How Not to Say Thank you

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I think it’s important to say thank you to your customers. When they buy something or respond an online offer (magazine, webinar, research, etc), it is an opportunity for you to reaffirm your commitment to them. Each email, direct mail piece, or box shipped with item that a customer has ordered is an opportunity to re-affirm your relationship and promote your brand.

Be sure when saying THANK YOU that you look at your effort from the customer’s point of view. Does it REALLY say thank you?

Here are 2 examples of “thank yous” gone awry. I received both within the last month:

  • We recently refinanced our house. We work with a major bank and have known our mortgage broker for years. The bank sent a thank you note, supposedly from the broker, with his business cards. Yet, the envelope and note were addressed only to my husband. How exclusionary and sexist! If your system has personalization limitations, then don’t do it at all. It looks thoughtless.
  • Unbeknownst to me, a client of mine bought a list of names a year ago from a vendor I had never heard of. It was a mess—multiple worksheets, incorrect column headers, duplicate names. Needless to say, the list was used 1x then tossed. Recently, my client and I were sent an email with a quick note of thanks and promoting a new service. Great idea for follow up, but it was a year after the purchase. Worse, instead of sending a new email, he attached his marketing message to one I sent a year ago with all the issues about the poor quality of the data files. If I had not remembered that poor experience, this email certainly brought it to the top of mind again.

(Aside that this is an example of why you should use an experienced person to vet and test list vendors before you buy a list from one of the many, many unscrupulous list sellers).

If you want to really say thank you, here is a post I wrote with some “thank you” examples that might give you real inspiration as you create YOUR thank you messages.

And as we head into this holiday weekend, I thank you Reader, for taking time to read my posts, share them, and send me email comments and questions about them.

The journey continues. C

Going Old-School

On our recent flight to FL, I watched the film All the President’s Men. Released in 1976, it’s a fascinating look at Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s investigative research while uncovering the Watergate break-ins.

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Their work included no Google, no cell phones, no Internet.  Their tools were personal connections, rotary phones, typewriters, phone booths, hard-copy library check out cards, stacks of paper in offices, suits and ties for 2 am meetings, lunchtime Thermos drinks, Rolodex, smoking in offices-elevators-apartments- everywhere, searching through phone books of many cities to find a single phone number.

I thought of the contrast of the long-winded, connect-the-dots research and subterfuge with today’s always online, tuned-in access that we have available.  I truly believe that while all my screen time helps me in so many ways from research to work to finding a recipe, I think it also results in a loss of collaboration and personal connections.

While on our spring break cruise with five high school girl and moms, the cell phones and iPads were locked in the safe.IMGP0014 After our initial electronic withdrawal phase, the girls said they didn’t miss them. Going “old school”, they were able to spend time turning other teens into friends, make advance plans where to meet them after meals, have focused time with each other and us without scrolling through social site pictures of their classmates’ scattered vacations.

The majority of our group consciously stayed off-the-grid while on our trip. The time was spent connecting those around us, not watching on social media what others were doing, comparing experiences, or working.

That focused offline time is something I shall try to incorporate into my life going forward. I will try to turn off the online access for periods of the workday to remove distractions. Go old-school to forge ahead.

The journey continues.

C

P.S. Photo credits.  From movie, my.xfinifty.com.  Safe, from my photo archives, 2012.

My 2016 Personal Exploration Goals

Can you accomplish a personal goal if you commit to working towards it for 10 minutes a day, every day in 2016?

A seemingly simple yet compelling challenge that Eric Zorn wrote about in a recent Chicago Tribune column. (you might have to be a subscriber to access it). He was successful in his goal of playing the fiddle for a minimum 10 minutes every day, and he gave a synopsis of other people who accepted the 10MaD 2015 pledge.

I have thought about this column for the past couple days.  Eric Zorn, I accept 10MaD as my 2016 challenge and resolution. But what goal to reach?? So many options!

Since writing and photography are two hobbies/passions I wish I had more time to spend time with, I decided that 2016 will be a year for “My Personal Exploration of Fine Arts.”   At this point, my “major” will be writing and “minor” will be photography, but that could swap during the year. Who knows?

