I conducted a class about email marketing the other day, which opened up some great converations and made me excited to get back to my next post.
Which birds are we killing and why?
The two birds I’m aiming to kill are wasted money and environmental damage. Many of the Realtors I deal with in my day job love postcards. Others love “items of value” and handwritten notes. Some send newsletters through the mail. You may be completely wasting your time.
Generation Y and Direct Mail
I check my mail maybe once every other week. So if your postcard is time sensitive, you just wasted your time and money. Why don’t I check more regularly? All of my bills are online and none of my friends send me letters, they send me emails. So the only reason I check my mail is when I’m expecting something, like a movie or a package.
For those of you sending the items of value or handwritten notes, you’re doing better. Something personal in the mail is a novelty to me, so I’ll take a look at it. But those giant oval stickers telling me that you work on referrals and you want to download my contacts database so you can spam them too is an insult. I know why you’re contacting me, I don’t need it shoved in my face with a cheesy sticker.
Generation Y and Email
The number one question I get asked at all of my email marketing classes is “I get so much junk and delete it, why would I want to do this?” I would guess the average age of the Realtors in my classes is 45-50. Not Generation Y (keep reading, I’ll give my take on why Generation Y matters so much).
I grew up with email, as did many other Gen Y’ers. I have at least 10 accounts, 5 of which I check many times throughout the day. If you get my Hotmail account, sorry. Yahoo even worse. Work isn’t bad. Gmail means you’re a friend.
The bottom line is I’m efficient at checking my email. If I don’t want to keep getting something, I unsubscribe and if that doesn’t work, you get spam blocked. So I don’t mind 90% of the newsletters I get. According to a study put out by DoubleClick.com, 40% of people surveyed would like to have direct mail replaced by email. THEY WANT EMAIL.
Wasn’t there another bird somewhere?
The other bird that is more like a condor (in a bunch of ways) and it’s the environment. Call me a tree hugging hippie if you must, but hopefully somewhere deep inside you realize you should be doing something to help out. I’m biased, I live in the number 1 greenest city and spent my impressionable years in the number 5 city.
Sorry about calling your lovely postcard “junk”, but it immediately went into my recycle box. Some people think “Aha! But you at least saw it!” Yes I did, and I thought “How archaic and wasteful, I will NEVER work with that person”.
Generation Y? They’re just a bunch of self-centered punks!
People I work with always try to point out that Gen Y isn’t the largest real estate buying age group (yet). Many people I deal with are Baby Boomers and prefer to work with Baby Boomers because they see it as a huge group. My parents are Baby Boomers. I have a great relationship with my parents, which is typical of Generation Y.
My parents bought their house over 10 years ago and they love it. They will retire in it. They may need you for an investment property or a vacation home, but not all Boomers will. You are guaranteed only one more transaction out of them. A bit morbid, I know, but it’s the only guarantee you have.
I am a different story though. I will be moving out of my starter home to something nicer within the next 2-3 years. If I decide I want a family, I will move out of that house into another. I see the value of real estate investing, so I want several rental properties. I love my vacations, so I’ll take a vacation home too. Sure, these may be over the next 15 years, so if you’re only in the business for the next 5 years, feel free to ignore me.
The other thing is my parents (Boomers) are very busy people and will want my help with their real estate transactions. So I not only choose my Realtor, but I choose theirs too. So THAT’s why Generation Y is so important. We may not be the biggest group, but we have a lot of sway with the biggest group.
It’s so easy…
All of your direct mail marketing should now say “I’m trying to go green, would you rather receive this via email?” and have a sign in box on your web site that you refer people to. You will probably be amazed at the response you get. Do that a few times, then do a promotion (drawing for dinner/prize) to get those emails.
I’ll use Constant Contact and a local postcard company as examples. To send out 250 postcards will cost you $155. To send out an email newsletter to 250 people will cost you $15. If you decide you want to repeat it to announce a charitable cause, an open house or any other event, postcards will cost you another $155 but Constant Contact will cost you nothing more than the $15 you already spent.
So you’ve saved a ton of money, the environment, reached out to Generation Y (who helps Baby Boomers in their decision process), now get started!
Coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]
(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…
The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?
Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.
One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.
Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?
At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.
Families’ roles are complex.
You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.
What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.
Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.
