July down time: Cleaning up your brand image!

brand image tips

Our guest blogger is Loreto Cheyne of Lola Design.  Summer is a great time to work on your branding and marketing gear, getting ready for the busy 4th quarter…

After what seemed like an endless winter, summertime’s here, and that means joining colleagues at a patio, leaving the office early, and honing your BBQ skills. It’s a nice fantasy-but if you’re a business owner, it means if there’s any downtime, you’ll likely be catching up on the marketing projects you had hoped to tackle much earlier in the year.

You may not have days on end to devote to marketing catch-up. But if you can organize your projects and time, here’s three things that will let you communicate a little easier in the fall and have you ready for more marketing and networking:

1) Update your business cards. I’m always going on about the importance of your business cards, and with good reason. If social media is part of your marketing mix, be sure to have your contact info on your business card. You can:

  • add the actual URL (ex. www.Facebook.com/LolaDesignLogos)
  • simply use the social media icon (blue “bird” for Twitter)
  • incorporate a QR code that when scanned takes readers to your blog.

2) Take a look at your marketing calendar and review major events coming in the fall. If you have a conference or a tradeshow you have already committed to, this is the time to do the prep work. If your tradeshow is October 1, don’t wait until September 25 to get your signage ready, or your rack cards, or sellsheets. Get ahead of the game now so you can do it right, proof properly and avoid rush charges. That way they are done, printed, and you can forget about them.

3)  Do a logo inventory. Is your logo still working hard for you? Because if it isn’t, now is the time to alter it, or completely redo it (not a week before your new ad campaign is launched). Find a designer you can work with (I will be glad to set up a consultation with you) and be sure to discuss your needs, likes, dislikes, deadlines and budget. Be realistic. Make sure your logo is created as a vector file, which will give you the most versatility over the long run (that’s an Illustrator .eps or .ai file).

These three marketing communication tips should give you plenty to fill up those pockets of “spare time” you may have this summer!

Loreto Cheyne is the principal and owner of Lola Design, an Ottawa-based graphic design studio. To book your complimentary consultation, email loreto@loladesign.ca

Website:www.loladesign.ca

Blog:www.loladesing.ca/blog

 

No Excuses: the art of follow-up

why is consumer relations important

Just a little reminder today that the art of the follow up is now easier than ever. Why? Because of our ever-increasing virtual world of electronic media, social media, video, audio, smart phones and goodness knows what else will be available tomorrow!

Add these resources to what were used even 10 years ago, and there really is no reason not to follow up with your donors and sponsors for their contribution and to keep in touch with your members.

It’s so easy for organizations to post to their donors’ and sponsors’ Facebook feeds: send them a text message, record a personal video or send an email. On top of this you can use Skype, Facebook or Google Chat or Hangouts to connect and have a virtual coffee break to check in.  AND add to this the more traditional ways of keeping in touch with cards, notes and gifts in the regular “snail” mail, there’s no excuse not to keep in touch with your networks.  Personally, I like to mail hand-written cards and gifts.  From a marketing perspective, there’s nothing more alluring than ‘lumpy’ mail, so include a pen, a block of sticky notes or a little gift with a card; the chances of that piece of mail being opened will increase exponentially.  Even if you just write thank-you (for your time, for your call, for your donation, for your sponsorship…), doing so will go a long way. The combinations you can use to keep in touch are endless!

While most organizations spend time recruiting potential members, sponsors and donors, what about your current members, sponsors and donors? Do you ever thank them, take them out to lunch or send them a birthday card or gift? Your current database of contacts are your biggest fans and the most likely to refer. Stay connected with them and nurture those relationships! It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – it’s the thought that counts.

The Good, the Not that Bad and the Manageable Side of Remote Work

If you’re one of those lucky workers out there who has found a place that suits you, whether it be in-office, remote or a hybrid of the two, congratulations! Having a place that you feel productive, content and comfortable can allow your talents to flourish and let you be your best is not always easy to accomplish.

I’ve operated my remote support agency for nearly 18 years.  It took me a while to get used to working from an office set up in my personal space.  I did eventually get used to a concept called ‘boundaries’ and now I wouldn’t work anywhere else.  I’m the most productive in a quiet environment with no distractions.  But that’s me; you will likely have a much different set of working environment needs than I do.  And that is totally okay.

Having to live with a global pandemic these past almost two years has forced everyone to re-examine how and where work is completed.  We’ve had to go that extra step and actually ask employees (rather than presume) what environment would help them be the most productive in their job.  We’ve had to cross the line between a person’s personal needs and their work needs, and instead of saying in the interview ‘this is what you’re required to do, when and where’, we now ask in the interview, ‘what environment are you able to provide these deliverables?’ In this article, let’s look at the good, the not so bad and the manageable side of being a remote worker.

