Category Archives: email

Content—friend or foe?

What does content have to do with design? Why is a graphic designer going on and on about content? Because it is a whole new world out there and these things go together. Good packing and good content have gone hand in hand since the first narrative went up on the first church wall. Coke™ has put on YouTube it’s content strategy plan (they call it vision) for 2020. They essentially plan to take over the world. Not only do they plan to take over the world they want you to help. It is either terrifying or genius. Before you check it out, think about what you or your company may take away from this. While Coke™ plans on high interaction from consumers, can you, on a lower level, get your customers to interact with you? Is there a way to get them to tell you your story before you ask? For example, my fictional payroll company if you recall, has rolled out some spiffy new software that will save the company and company clients money, or offer more services for the same money or much expanded services for only a little more money (ideal). I can ask how my payroll company’s expanded capacity has helped my clients. In return, I feature in my emails, website however I communicate, how great this turned out and my client gets free exposure. Anyway, go check out Coke™. You can decide if you want to be part of the collective or not. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LerdMmWjU_E

Step right up, enjoy the show

Content in a quantity world. You know you have to create compelling content in the look at me world of customer communication. What is compelling? Your new software program is compelling. No, really it is. Actually it isn’t but you can make it compelling or at least some what compelling. Tell your customers what your new software is going to do for them. How the new program will help your people provide better service. How it will allow your customers to add features to the product/service they get from you for little or no money. No money is better, it creates a bond of caring. You’re sharing some of your cost savings thus recognizing your customer’s value. Use the opportunity to introduce some of your staff. A few testimonials from staff about how excited they are to use the new product. (A little piece of advice. If you are introducing a new computer system, before you embark on that odyssey, get feedback about what the needs are from your staff. I cannot tell you how many companies I’ve been to that buy and implement a new system without ever engaging the people who will be using it. Engage your people and you’ll likely find that you don’t need so many bells and whistles and the new system will be embraced instead of perceived as a new form of torture devised by management.) Don’t denigrate the old version of what’s being replaced, you don’t want your customers to think you’ve been out of sync with the rest of the world. Tell your customers how you’re going to be better than great. What if you don’t have new software to crow about? What if you’re looking around the office and you can’t see or think of one thing in your business to tell your customers about? Think about something one person does at your company or something the company does that helps the company run smoothly. Write about that especially if that person or job doesn’t have any direct customer contact. Does the company do any community outreach? No? Ask around, one of your people does. Write about them. And if your company doesn’t do any community outreach, start. It is a no lose proposition. The take away from this? Tell a story. Next, more ways of creating content and awareness.

This above all: be interesting

Be charming. Be compelling. Be enthralling. Be thought provoking. Be on good terms with your thesaurus. Because what that all means is have good content. Resist filler don’t pad pages on web sites, reports, and newsletter items, presentation slides, even email. Be straight to the point, exponential filler is for Tolstoy, not you. Most of what follows refers to web content but it applies to all communication.
Images-we are visual beings. Color printers are faster, cheaper and better than ever. Take advantage of that. No longer must you have formal printed letterhead. But man, don’t use low-resolution images from the web, especially for your logo. If you have good photos use them, if they are not so good, crop and adjust and see if you can make them better. (Don’t start filling your emails with pictures, however.) Use good photos for your presentations or handouts. Please, please, if you are printing san color make your images black and white. Don’t just print color images as black and white, they will not translate well and the piece will lack professional polish.
Ideas-present one idea at a time. That sounds so obvious but it isn’t. It is more important that ever when you think about all the information that is available about everything. Stating an idea and then wending your way to that idea with a bunch of other ideas isn’t going to fly in this day and age of instant information. Think about when you google questions, I click on the hit that appears to be answering my question with the least amount of build-up.
How-as in how is the information received? Consider how the information is consumed; is it on a smart phone, desktop computer, or an iPad? These are things to think about even when sending an email. Sometimes it can be frustrating. Sometimes you have to send a long email. That long email will likely be read on a smart phone if it is sent to more than one person. Not much you can do about it under those circumstances but when you can, be aware of how and what kind of device it is being read on.
Know whom you are creating for. Consider your audience, are they new to your information or are they knowledgeable and looking for more insight. Does that mean you divide up the information in to small digestible parts, A leading to B, to C and so forth? Learn what your target group knows and use the words they use (what will, if on the web become search terms).
Most importantly, whether it be print, slide, web or email, make sure your content is easy to read and the content your audience is looking for easy to find.
Happy Labor Day.

The social media conundrums

As a dedicated and faithful reader of this blog you know about email blasts. You know how often and when. But with all things, there is the down side. There are somethings you should consider before you start that blog, send email blasts or sign-up for that Twitter account. The things to consider are: quantity, quality and consistency. If you start a blog will you be able to keep it up? Will you find subjects to opine about? If you send email blasts do have enough new information to send a blast twice a month, once a month? And Twitter, if you have an account how often are you going to tweet? As a business, or professional organization these are important things to consider. The first and most important is content. Do you have enough to say to justify posting to a blog two or three times a week? I post once a week. I’m very consistent. Not perfect but pretty consistent. That’s important. I sent an email blast on behalf of the organization I work for twice a month. If you send an email blast every three months you will not create any impact. If you get a Twitter account will you be able to keep it up with actual relevant information? Unless you’re famous no one is going to care what you had for lunch or that you have a new copier. The other consideration is who at your organization does these media things? Is it one person? It shouldn’t be, using an email blast service is not rocket science. More than one person at your shop should be able to send blasts, post to a blog-if that fits your media plan. Lots of this stuff is designed to be user friendly so one need not be afraid of considering using these tools. You should consider all aspects before you post, blast or tweet.

What you need to know about email blasts

Forget the details of why or why not. These were the questions I had and here are the answers I found.
How often should I send out an email blast? Twice a month, have real content. Don’t fill it with fluff.
When should I send it? Tuesday or Wednesday around lunchtime.
What about content? Include text and images. Lot’s of email programs filter out images. Make sure you have text and be sure your content has interest and something to click through to.
This I will tell you, the number one reason for unsubscribing is too many emails.