Since I work as an audience development consultant where I spend hours writing proposals/project updates/marketing efforts, I want to clarify what I consider part of this 10MaD pledge:

  1. Writing for my blog on my business website.
  2. Writing for my personal blog, which has been inactive for a couple years.
  3. Starting work on a novel that has been floating just beyond my consciousness.
  4. Writing short stories or poetry.
  5. Writing freelance articles for magazines or other websites.
  6. Taking photos for a freelance projects.
  7. Editing or printing photos for above projects.
  8. When I go out specifically to shoot pictures.
  9. Maybe finally creating a website to sell some of my photos.

I will have to manage my time, since I know that any of these can entail a creative block or the opposite–that vortex, when time disappears while working on a project. I will occasionally post here about the status of my 10MaD challenge.

I am excited and a little intimidated to accept the 2016 10MaD pledge. One day done with this writing, 365 left since it is a Leap Year.

The journey continues. Happy New Years to all!

C

1/2/16 update–Readers, an fyi that I will post more personal posts and poetry on my other blog, which has been unused in over 3 years. That blog is Have an Opinion’s Opinion.   Feel free to follow either or both sites.

Jesse Eisenberg and the Creative Process

How do you prefer to write? In longhand, on paper? Or on the computer? Me, I prefer the computer. As a Southpaw, I find I type far faster than I can write as my brain spews out ideas. One downside is that I feel sometimes like I might edit too quickly, losing initial thoughts.

In a recent interview and book signing with actor and first time author Jesse Eisenberg, he said he finds writing on the computer more distracting than all the outdoors. I agree that it is so easy to get lost in that internet rabbit hole, jumping from one link to another.

Eisenberg, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Bill Gates in The Social Network, was in person funny, clever, fast, and felt like he was in constant motion, even when sitting. He was engaging during his interview with Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribune, and during his post-talk book signings chatted and joked with everyone.

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He did a hilarious, spot-on reading from his new book Bream Gives me The Hiccups.  Once Eisenberg creates a character, he lets him or her take over the writing.  He learned from acting that “there are no paint by numbers in theater”. He also said that all characters are dealing with an internal issue.

Though I often have to write for business—copy, blog posts, presentations, sometimes I find it difficult to find the time or inspiration for my personal creative endeavors. I find it intriguing to hear about others’ writing process: where they get their ideas, how they manage their projects and creativity.

Eisenberg said to write about what you are interested in, even if it might be obscure. And Caro agreed, saying that when you are trying to write for the reader alone, you will feel it in the product.

As for his transformation from actor to author (he has written plays before), Eisenberg said “I found I was fortuitous finding my path, being rejected from following someone else’s path.” A lesson for us all, I think.

A hope that we can all find our creativity in 2016—whether in writing, photography, art, music, business, decorating, or sports.

The journey continues.

C

The Creative Spark

I am sitting in our incredible five-star-award-winning ELA library writing. Looking around, there are 10,000’s of books, 100’s of magazines, DVD’s Blu rays, CD’s, computers, puzzles. No matter what your interests are from knights to nights, stars to traveling afar, football to decorating walls, baking to mentally escaping, you will find something to help you achieve your goals.

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When I am writing, or taking photographs, I often wonder if all the words have been written before, a frame shot just so. Looking at the myriad of items I can borrow from my library, I realize that while all the words may have been used– It has not been in the same order, with the same feeling and goals, as my writing. Or yours.

I write often for work. When I am struggling, sometimes with deadlines I know I have to keep typing until it is complete, other times I can pause (maybe walk the dogs) and this brief respite frees up those creative thoughts buried in my brain.

I keep an online folder of marketing emails I have received that look effective and a folder of direct mail pieces with response-driven copy I like. I skim through magazines—on topics I might only be marginally interested in– to see what other publications are doing to entice new readers and promote brand extensions. I read a variety of type of books, see films old and new.

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So that library time–or book store time for some of you–is not time wasted.   Or procrastination. Not always, anyways. It is “research”, filling that wellspring of imagination of ideas for some future marketing collateral, a report, a novel, a poem, a blog post.

The ELA librarian told me that they have 1,000,000+ annual checkouts.  So others are using the library for their release as well.

The journey continues.

C