The countdown has begun…
Tis the season to be jolly tralala lala la… its ok you can go ahead and hum that carol along with me, with only 6 days left until Christmas. The stores are all decked out with Christmas décor – it is official!
Like with any major festive event you have those individuals who get super excited to celebrate the season and have already done or prepped for their Christmas Shopping, have their Christmas décor out and are ready to immaculately decorate their home, they have carols playing in their cars and home and are utterly joyful leading up to the festive season. Then you get those individuals that are less phased by the twinkling lights and festivities and end up quickly putting up a small Christmas tree a couple of days before Christmas as a result of some peer pressure. Irrespective of which side of the spectrum you’re on, one can’t help but admit that Christmas is a special time. Christmas for me and my family has always been special not so much because of the ideas of getting gifts and going on holiday but because of the traditions that have been passed down, from a cultural and family perspective.
Going back to my Childhood
For many Portuguese families, Christmas eve is the Highlight of Christmas. Many of us being Catholic going to church for Midnight mass is almost an unspoken rule. I personally have had bittersweet feelings about this tradition. I have had moments where I highly disliked this tradition especially in the moments when I was struggling to stay awake during the long Portuguese celebrated masses that just went onnnnn and onnnn in my young adult life. But this tradition has also been the cornerstone of some of my fondest childhood memories.
Because my parents both work such long hours in the shop, early Christmas eve would be when our Christmas tree would come out, my mom would get home and start making a hearty chicken soup for us to eat before we left for church while my dad and older brother would sit with me and help decorate the Christmas tree, then we would bath and put our Sunday’s finest on, have supper as a family which was often not possible and rush off to church because in-between that someone had fallen asleep and we ended up running late. The Church would have this beautiful nativity made up that would have a baby Jesus displayed only from the start of mass that always fascinated me – an external representation of the true spiritual meaning of Christmas. After mass family friends would gather and exchange greetings and we would end up going to someone’s house to have us kids open our presents and play until early hours of the morning.
A few hours later we would gather at someone’s house for a chaotic lunch and the moms would be cooking up a storm of a meal they have been prepping for weeks and exchanging stories, the dads would be playing cards, getting into heated debates about who actually won and telling their jokes and stories from Madeira while munching on Portuguese delicacies they had driven to Rio Douro (which is a madhouse over Christmas) to go buy and us kids would be playing and being carefree, enjoying the sweet smell of the cakes mom had made that morning lingering in the air – just joy all round, set in motion by Christmas Midnight Mass.
Over the years it’s been hard to keep some of these traditions, life changes, people through different life phases, families can’t always be together due to distance or obligations with new family members, etc. This year, I felt a strong need to bring back some of those traditions since it will be my first Christmas as a mom. I want my son to start experiencing the special, beautiful chaos that is a Portuguese Christmas, so I have said to our family members the gift we want this year is the gift of their time – the greatest gift you can really give and so Christmas Lunch will be at our house this year.
I am so excited to go to Midnight Mass and start the Christmas celebrations with a age old religious tradition that means so much me, to cook up a storm for my family, although I have handed over the baking duties to the talented ladies around me (I would not want to punish anyone with my baking – that would defeat the purpose.) to having mom and mom in law spoil my son with attention and have my sister in law help in the Kitchen, to have hubby run around pouring drinks for everyone and asking me for stuff while my mom loudly tells my dad to go help him and to have my little niece want to play with Coco (our dog) causing her to run all over the house in loud excitement,while my brother tries to catch her, to sending my brother in law to the shops to get something I forgot for a dish, in a mix of Portuguese and English all while wondering aloud where is Jose – he is late! And finally, to have everyone come together over a meal and share memories, stories and laughter. Sjoe that was a mouthful, but that is the beautiful chaos of Christmas in our Portuguese Household.
What great blogging can do for your business
Since it made its first appearance in the 1990s, blogging has come a long way. Blogging was first used as an online journal or diary to share a person’s own individual thoughts, feelings, opinions and experiences and it usually attracted just a small following. These days, blogging is a platform used by individuals and businesses alike and can be read by thousands and even millions of people worldwide. Blogs are easy to set up and update regularly making them an important and usually a low cost tool for companies wanting to stay in touch with their customers and followers.
Benefits of a company blog
Increases traffic to a website using links
Inbound links in a blog will direct readers to relevant parts of a website, increasing overall traffic or increasing traffic to particular pages.
Improves a website’s SEO
If a blog is regularly updated and relevant to your business, it is more likely to be picked up in Google and other search engines which focus on a website’s quality of content and frequency of posts. Blogs create an opportunity for businesses to insert keywords that are likely to be used to search for your company or brand.
Promotes a brand and company as an expert in the industry
By regularly talking about a subject in well written blogs, your brand will become associated with and respected in its particular field thus encouraging readers to go to your site for valued information.