The Good

Forcing everyone to work remotely, especially last year, has helped us learn more about ourselves and what working environment we thrive in; doing so has also shown us what working environment we do not thrive in.  This in itself is a great learning point and also shifts the relationship between employer and employee; just by asking what would help their employee get through their workday and by putting a telework agreement in place, tells the employee that their employer trusts them to complete their work, without being monitored. This alone can be a much-needed motivation boost. The remote worker may feel a sense of ownership and pride in their work knowing that they are in control, leading to a boost in productivity. Productivity can also result from the ability to work at a flexible schedule, taking advantage of more productive periods of the day rather than being in an office from 9 to 5 and being ‘on’ all the time.  More ‘points’ scored there!

Some remote workers find they have a better sense of well-being with no commute to provide an extra source of stress, eating home-made lunches instead of office take-out and perhaps taking some of the old commute time and turning it into a work-out or walk.  Even more points! 

The Not So Bad

If working remotely suits you, as with any job, you need to be prepared. This includes making sure you have the proper tools to be a productive, content and comfortable worker.  Working in a traditional office comes with many things that the worker is not responsible for providing, so it is important to understand what you will provide.  For example, you may have a desk and chair at home somewhere, high speed Internet and some software.  You need to ask what your employer will provide at their cost or pay you for, e.g. they may now reimburse your monthly Internet bill.

The Manageable

For all of these wonderful benefits of being a remote worker, there are some pitfalls that are important to address. While technology issues and a shortage of physical supplies or equipment may prove challenging, the solution for these is a simple fix, purchase or pick up from the office. However, there are some challenges that take a little bit more work and a little more effort to start some good remote worker habits.

 Managing procrastination, distraction and time are key to get you in the best situation to be successful. Yes, it is true that these are also needed in the traditional office, but these things are even more important when you’re working remotely. Working in a traditional office when distracted or under the curse of procrastination can be managed easily as there are other people around you still working which can give you that little extra push to get back on track, but when you’re alone this is more of a challenge.

Either way, creating work habits that are conducive to getting the job done but leaving it when the work-day is over is incredibly important in being a successful remote worker. Consider having a closed office, letting family and friends know your work schedule (a.k.a. those ‘boundaries’), and having a good pair of headphones to cut down on noise will all help.

It’s likely that the time between work and home have now blended together, so leaving the home tasks for after work and leaving the work when it is time to take care of personal tasks can help (and stick to it!). For more ideas on dealing with distraction, flex-jobs has a quick list of solutions.

For further insights, purchase my new e-book ‘Humans Working Remotely: Guiding Success for the Current Future’. It’s available to purchase here: https://virtualworks.ca/product/humans-working-remotely/

The Power of Time

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” – Anthony Robbins

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

These two great quotes are making the same point while coming from different directions; the authors are saying that our lives are in our own hands and that we should look at all the parts of our lives honestly and make conscious choices confidently so that we may benefit.

We have the power to change our lives by using what we already have inside ourselves: Tony Robbins knows that lack of self-confidence often holds us back; Ralph Waldo Emerson shows us that it’s what’s inside of us that counts more than the past and the future.

Even though they haven’t written books called “Time Management”, these authors teach us a lot about successful time management and successful life management.

The past 19 months have taught us that time can stand still, expand to fill how long it takes a task to be done, stretch out endlessly before us or reduce itself so small that there simply isn’t enough of it.  Yet, we all still have 24 hours in a day.

Another great quote is from David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” and “Ready for Anything”. He gets right to the point when he says, “Time is just time, you can’t mismanage it. What that really means is that you mismanaged the agreement you had with yourself about what you should have accomplished.” He goes on to say that time management is really a complex issue of self-management where work needs to be captured, clarified, organized and reviewed in line with your purpose, values, vision, goals, and strategies. When these things are in line, you’ll feel good about how you’re managing time.

It’s really that simple.

Coping With Unexpected Change

It’s inevitable. Change will happen whether you are expecting it, or not, in your personal lives, in society and in the workplace. Generally speaking, when we expect a change, it is more manageable to deal with and depending on what it is, it can be a good thing. Unexpected change is the one that takes a little more effort to get through as it may require a re-adaption to processes, environments and people around us.

So, what are some things we can do to manage unexpected change? We can’t plan for it. Forbes Magazine touches on a few methods to deal with change in the workplace, such as preparation calming fears, letting go of perfection, and so on.