These tools customize your Zoom calls with your company’s branding
(BUSINESS MARKETING) Zoom appears to be here to stay. Here are the tools you need to add or update your Zoom background to a more professional – or even branded – background.
If you haven’t had to deal with Zoom in 2021, you may be an essential worker or retired altogether. For the rest of us, Zoom became the go-to online chat platform around mid-March. For several reasons, and despite several security concerns, Zoom quickly pushed past all online video chat competitors in the early COVID-19 lockdown days.
Whether for boozy virtual happy hours, online classes for school or enrichment, business meetings, trivia nights, book clubs, or professional conferences, odds are if you are working or in school, you have been on a Zoom call recently. Many of us have been on weekly, if not daily, Zoom calls.
If you are the techy type, you’ve likely set up a cool Zoom background of a local landmark or a popular spot, a library, or a tropical beach. Comic-con types and movie buffs created appropriate backgrounds to flex their awesome nerdiness and technical smarts.
Many people have held off creating such an individualized background for our virtual meetings for one of any number of reasons. Perhaps it never occurred to them, or maybe they aren’t super comfortable with all things techy. Many people have been holding out hope of returning to their offices, thus seeing no need to rock the boat. I’m here to tell you, though, it’s time. While I, too, hope that we get the pandemic under control, I am realistic enough to see that working or studying from home will continue to be a reality for many people for some time.
Two cool, free tools we’ve found that can help you make your personal Zoom screen look super professional and even branded for business or personal affairs are Canva and HiHello. While each platform has a paid component, creating a Zoom background screen for either application is fairly simple and free.
Canva is the online design website that made would-be graphic designers out of so many people, especially social media types. It’s fairly user-friendly with lots of tutorials and templates, and the extremely useful capabilities of uploading your own logo and saving your brand colors.
Using Canva, first create your free account with your email. It functions better if you create an account, although you can play around with some of the tools without signing up. The fastest way from Point A to Point B here is to use the search box and search for “Zoom backgrounds.” You now can choose any one of their Zoom background templates, from galaxy to rainbows and unicorn to library books or conference rooms. Choose an inspirational quote if you’d like (but really, please don’t). Download the .jpg or .png, save it, and you can upload it to Zoom.
To create a branded Zoom background in Canva, it will take slightly more work. It was a pain in the butt for me, because I had this vision of a backdrop with my logo repeated, like you see as a backdrop at, you know, SXSW or the Grammys or something. Reach for the stars, right?
OK, the issue with this was that I had to individually add, resize, and place each of the 9 logos I ended up with. I figured out the best way to size them uniformly (I resized one and copied/pasted, instead of adding the original size each time (maybe you’re thinking “Duh,” but it took me a few failed experiments to figure out that was the fastest way to do it).
Once you have your 9 loaded in the middle of the page, start moving them around to place them. I chose 9, because the guiding lines in Canva allow me to ensure I have placed them correctly, in the top left corner, middle left against the margin that pops up, and bottom left. Same scenario for the center row.
Magical guide lines pop up when you have the logo centered perfectly, so I did top, middle, and bottom like that, and repeated for the right hand margin. Then I flipped them, because they were showing up in my view on Zoom as backward. That may mean they are now backward to people on my call; I will need to test that out! Basically, Canva is easy to use, but perhaps my design aspirations made it tricky to figure out.
Good luck and God bless if you choose more than 9 logos to organize. Oh, and if you are REALLY smart, you will add one logo to a solid color or an austere, professionally appropriate photo background and call it a day, for the love of Mary. That would look cool and be easy.
HiHello is an app you can download to scan and keep business cards and create your own, free, handy dandy digital business card. It comes in the form of a scannable QR code you can share with anyone. Plus, you can make a Zoom background with it, which is super cool! It takes about five minutes to set up, truly! It works great!
The Zoom background has your name, the company name, and your position on one side and the QR code on the other. The QR code pulls up a photo, your name, title, phone number, and email address. It’s so nifty! And the process was super easy and intuitive. Now, If I took my logo page from Canva and made that the background for my HiHello virtual Zoom screen, I would be branded out the wazoo.
Remember there are technical requirements if you want to use HiHello on a Mac. For example, if you have a mac with a dual core processor, it requires a QUAD. However, on a PC, it was really simple.
Finally: A smart card that manages employee spending with ease
(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.
Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.
However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.
Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.
But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”
Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.
These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.
All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.
And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.
Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.
Now, that’s a smart card!
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