at BlueTalon, and Aya Fawzy, now Director of Marketing at Skedulo.

The creation of the presentation still fascinates me–that 4 women who never met could collaborate from across the country to create the flow of the presentation, slide decks, and drive the conversation with insightful questions asked by the attendees.

The speakers think it’s an opportunistic time to work in tech. 1.1 million NEW tech jobs are expected by 2024, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. However, women comprise only 27% of the Tech workforce.

I hope that some of our experiences and ideas can help increase your influence in this lucrative field, or as you pivot to a tech career:

  1. The digital arena is the great equalizer in the tech arena, since women are almost as fluent on digital platforms as men, according to an Accenture 2016 study.   Be active on the digital platforms that are used in your industry, from Snapchat to Pinterest to Twitter.
  2. Increase your social outreach by keeping your own profiles active on LinkedIn, Twitter if you use it. We all found that most of our opportunities come from others in our digital work circles, so this electronic networking can be invaluable.
  3. Be active in associations and online groups. Continue to gain knowledge from attending webinars, local events, taking extra classes and/or getting certifications from reputable organizations.
  4. Having both formal and informal mentors can help broaden your knowledge. Don’t be afraid to approach someone you admire to ask them to work with you in various work areas. Change out your mentors on a regular basis, to learn from a variety of people.
  5. When work is very busy, make sure to focus on the projects that bring the most return.
  6. Stretch yourself when new job opportunities appear. Lean In says that women often don’t apply for a job unless they have 100% of the skills asked for. Men will apply when they only have 60% of suggested experience.
  7. If you work for yourself–or are negotiating for a new job– pricing yourself can be difficult. Value your time and knowledge fairly. Remember that companies will never tell you that you are pricing too low!
  8. Know your non-negotiables during the interview process.
  9. When in meetings, women are often the minority. You should be engaged in meetings; this includes offering valuable insights, not offering to get coffee or take notes.
  10. Block time on your calendar to read, learn, or grow in technology and your field.

You can listen to the presentation in its entirety here.

We all think that the attitude to jump in and try, to push ourselves, to change courses if needed is the way to be successful in the Tech world now and in the future.

So, reach for that new job, and learn along the way.

The journey continues. C

Why I got a HubSpot Certification-and Why Many of my Colleagues are Back-To-School

I recently got my HubSpot Inbound Certification! To earn it, I took 12.5 hours of online classes, took quizzes, and then passed a test of 60 questions in 70 minutes.

cc-hs-cert

Some of the lessons were very basic for an experienced marketer. Others gave me a different perspective at the buying process.

Some people asked why I was getting this certification.  The most important reason is that all of my clients—and my company—have websites and are attracting and engaging with their customers online.  I hope that the lessons I learned from other experts will give me a new perspective when creating  marketing plans, online content, and setting and measuring response rates.

I know several professionals in other industries who are also back at school, some getting on-line certificates, others working towards really time-consuming certificates, one an MBA.   Here are some reasons why they said they were getting extra education:

  • Update needed credentials
  • New technologies allow them to learn a new skill to help clients
  • To learn new skill sets
  • Tie together different parts of their education and experience
  • Build credibility & respect
  • Differentiate their knowledge level

Varied but valid reasons, I think. Stepping away from our daily routines helps us to look at our world from a different lens. It gives us new ways to challenge ourselves. And may introduce us to new people and opportunities.

Plan for it next year—take a class, earn a new certification or degree, attend an event, join an industry association. Maybe it will lead somewhere unexpected.

The journey continues.

C

5 Ways for Women to Increase Value in the Technology Industry. Now.

In the fast-moving and lucrative technology sector, women only make up 21.7% of the workforce, according to a recent study by the Anita Borg Institute. Technology touches a wide swath of our daily lives.  It is critical to increase women’s presence and voice in this visible industry, to influence the creation, execution, and direction of technology-related products and services.

I recently attended an inspiring webinar “Women in Tech Marketers: How to Advance Your Career in Today’s Digital World” put on by BrightTALK. All 3 speakers had excellent advice: Niki Hall from Polycom, Kate Athmer from Integrate and Natascha Thomson from MarketingXLerator.

First, try to work for an organization that enables you to succeed. Once you find that job, find a formal or informal mentor who will be your champion and help you grow.

On today’s data-is-boss workplace, it is imperative that you take data-driven information to accelerate your path forward.

In technical or development meetings, oftentimes women are in the minority. Think about yourself today–how do you handle yourself in group settings, to increase your value and visibility within your organization?

Here are 5 simple ways the speakers discussed to increase visibility in your next meeting:

  1. If you are invited to the meeting, it’s because you have something to offer. Be there as a participant, not just a witness.
  2. Be prepared.
  3. Take authority when given a task or project. Be factual; don’t ask a stream of questions, looking for approval.
  4. Make sure what you are doing adds value to the group. For example, don’t offer to re-fill coffee for others, take notes for the group if you are the only female attending.
  5. Sit by the smartest or most powerful person in the room. Studies have shown that this helps to increase perceived value within an organization.

I think that these 5 tips can help women in many areas of business. But in work sectors like technology that are more driven by men, it is even more critical that we get our seat at the table. And use it as best we can to increase our presence and value in our workplace.

Remember: Be firm. Understand what you are supposed to do. Then do it.