  • Take a look at the situation objectively, removing thoughts that these changes are directed toward you.
  • Think of the potential that can grow from this change. Think positively about the “surprise”.
  • Keep up to date those things that have not changed by continuing to take care of yourself and maintaining your routines.

When change happens, it might be wise to take a look at the entire situation from an objective standpoint. Instead of focusing on how this is affecting you as an individual, take a look at the big picture. Was it perhaps necessary from an organization standpoint for your workplace to change in order to keep up with a changing industry? Are there redundancies your employer is trying to work with? At times, we may look at changes at work and think “What did I do to deserve this?”, but in fact it may not have been something you did or didn’t do, but something that just happens in the course of running an enterprise. No, it is not pretty and sometimes human beings have to make difficult decisions.

Consider that the changes at work are an open door to something new. Although change may be scary and it may not always be easy to flip around a negative impression already established, it may be needed to help you move forward. The opportunity to grow can found by moving past fears you may have about the change to come and making a decision that this change is going to be good. Maybe there is an opportunity to learn a new skill within your job as a result of this change, or maybe the new skills can be learned in leaving this job for another one. Either way this can be an opportunity to further develop your skillset and knowledge. If you are leaving to find a new opportunity, what you have learned in this job can help you determine the things you like or may not like in going to the next job.

During a time of work change it is very important to keep up with personal care and maintaining your regular routines. You might think “Well I’m not going into work so why should I bother getting up early?” Maintaining your schedule and using the time that would have been at work doing something productive can help stave off negative feelings and allow you to keep a sense of consistency during a time that may be anything but consistent. Regardless of the situation, stay strong and forge on to a better path carved out for you by change.

TIME OUT!

Now that summer is here, some of us may head off to the beach or a cottage, some may be working in the heat of summer, while still others may be getting comfortable near a fan. As noted in the acrostic above, summer is an opportunity for us to do a few things to keep ourselves calm and relaxed as we unwind this summer.  And let’s face it, we deserve it after the year we’ve had!

Slowing the pace 

By taking the time to stop what we’re doing, or interrupt the daily cycle to listen, take a breath and live in the moment, even for just a minute, we can gain tremendous benefits such as lowering stress levels, lowering our heart rate and improving our mood and psychological engagement.   Lifehack.com has a list of ways to slow down in a fast-paced world.

Unwinding and unplugging

Try going a day (or longer) with no technology, explore the magic of un-plugging. That means no phone, no television, no media of any kind.  Instead, why not try taking a relaxing bath, read a good book (preferably made of an ancient fiber called ‘paper’), playing music or painting, or any other activity one would consider “old school”.  By taking note of how you feel at the end of the day or more with no technology and note if you had an unwound day without it. Getting in touch with some of the old ways of doing things can make a difference in one’s day and it can actually help you feel mentally refreshed.  A colleague mentioned when she needs to unwind, she bakes some bread but doesn’t use machines to make it.  Just a bowl, spoon and her two hands.  She swears by it as a stress reliever.  Personally, I knit dog sweaters throughout the year – it’s very meditative and I find I process information and solve problems while the needles are clicking away…

Meaningful time for us

Don’t feel guilty about taking some much-needed quality or meaningful time out just for you. How we define that time may be different for everyone.  Perhaps it means to be alone to collect your thoughts without interruption, or it may mean making time for family and friends.  Just remember to not feel guilty about taking that time back but if you need some convincing on why it is important to take the time for yourself, Psychology Today runs through a few reasons to not feel guilty about solitary time for you and Time.com talks about the importance of meaningful time with those around us (socially distanced, of course). 

Motivation to move

So far, we have talked about slowing down, unplugging, unwinding and taking time for ourselves.  This all sounds pretty relaxing, but what about the importance of getting up and moving?  While this almost feels counter-intuitive to the strategy of relaxing, exercise can make that relaxation all the more impactful by adjusting our body chemistry to reduce stress and boost mood, allowing us to better make use of our previously discussed methods for relaxation, as mentioned in Harvard Health. Alternatively, if the heat has got you down, taking a dip in the nearest pool or lake is another great way to stay in shape.

Explore our environment

While you’re getting up to exercise, why not take it outside. It’s summer after all!  This gives you a wonderful opportunity to mindfully take in nature within your neighbourhood, or local trails.  In our busy days, we don’t always get to take in the beauty of our environment.

Remain relaxed

Finally, some days just feel like chaos rests at the top of our minds. This is the perfect chance to try some meditation exercises (check out the ‘Calm’ app) to quiet the chaos, reduce stress and bring us back to that place where we can once again enjoy a slower pace by unwinding and making our summer a meaningful one. 

Have a wonderful summer everyone!