By providing high quality content and advice in a particular field, a blog can help give readers/customers the confidence to trust the brand. Comment sections in a Blog are often read and if monitored and updated regularly, this can further improve levels of trust with potential and existing customers.
Creates sharing opportunities
Including a sharing option in a blog creates viral traffic via twitter, email, Facebook or other platforms. Free marketing!
To increase your company’s online exposure and to establish yourself as an expert in your field, blogging is a must! And remember, it doesn’t have to be written by the company director himself, it can easily be outsourced and written by anyone as long as they do their research and create good quality pieces that are interesting to the reader. In fact, it is advised that a company’s blog is written by several people to vary the writing style and knowledge base.
Set up your company blog with a few launch articles and see just how easy it is! Use a Virtual Assistant to keep it updated and fresh with regular new content.
Building A Great Email List with the Help of Your VA
Did you know that your Virtual Assistant can build an email list for you? If you require someone to help you with your lead generation by building a database of prospects to email, a VA can easily assist. Your VA stands as an important part of the lead generation process. In so doing, a VA is an extension of your sales team.
To do this, you don’t even have to have a structured way of gathering leads, your VA can put structures in place too. He/She can decide where they will source information for your database based on the target market you give him/her. You can use the database to send email campaigns and make more sales.
Here are suggested ways your VA can build your email list:
- Run a contest or giveaway. This always works to get more email addresses. Make sure that the product you are giving away is aimed at your target market. Run the competition for at least one week to maximise on email signups. Let your VA manage this competition, pick a winner and announce it. Lastly, your VA can start sending email campaigns to the list at least once a week.
- Give a free EBook. Let readers who want to receive a free eBook sign up to your email list. Your VA can create an opt-in button that prevents the download until the reader has given their email address. There are tools like Mailchimp and Aweber that can help you do this seamlessly.
- Block certain blogs. There are tools and plugins like Opt-In Panda that helps you to block other content besides EBooks. With these tools, you can block blogs, pages and much more. One great way to build an email list is to research which questions your target market wants to be answered and let your VA write a post packed with insightful responses. Make sure that the blog can only be unlocked when someone enters their email address. To bump this up a notch, search for the most popular keywords by using a tool like SemRush and write another blog related to the keyword. Block this content as well. When someone finds your blog in search engines, they will have to insert their email address to unlock the content. This will result in a self-sustaining database of leads for your business.
- Run a referral program. Your VA can manage your company referral program. For each customer that successfully signs with you, request at least three referrals. If the three referrals are legitimate, the customer can get a discount. This will help you to collect email addresses of people who may be interested in what you offer.
- Try Google ADS. You can create an AD for Google using specific keywords or catch phrases that you know your target market will search for. Link this AD to your landing page that gives a bit of explanation of what you do and then requests an email address. Your VA will then be tasked to collect all email addresses that come through from the landing page. He/She must thereafter send email campaigns to these email addresses.
- Go the traditional route. In the past, businesses would contact random people from the yellow pages. You can still do this today, just a little bit differently. If you’re a B2B business, you can search for your target market online. For example, if your target market is insurance companies in Johannesburg, a simple Google search for ‘insurance companies Johannesburg’ will give you thousands of hits. Your VA can go to each website, collect email addresses and send emails to those people.
You can also automate the entire email sending procedure. This means that each time someone gives you their email address via any of the processes 1-5 above, a tool automatically starts sending email campaigns at certain times. Our Virtual Assistants are well skilled in this. Contact us today if you want us to help you.
3 Things you can do in your business when your internet is down
Most businesses nowadays is internet based, so when your internet goes down it can be quite a challenge to say the least.
There are times this will happen and for the most part there is nothing you can do about it. Why not use that time productively whilst you wait patiently (so to speak) for your ISP (internet service provider) to give the all clear?
Relocating to the closest coffee shop is an option. However, if it’s not on the cards, what else can you do with this new found time?
#1 Re-strategise your business
This might be the opportune time to re-strategise your business. Grab a pen and paper and brainstorm new possible services or even re-align your current services. Devise possible upcoming promotions or define ways of streamlining your business.
Mind map your marketing plan for the next year, build your social media calendar with collateral or take the time to build a list of possible clients you would love to work with.
#2 Tidy up and Organise
Now’s your opportunity to take the time to tidy up your desk, re-organise your digital filing system. We know you’ve been putting it off, so now is the ideal time to take stock of what is on your computer, organise your desktop and even prepare your receipts sheet in time for the next tax year.
#3 Get writing
This is the perfect time to get writing. Start planning and writing your blog content for the next 3 months. Fortunately you don’t need the internet to do this. Or start writing that book you’ve been threatening to start the last 2 years. If there comes a point in your writing that you do require research, make a note and keep writing.
At those times when the internet is down, see it as a saving grace. You have now been given some breathing space to relax and to reassess your business, to reflect on how far you’ve come, to show gratitude for your many accomplishments that enabled you to reach this point. It’s an opportunity to make this time productive and your business better.